Word by Word

Word by Word coverWord by Word: The Secret Life of Dictionaries
Kory Stamper
Pantheon (March 14, 2017), 320 pages
Kindle edition $13.99, Amazon hardcover $18.32

I should have been a lexicographer. That was what I thought when I began reading this book. After all, I love words and language. I certainly believe I have “sprachgefühl,” what Stamper say is “a feeling for language.” And I most certainly meet the qualifications:

quoteAt Merriam-Webster, there are only two formal requirements to be a lexicographer: you must have a degree in any field from an accredited four-year college or university, and you must be a native speaker of English.

Stamper says that many people are surprised that a degree in linguistics or English isn’t required. But, she says, “The reality is that a diverse group of drudges will yield better definitions.”

I realized as a made my way through this book, however, that maybe I didn’t want to be a lexicographer. Stamper describes the process she goes through in revising the definition of a word. She may spend weeks on one word. At one point she describes how she put her head down on her desk in frustration.

If you enjoy reading and thinking about words and definitions you will love this book. It is written in a witty, lively manner and is a delight to read. Long before you are finished you will have permanently reinforced in your mind the fact that dictionaries are written by real people sitting in a real office pouring over the evidence of how words are used.


homemade pizza on the grill

Pizza on the Grill- 1We’ve been serious about grilling this summer. One of the dishes for grilling that I’ve seen but which I had been hesitant to try was pizza. That was until Terry brought home a package of copper grill mats. (More about those another time.) After using the grill mat with chicken and hamburgers I was ready to try pizza.

I had a couple of grilled pizza recipes in my database, but nothing that really inspired me. So I went off on my own.

We don’t have a Trader Joe’s near us, but there is one in the retail metropolis of Temecula thirty minutes to the south. Terry was headed there to visit Barnes & Noble so I asked her to stop at TJ’s for their fresh pizza dough. Locally I bought mushrooms, sausage from the service meat department, sliced provolone, and Cento pizza sauce. We had a can of olives in the pantry. There were two small ripe tomatoes in our container garden.Pizza on the Grill - 3

I put everything together and put it on the preheated grill. I gave it about twelve minutes.

The result surpassed my expectations. I really left it on too long as the bottom of the crust was charred, but that only minimally interfered with our enjoyment of the pizza.

The next time I’ll give it eight minutes or so and it will be ideal.

Pizza on the Grill - 2


hard to believe

It really is hard to believe that “many years from now” has arrived.


Sacred Music Friday: Te Deum

John Rutter’s Te Deum performed by the Bow Valley Chorus.


Redefining Reality

Redefining Reality coverRedefining Reality: The Intellectual Implications of Modern Science
Professor Steven Gimbel, Ph.D.
The Great Courses
Audio download $39.95 when on sale
If the course is not on sale, check back– the sale price will come around again

This course is sweeping in its scope.

Professor Gimbel’s premise is that there has always been a redefinition of reality as a result of advances in science and technology. He covers pretty much all of the sciences including physics, astronomy, biology, chemistry, and even psychology. He goes back as far as Plato and Aristotle and takes science fully into the modern era, discussing string theory and virtual reality. Gimbel has a great breadth of knowledge and understanding. He even covers popular culture, including books and movies, rather extensively.

Sometimes Gimbel would get too down in the weeds and I would find my mind wandering. This is not the best Great Courses lecture series I have listened to, but much of it was quite interesting.


homemade falafel

I’ve mentioned here before that dad gave Terry and me a never-used, as far as I could tell, GranPappy deep fryer. As I’ve said, I would probably never have gone out and bought one, but I graciously accepted the gift. I’m not big on deep fried foods, but I did used it a few times to make falafel. I bought falafel mix at our local Middle Eastern grocery store and it turned out well.

falafelThen I had one of those “I coulda had a V-8!” moments. I have a Vitamix. I can make my own my own falafel from scratch! I found this recipe from The Blender Babes.

True to form I ignored the quantities but followed the recipe for instructions on preparing the garbanzo beans and for the list of spices to include. It was a bit messy and I encountered the normal Vitamix headache of the air pocket, which meant that not all the beans got properly ground.

Nonetheless it all turned out great. The falafels were very tasty and I have enough of the mixture left over for another meal. Unlike using a packaged mix, I knew exactly what was in my food and was able to keep the sodium level down.

I was pleased and Terry enjoyed it. It made for a nice meatless Monday.


a bad-good experience

A few weeks back I received an email from my internet provider telling me that my speed had increased from 50 Mbps to 100 Mbps at no additional charge. I was initially delighted but then I calmed down and did a speed test. Indeed my upload speed was well over 100 Mbps, but my download speed was stuck at 57 Mbps. I was a bit miffed since download speed is far more important to me than upload, but I didn’t follow up as I was busy. Recently I had some time so I opened up an online chat session. The agent told me to power down my router and she would refresh the ports on her side. I did so, and when I brought the system back up I had no internet access at all.

internet speed chartI gave it some time and when nothing changed I made a phone call. I got through to an agent quickly but his systems were not working and he kept me waiting while trying to resolve that. As I kept waiting he rebooted his computer. Finally, he told me to unplug my router while he made the necessary changes. I did so and powered up the router when he told me to do that. Everything worked.

After I hung up I did a speed test. Upload was slightly slower, but still well over 100 Mbps. Download, my primary concern, was right at 100 Mbps. I’m happy.

I suppose that this was one of those “all’s well that ends well” moments.