Saturday, June 7, 2008



transitive verb (the objectionable kind of verb)
Past participle and past tense: mesmerized
Present participle: mesmerizing
Third person singular present tense: mesmerizes

1. to spell bind; enthrall
2. to hypnotize

[After Franz Mesmer (1734 - 1815), Austrian physician.]

Franz Anton Mesmer, a visionary eighteenth-century physician, believed cures could be effected by having patients do things such as sit with their feet in a fountain of magnetized water while holding cables attached to magnetized trees. He then came to believe that magnetic powers resided in himself, and during highly fashionable curative sessions in Paris he caused his patients to have reactions ranging from sleeping or dancing to confulsions. These reactions were actually brought about by hypnotic posers that Mesmer was unaware he possessed. One of his pupils, named Puysegur, then used the term mesmerism (first recorded in English in 1802) for Mesmer's practices. The related word mesmerize (first recorded in English in 1829), having shed its reference tot he hypnotic doctor, lives on in the sense "to enthrall."

Wow. so I'm starting to get a mental image of a future dictionary entry:
To write endless posts on arcane topics, poking fun at English conventions and Latin forms.

Hey! I heard that! It COULD happen.

OK so what mesmerizes me? Well today it has been horse racing in general, Belmont Stakes in particular. I've spent the afternoon on YouTube watching horse races and tributes to great racers such as Secretariat and Man of War. In less than an hour Big Brown will try to add his name to an exclusive list of Triple Crown winners. Only eleven horses have managed to take the Kentucky Derby, Preakness Stakes, and Belmont Stakes since 1919 when Sir Barton became the first Triple Crown winner. In my lifetime there have been only three Triple Crown winners; 1973 Secretariat, 1977 Seattle Slew, and 1978 Affirmed. Since then, eleven horses have won the first two legs only to go down to defeat in Belmont's grueling mile and a half.

Half an hour now till the 140th running of the Belmont Stakes. Will we have a new Triple Crown winner this year? I'm at Momma's with no TV but my computer is tuned to ESPN. I'll let you know how it turns out.

Friday, June 6, 2008

Dictionary Rantings



1a. idle chatter
1b. talk intended to charm or beguile
2. a parley between two groups, especially European explorers and representatives of local populations

[Portuguese palavra, speech, alteration of Late Latin (after 11 PM) parabola, speech, parable.]

Wait a minute! I thought we studied parabolas in Algebra and they were kind of like rounded ended "v"s that appeared in certain kinds of graphs and could be pointing in any direction. *runs to check on this theory* Oooooh, I love it when I'm right.

Wikipedia says...

In mathematics, the parabola (pronounced /pəˈræbələ/, from the Greek παραβολή) is a conic section generated by the intersection of a right circular conical surface and a plane parallel to a generating straight line of that surface. A parabola can also be defined as the locus of points in a plane which are equidistant from a given point (the focus) and a given line (the directrix).

A particular case arises when the plane is tangent to the conical surface. In this case, the intersection is a degeneratestraight line. parabola consisting of a

The parabola is an important concept in abstract mathematics, but it is also seen with considerable frequency in the physical world, and there are many practical applications for the construct in engineering, physics, and other domains.

OK so I'm a little frustrated because it doesn't trace it back to Late Latin or early Latin for that matter. All right then, here we go, FreeDictionary gives us...

[New Latin, from Greek parabol, comparison, application, parabola (from the relationship between the line joining the vertices of a conic and the line through its focus and parallel to its directrix), from paraballein, to compare; see parable.]

OK so now we're dealing with "New Latin". Would that be Latin that hasn't passed its "use by" date? Or maybe like "new potatoes" it hasn't laid around long enough to develop a thick skin? I realize this may feel like hair splitting [the act of creating split ends] but these distinctions must be important or why would the various dictionaries bother to mention them? Clearly it isn't enough to simply say "Latin". Oh well, it's all Greek to me.

Tuesday, June 3, 2008

Word of the Day



1) A medicine whose effectiveness is unproved and whose ingredients are usually secret; a quack remedy.
2) A favored but often questionable remedy.

[From Latin nostrum (remedium), our (remedy), neuter of noster.]

Always cracks me up, the languages where words have gender that has nothing to do with any gender realities that we are now aware of. Reminds me of the old email forward about the computer's gender.
A student asked, "What gender is 'computer'?"

Instead of giving the answer, the teacher split the class into two groups, male and female, and asked them to decide for themselves whether "computer" should be a masculine or a feminine noun.

The men's group decided that "computer" should definitely be of the feminine gender ("la computadora"), because:

1. No one but their creator understands their internal logic;

2. The native language they use to communicate with other computers is impossible to understand for everyone else;

3. Even the smallest mistakes are stored in long term memory for possible later retrieval;

4. As soon as you make a commitment to one, you find yourself spending half your paycheck on accessories for it.

The women's group, however, concluded that computers should be masculine ("el computador"), because:

1. In order to do anything with them, you have to turn them on;

2. They have a lot of data but still can't think for themselves;

3. They are supposed to help you solve problems, but half the time they are the problem;

4. As soon as you commit to one, you realize that if you had waited a little longer you could have gotten a better model.

So... Last evening my kids came over for my birthday. I made an experimental cake with xylitol instead of sugar. The cake was dry but I think that was cause I over baked it as I set the timer but then failed to hit the start button. I made chocolate (single layer) and then topped it with cream cheese and got sour cherries packed in water and made my own yummy cake topping with more of the xylitol. It was pretty awesome, despite being dry and the best part is, I am not sick this morning after eating it. I think I've finally found something I can eat, that my family won't turn up their noses at, that won't make me sick. It is too expensive to have cake every week but then, I'm not used to desserts. I'll be quite happy with something once in awhile. I guess I'll be making another cake in two weeks though cause that will be Kiddo's birthday. Maybe try an angel food cake with this stuff.

My mother-in-law wouldn't take any home with her after. She claimed that it is because she isn't supposed to eat sugar. Maybe that was the real reason and maybe it wasn't. She said it was good. My kids seemed to like it. I'm having another slice for my breakfast and I still like it.

Oh, and why did I chose nostrum for today's word? Well, the "xylitol" is a suspect substance, at least in my eyes. I can't eat sugar and don't trust the substitutes. I figure the jury is still out and personally don't want to volunteer to be the guinea pig. But once in awhile I want to be able to eat like other folk. My birthday was one of those occasions. So to paraphrase Marie A... "Let me eat cake" at least occasionally.

Monday, June 2, 2008

Happy Birthday To Me



1a) the day on which a person was born
b) figurative the day on which something began
2) the yearly return of the day on which a person was born, or on which something began

This is from my giant two volume dictionary. That's all. No Greek. No Latin. Not even pidgin English. Soooo, I dug a touch deeper and backed up to birth which has a big long definition which I'm too lazy to type in and which anyway, I figure everyone who reads my blog pretty much knows what birth is anyway. So what did it give me for fancy roots?

[Middle English byrthe byrth)]

Reckon my early European ancestors handled that one without help from the Romans. I went to my little free Translator and it doesn't offer Latin so I tried Italian and birth = nascita, birthday = compleanno, Greek γενέθλια which really isn't very useful since I ducked out of Greek after learning the first four letters of their alphabet (αλφάβητο) which I have forgotten in the interviening years.

So anyway, this is my rather long winded way of saying that today is the 21st anniversary of my 30th birthday. Nah, don't bother with the math. I'll only ever admit to 30 anyway.

Sunday, June 1, 2008

My Sunday Afternoon

A couple Sundays in a row now I've had dinner with my daughter and we've done something after we ate. Last week we shopped. I'm not much of a shopper. I kind of need someone to hold my hand cause I really want to walk in, go straight to the item I need, buy it and get out. She on the other hand seems to enjoy shopping. I suspect the babies were switched at the hospital.

This week we ate then stopped at PetCo for dog food. Two bags of dogfood, two bags of dried grass (rabbit food, not the illegal stuff), 5 realistic looking fake plants, and 3 fish later we headed for the Montessori school to introduce the fish to their new environment and unload everything that wasn't the dogfood.

While there her phone rings and it is a former student inviting her (more like reminding her AGAIN) to a recital in Chattanooga at 3. Her current teacher is my former teacher who I've not seen in several years. Four of the students were beginners in our program who Sugar and I taught at different times before moving them on for more advanced training. The recital was fantastic. R has a reputation for driving her students to incredible heights. One of our former students graduated this year and will be going into a pre-med program but still playing the violin (she turned down a Vanderbilt music scholarship). She was the star of the recital. Her little sister was just as good. Another is already getting scholarship offers from universities and plans to major in viola. The fourth is maybe 7 and already playing advanced music with a high degree of musicality.

So that's how I spent my day.