Archive for the ‘Word of Week’ Category

It’s been a while since I’ve had a word of the week. Yesterday, not knowing its meaning, I began saying “perspicuity” compulsively. I wasn’t sure if it was a real world – Jen suggested I really mean promiscuity, which is something entirely different. Thankfully, Google is smart enough to guess what I was trying to spell, and, low and behold, it’s a wonderful word. An obscure way to proclaim clarity! Just what I needed for ironic declarations of my own lucidity!

Here she is.


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Cut The Crap

It’s been a while since we’ve had a word of the week. The basic premise, you might remember, involves words that are stuck in my head, not words that are complicated or interesting. These words are not SAT words. Though sometimes they just so happen to be.

“Triage” has got to be my word of the month by now. I’ve been triaging everything – I’m not sure how I got to be so busy, but I’m currently running off a 50 point list that covers through Sunday. But it’s just a process. I have a foundation in place, and I’m investing in tools to get me from where I am to where I want to be. It just so happens that this involves a lot of Bible study, drywall dust, and shelving. It’s going to get better.

I have a sweet tooth. While I’m normally disciplined enough not to buy loose candy from those delicious candy bins in the first place, once I do, I invariably save the best of everything for last. Since this extends everywhere, I’m always discovering new, undesirable, tasks that I should get done before I can do something more desirable – like read or sleep or sit on the couch with no particular agenda. In the end, I do these things too – but they’re slotted into a half hour segment somewhere, and always at the end of the day, when they are oftentimes preempted by whatever new undesirable task I can find to fill the space. I’ve never had any problems visualizing what it would be like to be insane. It’d be like me, only say 30% worse.

So how to maintain that buffer and stay safely (…) on this side of the crazy-zone? Triage.

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Several years ago, on our first backpacking trip, my father, brother and I ran out of water. New Hampshire was dry that summer, and once we got above 3000 feet, there was nothing. We siphoned muck out of puddles (it tasted like peanuts), but ended up going to bed with nothing.

I spent the entire night dreaming of faucets.

The next day, when we got back to the cabin, I marveled at the beautiful, clean water pouring liberally from the sink. One night without water.

This summer, we more or less ran out of food. If you want to see somebody eat a lot of free soup crackers, hang out a trailheads nearby to wilderness. We were rationed low for a while, but probably only really two days were spent in severe deficit. I never enjoyed ice cream and two back to back dinners so much.

A few weeks ago, my cell phone charger stopped working. I have one in the car, but my commute is a mere 12 minutes – I was concocting excuses to drive anywhere, just to get another 10 minutes of charge in. I’ve been postponing a trip to JC Penney (where I will be picking up my delightful top down bottom up cordless shades. Don’t judge me.) until the phone was low so that I could refill it on that half hour (round trip) drive.

Three weeks without a cell phone charger. The end of the world.

Well, the new one came in the mail today, straight from Hong Kong. It seems to work. I’m going to polish it every night.

All is well again. Sometimes you have to go without to really appreciate what you have. Like cell phone chargers.

Meanwhile, I have a word of the week, a real one, for the first time in a long time.

Everything has been germane to everything else this week. I found a bug in the code – I had to chase it down because it was germane to the failure we were having. It wasn’t the cause, but it definitely involved applicable functionality. I don’t know who infected me with that word, but I know it happened within the last week. I appreciate it. Words of the Week are not common these days.

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It’s not exactly standard high-flung Word of the Week material, but “toxic” has infected my lexicon in places where it had never been before recently. The big hitter came from Wall Street, where toxic loans have led to wholesale collapse of capitalism. More recently, Bethany used it to describe my relationship tendencies – this opened up a whole new world for me. I’ve been calling all varieties of interactions, influences and concepts toxic for a solid week now. It has led to a resurgence of the use of medical terminology for figurative use all around. You should be able to buy stock in that. Betting on the abuse of metaphors is a good investment in troubled times.

Actually, if you want a real word of the week, how about pathology. It’s one of my favorite work terms – as one who tests things, I’m always categorizing pathologies.

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Most of the time I know my Words of The Week. If not, I at least remember hearing them. Not so with intransigent, which I neither know nor recall being exposed to. I think I prefer it in its noun form where I’d be allowed to call one who refuses to compromise an intransigent. But I really have no idea, seeing as how I didn’t know what it meant until 4 minutes ago.

The rain ended, the skies cleared, and the sun was brilliant. Perfect for pictures. I get in the car, and holy moley, what is that thing? Giant dark cloud – still it’s good light for pictures, so I go to one of my favorite places, the field north of Patapsco by that catholic church. I’m there for 10 minutes, and the storm is now on me. The clouds, ominous. All of the sudden, WHOOOOSH, the gust front hits, gusts over 50 mph. Hands trembling as I try to sheath my camera, tree branches snapping, one 6 foot pillar of log flying 300 feet in the air before coming to rest further down the field. I back peddle down a hill so that I get a 100 foot head start if something some hurling off at me. A hail stone or two twacks me in the face. Awesome, awesome. I hustled my way back to the car, took a deep breath and drove hom. Turns out we had a severe thunderstorm warning – who knew? We just lost 16 degrees in 45 minutes. The wind is buffeting my house.

storm brewingsqual linedark cloud

Addendum 2
A few of us went to Body Worlds 2 in Baltimore this evening. I found it to be a little disturbing, to be honest. I didn’t have the joy of witnessing this, but Michael had a Michael moment when we got to the first full size cadaver. There were dozens of people in there – it was pretty crowded – and Michael was carefully examining the dead person.

“Hmmm,” he said, “I wonder if it’s a guy or a girl.”

Now, I have to tell you, they don’t cut any corners in this exhibit. The guy had a several inch cadaver member and two testes, not even a scrotum to confuse things. Some woman we didn’t know was standing next to him.

“Uhhh, it’s a guy,” she deadpanned. It could not have been more obvious. Michael was trying to adjudicate its sex based on the nipples, and had neglected to check for any of the other tell tale signs.

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A few years ago I discussed the propensity of a prof to ask obscenely simple questions at the Hopkins corporate diploma mill. Today, for my excessively long class at work, we had a guy that asked questions that have up to a thousand different answers, none of which are completely right, but only one of which is acceptable. It’s like when Coach Klim helped out with the mid-distance runners on speed dynamics stuff once my senior year.

“What’s this?” he’d say, holding his one leg up as though mid-stride.

We’d sit there on the track and look at him dumbly for 10 seconds, before he answered what he thought to be obvious. “That’s right, that’s your hip flexor, now what’s this?” as he shifted slightly, and all the sudden the answer would be “box jumps” or “hurdle drills” or something otherwise unrelated.

Today we had the same thing.

“What is this?” he’d ask. The answer was possibly:
“use case”
“systems engineering”
or sometimes

Never were the questions specific enough to point to a singular answer.

The best one was:
“You have the ‘as is’ and the what?”

We stared blankly. A few people mumbled possible answers, spanning several engineering disciplines, playing pin the tail on the dumb question.

“To be” was the answer.

I am pleased to announce my first word of the week in quite some time. The Little Prince, apart from being generally pretty wonderful, reintroduced me to a charming word – Coquettish. It’s been rattling around in my head all day long, in an almost sing-songy chirp.

Addendum 2
The most effective motivation
To get one last rep
Is to know
That if you don’t
The bar will fall on your neck.

What a rush.

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As far as I can tell, as a single American citizen making less than $75,000 per year, I will be receiving a $600 check in the mail.

I can’t fathom why.

I think the idea is that I’m supposed to give it to someone else, ASAP. Now, I’m no economics expert, but if I owned a business and I knew that 100,000,000 morons would be $600 richer for no good reason, I’d immediately raise my prices. Watch retail values surrounding check delivery, see if that happens. I believe this is what they call “inflation” – it’s the same thing that would happen if the minimum wage was raised.

Only that would be helping poor, unskilled laborers.

And this is helping rich, upper middle class people like me. People who, frankly, do not need help.

I suppose if I were to do my patriotic duty, I’d dump the money into a new gadget or something. They should have figured out some way to hand out the $600 in VISA/MasterCard/Discover (whichever credit card companies paid to be involved) gift cards. That way I’d have to spend it. As it stands, I’ll probably squirrel it away or donate it to foreign missions. Take that Federal Government!

That’s what you get.

You know how there are some words that you never see in the written word, but often use in speech? I’ve often thought that I should write those down. There’s a good “c” one that I can’t remember now, but I did happen upon conniption as an example as I was pondering it.

Finicky was the word that I was attempting to use just now, before I realized that I couldn’t spell it as I had never written it before. Turns out both 1 and 2 n’s is acceptable.

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