Tuesday, July 18, 2017

Word: Ovine


[oh-vahyn, oh-vin]
1. pertaining to, of the nature of, or like sheep. 
                “Oh hello there, Mabel.”
                “Good afternoon, Flo.”
                “Did you do something different today?  You look…”
                “Don’t pretend Flo.  You know what happened.”
                “A haircut?”
                “A haircut.  I hate getting my haircut.  I really do.  And I look hideous.”
                “Oh, don’t be like that.  You look fine.  It’s not even that bad.”
                “Yes it is.  It’s horrid, and you know it.  I spent all year growing it out after the last cut, and that horrid barber just goes and gets rid of it all.  He didn’t even listen to what I thought about it all.”
                “He never does, does he?”
                “And what’s worse is that he didn’t even ask if I wanted a haircut.  He just went and started cutting.”
                “Terrible.  Such an inconsiderate fellow.  Why, just yesterday, I saw him saving everything off Rose’s little boy, Ben.”
                “How terrible.  What did the boy say?”
                “He whined while it was happening, but once it was done he just ran around like nothing happened.  You know how the little ones are.”
                “I do indeed.  You know, I’ve always wondered something.”
                “What’s that, Mabel?”
                “Why do you think he does it?”
                “Who, the barber?”
                “Yes.  Every year he goes around cutting every bit of hair off us, without ever asking what we want.  No words, no questions, he just cuts and cuts and cuts until there’s almost nothing left.”
                “Oh, and how he just takes it all away, never to be seen again?”
                “Exactly.  No point at all.”
                “Well, you do have to admit, it is quite a bit cooler without all the hair in the hot months, and that’s when he cuts all the hair off.”
                “I suppose that’s true.  But is that really why?  I mean, he can’t be doing it just to help us keep cool, can he?”
                “Well, can you think of a better reason?  I mean, it’s not like he can use our hair for anything else, right?”
                “That is true.  But it’s still quite rude, you know.  He could at least ask us how much to take off first.”
                “Oh, you know he never talks.  He just makes those strange sounds from time to time.”
                “And that’s another thing.  Why doesn’t he talk?  I’ve tried striking up a conversation with him since I was a little one myself, but he never replies.  In fact, he acts like I don’t even exist until he cuts my hair.  Such a rude person.  The worst, I swear.”
                “Oh, I know.  He pays more attention to those horrid beasts than he does to us.  What’s so great about them anyway? All they do is run around screaming their lungs off and chasing us around.  I can’t even move two steps away from the others without one of those things chasing me around.”
                “I understand perfectly.  Why, just the other day two of them tried to attack me, just because I went looking for a sunnier place to eat.  Can you believe them?”
                “The nerve.”
                “I don’t know who’s worse; the barber or his beasts.”
                “The beasts, definitely the beasts.  The barber at least seems to be okay with wherever we go unless he needs to cut our hair.  Otherwise he just minds his own business.”
                “I suppose that’s true.  He is still quite rude though.”
                “Of course, of course.  Oh, speaking of which, here he comes.  I think it’s my turn for a haircut now.”
Be honest, can you tell who these two ladies are?  The word is a big hint.  

Sheep.  They're sheep.  A pair of  ewes to be precise.  You could probably tell, what with the word and all.  But would you be able to figure it out without that hint?  I wonder.... 

Friday, July 14, 2017

Word: Fete


[feyt, fet]
noun, plural fetes.
1. a day of celebration; holiday:
The Fourth of July is a great American fete.
2. a festive celebration or entertainment:
The ball was the greatest fete of the season.
3. a religious feast or festival:
a fete lasting several days in honor of a saint.
verb (used with object), feted, feting.
4. to entertain at or honor with a fete:
to fete a visiting celebrity.
Josh did not know what the big deal was.  Everyone was making such a big fuss over something so small.  It wasn’t like he had done something big or important or anything.  He had been told the significance, of course, but to him, it all seemed so trivial.  Certainly not worthy of the huge celebratory party he was getting, or the large number of checks his parents were diligently keeping track of.
                All he had done was get up in front the congregation and read off a piece of paper.  Sure, it was all in Hebrew, but it was written out so anyone could read it.  Plus, the whole thing only took ten minutes.  Why would something so simple warrant such an extravagant party? 
                  Everyone was congratulating him and patting him on the back and telling him how great he was.  But he simply could not understand why.  Anyone could have done what he did, and he could think of a lot of people who could probably have done it better.  So why was everyone praising him so much?
                He knew the reasons why the ceremony and party were happening.  It was a tradition for his thirteenth birthday.  He knew what that meant to people, but it seemed silly to him.  After all, all he really did was be alive for thirteen years, and that was hardly because of anything he did.  His parents, now they should be the ones that people were celebrating, not him.
                All Josh wanted to do was go home and play video games.  But asking his parents to take him home so early would be rude.  After all, the party was for him.  For some reason that Josh was apparently unaware of. 
                Maybe there was some hidden meaning to it.  Maybe going up there and reading those words off what amounted to cue cards was important not for him, but for the adults?  Something like another way for his parents to brag about him?  They did that a lot, so why not now?  But then again, Bobby Weismann went through all the same things when he turned thirteen, and they had a celebration just as big as Josh was getting.  And Bobby was really stupid.  He couldn’t even read the words right.  So no, it was probably not for parental bragging rights.   
                He knew it was some kind of ritual passage into adulthood.  But he was barely even a teenager now.  How was that considered an adult?  It seemed even sillier than the process already was.  Besides, how could reading a few Hebrew words make him a man?  There were only three other boys he knew of that either would, or already had gone through this.  Nobody else seemed to care about being thirteen, and they definitely did not consider him an adult at such a young age.  Josh did not consider himself to be a man, that was for sure.
                Maybe that was the point.  Maybe he was not supposed to understand yet.  Maybe it was understanding the reasons behind the ceremony and the following celebration that mattered.  Maybe when he was older, he would be able to figure it out, and that would be when he really entered adulthood. 
                Josh nodded slightly to himself.  That sounded reasonable.  Well, more reasonable than anything he had been told so far anyway.
For those who are not Jewish, this is a Bar Mitzvah party.  The Bar Mitzvah is pretty much a boy's thirteenth birthday, but there's a whole bunch of ceremony around it.  The big party afterwards is more recent I think.  It's really just a bigger than normal birthday party, but people tend to go all out with them.  So yeah, that's what's going on here.  Have a nice day.

Friday, July 7, 2017

Word: Phenology


1. the science dealing with the influence of climate on the recurrence of such annual phenomena of animal and plant life as budding and bird migrations.
“That’s not right.” Dr. Leon Hammil said. 
He adjusted his glasses as he looked at the screen.  They never quite fit right, and had a nasty habit of distorting certain things if they fell at the wrong angle.  But, as he quickly found out, they were not the cause of the oddities he was seeing.
“Hey Phil, come take a look at this.” Leon said.  He wheeled his chair to the side to allow his colleague, Dr. Phil Wilcox, to see the screen.
“What am I looking at?” Phil asked.
“The latest data on avian migratory patterns.” Leon replied.  “They’re off.”
“Which ones and by how much?”
“All of them, and by just over a hundred miles.”
“That can’t be right.”
Phil scrunched his nose and carefully examined the data.  It took him a few minutes to examine the layout of charts, graphs and tables that had been arraigned on Leon’s computer screen.  Sure enough, every single migrating bird in the country was migrating to areas a hundred miles away from where they had in previous years.
“That’s not right.” Phil said, echoing Leon’s thoughts on the matter.
“What do you make of it?” Leon asked.  “Maybe climate change?”
“No, that can’t be it.  If that was the case, we’d be seeing a gradual shift over time.  This is sudden.  It can’t be due to climate change.”
“So then, if that isn’t it, then what?”
“I have no idea.  Have you checked insect migration?”
“Not yet.  Hold on, I’ll do that now.”
Leon gently nudged his colleague out of the way so he could work.  His fingers flew over the keys in well practiced motions that would call up the requested data.  Once it was up, both men examined it.  It showed the exact same results as the birds.  The insects were simply not going where they should have. 
“This is going to be bad, isn’t it?” Leon asked. 
Phil sighed.  “Very bad.  Just birds or insects changing their migration habits to such an extent would be very bad for their intended ecosystems, but both at once?  There will definitely be crops that don’t grow, and other animal species will either go hungry or go out of control.”
“So, what should we do about this?”
“What can we do?  We’re just the scientists that monitor these things.  It’s not like we have any power to actually do anything about it.  We just have to tell the people who can do something and hope they actually listen.”
“Well, we can at least try and figure out why this is happening.  I mean, this is what we do, right?”  Leon looked at Phil, hoping the older scientist would have some insight into what they would be doing from now on.
“We can hope to find something.  But it won’t be easy, I hope you know that, right?”
“Yeah, I know.  So, where should we start?”
“Honestly?  I have no idea.  I guess we just keep going over the data and hope to find something.”
“Well then, let’s get started.”
Yeah, this one was a bit tough.  I had no idea what I was going to write, so yeah, this probably isn't the best thing I've ever written.   

Thursday, June 29, 2017

Word: Ophidian


[oh-fid-ee-uh n]
1. belonging or pertaining to the suborder Ophidia (Serpentes), comprising the snakes.
2. a snake.
                Rick couldn’t believe how well the date was going.  The woman he was with, Olivia, was everything she had claimed to be online.  She was smart, beautiful, and easy to talk with.  She seemed absolutely perfect.  A part of him knew there had to be something wrong with her, but he had given up looking for flaws an hour ago.
                The two of them sat in the restaurant and were having a fine conversation while waiting for their meal.  Rick was quite relieved when she had ordered pork chops.  It meant she had no problem with meat and, should they start dating exclusively, she would probably not force him to adhere to any weird diets.
                When the food finally arrived, Olivia dug in right away.  She cut a very large chunk of meat off of it.  Rick thought nothing of it, as he thought she would just cut it into smaller, more reasonable bites.  That is, until she speared the entire thing with her fork and brought it to her mouth.  The piece of meat was larger than what would fit in her mouth, yet, she still tried to fit it all in.
                “Are…are you okay?” Rick asked.  It looked like Olivia was trying to open her mouth wider than it would naturally go, but she stopped and put the meat down when he asked his question.
                “Yeah, I’m fine.” She said.  “Sorry about that.  I’m hungry and I guess I accidentally let my inner self out.”
                “Inner self?” Rick was starting to get worried.  The part of his mind that was warning him about potential flaws had come back and was now screaming at him.
                “Yup.  I’m a snake, you see.  A copperhead to be precise.”
                “Uh, what?”
                “Yup, I’m a snake.  Oh, don’t get me wrong, I was born human, just like everyone else, but on the inside, I’m a copperhead snake.”
                “Oh.  I see.”
                And there it was.  She was a therian.  A person who felt spiritually connected with an animal, sometimes to the point where they could actually think they are that animal on a spiritual level.
                “So, yeah, I guess I just let it out too much and tried to unhinge my jaw.” She continued.  She began cutting her meal into smaller, more manageable pieces.  “Is there a problem?” She asked once she noticed how Rick was looking at her.
                “Uh, nope.  No, no problem.” He said nervously.    
                “You sure?  You’re looking a bit weird.”
                “What?  No I’m not.  I would never do that.”
                “You think I’m weird or crazy or something, don’t you.” She said flatly.  “It’s okay, you can tell me.”
                “No, no, of course not.  Well, maybe just a little.”
                “It’s not that weird, you know.  Lots of people associate themselves with being something other than what their body is.  For most people like that, it’s the opposite gender.  For me, it’s a copperhead instead of a human.  It’s not that strange if you think about it like that.  And no, I don’t try and…do anything with snakes.  I am fully aware that biologically, I’m homo sapien, even if spiritually, I’m agkistrodon contortrix.  Most of the time, I’m perfectly normal by society’s standards.  My inner snake mostly comes out with my liking to sit under hot lights and liking warm weather.  And, the occasional attempt to unhinge my jaw, but that doesn’t happen often.  And no, I don’t keep any snakes at home.”
                “If you say so.” Rick said. 
He was not so sure.  But, on the other hand, she was quite pleasant when not talking about her supposed serpentine nature, and he had been having a good time until she brought that up.  As the meal went on, he decided to at least give it another chance and hope she did not try to bite him.
Yes, this is a real thing.  I haven't encountered any myself, but they exist.  Look it up, it's there online.  Not that that mean anything, since pretty much everything's online these days, but it's still there.