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Conversations with my friend Tom Chappell

Tom and I cycled together 3 or 4 times a week around the Rose Bowl in Pasadena, California. Our conversations spanned several 3-mile laps and breakfast.

2005  2004  2003  2002  2001
2001 December
Wed 26 Satisfying literary adjectives:
  - Quixotic
  - Lilliputian/Brobdingnagian
  - Falstaffian

Literary adjectives rejected as too easy, belabored, or awkward:
  - Those ending in "-like" ("Scrooge-like")
  - Those involving the writer rather than the character ("Shakespearean")

Thu 20 balmy:
Date: 15th century
1 a : having the qualities of balm : SOOTHING b : MILD
1 : (15th century) full of froth or ferment
2 : (1892) CRAZY, FOOLISH
Sat 8 detritus: (di-TRY-tus)
Tue 4 insouciance: (in-SOO-see-yence) lighthearted unconcern : NONCHALANCE

Tom notes:

NONCHALANCE is a mere synonym, with nowhere close to the same meaning. For me, 'insouciance' puts a definite emphasis on lightedhearted unconcern, whereas being 'nonchalant', while defined as 'having an air of easy unconcern or indifference,' puts a definite emphasis on unconcern or indifference.

(It is matters such as 'insouciance' v. 'nonchalance' that are the true work of Pedantry Today: one should strive not just towards being merely correct, but being precisely correct).

2001 November
Tue 18 Karen provided these on our one-lap walk this morning.
brindle: having obscure dark streaks on a tawny ground <a brindled dog>
Maori: (MAU-ree)
1 : a member of a Polynesian people native to New Zealand
2 : the Austronesian language of the Maori
Tue 13 preternatural: (pree-ter-NA-che-ral)
1 : existing outside of nature
2 : exceeding what is natural or regular : EXTRAORDINARY
3 : inexplicable by ordinary means; especially : PSYCHIC
auxiliary: (aug-ZILL-ya-ree, aug-ZILL-uh-ree)
Sun 4 Je suis fatigué: (French) "I'm tired"
Je ne suis pas fatigué: (French) "I'm not tired"
Thu 1 lambaste/lambast: (lam-BAYST, lam-BAHST, LAM-bayst, LAM-bahst)
patina: (puh-TEE-na or PAH-tih-na)
2001 October
Sun 28  Both: 46:50 (New personal best—4 laps)
celebratory: (SELL-uh-bra-tor-y)
mi-parti: (French) something consisting of two parts which are equal but not identical
Mon 22 "That's where the money is": Willie Sutton
Mon 24 Poser
stay:  to stop or delay the proceeding or advance of by interposing an obstacle
stave:  to drive or thrust away

Eponyms:  silhouettewinchesternewtonwattvoltjoulecurie

Thu 18
 Symphony No. 2, by Jean Sibelius
bas-relief: (Bah-ruh-LEEF) sculptural relief in which the projection from the
surrounding surface is slight and no part of the modeled
form is undercut; also : sculpture executed in bas-relief
wizened: (WHIZ-zened) dry, shrunken, and wrinkled often as a result of aging
or of failing vitality
epistolary: 1 : of, relating to, or suitable to a letter
2 : contained in or carried on by letters <an epistolary love affair>
3 : written in the form of a series of letters epistolary novel>
symphonist: (SYM-fo-nist) 1 : a member of a symphony orchestra
2 : a composer of symphonies
long-lived: (long-livd, or long-lIvd)
eponymous: one for whom or which something is or is believed to be named
Tue 16  Both: 48:13 (New personal best—4 laps)
Fri 12
From Dashiell Hammett's The Maltese Falcon, chapter 2, "Death in the Fog":
Spade crossed the sidewalk between iron-railed hatchways that opened above bare ugly stairs, went to the parapet, and, resting his hands on the damp coping, looked down into Stockton Street.
Other men with lights moved up and down the slope. One of them hailed Spade, "Hello Sam," and clambered up to the alley, his shadow running up the slope before him.
His shoes, knees, hands, and chin were daubed with brown loam.
hatchway: an access passage to an enclosed space, usually by ladder/stairs (as a cellar)
parapet: 1 : a wall, rampart, or elevation of earth or stone to protect soldiers
2 : a low wall or railing to protect the edge of a platform, roof, or bridge
coping: the covering course of a wall usually with a sloping top
loam: 1 a : a mixture (as for plastering) composed chiefly of moistened clay
   b : a coarse molding sand used in founding
2 : a soil consisting of a friable mixture of clay, silt, and sand
gallimaufry: HODGEPODGE <a gallimaufry of opinions>
friable: easily crumbled or pulverized <friable soil>
gewgaw: (GOO-gaw or GIU-gaw)—a showy trifle : BAUBLE, TRINKET
Mon 8  Tom: 50:54 (New personal best—4 laps)
 Navajo Looms
There are six simple machines: inclined plane, lever, pulley, screw, wedge, wheel & axle
Sat 6  Tom: 31:11 (New second-best personal time—3 laps)
Thu 4
 Both: 51:07 (New personal best—4 laps)
stonewall: 1 chiefly British : to engage in obstructive debate or delaying tactics
2 : to be uncooperative, obstructive, or evasive
stone-faced: showing no emotion : EXPRESSIONLESS
vs. onomatopoetic
1 : the naming by a vocal imitation of the associated sound (as buzz, hiss)
2 : the use of words whose sound suggests the sense
Tue 2
wile 1 : a trick or stratagem intended to ensnare or deceive;
2 : skill in outwitting : TRICKERY, GUILE
2001 September
Fri 28
 John: 34:44 (New personal best)
 grex: Latin for "herd" or "flock"
  • gregarious - likes to be with the herd
  • egregious - stands out from the herd
  • congregate - herd together
  • segregate - separate from the herd
  • aggregate - a herd of things
 influere: Latin for "to flow"
  • affluent
  • flush
  • fluid
  • fluent
  • fluctuation
  • superfluous
Mon 24 ullage: the amount that a container (as a tank or cask) lacks of being full
Sat 22 Added another nautical term now mainstream.
Wed 12 Added another nautical term now mainstream.
redux: (")rE-'d&ks, 'rE-"
2001 August
Fri 24  Tom: 31:15 (Personal 2nd best)
 John: 35:10 (New personal best)
 Bartleby.com: Great Books Online

aphorism: 'a-f&-"ri-z&m

Tue 21 stipend: 'stI-"pend, -p&nd
Sun 19
Added another nautical term now mainstream.

To A Mouse: poem by Robert Burns
agley: AWRY, WRONG
<the best-laid schemes o' mice an' men gang aft agley -- Robert Burns>
All English words for food enthusiasts are French...
gourmet: 1 : a connoisseur of food and drink;
2 : broadly—CONNOISSEUR <a film gourmet>
gourmand: 1 : one who is excessively fond of eating and drinking
2 : one who is heartily interested in good food and drink
gastronome: a lover of good food; especially : one with a serious interest in gastronomy
...and the only French phrase for fair play is English:
le fair play: equitable or impartial treatment : JUSTICE
Fri 17 Knopf Books (the "K" and "p" are silent)
1 : the nest of a bird on a cliff or a mountaintop
2 : obsolete—a brood of birds of prey
3 : an elevated often secluded dwelling, structure, or position
Tue 14 progenitor:
1 a : an ancestor in the direct line : FOREFATHER b : a biologically ancestral form
2 : PRECURSOR, ORIGINATOR (He was a progenitor of social reform in his state.)
syzygy: the near-alignment of three celestial bodies in a gravitational system
prolepsis: ANTICIPATION: as
a : the representation or assumption of a future act or development
    as if presently existing or accomplished
b : the application of an adjective to a noun in anticipation of the
    result of the action of the verb
    (as in "while yon slow oxen turn the furrowed plain")

  - ectomorph (thin)
  - mesomorphs (muscular)
  - endomorphs (fat)

Sun 12 protean: 1 : having a varied nature or ability to assume different forms
2 : displaying great diversity or variety : VERSATILE
palimpsest: 1 : a parchment or tablet reused after earlier writing has been erased
2 : something with diverse layers or aspects apparent beneath the surface
Sat 11 Added 3 more nautical terms now mainstream.
 Poser: bore vs boor
 Poser: uninterested vs disinterested
 Premature Aging of Cells Linked to Artery Disease: Yahoo article taken from The Lancet

Top 5 American Novels
- Huckleberry Finn
- Moby-Dick
- The Grapes of Wrath
- The Catcher in the Rye
- The Maltese Falcon

Thu 9  Poser: invidious vs insidious
Thu 2  The Innocents Abroad, Mark Twain
well-taken: WELL-GROUNDED, JUSTIFIABLE ("Your point is well-taken.")
2001 July
Mon 31  Terence, this is stupid stuff, by A. E. Housman
 Angels Walk - walking tour through downtown Los Angeles
 Cicada - restaurant in downtown Los Angeles
haberdasher: a dealer in men's clothing and accessories
hatter: one that makes, sells, or cleans and repairs hats
change ringing: the art or practice of ringing a set of tuned bells
(as in the bell tower of a church) in continually varying order
Sat 28
 Tom: 30:59 (New personal best)
 John: 35:35 (New personal best)
 Cyber-games make children brighter: Sunday Times article
remonstrate: 're-m&n-"strAt, ri-'män-
Thu 26
Tom's friend Chris Ravenscroft contributed several additional French definitions:
sepulchral: from the afterlife ("a sepulcral voice")
sanguine: orange sanguine ("blood orange")
glabrousglabre: a hairless face -- a trait common among some native American tribes
virago: [contemporary] une virago: a bloody bitch
Wed 25
touchstone: a test for determining the quality or genuineness of a thing
obstreperous: marked by unruly or aggressive noisiness : CLAMOROUS
cantankerous: difficult or irritating to deal with
Tue 24  Designing Interactive Theme Park Rides: Disney's Battle for the Buccaneer Gold

Nautical terms now...mainstream:
- to ship, bail out, full-speed ahead, cast off, dead ahead, bitter end,
overboard, listless, half-mast, shove off, slack off, ship-shape
 (added 8/11/2001): fit and trim, to tide over, under the weather
 (added 8/19/2001): learn the ropes
 (added 9/12/2001): cut me some slack
 (added 9/22/2001): to take a tack/ to change tack)
 (added 4/21/2003): money for old rope
 (added 10/24/2006): to change course/to stay the course
 (added 10/24/2006): to give a wide berth

sepulchral: from Latin sepulcrum, from sepelire to bury
ennui: a feeling of weariness and dissatisfaction : BOREDOM

Sun 22
 Tom: 33:55 (New personal best)
 John: 35:55 (New personal best)
Sat 21 agave: &-'gä-vE
The hills above the track where we ride are home to several magnificent century plants. Their flowering stalks appear to rise 20 feet or more.
Thu 19 sanguine:  1 : BLOODRED;
2 : consisting of or relating to blood
3 : having blood as the predominating bodily humor
Wed 18  Atlas of World History, Dorling-Kindersley
douzaine: from Latin duodecim, from duo two + decem ten
hapless: having no luck : UNFORTUNATE
Tue 17  Tom: 34:53 (New personal best)
 The Drawing of the Dark, Tim Powers
 Genome, Matt Ridley
 Story, Robert McKee

douzaine: French for "about twelve", led to English "dozen"
lagniappe: a small gift given a customer by a merchant at the time of a purchase;
broadly : something given or obtained gratuitously or by way of good measure
jejune: 1 : lacking nutritive value
2 : devoid of significance or interest : DULL <jejune lectures>

Sat 14
Farmer's Market and Galco's Old World Grocery
regale: to entertain sumptuously; to give pleasure or amusement to
uxorious: "&k-'sOr-E-&s, -'sor-; "&g-'zOr-, -'zor-
Fri 13 gelid: extremely cold
glabrous: smooth; especially : having a surface without hairs or projections
eldritch: weird, eerie
Wed 11  Unto This Last, John Ruskin
 A Foreshadowing of 21st Century Art, Christopher Alexander
uxorious: excessively fond of or submissive to a wife
billingsgate: coarsely abusive language
virago: a loud overbearing woman; a woman of great stature, strength, and courage
harridan: shrew
Thu 5  Arts & Letters Daily: articles, reviews, essays and opinion
Mon 2  The Teaching Company: college-level courses and lectures on tape
 Porivo: measuring end-to-end Web performance
 AudioFreeBooks.com: Free MP3 audio books
2001 June
Fri 29  Tom: 35:56 (New personal best)
 John: 36:04 (New personal best)
Thu 14  Tashiro Stained & Leaded Glass Studio: Japanese glass