As you can see, I’m not at my desk right now. I’m up in the tree (house). It’s where I do my best thinking—where ideas take root and branch out before I know it. It is here where the magic happens. Who knows what my imagination will come up with next. What little thought will get my attention and become worthy of words to express it. Thank you for going “out on a limb” with me to share the adventure of yet-to-be-determined motivating messages. Ta-da!
P.S. For those curious whether ta-da is a word, indeed it is according to Webster’s Dictionary. In the formal sense it means an imitative sound of the musical flourish or fanfare of a French Horn. In the more urban usage, it means a final proclamation, an exclamation to substitute a lot of words, especially when excited, happy, surprised. One source claims it was first used in 1926 although it doesn’t state how, and other info states its origins go further back with a connection to yoga and a certain pose called Ta-da-sana. Some consider it slang. I consider it the most magical verbal punctuation. On a grander scale, I like to think of life as one big ta-da.
Are there any doughnut fans out there? I think there must be since sales by the year 2024 are projected to top $55 million. That’s a lot of “dough” right? Worldwide, this very popular sweet treat can be called a beignet, zeppoli, puff puff and oliebol depending upon the region and culture. Whatever you call it, and wherever you are in the world, you’re sure to find some form of a fried dough snack unique to that region and culture. Historically speaking, what’s not so certain, is who actually gets credit for putting the hole in the doughnut’s...read more
Chances are likely you’ve never heard of the term, ablaut reduplication. It was new to me as well when a friend emailed a hard-to-read screenshot of a brief newspaper clipping. Being a word person, of course I had to search around to learn more concerning a little little-known rule about the order of vowels for two- or three-word phrases such as ping pong, chit chat or the big bad wolf. Actually we’re all more familiar with ablaut reduplication than we realize because we use word pairs all the time such as jibber jabber, knickknack or...read more
It’s that time of year again. The time when we come out of winter and see the signs of spring—green shoots, budding flowers, longer days and warmer temperatures. While winter was a time of quiet repose, spring is busting out all over. And what’s at the heart of all this? A seed of some sort. But today’s story is not your typical garden variety type of story. It’s going to take you inside and reveal some fascinating facts about how long seeds can do nothing before doing something. Picture this: In 1793 a batch of Persian silk tree seeds from...read more
Well, well, well. Literally moments before drafting this column, I discovered instructions on the inside of the microwave I’ve been using more than 18 months. While I’ve managed to guess good enough, it’s definitely nice to know with better accuracy how long 3 potatoes take to cook, or the time required to reheat a serving for one. That’s what I call a “magical moment,” and I like to acknowledge or celebrate them because they make my day. According to a recent survey, it was determined that since the pandemic, Americans have become more aware...read more
The practice of making New Year resolutions dates back to about 2000 BC in what was ancient southern Mesopotamia when people made oaths to their king, and personal resolutions as part of festive rituals. By the late Medieval period, the clergy asked their congregation to use the New Year as a time of reflection, and to correct mistakes of the past to live a better life. In modern times, resolutions at the beginning of a new year most often focus on trying to improve oneself. However, throughout history, it’s been common knowledge that people...read more
Somehow Thanksgiving has already come and gone, and Hanukkah celebrations were early this year. At least there’s still time to share a favorite Christmas tradition. First a little background. As a child, I was not a big fan of big holiday meal gatherings. Don’t get me wrong, I loved getting together with family and friends. Just wasn’t crazy about the menu. During my free-spirited travel days, I relished holiday menus of other cultures such as eating Thanksgiving dinner at a Greek restaurant in Germany or celebrating New Year’s with Brazilian...read more
Driving home from Los Angeles, I was southbound on the 405 that was back to its normal traffic crawl. However, thanks to the snail’s pace my car was traveling, I could watch the Goodyear Blimp circling gracefully in the sky and see a host of groundcrew ensure a safe landing at its Carson airship base. Even though I grew up seeing blimps, this one had me mesmerized because it was so close and SO BIG! Having been a passenger in just about every airborne craft, I wondered what it would be like to ride in a blimp. Also wondered why they never...read more
People often ask how I come up with column ideas. The simplest answer is to chalk them up to curiosity which according to a great book on the subject, “Curious” by Ian Leslie, I seem to have a healthy dose of it. Also, I have an uncanny knack for finding stories about the strangest things. Such was the case while reading about unusual wildlife, that live at airports of all places, in a weekly email edition of “The Wild,” a publication of the Los Angeles Times. For starters, San Francisco International Airport has become the home of the...read more
A newly discovered gnat. A venomous caterpillar. A poisonous spider. Strangely enough, these three creepy crawlers are playing a starring role with scientists “to boldly go where no one has gone before.” That’s right, the popular 60’s Star Trek theme duly describes how 60 years later medical science is using the peculiar resources of these otherwise off-putting insects to potentially save lives. Starting with the newly discovered fungus gnat species in Brazil’s Atlantic Forest, the bioluminescent blue light it emits...read more
Brain studies reveal that music activates some of the broadest and most diverse networks of the brain. Researchers also confirm that most everyone’s brain has experienced “stuck song syndrome” or what’s scientifically referred to as an “earworm.” Need examples? Think sitcom theme songs like Cheers “where everyone knows your name,” a catchy song such as “Happy” or a popular television commercial. If you like the tune, then it’s not a problem. You can hum along and enjoy. If not, hearing the constant repetition of the same tune over...read more