Creative commentary plus crafty composition

Archive for the ‘Art of Communication’ Category


A trip to Toronto for ROXY MUSIC’s 50th anniversary concert September 7th included an undesired encounter with the new reality of virtual, rather than paper, tickets.

Just because this is an evolution doesn’t mean it’s advantageous or stress free.

Let’s consider some context by harkening to simpler, tangible, past custom.

Once upon a time (i.e. before internet commerce) it was customary to obtain seating for concerts, sporting events, etc. by physically going to a box office to obtain an actual ticket. This facility need not be the event location itself: I can still recall in 1987 going to a Towers department store in Billings Bridge shopping centre, waiting in line to purchase $25 tickets for Pink Floyd’s first date of its 1987 tour, promoting the ‘Momentary Lapse of Reason’ album launch at Lansdowne Park in July.

There are both existential and esoteric qualities to the collectability of such tickets. As well as measuring sticks for rising prices over the years, ticket stubs help propel memories of the overall experience. The visual, tactile nature of the stub is a kind of snapshot, like the cover of a favoured book or record album.

The earliest such memento I have dates back to February 1980, for a musical comedy performance by Martin Mull, at Convocation Hall in Toronto. A much more intimate experience than that generated by Pink Floyd, with a more cozy price. Next in my collection of receipts is one from a memorable show at the downtown Ottawa Congress Centre in September 1986, featuring several stars of early rock under the banner ‘Class of ‘62’, such as Del Shannon and Peter Noone (the latter of Herman’s Hermits fame).

Many will be familiar with comedy legend Bob Newhart. As an unusual illustration of price non-volatility, a decent seat for his concert at the Ottawa Civic Centre in November 1996 was had for $36.64, later at the National Arts Gallery in May 2000 for $36.

Naturally, the generating of tickets has changed due to no longer having to go to a box office. By the 1990s, print on demand at a ticket access point was common, as was greater likelihood that one would be able to retain the whole ticket. Prior to this time, it was likely at admission that a portion of the ticket would be split off. While more consistent, print quality was impacted by the increasing option of internet purchasing and tickets printed at home.

Infrequently graphics have worked their way onto the actual ticket, such as an IMAX theatre logo or performer image; usually, it’s just background colouration and design (assuming printed in colour). In any case, one has a unique stamp of the event.   

My first experience with the cellphone ticket was early this year, forced by the ‘no option to print’ system operating with the Senators. Part of the baby boomer generation, I’m faced with unavoidable discomfort with the virtual ticket world.

This occasion with Roxy Music’s approximately $150 seats involved an extra out-of-town layer of uncertainty. So, as though prompted by the Peter Principle, my concerns about having tickets visible onscreen on cue came to life. Sure enough, when the time came to enter Scotiabank Arena, the tickets would not appear. A moderately empathetic employee advised that the massive surge of ticket holders accessing the same phone app put a strain on the local internet, which led to requiring assistance from a member of the box office staff. A physical ticket would have avoided this.  

One wonders: is the clearly debatable convenience, not to mention omnipresent security issues, of modern ticket download evolution the trade-off for the limited societal benefit of less printing, as well as the loss of tangible connection to memories embedded in the old-fashioned ticket?  

The Millennium Prize (part two) ©

“As far as the clue is concerned, here it is… Relax & cover up with a 1960s TV game show”. I assure you, correctly interpreted, it will put you on the trail. Officially, I say, ‘Good luck’, but, to be honest, I won’t be disappointed if it stays in my possession.”

“Hmm, I may be oldest here, but I never watched those game shows” declared Stanley. “What’s the best way to find out their names? I see a small library off the lobby, maybe there’s a reference book planted in there. There must be a list somewhere.” Stanley raced out and down the hall to the Lodge library, usually open to all. Sanders and Currie exchanged glances and began a cursory look around. Melanie Quinn followed them around for a while, then left to go the library. She reported back that Stanley was still there, non-committal as to whether he had discovered anything helpful.

Broughton and Katy Heath, still discussing Banks’ clue, heard the gist of Ms. Quinn’s report. Laptop computer handy, he made a beeline for one of the active desktop stations. She frowned, followed, then sat at the other station. They went to work,  mainly communicating in code.

Blackburn smiled as his colleagues separated. He remained pensive as he departed for the staircase to the second floor. Ms. Quinn seemed to consider her options, took another look at her Cartier, then at her own leisurely pace also ascended the staircase to freshen up in her room, after a brief chat with Sanders and Stanley in the lobby. While discussing how to decipher the clue, the men decided a brief break could be mentally refreshing, and soon followed her.     

Director Ryder and assistant Ms. Munroe watched the members disperse. They had just confirmed the ATAS group requirements for the rest of the day. That concluded, Ryder straightened his collar and engaged in conversation with a family checking in. Ms. Munroe started a surreptitious surveillance of the contestants, unobtrusive notebook handy. As a survivalist, her expertise included tracking, be it animals or plants. She enjoyed when opportunity arose to enhance her skills indoors.  When previously asked, she agreed to act as the lodge ex officio for this agenda finale.

Ms. Munroe kept to the periphery while the majority of members were still near the conference room. Now that perhaps several had gone up to the second floor, she debated with herself about doing likewise.

Shortly after scanning the initial movements of the searchers, Banks moved directly through the lobby to the staircase, his expression dour. Ms. Munroe followed soon after. As she stepped into the hall, a few doors down she saw Banks and Blackburn apparently ending a conversation, as each turned into his own room and shut the door, Blackburn, his speaking inaudible, quite forcefully.

Otherwise, the air was largely quiet. She saw Martina in the service closet as she passed by, gradually hearing muted clips as she moved on, coming from television sets, apparently all on a business channel. Then, passing by Banks’ room there were sounds of discussion. From the tone she initially thought it was a phone call, but distinctly heard a few words from Banks, presumably conversing directly with another member. She quickly checked the currently unoccupied rooms at the back end of the hall, and all was well. On the way back, as she passed the door to Banks’ room she again heard a pair of voices at low volume, too indistinct to be identifiable. She spoke with Martina, emerging to hear a couple of doors closing down the hall, but no one was visible.

A little while after her return to the ground floor, Ms. Munroe checked in with her boss briefly in his office. As she moved through the lobby to the ‘treasure hunt’, she observed Broughton engaged in spirited discussion, as usual, with Ms. Heath. They were looking over what appeared to be a computer print-out.  “What about this one?” suggested the pilot. “What’s the connection?” responded the software entrepreneur. The names sounded like obscure TV titles. 

Hearing a few voices behind her, Ms. Munroe turned to see in the hall Blackburn, Sanders, and Currie in somewhat intense discussion, seeming to focus on their lack of success. “Look at this”, said Blackburn. “I’ve had it for over an hour, and I can’t narrow it down to fit the so-called clue.” Currie, who had just come down from his room, pointed at another copy of the sheet, muttering “Something involving taking or cover. I think it’s one of these – Concentration, Temptation, Camouflage, It’s Your Move, Get the Message, or Showdown. But what’s the tie-in to what’s round here. I wish we saw this sooner, Connor.” Blackburn exuded smugness. “You should have visited your room earlier. Someone named Banks had this sheet put in our rooms.”

Sanders looked at his watch. “Not much time left.” He looked up to Blackburn. “Did you talk to our reluctant benefactor?”

“Upstairs I confronted him with the copy I found in my room. He felt the clue would be a sufficiently fair catalyst, properly deciphered. I guess that’s what the first word in clue refers to, ‘relax’, as in your room.”

Currie looked again at the sheet. “Looks like having a head start with the list didn’t do you much good.”

Blackburn shook his head in agreement. “I’ve been going a little haywire trying to make sense of a connection.”

Melanie Quinn sauntered by. “Any luck, gentlemen?” They shook their heads. “Nothing so far”. She left them, then ventured to the sun room, checking out the impressive display of plants, and then stopped short.

Stanley was standing near a few plant holders near the window, shaded from direct sunlight. A few minutes later he yelled, “Hey, I’ve got it!” Ms. Quinn rushed over. The others heard, and followed suit.

Stanley stood there, a picture of fixated satisfaction. holding the bottle of Dom Pérignon Rosé, next to the plant holder which had been covering it. “How did you find it?” asked a deflated Blackburn. He pointed to its place, surrounded by similar flower pots on each side, a cocoon of security from exposure.   

Currie still had the list in hand. “Which show gave you the right clue?”

Stanley’s was a penetrating stare, as if preparing his musicians for a concert. “Camouflage. The most obvious reference to something hidden by a form of a cover. Then, of course, I had to look for a cover big enough, that looked it belonged in its spot. Flower pots were a natural tie-in. And in this case one protected from sunlight.” He smiled indulgently. “I’ve never spoken about it much to our club, but I find botany an activity which engages the body and relaxes the mind.”

“Well, you know enough about their terminology, anyway,” commented Sanders, dryly.

“I guess I should have paid more attention to the plant life last year when Amanda and I stayed here with Connor and Cecily,” commented Currie, begrudgingly.  

Pro forma, your analytic mind at work”, said Ms. Heath to Stanley, with limited enthusiasm, from the doorway. Moving inside quickly, Broughton said, “Let me be the first to shake your hand.”

Stanley shifted to him, stepping back a little, his voice rising. “And be the first to sample its contents with me?”

Broughton stood still, then relaxed as his cellular phone rang. “What? I wasn’t going anywhere with finding the bottle, I figured I should stay in touch with my office.” A lightbulb flashed in his head belatedly. “As far as sampling it with you, I’m willing to postpone that honour. Frankly, I prefer the kind of liquors Cameron deals with.”

Just inside the doorway, Alina Munroe stood watching. As Stanley moved back into the conference room with the bottle, she put on her lodge assistant hat and congratulated her, on behalf of the Cotaluna Lodge.  Cued by Munroe, director Ryder found a quick path to add his round of recognition.

The other attending members of the ATAS club started to drift back as well to the conference room. The last part of the agenda, still led by Blackburn, included official club recognition of the successful hunter. Banks would make a short speech praising the winner, likely bemoan the value of the prize, and perhaps make a weak joke along the lines of someone ‘helping a guy out’.

By 4:45 all members were in the room except Banks. “Where the hell is he?” mused Blackburn, looking at a clock. The prize bottle on a table before him, Stanley looked around to gauge the moods of colleagues. Ms. Heath was lightly slapping her hand against the table, her mouth betraying gritted teeth. Currie was sitting, fingers steepled, expression evidencing he should have won. At the other end was Ms. Quinn, in observational serenity. Sanders said to anyone who would listen, the fallout from the next thirty-plus hours was actually more important than winning the wine bottle. Stanley seconded this opinion.  

From her eagle eye position, Alina Munroe spoke up, “I’ll go check Mr. Banks room.” As she moved toward the staircase, Broughton shook his head, then added, “I’ll go with you”. They bounded across the hall, a quick word between Ms. Munroe and Ryder, and then up the stairs.

Banks was registered in suite 206. They listened briefly outside his room, next knocked on the door. No response. The door was unlocked. They went in.

“Banks, c’mon, time to face the music”. Broughton’s accusatory tone dropped as Ms. Munroe pointed to the mini-bar in an opposite corner.

Slumped over the bar top was Banks. Posture decidedly stiff.

There were two opened beer bottles and a couple of glasses on the counter, along with a spoon which had a scent of honey. Banks did not move in response to their calls. As Broughton leaned over to him, she said, “Don’t touch him except to check his pulse”. There was no pulse. They looked at each other. She spoke, “This is a crime scene. We’ve got to leave and secure the room, and call the police.” Broughton seemed about to debate the point. He took a careful sweep of the room, focused briefly on the murder scene, saw her staring at him, and reluctantly nodded accord. Outside the door she used a master key to lock the room.

At the front desk, a chain of reaction was unfurling.

Ryder, having collected and notified his staff, declared,  “I’ll call the station, hopefully get hold of a detective.” Ms. Munroe nodded acknowledgement as Ryder stepped into his office and closed the door. 

Sosa and Randall, the service staff, stood next to the front counter, took in the news with obvious discomfort, eyes looking around suspiciously, then resumed their duties without comment.

The surviving club members stood in a loose circle in the hall near the conference room. Ms. Munroe scanned the group, which appeared largely desultory.  Blackburn was rubbing his copy of the agenda, as if trying to remove problems. Ms. Heath was staring at a list, limited to a dozen entries. Stanley was clutching the bottle, his fingers moving to feel the texture of the label and the neck of the glass.

Lodge director Ryder cleared his throat to get attention. “You’re all here, and you know what has occurred. Mr. Banks is dead, and it looks like someone else may be responsible. We will wait for the police to make that determination. I’m sure they will want to speak to all of you.”

There was rustling from a couple of members, but Ms. Munroe couldn’t tell who. To the group’s silent reaction, Ryder added, “If there’s anything you need from the lodge, please speak to Ms. Munroe or myself. Oh, and please wait together in the conference room until the police arrive. Thank you.” Katy Heath led protestations about being allowed to go upstairs to wait. Ms. Munroe reminded them police investigation would no doubt include checking their rooms. With that, notepad secure, she left and returned with Ryder to the front desk. By this time a few of the regular guests were making some inquiries, and they had to help soothe concerns.

That evening, a promotional banner, feigning a battle royale between Cotaluna lodgers and an amorphous image of a ‘Y2K beast’, the latter imposing, in a cartoonish way, was supposed to be raised high over the lobby entryway. Upon instruction from Director Ryder, the banner was unfurled and stored with other sundries intended for the occasion in a nearby closet.

Broughton started to raise an objection, then made a half-hearted joke connecting  Banks’ demise and Y2K, quickly stopped by reactions from colleagues. Ms. Quinn raised her eyes, and the rest of her followed, then, with a hint of irony, said something about it not being a good time to tempt schadenfreude.   

A commotion at the entrance heralded the arrival of a pair of police investigators, Detective Avery Cosgrove and Constable Nicky Doyenne. Cosgrove, at 53, was an imposing presence, in good shape beneath his conservative suit and surprisingly splashy tie. Doyenne was 25, recently minted as a Constable, displaying confident deference.

Director Ryder was waiting for them. “Thank you, Detective, for your speedy arrival. And this must be Con. Doyenne, nice to meet you.” The latter tipped her cap. Shifting his direction to the stairwell, Ryder said “The room is untouched since we found Mr. Banks’, er, body. Please, this way.”

The Detective nodded to Ms. Munroe, and she joined the three of them up to Bank’s room, Det. Cosgrove in animated conversation with the lodge representatives.

While awaiting the appearance of a forensic pathologist, coming from Orillia, the two officers conducted a complete check of the room. The floor, bed, closet, and washroom, all neat, contrasted with the busy look of the desk and the scene of Banks’ death around the bar. In addition to the beer items, they discovered a vial of his heart medicine, obviously used.

Meanwhile, the atmospheric impact of the room’s comfortably rustic design was overshadowed by esoteric wall coverings.

The wall art comprised pictures of an unexpectedly dark nature, such as might be inspired by Edgar Allan Poe or H.P. Lovecraft, thus adding a melancholy air. When asked about the controversial nature of the depictions, Ryder responded that as a special Y2K promotion, the lodge was offering in the week leading up to December 31st a ‘home comfort’ option, wherein overnight guests could arrange for one or more temporary ‘comfort’ installations, as a way to make one’s stay more pleasing. Banks was clearly aware of this, and had made a request through his office for putting up some of his collected artwork. To raised eyebrows, Ryder stated that the lodge didn’t want to impose staid standards of decorum, given the peculiar uncertainty of this impending year, and that obviously comfort should be in the eye of the customer.    

The victim’s desk offered up some information. A copy of the list of 1960s TV game shows was on top of a tidy pile of documents. Ms. Munroe noted that the correct clue, Camouflage, was underlined in plum red.

A partially open drawer revealed part of an impressively ornate portfolio case. Det. Cosgrove, disposable gloves on, cautiously opened the drawer sufficiently to extract it. The embossed cover depicted an obscure Lovecraft tale, The Music of Erich Zann. The cover was locked. No key was in the vicinity. However, after verification there were no traces of wax in the keyhole, some cautious ‘elbow grease’ with applied expertise soon permitted the folder to reveal its secrets.

Det. Cosgrove motioned to his colleague to look at several forms, mainly letters of intent, in one of the two folder pockets. The other pocket was empty. The forms appeared to have been completed within the last week. Evidently there was truth to the stories of Banks’ preparedness to bail out of some, maybe a major portion, of his holdings. The detective speculated that one or more colleagues might view such action as endangering the collector market, especially for liquor products, and that one or more members of the ATAS club might face collateral damage.

Banks’ body was sitting on a chair, leaning over, head on the counter with face towards the door.  His final expression seemed to display severe anxiety. The beer bottles were about a third empty, the glasses containing residues. There were no clear fingerprints. Scent came from what seemed to be a dash of honey on the spoon, although there was a lingering, slightly unpleasant aroma. There was a napkin next to Banks, discoloured from use, sitting on top of a bowl of pretzels. Banks’ washroom looked almost pristine, except for a small piece of glossy paper Con. Doyenne found on the floor behind the waste bin. She gave it to her boss, who carefully unravelled it, revealing it to be to a tear from, likely, a beer bottle label. He noticed the tiny, embossed portion seemed unusually thick, with a metallic feel.   

Aside from Banks’ deceased condition, there were few signs of impropriety, although the net effect of the paintings alone inspired unease.

Ryder, along with Ms. Munroe, returned to the front desk after opening the door to Banks’ room. Shortly after, staffer Kirby was dispatched upstairs to advise that the forensic pathologist was expected within a half hour.

Det. Cosgrove returned downstairs. Con. Doyenne was instructed to make a sweep of the other members’ rooms and report.

(end of part two)

Innovative Ways to Recognize CANADA DAY in 2019

Another CANADA DAY is on the horizon, this coming Monday.

What can Canadians do to celebrate, this first day of the second half of the calendar year?

  • Consume red and white beverages all day
  • Bar-b-que everything with maple syrup
  • Find an American history book, and write in a ‘u’ to the spelling of words like honor and color
  • Play mini-putt golf with fresh strawberry balls
  • Watch at least two hours of authentic Canadian TV programming
  • Take a trip across the country via Google Earth
  • Wrap a Canadian flag around your mailbox, since there’s no delivery this day anyway
  • Spend some time during the day in each of the Canadian time zones
  • Convince young children there’s more daylight because fireworks need extra time to burst in red and white
  • Invite friends over to debate which revised version of the national anthem should be sung

Be sure, of course, that any activity engaged in happens politely.

Morals 2.0

While preparing for a new Toastmasters speech assignment about telling a story with a valuable lesson, or moral, I listed a number of candidates among currently well-known axioms.  I’ve finally narrowed this down to one around which to build my own fable.

However, when one considers the way many clichés are constructed, they leave room for alteration, or new perspectives considering our increasingly diversified society.

To wit…

  • When life gives you lemons, make lemonade – why restrict this to lemons, or assume receiving lemons is pejorative?
  • You can’t teach an old dog new tricks – doesn’t this ignore the potential of other pet species?
  • You should look before you leap – shouldn’t there be a warm-up period first?
  • Know which side your bread is buttered on – what about new spreads available as alternatives to butter?
  • Every cloud has a silver lining – is there some way to harvest this precious metal?
  • The handwriting is on the wall – is it signed and dated, suitable for framing?
  • Actions speak louder than words – but what about words that come in parentheses?
  • An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure – shouldn’t a metric version of this be around by now?
  • It’s what’s in-side that counts – would modern scanning techniques necessarily agree with this?
  • The more things change, the more they stay the same – is the reverse also true?
  • Opportunity doesn’t knock twice – doesn’t this discount the impact of social media?
  • A rising tide lifts all boats – so, what are we supposed to do at low tide?
  • Too many chefs spoil the broth – given the ingredients of many broths, shouldn’t some of the chefs be focused on healthier options?
  • Walk softly, and carry a big stick – so, what size stick should one carry if walking quickly or with purpose?
  • You can’t put the toothpaste back in the tube – how sanitary could this ever be?

A fabulous ‘no prize’ can be had for guessing which cliché I chose.   

A Glossary of Modern Urban Potholes

A combination of highly unfavourable freeze/thaw conditions and less focus on roadway maintenance has resulted in the worst springtime driving conditions in Canada’s capital city in recent memory (i.e. 35 plus years).

It should be noted that this has not only been impacting vehicles with four, or more, tires.  For those of us who like to bicycle, moped, or in some cases even just walk, the circumstances range from unpleasant to daunting in too many places.

The variety of cuts and holes in paved areas has become so voluminous that a category of names is being established for them.  Here are ‘popular’ ones in our region:

  • Aqua crater, a hole with depth up to 10 cm which frequently fills with water and so can provide a hidden dip in proceeding
  • Old rail, as in an imbedded metal sensor showing through crumbling surfaces at intersections
  • Road tube remnant, namely indentation formed by tube counter smashed from volume impacts
  • Cut groove web, as in where pavement at vehicle intersection stops is worn down
  • Reptile cut, with a spine look, which incorporates a hodgepodge of revealed sensors or tubes
  • Cave in, where a soft surface hides vulnerable, undercut asphalt
  • Line of insanity, which is displayed as several metres or more of continuous breakage
  • Danger dodge, which means little reaction time to unexpected locations encountered with little warning
  • Gauntlet, as in having to navigate through a range of cracks both to the left and to the right
  • Trap, as in little reaction time to craters where there is only low to zero margin of error in avoiding
  • Manhole, occurring around manholes, as cracks around them starting to create a widening circle of crumble
  • Depression, as with reaching an appreciable, unavoidable drop
  • Patch-on-patch, as evidenced frequently subsequent to road maintenance patching efforts which become a quilt of unevenness
  • Rivulet crack, as a long, thin stream acting as discomforting accompaniment
  • Bumping up, referring to fill-ins which rise above the roadway, creating turbulence felt physically

It may be that one has to crack a few eggs to make an omelette, but pavement cracks are harder to swallow.


More Enriching Vocabulary

In eastern Canada warmer we’re slowly moving toward seasonally warm weather.

Combine this with the first holiday weekend of this cross-over season, AKA the Victoria Day weekend (AKA what references to the monarchy are mostly good for these days). One can feel the relaxed call, to a mind-set well-served by some well-spent exposure to words.

One of the ongoing elements of self-improvement in communication is a broader vocabulary.  As a supplement to the last post, here are more words from our Toastmasters club library, which have been featured in meetings as ‘word of the day’. The correct answers appear after the list of options:

  • ACYROLOGIA: Does this refer to inappropriate or improper language, physical gestures, or diet?
  • AEGIS: Does this concern protection or support of legislation, of procedures, or of people or organizations?
  • CONTUMACIOUS: Does this adjective describe eating habits, stubborn behaviour, or lack of coordination?
  • DOUGHTY: Would someone with this characteristic be more slow, confident, or discouraged?
  • ENDEMIC: True or false – this word is used as both an adjective and a noun
  • HETERODOX: Is someone with this quality apt to think as a freethinker or as a conformist?
  • LOGORRHOEA: Does someone with this tendency talk slowly, with a stutter, or excessively?
  • LUCENT: True or false – this relates to more to internal than external appearance
  • MELLIFLUOUS: True or false – this word is used as an adverb as well as an adjective
  • OBITER DICTUM: Does this noun refer to an expression of personal opinion, or of reference to legal statute?
  • PALAVER: In which of these ways does this word not qualify, as adjective, noun, or verb?
  • PERIPATETIC: In which of these ways does this word not qualify, as adjective, noun, or verb?
  • PROPITIOUS: Is this word likely to be used in circumstances which are based on luck, are favourable, or are tenuous?
  • REDOLENT: Does this refer to something in a suggested way, an implied way, or a direct way?
  • SUBLIME: Does this condition cause people to feel compelled, satisfied, or inspired?
  • SYMBIOSIS: Does this activity relate primarily to chemistry, physics, or biology?
  • TRALATITIOUS: Yes or no – this characteristic can apply both to metaphor and to tradition
  • VERDANT: True or false – this word is used to describe depictions coloured other than green

Correct responses:

  • ACYROLOGIA: language
  • AEGIS: people or organizations
  • CONTUMACIOUS: stubborn behaviour
  • DOUGHTY: confident
  • ENDEMIC: true
  • HETERODOX: freethinker
  • LOGORRHOEA: excessively
  • LUCENT: false
  • MELLIFLUOUS: false
  • OBITER DICTUM: personal opinion
  • PALAVER: adjective
  • PROPITIOUS: favourable
  • REDOLENT: suggested way
  • SUBLIME: inspired
  • SYMBIOSIS: biology
  • VERDANT: false

Enriching Vocabulary

One of the ongoing goals in Toastmasters is to try to broaden one’s vocabulary.

To that end, each meeting features a ‘word of the day’.  Since in recent years our club has adopted a theme of the day as well, the Grammarian is encouraged to come up with a word relating to the theme, and is ideally a little uncommon.  The club has been around for about 25 years, so we have accumulated a mini-library of words; the Grammarian can select from these if not supplying an addition to the file.

Some people debate the value of adding, into speech or writing, words which are unfamiliar to many.  Some see this as opportunity to enrich one’s language options.  It should be remembered that not only are diverse words part of language but so too are often similarly challenging idiom and jargon.

Further to the list of words from our club library discussed in a January posting, here are more to test one’s mettle.  See if you know the appropriate response:

  • ASSUAGE Does this verb refer more to satisfaction, measurement, or persuasion?
  • BUCOLIC  Is this considered an adjective or an adverb?
  • CAPACITATE Does this verb refer more to human frailties or to human capabilities?
  • EBULLIENT Would someone displaying this behaviour be uncomfortable, cheerful, or questioning?
  • EMOLLIENT Is this a quality of contemplating, being firm, or being soothing?
  • ERSTWHILE Is this word used as an adverb, an adjective, or a noun?
  • FECUND Would this type of ground be helpful for growth, poor for growth, or unrelated to growth?
  • FORFEND Used as a verb, does this imply trying to attract or trying to avoid?
  • HEGEMONY Is this a quality of being a follower, of leadership, or of being a compromiser?
  • JEJUNE Would something described this way be considered complicated or simple?
  • MENDACIOUS Is this a quality of being truthful, being untruthful, or being aggressive?
  • PERORATION Does this describe an action which is verbal or physical?
  • PROPINQUITY Are you more likely to exhibit this behaviour with friends, with correspondents, or with enemies?
  • QUIXOTIC Is this used as an adverb, an adjective, or a noun?
  • SOLECISM Does this refer to doing something correct, doing something incorrect, or making a correction?
  • UMBRAGE Is one apt to be appeased, confused, or disturbed in this context?

The correct responses follow:

  • ASSUAGE satisfaction
  • BUCOLIC  adjective
  • CAPACITATE capabilities
  • EBULLIENT cheerful
  • EMOLLIENT soothing
  • ERSTWHILE adjective
  • FECUND helpful
  • FORFEND avoid
  • HEGEMONY leadership
  • JEJUNE simple
  • MENDACIOUS untruthful
  • PERORATION verbal
  • PROPINQUITY friends
  • QUIXOTIC adjective
  • SOLECISM incorrect
  • UMBRAGE disturbed

Being in ‘Ahh’ Voice

An article in the April issue of Psychology Today focuses on an issue familiar with those of us in Toastmasters, but to some extent with a somewhat different, even favourable, position.

One goal in Toastmasters continuously is to reduce, ideally weed out, filler words and sounds; the point of view expressed in Psychology Today is that the person or circumstances dictate some flexibility in applying such a strategy. (more…)

TOP 10 Double-Edged Benefits of Spring

After a very tough winter, slowing ebbing away this week officially but not in evidence, let’s remember that some expressions shift to another side of their connotations…

  • ‘White out conditions’ refer mainly to the need to correct typos
  • ‘Bundling up’ means trying to combine services for a cheaper rate
  • ‘Skating on thin ice’ focuses on one’s status in the workplace or relationships
  • A ‘Blanket of snow’ reverts to its rightful place as a soft assessment of political bafflegab
  • ‘Breaking the ice’ relates to reducing the size of ice cubes for drinks
  • The ‘tip of the iceberg’ alludes to the gradual rise of problems not previously evident in a project
  • Dealing with a ‘cold snap’ means handling a number of people feeling weakened by a virus
  • ‘Putting something on ice’ becomes a desirable option for diluting the effects of heat
  • Being ‘left out in the cold’ becomes more hurtful, because it’s not dependent on temperature
  • Feeling ‘snowed under’ identifies the emergence of projects put on hiatus during the winter




Maybe an ETF

As a category of options for individual investors, ETFs have become increasingly popular since the dawning of the new millennium.

An ETF, or Exchange Traded Fund, offers opportunity to be exposed to a vast array of segments of the marketplace, including uncommon and emerging.  Part of their flashy appeal comes from availability at relatively minimal cost, i.e. management fees.

There is greater transparency than with traditional mutual funds, concerning both fees and underlying holdings. (more…)