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AWADmail Issue 245

January 21, 2007

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

From: Ed McMorrow (pemkb verizon.net)
Subject: Garrison finish

Your choice of "Garrison finish" as the first eponym to show this week was quite appropriate for all of us who are also fans of "American football". The American professional National Football League (NFL) has finished its regular season and begun the playoffs to determine who will play in the famous Super Bowl in early February.

On Sunday, 14 Jan., the day before you showed Garrison finish, just such a finish occurred in one of these playoff games. In that game, the New England Patriots played the heavily favored San Diego Chargers. The Patriots played rather poorly for most of the game, making victory by the Chargers seem a foregone conclusion. Suddenly, as the end of the game approached, the Patriots were able to tie the score at 21. Then, the Patriots were able to score once again, placing them in the lead, for the first time since early in the game, at 24 - 21. This became the final score, when the Chargers' final attempt to score failed in the closing seconds of the game.

From: Richard Platt (r.platt snet.net)
Subject: Garrison finish

A Garrison finish is almost the same as a Frank Merriwell finish. Frank Merriwell was a fictional Yale athlete who, for some reason or other, was delayed in getting to the big game, but always arrived in the nick of time to score the winning touchdown or hit a home run, salvaging victory from certain defeat.

From: Romuald Anthony (rombob2 cox.net)
Subject: Re: A.Word.A.Day--speculum

Speculum metal was commonly used to make reflecting gratings. At the University of Chicago I, an undergraduate student, operated the University Optical Shop and the only and original Michelson's Ruling engine to rule diffraction gratings on speculum metal. I polished speculum metal precisely optically flat or with a precise curved surface having a known focal length before making the ruling. The engine could be set to rule several hundred lines per inch for up to eight inches using a diamond. It was set in a ten-foot square enclosure consisting of eight-inch thick walls that contained a liquid to help in maintaining constant temperature within the enclosure. There were four electric light bulbs inside on each wall, each controlled by a thermometer to go on and off as the temperature varied from a preset value. We provided the scientific world with these speculum gratings until the Manhattan Project (the atomic bomb program) took over in the early forties.

From: Ed Rettig (ed corecomm.us)
Subject: feedback: Rip Van Winkle

It's very funny to see AWAD feature 'RIP' as I just last week read in my new book Nineteenth-century Printing Practices and the Iron Handpress Vol 1 by Richard-Gabriel Rummonds, a short biography of Cornelius S. Van Winkle: "(1785-1843) was born in New York City and became a printer around 1809. He remained in the trade at various locations in New York until 1836, printing books, sermons, and tracts. Van Winkle printed the first edition of Washington Irving's The Sketch Book of Geoffrey Crayon, Gent (1820) and it has been said that his relationship with Irving was strained because he was piqued at Irving's naming his lazy Dutchman in his book Rip Van Winkle." Page xxv Vol. 1

From: Bob Bunker (b2-bsquare sbcglobal.net)
Subject: Re: A.Word.A.Day--Rip Van Winkle

I work with criminal offenders who have done 20, 30, even 50 years "flat". ("Flat" means that they were actually in prison during those years.)

They have a Rip Van Winkle effect to deal with upon release . . .the world has changed. Some of them had only "heard" of cell phones, hadn't seen a lot of the inventions and gadgets that came out while they were in prison nor were aware of the clothing culture of today. It creates a "culture shock" in them and some deliberately re-offend to get back in prison where they feel safe. (Even though while they're in prison they can only talk about getting back into "the world.") I had one client that stated unequivocally that he was going to spend his life in prison, because that's where he was familiar with the culture.

So there are Rip Van Winkles in the world today.

From: Marie (marier2004 earthlink.net)
Subject: feedback: Rip Van Winkle

Don't forget about the basic plot of Brigadoon!

From: Hemanshu Joshi (hemanshu git.ae)
Subject: Re: A.Word.A.Day--Rip Van Winkle

Reminded me of Kumbhakarna, brother of Ravana, a character from the Hindu epic Ramayana.

Kumbhakarna was said to be 420,000 meters tall. Kumbhakarna would sleep for six months at a time and wake for only one day before returning to sleep. However, when he woke up, he ate everything in the vicinity.

From: Ralph L. Klein (rlkcoup snet.net)
Subject: Re: A.Word.A.Day--Rip Van Winkle

There is also a story from the Talmud about Choni HaMagil (variant spellings) who slept for 70 years! There are explanations at torah.org and Wikipedia.

From: Art Haykin (theart webtv.net)
Subject: Re: A.Word.A.Day--eonism

Gee, at first glance, I thought "eonism" would mean that when a guy prefers to live in drag, he takes FOREVER to get dressed, or "eons", if you will. There's so much more to do: The bag and shoes have to match, all seams must be straight, no panty line should show, and then there's makeup and getting the hair and nails just right.

Words are like money ... it is the stamp of custom alone that gives them circulation or value. -William Hazlitt, essayist (1778-1830)

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