Fun in General

Thursday, July 31, 2014

Word Odyssey - Deciphering the Ancient Script Known as Linear B—Part I

Posted By on Thu, Jul 31, 2014 at 9:00 AM

Suppose that you stumbled upon ancient scripts—at least, you are pretty sure that it is writing because the characters are laid out in rows, like modern writing, but the characters are completely unknown to you or anyone else. Archaeologists have given a name to the very sophisticated civilization that left the scripts, but they have no idea what language they spoke or what cultures might have succeeded this civilization. How would you go about figuring out what the scripts said? Could you?

That was the challenge that faced scholars when, on the island of Crete, Sir Arthur Evans found around 2,000 clay tablets, dated to 15th century B.C., filled with mysterious characters.

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Thursday, July 24, 2014

Let's Get Some Money Together and Buy the El Rapido Property

Posted By on Thu, Jul 24, 2014 at 1:00 PM

el_rapido.jpg
  • Photo by Paul Sableman, under Creative Commons license

Heading into La Cocina or possibly just wandering downtown, you might have walked by the painted wall above for El Rapido Mexican Food, formerly a great place to get a tamale, but vacant for awhile. However, if you have $325,000 and probably a lot of money to spend on renovations, the building at 220 N. Meyer Ave. could be all yours. The online MLS listing has 32 photos to scroll through, showing the various parts of the complex, which still has a stove hood and a dishwashing station, for either your commercial or somewhat ambitious residential needs.

From the listing:

Seller Motivated!! Rare 1880's Presidio Adobe home, beauty parlor and restaurant just North of the Tucson Museum of Art. Stunning original live work space includes famous Tucson tamale locale: El Rapido on W Washington. 13' ceilings, glorious zaguan room, original wood floors, windows, trim, several entrances on Meyer, corner lot where everything that still stands is Tucson's history. Call Listing Agents for Easy Appointments to Show. Zoned HC3 with multiple possibilities in the Center of Historic Tucson.

If you interested in buying the property (for me or selfishly for your own needs), contact the agent, Patty Sue Anderson.

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Word Odyssey - Mein Doppelganger: Useful Foreign Words

Posted By on Thu, Jul 24, 2014 at 9:00 AM

dog_and_dictionary.jpg
  • Image courtesy of Shutterstock

I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again: English is a mongrel language. Its roots are Germanic, but it’s borrowed heavily from French, Latin, Spanish, Scandinavia and just about every other language on Earth. There are many reasons for all this borrowing; one of them is that English just doesn’t have a word to describe a particular concept or phenomena, but another language does. So we borrow. In a previous column I mentioned the weather terms haboob and monsoon that we’ve borrowed from Arabic. And when it comes to sex and food, where would we be without the French? We could get by without the German doppelganger for a person’s ghostly double or alter ego, but why would we want to? Two other German favorites are schadenfreude, which is getting a kick out of someone else’s pain or misfortune, like when a waitress spills a tray full of drinks, and zeitgeist, the cultural spirit of a particular era, like the 1960’s.

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Friday, July 18, 2014

Watch this Disney Character's Mug Fall Off During a Live Performance

Posted By on Fri, Jul 18, 2014 at 11:30 AM

Lately, I have been looking for an excuse to take a Greyhound up to Anaheim, Calif., and go to the "happiest place on earth." Unfortunately, time and money has prevented me from being happy. So, watching this video of Disney character's face pop off is the next best thing.

Spoiler alert: Elastigirl is really Mickey Mouse.

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Thursday, July 3, 2014

Word Odyssey: Malapropisms and Other Means of Mangling Language

Posted By on Thu, Jul 3, 2014 at 9:00 AM

click image IMAGE COURTESY OF SHUTTERSTOCK
  • Image courtesy of Shutterstock
This column strives to be a vast suppository of information about the English language, because I believe that the amount of education you have determines your loot in life. Now, you may think I meant to say “repository of information” instead of “suppository”, and “lot in life” rather than “loot”, but I meant to say what I said I meant, if you know what I mean, because—in honor of the upcoming birthday of George W. Bush—this week’s column is about malapropisms, mixed metaphors and other means of mangling English.

A malapropism is using the wrong word, but one that sounds similar to the right word—like saying that medieval cathedrals are supported by flying buttocks. A good malapropism can throw you off, so that you scrape your head trying to figure out the error, and then having to think what the world should have been. (It’s flying buttresses, by the way).

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Thursday, June 26, 2014

Word Odyssey: How the Amazon River Got Its Name—Part II

Posted By on Thu, Jun 26, 2014 at 10:00 AM

click image IMAGE COURTESY OF SHUTTERSTOCK
  • Image courtesy of Shutterstock
Unlike in later years, the lands bordering this stretch of the mighty river, down which Orellana and his men were headed, was densely populated, kingdoms made prosperous by elaborate techniques for farming turtles, manioc, maize, llamas, nuts, peppers, honey, pineapples, avocados, and other goods. In one region people harvested rubber and manufactured devices from it. In another, people specialized in producing vast quantities of pottery. The largest kingdom they encountered, the Omaguas, bordered three hundred miles along the river.

For the next few months, Orellana’s band—now down to fifty men—fought constant battles with thousands of warriors in flotillas of canoes, who were waiting in ambush as word of the odd, bearded white men preceded them downstream. As with the conquest of the Aztecs and Incas, the superior Spanish weaponry—steel swords, harquebuses, cross-bows and armor—enabled the relative handful of Spaniards to fight their way through vastly greater numbers of natives. The Spaniards would often land and fight through swarms of warriors in order to raid villages for food.

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Thursday, June 19, 2014

Word Odyssey - How the Amazon River Got Its Name—Part I

Posted By on Thu, Jun 19, 2014 at 8:55 AM

click image IMAGE COURTESY OF SHUTTERSTOCK
  • Image courtesy of Shutterstock
In February, 1541, Gonzalo Pizarro left the South American city of Quito in search of El Dorado, a fabled city of gold, with an expedition consisting of 220 Spanish soldiers, 4,000 native porters, 200 horses, over 2,000 swine, 2,000 war hounds, and countless llamas. The arduous trek over the Andes cost Pizarro nearly all of the porters, who either deserted or died, the swine, llamas and hounds. By Christmas day, 1541, on the bank of the Coca River, the remaining Spaniards were eating gruel made from boiling saddle leather.

In the end, Pizarro didn’t find El Dorado. But a splinter group of his army, led by one-eyed Francisco Orellana, did discover something more marvelous and enduring than gold: a river 4,500 miles long, that supplies one-fifth of all the freshwater that spills into the Earth’s oceans, and which in some places is fifty miles wide. Orellana’s band called this river the Amazon after an extraordinary encounter on their improbable eight month voyage down the river.

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Thursday, June 12, 2014

Word Odyssey: A Pair of Haboobs—and Other Arabic Loan Words

Posted By on Thu, Jun 12, 2014 at 9:00 AM

click image IMAGE COURTESY OF SHUTTERSTOCK
  • Image courtesy of Shutterstock
When an Arizona weatherman used the Arabic word haboob to describe a Phoenix area dust storm, one outraged listener railed: “I am insulted that local TV news crews are now calling this kind of storm a haboob… hearing some Middle Eastern term?” Apparently haboobs come in pairs, because another one followed just a few days later.

Dude, relax, sit back on your sofa, or your divan, or your mattress, have a soda, spike it with alcohol, have a massage, and contemplate all the Arabic words you use all the time—starting with sofa, divan, mattress, soda, massage and alcohol. Alcohol contains a giveaway that it’s Arabic: that “al” prefix. “Al” means “the” in Arabic, as in Allah and Al Jazeira. So when you hear alcove, alchemy, algebra, algorithm, alkali, almanac, albatross and alfalfa you can be pretty darn well sure that English borrowed these words from Arabic.

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Elgin Art & Wine Festival

Escape to Wine Country –- Art & Wine Festival - The drive is relaxing and offers best… More

@ Village of Elgin Winery Sat., Nov. 1, 10 a.m.-5 p.m. and Sun., Nov. 2, 10 a.m.-5 p.m. Highway 83 to Sonita, left at Elgin Road.

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