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AWADmail Issue 218

July 16, 2006

A Weekly Compendium of Feedback on the Words in A.Word.A.Day and Other Interesting Tidbits about Words and Languages

From: Anu Garg (garg AT wordsmith.org)
Subject: Interesting stories from the net

California Man Makes Bad Writing Judges Cringe:
Boston Globe

Mind Your Language, This is Malaysia:

The Language Police and the Quesadilla:
Dissident Voice

From: Erfert Fenton (erfertfATaol.com)
Subject: Iridule (re: iris)

Vladimir Nabokov coined the word "iridule", derived from "iris", in his delightful Novel "Pale Fire". Here's a link to a book excerpt that mentions Nabokov's predilection for using colors (including rainbows) in his writings. Nabokov (and his wife) had synesthesia, so they probably would have appreciated the name "eyemusic" in the guest wordsmith's email address.

From: Steve Herald (steve.heraldATheartland.edu)
Subject: Re: A.Word.A.Day--vitreous

Many readers of today's message will recall John Ruskin's description of London's Crystal Palace, constructed for the Great Exhibition at Hyde Park in 1851. Ruskin termed the structure a "ferro vitreous bubble". With more than a million feet of glass, the building, designed by engineer Joseph Paxton in only ten days, certainly lived up to Ruskin's description.

From: Kathryn Kaser (kkasercoATbossig.com)
Subject: vitrification

At the Hanford Nuclear Site they perform "vitrification", which is the glassification of radioactive materials by encasing it in silica, then heating it to a very high temperature to turn it all into glass. They are in the process of building the "vit plant" now.

From: Sue McLaren (twenty4pawsATecoisp.com)
Subject: Re: A.Word.A.Day--cataract

I was delighted to read your description of the visual effects of cataracts. This year, I've had cataracts OD & OS removed, with -13D implants OU.

I am absolutely staggered by the improvements in acuity and especially in color acuity. While I may be in the honeymoon phase, I hope I never lose the sense of awe that I can now see better than ever before in my 65 years. The only comparable experience was when I got my first pair of corrective lenses, and could see individual leaves on trees.

Your reference to Monet's colors is especially poignant. I've visited three art museums/exhibits since the surgery.

From: Anup C. Goyal (acgoyalATatt.com)
Subject: A.Word.A.Day--cataract

The word cataract is so appropriate for me. My daughter Anamika who is in 11th grade is trying to raise money to support 200 cataract operations in India. She is doing this hemp/Shell Jewelry sale and a few other things. All the money raised from the sale will be used to fund eye care for the needy people through FOCUS Foundation. Anamika's goal is to raise enough money to screen 1000+ patients and select 200 patients who urgently need cataract surgery.

You can help her in many ways -

  • Buy one of her jewelry pieces (each item is $5)
  • Sponsor x numbers of cataract surgeries - total cost is $15/surgery.

From: Art Haykin (theartATwebtv.net)
Subject: Cataracts

I had cataract surgery 16 years ago, and at 77, my vision is perfect and unchanging with my lens implants. But for me a "cataract" will always be the one at Lodore that Robert Southey immortalized in his stunning poem "The Cataract of Lodore". Here, he yields to pleading of children to recite the description:

"For their recreation
That so I should sing;
For I was laureate
To them and the king."

(He was appointed Poet Laureate of England in 1813).

The poem is a glory hole of magical description where Southey uses around 150 adjectives to describe how the water comes down at Lodore. Read it and become a child again.

From: Jarrett Gonzales (shmoovioATgmail.com)
Subject: Cataract

My favorite use of cataract is in Ambrose Bierce's masterful and darkly hilarious short story, My Favorite Murder. In it, the protagonist discovers an opportunity beyond his twisted dreams, and he says that it "caused my cup of joy, already full, to overflow on all sides, a circular cataract of bliss." The first time I read that sentence, which is one of my favorites, I nearly gasped from its perfection. Bierce, whose vocabulary seems surpassed only by Shakespeare's and Woodrow Wilson's, is an underappreciated writer, who is too little read beyond his witty, sardonic Devil's Dictionary.

From: Karthikeyan M. (mkarthikeyanATimpelsys.com)
Subject: eyes

While learning words associated with eye and vision, I wish to share something about Govindappa Venkataswamy, a well-known ophthalmologist who died recently.

Dr. Venkataswamy, a pioneer in mass eye care delivery, founded the Aravind Eye Hospital which is famous in the Indian State of Tamil Nadu for its mass free eye-camps, in 1976 at Madurai, where millions of poor people have benefited with world-class eye care.

He was a legend in the ophthalmologist community and was always looking at people's good health, especially their good vision. He wished to start at least 100 hospitals across India. He was a bachelor, and was 'married' to his vision mission. Even after he was ailing for some time a few weeks ago, he was treating patients by roaming on a wheelchair around the hospital.

WHO Award for Health for All, Helen Keller International Award, India's prestigious Padma Sri Award and Academy International Blindness Prevention Award are a few of the awards conferred on him.

A word is not a crystal, transparent and unchanged, it is the skin of a living thought and may vary greatly in color and content according to the circumstances and the time in which it is used. -Oliver Wendell Holmes, Jr., jurist (1841-1935)

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