Some Serious Wordiness

I really like science. I find it generally fascinating and wonderful, but there are certain topics within science that really get me giddy.  One such topic is cephalopods. I did my science fair project involving the bacteria that make squid glow when I was in ninth grade, and I’ve been gaga for the creatures ever since.  They’re just so nifty.

Whenever I see articles about new discoveries regarding this magnificent group, I’m all in.  I mean what isn’t cool about squid having a symbiotic relationship with bio-luminescent bacteria that reflects moonlight, so it can move about without casting a shadow on the sea floor and thus protecting it from predators?  Or that Octopi have this crazy ability to change shape and texture to blend in with their environment?

Anyway, the other day I was scrolling through my Facebook feed, and I saw an article regarding the octopus.  I was instantly excited. What other coolness could I learn? But then, sadness struck. I couldn’t take this article seriously.  They had spelled the plural of octopus as “octopuses.”

What dopes, I thought.

Anybody who knows anything knows that octopus becomes octopi.  This article obviously had no credibility. But something in me just couldn’t let it go.

I soon found myself on Merriam-Webster’s website and to my sheer delight I learned that octopuses is indeed an acceptable plural of octopus. In standard English, octopus would be pluralized to octopuses.  But because people wanted to be more in-line with Latin root words they pluralized words ending in “us” with an “i.”  The rub is that the root word of octopus is not Latin, but Greek, making the plural “octopodes” which is really weird and confusing. In conclusion, technically all three plural forms−octopuses, octopi, and octopodes−are correct.

This was great news! I could read the article after all.  I will still default to octopi, but this is captivating stuff.  See, even the words used to name these wonderful beings are crazy fascinating!

Happy wordy Friday!



Hieroglyphs Back in Style

I think we are reverting back to hieroglyphics or perhaps ever further back to painting on cave walls.  Just instead of images being chiseled or painted onto stone tablets. They are being sent via some sort of electronic tablet.

I have recently started receiving e-mails with a thumbs-up emoji from my mother if she is in agreement with my archaic form of communication also known as words.  A bit ironic for a retired English teacher.

I mean when the offer on my house got accepted.  I received a string of smiling cowboy faces and clapping hands before my realtor cared to explain himself.

I believe the original argument or rather one of the original arguments for emoji usage was speed, but given the 42,000 different emoji options available today.  I’m not sure that argument holds water since to pick the perfect one would probably take longer than actually just writing out what the hell you mean.

Don’t get me wrong, emojis are fun, but to say they are faster or clearer than actual words is just silly.  There are so many miscommunications via pixels that we certainly have only added to the quagmire of misunderstanding to this argument inducing medium.

“No, that poop emoji meant ‘that’s shitty’ not ‘that you’re shitty’.”


“So he sent me a smiley face with heart eyes does that mean he loves me or that he loves that I bought him car show tix for his birthday?”

Okay this one’s probably obvious, but you get the picture.  The possible crazy is never ending.

Seriously, if we mull over the absence of an exclamation in a text.  You have to realize doctorate level thesis analysis is going into emoji deciphering.  And don’t act like you don’t know the difference between “Okay” and “Okay.”  That dot speaks volumes…fuck grammar/usage and mechanics…that period is there to say much more than simply pleasing the grammarian gods.

I think my evidence about miscommunication in the digital world is strong, so you can probably understand my hesitancy with emojis.  Trust me they are not a replacement for facial expressions and odds are the general masses aren’t a bunch of Pictionary champs. So, enjoy the humor and laughter, but use sparingly to avoid the drama.

A Periodic Periodical Reader

I’ve never been much of a periodical reader.  The most I’ve ever thoroughly poured over in the newspaper has been the crossword, and when I was younger, my love horoscope.  I did have a subscription to Seventeen magazine when I was a teenager, and I do remember perusing its pages with fair regularity. And at one time I did have a subscription to National Geographic, but I mainly just looked at the fabulous photography.

I have attempted to get into Time and Newsweek, but with no lasting success.  I did read The New York Times every day for an entire semester because of a journalism class I was taking, and I did enjoy it.  But summer came and that habit fell away.  I also didn’t have access to a free copy anymore.

However, science magazines have always held my fancy.  It was an article about microbes in a science periodical-I can’t remember which one-that really got me interested in science.  To be fair, the only reason I picked up the magazine was due to needing an idea for a science fair project.

It was a requirement that all students participate in the school science fair for 7th, 8th, and 9th grade.  I was dreading it. I guess it struck me as laborious. Step one of the project was to pick a project. You needed to get an idea, run an experiment, do research, and present your findings. You know that whole scientific method thing.

I had gotten the idea to do something with carpal tunnel, but I wasn’t feeling stoked about it. I figured if I had to put all this effort into a project I should at least try to do something that got me a little excited. Thus, I picked up a science-y looking magazine to get the ideas flowing. The cover story was on microbes.  It was a magazine that was actually meant for kids a few years younger than I was, but it got me thinking.  I mean germs were kind of cool. I could get behind that.

With a significant amount of help from a science teacher, I got a plan for a project about testing the potency of mouthwash and that perhaps mouthwash didn’t have to be as strong as manufactures made it in order to kill bacteria. It was at this point my love affair with chemistry and microbiology began. It’s been going on ever since.  In high school the same science teacher, an honest-to-God Ms. Frizzle, introduced me to Science News. I fell in love with this magazine.  It had so much to offer in one compact issue. However, I could only get it at the school library.

And like many things in life, I went to college, got busy, and forgot about Science News. I was without its wonders until about a year ago when I was feeling in need of some science reading. There are a great number of science books about a variety of science topics, but I didn’t know where best to direct my efforts. I thought a magazine that dabbled in a little bit of everything was the ticket.

I am always amazed at how much information is packed in its pages. It offers a nice little interlude between activities or other reading material. I even keep a couple of issues at work just in case I finish my book and need reading material for my train ride home. I will admit it’s not my main reading squeeze, but it is a delightful treat now and then that gives me much to ponder and explore.

What’s your favorite periodical?

Nutella Proves a Point

The other day I was in the mindless pursuit to waste time, and one of my favorite places to do that is Pinterest because all kinds of goodies can be found there. I like my time wasting to possibly turn into productivity, then I don’t feel so bad about it. Technically, this happened because I stumbled upon this quote and thus I could write this post. The quote was:

“You can’t make everybody happy. You aren’t a jar of Nutella.”

I started laughing. It has a very solid point.  It’s a general concept that’s been around of awhile but this was a fresh twist.  However, what I found so amusing wasn’t the wit of this new wording, but the fact that this quote isn’t true.

What do you mean? You may ask.

Well…I don’t like Nutella.  I guess it just makes the point all the more accurate.

This why I love words.  They’re good for a laugh and a ponder.

Happy Friday, everyone!

Writing Woes

As I’ve mentioned before, I not only spend copious amounts of time reading, but also scratching out my own scribblings. I tend to write long-hand in a journal I carry with me.  However, I have recently been having some writing woes, but not the usual writer’s block and such. I have been struggling with what people say and do when they see me writing.

I have been given the impression that they think my scribblings are silly, and what could I possibly be writing that is so important that I fill up so many pages.  I’m currently on my fourth journal. There are many people who I have kept this hobby hidden from due to fear of judgement.

Now I know that I really shouldn’t give a flying flip what other people think, but a writer’s ego is fragile.  And sometimes things said really sting, such as one morning a co-worker saw me writing before work at my desk and mockingly said, “Dear diary…” like I was an angsty teenaged girl.  I was instantly embarrassed of my writing and felt foolish for it. It made me feel that my hobby of writing and blogging were inferior to other hobbies.

It’s difficult to not let comments like this burrow their way into your mind and under your skin and make you really question what you’re up to. It makes you wonder, is it really worth it for those of us who are not professionals?  Answer: Of course, it is!

However, it is a bit ironic.  A professional writer, such as a journalist or a novelist, is held in quite high esteem, but it feels like if you haven’t reached that level then you’re inadequate. Yet how does one reach those levels without toiling away with a pen and a piece of paper or a keyboard and a monitor before their day job? And what if you just like doing it with no aspiration to be paid?

Writing is difficult.  It is a process.  I don’t like criticism, but I’ll take it and do something with it if it will improve my work.  However, criticism for the act itself seems unnecessary and rather unproductive. I haven’t come upon any solid advice other than to ignore people and their comments and their eye rolling.

I am, however, very lucky to have many supportive people in my life regarding my writing. They are pretty amazing, so I’m going to focus on those awesome peeps, jam to “Shake It Off” and keep doing what I love.

Happy Friday, everyone! Keep on keeping on!

A Bite-Sized Review: A Movable Feast

Here is little review to munch on this Tuesday morning!  Happy reading everyone!


Title: A Movable Feast; Author: Ernest Hemmingway; Genre: Non-Fiction/Memoir

The Gist- Musings and anecdotes about Mr. Hemmingway’s experience of living in Paris in the early 1920s.

What Stuck- The book struck me as a bit odd.  It’s disjointed and seems random.  And yet philosophical. I mentioned this to my mother who informed me that this was Hemmingway’s style. Since I haven’t read anything else by Mr. Hemmingway I was unaware of this, but not particularly fond of it.

Should you give a flip?- I can’t say you should. I want to say that it’s an interesting read, but I can’t describe why I feel compelled to say that.  I guess it was comforting to read that many of the greats out there struggle as much as the average joe. There…that lack of clarity pretty much reflects the book. Use your own discretion.

The Other Side of Reading

I have recently been reading Elizabeth Berg’s book on writing called Escaping into the Open. It’s fairly obvious that I not only like reading but fancy writing a bit as well.  I’ve known for a while that there aren’t necessarily strict, firm rules to writing in order to be successful.  However, I don’t believe it truly sunk in until reading this. People say what works for them, but that doesn’t mean it’s applicable to everyone.

Thus, a big part of writing is simply figuring out what the heck works for you.  This is comforting and yet terrifying. It’s nice to know that my bumbling around is not only normal but encouraged; however, I really would like to stop bumbling.  But it sounds like that’s just the way of things.

Berg gives the impression that being relaxed about writing will make everything easier.  I think this is true. I’m just not quite sure how to Zen out my brain about this.  Writing tends to make me get this… tightness.  I want to put a masterpiece on the page. This includes my blog posts. I realize I have to get past this, and Berg makes it seem like one day I will.  I just can’t force it.

She reiterates many things I already knew, but it’s nice and necessary to hear them again.  Such as:

  • Write, write, write, just keep writing, no matter what. I have seen transformations in my own writing as time goes on.  Even though there are many times I feel like I’m spinning my wheels.
  • Read everything. This I try to do on a regular basis. (This blog helps.)  Ideas strike in all kinds of weird places.  So just keep that nose in any reading material you can find. As a personal addendum to this I’ve discovered listening to a wide variety of podcast can also get the ideas flowing.
  • There is freedom in writing and don’t let other writers’ hang ups or beliefs limit what you do or how you do it. There are a lot of myths about writing some could be true for some people but they don’t necessarily affect or apply to everyone.
  • Work hard, but be kind to yourself. Natural talent always helps, but drive and passion can make almost any writer succeed.  Furthermore, I know that I’m not a super-star writer, I like to think I have the drive to become one.  And that this hard work does not include mean or self-deprecating thoughts/comments.  A firm gentleness will suffice.  Positivity will go a lot further than negativity.

Berg provides quite a bit of solid advice for a green writer like myself.  She’s realistic but encouraging and right now that’s what my sensitive writing ego needs.

There is a lot of writing advice out there for bloggers and well for all forms of writing.  What is some advice you’ve received?  Any advice that was particularly unique?