’18 A To Z Challenge – U

uvula

I luv my Uvula.  It’s that dangly body part that women, as well as men, have.  I thought that it was about as useful as a ‘Best of Keeping Up With the Kardshians DVD, non-functional, merely a plaything for Ear, Nose and Throat doctors, good only for silly cartoons.

Then I desperately needed a word starting with U for the Challenge, and didn’t want to use one that was merely “un” something – unusual, uninspired, unmoving – and had to actually do some research.

Uvula Function:  The main function of uvula is to prevent food going through the breathing passage while you swallow. The uvula function also involves articulation of your voice to form sounds of speech. The uvula functions along with the back of the throat, palate, and air coming up from the lungs to produce a gruffy and other sounds.

Did you know that newborn babies have no need for a uvula??  When we are first born, our throats actually have two separate tubes – one to the lungs, and one to the stomach.  This is why babies can constantly nurse, yet continue breathing.  Only later does throat tissue shrivel to produce one, somewhat dangerous passage.

I’ve got to add that to the (rather large) list of things to mention to the next “Intelligent Design” idiot that I debate.  One of the most famous of them, over the course of a couple of years, gave a number of speeches and produced a few videos, using the banana to “Prove” the existence of God.

‘See how they just fit the curve of the hand, and are just the right size for our mouths, and they’re so nutritious and good for us – GOD must have designed them with us in mind.’

He recently ceased this silliness when an Atheist icon pointed out that the modern banana has only been in existence for several hundred years, and came into its current form through genetic manipulation by human beings.  😳

WOW #30

Bagpipes

My Scottish heritage has dragged out another wee term for us to look at.  Today, we consider the word

KEN

Definitions for ken

knowledge, understanding, or cognizance; mental perception: an idea beyond one’s ken.

range of sight or vision.

Chiefly Scot. a. to know, have knowledge of or about, or be acquainted with (a person or thing). b. to understand or perceive (an idea or situation).

It came into the English language before the year 900 AD, and it didn’t come alone.  Its widely dispersed ancestors also gave us;

English ken comes from the very widespread Proto-Indo-European root gnō- (and its variants gnē-, gen-, and gṇ-) “to know.” The variant gnō- appears in Greek gignṓskein (and dialect gnṓskein), Latin gnōscere, nōscere, and Slavic (Polish) znać “to know.” The variant gnē- forms cnāwan in Old English (and know in English); the variant gṇǝ- (with suffixed schwa) yields cunnan “to know, know how to, be able” in Old English (and can “be able” in English).

These also gave us Gnostic, and Agnostic, as well as the Scottish term, canny, which means skilled, expert, astute, shrewd or cautious, and the English word cunning, a noun which means just about the same thing.

Now that we know all about Ken, let’s have a look at BarbieBarbie is a predecessor to Kardashians, only with less plastic, and more intelligence, personality, and believable figure.  If Barbie is so popular, why do we have to buy her friends??   😕

WOW #26

Dictionary

BEDIZEN

Definitions for bedizen

Someone with a PHD from Couch-Potato University
a permanent resident of a flat, soft structure with covers

That’s what I thought it meant, when I first saw the word on Dictionary.com – a perpetual loafer, a bed-izen….like a citizen, or a denizen (Who is a couch potato in the rec-room).  But it really means….

To dress or adorn in a showy, gaudy, or tasteless manner.

Origin of bedizen

1655-1665

Bedizen is not a common verb in English. It is a derivative of the even more uncommon verb dizen, which occurs only from the 16th century and becomes obsolescent by the end of the 19th century. The element diz- is probably the same as in distaff “a staff for holding flax or wool for spinning” and is probably related to Middle Low German dise “bunch of flax on a staff for spinning.” Bedizen entered English in the 17th century.

So, it’s not pronounced ‘bed’ at all, but rather [bih-dahy-zuh n, –dizuh n]

I don’t believe that my daughter the spinner, will be any too happy about the arrogant, classist, condescending, judgemental assumption that spinsters’ adornments are tasteless or gaudy.  Medieval and Renaissance women without a man to support them, had to rely on spinning, weaving and sewing for others, to survive.  That’s where the word spinster came from.  They could not afford expensive gewgaws.

Tasteless and gaudy is not restricted to spinsters, as the ‘70’s K-Tel ‘Bedazzler’, and today’s’ Kardashians prove. 😳

Stop back again next week (or next month) for a more recent word, that’s not tasteless or gaudy.

Flash Fiction #136

Vegan

PHOTO PROMPT © Dale Rogerson

CONDEMNED MAN’S HEARTY MEAL

Come on! Give it a try.  You said you agreed that we eat too much artery-clogging meat, and were willing to give a healthy vegan lifestyle a try.

Yeah, but when I agreed to that, I envisioned potatoes and beans, perhaps broccoli and cauliflower – possibly lots of salads, with iceberg or romaine lettuce, radishes, cucumber and green onions – even ovo-lacto, with chopped, boiled eggs and bits of old cheddar cheese. I never imagined eating flowers.  What kind of dressing do you put on them – Kim Kardashian’s perfume??

I can’t wait to put this meal on Instagram. No-one will believe it.  🙄

***

Go to Rochelle’s Addicted to Purple site and use her Wednesday photo as a prompt to write a complete 100 word story.

Cat Blog – AKA: Views And Likes, Come To Daddy

They say that, after a while, people and their pets begin to look alike. I don’t know about looking like my pets, but I know that I/we have begun to act like our cats, and the cats, sadly, have become like humans.

Experts say that cats don’t talk to each other the way people do. They have many different meows and other sounds to express wants, needs and feelings.  Two or more cats may make sequential sounds, but it’s not conversation.

I can make a low-pitched rumble in the back of my throat that sounds very much like purring. For reasons not known to me, it is called ‘vocal fry.’  About 30% of people do it at the end of words in normal speech.  The Kardashian females are especially noted for it.  When a cat purrs at me, I can purr back, and we’re both contented.

Cat Blog

When the son comes home in the morning, Mica jumps into his lap, digs his claws into tough denim pants, and demands his whapping and scratching. If son is distracted by food, drink or newspaper, Mica soon yowls to remind him that attention is missing.  The son says he’s learned to read and time these outbursts.  Just as the cat opens his mouth, the son meows loudly at him.  He says the look of confusion is precious.  Wait, what??! I was gonna say that.

I have some mild allergies that sometimes make me sneeze – never once, always at least twice, usually three, occasionally four, at least twice, five in a row. If Mica is in the room, or awake and able to hear me, after each and every sneeze, he lightly meows.  The recovering Catholic wife insists that he is blessing me.  As if I needed blessing, or the cat is authorized to do it.  I think he’s just telling me to keep the noise down, to protect his sensitive ears.

Each of our cats has a different time and place where they demand attention. With Tonka, it’s often as I recline my easy chair for my afternoon nap.  Suddenly I have the equivalent of an 18-pound building block on my chest, wanting to snuggle in – try to breathe, try to breathe.  No wonder superstitious mediaeval peasants thought that cats ‘sucked the life out of babies.’  It’s known as positional asphyxia.

Cat Day

In the winter, the air in the house is so dry that we got half-inch-long sparks off doorknobs, so we installed a humidifier in the hall, outside the bedrooms. It had push-button controls on the upper surface.

As we accumulated cats, we found that they will jump up, and pad around on a humidifier, even when it’s running.  Waking up in the middle of the night to the sound of a cat-induced, speed #10, oncoming tornado is a real adventure.

We eventually bought a new humidifier, with touch-screen controls at a 45° angle on the front edge. When cats jump down from something, they slide their front paws over the front edge….  And here comes the tornado again!  We’ve gone two winters now without running it.  A few electric sparks are not as much of a shock as that.

Cat Scratch Fever

All of my cats demand attention at certain times, but Contessa (my little ‘Missy’), is the one who hangs out in the computer room with me while I’m working, or trying to.  She’s also the one with the sharpest claws.  My arms finally reached the point shown above, before I learned to use peripheral vision to notice her coming.  I saw a blog-post the other day.  All it was, was a photo of an arm, scratched worse than mine, with the caption, “Why yes, I do own a cat.  Why do you ask?”

Now, a gentle paw slap as she tries to grab, my attention and my arm, is enough to make her sit back on the floor. Most females don’t want my hands anywhere near them, but when she’s in a ‘pet me’ mood, she demands them all over her.  After 5 long years, she’s even finally taken to lying on her side on the floor at my feet, so that I can rub her tummy – a sign of trust.

Other trust signs are the long, slow, two-eyed blink, and lifting their tail and showing you their butt. They have to trust you enough to take their eyes off you, and the exposed rump not only means that they’re temporarily defenceless, but there are scent glands, which we can’t smell, but which they use to identify themselves to others.

Cat Decision

catacomb – beauty salon for felines
catalyst – cat’s inclination after too much catnip
or – a feline who really makes things happen

catatonic – party fare for cats substituting milk for gin
catechism – manual for turning your doubting tomcat into a true believer
catsup – dinner party for fat cats (catered, of course)
catamaran – a cruise boat for kitties
catastrophe
– four felines and a decorated Christmas tree
catapult – what felines apparently use to get into your lap….when you least expect it
Catalan – a Spanish gato
catamount – wherever your kitty climbs up, to sleep
catfish – be sure to put the lid back on the aquarium

yin_yang_cats

Flash Fiction #115

lanterns

PHOTO PROMPT © Rochelle Wisoff-Fields

LET THERE BE LIGHT

Light was the first thing to be lost when “The Wave” rolled through. Electricity stopped flowing, technology disappeared and we reverted to the lives our ancestors had endured, hundreds of years ago.

No-one knew what had caused it, but it was the end of civilization as we knew it. The superstitious called it ‘Magic.’  The religious claimed that it was the wrath of God.  Who knew what scientists called it?  All media, including the internet, had winked out of existence!

The Third World countries scarcely noticed it, and Survivalists suddenly had more friends and followers than any Kardashian ever had.

***

Go to Rochelle’s Addicted to Purple site and use her Wednesday photo as a prompt to write a complete 100 word story.

Faded Fads

Rubik's

Fads seemed to have started in the early 20th century, when improved manufacturing processes finally allowed payment of more than starvation wages, and enough spare time to spend it.

(One of) The first was flagpole sitting. I think it started with one nerd without a girlfriend or a date, who couldn’t sit in his mom’s basement with a Gameboy, because they hadn’t been invented yet.  He nailed a big plank to the top of a municipal flag pole, so that he could sit in a snit.

Actually, the fad was watching flagpole sitters, where entire families would get dressed up, pack a picnic lunch, and stare adoringly for hours at some jerk who raised himself above the rest of the population and did nothing constructive.  I believe the record was 33 days – until Trump came along.

Soon after, the fad among fraternity boys became swallowing live goldfish, usually washed down with copious amounts of bathtub gin. Police suspect that alcohol may have been involved. During the 40s, the only fad was saving the free world from The Axis Powers – and drawing ‘Kilroy was here’.

Kilroy

Fads really came into their own in the 50s, when plastic made things light and cheap. First was the Hula Hoop, a barely disguised anti-obesity and fitness program.  We all know how well that worked.  Then along came the Frisbee.  It was possible to fling garbage can lids a considerable distance, but when Wham-O made them smaller and lighter, the number of broken windows, smashed flower gardens, and homes with brightly-colored, orphaned disks on their roofs, really skyrocketed.

There was the Slinky toy, a coiled spring that was smart enough to walk down a flight of stairs all by itself. It was replaced by contestants on The Bachelor.  We had mood rings.  Mine was always black, and in a bad mood, and I think it rubbed off on me.  Rubik’s Cubes showed us how things were always twisted and turned, and presented a different face.

Etch-A-Sketch came along, and it marked the limits of my technology. I could operate one of them, where I can’t run a Smartphone.  Lava lamps showed up.  I think mine sat on a fault line.  There was an underwater avalanche, and it never rose to the occasion again.

Pet rocks were a thing for a while. Mine got lonely, and ran away from home to join a parking garage.  Here in Canada, we had Ookpiks, an excuse to take the hides off baby seals and ship them to a factory in Calgary, where they were cut up and sewn back together to look like a small owl made by an Eskimo.  Sales peaked at 2 or 3 a week and then slowed down, and the tourist industry had to find new ways to separate gullible American tourists from their money.

Tamagotchis were hot with tween girls for a while. They were supposed to show the amount of time and effort necessary to raise a child, and hopefully reduce teen pregnancies.  After a few of them died of malnutrition, most young females just went back to boyfriends, who were lower maintenance.

Many fads have no staying power, and disappear quickly. I figure that the new electronic game, Pokémon Go won’t last more than a couple of weeks, when players do things like find a dead body, or get kicked out of a Holocaust Museum or a cemetery.

Selfies seems to be a fad which could have been devised by Darwin himself.  Hundreds of self-important fools have removed themselves from the gene pool.  Government agencies have had to put up signs that read effectively, “Not Here, Idiot!” and still many are too spaced-out to notice or heed them.  Tennis elbow and golf elbow have morphed into ‘selfie elbow’, caused by holding up a huge ego cell phone at an awkward angle, to take hundreds of meaningless photos.

Sadly, one fad that doesn’t seem to disappear is, The Kardashians.  We have now come full circle.  Here’s a group that’s lightweight and cheap, made mostly of plastic, and they have raised themselves above the common folk, to be gazed at adoringly for hours, without actually doing anything constructive.  😯

There must be some (lots?) that I’ve missed. What do you remember, that I’ve forgotten?