Saturday, March 18, 2006

I mean it

I have had it up to here. You will do ABC, and you will do it right now. As in today, not tomorrow. And not an hour from now, but right this very minute. And if you do not do ABC immediately, I will do ABC, and I will do it immediately. And you will not like it if I do ABC. You had best believe I mean business and get to ABCing yourself, because I am not

whistling Dixie
Engaging in unrealistic, hopeful fantasizing. This idiom alludes to the song “Dixie” and the vain hope that the Confederacy, known as Dixie, would win the Civil War.
"whistle Dixie." The American Heritage® Dictionary of Idioms. Houghton Mifflin Company, 1992. 18 Mar. 2006.

I can't say it with a straight face

About ten years ago I was watching George Carlin on TV joking about the questionable term cockpit.
Ever since then I've wondered, why IS it called that?

Tonight I finally looked it up:


The original sense of this term was a pit for fighting cocks. This sense appears around 1587. In 1599, Shakespeare used the term in Henry V to refer to the theater and specifically the area around the stage. The theatrical reference was his invention, obviously playing on the idea of a cockfight being a performance.

The nautical sense arose about 1700. It was not an open area, but rather a compartment below decks. Normally, it would be the sleeping quarters for junior officers, but in battle would be the hospital. This sense appears unrelated to the theatrical sense, and may have been chosen because junior officers lorded over the sailors like roosters or because of a physical resemblance to the space where chickens were kept. The nautical sense transferred to airplanes around 1914 and to cars in the mid-1930s.

I can't imagine why airlines insist on changing it's name to "flight deck."

Friday, March 17, 2006

The impulse buy

On a whim, I bought a piano: an antique Wurlitzer spinet. Or is it just old? I'm not quite sure when an old thing becomes an antique. Regardless, it's very old, and very graceful, and the notes are ever so slightly off, and my children love it.

And, appropriately enough, I got it

for a song
Very cheaply, for little money, especially for less than something is worth. This idiom alludes to the pennies given to street singers or to the small cost of sheet music. [Late 1500s]
"for a song." The American Heritage® Dictionary of Idioms. Houghton Mifflin Company, 1992. 17 Mar. 2006.

Thursday, March 16, 2006

Clipping coupons

I'm planning out meals for the week, the grocery circulars spread out on the table in front of me, the scissors at the ready. The oldest half-sits on my lap, pointing out items he thinks we might need. He's really getting too big to sit on my lap, but neither one of us is quite ready to let go of it, so instead he half-sits, as if on a stool.

The week is all planned out except for one night's dinner. It's a night my husband will be away on business, and we'll be coming from the barn, so there won't be much cooktime. The oldest slowly points to eggs on sale, then a coupon for syrup. He bites his lower lip hopefully after suggesting breakfast-for-dinner.

Menu complete: eggs, pancakes, bacon, grits.

My mother would occasionally serve breakfast-for-dinner when my father was travelling on business. My brother and I loved it. Eating breakfast foods at night always felt so wonderfully

1. Marked by festal celebration.
2. Providing joy and pleasure.
"festive." Roget's II: The New Thesaurus, Third Edition. Houghton Mifflin Company, 1995. 16 Mar. 2006.

Wednesday, March 15, 2006

not to be confused with Google

Near our house here in sunny, er cloudy California is my favorite (non-natural) grocery store. It's my favorite not only because it's humongous and being from Dallas, I love big, but also because of the rockin' sign:

Blessed be the man who talked the developers into repurposing the old Futurama sign!
Photo from Alan Hess's Googie

We love this style of design and architecture. And I learned it has a name:

Googie, n.
Googie, also known as populuxe, is a subdivison of futurist architecture influenced by car culture and the Space Age, originating from southern California in the late 1940s and continuing approximately into the mid-1960s. With upswept roofs and, often, curvaceous, geometric shapes, and bold use of glass, steel and neon, it decorated many a motel, coffee house and bowling alley in the 1950s and 1960s. It epitomizes the spirit a generation demanded, looking excitedly towards a bright, technological and futuristic age.
Douglas Haskell, a professor at Yale University, coined the term "Googie" architecture in 1952 and defined it by these principles:
1. It can look organic, but it must be abstract. "If it looks like a bird, it must be a geometric bird. It's better yet if the house had more than one theme: like an abstract mushroom surmounted by an abstract bird."
2. Ignore gravity altogether. "Whenever possible, the building must hang from the sky."
3. Multiple structural elements. Inclusion is the rule, rather than minimalism.

My result was 2.3

Ecological Footprint Quiz

1. An outline or indentation left by a foot on a surface. Also called footmark, footstep.
2. The surface space occupied by a structure or device.
3. An area within which a spacecraft is supposed to land.
4. A designated area affected or covered by a device or phenomenon.
"footprint." The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition. Houghton Mifflin Company, 2004. 15 Mar. 2006.

Monday, March 13, 2006

I've already sprung

This morning, I said to my husband, "I love spring. It takes all of two minutes to get the children dressed in shorts and t-shirts." And he, with some confusion, said, "What? It isn't spring yet."

He's going by the official start of spring, as determined by the sun. This year the official start of spring falls on March 20th.

But I measure time by months and always have.

March, April, May = Spring
June, July, August = Summer
September, October, November = Fall
December, January, February = Winter

I don't give a flying fig about the

1. Either of two points on the celestial sphere at which the ecliptic intersects the celestial equator.
2. Either of the two times during a year when the sun crosses the celestial equator and when the length of day and night are approximately equal; the vernal equinox or the autumnal equinox.
[Middle English, from Old French equinoxe, from Medieval Latin aequinoxium, from Latin aequinoctium : aequi-, equi- + nox, noct-, night.]
"equinox." The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition. Houghton Mifflin Company, 2004. 13 Mar. 2006.

Sunday, March 12, 2006


Dear Weight Watchers®:

I am writing regarding your GIANT Peanut Butter Fudge Sundae Cone. I see on the box and on your website that it is worth 2 points on the Weight Watchers flexible POINTS® plan. What I need to know is, how many POINTS® is it worth if I knock off the chocolate chips, scoop out the low-fat peanut butter ice cream, and just eat the fudge-lined cone?

Callipygously yours,

PS: Thank you, thank you, thank you for allowing Lean Cuisine® Chicken Club Panini to declare its worth in POINTS® right on the package - only 7!

1. A letter, especially a formal one.
2. A literary composition in the form of a letter.
[Middle English epistel, from Old French epistle, from Latin epistola, from Greek epistolē, from epistellein, to send a message to : epi-, epi- + stellein, to send.]
"epistle." The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition. Houghton Mifflin Company, 2004. 12 Mar. 2006.