Tagged: word of the day

Word of the day: Festoon

I’d been using the word festooned for some time – this is the third blog post using it – probably because it’s fun to say, but I recently discovered there’s a noun, festoon, lurking behind that fun verb. So sayeth wikipedia:

A Festoon (from French feston, Italian festone, from a Late Latin festo, originally a festal garland, Latin festum, feast), is a wreath or garland, and in architecture typically a carved ornament depicting conventional arrangement of flowers, foliage or fruit bound together and suspended by ribbons.

It’s still fun to say, and once you know about architectural festoons, you start to see them all around.

Architectural festoons on Mass ave

The limepocalypse is here, but it’s not what you think

You may have heard that there’s a shortage of and increase in the price of limes going on here in the USA where we get most of our limes from Mexico. Haymarket limes, 2 for a buck I can verify that limes at Haymarket, which could be had six or eight for a buck last year, are going for 50 cents each if you can find them at all. You may also have heard or read of this referred to as #limepocalypse or #limeageddon.  For one, the Mother Nature Network reports,

Bad weather and a tree disease in Michoacán, Mexico, have wreaked havoc on the lime supply, further exacerbated by the mind-boggling influence of drug cartels. (Because apparently when making billions of dollars on cocaine isn’t enough, it’s time to begin shaking down lime farmers.) At this point, the Knights Templar Cartel controls the wholesale distribution center where growers sell limes to the global market, making limes an even hotter commodity.
But we digress; back to more important things like margaritas.

Indeed, let’s get back to cocktails before we learn too much about where our fruit comes from and what’s driving the price up. First world problems anybody? Here’s another take on what’s happening in Mexico and how it affects our precious cocktails. So what about limepocalpypse – what is an apocalypse anyway, and just how overblown (or not) is it to link this lime situation to one?

Via good old wikipedia,

An apocalypse (Ancient Greekἀποκάλυψις apocálypsis, from ἀπό and καλύπτω meaning ‘un-covering’), translated literally from Greek, is a disclosure of knowledge, i.e., a lifting of the veil or revelation, although this sense did not enter English until the 14th century.[1] In religious contexts it is usually a disclosure of something hidden. In the Book of Revelation (Greek Ἀποκάλυψις Ἰωάννου, Apocalypsis Ioannou), the last book of the New Testament, the revelation which John receives is that of the ultimate victory of good over evil and the end of the present age, and that is the primary meaning of the term, one that dates to 1175.[1] Today, it is commonly used in reference to any prophetic revelation or so-called End Time scenario, or to the end of the world in general.

Square glass, round limeSo an apocalypse is a revelation, or more recently, any old end-of-the-world scenario. Well, a lime shortage is hardly the end of the world, even for a dedicated gin and tonic drinker, but drug cartels violently hijacking your livelihood is a sure sign of the end of days for a lime farmer. For those of us closer to the poolside tippling end of the lime food chain, perhaps this event will be an actual revelation, in the sense of disclosure, teaching us a bit about where these limes come from and what life is like for those that grow them.

Food for thought to go with your cocktail.

Word of a day: Satisfice

I was going to write a long screed in defense of the idea of satisficing, but this is probably enough to make my point.


Satisfice is a portmanteau of satisfy and suffice, and I’m almost always satisfied with a good portmanteau. By contrast, a maximizer would be satisfied only with the best possible portmanteau. To satisfice is to be satisfied that a less than fully optimal solution that is in fact sufficient. Often, I think, this is because the satisficer has deemed the search costs of even determining what’s totally optimal to be too high.



Always Be Knolling

Via BoingBoing, a verb for all seasons: knoll. I drew a blank with knoll in this sense on the usual dictionary sites, but Wikipedia is hep to it, as is Urban Dictionary, admittedly with a few dubious variants.

Cory sez, “Knolling is ‘the process of arranging like objects in parallel or 90 degree angles as a method of organization.’ It was coined by Andrew Kromelow, a janitor who worked for Frank Gehry.”

Funny, I don’t often think of right angles when somebody says “Frank Gehry,” but now you know how to knoll. Put that in your mise en place.

Lest you think this is some niche OCD lifehack, try a Flickr search for knolling. Apparently there is extra credit for organizing the knolled items by type, size and/or color, too. I certainly can’t argue with that.

Knoll on.

Plural of the day: Miasmata

I’ve been having a terrible allergy season. That, and maybe just a little too much They Might Be Giants, caused me to research the word miasma (as in a cloud of ragweed that follows you around) for a possible Word of the Day post. Here’s what I found, dictionary-wise.

n. pl. mi·as·mas or mi·as·ma·ta
1. A noxious atmosphere or influence: “The family affection, the family expectations, seemed to permeate the atmosphere . . . like a coiling miasma” (Louis Auchincloss).
a. A poisonous atmosphere formerly thought to rise from swamps and putrid matter and cause disease.
b. A thick vaporous atmosphere or emanation: wreathed in a miasma of cigarette smoke.

See the second plural, miasmata? Now, that’s my kind of irregular plural. Or, as it turns out, a perfectly normal plural for Greek, borrowed into English for this juicy word. You’ve probably heard of stigmata but might not have realized that it’s the plural of stigma.

Certainly we’re not obligated to use all the original declensions of a loan word, but it can be fun. Via the all-knowing wikipedia, “Final ma in nouns of Greek origin can become -mata, although -s is usually also acceptable, and in many cases more common.”

Other English words of Greek origin that could take the -mata (-ματα) plural include schema (schemata), dogma (dogmata, but isn’t the point that there’s just one?), and lemma (lemmata) which bring up all kinds of additional dilemmata, don’t you think?