Eight-six my addeled brain

Sometime in the fall of 1985 (when I was a young lad of 13), there was a series of commercials for a car dealer that ran in the Los Angeles area the tag-line of which was "Eighty-six the eighty-fives!"  When I first saw the commercials, I didn’t get it.  But after a few times, I realized […]

Words a random library patron didn’t know

I checked out Adrift: Seventy-six days lost at sea by Steven Callahan today and started reading it this evening.   I noticed something very interesting almost right away.  There were lots of penciled in checkboxes next to various lines in the text, and on the lines that were checked, a word or two was underlined in […]

You can learn a lot about a person from their bookmarks

Case in point: on my work machine, I have a bookmark for our corporate subscription to the Oxford English Dictionary organized into my “Fun” sub-folder.


So today, we did an “analogies” test. Carmen is studying to take the Miller Analogies test and Ben and I were teasing her a bit yesterday about how she came up with some of her answers. So she challenged us to answer 40 questions and see who did best. This grew into about 5 of […]

Proper pronunciation; or how my teachers got it all wrong

Working my way through Greek history, I am rapidly coming to discover that I’ve gotten just about all of the pronunciations of Greek names and places wrong, and am now experiencing retroactive humiliation. I blame this in part on me, of course, but I also blame it on my teachers. It seems to me that […]

Can I buy a vowel?

Great theme for this week’s A.Word.A.Day mailing list. The theme was: Words having vowels aeiou once and only once, and in order. The words were: annelidous – of or relating to worms facetious – Jocular or humorous, often inappropriately anemious – Growing in windy conditions caesious – Bluish or grayish green abstemious – Sparing, especially […]


I get a lot of junk snail mail in the office, mostly from Gartner, which seems to me to be about the most environmentally unfriendly technology analysis firm out there. (I also don’t believe half of what they report.) But a measurable percentages comes from SANS, which apparently stands for System Administration, Networking, and Security […]

Words that seem risque

This weeks theme in Anu Garg’s (wordsmith.org) A.Word.A.Day mailing list is words that seem risque. Today’s word was “vomitorium” and for some reason, the word reminded me of strausmouse. It sounds risque, but would you believe that a vomitorium is actually: A passageway to the rows of seats in a theater. It comes from the […]

Stupid memory tricks

I have found that as I get older, my memory gets worse, or my brain plays more and more stupid memory tricks on me. Lately, I have found it more difficult to remember a word that I want to use, although I know it’s meaning perfectly and even have an idea of what letter it […]

“Next generation”

“Next generation” is a phrase that annoys me. I am reading the documentation to some new software (yes, I actually read the documentation) that I want to use and in the first sentence the software is described as “an innovative, next generation application…” What exactly does “next generation” mean? I’d like to see “this generation” […]

The very annoying Honda commercial

Honda has a commericial with “Mr. Opportunity”, a cartoon character that acts as the spokesperson for a line of it’s cars and SUVs. I don’t mind the cartoon guy. I don’t even mind the cars. What “drives” me to distraction is the copy. In fact, it is a single like of copy: …and the very […]

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