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The English language is constantly evolving, both the words we use and the rules that control the usage of those words.  Therefore, it is impossible to ever have a definitive grammar guide, or, if you will, a Complete Guide of American English.  And that’s our excuse.



Word of the Every So Often

May 22, 2019

limn:  (verb)  (pronounced:  lim, with a silent "n,", just like "limb," which has a silent "b") to depict or describe in painting or words.  Once you finish limning what you saw, you're free to go.


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Thursday, August 30, 2012

Blue Moon

On Friday, August 31, 2012, there will be a “blue moon.”  But what the heck is a blue moon?  Well... that all depends on your definition, and you have three to pick from, not counting the popular brand of beer or The Marcel’s 1961 hit song.

The most current definition of a blue moon is that of having two full moons in the same month.  This definition has lent us the popular phrase “once in a blue moon,” meaning something that doesn’t happen very often at all.  However, the conditions that create this meaning of a blue moon are truly not that rare.  First, you need a month with 31 days (there are seven to pick from), though it is possible (but less likely) in any month but February, and then you need for there to be a full moon at the first of the month so 29 and ½ days later, in the same month, you can have another full moon, which happens about every 2 ½ years, or more often than the presidential elections. (Rice)

The second, older definition is a bit more convoluted, and it is where our current definition of blue moon stems from.  The older definition for “blue moon” deals with the Christian ecclesiastical calendar.  In that calendar, each full moon has a name.  Easter, for instance, is determined by the Paschal Moon.  There is, though, an exception.  Some years have 13 full moons instead of 12, which means one season would have four full moons instead of three.  It was the third full moon out of four that became known as a blue moon, simply because it didn’t officially have a name. (Brunner)  As well, it couldn’t be the fourth full moon in that season that was called a blue moon because then the names of other full moons, “such as the Moon Before Yule and the Moon After Yule [would not] fall at the proper times relative to the solstices and equinoxes.” (Olson)

How that definition for a blue moon became the current definition is attributed to several editorial mistakes. The third full moon in a season being a blue moon was the definition that was listed in the Maine Farmers’ Almanac from 1932 to 1957.  In a July 1943 article on blue moons in Sky & Telescope magazine, Laurence J. Lafleur wrongly interpreted the old Farmers’ Almanac, confusing a tropical year for a calendar year, though he never mentioned any specific dates, nor did he mention that a blue moon had anything to do with two full moons in one month.  We leave that mistake for an amateur astronomer named James Hugh Pruett.  In 1946, once again in Sky & Telescope, Pruett confused both the Farmers’ Almanac and Lafleur and came up with the current definition for a blue moon.  (Olson) 

This definition was then used by Deborah Byrd, who relied on Pruett’s definition for the January 31, 1980, edition of StarDate, a popular radio program, and was further used by Margot McLoon-Basta and Alice Sigel in their popular Kids’ World Almanac of Records and Facts, which was published in 1985.  From that point on, this has been the definition that we use, even appearing as the answer in the board game Trivial Pursuit. (The next Blue Moon is August 31, 2012)

And if all this isn’t confusing enough, there are times when the moon really can turn blue, which is perhaps the rarest of them all.  A moon doesn’t have to be full, though, to appear blue, nor does the date have anything to do with it.  There just needs to be enough ash particles high enough in the atmosphere, and if those ash particles are the right size, then “they can block reds and yellow from getting to our eyes, giving us tints of blue — and sometimes green — moons.”  (Newcomb)

There were blue moons, for instance, many years after the Indonesian volcano Krakatoa exploded in 1883 with the force of a 100-megaton nuclear bomb.  As well, though far less dramatic, there were blue moons following the eruptions of Mt. St. Helens in 1980, El Chichon in 1982, and Mount Pinatubo in 1991. It is even possible for a large forest fire to cause a blue moon.  (Blue Moon)

So what does all this mean?  Really, not a darned thing.  Fairies won’t dance, wishes won’t be granted, and children conceived under the light of the blue moon won’t be smarter, cuter, or less inclined to believe astrological nonsense.  However, it could be as good a reason as any – if you need a reason at all – to sit out on your porch and drink a Blue Moon and listen to the Marcels.  And if that’s the case, then you’d better have an extra beer or three, because if you miss this blue moon, then you’ll have to wait until July 31, 2015, to see the next one... barring, of course, the outside chance of a volcano.  (Rice)


Work Cited

“Blue Moon.”  7 July 2004.  NASA Science.  30 Aug. 2012.  http://science.nasa.gov/science-news/science-at-nasa/2004/07jul_bluemoon/

“Blue Moon – The Marcels – 1961.”  YouTube.  30 Aug. 2012.  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7giOrKYIwpQ

Brunner, Borgna and Anne Marie Imbornoni.  “Once in a Blue Moon.”  30 Aug. 2012.  infoplease.  30 Aug. 2012.  http://www.infoplease.com/spot/bluemoon1.html

Newcomb, Tim.  “Turning Blue:  Friday’s Full Moon a ‘Blue Moon.’”  30 Aug. 2012.  Time News Feed.  30 Aug. 2012.  http://newsfeed.time.com/2012/08/30/turning-blue-fridays-full-moon-a-blue-moon/

“The next Blue Moon is August 31, 2012.”  21 Aug. 2012.  EarthSky:  A Clear Voice for Science.  30 Aug. 2012.  http://earthsky.org/astronomy-essentials/when-is-the-next-blue-moon

Olson, Donald W, Richard Tresch Fienberg, and Roger Sinnott.  “What’s a Blue Moon?”  2012.  Sky & Telescope.  30. Aug. 2012.  http://www.skyandtelescope.com/observing/objects/moon/3304131.html

Rice, Tony.  “‘Blue Moon’ definition based on a mistake.”  30 Aug. 2012.  WRAL WeatherCenter Blog.  30 Aug. 2012.  http://www.wral.com/weather/blogpost/11487264/


11:55 am pdt 

Word of the Every So Often

cant:  (verb) to talk hypocritically and sanctimoniously about something.  The teacher went off on a cant about not using apostrophes, but then he forgot to use one himself.

8:26 am pdt 

Thursday, August 16, 2012

Word of the Every So Often

ideologue:  (noun)  someone who follows an ideology, especially without question; one who is uncompromising and dogmatic.  It’s really hard to have an intelligent conversation with an ideologue.

9:20 am pdt 

Great Ironies of All Time

Nothing is better than good ol’ fashioned irony... You know... where you hope for one thing to happen, and another, generally the opposite of what you were intending to happen in the first place, happens instead.  The following are some of my all time favourite ironies.

“The Pledge of Allegiance” was written in 1892 by socialist minister Francis Bellamy.  Bellamy’s original version was missing both the phrase “the Flag of the United States of America” (his version was simply “my flag”) and the contentious “under God.”  Bellamy had originally intended the pledge to be used by anybody in any country.  As well, he would’ve definitely objected to including a reference to “god,” which was added in 1954 as a response to the Communist threat.  (The Pledge of Allegiance)

Mother’s Day was championed by Anna Jarvis back in the early years of the 20th Century.  Jarvis had meant for Mother’s Day to be “’a day of sentiment, not profit...’” for the greeting card industry, “...which she saw as ‘a poor excuse for the letter you are too lazy to write.’”  To her dying day in 1948, Jarvis regretted ever creating the holiday and lobbied in vain to get it repealed.  (Strauss)

Osama bin Laden came to represent all that was evil in the world following Al-Qaeda’s September 11 attacks in 2001.  However, back in the 1980s, Bin Laden was involved with an anti-Soviet jihad in Afghanistan that was in the least funded by the United States and Saudi Arabia.  And more than likely, bin Laden was even trained by the CIA.  (Al-Qaeda’s origins and links)  An enemy of my enemy is my friend... maybe not this time.


Work Cited

“Al-Qaeda's origins and links.”  20 July 2004.  BBC News.  16 Aug. 2012.  http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/1670089.stm

“The Pledge of Allegiance.”  2012.  Historic Documents.  16 Aug. 2012.  http://www.ushistory.org/documents/pledge.htm

Strauss, Valerie.  “Why Mother’s Day founder came to hate her creation (and more on moms, gifts, baby names etc.).”  13 May 2012.  The Washington Post.  15 Aug. 2012.  http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/answer-sheet/post/why-mothers-day-founder-came-to-hate-her-creation-and-more-on-moms-gifts-baby-names-etc/2012/05/13/gIQAy

9:18 am pdt 

Sunday, August 12, 2012

More than Meets the Eye:  Hidden Meaning in Statues

Perhaps the best definition of art comes from Tom Miner and Betty Goossens, who published PinchPenny, a small press magazine out of Sacramento back in the ‘80s that featured short stories and poetry.  Their definition:  Art is what you can get away with.  And that is so true.  After all, if you can convince just one person other than yourself that what you’ve just created is art, then it is.  So much the better if that one person is willing to pay.  But just what are these artists trying to get away with? 

This question is especially poignant with several statues in Seattle, in particular, “People Waiting on the Interurban” and the “Kingstones,” both by Richard Beyer, “Lenin” by Emil Vonkov, and Douglas Bennett’s “Columbus.”  And the answer?  It could be just a little playful kidding, perhaps some social commentary, or maybe standing up for what they believed was right, but in a sneaky sort of way.  Or maybe it was nothing at all.

You can read the complete essays, including pictures, by clicking on the “Essays” tab to your left, or by following the above link.

2:39 pm pdt 

Word of the Every So Often

puce:  (noun)  either a flea or a colour, or the colour of a flea; however, what colour is it?  It can either be a purplish colour or a greenish colour.  The flea’s decision to theme the wedding in puce caused a lot of confusion.

webassets/Puce03.JPG  webassets/Puce02.JPG

1:34 pm pdt 

Friday, August 10, 2012

Word of the Every So Often

taciturn:  (adj.)  temperamentally disinclined to talk.  Taciturn people may actually be quite intelligent… but who can tell?

2:32 pm pdt 

Macenkzee Amanduh Lagostino
English 101, Section 114
Summer 2012
University of Milan
Social Security Number: 578-83-4559
Student ID Number: 4562398

July 25, 2012
Dr. Tupidsay

What I Learned this Summer

What I learned this summer is how ridiculously easy it is to have your ID stolen. When I reported it to the police, they told me that most people are able to hack us so easily because we tell them everything they need to know. Anybody can get your address and phone number. It's in the phone book. But we tell them other stuff, too. For instance, I only had three passwords that I ever used, and in case I ever forgot what they were, I kept them in a file on my Facebook account. That way, I could get them whenever I wanted. Come to find out, that wasn't a great idea. Just because Facebook is a voluntary public forum doesn't mean that people have the right to look at my account if I don't want them to.

Did you know that a lot of places will give out your account information simply if you can answer the challenge questions? It's true. They guessed my bank, for instance, because I put a "Like" on it in Facebook, and then they just followed the link. Then they called the bank and pretended they were me but had completely forgotten all my information, which really made me look stupid. And they were able to get around the challenge questions because I had all that information on Facebook, too. Stuff like where I went to high school and my brother and sisters' names. I even had a memorial to my first cat, Fluffy. I can tell you one thing: I don't like my bank as much as I used to.

As well, I found out that you should never give out the routing or account numbers off of your checks. Those numbers are really confusing. The routing number is always the one that comes first on the bottom of your check. For instance, mine is 563287914. And the account number is the one that comes second. Mine is 665379152. Giving out those numbers is just like giving out the PIN number on your ATM card. An easy way to remember your PIN, by the way, is just to make it the year you were born in, like 1992. Of course, even if they have your PIN, it won't do them any good, not without the card. They would still need the numbers on the front and the three numbers on the back. I was lucky that way. The hackers who got my information found out that my Visa card's number was 4554 2632 9754 1256. Apparently a friend of mine had taken a picture of our bar tab and posted it on Facebook, and my credit card happened to be in the picture. But they didn't know that the three numbers on the back were 635, so they couldn't use it.

We even tell people stuff we probably shouldn't. For instance, I took an online course last semester, and I wrote a paper about how I was growing marijuana in the crawlspace of my mother's house. Somebody must've gotten a hold of that paper and they found out where my mother lived, and they broke into the crawlspace and stole every last plant. I always suspected my professor, especially since she gave me such a bad grade in the class, but the more I think about it, it might've been the same people who hacked me, and I don't think my professor was that smart.

I don't know why, but things always seem to work out for the best. For instance, if those people hadn't stolen all those pot plants, then they still would've been there when the cops came to bust me. It was a stupid place to grow pot anyway. There wasn't enough light. In an open field behind someplace like your step-father's house would be best. That way you could always deny it when the cops come. And speaking of the cops, when they found all the illegal Czechoslovakian porn on my computer after I had been hacked, I was able to blame the hackers. That worked out for the best, too.

I know I sure learned from this experience, and I'm hoping you can, too.


2:30 pm pdt 

Monday, August 6, 2012

Word of the Every So Often

tacit:  (adj.)  not spoken; assumed; implicit.  The couple had a tacit understanding to never again mention either the strange old man, inflatable pool toys, or his cat… especially his cat.

2:58 pm pdt 

Thursday, August 2, 2012


Word of the Every So Often

exonerate:  (verb)  to free from blame or obligation.  Senator Bullfinch, this committee exonerates you of all charges, though we really have no reason to, other than if we find you guilty then we may have to apply those same standards to ourselves.


11:27 am pdt 

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