A Brace of Peeves

(Because I’m waiting on a dishwasher-repair person, and that sort of thing always makes me peevish.)

Peeve the first: It’s vocal cords, people, not vocal chords. It’s an easy mistake to make, given that cord and chord are homonyms, and given the association with sound-making and hence with music . . . but the items in question were named by anatomists, not musicians, and for the anatomical mind the notable thing would have been their physical structure. Wikipedia has some good pictures, which I’m not going to reproduce here because while interesting, they aren’t particularly handsome or appetizing.

Peeve the second: This one’s a bit more subtle. If you’ve got a character listening in on another character or characters talking about something, but the listener isn’t quite able to make out what’s being said, the conversation isn’t undecipherable or illegible.

Undecipherable and illegible are adjectives for something that is, or is meant to be, seen or read. Something that’s undecipherable is, taken literally, unable to be decrypted or decoded; by extension, it refers to something drawn or written or otherwise seen, the meaning of which cannot be determined. (You can have an undecipherable letter, or an undecipherable carved inscription, or — speaking metaphorically — an undecipherable expression.) Something that’s illegible is something written that cannot be read, such as an illegible signature (though not — because it isn’t written down — an illegible expression.)

If what you’re dealing with is something that is, or is meant to be, heard, the words you’re looking for are unintelligible (the listener can hear it, but not well enough to make much sense of it) or inaudible (the listener can’t hear it well enough, period.)

I run into this one oftener than you’d think, and it drives me batty.

For Lo, the Winter is Past

And of course, everything is blooming, and the landscape is full of road repair personnel.

This particular winter, which showed up early around here and then overstayed its welcome, and which included a three-week subzero deep freeze, was particularly hard on the local infrastructure. Which is to say, the north country is full of potholed roads and busted-up plumbing; also, porch roofs that were previously merely dilapidated emerged from the snow-time as disaster areas requiring demolition and replacement.

Fortunately, my new desktop computer system is now up and running (16G of RAM! Zoom-swoosh!), and my editor-hat has acquired a spiffy new plume: I’m now a paid-up member of the Editorial Freelancers Association.

The Simple Joys of the Editorial Life

My new desktop computer has arrived.

It’s currently still in its box, because I have an editing gig I have to wrap up before I can let myself fall down the rabbit hole that is setting up a new system. But it’s there, and I can hear it calling my name.

Tomorrow I’m going to have to clear up my desk preparatory to moving in the new machine.  That’s going to be the kind of fun that isn’t, but it will be worth it when it’s done.  The new machine has got 16 gigs of RAM, which is twice what my herky little laptop has got, and four times the RAM of my old desktop machine.  The latter was starting to buckle under the weight of Windows 10 even before it developed the fatal case of malware-or-whatever that caused it to spend most of this past winter steadily degrading into a nonfunctional brick; I figure that 16 gigs should hold me through at least a couple more iterations of Windows.

In other news, we had a downy woodpecker on our bird feeder this morning, which is a change from the usual chickadees and assorted LBBs (Little Brown Birds.)

Ah, spring.

Six of One and Half a Dozen of the Other

But no ones or twos.

Or, like this post, half an appreciation of nifty stuff and half a peeve.

The nifty stuff, first:

Medieval Dice with No 1 or 2 Found on Street in Norway.  Dice are really old tech, as it were, and crooked dice of one sort or another are almost equally old.  When Og and Ugh were casting knucklebones to pass the time in their Paleolithic cave, it probably wasn’t long before Og figured out that if he shaved down one side of his favorite knucklebone just so, he could up his chances of winning by enough to end up the possessor of Ugh’s best flint hand-axe before Ugh caught on.

Now, the peeve:

The article isn’t actually about finding dice.  It’s about finding a die, singular.  That’s how it goes:  One die, two (or more) dice.

It’s a common error, but one expects better of a science blog. I blame LiveScience.com for the error, because when I followed their link to the source article at  Norsk institutt for kulturminneforskning, and clicked on their link to get the text in Norsk bokmål, I saw that the  caption for the picture of the crooked die used the singular terning, as would be proper, rather than the plural terningen.  (The article itself speaks of dice, plural  and die, singular, depending upon context.)

Where I’ll Be Tomorrow

Jim Macdonald is on the road again:

Madhouse Manor

I’ll be at the Granite State Magicians’ benefit performance for the Merrimack (NH) CrimeLine.

Come out on Saturday, April 14th from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. to support the Merrimack Police K9 Program. Meet Dallas, Merrimack’s new K-9 officer and watch a demonstration at noon!

The Magic Show will be held at the American Legion Post 98 on Baboosic Lake Road.

$5 per person / $2.50 under 12 / $15 family max

Enter to win one of the many raffle prizes!

Hot Dogs, popcorn and soda for sale during the day!

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When First I Came to Town; or, Some Families are Like That

One of my favorite folk songs is “Katy Cruel,” a cheerful ditty from the point of view of a young lady who has run completely out of [bleeps] to give:

Our Ms. Cruel comes from a distinguished (or maybe the right word is “notorious”) folkloric lineage.

There’s the Cruel Mother:

And the Cruel Father:

(Sorry, no video link here, just audio on the web page.  But he’s cruel, believe me.)

The Cruel Sister:

And the Cruel Brother:

Hell, if I had a family like that, I’d leave town and take to drink, too.

Marching in Lancaster

A couple of scenes from the Lancaster NH March For Our Lives (let it be noted that Lancaster, while the county seat for Coös County, only has a population of 3,507):

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“More Bears, Less Arms’

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“What Can You Hunt With an AR-15?”

Be it noted:  I’m not against guns.  Hell, I’m from Texas; my Daddy owned guns.  And I live in a part of New Hampshire where the question “Got your deer yet?” isn’t an invitation to an act of performative masculinity, it’s a serious inquiry into the state of somebody’s winter larder.  Fifty or sixty pounds of venison in the freezer is a not-inconsiderable number of meals you don’t have to pay for at the local grocery.  If you want to shoot a deer with a proper deer rifle during the proper hunting season while in the possession of a proper hunting license, I’m right there with you, and if you’ve got any venison to give away, I’ll happily take some and eat it with pleasure.

It’s gun violence that I’m not in favor of.

From the Department of Exceedingly Mixed Metaphors

Here’s Forbes Magazine – which really ought to know better – in the midst of an otherwise unexceptional article about the impact of the mega-success of Black Panther on the movie industry’s current reliance on producing a year-round series of blockbusters:

This is an entire pre-summer slate of would-be event movies getting steamrolled by one very big tentpole.

Squint a little with your mind’s eye, if you can, and try to picture what would you would be seeing, if this were a literal image.

Right. You’ve got a chalkboard getting squished by a support pole (I’ll even make it easier for you by assuming a circus-tent-sized wooden mast, rather than a flimsy aluminum pup-tent sort of thing) attached in some fashion to a piece of heavy road equipment. Which puts us squarely in Toon Town, if it puts us any place at all.

The moral of the story, if there is one: If you’re going to commit metaphor, for goodness’s sake take moment to visualize the whole thing first

A Sonnet

My spouse and co-author waxes poetic.

Madhouse Manor

While streaking in my rocket ship through space,
Galactic empires seeking to destroy,
Subsonic signals hailed me with “Ahoy!
O spaceman launched from secret lunar base!
Turn back your craft at once!”  Sour was my face.
Switched off the signal; turned then to deploy
My proton missiles. With those I’d annoy
The surreptitious foes who’d marked my place.
When of a sudden, standing at my side,
A bearded wizard with a staff of flame
First tripped me, then, whilst stroking his goatee,
Gazed downward, as he called me by my name.
Quoth he, “Soft! Stay thy vaunted techno-pride:
This is not Sci-fi but a Fantasy.”

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Hugo Nominations Close Today

I’ll admit to a certain amount of partisan rooting interest, here, since the No Story Is Sacred crew are, in fact, my own offspring:

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