Posts Tagged ‘words’

A bit of cross-pollination, this week.

I was intrigued by a blog post from the always-interesting candidkay, in which she detailed the selection for her word for the year: “wonder.”

Wonder—as in “sense of wonder” rather than “Hmm . . . I wonder . . .”—has long been a thing encouraged in my household. We love it. I mean, there are phenomena in this world that are just so . . . wonderful . . . that they make me glad to be alive.

I have some tried-and-true sources for “sensawunda.” Watching a cephalopod change the color and texture of its skin in the blink of an eye. Standing in the middle of a Gothic cathedral and looking up at tons of stone that hang above me, all lifted by human hands, all suspended by the power of physics. Seeing the spirals amid the seeds of a sunflower or embedded in a sectioned nautilus shell, and recognizing the mathematics (which I poorly understand) that predict each rank, each row, each curve.

Recently, though, I hadn’t experienced that sensawunda—life has been filled with too much of the pedestrian and mundane of late—and I had actually forgotten how lovely a few moments of wonderment can be.

And then, just as I was ruing that lack, I was struck by a thing I hadn’t thought before, a thing that made me go ooooh, that is so cool. (more…)

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Kurt R.A. GiambastianiI’m in serious Writing-Avoidance Mode.

May brings the first Mother’s Day and my mom’s birthday since her passing in December. Family business and concerns literally wake me up at night. My day job has been a frenzy of frustration and chaos. I can’t focus on anything requiring mental acuity for very long, so the garden and household-repair projects are all I can manage.

Writing? What’s that?

But I did come across this interesting article in the Washington Post. A new study has found that several words have a much longer history than we thought possible. (more…)

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Aeons ago, when newspapers were printed on paper and was a young Bay Area boy, I used to open up the San Francisco Chronicle and read Herb Caen’s column.

Yes. I was an odd little boy.

I remember one column in particular, in which Herb talked about one of the local Chinese restaurants playing softball against the SFPD in a charity event. The restaurant had t-shirts printed up for its team players. On the shirts were some characters in Chinese script. When Herb asked them what the Chinese words meant, he was told they translated as “No effing butter!”

Though this went straight over my little pre-teen head (on several levels), I was still smart enough to recognize a punch line when I read one. So I showed it to my dad.

“What does ‘effing’ mean?” (more…)

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Kurt R.A. GiambastianiEvery once in a while, out of the blue, a common, everyday word will suddenly look…wrong.

This has happened all my reading/writing life. I actually remember the first time this happened. I was in 5th grade, and I was reading along and came across the word “dirt.” I stared at that word for a while; I knew what it was, and I knew what it meant, but I was sure it was misspelled. I even went to the dictionary and looked it up. “Dirt” had become, suddenly, foreign English.

It doesn’t happen frequently—perhaps three or four times a year—but it has always puzzled me. Today, it happened again, but with a new twist.

Today, I was writing an email, tutoring someone on SQL basics. In checking my facts, I came across a snippet of code.

SELECT * FROM <table> WHERE . . .

That word, SELECT, just looked wrong. Did it really end with “CT”? Does any other word end with “CT”? I typed it out myself, and it looked fine. Here’s the deal: It only looked wrong in Courier font, all caps.

Now why would my brain suddenly reject (Hey! another word ending in “CT”!)—Why would my brain suddenly elect to reject (I’m going to have fun with this, now) the word “SELECT” as suspect? (Okay…I’ll stop.) And why only in Courier? And why does it look fine, now?

Some form of super-limited aphasia? Perhaps a pathway neuron that hooked to my recognition of “SELECT” suddenly died, and it took me an hour or so to reroute back to that brain-byte.

The brain is a mystifying thing. It does things we don’t understand, sometimes seemingly without reason.

I’ll never know. I only hope it isn’t just me… That would be weird.


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