Monday, September 30, 2013

Word of the Day

piebald: marked or spotted with two different colors, especially black and white; an animal with such markings

I stumbled upon this term frequently during my courses in animal genetics. It just always seemed like both a cool-looking and cool-sounding word to me.

Saturday, September 28, 2013

Word of the Day

buckwheat: a plant cultivated for its seeds, which are used as feed for animals or to make flour for human consumption

I enjoy baking, although buckwheat is not all that popular of an ingredient in the recipes I whip up. Buckwheat is not just a baking term, though. Little Rascals, anyone?

Friday, September 27, 2013

I've got blisters on my fingers!

Well, the title of this post is sort of a lie. The blisters aren't actually on my fingers. They're on my palm. And they're not even from anything cool like jamming out on the drums or guitar. They're from mowing. Yep, that's all the better I can do.

When the weather's nice (as in not a million degrees), I don't mind mowing all that much. But my hands do mind apparently. It began when I mowed my lawn a few days ago, after which I had just one sole blister on my palm. Then a couple days later I mowed the lawn of one of my elderly neighbors, and I realized that I had at that point accumulated a total of two blisters. Today I mowed the lawn of yet another elderly neighbor, and now my blisters have blisters.

Sadly, this is nothing new. I have a history of gathering blisters on my hands when mowing. Believe it or not, I do wear bandages and gloves to protect against the mower handle giving me blisters. But, a lot of good those do me. And I've tried using different mowers, to see if there are any mowers out there that I might get along with. But, alas, it would seem no mower particularly likes me.

Oh well. At least the lawn looks nice.

Thursday, September 26, 2013

Word of the Day

platitudinous: dull; commonplace

I hadn't heard or seen this word used in some time, until I came across it while reading yesterday. It has quite a ring to it, especially for a word with such a drab meaning.

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Word of the Day

supercalifragilisticexpialidocious: a nonsense word made popular by the movie Mary Poppins, in which it is essentially defined as "something to say when you don't know what to say"

Just because. It's one of those days.

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

We wish you a merry Christmas-even-though-it's-just-barely-autumn!

Autumn officially began roughly two days ago. So what does that mean? Christmas commercials, of course! I have thus far seen two Christmas commercials since autumn began. Move aside, Halloween. Forget you, Thanksgiving. It's time for Christmas.

Christmas is my favorite holiday. So, you'd think I would be all for these premature Christmas commercials. In a way, I am. But, in part because Halloween is my second favorite holiday, I don't want to see the autumn festivities just thrown to the wayside. I believe in giving each holiday it's due attention. As I just said, I am quite fond of Halloween, so I certainly don't want to see it just waved aside like a pesky fly. As for Thanksgiving, although I don't mean to sound harsh, the truth is that I find it to be a somewhat boring holiday. Don't get me wrong, I truly appreciate the meaning behind Thanksgiving, and I am certainly fond of all the food (pumpkin pie, anyone?), but it's simply not my favorite holiday. Yet, I don't want to see Thanksgiving just lost in the shuffle.

I guess the point I'm making is that while I am beginning to grow anxious for winter (Christmas, the snow, all that jazz), I think we should first pay our respects to Halloween and Thanksgiving and everything else autumnal.

Monday, September 23, 2013

Word of the Day

dirigible: an airship, which is an aircraft that is lighter than air

This word comes up a lot in the book I am currently reading, and that is Hard Magic by Larry Correia. So far a great, fun read.

Sunday, September 22, 2013

Leaves become most beautiful when they're about to die.

Today is the first day of autumn. I, for one, am thrilled with that. As I have mentioned before, autumn is high (if not first) on my list of favorite seasons, as I am quite fond of the not-too-hot-not-too-cold weather, the wonderfully spooky holiday of Halloween, the pumpkin pies. But this particular post will not focus on those particular details of autumn. So, let me get on with my true purpose of this post.

One of the greatest things about autumn is the beautiful scenery it has to offer. I'm sure everyone can guess what I mean by that. The foliage. The beautiful leaves of all shades of red, orange, yellow. A number of trees near my home have already begun to change color, and I can't wait to see them in their full glory. But when I see those changing leaves, I can't help but ponder the true meaning of their rich colors. Those red, orange, and yellow hues are an epitome of beauty. And they are also a telltale sign that those leaves are in the throes of death.

Leaves become most beautiful when they're about to die. That there sentence is actually a line from a song, and that song is Regina Spektor's "Time Is All Around".  The mellifluous manner in which Regina Spektor sings that particular line makes the truth behind it all the more beautifully haunting, or hauntingly beautiful. I rather like how she uses one of the greatest aspects of autumn to make a very profound point. Autumnal colors are indubitably beautiful, even though they are a sign that those leaves are in fact dying. Death is indeed a fact of life, but leave it to the season of autumn to display that death need not always be viewed as ugly and grim.

Friday, September 20, 2013

TGIF. Again.

The weekend never comes too soon. So, I guess that would be TWNCTS. Hmm. Maybe not.

I'll just stick with TGIF. Much better. So, it's Friday again, and I for one am thrilled. But, even my thrill cannot currently keep my eyelids from drooping. So further celebration will have to wait until later.

First, though, I'll give this post dual purpose and offer a Word of the Day here:

lackadaisical: lethargic; lazy

Lackadaisical. That's what I plan on being this weekend.

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Word of the Day

leviathan: any large marine animal; anything of very large size

The Bible contains a sea monster referred to as Leviathan. More recently, monstrous creatures known as leviathans are featured in one of my favorite shows, Supernatural.

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Word of the Day

catamount: a mountain lion or other medium-sized wild feline

I hadn't come across this word in a long time. That is, until I just stumbled upon it while reading Robert E. Howard's short story "A Gent from Bear Creek".

Monday, September 16, 2013

Pride comes before a fall.

I think the title of this post may actually be a bit backwards. Maybe. I'm not entirely sure. So I'll just get to my point, and then you can be the judge.

I want to relay something rather disturbing that I recently witnessed. I was driving home from work when, pulling up to an intersection, I watched as a car collided with a teenage boy riding a bicycle. Let me just clarify that, as far as I know, the boy who was riding the bike is fine. In fact, he quite literally walked it off. And that's more or less the point of my post. The boy was hit by a car, he and his bike flew into the air, over the vehicle, onto its hood, and down to the road. Yet, as witnesses rushed to the scene and queried the boy as to his well-being, he simply stood up and waved the Good Samaritans away. And the way he did this was so cool, almost cold. He pushed himself up off the pavement, picked up his thoroughly contorted bicycle, and limped away, clearly embarrassed and agitated. It was honestly perturbing to see how bothered the boy was, not only by the accident itself but by the help he was being offered.

So that's why I say that I think the title to this post might be a tad bit backwards. In this case, the boy fell and was thereafter too prideful to accept the care and concern of those around him. So, sure, pride can definitely come before a fall. But, it can also come after a fall. And sometimes that's just as bad.

Sunday, September 15, 2013

Word of the Day

Brobdingnagian: of very large size; giant

This word stems from Jonathan Swift's classic satirical fantasy Gulliver's Travels, in which giants inhabit a land known as Brobdingnag.

Saturday, September 14, 2013

Dog Days Are Over

I'm fairly certain that talking about the weather is considered a conversational no-no. Too bad, though, because that's what I'm about to do. So if that's a turn off for you, you've been forewarned.

Let me begin by saying that autumn and winter are my favorite seasons. I am not a fan of warm weather (a sentiment for which I often find myself in the minority). So, the recent temperatures of nearly 100 degrees here where I am were just a bit much for me. But today it was as if autumn arrived. It was a beautiful day, with a blue sky and sunshine, and temperatures barely breaking 70 degrees. Needless to say, I spent a lot of time outdoors today, and I'll do the same tomorrow (assuming that the meteorologists have managed to accurately forecast tomorrow's weather).

One of my favorite things about autumn is Halloween. I love the creep factor of Halloween-time, all of the eerie decorations, the jack-o'-lanterns, the horror movies, and of course the candy. Halloween is my second favorite holiday. For the record, Christmas is my first favorite holiday, which of course takes place in my other favorite season, winter. But I'll wait until closer to those holidays to further expand on them. Until then, I'll just continue to get myself psyched up for their impending arrivals.

So, the point I'm making is that the dog days of summer seem to be over, and for the most part that truly gladdens me. Sure, it is a bit depressing when the days get shorter, when I get home from work and it's already dark outside. And sometimes it is difficult to fully enjoy the outdoors when cold air chills you to the bone. But, in all honesty, I'm ready for the colors of fall, and thereafter the snowfalls of winter. So bring it on, Mother Nature.

Friday, September 13, 2013


TGIF. Tactical Ground Intercept Facility. Oops. Wrong one.

Thank goodness it's Friday. That's more like it.

Ready for the weekend? I sure am. And it's going to be my favorite kind of weekend. The kind where I have absolutely nothing planned. I'm going to veg out and do, well, nothing. At least nothing of significance. That's my kind of weekend. Yes, I am lazy and boring, but I'm perfectly fine with that.

Thursday, September 12, 2013

Word of the Day

unhinged: unsettled or disordered

This one has a pretty self-explanatory definition, but I've nevertheless always liked the word. What's more, this word describes my current mental state, after an exceptionally wild evening with my exceptionally wild puppy.

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Word of the Day

eyrie (alternatively spelled aerie): the nest of a bird of prey, such as an eagle

"Raven's Eyrie" is one of my favorite of Karl Edward Wagner's stories starring the antihero known as Kane.

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Word of the Day

gaffer: an old man; an overseer

None other than J.R.R. Tolkien first introduced me to this word. In The Lord of the Rings Samwise Gamgee's old gardener father was often referred to as Gaffer (although his name was actually Hamfast).

Monday, September 9, 2013

Blowtorches and Bagels

Have you ever had one of those ingenious moments of innovation? Such as during one of those unfortunate times when you find yourself in a sticky situation, yet you are able to formulate a plan with the meager means available to you? And then afterwards you feel so proud of yourself? Well, I had one of those moments today. It was only a very mild one, though, so I won't even embarrass myself by going into detail. But, it got me thinking. It got me thinking about some of my past shining moments of innovation (I will not get into the specifics of the length of this list, and you can take that to mean whatever you want it to mean). In going through that list, I remembered a recent instance of situational creativity of which I am particularly proud.

Here's how the story begins. It was a dark and stormy night. Seriously. There was torrential rain, booming thunder, flashing lightning, the whole shebang. And somewhere during the night I lost power at my house. I remember waking up in the middle of the night surrounded by nothing but inky blackness (and since I am one of those grown adults who has to sleep with a nightlight, the impenetrable darkness did not go unnoticed). I managed to fall back asleep, though, but when I awoke in the morning I was still without power.

The lack of power itself really did not bother me. Honestly, I've always been intrigued by the simpler, more primitive lifestyles of our ancestors. There are times when it's fun to rough it, like they did back then. I could easily occupy myself with a good book, just like they did in the good ole days. Confident that I could entertain myself, I felt no need to panic. (Also, my laptop and Kindle Fire were both fully charged, so in the case that I needed to play a virtual game of solitaire or something of the like I knew I would be okay.)

So that morning, with no power, I arose and prepared myself for some good ole roughing it. I showered and dressed by means of flashlights and a few candles lit here and there. Then I went into the kitchen and prepared to eat my usual breakfast of a toasted bagel smothered in nothing other than peanut butter. But, alas! How do you toast a bagel during a power outage, with a toaster that requires power to function? I had stumbled upon a problem, a dilemma, a mild tragedy, if you will. I love me some toasted bagel with peanut butter, so this was one of those times when I refused to just roll over and surrender.

So, I thought of my options. Of course all of my primary ideas revolved around one thing: fire. That would do well to toast a bagel. I had plenty of candles lit, and for a brief moment I considered warming my bagel over one of them. But then I realized that I wanted the bagel for breakfast, not supper, when it might finally be warmed by the puny flame of a candle. So I rethought my options. I have lighters, but they're no better than a candle. I do not have a fireplace, so that was not an option. And I was not in the mood to go out and collect wood to build a bonfire.

It seemed I really needed to work my brain cells on this one. So I got the gears rolling, and what I found myself thinking was something along the lines of, "Wouldn't it be nice if I had a blowtorch right about now?" And then a light bulb went off in my head. Thanks to my handyman of a dad and his penchant for collecting all forms of tools and whatnot, I actually have a blowtorch. So, I fetched the blowtorch. Then I gathered a pair of oven mitts, a pair of tongs, and my bagel. Then I put on the oven mitts, lit up the blowtorch, grabbed my bagel with the tongs, and proceeded to toast my bagel. It took roughly two or three minutes to get it just right, but in the end I got the job done. I had myself a toasted bagel, so I slapped some peanut butter on it and ate it. And it tasted good.

And that's how the story goes. It was a dark and stormy night, I woke up and wanted a toasted bagel, so I pulled out the blowtorch. Makes sense to me.

Sunday, September 8, 2013

Word of the Day

nacre: mother of pearl

I've always thought mother of pearl to be a very beautiful substance. I have a couple of objects with mother of pearl embellishments, my favorite being a pocket knife from my grandma.

Friday, September 6, 2013

I live in a zoo.

I'll use this post to share something about myself. And that is, I love animals. (I by no means intend to spark any debate or hard feelings with this next statement, but I will take this moment to make it clear that while I have a lot of compassion for animals, I am not a vegetarian, vegan, or anything of that sort. I eat meat, recognize that livestock play an important role in agriculture, and all that good stuff. And that is all I will say on that matter.)

So, moving on, I love animals, and I cannot imagine life without my four-legged furballs. I'll admit that I am partial to the felines and canines, but I've had a plethora of animals throughout my life thus far. I made it through childhood with some awesome four-legged critters as my partners in crime, and my animals still make for perfect accomplices even in my adulthood. As a child my parents started my sister and me off with fish and budgies (cute little birds). And then they moved us into cats and thereafter dogs. And that's how it all began. I'll also use this moment to admit that my love for animals led me to a college education in the animal sciences, and I now work a job in the animal medical field.

So, what animals does my current domestic zoo contain?

First and foremost, let me begin with my oldest baby. She is a beautiful calico cat, and she just celebrated her 20th birthday. I've had her since I was a small child, and we still get into plenty of trouble together. In her old age she suffers from renal disease. There is no cure for renal disease, but with steadfast medical care she is doing well. She receives an extensive pharmacy of medications and supplements every day, and I also administer subcutaneous fluids daily. She doesn't necessarily appreciate me stalking her with bottles of drugs and needled devices (can I really blame her?), but she's a trooper.

Next? I have another cat I recently acquired. He is a 5-month-old rescue kitten. He received an injury before I acquired him, rendering him with very limited mobility in his hindquarters. Therefore, he is more or less two-legged, yet he is plenty active and is a feisty firecracker of a cat. (I do my best to do physical therapy with the kitten so that he might learn to better use his hind legs, but, like I said, he's a firecracker, and he never fails to inform me that he quite frankly despises physical therapy. He'd much rather play, thank you very much.)

And then there's the puppy. She is another rescue, found as a stray. She is 6 months of age, and she is huge. And she is going to get even huger. Imagine a hairy, gangly Godzilla with next to no coordination, and with a penchant for putting anything and everything in its mouth. In short, imagine Godzilla. Yeah, that's my puppy. She is the wild child of the bunch.

Oh, and I can't forget to mention the 15-year-old frog. This frog is essentially a rescue as well. Over a decade ago my grandmother rescued this frog from a family who was going to flush it. She gave it to my sister and me. We thought we'd give it a home for the remainder of its life, which we didn't think would be long. But it keeps on keeping on.

Some days, I really do feel as if I live in a zoo.

Wednesday, September 4, 2013

Word of the Day

sanguine: optimistic or cheerful; bloody or ruddy

One of the first times I heard this word used was over ten years ago in an episode of one of my all-time favorite TV shows, and that is Joss Whedon's Firefly. (Fox Network was kind enough to prematurely pull the plug on this show. Way to go, Fox.) But anyway, thanks to this awesome show I became aware of the dual definition of this word.

Tuesday, September 3, 2013

Word of the Day

misadventure: a mishap or unlucky event

This word is part of the title of one of my favorite books, and that is L. Sprague de Camp's The Compleat Enchanter: The Magical Misadventures of Harold Shea. Fun read, fun word.

Monday, September 2, 2013


Where do I start with this...?

I'm sure most of us have at least heard of those oh-so high quality, cleverly named movies on the Sci-Fi channel (oops, I mean Syfy, because that makes so much more sense). And I bet most of us have watched (or at least attempted to watch) at least one of them. You know, those movies like Dinoshark, Arachnoquake, Piranhaconda, 2-Headed Shark Attack, Pegasus vs. Chimera. Recently there was Sharknado, which, for some reason I'm sure I'll never understand, has somehow become popular enough to warrant theatrical release and a sequel. Astonishing. For all the wrong reasons.

What's more, I actually sat down recently and watched Sharknado. The whole thing. (Embarrassing, I know, but I guess I'm just that kind of masochist.) I don't know why, but for some reason I now feel compelled to express my sentiments on this particular movie. So here it goes.

Honestly, Sharknado is downright dreadful. It's about waterspouts that suck up a bunch of sharks and thereafter flood the city of Los Angeles with shark-infested waters. How ridiculous does that sound? Pretty darn so. But even though it is so horrible, I couldn't stop watching. I just couldn't. I remember recently coming across a review of Sharknado in which someone stated that the movie is so bad, it's good. And I guess, for lack of better words, that's how I felt while watching it. The movie is absolutely horrid in all respects (acting, dialogue, special effects, action sequences, name it, it is terrible). Yet, although I am embarrassed to admit it, I almost enjoyed watching it. The only reason I can come up with for my enjoyment of it is the fact that it is so utterly laughable. Really, I laughed so hard I cried, so hard I felt sick to my stomach. I haven't laughed that hard in a long time.

Now don't get me wrong. This movie is not meant to be funny (at least I don't think it is, I'm not entirely sure). But regardless, it is funny. Hilarious. Sidesplittingly so. There are countless reigning moments of unintentional (I think) hilarity that I just can't get past. Just to give a better idea of what I'm talking about, I'll summarize some of those scenes here:

1. A heroic old man (and a randy one at that) saves a woman and her dog from imminent danger, with the help of a barstool, of course. He then meets an untimely end when he is swept up by a shark-infested wave of water. As one of the sharks engulfs him, clearly in the process of making lunch out of his head, the old man's dying words are, "Ow!"...Ow? That's it? If I even had the cognizance to waste my breath on speech while being attacked by a shark, my choice of words would certainly be far more colorful than a mere, "Ow."

2. After some befuddling sequence of events, the main characters are being preyed upon by a shark in a flooded living room. After another ridiculous series of events that involve a baseball bat, blood-spurting appendages, and a bookshelf, the surviving characters stare into the heavily blood-tinted water only to have one of them proclaim, "Looks like it's that time of the month."...Yeah. It doesn't get much classier than that.

3. Some explosives are loaded into a helicopter. The helicopter is flown within throwing distance of a few tornadoes. The explosives are thrown into the tornadoes. The obedient tornadoes dissipate and leave the world to better, happier times. Um, okay. But what I found even better was that during this scene, the pilot pulls the helicopter right up next to one of the tornadoes and then informs his explosive-wielding passenger, "There it is! To your left!"...Thanks, but I'm pretty sure she could see the huge whirling dervish of a tornado without your help, buddy. Way to go, Captain Obvious.

4. A man kills a bunch of a sharks that happen to be flying up in the sky with a piddly handgun. All of them are one-shot kills. Shooting one-handed. And not even aiming. Oh, and then he proceeds to pick up a chainsaw and slice a shark perfectly in half when it comes flying at him. And then a bit later, when yet another shark comes flying at him, he ends up jumping, chainsaw in hand, right into its mouth in a touching (funny haha) act of sacrifice. But fear not, for he cuts himself out of the shark, using his chainsaw, of course. Oh, and then, once freed, he reaches back inside the shark and pulls out another eaten victim. And after about two seconds of CPR she's perfectly fine, even though she was within the shark's stomach for, I don't know, at least half an hour. And they all live happily ever after...So, yeah. I don't even know what to say at this point. There really just are no words.

So I guess that's it. Sharknado. I really don't know why I felt the need to watch that movie, let alone share my sentiments on it. But I did. My IQ certainly didn't fare well with that, but oh well. It was all in good fun. I guess.