Friday, 27 November 2009

The Luck of a Quiet Thanksgiving!

It really is usually far nuttier on Thanksgiving, but the gods smiled upon us this year.

One call, at 1820, for a syncope patient. That's it. And the patient was a perfectly wonderful person, having a good chuckle over this. We liked our patient, and our patient liked us. That is usually not the case with holiday calls.

Even 65 had an easy night. They were called out when we were enroute to the hospital for a 19-year-old choking (worry not, I believed all turned out well) and then around 2100 for someone at Greystone - better them than us. I've been to Greystone far too often this year... that is not my side of town and let's face it, no one wants to go to the scary old mental patient facility. Granted the facility we usually go to is modern and well-kept, but it is still freaky. A little bit.

After that, silence reigned - except 69 (the Hevy Rescue guys) had a board up to go to.

Happy Thanksgiving indeed!

Thursday, 26 November 2009

Processing the Philadelphia Trip

As you., my few readers know, I went to Philadelphia Tuesday afternoon, had my doctor appointment at 0800 and left shortly after to return home.

We drove down Route 287 for a while until the navigator, harboring its own thought-processes on how to get there, took us off the highway and put us on Route 206 South, which was, in short, a nightmare. We passed through small towns; many, many traffic lights, all of which turned red just for us; cows; farms; open fields... it was boring, long and complete with schoolbusses, the root of all evil where road travel of any kind is done. I wanted off of those backroad, backwoods lanes NOW!

Eventually we made it to Route 95S (the other Route 95S - don't ask!) and there I happily took my chances with the local constabulary doing 80 - 85 the remaining distance until we reached Route 30 in Philly. Then the wretched traffic confined my speeding to low but steady numbers. That, and sheer stress - I hate driving in cities. Any city, really, but especially tower metropolises, like Manhattan, Philadelphia, Los Angeles, Houston, Dallas and (the number one, absolutely highest criminally wrong place to drive, Boston! The "engineers" who came up with that nightmare should be shot.

We found the hotel with relative ease. I am terribly ignorant of cities outside of Manhattan and so really hadn't realised that the hotels close to University of Pennsylvania Medical Center are not really the better places to stay - or that this is the most savory area of the city. Philadelphia has tons of history, good restaurants, fun places and things to do.... and the less well-lit sides with the violence, the drugs, the usual inner-city issues. I wasn't in the heart of South Philly, but I was not in the better parts of town, either.

The first hint was the local in general, which did not look... great. When we got in and checked in, it was less great. This was a one-night stay over, so I picked the hotel that was very close to the hospital - 4.5 miles away. The Best Western. For one night, who cares?

I cared when I requested two pillows and after the third request, the Front Desk told me they would send Security up with the pillows. Say what?! Sure enough, a huge burly friendly looking guy came up wearing a gun and a radio popped by with two pillows. I said, "You're my hero." and took the pillows gratefully and could not close and triple lock the door fast enough.

During the waiting time for the pillows, the room "behind" us became someone's love shack or "office" (take your pick), when the moaning and bed-banging sounds began. I couldn't believe it. I said t0 Luis, "We won't be returning here - this place must rent by the hour." Well... she certainly made the most of the hour. I don't know if this was one woman pleasuring herself, one woman with one silent guy, or one woman with three different silent guy but there would be 19 minutes of moaning and yelling and sex sounds, three or four golden minutes of silence and then another round. Three times.

The telly could not be loud enough.

We did survive the night, obviously, but we got up around 0600, got washed and dressed and outta there after a very continental breakfast. Time for the appointment.

The drive to UPenn was indeed short, but we passed some really posh hotels and that is where we are going next time. The money will be well spent. With room service and comfy beds and a view that would make Ben Franklin smile!

Luis dropped me off at the front of the building and went off to find parking. I went in and had no trouble finding the neurology center. I was all signed in and ready to go. In fact, they kept excellent records and had everything set up... but they did not ask for my new insurance card and so I owe them $5 (it is nice that since my last visit to UPenn, 18 months ago, the copay has only increased that much). The office was empty, just a couple of employees and one or two other patients, so I will remember to set up my annual visit for first thing in the morning.

I went and had my vitals checked, which true to form were fine and then returned to the waiting room. Luis came in and sat with me and around 0830, Dr. Lauren Elman came out with another doctor, introduced herself and the student, and we went into the room.

She ran me throught the usual tests, push on that, pull on these, don't let me push this, don't pull that, grip my fingers, tight, really tight, now let go fast! I have no neck strength, can't get out of a deep knee bend, have trouble with my balance, can't always let go of things right away, and can't lift much (including myself). But I have a good, strong, healthy heart, and I have other positives. She did ask if I snore and I looked at Luis - I'm asleep, so I have no way of knowing if I snore. Luis was nodding away, so I guess I do! The doctor recommended I have a sleep test for sleep apnia and I am sending an e-mail to my doctor's office to do that. I can't wait to jump into that - I would love to sleep well again.

She also suggested that I see an opthamalogist - I have to check what it is that I need to go for (I either missed the reason or the conversational ball was moving so fast that I did not get that far. Luis has an opthamalogist that never processes his insurance correctly, so we are going to seek out a new one together. And finally, Dr. Elman gave me a new script for a muscle relaxant that can be used as needed, so I won't be on something all the time.

And I asked the big questions: can I keep working (both jobs) and will I need to be in a wheelchair one day. She was very positive and encouraging in the work area - there are new things coming out all the time and we will meet once a year and I can call her ANYtime with questions or issues - and (Drum roll, please!) while there is some chance that I could some time down the road need a walker or something like that, she would bet her career that I will not end up in a wheelchair. She said I have had this all of my life, and she is sure that when I come and see her next year, that I will not have gotten worse than I am now.

That is HUGE!

I feel so much better - it hasn't fixed me and I will undoubtedly have work to do to keep on a better path but to hear that was so reassuring, so great! An enormous weight has been lifted!

And it is back to the gym and yoga for me! I need to get back to doing that.

Thanksgiving - Just Another Day Off

Every Thanksgiving is the same, whether we go somewhere or not. When I was little, Thanksgiving was a Grandparents' holiday. I was exchanged at Checkpoint Charlie (The then-lone Howard Jonsons restaurant on Route 80 right at the Delaware Water Gap on the Pennsylvania side) from my mother to my paternal grandparents, Grandma and Pop-pop (usually both grands have funny nicknames, but I wonder if my grandmother would have considered that beneath her dignity. I don't know, and it is unlikely I will ever know, but that sort of fits her.

That lasted into my 11th or 12th year, maybe into my midteens. Once my grandmother allowed herself to show anger that I was getting my menstrual cycle, Thanksgiving became the Platt Family sideshow.

Just a freaky little behaviour from my grandmother that no one could have predicted. All families have their idiosyncrasies and homegrown weirdnessess, but this was so pervasive that I elected to stay home for every holiday. They'd send gifts, but the real heart of the relationship had been broken because I had the temerity to grow up.

It's difficult for me to understand a lot of what motivated my grandmother. When I was little, I adored her. I had more realsitic feelings about Pop-pop - I loved him and a lot but he was not perfect and attempting to be that way. And it was easy to see at a young age, that he lived solely to be a Yes Man to my very controlling grandmother. But while those things were there and known I really did not see what a truly bizarre person she could be.

Frances Lydia Anderson - that is about as WASPy as any name could be. And she was very much that. I know plenty of White Anglo-Saxon Protestants and could not care less, but she was one-of-a-kind, because her whole essence to be and the core of everything she did revolved around one unutterable mantra: what would the neighbours think?

This is not an issue I will ever have. I don't even know my neighbours for the most part and am perfectly happy that way.

(I'm sitting in Luis' office typing this. For the time being he has quit the room and I have it for one reason: this awesome back massaging thing he has gotten. $200 buys you a heating, vibrating, rolling or shiatsu (or both) thing that you drape over the chair of your choice and give a message that will turn you into a wet noodle. Sign me up!)

Anyway, I have a vague memory of the early Thanksgiving - not unsurprising, with my long-term mnemonic skills. After I stopped going to Pennsy I would go with my parents to the Long Island Platchek Thanksiving show. My maternal grandmother was still alive, Ida, for whom I had no nickname. You can see the closeness my mother fomented between us. This was your smells-funny grandmother, who looked and smelled kinda weird, or old, I guess, despite being potentially younger than Grandma. I can't remember who was what age. I do know Ida died when I was 17, and she was 77, and that had to be in 1985. (The advantage of being born in late January is that there is little math involved in figuring out what year something happened if I know my age. I only have 25 days into any new year before my birthday.) Ma told me a story that Ida had put down a false birthyear on her birth certificate - she made herself two years younger. I find that laughable - so what? Two years. Shit, make it twelve and be done with it.

My other grandmother was not into aging, but not enough to fudge her records. She would always refer to herself as "39 and holding". I remember thinking that I was onto that act. I never understand people and getting bent over something that is a natural part of life. I wouldn't want to be Dorian Gray, either. I'll just take my normal aging lumps, thank you!

Um, where was I? Oh, yes, Thanksgiving. Well, for years we did the Long Island trek to either Douglaston or Queens to do the familial Thaksgiving (everyone's so into turkey, except me). That lasted until the Great Schism, when it was discovered that my mother was siding with the enemy, my uncle John. He and my aunt had split, and it was an ugly, ugly scene, so there were very strong feelings about this. Anyway, my parents made the decision to stay in touch with John and his new (then) girlfriend so when my aunt and cousin found out, they really had conniptions over it.

So after that we went to the Christmas Eve celebrations only, where we were semi-pariahs (which really did not affect us much as a whole), and began having Thanksgivings in Wayne, with my parents, Luis and me and John and Safia. And then ten years ago, it was my parents, Luis and me and John, Safia and Julia, their daughter. After that, we made our Thanksgiving visits shorter (being related to the child hardly makes a difference to me - kids are kids and I don't like kids), but still went.
After last year, however, there was no point in holding Thanksgiving any longer, so now it is just another day off with bad telly and no shopping. At least I don't have to eat turkey any more!
Tomorrow I will amuse myself by working on the Thanksgiving holiday hours for the time system so that this will be complete before I come in to work on Monday to run the payroll. That way it won't take me all bloody day to do it. Thanksgiving, Easter, Christmas stuff - those are all the big ones. Christmas Day is the only easy one - EVERYONE gets it since it is the one day of the year - the whole year - that we are closed! All the others have to be calculated by hours worked.
So I have ALL day to blog, read, maybe do some online shopping for Christmas, install Windows 7 on first my office computer, then my laptop, do stuff around the house (cleaning off my desk would be an excellent start), bond with the kitties, hang with Luis... whatever. So many choices!
Blogging first!

Sunday, 22 November 2009

I Hate Feeling Like This

I don't know if it has been the sleeplessness of being on call 23.75 hours, the DM II, the weirdness that my life has become, but I am feeling very depressed. I have no doubt that the westerned sun at this early hour has a part in it as well, but not so much as the rest. Maybe medication adds to it. And a million other little things.

I don't want to feel this way. I feel like my life doesn't have enough meaning. Like I'm just taking up space or converting oxygen into carbon dioxide. That may sound valuable, but a vegetable can do that. I don't know what to do about this. We'll be in Philadelphia on Wednesday, though to meet with the DM specialist and maybe there will be something - a new direction or insight or I don't know what - to help me deal with all of this.

Well, enough for now. One hour left of covering.

Catching Up on Words

with Anu Garg

Little strokes make a letter and those letters come together to form words. We assign meanings to the words. Often they express simple ideas: a tree, a rock, water, and so on. Sometimes a word describes a more complex idea.

Have you ever found yourself wondering, "Wouldn't it be nice if there were a word for it?" Well, there is a word for almost everything under the sun. This week we have dug up five words you may not have known existed.

MEANING: noun: The part of the body where one cannot reach to scratch

ETYMOLOGY: From Greek aknestis (spine), from Ancient Greek knestis (spine, cheese-grater).

USAGE: "In what has to be the longest post-election season in living memory, the last five months have felt like an acnestis upon our collective soul; like that little patch of skin on our backs that we just can't reach to scratch ourselves. It's irritating. It's annoying. It's left us reaching and spinning around in circles." A Wish List to Soothe Our Collective Itch; New Straits Times (Malaysia); Aug 5, 2008.

MEANING: noun: A terrifying experience, similar to a nightmare, felt while awake

ETYMOLOGY: Coined after nightmare, from a combination of day + mare (an evil spirit believed to produce nightmares). Ultimately from the Indo-European root mer- (to rub away or to harm) that is also the source of mordant, amaranth, morbid, mortal, mortgage, ambrosia, and nightmare.

USAGE: "Reports like these give me a deep and sickening feeling, somewhere between a daymare and deja vu." Margaret McCartney; A Swiss Cheese Method to Eliminate Fatal Errors; Financial Times (London, UK); Feb 18, 2006.

PRONUNCIATION: (nih-i-LAR-ee-uhn)
MEANING: noun: One who does useless work

ETYMOLOGY: From Latin nihil (nothing).

USAGE: "You may find yourself worrying that you're turning into a nihilarian." Sian Prior; Ineffable; The Age (Melbourne, Australia); Dec 16, 2002.

PRONUNCIATION: (len-TIJ-uh-nuhs)
MEANING: adjective: Covered with freckles

ETYMOLOGY: From Latin lentiginosus (freckled), from lentigo (freckle), from lens (lentil).

USAGE: "I realised that my freckly Celtic complexion wasn't a curse I had to endure for life, and my offensively lentiginous skin could be smoothed into picture-perfect ivory." Simon Price; Cover-up, Powder and Eyeliner; The Guardian (London, UK); Dec 14, 2002.

MEANING: noun: A wooden stick for stirring porridge

ETYMOLOGY: Of uncertain origin, perhaps from Latin spatula, or from sprit (a pole to extend a sail on a ship).

NOTES: There's a word for everything. And there's a contest for everything. There is one for making porridge, grandly named, The Golden Spurtle World Porridge Making Championship, held annually in Scotland.

USAGE: "I know hardly anyone who eats anything much in the morning. ... No one yet has owned up to stirring porridge with a spurtle, pouring milk over blocks of desiccated wheat, or even blasting a banana to a pulp in the blender. Nigel Slater; Oat Cuisine; The Observer (London, UK); May 19, 2002.

It's a sign of our historical dependence on horses that our language is filled with terms, idioms, and other references about them. When the locomotive came out, it was called an iron horse. And when the automobile was invented, it was named a horseless carriage.

Today, we use many horse-related terms metaphorically, from horse-trading (hard bargaining) to horse sense (common sense). A political candidate might turn out to be a dark horse (someone little known who gains unexpected support). One might change horses in midstream (to change opinion in the middle of action) or ride two horses (have two allegiances or follow two courses).

This week we'll look at five terms related to horses.

MEANING: adjective: Old-fashioned; outdated

ETYMOLOGY: Referring to the era before the invention of the automobile, when people often traveled in horse-drawn buggies.

USAGE: "'You can't continue to run a space-age company with horse-and-buggy methods,' said Angelo Rosati." Gina Thackara; Business Lessons Basic to Survival; Scranton Times (Pennsylvania); Oct 2, 1996.

horse latitudes
PRONUNCIATION: (hors LAT-i-toodz, -tyoodz)
MEANING: noun: Either of the two belts around latitudes 30 to 35 degrees N or S, marked by high pressure, and light variable winds

ETYMOLOGY: Of uncertain origin. There's a story, not very convincing, that when stuck in such a region of calm with little wind to get them across, sailors threw their cargo of horses overboard to save on rations and to lighten the load. Another conjecture is that the term is derived from Spanish golfo de las yeguas, literally, mares' sea, alluding to the unpredictable nature of the mares. A related term is doldrums, the calm area in an ocean around the equator.

USAGE: "Newspapers are emerging from the doldrums of July and August and gathering wind in their sails again as they sweep southwards through the horse latitudes of autumn, their masts (and metaphors -Editor) creaking from the renewed strain of events." Frank McNally; An Irishman's Diary; The Irish Times (Dublin); Sep 18, 2009.

stalking horse
MEANING: noun:
1. Something used to mask the true purpose
2. A candidate put forward in an election to draw votes from another or to conceal another's potential candidacy

ETYMOLOGY: After the former practice of bird hunters of hiding behind a horse (or a decoy) until he had reached within close range of prey.

USAGE: "The escalation of war in Afghanistan may be only a stalking horse for an even larger war in Pakistan as the United States seeks to secure the nukes there."

MEANING: noun: A favorite pastime, a pet project or topic; an obsession

ETYMOLOGY: The everyday word hobby is a shortening of the term hobbyhorse. A hobbyhorse is a child's riding toy, consisting of a stick with the shape of a horse's head on the front. It was called hobbyhorse, probably from the name Robin or Hobin usually given to a small horse. The word is often used in a metaphorical sense as "to ride one's hobby-horse" meaning to pursue a pet topic.

Also see cheval de bataille.

USAGE: "Charleston was my father's ministry, his hobbyhorse, his quiet obsession, and the great love of his life." Pat Conroy; South of Broad; Nan A. Talese Books; 2009.

Trojan horse
MEANING: noun: Something or someone placed in order to subvert from within

ETYMOLOGY: In the legendary Trojan War, the Greeks left a large hollow wooden horse at the gates of the city of Troy. The Trojans took it inside. Greek soldiers hidden in the horse came out at night and opened the gates of the city, allowing the Greek army to enter and conquer the Trojans. In computing, a Trojan horse is a program that, while seemingly useful, steals passwords or does other damage to computers.

USAGE: "Ministers appear determined to use the Coroners and Justice Bill as a Trojan horse with which to smuggle authoritarian measures on to the statute book."

Verbs are special words. They describe action. Nothing would ever get done if it were not for the verbs. Look at a sentence on your screen or on paper -- it just lies there listless, a mere collection of random words until a verb comes to infuse life into it. This week we'll feature five unusual verbs - words for a few things you most likely don't do every day.
PRONUNCIATION: (huh-MOL-uh-gayt, ho-)
MEANING: verb tr.:
1. To approve officially
2. To register a specific model of a motor vehicle to make it eligible to take part in a racing competition

ETYMOLOGY: From Latin homologare (to agree), from Greek homologein (to agree or allow).

NOTES: Some auto racing competitions require participating vehicles to be available for sale to the general public, and not be custom made for racing. The process of homologation verifies this. The initials GTO listed after some auto names (Ferrari, Pontiac, etc.) mean "Gran Turismo Omologato", Italian for "Grand Touring, Homologated".

USAGE: "Mr Jimmy Gray said: 'We've major issues which appear to be discussed in the press. Decisions are made and then we're asked to homologate these decisions." Labour Group Leader Hits Out; Aberdeen Press & Journal (UK); Jul 9, 2007.

"What was needed was a more streamlined street car to homologate for racing." Malcolm Gunn; Parked on the Showroom Floor; Chicago Daily Herald; Oct 18, 2009.

MEANING: verb tr.: To call together for a meeting

ETYMOLOGY: From Latin convocare (call together), from con- (together) + vocare (to call), from vox (voice).

USAGE: "They insist that Mr Zelaya violated the constitution by trying to convoke a constituent assembly which they fear might have prolonged his term." Post-coup Honduras; The Economist (London, UK); Jul 9 2009.

MEANING: verb tr.: To atone, to make amends for

ETYMOLOGY: From Latin expiare (to atone for), from ex- (thoroughly) + piare (to atone), from pius (dutiful).

USAGE: "Is she expiating her guilt for being a neglectful daughter?" Mark Schilling; Tossing Cash Round Like Confetti; Japan Times (Tokyo); Oct 30, 2009.

MEANING: verb tr.: To help to further something

ETYMOLOGY: From Latin subservire (to serve under), from sub- (under) + servire (to serve), from servus (slave).

USAGE: "The decisions were ad hoc in nature and were taken to subserve political expediency." H.N. Das; Ethnic Aspirations; The Assam Tribune (India); Apr 19, 2009.

MEANING: verb tr.:
1. To irritate
2. To sting

ETYMOLOGY: The verb senses of the word are derived from the name of the plant, any of the various plants of the genus Urtica whose leaves are covered with stinging hairs. The word is ultimately from the Indo-European root ned- (to bind) that is also the source of node, noose, annex, and connect. There's a British and Australian idiom, grasp the nettle, meaning to tackle an unpleasant or difficult task.

USAGE: "My questions about the wisdom or otherwise of disbanding the Iraqi army visibly nettled him [General David McKiernan]." Mark Urban; When Generals Become Unstuck; BBC News; May 12, 2009.

Saturday Six (291)/Sunday Seven (210)

Having a stressful week? Oh, the stress meter’s off the scale here at Patrick’s Place, so I thought I’d make de-stressing a topic for this week. It might even make its way to tomorrow’s quiz, too.

■First to play last week: Otowi of Otowi. Congratulations!
(According to the rules, “First to Play” requires you to be the first to include the link to the specific entry in which you answered the questions, not just the general link to your blog.)

Here are this week’s “Saturday Six” questions. Either answer the questions in a comment here, or put the answers in an entry on your journal…but either way, leave a link to your journal so that everyone else can visit! Permission is not granted to copy the questions to message boards for the purpose of having members answer and play along there. Enjoy!

1. In the last year, which single person has helped you relieve the most of your stress? Nancy at work. She has been a huge help in listening and offering suggestions when I do get stressy.

2. In the last year, which single place have you found the most restful, relaxing place to be? Yellowstone National Park was extremely restful and relaxing. However, I don't get there as a matter of course. Normally, Wednesday night yoga is the most relaxing place I've been to.

3. What single activity relieves the most stress for you? EMS work. I realise that sounds odd, but it is true!

4. Do you feel that your church (or your faith) relieves more stress or causes more stress? Uh, what church or faith? No, that would cause more stress if I had a church to belong to - I'm not a good religious person.

5. Take the quiz: How Should You De-stress?

1.Right now, how would you describe your stress level?
Intolerably high
Extremely high
It varies

2.When you feel stressed out, you tend to feel:
3.When you're stressed, what's your worst habit?
Shutting out the world
Stressing out those around you
Obsessing over your stress
Losing your temper
Not getting enough rest
4.What's the most likely culprit of your stress?
A few things adding up together
Health worries
Money worries
Other people
Work issues
Your own reaction to things

5.When you're stressed, what tends to make you feel better?
Having a few minutes of quiet
Venting to a friend
Watching a movie
Getting out and doing something
Taking a nap
Reading a good book

You Should Take Some Deep Breaths
Part of what's stressing you out right now is that there's too much going on at once. You hardly have room to breathe.

And to be honest, the idea of taking on a little project to de-stress yourself is even stressful.

So don't worry about doing much. Just take a few deep breaths. In fact, try it right now.

Doesn't that feel good? Repeat this as often as you need to. This is the first step to clearing your head and feeling better.

6. Which is more important for you: to “de-stress” or “recharge?” I feel both are equally important.


Continuing with the “de-stressing” theme that began in yesterday’s edition of the Saturday Six, I present a list from LifeHacker of people’s favorite stress relievers. Just to keep everyone on an even playing field, these will be your only options for this week’s answers, though I’m sure there are others out there!

■First to play last week: Cat. of Sweet Memes. Congratulations!
(According to the rules, “First to Play” requires you to be the first to include the link to the specific entry in which you answered the questions, not just the general link to your blog.)

Here is this week’s “Sunday Seven” question. Either answer in a comment here, or put the answers in an entry on your blog (with a link here), and then comment here with a link back to your blog so that everyone else can visit! Permission is not granted to copy the questions to message boards for the purpose of having members answer and play along there. Enjoy!

Of the nineteen stress management techniques listed in the link above, name the seven most likely to work for you.

1. Listen to music

2. Read
3. Watch telly or movies
4. Yoga
5. Blog (I guess that goes under Surf Internet)
6. Shop
7. Eat

Sunday Seven - Episode 212

We all know fruits are good for us. Most of us don’t eat nearly enough of them. We don’t, for the most part, eat enough vegetables, either, but that’s another Sunday Seven for another day: this week, we’re talking about produce of the fruit persuasion!

■First to play last week: Cat. of Sweet Memes. Congratulations!
(According to the rules, “First to Play” requires you to be the first to include the link to the specific entry in which you answered the questions, not just the general link to your blog.)

Here is this week’s “Sunday Seven” question. Either answer in a comment here, or put the answers in an entry on your blog (with a link here), and then comment here with a link back to your blog so that everyone else can visit! Permission is not granted to copy the questions to message boards for the purpose of having members answer and play along there. Enjoy!

Name your seven favorite fruits.
  • Pineapple
  • Strawberries
  • Kiwi
  • Raspberries
  • Gooseberries
  • Pears
  • Apples

Saturday Nine: Talking in Your Sleep

Saturday 9: Talking in Your Sleep

1. Has anyone in your life talked in their sleep? Besides me, I know Luis has - more than once. He's funny when he talks in his sleep. He hasn't done it in a while. I would guess it is the A-PAP he wears at night.

2. What do you like about fall? The shorter list is what I don't like about autumn, which is the shortening days. Otherwise I love autumn!

3. Do you have an addictive personality? Who, me? Naaaaahhhh...

4. Who was the last person to do something extra special for you? Luis, just by being here when things are darkest.

5. Would you ever take someone back if they cheated on you? Well, that really depends on what "cheating" means to you. But the answer is yes.

6. Are you happy with where you are in life? Except for my health, I am delighted with where I am in my life.

7. Do you believe that you can change someone? I suppose it is possible, but it is not my job to do so. My job is change myself, to make myself a better person. I don't try to change Luis - that has to happen within himself. Also I find it odious that women try to change their men. If you did not like him to begin with, why be with him?

8. Have you ever wished you could've had someone but you couldn't? No, not really.

9. Would you ever fight someone over your significant other? What, as in a fistfight? Good gods, no. And the trust is in our relationship. If Luis were to "cheat" on me, I would find the fault with him, not the person he'd been with. That is just stupid.

Thursday, 19 November 2009

But Now I'm Back

My dear Maria
I'm here to see ya
Won't you please, please open the door
I brought ya flowers
Been waitin' hours
Can't stand it anymore

So here's what happened
While you were nappin'
I just went out for a snack
I was feelin' famished
And then I vanished...
But now I'm back

Now he's back
Had a snack
Now he's back

My heart is burning
For that love of ours
For that sea of stars
Let me in so I can prive to you
That no one else
Can love you, girl
The way that I do

Oh, how I miss ya
I wanna kiss ya
And hold you close
From dusk to dawn
So let's just make up
And when you wake up
I promise not to be gone

You know I love ya
Dream only of ya
So please, please cut me some slack
I went away
Just a couple of days...
But now I'm back

Now he's back
Cut him slack
Now he's back

Maria, baby,
I guess that maybe
You're still a little angry with me
But it's getting late and
The boys are waitin'
Gotta get something to eat

I better go now
I hope you know now
I love you, that's a fact
Gotta hurry
But don't you worry, babe...
Cause I'll be back

He'll be back
It's a fact
He'll be back
Don't attack...

After Franz Schubert's Fantasy in F-minor, for piano four-hands
Pink Martini

A Month's Worth of Music (Lyrics)

Usually November is my month to post lyrics, one song a day... I've been a wee bit distracted, but better late....

"And Then You're Gone"

My dear Lorenzo
You take my hand
And understand
The tears that I have cried

We light the candles
And pour the wine
And laugh as if
You'll never leave my side

You take me
In your arms and tell me
That I'll always be the only one...
And then you're gone!

You come to see me
On a Saturday
Presenting peonies
Knowing just what to say

We dance until
The break of dawn
I turn my back
And now you're gone

Swirling in a sea of stars
Twirling to the strum of guitars
No one tangos quite the way you do
But now my dancing days with you are through

You think I miss you
Each time you disappear
Maybe I used to
But it's becoming clear

I know your tricks
I've heard your song
You swear your love
And then you're gone

Remember last time
It was a perfect day
You took me sailing
And then you sailed away

Now here you are
Outside my door
You want back in
Just like before

Well, save your breath
Don't make me yawn
You've had your chance
Now, just be gone

After Franz Schubert's Fantasy in F-minor, Op. 103, for piano four-hands
Pink Martini

Trying to Take Steps

I still don't feel up to par, but the fact that I am so reluctant to eat makes the healing process just a wee bit slower than it needs to be. I'm working on it. Last night, I had rice from the Afghani restaurant. I figured that while the rice was flavourful, it was still bland enough that my stomach would feel good about it.

Still, one can not help but feel tired with a day of meals such as I am having:

12 spoonfuls of Cheerios in milk
a small cup of pear sorbet
plain rice with some raisins
four bottles of [flavoured] water instead of my usual 6 - 9 bottles a day

I guess after all the eating of the past three weeks on the gabapentin, this is a drastic change. This is not what I sighned up for. I suffer more than enough abuse at the hands of my own body. Why this, too? Yes, that is just me whining. I get to do that once in a while.

I haven't started the Lyrica, which in some ways is fine. I have always been anti-pharmaceuticals for many, many years. As the fun bits of this ailment have manifested, it has gotten more and more difficult to stay to course of living a drug-free life. Maybe I can go back to that life (although I don't know if that is possible - and keep working) and since I'm most of the way there, why not try it a longer?

This coming Tuesday I will be driving down to Philadelphia, to University Hospital of Pennsylvania. We'll stay overnight in the hotel a couple miles away and then Wednesday morning at 0800 I have my appointment with Dr. ... Um... I've forgotten. The information is somewhere in the boatloads of paperwork from both previous trips to Philly and the new stuff I need to fill out and send back... GROAN.

I just hope like crazy that this doctor, a specialist in adult-onset DM II, will have ideas, suggestions, etc. - or, dare I hope - a pallative for this wretched disease! I'll take anything I can at this point, I am not fussy!

Sunday, 1 November 2009

The First Day of November & Voting

I cannot believe that October has gone - never to be recaptured - and we are into November. Wow. That is just staggering.

Ready for something more staggering?

I have been telling everyone how unhappy I am with the 12 candidates for the gubernatorial candidacy and my father told me this morning that there is a space to fill in anyone's name. I'm not sure who's name I will fill in, but that is my plan.

Normally I am the world's stupidest voter. I'm not stupid, but politically speaking, I'm very ignorant. Which is fine. Normally I vote the way many do: just go down the line of my political affiliation. I'm more of a Democrat (one of them crazy liberals) than a Republican, although it is never that simple. I think I am really a little of both or at least I'm willing to see both sides or find that I don't agree with every Democratic ideal and every Reublican ideal. But I know I fall more into the Democratic party than the other.

What I don't know much about are the other parties... I know that there is an Independent party... the other ones were all new to me. There are actually four "independent" candidates, and then there is a Socialist Party, a "For Election Party", "Just in Time", "'People Not Politics'", Libertarian Party, and Middle Class Empowerment. Ye gods...

So I turned over the County of Morris Sample Ballot, and read up on each of the 12 candidates, who had a space to fill up with 500 words.

And here's the list:

Republican: Christopher Christie
Democratic: Jon Corzine
Socialist Party: Gregory Pason
Independent: Gary Steele
For Election: Joshua Leinsdorf
Just In Time: Gary Stein (yes, I know, how dopey)
Independent: Alvin Lindsay, Jr.
Middle Class Emp.: David Meiswinkle
Independent: Christopher Dagget
Indep. For the People: Kostas Petris
Libertarian Party: Kenneth Kaplan
"People Not Politics": Jason Cullen

I met Chris Christie at our Fall Festival. I was underwhelmed then and after reading his 500 words, I was more underwhelmed. First it was yak, yak, yak about his family (I so don't care if the cadidate is married or not, has kids or not, etc.), then it was pointing fingers at past incumbents (clearly emphasising Jon Corzine's failures), and then all sorts of New Jersey pride. Oh, shut up. You are so insincere.

I read Jon Corzine's piece but I hated the actions of this man, beginning with his car accident, raising taxes mid-month, putting taxes on dues and other things that never had them and then (the last straw) draining the EMS fund from $4,400,000 to $400,000. What an idiot - you were too stupid to wear a seatbelt, busted up your leg and other things in accident where we came and saved your butt, and you reward us by taking away our training fund. If it didn't mean losing my EMT certification I'd leave him at the side of the road to be mired in his injuries and think about what an ass he is.

He couldn't get my vote if he personally came to the house and spoke to me.

Gregory Pason clearly has too much money. He wants to raise minimum wage from $7.25 to $15.00, bankrupting tons of small businesses. What a moron. He naturally promised tax cuts, which is completely unreasonable. Taxes exist for a reason: government income is that - tax. Do I think the property taxes should go up every year? Not really. But I understand it.

Gary Steele didn't really make much in the way of promises, but went on and on about how he's been a teacher and understands the people, blah, blah, blah. He wants to make New Jersey a tax friendly state... sounds nice, but unless you can geographically move New Jersey from being next to Manhattan, that really can only happen to a small degree. That's crazy.

Joshua Leinsdorf did not write about himself (or have his writer put his 500 words in the first person view), someone else did. This guy wants every student to have a laptop but the kids all to take mass transit and not yellow (is there any other colour?) school busses. Say what? Kids in inner-city type environments aren't exposed to enough danger that you want them taking mass transit? Do you have rocks in your head?

That brings us to Gary Stein. How to say this? He is... totally nuts. If any votes for him, I will be amazed. Absolutely amazed. Even his family, if he has one, should be smart enough not to vote for him. His 500 words were a waste. He is incapable of writing - or should immediately fire the writer - and give this up. If you haven't mastered the basics of your own language, don't do something you can't handle.

He began one paragraph with "Up theirs!" as a sentence. Oh, my gods. I was flabbergasted. I have no problem with "foul" language, but in your gubernatorial statement?! Yikes. Moving right along from this loser...

Alvin Lindsay Jr did not even use half of his 500 words. He made a comment about alternate energy sources, such as solar and wind power, which is good - what he did not outline is how people should afford it. He wants to make the minimum wage $10.00 hour, so he would only bankrupt a couple tons of small businesses. Another pipe dreamer. He'd like to make healthcare more affordable (where have I heard that before?), but again - no plan.

David Meiswinkle wants New Jersey to do its own exhaustive investigation into the 9/11/2001 disaster. What? Move on, man. That was 8 years ago and it is better to look to the future and being more carefully instead of wasting time mired in the past. He wants to cut taxes, as well. Good luck. Oh, and hey! He's a politician who is going to completely eliminating corruption! Wow! Are you going to start with yourself?

This brings us to Christopher Daggett. He really didn't say anything substantial, but glossed over all the usual hot topics and promised to - surprise, surprise - cut taxes. Moving on...

Kostas Petris did not do much with his space, either. He used up a bit over half. His big thing was history: the Founding Fathers, Declaration of Independence, Abraham Lincoln. No great statement there. More empty tax cuts, naturally - that is the fall back position.

Kanneth Kaplan began his 500 words with "If everyone agrees with me votes for me, I'll be the next Governor!" Huh? Only if the majority of voters agree with you. Think about those strong, opening, declarative lines before you run into this kind of thing. Read what you are writing. He wants to do away with taxes. He makes promises about gay rights, education set being unfair to those of us without kids or home school their kids, and legalising marijuana. Mmmm... good luck. I agree with those points, but he is picking too many shocking topics at once.

The last one is Jason Cullen. Another one who didn't write in the first person perspective. He wants to progressively eliminate sales and corporate taxes. Whoa... I can understand attempting to lower them, but eliminate them? Where will all that money come from? Universal taxes to those who have their kids in private school. Yikes.

I just can't get behind any of these people. I'm not sure who I think should run the government in New Jersey, but it is not any of these yin-yangs.


Oh, I just thought of my choice for governor.... Joe!

Another Sleazy Scam E-mail

More fun - well, total bullshit - that came in my work e-mail... hard to imagine people fall for this:

Unesco International Awards
United Kingdom Committee for
Unesco House
64-78 Kingsway
WC2B 6NB London
United Kingdom

This is to inform you that you have won a prize money of Eight Hundred and Fifty Thousand, Great Britain Pound Sterlings (850,000.00) for the month of October 2009 Donations which is organized by Unesco International Awards

Unesco International Awards, collects all the email addresses of the people that are active online, among the millions that subscribed to Yahoo,Hotmail and host of other emails, we only select five people every Month as our winners through electronic balloting System without the winner applying, we congratulate you for being one of the people selected.

You are to contact the events manager on or before your date of Claim, Winners Shall be paid in accordance with his/her Settlement Centre. Unesco International Awards Prize must be claimed no later than 20 days from date of Draw Notification after the Draw date in which Prize has won. Any prize not claimed within this period will be forfeited.

These are your identification numbers:

Batch number..........UN0809EF
Reff number...........UN35447EF
Winning number..........UN097EF

These numbers fall within your Location file, you are requested to contact the events manager, send your winning identification numbers to him,to enable him verify your claims.How ever you will have to fill and submit this form to the events manager for verification and direction on how
you can claim your winning fund.

1. Full name..............
2. Contact Address........
3. Age....................
4. Telephone Number.......
5. Marital Status.........
6. Sex....................
7. Zip Code...............
8. Occupation.............
9. Company...............
13. Your Reference and Batch number are at the top of this mail:

Name: Dr. Elder Scrolls (PhD)

Thank you and Accept my hearty congratulations once again!

Yours faithfully,
Mrs. Welch Erikson
(Unesco International Awards Coordinator).
N:B: You are advised to keep your donation strictly confidential until your winning is processed and received by you. This is to avoid double claiming which could lead to disqualification.

A.W.A.D. - Catching Up the Last Few Weeks

From oldest to most recent (Monday through Friday every week):

from Anu Garg

28 September 2009:

A writer usually doesn't have a boss. On the other hand, a writer's boss is his readers. You could say I have 800,000 bosses. But this relationship is not so clearcut. Let me explain.

From time to time a reader is displeased with something I have written, and emails: "Keep your opinions to yourself or you will lose readers." Appreciative as I am of my readers -- they are whom I write for -- I do not always write to try to please them. I express my opinion.

Some opinions resonate and some leave them fuming, but they all can see -- I hope -- that it comes from my heart. I don't expect everyone to agree with me or my beliefs.

Well, at least this week, I'm at your service hand and foot, etymologically speaking. All words to be featured have either hand or foot as their origin, even though it may not always be obvious.

MEANING: noun:
1. A sleight of hand
2. Deceitfulness, trickery

ETYMOLOGY: From French prestidigitation (conjuring), from preste (nimble) + Latin digitus (finger).

USAGE: "It is, of course, a nonsense number, a statistical prestidigitation." Polly Toynbee; Is There Pensions Apartheid?; Guardian (London, UK); Jul 4, 2009


MEANING: adjective
1. Situated on the opposite side of the earth (or another body)
2. Diametrically opposite or completely opposite

ETYMOLOGY: Via Latin from Greek antipodes (literally, those having the feet opposite), plural of antipous, from anti- (opposite) + pous (foot). Ultimately from the Indo-European root ped- (foot) which gave us peccadillo (alluding to a stumble or fall), pedal, impeccable, podium, octopus, and impeach.

USAGE: "Paris was the starting point and the antipodal points I had to pass through were Madrid and Wellington." Brian McIver; Ukraine to USA: the World is Just Too Vast to Grasp at 13mph; Daily Record (Glasgow, Scotland); May 16, 2009.

"The antipodal views between Stephan and Yanik regarding how to fight against their common enemy makes for the crux of the play. Stephan is headstrong and vocal while Yanik is soft-person, loving, and peaceful, although both fight against the oppression." Justice in the Barrel; The Kathmandu Post (Nepal); Feb 2, 2009.


MEANING: noun:
1. Sleight of hand
2. A display of skill

ETYMOLOGY: From French leger de main (light of hand), from leger (light) + de (of) + main (hand). Ultimately the from Indo-European root man- (hand) that's also the source of manage, maintain, maneuver, manufacture, manuscript, and command.

USAGE: "It's a fantastic spot. But what happens to viewers' trust of Barclays when they realize all commercials are fake, shot on soundstages, and built on camera tricks and fancy editing and legerdemain?" Simon Houpt; Spotting the Fake; Globe and Mail (Toronto, Canada); Aug 14, 2009.

"Christoph Waltz has mastered Quentin Tarantino's linguistic legerdemain in four languages." David Germain; Waltz Crafts Linguistic Magic for 'Basterds'; Associated Press; Aug 17, 2009.

PRONUNCIATION: (ek-SPEE-dee-uhn-see)

MEANING: noun:
1. Consideration of what is advantageous or easy or immediate over what is right
2. The quality of being suited for a purpose

ETYMOLOGY: From Latin expedire (to make ready, to set the feet free), from ex- (out of) + ped- (foot). Ultimately from the Indo-European root ped- (foot) which gave us peccadillo (alluding to a stumble or fall), pedal, impeccable, podium, octopus, and impeach.

USAGE: "Political expediency means that a lot of planning is still short term." Elizabeth Sidiropoulos & Lyal White; How Brazil Beats Poverty Trap; Mail & Guardian (Johannesburg, South Africa); Aug 25, 2009.


MEANING: noun:
1. The perpetual ownership of property by institutions such as churches
2. The often stifling influence of the past on the present and the living

ETYMOLOGY: From Anglo-Norman mortmayn, feminine of morte (dead) + main (hand), from Latin mortua manus (dead hand). Ultimately from the Indo-European root man- (hand) that's also the source of manage, maintain, maneuver, manufacture, manuscript, and command.

NOTES: Imagine a B-movie scene of a dead hand stretching out of a grave and you have the picture of the word mortmain. The idea behind mortmain is of a dead hand reaching beyond to hold a property in perpetuity. By extension, the word describes the past dictating the present in an oppressive manner.

Unlike the passing of an asset to a child on the death of a parent, institutions such as churches hold property forever. Over time, through donations, etc., they can acquire a large amount of real estate which cannot be distributed or revert to the crown. Also, in such cases there is a loss of revenue from inheritance tax. The English King Edward I passed the Statutes of Mortmain in 1279 and again in 1290 to limit such holding of property in perpetuity without royal authorization.

USAGE: "On what grounds do we allow the dead to bind the living? Courts used to adhere to a 'rule against perpetuities' and were suspicious of mortmain, of the 'dead hand' of documents drawn up long ago." Christopher Caldwell; Philanthropy Goes to the Dogs; Financial Times (London, UK); Jul 5, 2008.

"Martins felt that somehow this knowledge would pay the mortmain that memory levies on human beings." Graham Greene; The Third Man; 1949.

5 October 2009
Autumn is here. Last week marked the arrival of fall, the festival of colors. As you relish the golden yellows, bright oranges, and cheery reds of falling leaves as a feast for the eyes, use this week's words in A.Word.A.Day to celebrate the variety of hues.


MEANING: adjective: Of a pale brown color, like raw silk or unbleached linen; beige

ETYMOLOGY: From French écru (raw, unbleached), from Latin crudus (raw). Some cousins of this word are cruel, pancreas, and crude.

USAGE: "Like those of us doomed to repeat history, women seem to buy the same item over and over again. The Buffer's small point of information 'You've already got a top just like that' is rebuffed with: 'No, the old one (relative term, here) is taupe The new one is ecru.'" Tom Shields; Men's Place is Secondary in Any Battle of the Wardrobe; Sunday Herald (Glasgow, UK); Sep 4, 2005.

vis major

MEANING: noun: An unavoidable disruptive event (such as an earthquake) that none of the parties is responsible for, which may exempt them from the obligations of a contract. Natural instances of vis major are also called acts of God.

ETYMOLOGY: From Latin vis major, literally, greater force. Also see force majeure.

USAGE: "In any case, the dealer neither placed any evidence nor any documents to indicate that any unforeseen circumstance of vis major had occurred to prevent the delivery." R.N. Sahai; The Dealer; Business Line (Chennai, India); Oct 20, 1999.


MEANING: noun:
1. The practice of stirring up of groundless lawsuits
2. An unlawful act by a ship's master or crew that harms the owner of the ship
3. The buying or selling of positions in church or state

ETYMOLOGY: From Anglo-French baraterie (deception), from barater (to cheat), from Vulgar Latin prattare, from Greek prattein (to do).

USAGE: "A man with the same legal name as the lead character in the 1960s TV law show Perry Mason is charged with barratry. He allegedly tried to solicit former jail inmates for legal services." Same Name, Different Fame for Perry Mason Accused of Soliciting Clients for Houston Lawyer; Associated Press; Apr 16, 2009.


MEANING: noun: The replacing of an obligation, a contract, or a party to an agreement with a new one.

ETYMOLOGY: From novare (to make new), from novus (new). Ultimately from the Indo-European root newo- (new) that is also the source of new, neo-, novice, novel, novelty, innovate, renovate, misoneism (fear of change), and novercal (stepmotherly).

USAGE: "They are essentially contracts meant to be honoured subject only to agreed changes by novation." S. Rajaratnam; Direct Taxes Code; The Hindu (Chennai, India); Aug 31, 2009.

12 October 2009
While growing up in India, I watched many puppet performances, dramas, and movies. And my favorite: the magic shows!

In the magic shows, besides the standard fare -- sawing a girl in half, making rabbits disappear, and the like -- there was a serial performance called The Water of India. After every few acts, the magician would walk to a pitcher on the table in one corner of the stage, lift it up dramatically and announce, "Ladies and Gentlemen, The Water of India!"

He would turn the pitcher upside down to let water pour out. The vessel was supposedly empty then, but after 15 minutes he would repeat this action, and more water would pour from the jug. While he performed that trick and I marveled at the magic pitcher that replenished itself, his assistants would set up the next trick.

Well, consider this week's miscellaneous words theme the AWAD equivalent of The Water of India. So, Ladies and Gentlemen, enjoy these assorted words (while we put together next week's show of words, definitions, etymologies, usage, pronunciations, quotations, and more).

PRONUNCIATION: (O-shee-ohs, O-ti-)

MEANING: adjective:
1. Superfluous
2. Futile
3. Indolent

ETYMOLOGY: From otium (leisure)

USAGE: "I hung around that summer until my presence became otiose. Friends' parents started asking me how long I would be in town." Ian Frazier; Out of Ohio; The New Yorker; Jan 10, 2005.

"The measure is entirely otiose. There are already laws against harassment." Dominic Lawson; What Fearful Hypocrites Ministers Are; The Independent (London, UK); Feb 9, 2007.


MEANING: adjective:
1. Living on alms
2. Like a beggar

1. A beggar
2. A member of any of various orders of friars forbidden to own property and living on alms

ETYMOLOGY: From Latin mendicare (to beg), from mendicus (beggar), from mendum (defect)

USAGE: "But Metro, a perennial mendicant with no dependable dedicated, long-term source of capital funding, could hardly afford to scrap or completely rebuild the older cars." Common Sense at Metro; Washington Post; Sep 30, 2009.


MEANING: adjective:
1. Dictatorial
2. Expressing command or urgency
3. Not admitting any question or contradiction

ETYMOLOGY: From Latin peremptorius (decisive), from perimere (to take away), from per- (thoroughly) + emere (to take). Ultimately from the Indo-European root em- (to take or distribute) that is also the source of words such as example, sample, assume, consume, prompt, ransom, vintage, and redeem.

USAGE: "'Easily provoked by minor irritations,' wrote Dimbleby about this period,' [Charles] became uncharacteristically impatient and peremptory.' The smallest things would prompt verbal abuse or 'sudden outbursts of rage'." Catherine Bennett; In Princes We Trust ... to Do Absolutely Nothing Useful; The Observer (London, UK); Sep 27, 2009.

PRONUNCIATION: (en-KO-mee-uhm)

MEANING: noun: Glowing praise

ETYMOLOGY: From Latin encomium, from Greek enkomion, from komos (revel).

USAGE: "The speech cheered the faithful no end, as did Sarah Brown's smooth and skilful introduction of her husband. Yet though her encomium went down well with the party, it nauseated many television viewers." Ruth Dudley Edwards; Why Mrs Brown Should Have Skipped the Heroics; Irish Independent (Dublin); Oct 4, 2009.


noun: Something cheap and showy, of little use.
adjective: Showy, but worthless.

ETYMOLOGY: Of uncertain origin, perhaps an alteration of Middle English gibecrake (small ornament), possibly from Old French giber (to shake).

USAGE: "Uncle Rabid Prophet TechEye has worshiped more gimcrack bits of junk and practiced more half-baked religions than all of Hollywood combined." Bow Down And Open Your Wallet; Warsaw Business Journal (Poland); Aug 21, 2006.

26 October 2009
"Proper names that have become improper and uncommonly common" is how the author Willard R. Espy described eponyms, and that is the theme for this week's words in AWAD: words coined after people's names.

We are going to meet a poet, a novelist, a prophet, a statesman, and a legislator. They wrote poems, novels, holy books, political treatises, and laws.

In our quest for eponyms, we are going to visit England, Persia, Italy, and Greece. All aboard!

MEANING: adjective: One who is melancholic, passionate, and melodramatic, and disregards societal norms

ETYMOLOGY: After poet Lord Byron (1788-1824), who displayed such characteristics, as did his poetry, i.e. a flawed character marked by great passion who exhibits disrespect for social institutions and is self-destructive.

NOTES: A little-known fact: He was the father of Ada Lovelace, today known as the first computer programmer, who wrote programs for Charles Babbage's analytical engine.

USAGE: "Zenovich casts [movie director Roman] Polanski, whose face repeatedly fills the screen with a Byronic luminosity, as a tragic figure, a child survivor of the Holocaust haunted by the murder of his wife, the actress Sharon Tate, at the hands of the Manson family." Bill Wyman; Whitewashing Roman Polanski; Salon (New York); Feb 19, 2009.

"Laurie may have his pet theories as to why [Gregory] House-the-character has become a cult -- the damaged, Byronic genius/healer who can say the unsayable and (almost always) get away with it." Stuart Husband; Hugh Laurie Interview; The Daily Telegraph (London, UK); Jun 3, 2009.


MEANING: adjective: Of or relating to a totalitarian state in which citizens' activities are tightly controlled

ETYMOLOGY: After George Orwell, pen name of Eric Blair (1903-1950), whose novel Nineteen Eighty-Four depicted a futuristic totalitarian state. Also see Big Brother.

USAGE: "Military satellites designed to guide nuclear missiles are being used to monitor prison parolees and probationers in a technological advance designed to reduce the nation's skyrocketing prison population. But critics say it also raises the specter of an Orwellian future." Gary Fields; Satellite 'Big Brother' Eyes Parolees; USA Today; Apr 8, 1999.

"The [remote deletion by Amazon of Orwell's books from customers' ebook devices] prompted widespread criticism from Amazon customers, rights advocates, and bloggers, on whom the Orwellian nature of Amazon's actions were not lost." Thomas Claburn; Amazon Settles Kindle Deletion Lawsuit For $150,000; InformationWeek (New York); Oct 2, 2009.

Manichean or Manichaean

MEANING: adjective: Of or relating to a dualistic view of the world, dividing things into either good or evil, light or dark, black or white, involving no shades of gray

ETYMOLOGY: After Manes/Mani (216-276 CE), Persian founder of Manichaeism, an ancient religion espousing a doctrine of a struggle between good and evil

USAGE: "The most crucial feature of neoconservatism is its Manichean worldview, wherein the Earth is pitted in an urgent struggle between purely good and purely evil nations. As George W. Bush famously told then Sen. Joe Biden: 'I don't do nuance.'" Jacob Bronsther; What Do Neocons Have to Do With Obama?; The Christian Science Monitor (Boston, Massachusetts); Sep 29, 2009.

"Here the schema is too obvious, and its Manichaean contrasts of dark/light, good/evil don't resonate beyond the special effects that deliver them." Judith Mackrell; Wind Shadow; Guardian (London, UK); Oct 7, 2009.

PRONUNCIATION: (mak-ee-uh-VEL-ee-uhn)

MEANING: adjective: Characterized by cunning, deception, and expediency

ETYMOLOGY: After Niccolò Machiavelli (1469-1527), Florentine statesman and author of The Prince, a political treatise describing use of craft and deceit to achieve political power

USAGE: "Rumours of Machiavellian plots and conspiracy theories have permeated the period of mourning." Darryl Broadfoot; Mitchell: End the Revisionism; The Herald (Glasgow, Scotland); Nov 23, 2007.

PRONUNCIATION: (dray-KO-nee-uhn, druh-)

MEANING: adjective: Unusually harsh

ETYMOLOGY: After Draco (late 7th century BCE), Athenian legislator, noted for the harshness of his code of laws.

NOTES: Under Draco's laws even trivial offenses, such as idleness, brought capital punishment. When asked why he had instituted the death penalty for most offenses, he supposedly replied that the lesser crimes deserved it and he knew of no greater punishment for more important ones. Could it be an example of an aptronym (in Greek his name means dragon)? His laws were said to be written in blood instead of ink.

When it comes to lawmaking, the name of one of Draco's successors has entered the language in an opposite sense. The Athenian lawmaker Solon's reform to make Draco's laws humane earned him a place in the dictionary as an eponym meaning "a wise lawgiver". It was Solon who said: Laws are the spider's webs which, if anything small falls into them they ensnare it, but large things break through and escape.

USAGE: "The 'criminalization of any criticism' of General Musharraf, his regime, and other state functionaries was an unprecedented draconian measure against the freedom of speech." 17 Retired Judges Want Revival of Constitution; Daily Times (Lahore, Pakistan); Nov 28, 2007.

Good Friends

When I asked my colleague via e-mail what the Hallowe'en Pumpkin carving contest prizes should be, this was the answer I got:

1st place - you get to keep your job

2nd place - you can work here part-time until further notice

3rd place - no jobs right now - but you're at the top of the waiting list

This is why I love this person. Usually serious, the fun side pops out every so often and I howled when I read this. It's always a surprise when the sarcasm comes out like that. Really funny!
You will always be my friend!