Saturday, March 31, 2012

Per Your Suggestion #4: "Why Asleep Is Better Than Awake"

Okay, I'm still tired from last night's first Easter drama performance (which went well) and my level of  creativity is at a minimum, so I'm going to keep this short. Today's post was suggested by my cousin, Rhesa Kelly. She gave me the writing prompt "why sleep is better than awake." I couldn't think of a story to accompany this theme, so I'm making this one a list post. Hope you enjoy it...


1)  When you're sleeping, you can't worry about the problems of life.  Of course, they're still there when you wake up, but for a few hours at least, they disappear entirely. Unless you're one of those people, like me, who occasionally dreams about their problems, in which case this point is completely negated.

2)  When you have a nightmare, you can wake up, and it's over.  Whereas when you're awake and something horrible happens, you can't just pinch yourself and make it disappear. Many people, myself included, try this, but it never works. When life is tough, it just is. You can't just change the channel. True, things can get better depending on your response to circumstances. But bad stuff still happens -- that's just the way it is.

3)  Some dreams are awesome, while others are really strange -- but very few are boring.  Case in point: Last night I dreamed that my wife and I were vacationing in Jamaica, staying in a swanky apartment. We were considering moving there, if everything went well on our visit. As it turns out, the apartment was as nice as advertised, but had been broken into shortly before we arrived, so we knew security in the area wasn't that great. We decided to take a walk around the surrounding area, when we were suddenly pursued by a very bad man in a very fast boat. I was conked over the head and knocked out, while my wife hid under a bed nearby. When I came to, I realized that a friend of ours -- who had unexpectedly shown up while we were being pursued -- had been kidnapped by the very bad man in the very fast boat. We made our way back to the restaurant near our swanky apartment. There we met my boss, who warned me that if I didn't return to my job in the States within the next day that I would be promptly fired. Then I woke up. Not altogether pleasant, but definitely interesting.

4)  After a good night's sleep, you feel much better.  After a long day of being awake, especially if you've spent that day doing something particularly stressful or highly physical, you tend to feel much worse.

5)  If you're an insomniac, when you finally fall asleep, it's a wonderful relief.  If you're not a morning person, when you are forced to wake up, it's a pain in the butt! I am both an insomniac and a not-a-morning-person, and the time spent after trying to get sleepy and before trying to wake up is the best part. The "trying" parts, not so great.


Okay, that's all I've got. Feel free to comment with your own reasons for why asleep is superior to awake. Or if you disagree, feel free to share your reasons why you think so as well.

Friday, March 30, 2012

Things I Find Fascinating: Ridiculously Short Words And Their Meanings

For every action, there is an equal and opposite reaction. Such is also the case with blog posts. Well, in this case, at least. Several days ago, I posted a list of Ridiculously Long Words And Their Meanings, so I felt it only appropriate today to post a collection of extremely short words and their meanings. Enjoy!


1)  Ai:  This is a three-toed sloth which inhabits the forests of southern Venezuela, the Guianas, and northern Brazil. If you disturb the ai while it's eating the trumpet-tree leaves (its favorite food), the ai may very well sound a high-pitched cry in your general direction. Sloths are funny-looking creatures to me, but my wife thinks they're adorable. If she had her way – and/or if it were legal – we would have two or three pet sloths (doing whatever it is sloths do) hanging out at our house right now.



2)  Go:  It's not what you think. Yes, "go" means to move or to leave, but it also has another meaning. Go is also the name for an ancient board game – possibly the oldest board game still in existence, in fact. Known as weiqi in Chinese, igo in Japanese, or baduk in Korean, the game of go originated in China more than 2,000 years ago. The game is apparently rich in strategy, despite having relatively simple rules. According to its Wikipedia article, the game is played by two players who alternately place black and white stones on the vacant intersections (called "points") of a grid of 19 x 19 lines. The object of the game is to use one's stones to surround a larger portion of the board than the opponent. Once on the board, stones can only be moved if they are captured. When a game concludes, the controlled points are counted along with captured stones to determine who has more points. Games may also be lost by resignation.



3)  Id:  The id is one of the three parts of the psychic apparatus defined in Sigmund Freud's structural model of the psyche (along with ego and super-ego). The id part of the psyche, residing in the unconscious, is said to be the source of instinctive impulses that seek satisfaction in accordance with the pleasure principle and are modified by the ego and the super-ego before they are given overt expression. I used to want to be a psychologist – partially because I really enjoyed watching The Bob Newhart Show – but after reading and trying to comprehend explanations like the one above for "id", I decided after only one psychology college course that the field simply wasn't for me. I'm just not smart enough. Maybe I'd make a good subject for a psychologist, but definitely not a good psychologist. Anyway, that's what the "id" is; hopefully you understand it better than I do.



4)  Ho:  It's not what you think, either. Well, it is, but that's not the meaning I'm referring to here. In addition to its derogatory definition as well as its being Santa's most famous saying (always spoken in triplicate), "ho" is a word also used as a call to attract attention, often tagged on after a word denoting a destination. Thus, the phrase "Westward Ho!" essentially means, "Hey, everybody, let's go West!" The saying "Land Ho!" then means, "Look over there, dry land! Perhaps we won't die on the high seas after all!"



5)  Li:  The li is a traditional Chinese unit of distance, the length of which has varied considerably over time, but now has a standardized length of 500 meters or half a kilometer (approximately 1,640 feet). A modern li consists of 1,500 Chinese "feet" or chi and, in the past, was often translated as a mile. The Chinese used to denote the word () combines the characters for "field" () and "earth (), since a li was considered to be about the length of a single village. Pictured below is a section of the Anping Bridge in Fujian commonly known as the "Five Li Bridge" due to its length.



6)  Oy (also spelled Oi):  This Yiddish word – most often accompanied by the word "vey" – is typically used as an exclamation of dismay or exasperation. The literal meaning of the phrase "oy vey!" is "oh pain!" Uses of the phrase in popular culture include: a sign on the Williamsburg Bridge in New York City which proclaims: "Leaving Brooklyn! Oy vey!" (due to the borough's large Jewish population); the chorus of Weird Al Yankovic's song "Pretty Fly For A Rabbi" (which goes something like this – "How ya doin' Bernie? Oy vey, oy vey, And all the goyim say, I'm pretty fly for a rabbi!"); and a series of James Bond parody novels by Sol Weinstein, featuring the spy character named "Oy-Oy-Seven".



7)  Xu:  A xu is a coin formerly minted in South Vietnam which is roughly equivalent to a cent. The xu has not been widely used since 1978, when the dong was established as the primary unit of currency used throughout the country. A dong is worth approximately 100 xu, so the dong is basically their dollar. A two-xu coin is pictured below. Personally, I think all coins should have a hole in the middle for easier transport – I hate having jingly pockets. I'd rather have a jingly necklace. Talk about blinged out!



8)  Pa:  Though you don't hear it as much these days, the word "pa" has historically been a quite commonly used affectation for one's dad or father. Famous Pa's throughout history include Pa Ingalls of Little House On The Prairie fame and Pa Kettle from the Ma And Pa Kettle comedy films of the 1940s and '50s.



9)  Do, Re, Mi, Fa, So, La, Ti (or Si), and Do again:  These seven notes, along with the repeated Do, make up the diatonic scale, a musical term for an octave-repeating musical scale comprising five whole steps and two half steps for each octave, in which the two half steps are separated from each other by either two or three whole steps. Did you get all that? Good! This technique of having a word associated with each note (not the actual names of the notes) is called solfége, and was put to popular use in a song called "Do-Re-Mi" from Rodgers and Hammerstein's famous musical The Sound Of Music, which goes a little something like this...



10)  Za:  Though I have never personally heard anyone say this, "za" is apparently commonly recognized as a shortened version of the word "pizza" – so much so that it actually appears in respected online dictionaries. Go figure! "Pizza" is not that long of a word, so why anyone would need to shorten it even further is beyond me. Laziness, I suppose? Regardless, if you ever hear anyone say, "Let's get some za!" or perhaps "Does that za place on 10th deliver here?", now you'll know that they're talking about pizza, and not some ancient Egyptian god (that's what it sounds like) or Russian monarch (which is also what it sounds like).



Oh great, now I'm hungry for pizza! Oh, well...

Thursday, March 29, 2012

Per Your Suggestion #3: "Ostracized Ostriches"

Today's story/post is based on another great suggestion by my friend, Bryce Kime. The writing prompt Bryce offered in this case was the deceptively simple phrase: "ostracized ostriches." I took that catchy couplet and just rolled with it! The resulting story is slightly absurd yet surprisingly literary. Hope you enjoy!


"OSTRACIZED OSTRICHES"


We are the forgotten ones – the ones you never think of when you're scratching out your invitations to the wedding, the birthday party, or the bar-mitzvah. We are the neglected, the rejected, the unwanted – and you think it doesn't matter to us. You think we don't mind your exclusions, assuming that we'd rather be doing something else anyway – like playing checkers, getting our teeth cleaned, or flying. That's the heart of it, isn't it? You resent the fact that we can take flight whenever we like, while you are eternally ground-bound. We are the weirdoes, the mutants – because we have wings that not only propel us forward but upward. We take off and soar to foreign lands to sample the cuisine, take candid snapshots, and return when the weather is warmer. You are stuck here – running, running, running, always running, but getting nowhere. We are the losers, the squares, the avian pariahs – just because we don't look or act like you, is that any reason to hate us? We can't help the way we were born. So we fly, and you don't – that makes us different, true, but it also makes us interesting. We're not asking you to love us, simply to take interest in us, to acknowledge for one moment that we exist. Instead you screech carelessly that we're nothing more than folklore or some cleverly devised urban legend which you can easily dismiss. But we do exist – you could see us right in front of you, if you only had the courage to look. We are the black sheep, the chopped liver, the pond scum of your world – but why? We are ostriches – just like you, but not like you – and you ostracize us with your squawks and with your actions. In the end, who wins?

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Birthday Music

I already know it's going to be a busy day, between working all day and the final Easter drama rehearsal taking up most of the night, so I'm going to make it easy on myself with today's blog post.

I received (as requested) Amazon.com gift cards for my birthday a couple of weeks ago, and I just got around to spending them today. Ten new albums for my listening enjoyment!

Below are links to individual songs from each album I purchased.  I grouped them together by style. The first two are Christian rock (pretty heavy!); the next two are Christian rap; the next two are Christian pop; and the last four are mainstream/"secular" pop. Obviously, I like a wide variety of musical styles.

Anyway, I'm enjoying listening to these. Click on the videos below and listen too if you'd like. Or don't – it doesn't really matter. Till tomorrow...


1)  Sent By Ravens – Mean What You Say



2)  Fireflight – Now






3)  116 – Man Up






4)  Flame – The 6th





5)  Britt Nicole – Gold






6)  Kari Jobe – Where I Find You






7)  Adele – 21






8)  Amy Winehouse – Lioness: Hidden Treasures






9)  Lucy Schwartz – Keep Me EP







10)  Lights – Siberia


Tuesday, March 27, 2012

I Could Get It For Free, But It's Not For Me!

You remember how I said before that I would read anything, no matter what it was? Yeah, well, perhaps I misspoke.

In doing my daily search for free e-books with which to further clutter up my Kindle on both Amazon.com and other free e-book sites, I have run across some truly diverse books, ranging from the completely absurd (I usually go for those) to the intriguing (I usually pick those up too) to the horribly mundane (if I buy those it's 'cause I fell asleep with my finger hovering over the "BUY" button by accident).

Rather than bore you with the weird (been there, done that!) or intriguing books I have downloaded, I figured it'd be way more entertaining to give you a few examples of the boring, stupid, and utterly pointless books that even I won't read. And that's saying something! So here we go...



1)  Adventures In The Land Of Singing Garbage Trucks by Adam Tervort


DESCRIPTION:
"What happens when a normal guy from the Midwest finds himself on the other side of the world? How does one cope with the shock of spiders, snakes, and scooters seemingly around every turn? Adventures In The Land Of Singing Garbage Trucks is a memoir of a life in Taiwan by Adam Tervort, Midwesterner, Chinese-speaker, and arachnophobe extraordinaire."

MY TAKE:
Normally, an absurd title like this would pique my interest so much that I'd download it without even reading the description. But in this case, I was not too hasty and read what it was about, and was thoroughly unimpressed. Big whoop! A guy moves to Taiwan and is scared of spiders. Does it really take 41,812 words to tell that story? I just summarized it 10 words. No, thanks!



2)  I Was Attacked By A Shark and (its companion piece) I Almost Died In The Grand Canyon by Ryan Barlow



DESCRIPTIONS:
Aren't they kind of irrelevant in this case?

MY TAKE:
First of all, neither of these would actually qualify as a "book." Both are simply articles taken from travel blogs in which the author was published. Secondly, why would I waste my time reading these "books" when the entire story is told in the title? Okay, he was attacked by a shark, and later (or earlier – whatever!) he almost died in the Grand Canyon. Obviously, he survived both because he wrote a "book" about each experience. Thirdly, what kind of rotten luck does this guy have to both be attacked by a shark and nearly die at a national landmark? I'm betting this is not coincidence and he's just making junk up to draw attention to himself. Finally, I can't and won't support (even by downloading his free books) an author who also wrote books called God Is Dead: My Fall From Fundamentalist Christianity and The Argument For Post-Term Abortion. Moving on...



3)  How To Become A Successful Independent Female Escort by Ashly Lorenzana


DESCRIPTION:
"A short guide to starting out as a professional escort."

MY TAKE:
Well, first of all, I'm not female. So certain aspects of the book wouldn't really apply to me. Secondly, I am not now nor have I ever been nor do I ever aspire to be an escort, either as a professional or an amateur. So, yeah, not gonna be downloading or reading this one. Ever.



4)  Shamanic Psychopomp: Guide Of Souls by F.J. Fritz


DESCRIPTION:
"Throughout time, the shaman has carried the responsibility of escorting the souls of kindred members to the realms of beyond. Today this service is still greatly needed. Although the knowledge of how to accomplish this task has faded as the close-knit tribal community has given way to modern civilization, shamanic practitioners are discovering the call to guide souls, or to act as a psychopomp, inadvertently through their ecstatic journeys..."

MY TAKE:
There's way more description where I left off, but that's enough for me. I agree with part of this book's title: It's definitely psycho. I don't claim to understand the tenets of whatever kind of religion this book is endorsing, but I know mumbo-jumbo when I hear it. I'll take a pass on the "Psychopomp."



5)  Remembering 'Star Search' by Dave Rodway


DESCRIPTION:
"A story about the process of auditioning and performing on the national TV show Star Search with Ed McMahon."

MY TAKE:
I remember Star Search, too. Vaguely, because I was quite young when it was still on, but I do remember it. But I don't want to read a book about the process of auditioning and performing on the show. I'd rather just watch the first couple of episodes of a new season of American Idol. And I really don't want to do that either. So, no, I won't be reading this one – sorry, Dave!



6)  Easy Gingerbread Tiki Hut by Lisa Turner Anderson


DESCRIPTION:
"Dreaming of the Caribbean? Well, building a fabulous gingerbread tiki hut is as easy as 1-2-3 with this no-bake take on the classic. This no-bake house is made from graham crackers and is put together with our secret recipe for royal icing! Includes pattern, simple step-by-step instructions, and a list of candy add-ons."

MY TAKE:
First of all, I don't often dream of the Caribbean; but if I did, I'd be dreaming of lying on a beautiful beach, the warm crystal-blue water tickling my toes, sipping a tall glass of ice-cold lemonade – not dreaming of constructing a tiki hut out of graham crackers. That thought probably wouldn't even rank in my Top 10 Caribbean Dreams. Secondly, my mama always told me: "Don't play with your food." Since I've always been fairly obedient in that respect, why spoil things now? Thirdly, I wouldn't want to risk losing what little self-respect I currently possess by making a gingerbread tiki hut and then showing it off to my friends. There are much better, less embarrassing ways to lose my self-respect, and I'd be more likely to try some of those first.



7)  Little Mama's Family Secrets by Suzanne Apruzzese-Brame, Darlene Sirmans, and Connie Apruzzese


DESCRIPTION:
"Little Mama welcomes you to make your next meal experience the most flavorful it can be by making your family dishes of home-style proportions. This book includes recipes for main dishes, side dishes, desserts, and even drinks, all of which are true family favorites. If you really want to make your guests say 'WOW!' just make one of Little Mama's batches of Peanut Blossom cookies or some Stuffed Meatballs...One hundred percent of the profit from each sale will be donated to the fight against Domestic and Date Violence monetarily to the local domestic violence shelter for families."

MY TAKE:
Even if I were an avid cook (and I'm not), I wouldn't be diving into Little Mama's recipe book. First of all, Little Mama and her kitchen are more than a little scary-looking. If you disagree with that statement, that's okay. I just get creepy vibes from looking at her, that's all. Secondly, what's the big deal here? Are Little Mama's recipes really so distinctive that any good cook couldn't come up with these on their own? Every good cookbook needs a gimmick – what is Little Mama's? She could've gone with Little Mama's Creepy Cookbook or Little Mama's Redneck Remedies For Fast-Food Fanatics, or some such thing. Family Secrets is just boring – unless, of course, the "secret" is that the meat Little Mama uses is actually ground-up people parts like in The Texas Chainsaw Massacre. Now THAT would be an interesting cookbook! Thirdly, it's a noble gesture to donate 100% of the profits of each book sale to domestic violence shelters, but that doesn't really do them much good if you're giving the book away for FREE! Think about that, Little Mama.



8)  What Is HTML5? by Brett McLaughlin


DESCRIPTION:
"HTML5: Everyone's using it, nobody knows what it is. I realize that sounds more like a line out of an existential movie – maybe Waiting For Godot or a screenplay by Sartre – than a statement about HTML5. But it's really the truth: most of the people using HTML5 are treating it as HTML4+, or even worse, HTML4 (and some stuff they don't use). The result? A real delay in the paradigm shift that HTML5 is almost certain to bring. It's certainly not time to look away, because by the time you look back, you may have missed something really important: a subtle but important transition centered around HTML5."

MY TAKE:
Dear Mr. McLaughlin, Nobody cares about your stupid book. Predicting some doomsday "paradigm shift" if we all don't download your book and catch up with you and the rest of your computer-geek friends isn't going to make us download your stupid book. It's going to make us laugh at you behind your back, or maybe to your face, because you're stupid enough to actually care about whether the whole world knows and understands the difference between HTML5 and HTML4+ and whatever other numbers you tack onto "HTML." Short answer: We don't care. Most of us just want to know how to check our email and get on Facebook. The 1% of people worldwide who actually care about what you have to say about HTML5 probably already know all about it anyway. And they're probably making fun of you for that one comment you made on page 5 that was "so 2011!" Sorry, but it's true. Your book is irrelevant, sir. And I, for one, won't be reading it.



9)  Sagen aus Sachsen by Unbekannter Verfasser


DESCRIPTION:
Bel diesem Werk handelt es sich um eine urheberrechsfreir Ausgabe. Der Kauf dieser Kindle-Edition beinhaltet die kostenlose, drahtlose Lieferung auf Ihren Kindle oder Ihre Kindle-Apps.

MY TAKE:
I don't speak German, so I have no clue what this book's about, much less how to read it. Good enough reason not to download it, eh?



10)  How To Make A Shoe by John Parker Headley


DESCRIPTION:  (in verse, no less!)
"Shoemakers are known both far and wide,
As men who always cut up side
Horse sometimes, also cow leather,
To meet the changes in the weather.
Sheep and goats are often slain;
Both unite to make it plain
That sheep is used for lining nice,
When goat alone would not suffice;
Just so with calf as well as kid.
Some use these linen-lined,
And think it quite the best, for those
Who feel themselves refined.
Refined or not, we think it true
Our feet need some protection;
To do whate'er they have to do,
We make our own selection.
Select at all times the best we can,
Both of shoemakers as well as shoes,
This is much the better plan,
And learns us how to choose."

MY TAKE:
That's why department stores and shoe stores and Zappos.com were invented. So I can go there and buy the shoes I want. I don't have to make my own shoes, so I won't be reading about how to do so in an e-book, thank you very much.




So, what are some books you've seen or heard of that you've never read in a million years? Comment to add your own "un-favorites."

Monday, March 26, 2012

Per Your Suggestion #2: "The Calligraphic Stenographer"

Today's story comes from a writing prompt suggested by my friend and fellow drama enthusiast, Bryce Kime. Bryce came up with several great titles for me – no back stories, no suggested story arcs, just titles – all of which, I think, have great potential to be interesting posts and/or stories. Hope you'll enjoy reading this one as much as I did in writing it!






"THE CALLIGRAPHIC STENOGRAPHER"


"Are you getting all this?" Mr. Madham sighed impatiently.

"Yes, of course, sir," replied Windy. "It reads: 'Dr. Dash, It has come to our attention that your account is in our ears, and –"

"No, no, no, Miss Day!" Mr. Madham huffed. "I didn't say that his account was 'in our ears', I said it was 'in arrears'."

"'In our rears', sir? Are you sure about that?" Windy frowned at her boss disapprovingly.

"No, no, no!" Madham was nearly screaming now.  "I said 'in arrears' – UH-REARS – do you know what that word means, Miss Day?"

"Can't say as I do, Mr. Madham." Wendy shrugged to further emphasize the fact. "Could you perhaps use it in a sentence?"

"I did use it in a sentence, Miss Day! The sentence you just took down! 'It has come to our attention that your account is in arrears!'" Madham slammed his fist on his desk in anger. Having forgotten momentarily that the desk was solid marble, he shook his wounded hand and continued. "The word is 'arrears', Miss Day! A-R-R-E-A-R-S. It means the account is past due. Dr. Dash owes us money!"

"But why?" Windy asked. "We didn't win the case. He was convicted of haberdashery."

"First of all, Miss Day, we didn't win or lose anything. I am the attorney here, you are my stenographer. Secondly, it doesn't matter whether or not I won the case – the client is still obligated to pay for my services. Thirdly, the man was not convicted of haberdashery. A haberdashery is a store that sells clothing, which is perfectly legal. Dr. Dash was convicted of harassment – he was making advances on his secretary, and –"

"Ooh, ooh, speaking of advances –" Windy interrupted excitedly. "I was hoping, sir – if you please – to get an advance on this week's paycheck. There's a one-day-only sale at Macy's tomorrow and, as you know, I could really use a new scarf."

Mr. Madham threw up his hands in disbelief. "And how would I know that?"

"Know what?" said Windy, innocently.

"That you needed a new scarf, Miss Day," Madham replied.

"Oh, that! Well, because I just told you, of course. So...?"

"So what, Miss Day?" Mr. Madham stood before her, hoping to intimidate Windy enough that she would just go away. He didn't know why he kept her on anyway. Sure, she answered his phone calls, managed his appointments, made excellent coffee, and wasn't at all bad to look at – but what did she do?

"So...how about that advance?" Windy smiled sweetly.

"Fine," Mr. Madham sighed, thoroughly exasperated. "Now can we please get back to the letter?"

"Certainly, Mr. Madham!" Windy picked up her pen, poised to write. "So far it reads: 'Dr. Dash, It has come to our attention that your account is in arrears –"

"Yes, of course," replied Mr. Madham. "'Your account is in arrears, and if we do not receive payment in full by the 20th of this month, we shall be forced' – What on earth are you doing, Miss Day?"

Madham had tried to ignore the scratching sound of Windy's pen on the page and the wild flourishes of ink she was scrawling across her notepad, but it was simply too much.

Windy looked up at him, confused. "What do you mean, sir? I'm taking down your letter. Just a sec, though, I'm a few words behind you. 'Do not receive payment in full –'"

"That's more than a few words, Miss Day, that's half a sentence!" Mr. Madham buried his face in his hands and sighed. He seemed to be doing a lot of sighing today.

"Well, good writing takes time, ya know," answered Windy. "And besides, you want it to look nice when Dr. Dash reads it, don't you?" With that, Windy held up the steno pad for her boss's approval.

Mr. Madham squinted at the page, which did indeed contain exactly the words he'd dictated, but in hardly the fashion he'd expected.




Dr. Dash,
It has come to our attention that your account is in our ears our rears arrears, and if we do not receive payment in full by the 20th of this month, we shall be forced to




"Do you always write like that, Miss Day?" inquired Mr. Madham, astonished at the perfectly formed lettering. It reminded Madham of most wedding invitations he'd seen, but the words were somehow more beautiful – perhaps because they were his own?

"Of course, Mr. Madham," said Windy. "How else would you expect me to write?"

"Well, I just assumed – I mean, you're just taking down what I'm saying and then typing it up on your computer, right?" Mr. Madham was every bit as confused as Windy looked at this moment.

"The computer? You mean I'm supposed to use that thing?" Windy shook her head, disbelieving. "I thought that was just for show. You know, to make us look professional to our walk-in clients."

Mr. Madham frowned, furrowing his brow tightly. "So...let me get this straight, Miss Day. You have never used the computer at your desk?"

"Nope. I mean, nope, sir." Windy grinned sheepishly.

"And you've never typed up a single letter that I've dictated to you?"

"Not a one, sir!"

"Then, Miss Day," continued Mr. Madham. "You're saying that you've taken down every letter I've ever given you in this fancy-schmancy handwriting, and you've sent them all out like that?"

"Yes, sir, I have!" said Windy proudly.

"Incredible!" cried Mr. Madham. "Do you even know how to use a computer?"

"Not really," replied Windy. "But I have lots of friends who know how to use a computer. They tell me it's just wonderful!"

"Yes," said Mr. Madham, unable to answer her further. 

How wonderful it must be, Madham thought. To live a life so uncomplicated, so free from enslaving technology. A life where all the thoughts inside your head are lettered in beautifully flowing lines and curves, and you don't even know the meaning of arrears or haberdashery. To be so blissfully simple and yet so refreshingly complex. What I wouldn't give to...

"What will you be forced to do?" Windy's voice interrupted the silence. She'd frowned as she noticed Mr. Madham staring at her intently, his thoughts a million miles away but apparently involving herself as well.

"Excuse me?" Mr. Madham blushed and looked away nervously.

"If you don't receive Dr. Dash's payment. What will you be forced to do?" Windy frowned slightly, awaiting his reply.

"Oh, of course! Well," Mr. Madham paused, pondering. "I shall be forced to take you out to lunch today."

"Huh?"

"Unless, of course, you have other plans," Madham said. He looked her straight in the eye, and continued. "You are remarkable, Miss Day."

"I don't have any plans for lunch," Windy replied, not knowing quite what to make of her boss's comment. "Though I was going to the post office to mail this letter once we finished it."

"The letter can wait." Madham smiled at his lovely stenographer, seeing her now as though for the first time.

"If you say so, Mr. Madham," Windy shrugged. "But if you try any funny business, I'll sue you for haberdashery!" She giggled unabashedly, taking the hand her boss had extended toward her.




POSTSCRIPT:  The letter text above is supposed to show up in a fancy script font. I realized after the fact that it may not show up as such on everyone's computer, a fact which might cause the story to lose a lot of its punch, since a lot hinges on that epiphany. If you read the story and didn't "get it" because the font didn't show up right, I'm truly sorry. I'll try to figure how to fix this problem going forward.

Sunday, March 25, 2012

Raining On My Parade

I know we need it
I know rain's good
But not when I'm stopping
To get fast food!

I roll down the window
To give them my order
Dumb prerecorded intro
I wish it was shorter!

I give them my debit card
Cash is too complicated
Even though there's an awning
I'm still inundated!

The food order picked up
I speed toward the exit
"I'm on the way, Hon"
It's not safe -- but I text it.

Leave the door open
I'm coming with dinner.
By the way, does this drenching
Make me look thinner?

Settle down to the keyboard
I've got to type faster
Or I'll lose this idea
About my fast-food disaster.

I'm running out of day
To get in my blog post
Yes, I know I'm dripping
I should probably change clothes.

I'm going! I'm going!
But first let me hit "Publish"
I'll check later for spelling
And improper English.

Once I'm in dry clothes
I can now eat my food
I know we need rain
But right now is not good!

Saturday, March 24, 2012

How We Lived, How We Live, And How We Want To Live Next (By Jason AND Mary)

So...we're officially in the market for a new house. Well, a house, period. We've been living in the same three-story townhouse since we got married almost eight-and-a-half years ago. We went with our real estate agent (Ida Lynn Stox, if you're wondering) to take a look at a couple of houses just outside of Robersonville last night. Why Robersonville, you ask? Well, my wife Mary teaches at the middle school there, and has done so for the past five years. She really likes the school, but she's getting pretty tired of the long commute (about 35 minutes one-way from where we currently live) -- especially after a crazy-long day (sometimes she's there for 12 hours or more, depending on what's going on after school). Plus, we're just both tired of the apartment-style living (even though we're homeowners and not renters).

We were sitting here talking about what we did and didn't like about the houses we saw, and what we'd like to have in a new house. The one major change for our next place is that we'll almost certainly be living in the country. Our townhouse is right on the edge of the city, and everything's close and super-convenient -- except where Mary works, that is. For those of you who don't know us (or maybe you know us, and don't know us that well), Mary and I grew up very differently. It's complicated, so I'll let you read it in our own words...


MARY:  In my early years I grew up in the country outside of an extremely small North Carolina town called Parkton. The first house I remember living in was the "Blue House." I lived there for the first five years of my life until my parents divorced, although I only remember little snippets. When my dad remarried, we went to live with my stepmom and her kids in Eastover, North Carolina, while they planned for and built a log house across the road from the Blue House. My stepmom's house was kinda big, and had a really big yard. Once the log house was mostly complete, we moved in. I had my own room in the new house, even though there now six kids. At first, my room had walls and insulation, but no sheet rock. I was used to playing outside in a pine forest with only one neighbor close enough to see. There were no other kids nearby, so I just played with my sisters. My grandma lived down the road and my dad had a herd of cows he raised as a hobby. My grandma was big into gardening and flowers, and so her old farmhouse had an awesome yard. When I was in the sixth grade, we went to live with our mom in Louisville, Kentucky. It was my first time living in an apartment and also my first time living in a big city. We lived in the "Seminary Village" which was the housing projects for the Southern Baptist seminary. I made friends with all the kids that lived in the apartments and we played on the playgrounds. We lived in Louisville for about a year, then moved to New Port Richey, Florida, where we lived in the parsonage next to the church where my stepfather was the minister of education and youth. There were no neighbors nearby, but we were in the middle of town, so shopping was really convenient. The beach was only a mile and a half away, so we went often. We lived there a year and a half before moving to a duplex in Fayetteville, North Carolina. We stayed there for nine months, and I had lots of neighborhood friends. The duplex was next-door to Snyder Memorial Baptist Church and I was at church all the time. There was a neighborhood park where I would meet friends, and we would go for runs. Then my stepdad got a pastorate job in Dubois, Wyoming. We lived in the parsonage, a trailer with an addition, which was in a residential area. The neighborhood had only one paved road. I had one friend who lived within walking distance. I walked to school and to my part-time job at the gas station/ice cream shop. Because I lived in town, I had a lot of freedom as a ninth grader. It was a beautiful setting with mountains in the distance, but there wasn't really much to do there. No shopping malls, no theater, no skating rink, no bowling alley -- nothing! When Mom and my stepdad split up, we moved to Greenville, North Carolina. We had to move into my grandparents' two-bedroom apartment where Mom and all three of us girls had to share one room. It was super-cramped, no privacy whatsoever, but kinda cool because we had a pool. Then Mom got an apartment across from the projects on B's Barbeque Road, but it wasn't safe to play outside, and as a sophomore in high school, I was too cool to play anyway. My only school friend lived in Farmville, where I went to high school. When Mom saved up enough money, she bought a house in Farmville in a mixed neighborhood -- sort of on the wrong side of the tracks, but it wasn't scary. At least Farmville had fast-food restaurants and a Food Lion, and my friend had a car so she would pick me up. I spent my years before marriage (and in college) living in apartments around Greenville, sometimes with roommates, sometimes by myself, and one year in the dorms. We bought our current townhouse before we got married, and I lived here by myself for about a month. I liked this townhouse better than the other places we looked at, because it has trees out front, birds and squirrels, a fireplace, and a unique third-story bonus room. We also have a big patio compared to most apartment-style houses. When I think back to the coolest, most memorable houses I've ever been in, they usually are in the country, and they either have awesome views of mountains or it's nothing but nature out the windows. I get a sense of peace and inspiration from trees and birds and flowers and animals, so I think I'm leaning towards a place in the country, or at least in a more isolated, "foresty" area.

JASON:  My story's not quite so interesting. From the time I was born to the time we got married (twenty-five years later), I lived in the same place, a double-wide house just outside of Winterville, North Carolina. We didn't live in a neighborhood by any stretch of the imagination. Our road was almost exactly a mile long, and on either side of it you'd have a house then a crop field, a house, a crop field, a pig farm, a house, etc. We had neighbors on either side of us, but we weren't really close with them. We basically just coexisted with them, generally peacefully. I was an only child, and there weren't really any kids to play with on my road, so I spent a lot of time indoors entertaining myself. When on the rare occasion that the neighbors' grandchildren would come to visit them and would come to our door and invite me to play, I would usually decline their offers, preferring to play by myself than with "strangers." (I didn't yet get it, that strangers are only strangers till you get to know them. I like to think I've progressed a little bit since then.) More often than not, my adventurous, fun-loving grandma -- who lived directly behind me and my parents on the same lot -- was my play partner. Every few weeks or so, my aunt and uncle would come to visit Grandma, and they had two kids very close to my age (one older and one younger than me). My cousin Michael and I would often play inventive games of Hide And Seek, War, and the like in the overgrown brush of my grandma's back yard. I liked living in the country for the most part -- it was quiet, nobody really bothered you. But being an only kid, it was also a bit lonely. We did most of our "living" -- school, church, work, groceries, shopping, etc. -- in town (Greenville) which was a good ten minutes away; so that could occasionally be inconvenient. But since I didn't know any different, I never really thought much about it. After we got married, I moved into the townhouse we had bought together, where Mary was already living. And here we still are. I like living in the city for some reasons -- convenience to grocery stores, shopping, and restaurants, short drive to work, etc. -- and don't like it for other reasons -- the noise of ambulances, fire engines, and police cars; the intimidating proximity of apartment-style living; and fear of crime (nothing's actually happened to us since we've been here, but I can't shake my paranoia). Like Mary, I'm ready for a change.


So we made a "Pros And Cons Of Living In The Country" list. Now we just have to figure out what's most important to us. Here's what we came up with. Feel free to put your two cents' worth in if you're for or against country living, and/or if you can speak from experience to help us out.

PROS:
Quiet/Peaceful
Wildlife/Nature
More Privacy
Can Play Music As Loud As We Want
Don't Have To Deal With As Much Traffic
We Can Get A Lot More House For Our Money
We Could Have A Garden/Lawn
We Can See The Stars
No Intrusive Homeowner's Association (With Excessive Rules)
We Could Get A Dog (But Don't Tell The Cats!)

CONS:
No Quick Trips To The Grocery Store
No Fast Food Runs
No Pizza Delivery
Longer Response Time In The Event Of An Emergency
Longer Commute To Work For One Or Both Of Us
We Have To Mow Our Own Lawn
Roads/Utilities Take Longer To Get Cleared/Repaired After A Storm Or Natural Disaster
Slow Or Limited Internet Access

Friday, March 23, 2012

Per Your Suggestion #1: "Buddy, The Balloon, & The Birthday Dance"

Today's blog post is the first in what I hope will be a long series of posts entitled "Per Your Suggestion." Last week on my Facebook page, I asked whomever would participate for some writing prompts. They could give me something as simple as an interesting word, a possible title, a fragment of an idea, or a fully fleshed-out story outline. I received several very interesting responses, many of which I hope to use to write a story and/or a blog post in the coming weeks. Some of the prompts may end up being a traditional blog post (Things I Find Fascinating, random thoughts, etc.) while others may end up becoming a story, like this one did.

This short story was suggested by my friend Racheal Rankin Hoaglan, and is based on a childhood experience of hers. She gave me the title "Buddy, The Balloon, & The Birthday Dance," and told me only that it involved a cat with a balloon attached to its collar. That's all I knew before writing this, and that's all I know after writing it. The rest of the story is completely from my imagination. I have no idea how close or how far this story is from the actual experience from Racheal's childhood, but I just went with it. 

Racheal, if you're reading this, I hope you like it. I decided to make you and your sister actual characters in the story, although the characters as written may or may not accurately represent the real you or her. If you want me to change their names now or at any point, just let me know and I'll be happy to do so. Also, since I've never met your parents, it should be noted that my representation of them as characters in this story is entirely fictional.

Enjoy!


For no reason in particular, Buddy the Cat was in a festive mood. So he didn't protest at all when little Racheal tied her balloon string to his collar. Buddy didn't really understand what purpose balloons were supposed to serve, but the gesture seemed to make Racheal happy – and anything that made the little girl happy pleased Buddy as well. He looked up at Racheal and purred heartily. The deep, motor-like sound of his purr was simple enough for Buddy to produce, yet was remarkably effective at bringing joy to his favorite person. When little Racheal squeezed him with delight in response, Buddy grunted grumpily – almost a growl, but not quite – hugging wasn't his favorite thing to do. Fortunately, it was a quick hug and seconds later Racheal was headed back toward the patio.

Something interesting was going on today. Racheal's dad was at the grill cooking hamburgers where he'd been for the past hour, while her mom was setting the patio table with brightly colored napkins and plates, and even chasing down Racheal and her sister to place funny pointed hats on their heads. Buddy didn't understand what all the fuss was about; he just hoped that Racheal's dad would give him a bite or two of the delicious-smelling hamburgers. Maybe he'd even "accidentally" drop a whole burger, which Buddy would quickly snap up and carry away to his favorite spot under the holly bush at the side of the house.

As Buddy was daydreaming about how juicy and scrumptious those hamburgers must be, he suddenly felt a strange sensation. He felt lighter somehow, almost as if he was walking on air. Buddy looked down at his forepaws and was shocked to see that the grass beneath his feet had moved. It was farther away than it had been just a second before! Panicked, Buddy swiveled his head left, then right, then back left again. There was no mistaking it now – he had left the ground, and was floating at least three feet above the lawn. Frantically, Buddy propelled all four legs forward as if to run away from his dilemma, but it was to no avail. He was flying!

Just then, he heard a shriek from the patio area. It was Racheal's sister, Rebecca – she looked a lot like her twin sister, but Buddy could always tell the difference between them. Rebecca had seen Buddy lift up off the ground and was shouting, "Mom! Mom! Look at Buddy!" Racheal turned from her spot at the table where she'd been eating potato chips and screamed in horror: "Buddy! Buddy!"

Buddy was continuing to flail about when a sudden breeze lifted the balloon – and Buddy – even higher into the air. By this time, Racheal's mom and dad were sprinting across the lawn to where Buddy was hovering, with a spatula (her dad) and candles (her mom) still clutched tightly in their hands.

Racheal's dad started swatting at the air with the spatula, just below where Buddy was floating. Buddy wasn't sure what exactly this would have accomplished if the spatula actually made contact with his body, other than causing him a bit of pain; but he assumed the kindly man was trying his best to bring Buddy back down to the ground. Meanwhile, Racheal's mom simply looked lost. Gazing at the candles in her hand, the mom realized that they'd be of little help to her or Buddy, so she tossed them away and just started screaming – which was as good a response as any, Buddy supposed.

Racheal and Rebecca had also rushed to the scene of Buddy's ascension and were now standing directly underneath him, squealing loudly but not happily. Slightly nauseated, Buddy hoped he wouldn't throw up on the little girls, especially not Racheal, his favorite person in the world. He tried to steady himself and come up with a plan as to how to get himself back down to earth; but Buddy was a cat, and logical thinking did not come naturally to cats.

Buddy began swishing his tail back and forth rapidly, trying to somehow shift his equilibrium and cause himself to descend gradually, if not fall suddenly, back onto the lawn. The tail swishing seemed to be tipping him slightly backward, so he decided to continue with it and add to that the paw flailing. For some reason, his efforts caused the little girls to laugh – Buddy wondered if he looked as stupid as he felt.

A brief gust of wind flung Buddy forward another yard or so, but when he looked down he was sure the ground was a bit closer now. Racheal's dad rushed forward and once again extended the spatula out toward Buddy. This time the spatula was close enough that Buddy could grab onto it with his front claws. Its slick surfaces didn't give Buddy much purchase, but apparently it was just enough. Racheal's dad brought the spatula down carefully with Buddy clinging onto it for dear life. A second later, Buddy fell into the waiting arms of Racheal's dad.

Racheal and Rebecca clapped excitedly at the sight, and made their way over to them. Their dad gently placed Buddy back down onto the lawn and held him firmly while their mom untied the balloon from around his collar. Racheal reached Buddy first, and greeted him with a full-body hug, squeezing twice as hard as before. Buddy grunted again, thinking he had been through quite enough, thank you very much, without having to deal with another unwanted hug. But he realized the hug made Racheal happy and so he grudgingly purred to let her know he wasn't upset with her.

"Oh, Buddy, I'm so glad you're all right! I thought you were going to fly up to outer space!" Racheal said, laughing nervously. Then she hugged him again. Buddy extended his front claws as a warning, and Racheal got the hint and quickly put him down. Rebecca came over and stroked Buddy's back while Racheal scratched him under his chin. His purr came easily this time.

A minute later, the two little girls walked back to the patio, leaving Buddy behind to recuperate from his harrowing ordeal. They hugged their dad for saving Buddy – the dad didn't seem to mind it as much as Buddy did – and Racheal beckoned the much taller man to bend down so she could whisper something in his ear. Buddy's hearing was excellent, but he didn't understand English (not much at least) so he was unaware of the surprise he was about to receive.

Racheal's dad nodded at her, stood up, and turned back toward the grill. "Buddy!" Racheal called. His ears perked up – this was the tone of voice Racheal used when she was going to give him a treat.  He waited a second longer to make sure he had heard correctly. "Buddy!" she cried again, louder this time. He ran toward her in fewer steps than seemed possible, especially given the stress he'd just endured.

"I have a surprise for you!" Racheal teased, both hands tucked behind her back. Buddy looked up at her expectantly and meowed. She pulled her hands back suddenly, and in one of them she held an entire hamburger patty! Buddy meowed again, more insistent this time.

"But first you have to do the birthday dance again," Racheal said. What is a birthday dance? thought Buddy. For that matter, what is a birthday? "You know, the birthday dance, like you did up in the air?"

Buddy stared at her, uncomprehending, simply wanting that juicy hamburger and nothing more. He meowed again, but Racheal did not lower the hamburger where he could reach it.

"Come on, Buddy, do the birthday dance!" said Racheal, and Rebecca echoed, "Yeah, do the birthday dance!"

Confused, Buddy decided that whatever the girls were talking about didn't matter nearly as much as sinking his teeth into that delectable hamburger. Buddy stood up on his hind legs and batted at the air just below where Racheal was now holding out the hamburger toward him. But the tasty treat was just out of Buddy's reach. An idea suddenly occurring to him, Buddy leaped into the air at least a foot off the ground, legs flailing in all directions like a dog catching a frisbee (although Buddy would probably resent that comparison). At the pinnacle of his jump, Buddy snagged the burger out of Racheal's hand and, of course, landed squarely on his feet.

"He did it! He did it! Buddy did the birthday dance!" the girls giggled as one. Their parents put a hand on each of the girls' shoulders and laughed along with them.

But Buddy saw none of this. He didn't know what a birthday dance was, or how he had apparently performed it as the girls had requested, and frankly he didn't care. All Buddy cared about was the hot, juicy piece of meat dangling from his mouth. He ran quickly to his favorite spot underneath the holly bush, the burger in tow the whole way. 

Buddy chomped down every meaty morsel of the hamburger – purring the whole time – before settling in for a nice afternoon nap. All in all, the day could have gone a lot worse...




If you have any ideas for a story you'd like me to write, comment on this post or get at me on Facebook and I'll do my best to come up with something interesting. Till next time...

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Things I Find Fascinating: Ridiculously Long Words And Their Meanings

Any of you who regularly read this blog will attest to the fact that I am avid lover of words. Words of all shapes, sizes, and even languages. As many words as I am familiar with and use regularly, there are thousands more that I've never heard of and never used. I'm always happy to come across a new word, learn its meaning, and then attempt to work it into general conversation or perhaps one of my writings.

The words that follow are certainly new and fun words, but I don't know if I'll ever use them in conversation or in print. Mainly because they're almost without exception unpronounceable and incredibly bulky. They are the ten most ridiculously long words I could find. Hope you'll enjoy learning about them as much as I did...


1)  Pneumonoultramicroscopicsilicovolcanoconiosis:  This 45-letter beauty is believed to be the longest word listed in a major dictionary. According to the Oxford English Dictionary, pneumonoultramicroscopicsilicovolcanoconiosis is a technical term used to describe "a lung disease caused by the inhalation of very fine silica dust, causing inflammation in the lungs." The word was invented in 1935 by Everett M. Smith, president of the National Puzzlers' League, at its annual meeting.

2)  Pseudopseudohypoparathyroidism:  This 30-letter word describes an inherited disorder in which the individual has the phenotypic appearance of pseudohypoparathyroidism (24 letters) type 1a, but is biochemically normal. If you've ever heard of Albright hereditary osteodystrophy (I know I sure haven't),  pseudopseudohypoparathyroidism is sometimes considered a variant of that. Did you get all that? Me neither! Moving on...

3)  Antidisestablishmentarianism:  I became familiar with this word when I was just a child, and was fascinated by its exceptional length. Couldn't have told you a thing about what it meant, though. Thanks to the wonderful World Wide Web, now I can. This 28-letter word is a term which refers to a political position originating in 19th-century Britain in opposition to proposals for the disestablishment of the Church of England – in other words, antidisestablishmentarians (26 letters) were not in favor of removing the Anglican Church's status as the state church of England, Ireland, and Wales. The Church's establishment was ultimately maintained in England, but in Ireland the Church of Ireland (Anglican) was disestablished in 1871. In Wales, four Church of England dioceses were disestablished in 1920, subsequently becoming the Church in Wales. The question of disestablishment of the Church of England is still current, often tied with the position of the English monarch as "Supreme Governor" of the Church.

4)  Floccinaucinihilipilification:  This 29-letter monstrosity is a word meaning "the act or habit of describing or regarding something as unimportant, of having no value, or being worthless." (One could make a floccinaucinihilipilification regarding this blog post, I suppose.) Have you ever seen that movie Master And Commander with Russell Crowe? I haven't, but apparently it's based on a book of the same title by Patrick O'Brian – a book which includes the following quote: "There is a systematic floccinaucinihilipilification of all other aspects of existence that angers me." Seeing as nobody talks like this in real life, I'm betting that Mr. O'Brian was just trying to impress the ladies with his mad wordsmith skills. And I'd bet money it didn't work, either.

5)  Honorificabilitudinitatibus:  This 27-word mouthful is taken directly from the Latin, and can be translated as "the state of being able to achieve honors." The word is mentioned by the character Costard in Act V, Scene I of William Shakespeare's Love's Labour's Lost. Honorificabilitudinitatibus is regarded as the longest word in the English language featuring alternating consonants and vowels. How cool is that?

6)  Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious:  This 34-letter nonsense word was invented as part of a song by the same name which originally appeared in the 1964 Disney musical Mary Poppins. If you've seen the movie more than once, the chorus of this song is probably playing on repeat in your head right now, just like it is in mine. Sorry about that. According to the film, the word is defined as "something to say when you have nothing to say."  (Which, ironically, could also describe today's blog post.)

7)  Hexakosioihexekontahexaphobia:  When you're looking for really long words, you can't go wrong with a good ol' phobia. This 29-letter word is used to describe the fear of the number "666", also called the Number of the Beast in Revelation 13:18 in the Bible. Notable hexakosioihexekontahexaphobiacs include Nancy and Ronald Reagan who, in 1979, when moving to the Bel-Air neighborhood of Los Angeles, had their new house's address changed from 666 St. Cloud Road to 668 St. Cloud Road. Also, the Dutch Christian organization Stichting Opwekking (translated Revival Foundation) skipped the number 666 when assembling their songbook "because of the sensitivity amongst people." My own grandmother once refused to pay a store clerk the $6.66 she owed them out of fear of the number. She paid them $6.67 instead and told them to keep the change.

8)  Friggatriskaidekaphobia:  Speaking of phobias, this 23-letter word is used to describe the fear of Friday the 13th. Apparently, superstition regarding this arbitrary day began as early as the 19th century (and not the 1980's with all those "Jason" movies). Many theories have been proposed about the origin of the superstition. However, most think the reason that Friday the 13th is considered a phobia-worthy event is due to an amalgamation of two older superstitions – that thirteen is an unlucky number (which goes all the way back to Biblical days) and that Friday is an unlucky day (which goes at least as far back as the 14th century, as it was mentioned in Geoffrey Chaucer's Canterbury Tales).

9)  Deinstitutionalization:  This 22-letter word – probably not that uncommon especially when compared to others in this list – is a term used to describe the process of replacing long-stay psychiatric hospitals with less-isolated community mental health service for those diagnosed with a mental disorder or developmental disability. Okay, this one's boring. Moving on...

10)  Sesquipedalianism:  The shortest word in this bunch, nonetheless this 18-letter doozy describes a linguistic style that involves the use of long words. Which is basically why I picked it to add to this list. Sesquipedalianism might also be characterized as polysyllabic holophrastic verbalism – but I refuse to call it that. Because sesquipedalianism sounds way cooler. Various motivations drive the sesquipedalian, including: lexical precision (sure, why not?); to demonstrate the benefits of erudition (I know I've always benefited from erudition); and to disempower intellectual challenge (disempower to the people!). I don't know what most of that means – sounds like a load of codswallop to me. But that doesn't stop me from loving the word sesquipedalianism!

Maybe next time – if I think you're ready for them – I'll introduce you to some ridiculously-long-but-awesomely-named places, like Lake Chargoggagoggmanchauggagoggchaubunagungamaugg (in Webster, Massachusetts), or Llanfairpwllgwyngyllgogerychwyrndrobwllllanty-siliogogogoch (a village in Wales), or Taumatawhakatangihangakoauauota-mateaturipukakapikimaungahoronukupokaiwhenuakitnatahu (a hill in New Zealand), or maybe even Tweebuffelsmeteenskootmorsdoodgeskietfontein (a farm in South Africa). But for now, I'll just let you recuperate from these ten...



(Thank you, Wikipedia.org, for the bulk of the information regarding the history of these words.)