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Monday, October 25, 2010

We interrupt this blog of 'AMAZING THINGS' for another post

Hey, I'll get back to my blog post trip through the 10 things that amaze me most... so far, the Pacific Ocean, Big Numbers and The Young... but first, a few other things that seem to be calling my name.

I, like other crossword buffs, know what the clue 'OED' stands for--Oxford English Dictionary, generally accepted as the foremost word authority in the world. When word got out that the third (latest) edition of the 126-year-old publication would, most likely be released only electronically, trees everywhere cheered. (Incidentally... if you like crossword puzzles, then you must see the incredibly interesting DVD documentary, Wordplay, featuring Will Shortz, Ken Burns, Jon Stewart and Merl Reagle.)

The full edition's last release took 20 volumes just to cover A through Z... and it was so heavy that it couldn't be lifted by any normal person. (Last edition was released in 2001, just two years after the OED went digital. Of course, updates have been coming out between the reprints... with increasing frequency in today's faster-paced word-world.

This is the same dictionary that gave it's "Official-dom" stamp to words like turkducken (turkey stuffed with duck and chicken, of course), shagadelic (the Austin Powers' catchphrase), gaydar, matchy-matchy, defriend and frenemy. Yes, Bridezila is there too, as is Grrl, babelicious, po-po, blamestorming and bazillionaire, plus lots of others. Don't know what they mean? Look 'em up.

Sad, but it's a fact... the onset of the digital age and the internet have changed, not always in a good way, so much of our lives. So now, the only thing you can say to anyone who asks for a definition you don't want to admit you don't know, is to tell them to look it up on Google... or, as the OED would allow, say "Google it."

But wait... that's not all. Soon to be gone with the OED's 20-volumes is the Librarian herself. (Yes, I know... I should say "herself/himself," but if the librarian will soon stop being politically correct, so will I.) Today's new libraries--thanks a lot, economy--are becoming more and more automated. Well, perhaps that is no surprise... everything old is new again... like the Automat, a restaurant style 60 or so years ago, where diners picked their appetizers, entrees and deserts from behind glass windowed cubbyholes (like mailboxes) which made waitresses passe, until diners realized they missed that touch of charm/service/tipping opportunity.

In some larger cities, library users order books on-line and pick them up from locked storage bins at a "sort of library" building, using the key code they were given to open the door.

I suppose story hour now will be lead by Roberta, the bespectacled, grandmotherly-sweet robot.


I was taught that there are five different kinds of taste buds located on the tongue, soft palate, esophagus and epiglottis... salty, sour, bitter, sweet and savory. Well, that's wrong now too, we have just discovered. Taste buds also exist on the lungs so that, according to new research, "the airways can 'taste' dangerous, illness-causing bacteria." This, supposedly helps us to breathe easier and clear the bacteria in the body's self-healing mode, and could allow scientists to better target these infections. 'Atta way, body.

There is a new non-ficton book out,  EELS, by James Prosek. (You guessed it... all about eels.) While this book does not take the place of the printed edition of the OED, it is, in tiny snippets, interesting. I learned that some eels live 100 years... often languishing in small ponds just waiting for a series of floods to 'leapfrog' their way to the ocean. This long life results in growth that produces creatures with "heads on 'em like a full-grown Labrador dog." Those creatures are found in Australia, thank goodness, where lots of fascinating, strange, dangerous animals that I wouldn't want to associate with, are found. (Kute, kuddly koalas are not any of those.)

Speaking of old, like in eels, the bristlecone pine trees found in the U.S. West, are among the longest-living trees in the world, sometimes able to celebrate their 4,000th birthday. Send a card, bake a cake... but please, no birthday candles. I think these celebrations that get out of hand are responsible for a lot of those forest fires out west.

This blog post's last non-sequiter: Happy birthday, Fred Flintstone, who just turned 50. (Gee... prehistoric times seemed farther back than that.) Give our best to Wilma, Pebbles, Barney, Betty, Bam Bam, Dino, Hoppy and The Great Gazoo. Gazoo?... look it up in the OED (Whoops, sorry... you can't.)

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