Color Me Bad

No, not the 90s boy band, but I sure did love them. Instead, let’s do a little learning, shall we? I was reading and I read something that I had to look up. At this point, I honestly don’t remember what it was. But I stopped reading and looked it up, which made me click on a link, which lead to another and another and another. And somehow, in the midst of all this, I ended up reading about manias, paraphilias and phobias. Basically, psychological terms for things that can be wrong with people.

Interesting, but heady, stuff, to be sure. So I read through these lists and was just sort of boggled by the whole thing. I mean, I’m a pretty educated person, but the sheer volume of things I didn’t know is kind of frightening. I guess knowing what I don’t know is part of my education, but that’s another story.

For instance, did you know that oniomania is an obsession with shopping? Or mottephobia is a fear of moths? I mean, that’s interesting. But then I saw a few that blew my mind. Now, I’ve long known of triskaidekaphobia, fear of the number 13. While being afraid of numbers is not something I get, I do understand the irrationality that is attached to that particular number. But, tetraphobia? Fear of the number four? What’s wrong with 4? Or how about hexakosioihexekontahexaphobia? Fear of the number 666. No, I’m not kidding. At this point, I’m more concerned about sesquipedalophobia, the fear of large words. (Seriously, even I couldn’t make this up.)

The thing that blew my mind, though was stumbling across porphyrophobia. The fear of the color purple. Purple! Aside from the fact it is my favorite color, I don’t understand. What is it that scares you? Color just is. It doesn’t do anything. How can it be scary? It’s like being scared of a piece of wood. Hylophobia. Nope, not kidding.

But then I kept looking and found.

Colorphobia – fear of color

Erythrophobia – fear of color red (also used for fear of blushing)

Chrysophobia – fear of color orange

Xanthophobia – fear of color yellow

Chlorophobia – fear of color green

Cyanophobia – fear of color blue

Porphyrophobia – fear of color purple

Leukophobia – fear of color white

Melanophobia – fear of color black

and, of course,

Iridophobia – fear of rainbows

All these years and suddenly my fear of chartreuse feels validated. I wonder what that would be. Since it’s a mix of yellow and green I’m leaning toward Xanthochlorophobia. I mean, come on.

Language, though, it’s a beautiful thing. Even if people are nutso, the words we’ve created never cease to marvel. And that’s how I abandoned my book for an hour of reading about strange words and writing this blog. Someday, if I ever write my book, expect one of my characters to suffer from a crazy fear, like koumpounophobia. Fear of buttons.

In the meantime, I’m more of a porphromaniac. One obsessed with purple. And a bibliomaniac. Obsessed with books. Perhaps even a logophile, obsessor of words. And that, my friends, is our very first TYNKYNK (for my new readers, that is Things You Never Knew You Never Knew, for weird stuff I like to teach on this blog) for 2016. I hope you learned something.


Chinese Swords

This will be short and sweet. I was just about to order lunch. I have to run out to a meeting but I want lunch when I get back. I’ve decided to give Jimmy John’s another chance (haven’t ordered from them since). I went to my browser and typed JI and then accidentally hit enter, instead of down arrow/enter, to select Jimmy John’s.

This, naturally, brought up a bunch of search results I was not expecting. Beginning with a result for Ji (Halberd) from Wikipedia.

I gaped at that entry and thought, Halberd is a word?

You see, Halberd is the middle name of my cousin Joey. Halberd was a blend of his two grandfathers Hal and Berdell. I always thought that was so cool and a fun way to honor for a middle name. But of course I always thought it was made up. Until today.

Now I suddenly know that a halberd is a type of weapon, a pole looking thing with an ax on it. And the Ji is the Chinese version of that weapon.

Jimmy John’s, China, and my cousin Joey, who knew they had something in common?

(That is our brief TYNKYNK, I believe the first of 2014).

A Little Synchronous

Last night, while eating dinner, I was watching an episode of The West Wing, in the episode, CJ, the press secretary was explaining to Donna how a bad situation was going to play with the press. She said there would definitely be some schadenfreude.

Donna, a secretary, said, “schadenfreude?”

CJ replied “you know, enjoying the suffering of others. The whole rationale behind the US House of Representatives.”

It was a funny moment, but hardly one that would stick in my mind, until I came to work, about 12 hours later and the first email in my inbox was my word of the day email.

Today’s word?

Schadenfreude (n.) Pleasure derived from another’s misfortune.

Well, how about that?

That’s not so common a word that you’d expect to keep hearing it. It’s moments like that, moments of synchronicity that make my day. And also, it’s a lovely addition to our TYNKYNK and the first one of 2013!


About a week ago, the weather was predicting this HUGE snowstorm. People were talking about it for a week in advance, predicting feet of snow, closed schools, bitter cold, yadda yadda yadda.

I never really gave it much thought. It’s hard to think of a snowstorm when this is such a mild winter.

The day of the storm, I woke up and looked outside to see if the damage had started.

Not so much. A powdery dusting of snow. It wasn’t even snowing when I took that picture. By the time I got to work, the sun had come out and it was warming up. So much for that.

Out of curiosity, I checked the weather online and saw they were still predicting a huge storm, they just downgraded it from snow to rain. It didn’t start raining until the late afternoon. Let me tell you, rain is one weird occurrence in February in Minnesota. When I left work that evening, it was still raining, but it was still also about 35°, so it was pretty mild. It smelled like spring. I headed off for my evening plans. (Dinner and shopping with Elena).

When I finally got home for the day, about 9 pm, things had changed. The temps had dropped and the rain was starting to freeze. As a matter of fact, this was the mirror on my car as I pulled into the driveway (ignore the fact that it’s broken, please).

As you can see, frozen solid, with icicles dripping from the bottom. This does not bode well for morning driving. A few feet of snow is easier to drive in than an inch of ice.

When I woke up in the morning, I turned on my tv. I never use my tv. The last time it was turned on was to watch the ball drop on New Years Eve. But I excitedly flipped it on, hoping to see if I got a snow day. The ticker showing the closings was so long, I was worried I was going to be late for work trying to see if I had to go to work. It rolls alphabetically, I turned it on when it was in the Rs and I needed the Gs. It took 25 minutes to get back around! Meanwhile, practically every school in the state was shut down. I kept watching…and nothing. I checked my work email…nothing. Every school in our area was closed, but, we were open.

I hurriedly got ready and headed outside, to find that the world looked like this:

As you can see, it is not much more dramatic than the morning before. At some point in the night, the rain had turned to snow, but only barely, since the entire world was crusted with ice. Ice is actually particularly beautiful. The tree over my head looked like this:

Can you see the ice crystals formed on the branches? It looked cooler in person. How about a close up?

That is all solid ice.

I started my drive, and as I thought, it was treacherous. I almost rear ended a guy at the first stop sign. I had to drive into the bank on the shoulder to avoid it. I learned and avoided following anyone closely at all.

It is now March and while March can certainly be a snowy month, I’m starting to think we missed our chance at having a snowstorm this year. It’s going to be 55° today and the 10-day forecast has those numbers holding steady (through my birthday! – only 9 more days…)

That’s my short weather story. Not very exciting, I know, but the pictures are pretty. And, I wanted to take a moment to teach a little something as well. A while back, Kelly wrote this story on her blog. At the bottom, she appeals to her favorite librarian to tell her why the frost looks like that.

The answer is it is called hoarfrost. Hoar is just one of the three main types of frost. Hoarfrost is formed when the air is damp – containing water vapor – and the vapor touches an extremely cold surface, such as plants, trees, branches, even cars. The air must be very cold (around freezing or below) and when the water vapor hits the cold surface, say a branch, it freezes instantly, often forming gnarled, or spiky fingers. That is exactly what Kelly saw in her blog post.

That’s a photo of hoarfrost I snagged from Google Images.

For the record, the other two types of frost are rime frost and fern frost. Rime frost is created when a damp, icy wind blows over things and it leaves a trail of frost which makes things look like they are frosted or have icing around the edges. Rime frost looks more like this:

Just a bit of frosting around the edges. Rime frost also looks like this:

I think, in MN, this is the most common type of frost that we see, because rime frost can only occur in very cold temperatures, far, far colder than hoarfrost. But, this winter has been so mild, that’s why Kelly saw a terrific example of hoarfrost.

Lastly, the final example is fern frost. Fern frost forms on windows. It happens when dew drops (moisture in the air) hits a cold window. They freeze into ice. But then more moisture freezes on top of the ice and eventually they form what look like icy patterns on the windows. If you live in MN I know you’ve seen this.

That can form on your car, your windows in your house, really any smooth cold surface. (all frost pictures are from Google Images)

A couple other things to note. The term hoar comes from the Old English and is used as an adjective to describe something showing signs of old age. It comes from the frost making trees and plants look like they are elderly, with white hair.

Frost is always white because the crystals contain air.

According to folklore, Jack Frost creates frost by running his icy fingers over windows (and plants I suppose).

In order for frost to form, the surface (on which the frost will form) must be colder than the air. This is why frost forms most readily around cracks in sidewalks, walls and doors and also on the edges of windows. It also explains why a car will frost more readily than concrete or the ground itself.

Think that’s everything you ever wanted to know about frost? Me too. But, I promise, the next time I notice frost, I will inspect it closely and see if I can determine which type it is!

That is your cold weather edition of TYNKYNK. Thanks, Kel!


The Poetry of Logical Ideas

The inside of a magic 8-ball contains a 20 sided die, called an icosahedron. The die floats in alcohol that is tinted blue.

Powers of numbers all have names (okay, I knew that already) for instance, is square, is cubed, etc. I learned that before mathematics used numbers to represent the exponent, they only had words. In the 1500s, there was no term to describe n to the power of 8. So, a prominent mathematician at the time, Robert Recorde, created the term zenzizenzizenzic which literally translates to “square of the square of the square” or the 8th power.

The term is basically lost today, but the OED still lists it as an actual word, and it is the only word in the history of the English language that contains six Zs.

You probably have heard the term octogenarian for a person in their 80s. For instance, my neighbor is an octogenarian. But, were you aware that these terms exist for the 20s to 100s?

A person in their 100s (100-109) is a centenarian

A person in their 90s (90-99) is a nonagenarian

70s = septagenarian

60s = hexagenarian

50s = pentagenarian

40s = quadragenarian

30s = tricenarian

20s = vicenarian

The last three are the least common of the set of terms, with tricenarian and vicenarian being virtually unheard of, and quadragenarian simply lesser known. There is no term for someone in their teens or youth, because it is not considered a feat to live to these ages, which also explains why 20s and 30s and 40s are so underutilized.

A 100 sided die is called a hecatohedron, technically, though it is commonly referred to as a Zocchihedron, after its inventor. It has so many sides that is practically a ball and doesn’t really roll, like using a golf ball as a die.

A golf ball has anywhere from 250-450 dimples on its surface, depending on the manufacturer. Which means it could be called a diacosioipentacontrahedron (250) or a tetracosioipentacontrahedron (450).

Anyone want to guess what my students were studying today?

And THAT is your most recent edition of TYNKYNK, and boy, has it been a while since we’ve done one of those. Over a year! I hope you found it worth the wait. I’m pretty geeked out at the moment, swimming in all these happy names for math terms, but I sure had fun.

“Pure mathematics is, in its way, the poetry of logical ideas.” ~Albert Einstein

Follow this “Crazy Train” of thought, or what I learned about Laverne and Shirley

Here is how it began.

I started my day by checking in with a few of my favorite blogs. I was reading Yes and Yes where I found a link to the site Free Rice. I stopped by to play games and donate some rice.

I thought the site was cool and hip. My mind did this: “Hey! Today is Wednesday and that means we do Website Wednesday on the whiteboard”. I used Free Rice as the website of the day.

Toward the end of my day, I clicked back over to Free Rice to support my knowledge base and give away some more rice. I started playing English grammar. I got a question about the difference between i.e. and e.g. I got it wrong.

I headed out to Google to look it up . A brief search brought me to a website about writing tips. I read an article and now I understand. For the likewise unlearned, i.e. is used to explain your meaning, “in other words”. e.g. is used to give examples to clarify what you just said. They are NOT interchangeable.

That website had links to other articles, such as the difference between Might, May, and Can. I knew most of it, but I did not know that might is the past tense of may and should be used when speaking about the past.

The site had sparked my interest. I looked at the quicklinks for hot topics and found an article called “40 Yiddish Words You Should Know“. I was curious and a bit surprised. I didn’ t really know that there were that many commonly referenced Yiddish words. I also use a few without having any idea they were Yiddish, such as nosh, shlep, and shmooze. Imagine my surprise when I scrolled down the alphabetical list and found shlemiel and shlimazel.

WHAT?!? Those are real words? For those of you who aren’t aware of what I am talking about, those are words to the theme song of the show Laverne and Shirley. Turns out a shlemiel is someone who is klutzy (also Yiddish) and a shlimazel is someone who has perennial bad luck. Why they are in the theme song, who knows? But they aren’t just gibberish, they actually mean something. I can’t say for certain what they were trying to convey using those words in the theme–but I can now assume there might (not may) have actually been a point.

And THAT, my fine friends, is your first official edition of Things You Never Knew You Never Knew (TYNKYNK) here on WordPress. Feels good, hmm?