Saturday, December 24, 2011

Family Matters

YouTube playlists for this article (1, 2),
playlist compilation article


This time of the year is good for reflecting back on something besides material items, whether acquiring for self or others, imho. I've been musing about music and family themes for some time. Last week, watching the movie version of How to Succeed in Business without Trying resparked my interest when the actors launched into "Brotherhood of Man", a joyful, inspiring song with energetic choreography (hallelujah!). What a surprise when I went to youtube and looked for Brotherhood of Man and found several versions of the performance AND a group with that name!
  • Robert Morse is the original Finch of both the stage and movie version of How to Succeed in Business without Trying.
  • For those who remember Matthew Broderick as Ferris Bueller, his portrayal of Finch shows him all grown up.
  • This Finch is Daniel Radcliffe. (Yes, Harry Potter!) This youtube video starts out with Robert Morse and Matthew Broderick talking about the play's 50th anniversary. John Larroquette (Night Court) is a co-star in this latest version of the play.
  • Now for the OTHER Brotherhood of Man, whom I'd forgotten about over the (um) years. Their moderate hit is "Save Your Kisses for Me."
Even though my article is Family Matters, and brotherhood is not blood relations, I'm being flexible about the etymology regarding family members. From Online Etymology Dictionary, brotherhood:
Originally "relationship of a brother," also "friendly companionship."
Onward to family relations
Pop and mom
Kids! (and siblings)
Parent-offspring relationships
Family member references within the song
A language-derived example for my family theme article is Philadelphia Freedom, by Elton John. From the Online Etymology Dictionary, Philadelphia:
"brotherly love," from philos "loving" + adelphos "brother"
What a difference 200 years make for relationships between the former colonists of the mother country, and the song by a Briton just ahead of the U.S bicentennial. Watch a different performance, which shows people enthusiastically waving their Union Jack and Stars and Stripes flags.

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

A Convenient Fudge

This fudge recipe requires only three ingredients and spray oil. You can add nuts, peanuts, coconut, or anything else that comes to mind. The main flavor is chocolate. You can change one or more of the ingredients to different flavor(s) for variations.
Ingredients, in the order of processing and adding
  • 12 oz. chocolate chips or other meltable candy
  • 16 oz. frosting
  • 15 large marshmallows (or 1 1/2 cups minis)
  • 1/2 cup or more nuts
  • spray oil for the pan
My recent ingredients that I have used most recently are peanut butter disks, chocolate frosting, caramel-flavor marshmallows, and chopped peanuts.
Utensils
  • 1 large mixing bowl
  • 1 cooking spoon
  • 1 or more knives for chopping nuts (I use Salad Shooter), cutting the finished fudge
  • 1 8" x 8" pan, prepared with spray oil
Instructions
  1. Melt chips or other meltable candy in the large mixing bowl in the microwave oven, using reduced power. Check about a minute or so for about two rounds of heating.
  2. Add frosting to the bowl. Microwave another minute or so until you can easily blend the ingredients with the spoon.
  3. Add marshmallows to the bowl. Microwave another minute or so until you can easily blend the ingredients with the spoon.
  4. Add nuts to the bowl. Blend the ingredients with the spoon.
  5. Pour ingredients into the spray-oil prepared pan.
  6. Refrigerate for no more than two hours. (If longer, the fudge could be difficult to cut.)
  7. Cut into 64 pieces (8 x 8) or fewer. (FYI, the paper cups are available at craft stores and baking supply outlets.)
Note: Instead of waiting 2 hours and cutting the fudge block with a knife, you can wait 1 1/2 hours for cooling, then use a cooky spatula edge, pressing down. If edges of middle fudge pieces look a little warped, lightly shape them.

For other recipes, mostly that I tag as convenient, download my blog catalog file and look for the yellow-highlighted rows.

Sunday, October 30, 2011

Veggie Pasta

Up until now, I have titled my recipes with "Convenient". This recipe is a bit less convenient, but it's veggie loaded, and produces 10 servings of 8-ounce portions. You can share with family, company, or you can store leftovers in the freezer (using food wrap, Ziploc bags, etc.) for future convenient meals.

My recipe uses four kinds of vegetables, spaghetti sauce, pasta, mozzarella and Parmesan cheeses, and a little bit of oil for separating the cooked pasta. The graphic provides a visual cue of the ingredients and stages of preparation.

Ingredients (guide for types and quantity—YMMV)

  • 1/2 half pounds each of celery, carrots, zucchini, and crookneck squash, sliced
  • 12 ounces of dry pasta
  • 28-ounce jar of spaghetti sauce
  • 8 ounces shredded mozzarella cheese
  • 1/4 cup of Parmesan cheese (minimum amount)

Utensils

  • Dutch oven or pan large enough for cooking and stirring stages
  • Large mixing bowl
  • Medium-large mixing bowl
  • Medium-large strainer
  • Baking pan (9 x 13)
  • Tablespoon
  • Measuring cup (1/4 cup or so)
  • Large metal or wooden spoon
  • Spoon rest

The following descriptions of the images (grid of 5 across and 4 down) can help walk you through the stages of preparation. Preheat the oven to 375° some time before you put the casserole in the oven, or add about another 15 minutes to the baking time.

  1. Image 1 through 5 show the initial stage of raw veggie preparation (paring and slicing). I use a Salad Shooter for making fast and consistent slices for cooking.
  2. Images 6 and 7 show the pre-processed, non-veggie ingredients and the measuring items.
  3. Images 8, 9, and 10 show the pasta-cooking stage. Cook according to box instructions, strain, and stir in enough oil prevent pasta clumpies.
  4. Images 11, 12, and 13 show the veggie-cooking stage. Cook about 8 minutes or until your choice of doneness.
  5. Images 14 and 15 show the merge stage for the cooked veggies, pasta, and spaghetti sauce.
  6. Image 16 shows the preparation before putting all the cooked ingredients and cheeses into the baking pan. Layer the ingredients into the baking pan as follows:
    Parmesan (top)
    Mozzarella
    Mix of sauce, pasta, veggies
    Parmesan
    Mozzarella
    Mix of sauce, pasta, veggies (bottom)
  7. Image 17 shows the pan with the ingredients, topped by the final Parmesan cheese layer.
  8. Image 18 shows the assembled casserole, covered with aluminum foil, ready for it to go into the oven.
  9. Image 19 shows the covered casserole in the oven. Bake at 375° for about 40 minutes. YMMV for time.
  10. Image 20 shows the finished casserole. Waiting a few minutes for the casserole to cool down a little helps portioning out rectangles with a griddle spatula or cooky spatula.

For other recipes, you can enter "recipe" in the Blogspot search. Or you can download my article catalog and visually scan for yellow rows, which include links to recipe articles.

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Wordle Word Doodle

I’d been interested in Wordles since sometime last year when I encountered the term in a forum. I was so unfamiliar with the term, I initially thought it was Wordie. Wordles have been described as word clouds, from shapes that words would form.
A wordle takes all the words in a text and writes them in the form of a word cloud, using colours or different size letters to show how frequently words are used in that text

My thought is that it’s a blended word, Word + Doodle combined into Wordle. (Take a side trip for more word-blend explanation and view blended words lists.)

The prominent name associated with Wordle creation is Jonathan Feinberg, who created the algorithms and the web application. You can dive right in to the Wordle site, click Create, and follow the instructions. For my own featured Wordle images, I used text from my Texas towns article. (The pixstrip at the top of my article shows an image with the text all vertical, rotated clockwise 90 degrees, and redisplayed as horizontal and rescattered.) The initial Wordle window opened and showed buttons for changing the looks: Edit, Language, Font, Layout, Color. The graphic had the following settings:
  • Language
    Remove numbers
    Leave words as spelled
    Remove common English words
  • Font
    Teen
  • Layout
    Rounder edges
    Vertical
  • Color
    Milk paints
    A little variation

Clicking the Randomize button at the bottom of the screen resulted in a combination of changes.

  • The Language settings were the same.
  • The Font changed from Teen to Goudy Bookletter 1911.
  • The Layout settings changed to Rounder Edges and Mostly Horizontal.
  • The Color settings changed to the Indian Earthy palette, but still a little variation.

For one more look, I decided to change the Layout orientation to horizontal and Color palette to B/W. Note that the largest words are "Community" and "Lake". Frequency affects the size of the words in a Wordle; the Texas towns article has 16 instances each of "Community" and "Lake".

I've summarized the row of commands that are at the top of the interface as follows:

Edit: Edit has the choices of Undo (Ctrl+Z) and Redo (Ctrl+Y), and they function similarly to browser Previous and Next. The Edit command is a lot more fun after you generate several looks to revisit.

Language: Most of the forced-choice options pertain to removal of common foreign-language words. A few choices are significant for filtering, such as number removal y/n, character case, and removal or not of common words. The common words options are available for 29 languages.

Font: You can play with 32 fonts. It's nice that simple clicking generates the image immediately rather open a window where you require another one or more commands. I found the Owned font to be interesting for the script look with all the characters sized the same. And the Language (case) options have no effect, as though the characters have one case definition.

Layout: Clicking the first choice, Re-layout with current settings, is like randomizing the looks. Continue clicking Layout > Re-layout with current settings until you see a really eye-catching image that you want to capture and save. An extension of using the feature might be setting a graphics program to capture screens in intervals as you continuously click Layout > Re-layout with current settings. Then combine all the screens to create a slide show.

Color: You can pick palette offerings, or make up your own. The default ones primarily have either black or white backgrounds. The results generate immediately, similar to the Language output.

Get moving on your own Wordles! For additional resources, besides the Wordle home site, visit the following sites:

Jonathan Feinberg
Wordle Blog
Weaving Words with Wordle: A Talk with IBM’s Jonathan Feinberg, by Wade Roush 3/16/09

Youtube videos:

Sunday, August 28, 2011

Store Coupon Madness

I clip coupons, mostly grocery store coupons. I also clip eatery coupons, just a lot fewer of them. I've not registered with restaurants.com or groupon. I don't often think to search for coupons online. I myself find that most of the coupons that I see and put any energy into arrive in my Sunday paper. And I dump probably 99%. Call me a bit behind for how I hunt (or not) for savings.

Many years ago, I remember a grocery store at one time hut put up a round-table display with maybe a noble idea that customers would bring in coupons they snipped, and obtain coupons that other people would leave for sharing. I don't remember more than a few weeks had passed that I no longer saw the table. I speculate that maybe the table overflowed from excesses and took too much floor space.

About the early nineties, some local supermarkets started doubling and tripling coupons, up to some maximum value. The campaigns were pretty nice while they lasted. I think they stopped after a year or so. I'm guessing that stores really got squeezed on the margins because of some more diligent customers like me. I do remember that collecting and sorting for the multiple savings was time-consuming, but the payoff pretty good.

I'm less mad now over store coupons than in the past when it seems I embarked on reviewing, clipping, sorting, redeeming, and eventually tossing out numerous saved ones. Alas, so many would expire. Or the store didn't handle the product. Or I waffled over whether I really wanted to hunt down the products. I'm now better at reviewing for items I think I might buy and use coupons for. I've arrived at coupon characteristics that get my attention, for good and bad. The following lists are my coupon raves and peeves.

Coupon characteristics that make me cheer

  • General
    • Plenty of coupons for merchandise that I buy
    • Numeric value that amounts to 25 to 50% off or better
    • Buy one, get one free (maybe even buy two, get one free)
    • Applicable savings for single-serving rather than bulk such as packaged candy (evil food)
  • Visuals
    • Clearly legible expiration date, preferably one month or more, for a Sunday or end of a month
    • Thorough information, such as store area type, applicable varieties, packaging (weights, counts)—"any size or variety" favored
    • Graphics, such as color pictures for iconic visual processing (My local supermarket has in-house, yellow, portrait-oriented coupons that would be even more attractive with at least line images.)

Coupon characteristics that drive me mad:

  • General
    • Dinky value, like 25 or 40¢. Inflation has crept up so much over the years, even $1 savings is no longer necessarily compelling. Don't those nationally known companies marketing people pay attention to how out-of-date those humongous savings look?
    • Discount offers that look good, but the list price is so high that the savings are no savings (predominant condition in drug stores, it seems)
    • No such item in store
    • No such item for that manufacturer
    • No such packaging size for that manufacturer
  • Bundling
    • Requirement to buy more than one, such as so-much-off if you buy two
    • Requirement to buy more than one type of product. This condition makes the hunt like a treasure hunt. My supermarket frequently has deals for buying one or two items, and throwing in one to 6 items, many house-brand. Sometimes I bite, often not.
  • Expirations
    • Short expiration time window
    • Expiration date placed anywhere except at the top (I hate hunting for dates, especially when they are at the bottom of the coupon.)
    • Expirations that are NOT on Sundays or ends of the months (I'm a Sunday shopper most times, and it bugs me when I miss a coupon by one day because of my own oops.)
    • Time windows with a start date that occurs after the current calendar date
  • Visuals
    • Gradient or or other poor contrast between background and foreground
    • Tiny font (sixes, fives, nines, and eights when they all look similar)
    • Illegibility or graphics resolution for varieties of the product (occasionally, misalignment of color layers, particularly in accompanying ad)
    • Lack of information for store area location, particularly for meals that could be room temperature, refrigerated, or frozen Yes, I do microwavable meals! (If I need to hunt, I'm not likely to.)
    • Pet food coupons that accompany ads with pictures resembling people food
    • Oversized coupon, requiring folding
    • Undersized coupon, easily misplaced or misfiled
    • Questionable literalness for items, such as exact flavor, item size that falls outside the coupon listed range

Although my focus is on grocery store coupons, I have a few thoughts about eatery discounts. Likes: Good savings value, expiration, discounts places I go to or would go to. Dislikes, applicable to the ad than the offered discount itself: No address, phone number, maps, web address.

Sunday, July 10, 2011

MnM--Munch n Music, Sin Ingestibles

YouTube playlist for this article,
playlist compilation article


This article is the third one in my Munch n Music series. The focus of the first article started out with popcorn and other munchies, and took a side trip to main and side dishes. The focus of the second article was primarily about fruits and desserts, with a revisit to more substantial edibles. This article pertains to ingestibles—alcohol and tobacco. Ingestible isn't listed as a noun like consumable is, but the root meaning of to ingest seems more appropriate than that of to consume.

Alcohol
Tobacco
Not wishing to wander too deeply into dangerous territory, I now close without providing links to Doobie Brothers music, the don't Bogart that joint song, and Purple Haze. You're on your own.

Friday, June 24, 2011

MnM--Munch n Music, Sweetyummies

YouTube playlists for this article (1, 2, 3),
playlist compilation article


Sweet tooth? You've come to the right place for video links of music and sweet stuff. Last month, I wrote about munchies and music. OK, so some of the links pertained to main courses. During my lookups at that time, I ran across more than I wanted to put into one article. This time, I'm listing sweet edibles, in time for Independence Day. Also adding more edibles here rather than in last month's article.

Fruity and tutti frutti
I must say, the only thing I think sounds sweet about tutti frutti is the phonetic fruity term. It gives me an excuse to paste a link to Little Richard's Tutti Frutti.

Non-fruity sweet stuff
Leftovers

Visit the first part of the Munch n Music series for other main and side dishes.
The next Munch n Music article features links to sin ingestibles.

Tuesday, May 31, 2011

MnM--Munch n Music

YouTube playlist for this article,
playlist compilation article


Was in the mood for writing about two of my favorite topics, both rolled into one. My thoughts started out with wanting to pop some popcorn with my quite-old air popper. During the course of popping, melting butter, and mixing the butter and salt into the popped kernels into a large kettle, I thought about having read kernel popping action. I read that the kernel turns inside out. So I decided to look up some youtube videos. Eureka!
I thought about a song titled "Popcorn" and found a video, which is actually the moog music set to video. Gershon Kingsley wrote in about 30 seconds, according to background info on him. A song that sounds very similar to Popcorn is Percolator.
I found more substantial consumables as follows. Of course, themes about music and food must include Weird Al. I did sandwich some of his videos with other food-term songs. Some of these videos are trips down memory lane. Click and get down!

Saturday, April 30, 2011

Cereal Eatin's

Cereals have become increasingly varied over the last 10 years or so. Way back, the novelty cereal was Cheerios for shape. Other shapes were flakes (boring) and puffed rice (sugarless and pretty bland, unless you made Rice Krispie cereal blocks). Other cereals that come to mind are puffed wheat and puffed rice, which tasted surprisingly bland to me. Nabisco Shredded Wheat, to my recollection, came three pillow-shape, haystack-textured rectangles to a box, as unexciting as all getout for looks and taste.

The shapes that later came along to capture imaginations were Post Alpha-Bits and Chex shapes (wheat, rice, corn). Alpha-Bits seems to have spawned other shapes, like Lucky Charms and Trix. (Watch the Trix youtube video of the commercial for Bugs Bunny cameo.)

Lots of the cereals come and go. Most I can't remember. Seems that disappeared cereals are similar to mall store closings and some comic strips for me. When one disappears, I sense something changed, but unsure what had formerly occupied the space. Three cereals that come to mind are General Mills Fingos, Kellogg's Nut & Honey Crunch, and Post Crispy Critters. Just ran across a link for discontinued cereals. Read 'em and weep.

Fingos seemed to straddle between obvious snack and cereal. It didn't stay long. Some background info indicates that a $34 million launch in 1993 didn't guarantee market longevity. Nut & Honey cereal was maybe more famous for the catchphrase than the product itself. Crispy Critters had a jingle and catchy product name. Unfortunately, the cereal disappeared long ago also. Of course, the term crispy critters has evoked more of a negative image as years have passed.

I went through a long period that I skipped cereal, but have been eating them heartily for the last few years. What choices these days! Lots of different shapes and flavors!

I've recently been eating some cereals more out of the box instead of just than eating them with milk. They're yummy for munching while watching TV or working at my desk. Most of the munchable ones I pick are sub-bite-size and not messy or crumbly. They don't melt in my hand or mouth. They're nice alternatives to other, faster calorie-delivery munchies or snacks, like candy bars, bite-size candies, ice cream, snack crackers, chips, roasted peanuts, etc. (You know, those evil foods that often jump into the shopping carts.)

Nearly very week, I slowly amble along the supermarket aisle to see what I'm in the mood for to pick up. The following cereals often make it into my cart, not every week, of course.

I don't list any General Mills cereals. I would if they would make the Cinnamon Toast Crunch and French Toast Crunch cereals twice the square size. They're tasty, but too, uh, small for my taste. Not as much fun when I have to pull out several in each grab. Most of the munchie cereals I listed actually have some healthful aspects, of sorts.

  • The shredded wheat ones, Chocolate Granola, and Just Bunches, have 5 to 10 grams of fiber per serving in them.
  • They take longer to consume than candy bars, chocolates, cookies, and ice cream. (The yummies, with more fat and calories, go down much faster and have fewer nutrients.)
  • They cost less by the mouthful. For example, Oreos and chocolate chip cookies don't seem to last as long in the house as cereals.

Munchie cereals are a little less fun to eat and messier as I reach towards the bottom of the box. When clumps become niblets, it's definitely better to mix the bits in milk. For that matter, it's fun to mix several cereal types and flavors together.

My cereal tastes don't extend to those that I consider to be really sweet. Sure, the ones I list are sugary, but not quite sugar bombs like Frosted Flakes and Corn Pops, both by Kellogg's. Actually, I do buy cereals that I pour milk into and eat, without regard to munchiness versatility. I definitely go for variety!

As a result of eating lots of cereals, I empty out lots of boxes and bags. At another time, I'll write about handy ways to reuse them, up to a point.

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Spoken Out

Pronunciations interest me for how words and names often sound different than their spellings. Even as a native English speaker, I trip up. I've started this article talking about EU (not you) and skipped along names, consonants, words, and contextual pronunciations.

EU

In a TV show about Paris, the narrator pronounced unique as YOO-nik, like the word spelled eunuch. Phonetically related is the name Eunice, a name I heard of at a young age. I heard it as yoo-nis, but thought it would be spelled Unis. If I’d never known the pronunciation of Eunice, I might have thought the name should sound like ee-YOO-nise (long i) or EU-nise.

More observations about name pronunciations

  • Basil—if if’s a name, pronounced BAAA-zul. If it’s a spice, pronounced BAY-zul.
  • Herb—it it’s a name, pronounced herb. If it’s a spice item, pronounced urb.
  • Lincoln (LINK-un) and palm (pom) spell with l’s, but don’t sound with them.
  • Bret Favre (farv)
  • Bode Miller (BOH-dee)
  • Bono—BOH-noh if you're talking Sonny, Cher, or Chaz. BAH-noh if you're talking about the Irish singer.
  • Gabriel vs. Gabrielle. The guy's name has a long a, and the woman's name gets a short a. I would think it should sound like gay-bri-ELLE.
  • Paul Krugman (long u or short u?), John Boehner (pronounced bay-ner), Matt Groening (pronounced grayn-ing)

More OE pronunciation

Three names with "oe" vowel combinations can seem unpredictable and confusing besides the ones I just mentioned. Why is Joe pronounced joh, but Zoe is ZOH-ee and Chloe is KLOH-ee For that matter, if I hadn’t heard of Chloe, pronunciations could include chloh, shloh, SHLOH-ee, CHLOH-ee, kloh. Hmmm, Joe needs a y for the pronunciation of JOH-ee. Seems the other two names should be spelled Zoey and Chloey.

A segue to CH, a major consonant-pair confuser

While I'm discussing ch pronunciations, I think it must be difficult for people who are not native English speakers to decide on the sound as ch (chair), sh (machine), or k (chemical).

  • Melancholy (MEL-un-KAH-lee) looks like it should be pronounced mel-AN-CHO-lee, something related to a pepper.
  • Chamomile (CAM-uh-myul) is a tea flavor made from dried flower heads of a particular plant. This word is a minefield for mispronunciation possibilities.
  • The ch sound is in truck. I hear the pronunciation as chruk, not truk.

More visual consonant-pair and single-consonant confusers

  • I think th combinations can be difficult if the word is not familiar. Is it pronounced like thermometer or there? Think of a thimble there that is close to those thermometers.
  • One consonant that stumps me constantly is "g" ("g" or "j" sound)? The other day I saw an ad for Allergan's Allegra. I have no problems with Allegra, but I want to pronounce Allergan with "g" and not "j". General, germ, galaxy, garble, gin
  • Another consonant with dual pronunciations is "s" ("s" or "z" sound). State, states, status, statuses.
  • Close—"z" sound or "s" sound? Depends on the context. Related: the movie "Closer". Not having seen it or heard the name pronounced, I don't know whether the title pertains to relative distance or something or someone who closes a deal.
  • Of, off, oof are three words with two letters in common but pronounced differently from each other Odd that pronunciation of "of" is "ov". Stick an "a" between the letters to get a long "o" pronunciation (oaf).

A meandering to relative speakings

Uncle, aunt, nephew, niece, cousin don't really spell as simply as they sound.
UNG-kul, ant or ont, NE-few, nees, KUZ-un

Anomalous spellings considering the pronunciations

  • Knuckle, knee, and knight are odd for starting with k’s.
  • Muscle (MUS-sul) actually evolved from mouse, little mouse, which a muscle resembles as a body shape under skin.
  • Scissors (SIZ-urz)—Vanna, get me an s. What a strange way to spell the device.
  • Iron (I-yern), irony (I-yern-ee) are mystifying because no one pronounces them as I-ron or I-ron-ee. Iran and Iraq sound like they’re spelled. Of course, the pronunciations for residents of those countries wind up with short i’s.

A few town names to try the spelling or pronunciation

  • Worcester, Ma (WEST-er)
  • Quogue, NY (kwog)
  • Phoenix, AZ (FEE-niks)
  • Coughran, TX (unsure)
  • Manor, TX (MAY-nr)
  • Burnet, TX (BURN-et)
  • Manchaca, TX (MAN-chak). I want to pronounce it man-CHAK-a. (Now thinking of Chaka Kahn's "I Feel for You" song and lyrics.)
  • Pedernales, TX (pur-deh-NAH-less)
  • A couple of similar sites that address some Texas town pronunciations, not that I necessarily agree—Rules of Austin, Keep Austin Weird

Different pronunciations depending on context

  • read—present tense and past tense verb that are spelled the same but pronounced differently.
  • lead—noun and present tense verb. The past tense of lead is led. If attempting to apply similar rules to that rhyming word read, past tense seems like it should be red. But red's a color.
  • live—adjective and verb. Pronunciation of long i or short i depends on usage.
  • sewer—nouns. Pronunciation of SOO-ur or SOH-ur depends on usage, which I have written about.
  • minute—MIN-it or my-NOOT. Odd that it looks like it could be pronounced min-NOOT. Seems like the word should be spelled minit if talking about the time unit.
  • woman—weird that the plural form is pronounced wimmin. For that matter, the singular form sounds like WUH-mun, not WOH-man.

Other mysterious word spellings, attributed to French origins

Even though I took French classes in the past, I don't have explanations for some of the following words: soldier (SOLE-jer), colonel (KER-nul), lieutenant (LOO-ten-unt). Hmmm, lieu tenant (an officer in place of a tenant).

While I'm on the topic of military ranks, I'm bringing up private. The private has the lowest rank, yet the word implies choice and control over self-disclosure. On the opposite end of the rank, we have general. A military general is highly ranked. As an adjective, general indicates ordinary status. Exceptions might be if general is part of a proper noun, such as General Electric, General Motors, General Dynamics.

Written words that surprised me when I first heard the pronunciations

  • Cupboard (KUB-urd). I want to pronounce it CUP bord.
  • Preface (PREH-fus). I want to pronounce it PREE fays.
  • Tuberculosis (too-BER-kuh-LOH-sis) looks like it should be pronounced TOO-ber-kol-OH-sis. And it looks like it should mean some sort of potato disease.
  • Vacation. The first time I saw it spelled was in the first grade. I had not yet learned about long and short vowels. I immediately spotted "cat". I might have wondered why "tion" was pronounced "shun".

Home and Hermione

I see the word home, and I think homage should sound like HOME-age or home-AZH. The pronunciation is "\ ä-mij, hä-\ ". I mentioned "homage" and other puzzlers in my Hermione pronunciation article a year ago.

Monday, February 14, 2011

Heart 2 Heart

My theme today is hearts, the iconic symbol for the day. I've written about it in the context of things nearest and dearest that pop into my brain for this article.

Valentine's Day! It seems to have sneaked up on me very quickly this year! Last year, I had plenty of time to publish my convenient cooky recipe for making heart-shaped, red cookies using two flavors of cake mix. If you feel you have time to run to the store to get the ingredients and bake them, go for it! OTOH, you can just stretch the Valentine celebration (observation) for the whole week and wait until the weekend to bake them.

The pixstrip at the top of the article is an assemblage of some pictures I took at my most previous visit to the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center These prickly pear cacti caught my eye because of heart shapes. At that time, I knew I'd want to write something up and include cropped pictures of them.

Another heart theme item I'm including in this article is info about PaintShopPro's picture tube feature, specifically hearts. (PaintShopPro is a graphics editing tool.) The associated pixstrip is a screen capture with the Picture Tube icon, icon label, my "spray" of hearts, and the Tool Options dialog box with option selections. My version of PaintShopPro is very old, so the interface does not resemble the ones from a webpage that discusses PSP picture tubes.

If you use PSP and want to download picture tube images, visit Corel's Paint Shop Picture Tubes webpage

This year, I myself am skipping making the cookies. I think I had been making them annually for about five years straight, sometimes for two to three different groups of people I'd see. Several conditions have converged to nudge me to forego the activity. Although I had re-entered the working world back in July after a 17-month hiatus, my perception of decreased discretionary time seems to have settled in only right after the new year started. Even towards the end of 2010, I managed to adhere to my self-imposed goal of publishing an article three times a month, one for every 10-day division. So far, I've managed to post only one last month and this one this month. Not sure if I will manage another article before February ends.

Here's a thought if you have enough fortitude to resist the psychological exertion to DO SOMETHING TODAY. Wait till tomorrow. I'm looking forward to tomorrow (Tuesday). That's the day the stores and drugstores knock off 50% for the cookies and candies. The meal? Just offsetting it a day. For an article that provides a different view of Valentine;s Day, read the New York Times' "When Love Outgrows Gifts on Valentine’s Day"

If you feel you must DO SOMETHING TODAY, here's a list of last minute suggestions for the day. Pick any, some, or all:

  • Card
  • Candy
  • Stuffed animal
  • Trinket, gadget, or bauble
  • Heart-shaped cookies
  • Favor coupons that you create
  • Meal out
  • Meal in
  • Other thing(s) that come to mind

Have a happy day, whatever you do!

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Names on the Brain

On and off over the years, I've thought about various aspects of names. In my article, I muse about four aspects:

Soap Opera Names

I originally started to write about names I spotted that were in a Sunday insert soap opera digest a few weeks ago. I mused about characters' names. While Googling for the online source of the soap opera digest, some of the non-soap opera hits intrigued me enough that I clicked some of them. Some sites pertained to name origins, several of them pertaining to naming babies. One website had input fields for searching databases for popular names for boys and girls by year. (I've put URLs at the bottom of my article to avoid breaking up the reading continuity.)

I've not been a big soap opera watcher over the years. A long, long time ago and far far away, as far as I can recall, I regularly watched at least a couple of soaps with my mother. (I think I was in-between jobs at the time.) Some time after I quit watching them, I would read digests in the Sunday newspaper inserts. It amazes me that events that broadcast five days a week for half an hour each could be summed up in about six sentences. Well, someone else watches soaps so I don't have to. Sure, I could probably record soaps and zip through commercials, but I have other shows I'd rather lose my thoughts in.

I try to avoid getting involved in any of the soap opera digests anymore, but one soap seems to beckon me occasionally still. That would be Bold and Beautiful. I'm curious about how many of the main characters look now, as I hadn't watched the show in maybe 15 years. I can't seem to muster the energy to turn on the TV to look in on them. Maybe I'm apprehensive of getting sucked into watching again. As if I have spare time to shoehorn more activities.

Anyway, back to Bold and Beautiful. I'd always thought some of the characters' names were a bit unusual. The name Ridge has always struck me as odd. I myself don't know anyone named Ridge. I could say the same thing about almost all the other names I saw—Thomas, Brooke, Taylor (woman, pre-Swift), Whip (!), Amber, Liam, Hope, Tawny, Oliver. Thomas is one common name among guys (or the familiar form, Tom). The rest of the names seem to belong to mostly actors rather than everyday people. Besides several Toms/Thomases and one Oliver I know, I don't personally know anyone with those other names. Whip? Egad!

The digest's other soap operas and characters' names I collected are as follows:

All My Children
Madison (woman), Greenlee, Zach, Kendall, Marissa, Scott, JR (making me think of Dallas series), Annie, Amanda, Cara, Caleb, Asher

Days of Our Lives (aka DOOL)
Daniel, Chloe, Kayla, Caroline, Parker, Philip, Melanie, Philip, Nathan, Stephanie, Sami, EJ, Nicole, Vivian, Brady, Sidney

General Hospital
Sonny, Brenda, Luke, Tracy, Carly, Dante, Nik, Brook Lynn, Michael, Edward, Patrick, Robin, Lisa, Johnny

One Life to Live
Matthew, Inez, Nora, Bo, John, Natalie, Marty, Jessica, Brody, Clint, Viki, Joey, Aubrey, Joe, Kelly, Layla, Cristina, Blair

Young and Restless
Sharon, Skye, Adam, Daniel, Daisy, Kevin, Phyllis, Victor, Kyle, Diane

The digest I cribbed from is Scoopin' the Soaps, posted 12/15/2010, Toby Goldstein for Tribune Media Services. My Sunday insert excluded Desperate Housewives and Gossip Girls. For my article, I also passed on mentioning characters' names from those shows.

American Gender-neutral Names

The following non-gender-specific names have occasionally popped into mind: Dale (Evans, Earnhardt), Taylor (Swift, Lautner), Chris (Simms, Evert), Pat (Pat from skits in SNL, Boone, Nixon), Alex (Trebek, Doonesbury—fictional), Sidney (Lumet, Simpson). Most of the names seem to be popular now or had been in the past in movies or TV. Speaking of which, if you want to find links to celebrities with names you have in mind, Google "celebrities named [name]". Surprisingly, the websites themselves don't seem to have easy search tools.

Popular Names from School and Work

The following names are popular ones I've encountered over the years: Kathy, Linda, Mary, Deb or variations, Jennifer, Jessica, Karen, Jean, Sharon, Sue and variations, Carol, Dave or David, Steve, Bob, Bill, John, Mike, Dan, Scott, Paul. In some of my school classes or workplaces, I'd know several people with the same first names. Differentiating required actions like adding their surname initial, in written reference, quietly approaching them, ..., but not shouting out just the first name.

Hurricane Names

Used to be that they gave girl names to hurricanes. For some time, they've also tossed boys' names into the mix. For info about names, visit http://www.aoml.noaa.gov/hrd/tcfaq/tcfaqHED.html and click Section B questions. Because the website is a FAQ, you might want to open Section B in a new window so you can easily return the other four sections for more hurricane items of interest.


The names in the two following sites are clickable for name origins and meanings.

Visit The New Parents Guide for links to most most-popular names for boys and girls by certain years, decades, and eras.

If you've been curious as to your own name's popularity rank for the year you were born, or any other year, for that matter, this SSA page has filters you can play with.

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...