Jordan's Blog - Home

Home | Archive | About | Subscribe

Recent Articles

George

Noah 2019-07-18

I think I got bit by a large dog when I was little. The dog was probably normal sized but I was little. We grew up with a service dog for my sister named Pook, who became a pet because it turned out the things my sister needed weren’t very readily provided by a service animal. I adore dogs and always have, but I also know that for most of my life I had some real reservations anytime I was around a dog any larger than a lab and I think I have some really fleeting memories of being at a camp up north and being nipped by a dog and responding poorly.

Our early memories are weird. They are unreliable, often times flashes of images or experience, but powerful all the same. I sometimes wonder the extent to which this is the case for my early memories because there wasn’t much else to store in my brain at the time, or because they’re old. What if as I get older my brain is going to take all the important memories I have and shove them into this weird reptilian part of my brain where they are distilled into intense emotion and some flashes of brief pictures or images? That would be weird.

I can say that my happiest memory is like this. I have three or four brief images tied to a day that I am unsure whether it happened or not. I don’t know how old I was. I think it was on Lake Michigan.

I am pretty sure we were visiting some friends of my parents at their cabin for a retirement or end of the year party. I remember that we were there on a summer night. I know for certain that there was a trampoline that was square and installed into the ground in a weird way, because I was able to go from playing on the trampoline, then wander down what seemed like a mountain of wooden steps to the beach, where the wind was stirring up huge waves. Well, waves large enough that I could jump over them and sometimes get caught up in the water and washed backwards. The sun seemed like it took forever to set. I remember just playing in the waves, eating cookout food, and jumping on the trampoline.

I don’t want to know more about the details of that day in case it loses its magic. I don’t remember why it was the best day of my life. I just know that I wasn’t anxious the whole night and it was wonderful, but it is a little slice of heaven that is always accessible for recall.

Oh, and the reason I wrote about this story under George is that I know my fear of large dogs was completely gone when my brother’s girlfriend got her big ole Bernese Mountain Dog, George.



W

Noah 2019-07-16

Latin doesn’t have the letter W.

Or the letter U for that matter, they really just used the letter V for all three. Church Latin made the V sound like the V sound we know today, but please remember that Caesar’s famous summary of his military exploit while written Veni, Vidi, Vici would have been pronounced Weyni Weedy Weekee. Which sounds way funnier.

But wait.

What? Why? Who would want no W?

Why do all of our interrogative pronouns start with “Wh” by the way?

In Latin these words all start with Qu-, what’s up with that?

Well there’s a common answer named Grimm’s Law.

Our interrogative pronouns come from Germanic.

Germanic and Latin share a common linguistic ancestor that linguists have worked on reconstructing called Proto-Indo-European, or PIE.

The common root here *kw-. Look at all the English words that come from this root! [Jordan, could you make this a hyperlink but keep these words as the hyperlink please?]

This root is categorized as a “Labialized velar consonant” – and if you’re curious about why it’s called this, here’s the answer from Wikipedia: “Labialization is called rounding in vowels, and a velar place is called back.”

So think about making a consonant that is round in the lips, but the sound originates from the back of the mouth. This kw- sound matches the description. Now, imagine saying this thousands of times in conversation but trying to say it quickly and easily. Eventually, you lose the voiced sound in the back of the mouth.

Now you’ve got one piece of Grimm’s Law down. [Here is the Wikipedia page for Grimm’s Law.] There’s a lot more cool stuff in there if you find this interesting.

That’s W.



Bush

Noah 2019-07-15

I really love plants. In particular I love trees. Many of the trees in my life have felt like friends and companions that I can always go to. When my first pet, “Noah David Frog”, died I climbed up into a tree in my backyard to cry because it was a place of comfort.

And underneath that tree there was a bush. And this bush and I had such an up and down relationship. It was so prickly and scraggly. Any time I was in my tree in that backyard, there was a risk that if I fell out, I would be stuck in this prickly monster. If I threw ball or a toy car or a frisbee, the bush was either too tall for me to reach the top of and remove it, or it would eat my toy and eventually shuffle it back under our deck.

However. Three things redeemed this bush.

  1. It was kind of a monster, but that also meant that my older sister and I would give it haircuts and I liked that. It was unwieldly, but something about grooming it gave us a power over the monster within. The same could not be said for the awful rosebush that I once fell into off the little rock wall in our yard. That thing just sucked.
  2. It provided vital ingredients for potion making. Yes, this is still just clipping the scraggles off a bush, but let me tell you, you could tear those little bastard cedar-looking leaves from this shrub, and they became a perfect seasoning for the top of a magic potion.
  3. Toads. I don’t know how many toads we caught under this bush v. other places in the yard, but there was no joy as a child like having a new pet toad for the day. Christine and I would set up a little milk crate, catch bugs, and create a little habitat, and try not to get peed on by our new friends. And this bush always provided a place to let them go when the time was done.



Sleeves

Jordan 2019-07-07



Next