Ilivetolearn's Blog

February 7, 2012

SOTU Bingo morphs into Superbowl Bingo

Filed under: names/language — ilivetolearn @ 12:01 am

Because I’m on the email list of the National Constitution Center (though I’ve never been there) I caught wind of a new way to watch the State of the Union address — play Bingo! They provided pre-printed cards:

But of course we made our own:

Phoebe was having none of it but we invited some friends over, used Skittles as markers, and all agreed that we paid much closer attention to the text than we otherwise would.

Fresh from that fun-fest, we expanded the concept for our next gathering: the Superbowl. Obviously single words would not do and we had to get creative with the cards, trying to strike a balance between events on the actual field (some people watch the game), occurrences in the ads (the whole point for those who don’t know from first downs), phrases the announcers might say, and happenings during halftime. Here are a few of our cards, before the game:

And here are a few of the after-the-fact cards, complete with guacamole and chili stains. We dispensed with the Skittles (most of us were eating them) and used highlighters:

And the winner was:

Next year I might even spring for some prizes.

December 31, 2011

clothing, dolphin, window, or kitchen equipment?

Filed under: names/language — ilivetolearn @ 10:57 pm

Not only have I added the great compound noun “biscuit joiner”  to my vocabulary this fall, I’ve also collected a couple of others. If you heard that there was such a thing as a “slash jacket,” you would assume:

1) the costume department of a certain Spanish masked-hero film was making before-and-after clothing for its combatants;

2) the techies responsible for turning those symbols on your keyboard into words have figured out a new way to confuse the emoticon-impaired.

3) a rapper has come up with a new gangsta clothing line.

You would be wrong on all counts. It’s a very innocent item that might be on the school-supplies list of your middle-schooler come September.

I learned this from my volunteer stints at the homeless shelter, where people donate the darnedest things. These were actually useful and will find their way into someone’s backpack/looseleaf binder soon. Other items we had to pass along were…a wedding gown (OK, maybe one of the residents might be planning a wedding, but what are the chances?), and a few odd cans of dog and cat food. Unfortunately, people who lose their homes don’t get to bring their pets along to the shelter.

Back to those word compounds. Our fridge died and we replaced it with the French-door variety, much better suited to the space we have. Now we are always aware of which side of the door swings closed first because of that thingie that has to fold into place so both doors can come together and make a tight seal.


We’d been calling it a “flange” before we read the manual. Never in a million years would we have come up with the correct term: “flipper mullion.”



These newfangled appliances. Ours also came equipped with “Sabbath mode,” which turned itself on at random in the early days of ownership. Another reading of the manual…we find that there’s a setting in which opening the door (not work…?) will not automatically turn on the interior light (work) so that observant Jews can have access to cold things protected by (hardworking) flipper mullions.

Of course at this time of year, we have our auxiliary refrigerator going–the garage. It has no flipper mullions and no Sabbath mode, but I’m betting we could find a slash jacket or two out there, hanging out with the biscuit joiner.

November 4, 2011

hardware or kitchen equipment?

Filed under: food/groceries,names/language,semi-retirement — ilivetolearn @ 2:15 pm

Bill came home from Home Despot (as we call it) the other day happy as a clam, having found a great sale on something he says he always wanted. A biscuit joiner. A what?

One of these:

                                                             That makes slots for these:

In order to join two pieces of wood:

Wow. Half price! Includes biscuits and dust bag! I should be more enthusiastic about yet another power tool entering the household, since theoretically it will assist Bill in his quest to make furniture out of the random pieces of lumber he has been amassing since we got married. To add to the huge stock of 200-year-old maple (milled from a tree at Stony Brook Lodge that had to be taken down) quietly warping in the garage, Bill salvaged 80-year-old pine flooring from Gray Gables this past weekend:

I can’t wait until all this wood turns into bookshelves and occasional tables and storage solutions instead of storage headaches. (But I can’t complain about it because then I have to justify my huge fabric and yarn stashes.) Maybe the biscuit joiner will ultimately help Bill produce a home for a biscuit cutter or a biscuit cookbook –or even a pie safe for cooling just-baked biscuits. I’m not holding my breath.

March 5, 2011

happy national grammar day

Filed under: crossword puzzles,Margo's life rules,names/language — ilivetolearn @ 12:24 am

Every year at this time I become even more of a word nerd, as I gear up for the American Crossword Puzzle Tournament. And to the girls’ chagrin, I also ramp up my Grammar Police activities. I recently cringed when Margo came home with an English test for me to sign. The only thing marked wrong was this sentence, which the students were to punctuate correctly:

Girls who have red hair are very lucky.

Margo (the redhead), of course, had left it as is. No, according to the teacher. It should be:

Girls, who have red hair, are very lucky.

This is because the rule is to “separate the interrupter with commas.” Never mind that the meaning of the sentence has now changed from “redheaded girls are lucky” to “all girls have red hair and are lucky.” I think the teacher didn’t want to confuse the students with a longer sentence, but the length of the sentence is the point if you’re trying to improve its flow by the use of commas. A simple re-write of the example would have fixed the problem:

Irish girls, who are apt to have red hair and creamy complexions, are very lucky.

Maybe once Margo has graduated in June, I’ll suggest this for next year’s test. That would be after we go through this special session offered by the administration:

“The presentation by the Head of the Upper School will focus on 3 related topics:  ERB results, high school acceptances, and exist interviews with parents of graduates…”

I told Margo maybe I should go to see if I’m still alive. This may be a case of Spell Check Run Amok. Which brings me to Margo’s favorite new game of finding pairs of words always used together. Run amok (but “amok” does appear freestanding in crosswords) and wreak havoc (she said I was cheating by bringing up “Cry ‘havoc!’ and let slip the dogs of war,” accusing me with “Is that Shakespeare?”) are her current favorites.

And for my parting shot, here is a sign put up by a different set of grammar-challenged educators at the elementary school all my kids attended in nearly consecutive years from 1990 to 2005:

Have they never heard of adverbs? And this is at a school with “Grammar” in its name!


February 5, 2010


Filed under: names/language — ilivetolearn @ 9:38 pm

The last two months’ obituaries have taught me a thing or two about branding. Did you think Price Club was so called because of its low prices? Wrong. It was founded by Sol Price, who died in mid-December. It’s now part of Costco, no doubt named after Willard S. Cost (OK, I made that up).

How about Taco Bell: given that name because it makes for a cute logo and seems to carry the subliminal “ring the Pavlovian bell and be rewarded with Mexican food” message? Wrong. Founded by the recently deceased Glen W. Bell.

And for a more historical perspective: there’s the Outerbridge Crossing, connecting Staten Island with New Jersey. Happens to be the most remote of the Port Authority bridges and the southernmost bridge in New York State. Hence the name? No. It was named for the first chairman of the Port Authority, Eugenius Harvey Outerbridge, who lived in Staten Island at the time.

The reverse is true sometimes: Cross Campus at Yale is called that because it…crosses the campus. Not, as I had been authoritatively telling people, after Wilbur Cross, who will have to be content with the high school and the parkway as namesakes.

Now how about the name Eugenius…is it a) a Roman emperor, b) an indie rock band, c) a 12th-century pope, d) a digital imaging firm, or e) all of the above?

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