Good radio

I'm sure a lot of people know about this station already because it's on iTunes, but it's really worth a mention because they play interesting music which you can't hear elsewhere (or most places): Radio Paradise.

Each hour of music is carefully blended together to flow smoothly between different musical styles & genres - just like real DJs used to do on FM. We don't use the computer-generated playlists or "carefully researched music libraries" that have sucked the soul out of FM radio - and we never just throw songs together at random the way many web stations do.

They also have a really cool visitors map. Actually, after I wrote that, I noticed that they called it "very cool" too. You can see worldwide listener stats and locations on the homepage (scroll down to RP Web Visitors World Map). It's really cool to see how many people are visiting from throughout the world. There I go again--"really cool". But it is.

I can't believe the site has so many features and they've been able to set up the online broadcasting so smoothly. Seriously brainy and talented people over there.



Last week I said that my friend has cancer. Now he's in hospice. Yeah--two weeks within finding out he had cancer, he had a few surgeries, including on his brain because the cancer spread there, and now he's in the last stage of life.

One month ago I saw him, and he was healthy. Tonight I saw him and he's dying. So don't take life or other people for granted.


Irregular plurals

Arrogant Polyglot provided a link to an Irregular Plurals List that should be helpful for English learners, and interesting for language nerds.

They give two options for the plural of formula: formulae and formulas. I doubt many people use the plural "formulae" version, except for persnickety folks who understand the minutiae of spelling.

They have the same options for antenna: antennae and antennas. I can see people using "antennae" for insects, but not for such items as radios and televisions. "Antennas" is a more democratic (though pedestrian) spelling which seems more appropriate for "common" objects.

This was news to me: the plurals for bureau are bureaus and bureaux. Only the French-Aware would understand the use of an x at the end of a word. What were they thinking? Yes, bureau is a French word, but not many people understand French spelling, and even more don't care.

They also have the word tableau there--why? It's not an oft-used word. And they have the same French option there, too: tableaux/tableaus. That word is more obscure anyway, so I'll give them a pass on the French spelling because not many people dig that deep.


Interesting insult

I was reading a column and saw this statement from a reader: "Please tell Clear Channel executives that I have two words for them and they are not 'Happy Birthday'."

Something to keep handy if the need for insulting entities without having to resort to ugly language should arise.


Only moons

I had to wake up again at a crazy hour, but this is the earliest ever: 2:30 AM! That's 2:30 in the morning! I actually set my alarm for 2:45, but miraculously woke up early, so I had a normal morning, even cleaned up and took care of the dishes.

One thing I notice is that when you have to check the weather in the middle of the night/early in the morning (before dawn), instead of having a set of suns on the TV, they have only moons. They'll have a map with the current temperatures in various towns and suburbs, and each number is topped with a moon. That's weird. Usually you'll see full suns or partial suns, but even if there are clouds in the picture, at least there is a bunch of yellow in the map instead of white and gray.

Another strange thing: when they say it's partly cloudy, but it's totally dark and there are only moons shown with that information. Unless you're flying a plane, does it really matter if you know that it's cloudy at all when there's no sunlight or even a sliver of sun? At three in the morning, I could care less if it's party cloudy--I just want to know if it's raining or not to determine if I can open my windows.



Sometimes I see a sign outside a restaurant that says "Charhouse." What is that? I'm wondering if it's a midwestern thing, because when I did a search for it online, a bunch of Illinois restaurants popped up.

There's a pitiful sign on my way to work that says "Charhouse", but it's in disrepair and is a putrid yellow and brown. The sign says they're remodeling, so that announcement along with the sickening style implies that Charhouse is a disgusting word.

Well, not really, but it doesn't conjure up images of refinement and beauty. I've never been to a Charhouse, but maybe I should check one out. I'm sure there's lots of flaming meat there and greasy potatoes.



I am very sorry to say this, and I wish it wasn't true, but John Deaver has cancer. He is having surgery today. He is a successful, interesting, nice, and smart guy, and it's just such a shock. So if you know him or have read his stuff or have seen him in plays and musicals, then pray for him to make it through this trial.

After I met him in a writing class, he became a part of Metrofiction, which we formed over a year ago. I hadn't heard from him in a while, but when I last saw him in a play in St. Charles, he seemed fine. He's a busy guy and is productive intellectually as well as at work and in his various other activities.

He's also too young to suffer such ill health and leave this earth, so let's hope that he sticks around for many years to come.


Data or datum?

"Data" is the plural form of "datum," but I don't hear people say, "The datum shows that..." (datum is singular, thus an "s" is needed), though I do hear people say, "The data show that..." (data is plural, thus there is no "s" there).

Most people say, "The data is..." which is grammatically incorrect because "data" is plural and "is" goes with a singular subject. It just sounds better, which is why it's more common.

So should grammar matter in this case? Picky editors will change it, but it's jarring to read or hear. I'm sure people who hear the "correct" version think it's incorrect. So for instance, someone might be watching a scientific show and hear an expert say, "The data are..." and wonder why such an educated person is misusing that word, when they're really being grammatically correct.

Data has become a victim! (or more correctly: Data have become victims!)


CNN blondes

Someone read my post about the Fox Blonde Helmet Heads and sent me a video link of CNN's blonde obsessions. It's a spoof, and viewer discretion is advised.


the States

When I was in England a long time ago (it seems), I noticed Brits kept saying "The States" to refer to the U.S., as in, "When I was in The States, I went to New York" or "People in The States like hot dogs" or whatever. All right, so British people, at least, like to say The States instead of America or the U.S. or the United States. Fine.

But it sounds weird when an American says "The States." It's as if they're trying to sound European, like, "I'm too sophisticated to say America or the US--I live in The States, in The States we jog, there are many people in The States." As if they used to say "America" or whatever, and then they went to Europe and heard people say "The States" and then thought, "Oh my, I'm so provincial--I better say The States from now on. I don't want to be like the other hick Americans." So now they say The States, and they're proud that they've become more worldly.

If they were to go to Japan, they'd hear アメリカ [Amerika] even though the "official" name is 米国 [beikoku]. I've gotten so used to hearing アメリカ [Amerika] from Japanese people that I started using that word myself. But then I met bitter Latin Americans who said that the U.S. isn't America, but the United States. I hope they wouldn't have a heart attack in Japan if they were to hear "America" everywhere.

So now I say "the U.S." to avoid offending or pissing off anyone. Except when I'm speaking Japanese. But I have to make sure we're alone.



I'm going to help out with (not play) a softball game, and the gal in charge asked me what number I'd like on my jersey. Obvious answer: Eleven!

Nigel: This is a top to a, you know, what we use on stage, but it's very...very special because if you can see...

Marty: Yeah...

Nigel: ...the numbers all go to eleven. Look...right across the board.

Marty: Ahh...oh, I see....

Nigel: Eleven...eleven...eleven....

Marty: ...and most of these amps go up to ten....

Nigel: Exactly.

Marty: Does that mean it's...louder? Is it any louder?

Nigel: Well, it's one louder, isn't it? It's not ten. You see, most...most blokes, you know, will be playing at ten. You're on ten here...all the way up...all the way up....

Marty: Yeah....

Nigel: ...all the way up. You're on ten on your guitar...where can you go from there? Where?

Marty: I don't know....

Nigel: Nowhere. Exactly. What we do is if we need that extra...push over the cliff...you know what we do?

Marty: Put it up to eleven.

Nigel: Eleven. Exactly. One louder.

Marty: Why don't you just make ten louder and make ten be the top... number... and make that a little louder?

Nigel: These go to eleven.



I was talking to a Chinese guy who is going to move to Northern California, and I told him that there are a lot of Americans there whose ancestors came from China a few generations ago. And then I told him that if he speaks Chinese with them, they're not going to understand, so it will force him to use his English. And then he nodded and said, "Yes, ABC's." Of course, I didn't know what he meant, so I asked him, and he said, "American Born Chinese."

Okay, it's something I should know, but I don't, and I bet a lot of people are nodding their heads right now, like, "that's old news." Well it's new to me. :)


French in Spanish

I was reading an article about producing in a language you don't understand, and learned about why there are French words in Spanish:

Mexican Spanish is peppered with bits of French due to France's occupation of Mexico in the mid 1800's when Napoleon III tried to establish a French Empire of Mexico after the Mexican American war of 1846-48.

Cinco de Mayo is the celebration of Mexico's defeat of the French in 1865. But that was plenty of time for numerous French words, especially French words related to food (no surprise there) to be absorbed into the Mexican language. Yet you'll find virtually none in any of the other versions of Spanish.

I didn't know that! That is really cool, though not surprising, since language has been influenced by colonialism, occupation and other cultural/political blendings for, well, as long as perhaps humans have existed.


Look-up compulsion

Sometimes when I'm translating something, I know the meaning of a word, but I feel compelled to look it up anyway. I could just translate the word and move on, since a lot of times just getting the meaning is enough. No brilliant rendering is needed, unless I had to translate an ad campaign in such a way as to have the same impact. In order to be effective, I would have to rack my brain and look up as many synonyms as possible to be effective. That's also true with legal translating--I'd have to be precise. But I've never done that and don't intend to.

But for some reason, I want to see what the synonyms are of certain words, even words such as "however" or "proceed" or "attempt." I think it's a compulsion, and it's also a symptom of language nerdiness. Also, since I don't have a language group to discuss stuff with (like the 19th century French artists had when they hung out in cafes), then looking up words is like having a conversation about what I'm reading. So I'm essentially saying to a dictionary, "what do you think?" and the dictionary or website or whatever is responding.

Such is modern life within our technological reality.


Seltic or Keltic Celtics?

This is what I don't get: why are the Boston Celtics pronounced "Seltics" and Celtic music is "Keltic"? It's the same concept: ancient people, Ireland, history. The Celts are pronounced "Kelts" and the Celtic language is also pronounced with a "k".

So is Boston dumb, or what? The team should be called the Boston Celtics, with the K sound. Maybe they should pass out a pronunciation guide at games, or re-educate the populice over there. I'm surprised Harvard or MIT or those other schools haven't tried to fix this problem.


Writing resuming

I was really worn out from writing, so I took a long weekend off. I also had a weird work schedule and cold, which didn't help. But now my schedule has been altered, which means more writing time here and for the novel that is close to being finished. I can wrap it up within a couple of weeks or less. Then it's more editing and query letters that will invite more rejections. But hey, at least I won't be on my death bed thinking "If only I'd tried..."


The frighteningly-smart Mad Minerva (great blog) told me about this word: hexakosioihexekontahexaphobia (the fear of the number 666). I thought it was a joke, but I don't think it is. Wikipedia has an entry, but my edition of Webster's Encyclopedic Unabridged Dictionary of the English Language doesn't have it.

I know that "hexa" means six, but what do "kosioi" and "konta" mean? I'm not a Latin scholar (or any other one, for that matter), so if anyone out there knows how this word is broken down, feel free to explain.


Polka dots and a dot

Someone asked me what the difference is between "polka dots" and "dots." I didn't know, so I looked it up. There really isn't much explanation out there about it, except that polka dots got their name when polka music was popular.

Wikipedia says they're ancient (!) but they "first became common on clothing in the late nineteenth century in Britain." They were also popular, of course, in the U.S. at that time and thereafter. Actually, they're probably popular throughout the world, except in countries that forbid pretty and cute clothing.

So, polka dots are a pattern, as seen here on this cute boot, and a dot is just one of those small circles within the pattern.


Party time

Last time I had to wake up for work in the middle of the night/early in the morning (before dawn), I said that people will probably be coming home from partying.

Well, I was right: last time, before 4:00 AM, I saw a lot of people standing outside a large nightclub with a police car and ambulance parked near the curb. So something serious must have gone down there, which required everyone to get out of the club. And then, when I drove a couple more blocks down the street, there were a few police cars outside another nightclub. And that's not all: just as I predicted, there were drunk drivers on the expressway, so I drove carefully around them. By the time I got a ways outside the city, everything was dark and the roads were empty.

So tomorrow I'm going to "sleep in" until 3:15 AM and imbibe coffee and possibly eat something. If I really want to "sleep in" I can skip the shower and wake up at 3:30 in order to leave by 4:00, but I don't know if I'm going to take such a chance.


Productively crazy

I've written more than 35,000 words of fiction, which is a rewrite of a 45,000-word story I did last fall. I'm happy about my progress, but I'm becoming manically insane. I'm so obsessed with struggling through the story that I'm drained and over-emotional. It's not even a deep story, but trying to work through the protagonist's emotions and struggles with other characters makes my non-writing life imbalanced.

Yesterday I could barely write--I was so tired and drained, and even when I crossed the 35k mark, I was too wiped out to be happy. I'm fighting a battle where there might not be any victory (first with plot and character, then trying to get published). Also, because I'm trying to make my way in the very competitive radio scene, it's extra energy that I have to exert. So I'm constantly striving, all the time, trying to run the creative race with no guarantee of winning.

Bottom line: it's all exhilarating, but exhausting.