Monthly Archives: March 2017

Transpicuous

March 31, 2017Read More


transpicuous
\tran-SPIK-yuh-wus\
adjective
: clearly seen through or understood

Words that are combinations of others words pop up often. This word made me think of transparency (clear, see-through) and conspicuous (standing out).

We live in a world that, on the surface seems to be becoming more and more transpicuous. Breakthroughs in science and technology are allowing us to see parts of the universe that used to be beyond our view. We are seeking answers to all manner of questions all day, every day as we google our way through life. We have all different kinds of imaging. We also are captured on camera wherever we go. It amazes me that people think they can do things undetected. I always feel like my inner thoughts are written all over my face for all to see. Partially, these days, motherhood is to blame for this – as I no longer have a fourth wall. Someone is always watching me for better or for worse.

We like to think that people’s motives are clear – heck if we are Occum and use his razor, we think it is the simplest explanation. I am a big supporter of Project Semicolon, the non-profit organization that raises awareness for mental illness and suicide prevention. It just made the news that its creator killed herself. I am heartbroken. What kind of message does that send? Yet who are we to question what she was going through. One article I read about it quoted Dese’Rae L. Stage, suicide prevention activist and founder of Live Though This, “I’m guessing Amy didn’t know how deeply she affected so many people. I’m guessing she didn’t think there was a rescue boat for her, but I think it was just a foggy night and she couldn’t see her lighthouse.” My image for today is one of my Dad’s crystals from his collection…a lighthouse, with a very interesting base rock. It may be difficult, but the sharing of our stories is imperative. Be a lighthouse for someone else instead of a sink hole. The scars you share will keep others from the same rocks you hit. We need everyone’s unique light.

From the outside looking in, things seem so clear. I don’t know about you, but I feel sometimes like social media is a way of peering into other people’s living room windows. We see what their family looks like and where they go and what they do and what they value. We see the neat things they put on display and frame and hang on the walls…but we don’t see the entire picture. The wider the angle, the more distortion creeps in. As I have gotten older my glass has been cracked for many things. When things happen it colors the way we see things around us. I keep trying to harken back to Synonym’s eyes, when vision was 20/20 and less things worried me. Though, we were looking back at her baby pictures tonight and she said she wishes she was a baby again because she could do what she wanted to and didn’t have to say thank you. I am going to try to clear my mind and drift off to sleep.

Occam’s razor

March 30, 2017Read More

Occam’s razor
\AH-kumz-RAY-zer\
noun
: a scientific and philosophic rule that entities should not be multiplied unnecessarily which is interpreted as requiring that the simplest of competing theories be preferred to the more complex or that explanations of unknown phenomena be sought first in terms of known quantities.

This law was stated by the philosopher William of Ockham that pluralitas non est ponenda sine necessitate, “plurality should not be posited without necessity.” Precedence is given to the simpler of two competing theories. It is also expressed as “Entities are not to be multiplied beyond necessity.” It turns out that these principles were invoked before Ockham, but he used them so frequently and sharply that they became known as Occam’s razor. Must be nice!

It is also known as the Law of Economy (I love showing my students the alternate definition of economy – aka cheapness.) or the Law of Parsimony (Parsimonious is one of my favorite SAT words. I used to have a sentence in a vocabulary book that said, “Gramps is parsimonious with his words; sometimes he doesn’t speak for days.”)

We like known quantities. We like simplicity. We crave it in a world that is becoming exceedingly complex. We search for solutions to our problems. But do the means justify or even match the ends? Maybe we can start a simplicities revolution and make things easier. I am getting tired of hard! What would Occam do? KISS – Keep It Simple Stupid. I am going to bed!

Retrospective

March 29, 2017Read More


retrospective
\reh-truh-SPEK-tiv\
adjective
1 a : contemplative of or relative to past events : characterized by, given to, or indulging in retrospection
b : being a generally comprehensive exhibition, compilation, or performance of the words of an artist over a span of years
2 : affecting things past : retroactive

This word traces back to the Latin retro- (meaning “back,” “behind,” or “backward”) and specere (meaning “to look at”). My image is of a bridge. It is summer and fall all at once. We cross bridges from one world to another. I like the imagery. I take a lot of photos of roads and paths and bridges. Perspective is a nice compositional element. In terms of art, lots of artists had phases, or projects they were focused on for a period of time. It is fun to look back at my different phases, and now Synonym’s different phases of techniques we have employed. We get into things for a while and learn all about them and play with them and put our spin on them, and then get bored with them and move on.

One of the new SAT passages I am reading a lot is about Mental Time Travel (MTT). It states that we have the ability to travel mentally through time to revisit the past and pre experience the future. Scientists have done experiments that have shown that we lean forward when thinking about the future, and backwards when thinking about the past. Interesting. I do believe that we don’t need futuristic time machines to travel through time. With today’s technology, a walk down memory lane is very easy to take. Our phones and computers are filled with pictures. Facebook loves to remind you what happened “On This Day.” When we do things now, they live in infamy. I feel like I am forever flashing back. I long for times I can no longer have, be it with people who are no longer around, or things I can no longer do.

“They say time changes things, but you actually have to change them yourself.” ~Andy Warhol
Very deep. I never thought of it that way…but to get anything to happen you have to do “the work.” You can’t stay where you are, because time will always march on. And soon you will get to another vantage point from which to examine your progress. As much as days drag, years fly. We are almost three months through this one already. When people look back on your life, what do you want them to see? What are your fondest memories? What time period are you trapped in? When you look back at your parents or significant other or children or BFF, what image do you hold onto of them? What age are they? What are they doing? Where are they? How do you see them? I always tell my students that we control our memories, so we pump up the good and leave out the bad. Things always seem like they used to be better. Remember, hindsight is 20/20. Time to shift into the now!

Sarcasm

March 28, 2017Read More

sarcasm
\SAHR-kaz-um\
noun
1 : a sharp and often satirical or ironic utterance designed to cut or give pain
2 a : a mode of satirical wit depending for its effect on bitter, caustic, and often ironic language that is usually directed against an individual
b : the use of language of sarcasm

I am not a super sarcastic person…though living with Homonym has certainly rubbed off on me somewhat. He used to proudly wear a tee that said “Sarcasm: just one of the many services we offer.” I went looking for it in his drawer, and the drawer totally fell out on me and splintered a little underneath. Great! How apropos. After I reinstalled the drawer, I realized that a few years back I requisitioned the shirt… I got to thinking about the power of words and how they can cut like a knife, so then I started thinking about how to use a knife in my image. Homonym suggested putting it in the dictionary. Presto! We don’t often think about the power of our words and how they can be misinterpreted by others. We also often forget that our reactions are because of us and not the other person, though it is a lot easier to blame them on other people.

Fun synonyms include: acerbic, acidic, caustic, corrosive, mordant, sardonic, snarky, tart.
When I was searching for some quotes, most of them have some profanity sprinkled in for good measure.

Many people hide their pain behind humor or sarcasm. Though humor can shift a situation in a positive way, and we need laughter…so it seems this is a double edged sword. Which side do you come down on? Time for some sleep so I can snark another day!

Perpend

March 27, 2017Read More

perpend
\per-PEND\
verb
1 : to reflect on carefully : ponder
2 : to be attentive : reflect

This word isn’t frequently used anymore, but it carries an imperative tone. It can be compared to the phrases: “consider this” or “mark my words.” Perpend traces back to the 15th century and comes from the Latin verb perpendere, which came from pendere, meaning “to weigh.” When we weigh things, we stack them up carefully, compare closely. We ruminate and chew over an experience we had, checking it out from all possible angles. We cogitate and contemplate possibilities. We sleep on it and we wrestle with it some more. I am often accused of spending too much time in my own head. It is the challenge that comes with being an introverted extrovert. A thoughtful thinker. A writer and photographer.

We live in a very complex world and our decisions that used to be simple are now wrapped up in technology and lots of other conditions. We know so much more than previous generations, and we have taken so many safety precautions that never used to exist, but we still can’t seem to see all the issues before they happen, or we are still not powerful enough to solve the problems we need solved, even with teams of smart people working tirelessly.

For me, working my way through a word a day, it has been forcing me to perpend. I must study the word from different angles and absorb the varied definitions. I have to think about what it looks like and search through my massive photo library, or take a new picture. I have to consider what thoughts it provokes in me and what message I want to convey. Have I said this before? Does it stand being mentioned again? What quotes can I use? What inspiration can I locate? It has been the ultimate challenge. Some words come easily and make my words flow like water, yet with others I feel completely at a loss and drag my feet until it is time to get it done and get to bed. Many days I have wanted to stop, to call it quits, to not post, but something is pushing me on and making me continue. I have a streak going that I don’t want to break. It makes me look at the world through different lenses. I do hope you are enjoying my slanted viewpoint. It comes from the path I have been walking on through this wild world of ours, tutoring and taking pictures and spending way too much time contemplating things. I often feel like I am talking to myself. Feel free to join the conversation, or share my posts and images. I would love to spread the words and help make the world a wiser place. Thank you for reading – now go perpend!

Unreconstructed

March 26, 2017Read More

unreconstructed
\un-ree-Kun-STRUK-tud\
adjective
: not reconciled political, economic, or social change; also : holding stubbornly to a particular belief, view, place, or style

The time period of reorganization of the United States following the Civil War is known as Reconstruction. The word unreconstructed was first used by a writer for the Boston Liberator who used it to describe Southerners who weren’t reconciled to the result of the war and the changes and rules that were enacted during Reconstruction. This word caught on and is used to refer to intransigent partisans ever since. My background image is of my frozen over and dormant water garden. I didn’t know what to do with it, since it was my first attempt, and so I just kinda left it and winter happened. It will be interesting to see if it revives in warmer temperatures. This word spoke to me in some facets, but flummoxed me in others. When you use two prefixes together is it like not not? had had? Un – Not, Re – again? It has some fun synonyms: diehard, tory, conservative, dyed-in-the-wool, extremist, fogyish, immovable, inflexible, intransigent, old-line, orthodox, philistine, reactionary, right, standpat, traditionalistic, ultraconservative to name more than a few. You can be described as an unreconstructed romantic, an unreconstructed rocker….Synonym’s class just did rainbow adjectives to describe themselves….wonder what people use this to label themselves.

Unwillingness to let go. It is an epidemic for some. We reach certain points in our lives and we hold on to what was. We get stuck in our ways. We feel we have earned the right to hold the line. It becomes second nature. Our worlds narrow in, after having expanded outward. When things break, we try to fix them, but the cracks often still remain. No one likes to admit fault. So does that mean no one will admit to being this?

Nightmare

March 25, 2017Read More

nightmare
\NYTE-mair\
noun
1 : an evil spirit formerly thought to oppress people during sleep
2 : a frightening dream that usually awakens the sleeper
3 : something (such as an experience, situation, or object) having the monster out character of a nightmare or producing a feeling of anxiety or terror

Nightmare is a compound word, which never occurred to me as we covered a few shiny happy ones with Synonym’s Butterflies of the Day, though you might assume it is the compounding of the word night and the word mare (as in a horse). Mare in nightmare actually comes from an obsolete noun meaning an evil preternatural being causing nightmares.
Super ironically, I was up with Synonym just before 3am because she had a nightmare about mascots (her biggest fear in life), and then I came back to bed and peeked at the word of the day and it was nightmare! Very apropos. One of my biggest nightmares is losing it all, be it in a house fire or with illness. As I was writing this a shrill beep alarmed me. After some walking around and cursing, we determined it was our CO2 meter. The message it portrayed was pretty ominous: END. After seven years it up and quits.

We all have a set of fears which, to us, are very real. Other people may share them or may not understand them. That is ok. Fear is a natural, yet unfortunate, part of being human. Sleep researchers found that fear isn’t the only emotion responsible for nightmares, it is also guilt, confusion or sadness. Dreams occur during our REM sleep cycles. Interpersonal relationships account for many of our nightmares. This makes perfect sense to me because I am forever having fights with people in my dreams and I wake up angry at them for something that didn’t actually occur.

Dreams can come true, but we forget that nightmares are also dreams. We have all experienced difficult times in our lives that have felt like we were living out a bad dream. Reality and our imaginations crossing lines and leaving us with more questions than answers.
We don’t stop dreaming when we have a nightmare. We return to sleep to try again. I don’t like dwelling in the negative words, and it is almost bedtime, so I am going to wrap this up here in the hopes that I don’t have any nightmares tonight. Happy Friday everyone! Sweet dreams!

Watershed

March 24, 2017Read More


watershed
\WAW-ter-shed\
noun
1 a : a dividing ridge between drainage areas
b : a region or area bounded peripherally by a divide and draining ultimately to a particular watercourse or body of water
2 : a crucial dividing point, line, or factor : turning point

I am choosing the second definition as my focal point. That is the definition the SAT usually runs with, though I tell my students for memorization purposes that it is important to protect our water supply, so put a shed over it. It would be a watershed moment in anyone’s presidency to balance the budget or pass healthcare. It is a watershed moment in an athlete’s career to win the highest final game of their sport. Turning points and dividing lines pop up frequently in our lives. Sometimes we can see them coming towards us, but mostly we are caught unaware. Sometimes we won’t even realize until long after the fact. We often wake up and go about our business as usual until we receive a fated phone call or wind up in the wrong place at the wrong time.

If you choke at the pivotal moment in your life, what matters most is what you do next. Yet we rarely see these raw moments that happen after the cameras stop rolling and people forget about your viral failures. The build-up is what they focus on, and drag out until the final moments of the episode of whatever reality television show du-jour you are binge watching. Then they announce the winner and roll the credits. I have always wondered what happens next. When you go from being on top of the world to underneath it…when the wind leaves your sails and the water drains away…what is left? What do you do the next day? If you are lucky enough to be surrounded by people who care about you and who continue to check on you; if you have access to tools to help you transition, you can pick yourself up and continue along. If not, no one will ever know the real story anyway and you don’t owe anyone an explanation. We will all face those points in our lives when we see that nothing will be the same and we will forever look back on life from a new vantage point of before this and after that. For me, it is before college and after college, before we had kids and after, before everyone died and after. I know that because others who have gone before me have been able to utter those before and after statements, that there is an after. I often think that the word “aftermath” is the calculations one performs after a tragedy. Turning points drive stories. No one wants to read a story where nothing happens. Things will always come up, but it is how you handle them that matters. Fall down seven times but get up eight. That is the key!

Lief

March 23, 2017Read More

lief
\LEEF\
adverb
: soon, gladly
Lief began as leof in Old English in the 13th century and appeared in many novels. Now, it is quite archaic…yet it talks about what is coming soon. Soon – can have a way of becoming never. Life is too short so why not plan for soon NOW!? Yet then we gladly get ahead of ourselves.

On the radio this morning they said it was 90 days until summer. Synonym was like, “But it just turned to spring? Why are they talking about summer?” We are always rushing through now to get to later. This is the time of year I start to freak out a little. School is 2/3 of the way done. I finally got into a groove and it is going to be shaken up. (Though usually by the end of things I am so done and ready to move on.) As I mentioned yesterday, this is why I need to keep my blinders on. As soon as I start to look too far ahead and I get tripped up. So should we live in the days of yore when I’d lief use this word? Or should we fast forward ahead to a time when no one knows what it means? I would as lief go to bed! Let’s see if this connects to anything deeper tomorrow…I gladly bid you soon!

Ameliorate

March 22, 2017Read More


ameliorate
\uh-MEE-lee-uh-rayt\
verb
1 : to make better or more tolerable
2 : to grow better : improve

melior is a Latin adjective for “better,” and is a synonym of the verbs better and improve.

What can be improved? What can you change to make things better? When your kids are little, their problems are little. It is easy to kiss boo boos or make up an explanation to soothe their worried minds. If you are Synonym, ice cream solves everything! That, or a hug from one of her stuffed animals. As an adult, we are better at “scaffolding” our fears and magnifying them with supporting justifications from past experiences. We also look to employ crutches to lessen the blows that life dishes out. We self-medicate to ease our pain, but it only makes things harder. It is a tough balance between sorting through the challenging emotions, and trying to push them aside and just try to ignore them. Approach avoidance can only get you so far. Whatever gets you through the day. Eventually it will all come boomeranging back to you. We have to face fears on a regular basis. As I mentioned yesterday, we often need reminders for important lessons we forget. My image for today is a plaque that hangs in our hall bathroom. It was in my bedroom for a while. I need to look at it more when I lose my way. These things are all easier said than done, but they stand repeating…like a mantra. If we train our brain and add coping mechanisms to our toolbox, when the times get tough, we will have what we need to support us. We are very driven by progress and want things to be neatly linear, but that isn’t how life goes. We need to take the wins with the losses; celebrate the wins and recover and rebound from the losses.

Since I am all about circling back, I am also reposting this plaque from HomeGoods that I really should have gotten…though maybe I will make it myself (famous last words I say for everything!) “Happiness is an Inside Job.” It is so easy to look at others to seek comfort, or to compare yourself to them to make yourself feel better. What does that accomplish? I was listening to Elvis Duran interviewing Todrick Hall (who I hadn’t heard of before, but he was on American Idol and on Broadway. He said that the reason horses do so well is because they have blinders. We all need to put the blinders on and stop comparing ourselves to others. It doesn’t make us better. I compare myself to others, but I also compare myself to other versions of myself. The thing is, I am not who I was then anymore. It is a tricky concept that is difficult to wrap my head around.
What makes it better for you? What reassurance do you need?