Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Manitu and you

man·i·tou or man·i·tu (măn'ĭ­tōō') also man·i·to (-tō') n., pl. man·i·tous or man·i·tus also  man·i·tos. 1. In Algonquian religious belief, a supernatural power that permeates the world, possessed in varying degrees by both spiritual and human beings. 2. A deity or spirit.

hum·mock (hŭm'зk) n. 1. A low mound or ridge of earth; a knoll. 2. Also ham·mock (hăm'зk). A tract of forested land that rises above an adjacent marsh in the southern United States. 3. A ridge or hill of ice in an ice field. --hum'mock·y adj.

Okay, I closed out the computer before composing myself and the blog to talk about Algonquian religious beliefs.  So, who can blame me, I would not want to offend any Native Americans (or American Indians as many prefer since white man put that in the treaties) who might read this.  Anyway, I thought maybe I'd pass and move on to the next word that  might popup, perhaps even linking the two in some way.

And "lo, and behold" (a bit of redundancy), it might be easier than I thought.  Since numerous tribes used terms based on the same roots for the word manitou/u/o, it seems that just about anything can have a spirit since all was created by the "Great Spirit."  This includes plants and inanimate objects -- such as a forest rising from a swamp, or a hummock (aka, hammock).

So, the natives of these parts may have venerated the "hammock manitou" -- though they probably had a different name for the hammock.  According to Wikipedia, the southern "hammock" is not to be confused with the "hummock" that is composed of soil on top of permafrost (def. #3).  "Hammock," it seems came first, in the 1550's, to describe tree-covered islands rising out of the sea.

The article on the icy "hummock," however, does admit that an "earlier" use of the word was used to refer to the warmer woody areas:

"[T]his term also refers to lumpy terrain; or land that has an irregular shape; or a fertile, wooded area that is at a slightly higher elevation (less than 2 m or so) than nearby marshes or swamps. Hummocks are often made by decaying plants."

It is this quote that makes me think that the natives may have been on to something.  If theses woodland areas were composed of decaying plants, then "swamp gas"  (methane) would be present.  Such a "spirit" would be very evident whenever anyone was around.  These spirits were connected with rocks, dirt, plants and animals - maybe even spontaneous combustion for all I know!  Who wouldn't respect such awesome forces!

Monday, September 17, 2012

Happy New Year!

eu·pho·ny (yōō'fз-nē) n., pl. eu·pho·nies. Agreeable sound, especially in the phonetic quality of words. --eu·phon'ic (yōō-fŏn'ĭk) adj. --eu·phon'i·cal·ly adv.

From what I gather from this definition, this would include lyrics that are well enunciated and pleasant to hear.  Literally, the word is composed of two parts from the Greek original: eu (good) + phonia (sound).  Phonetics is the study of, or the system of the sounds of speech.  A phonetic "alphabet" helps those dedicated to this discipline to reproduce what is heard into written form that can be read to reproduce said speech.

Euphony can be applied to any pleasant sounds (such as rain on the roof, the crackling of a fire, or any other sound that brings pleasant thoughts).  This is, of course, in the ear of the hearer.  I doubt, for example, if the squealing of brakes would be euphony to anyone except maybe an  "ambulance chaser," but who am I to judge? :-)

I would be remiss if I did not announce the pleasant words to all Jews, Messianic and otherwise, if I did not speak the pleasant words "L'Shana Tova" on this Rosh HaShanah, 5773.  I hope that these words are pleasant to any who may read this, for that is my sincerest wish.  To those who are not up on Jewish Holidays, September 16-18 (sundown to sundown, about 48 hours) is the two-day celebration of the New Year on the Jewish civil calendar (Biblical seventh month - religious calendar).

I suppose that was somewhat of a stretch from a random word to a blog, but I wrote as I felt "lead" and there you go! "Chag Sameach"! (Happy Holidays!)

  [Transliterations courtesy of]

Saturday, September 15, 2012

A short note

trice (trīs) n. 1. A very short period of time; an instant. --trice tr.v. triced, tric·ing, tric·es. Nautical. To hoist and secure with a rope.

Here's just a short note, it won't take but a trice.  Funny, but I have never seen this word and it is only one syllable long.  I wonder how  it went from being "an instant" to a verb meaning to secure a rope?

I guess this could be used in a sequence -- trice, twice and thrice.  Anything that cannot be done in a trice may have to be done over to get it right.  I hope that sailors, when securing that rope, get it right the first time.

Well, if I write any more, I will not be giving the word justice.

Until next time, have a good evening.

Thoughts on "the Bard"

bard (bärd) n. 1. One of an ancient Celtic order of minstrel poets who composed and recited verses celebrating the legendary exploits of chieftains and heroes. 2. A poet, especially a lyric poet. --bard'ic adj.

My dictionary program sometimes assumes that the reader is post-modern!  I am almost 60, so of course I know this word, but here it is listed as the "expert" word of the day.

Of course, it is not a word that we use daily since it is "an ancient Celtic order," so I guess it needs a few remarks.  A bard is a poet, most notable of whom is "the bard" of English literature William Shakespeare.  Or perhaps I speak only from my days of reading Shakespeare in college and high school before that.  I know, that was a long time ago, but the word "bard" always brings that great writer to mind.

Though he is best known for his plays rather than his poetry, even the plays were written in iambic pentameter for the most part. A prolific writer, Shakespeare wrote on assignment, being supported by the "arts community of his day."  Some claim that others wrote for him, and others that he even had a part in translating the King James Version of the Bible.

If you don't believe that one, check it out.  Count the words in Psalm 46, stopping on the 46th word.  That word should be "shake" (verse 3).  Now count from the last word (not the "selah") and you will find the word "spear" (verse 9).  Voila! "Proof" that Shakespeare translated Psalm 46 (reportedly "his" number).

One other thing, the spell checker just solved a 400 year old mystery: how to spell "Shakespeare."  Even the Bard wasn't consistent!

Thursday, September 13, 2012

Getting it right

sol·e·cism (sŏĺĭ­sĭź-эm, sō'lĭ-) n. 1. A nonstandard usage or grammatical construction. 2. A violation of etiquette. 3. An impropriety, a mistake, or an incongruity. --sol“e·cist n. --sol”e·cis“tic adj

We've all run into them on the net, or are in fact one of them.  They are the "grammar nazis"!  With texting things have got out of hand (says one of the nazis!) where spelling leads the way in mistakes in written English.  But grammar is so bad sometimes that even the most tolerant reader aches to correct what is before him.

Two solecisms that are among the worst "pet peeves" of mine are using "me" in a compound subject and use of the word "irregardless" -- Johnny and me will be there irregardless of who else comes. Of course it should be "Johnny and I" (remove the second party and it is plain).  But there is no word "irregardless," for the word "regardless" is already negative, meaning "without regard."  The "ir-" as used to turn "reverent" negative does not apply here.

I would not go so far as to call an error in syntax a "sin," but it sure brings out a bad attitude in some people.  When a writer uses bad grammar it reflects on his intelligence even if his or her points are well made otherwise.  It is for this reason that I cringe when I see such mistakes in a presentation of the Gospel, for instance.  If syntax is accompanied with ALL CAPS, then I scroll down to the next post hoping no one begins to ridicule the poor soul who has posted.

Spell check works at times, but grammar checks are less reliable.  If you are in doubt as to what to post, speak it out loud before hitting the 'send' button.  Though you may want to reflect your inner self in "dialect," it is more likely to be taken seriously if you stick to standard English.

That being said, my services as an editor are available to anyone out there who wishes them.  Email me for details, or just leave a message in the remarks.  You can also message me at my Facebook address.  My email and my Facebook page are both based on my name:

jhenrymartin at gmail dot com
and slash jhenrymartin

I look forward to working with both established and beginning writers.

A long way from here

par·sec (pär'sĕk') n. A unit of astronomical length based on the distance from Earth at which stellar parallax is one second of arc and equal to 3.258 light-years, 3.086×10^13 kilometers, or 1.918 × 10^13 miles.

par·al·lax (păr'э-lăks') n. An apparent change in the direction of an object, caused by a change in observational position that provides a new line of sight. --par”al·lac“tic (-lăk'tĭk) adj.

Another word I was sort of familiar with.  I had heard it used in science fiction in regards to distances in interstellar flight.  I never paid much attention to it, but I figured it was a long ways.  As it turns out, it is not that much better than "light year" in describing distance.  It came into use as shorthand having to do with a second of an arch in viewing the heavens. It has no relation to the distance "covered" in the arc itself, but rather is figured out using equations based on the distance from the sun to the earth.

You see, we figure out how far "near by" stars are by looking at them six months apart when compared to "stationary" stars or galaxies much farther away.  In doing this, a triangulation is performed by which the distance is figured by how much of an arc a star apparently moves.  The point in space forming a focal point formed by a right triangle with a one second point opposite the vertical line from the earth to the sun.  Here is the illustration taken from the Wikipedia article

The triangle is not to scale!  There are 60 "minutes" in a degree, and of course 60 seconds to a degree.   The figure above represents an approximate distance based on the value of pi (an irrational number), but basically a parsec is over 200,000 times the distance to the sun (93,000,000 miles)!  Long story short, the imaginary point in space is a long way away.  However, the closest star apart from Sol is a bit further away, appearing to move a bit over a "second" in the arc of the sky.

It has been figured that a "light nano-second" is about 1 foot, so a "nano-parsec" would be around 40 inches (3.25 * 12), or around a meter.  Either way, of course, brings it down to a distance we can visualize.

As used in science fiction, though, the parcec is not a good term to use as a universal measurement.  It is based on the earth's relationship to it's star.  Any other planets would be about the same distance, so an average would have to be worked out.  The same thing goes for the "light year," since years would be of differing lengths.  That leads to other discussions about earth's special place in the universe, which probably does not float well in sci-fi circles. 

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Very Old and Very Wet

 an·te·di·lu·vi·an (ăn'tē-dэ­-lōō'vē­-эn) adj. 1. Extremely old and antiquated. 2. Occurring or belonging to the era before the Flood written about in the Bible. --an'te·di·lu'vi·an n.

Ah, a word that I know!  This word has come over to the English language from the times when everyone believed the story of Noah and the flood.  Not only was that a long time ago, but people (and presumably animals of all kinds) got to be very old in those days.  Literally, the word means "before the flood. "  Another use of the prefix "ante" comes to us from "antebellum" (before the war) when referring to the War Between the States.  "Diluvian" is from the root from which we get the word "deluge."

This being my voice of self-expression, I get to use this opportunity to plug my book: Rise of Cain.  Available on line from (presently only as an ebook), I am tweaking "part four" a little to improve the climax somewhat.  In this book I try to capture a brand-new world rising to a point of success and tragedy.  For convenience I have set up both a blog and a Facebook page for the book.

Or you can go to Lulu directly and set up an account to by the book from them.  Both the blog and the Facebook page direct you there anyway.  I write as J. Henry Martin, and a ten-page preview takes you to the birth of Cain.  Head on over to one of these sites.

Saturday, September 08, 2012

Hello fans in ... Russia?

Okay, the good news is I had around 150 visitors last month.  But look at where most of them cam from?  Our friends across the Bering Strait from Sarah Palin's Alaska!  That's right, the USA is third behind Russia and Germany!  What is going on here?

Not that I want to discourage visitors, but I'd love to have some feedback from these apparently random visitors.  How about it guys?  How is your English?  On the other hand, I wonder how many other American bloggers are getting the same type of traffic?  Again, feedback would be lovely.

Friday, September 07, 2012

Feeling "Blowsy"?

blow·zy also blow·sy (blou'zē) adj. blow·zi·er also  blow·si·er, blow·zi·est  blow·si·est. 1. Having a coarsely ruddy and bloated appearance. 2. Disheveled and frowzy; unkempt. --blow'zi·ly adv. --blow'zi·ness n.

Used in a sentence (link):

Come stroll with me through the blowzy gardens and wildflower meadow; gathering Black-eyed Susans, Ladybells and Queen Anne’s Lace for carefree bouquets.

I guess in some sense being blowzy is not a bad thing -- if you're a wild flower!  Anyway, this is how most of us feel upon getting up every morning - disheveled and frowsy.  Now why would the dictionary use another unusual word to describe a word that rhymes with it and "lousy" at the same time.

frow·zy also frow·sy (frou“z¶) adj. frow·zi·er also  frow·si·er, frow·zi·est  frow·si·est. 1. Unkempt; slovenly. 2. Having an unpleasant smell; musty. --frow“zi·ness n.

Okay, I'm guessing that the second definition is a connotation in both cases, for a garden amonst fruit trees (the contest of the quote) certainly can be unkempt, but would not have an unpleasant smell -- quite the opposite, as is the point of the blog in which I found the quote.

The primary meaning of "blowsy," it appears, would be limited to a rather poor image - a medical or physical condition that indicates real problems.  Coarse ruddiness and bloating can't be good.  Brings to my mind a drunk and obese person (particular ones come to mind, but I don't want to be disrespectful of public figures!).

Personally, the way my ankles swell, by the time I go to bed in the evening they are looking rather blowsy even if I am otherwise feeling quite well.  Oh well, enough about me.  If this is posted, it means I couldn't find anything else to post!  Until next time, have a pleasant day!

Thursday, September 06, 2012

Biblical dieting

lis·some also lis·som (lĭś·эm) adj. 1. Easily bent; supple. 2. Having the ability to move with ease; limber. --liś·some·ly adv. --liś·some·ness n.

Another word of the day just in time for football season!  I doubt if we will hear the word among the thousands of words in commentary during the broadcast games, but one avid fans might keep an ear open for.  I confess that I don't watch or listen to much football these days, but I am sure quite a few of my friends out there do so "religiously."

My days of lissomeness are far in the past, if I could ever say that I had that quality.  I thinned up at around 6 years old and again at around 30.  Given that spread, I should have slimmed down again back in 2007, but it didn't happen!  Oh well, I don't think I want to wait until 2031 to get serious about it, so there is no better time than now - only 5 years into the 24-year cycle.

Some say this is good advise (a bit out of context!):

Lev. 7:23
Ye shall eat no manner of fat, of ox, or of sheep, or of goat.

Both fat and blood were forbidden to be eaten (though fat could be used for other puposes).  In another place fat is said to "belong to the LORD."  In forbidding fat, Yahweh was preventing people from "famine-proofing" themselves, making that most common of judgements more effective.  This was not meant to be for all societies, though the prohibition of blood seems to have meant to be universal.

Of course, sweets should be in moderation as well:

Pr 25:16  Hast thou found honey? eat so much as is sufficient for thee, lest thou be filled therewith, and vomit it.

The battle rages among nutritionists still, though low-carbs seems to be the consensus right now.  Of course, the Bible does not consider vegetable fat (the good kind), so perhaps the advice is still the best, huh?  So there you have it - cut out the fatty meats (go lean) to avoid the cholesterol and eat sweets in moderation.  Sounds good to me.

Now excuse me while I have my moderate sweets.  :-)

Wednesday, September 05, 2012


gran·dil·o·quence (grăn-dĭl'э-kwэns) n. Pompous or bombastic speech or expression. --gran·dil'o·quent adj. --gran·dil'o·quent·ly adv.

The "word of the day" (expert) pops up on my electronic version of The American Heritage®  Dictionary, Third Edition  ©1994, from SoftKey®, Int.  Today's random word inspired me to commit on my blog due to its timeliness during the Democratic National Convention.  In all fairness to the DNC, I did not watch the Republicans last week and don't plan on watching the convention this week either.

Politicians in general, though, tend to make speeches that make them sound much better than they are.  Seldom do we hear humility among them.  I suppose that is to be expected at the top, for such men and women wish to show that they are "in control."  However, in America we do not have royalty or official "classes."  We are all the same: citizens with the same rights as free adults.  There are exceptions due to those law breakers among us -- some even denied some rights after conviction and "time served," but that is for another discussion.

The next time you hear a politician waxing grandiloquently, remember that his big talk is from someone on the same standing before God as anyone of us to whom he speaks.  We have no "king" except Jesus, as the pilgrims were wont to say.  In this nation, that still holds true even for unbelievers!  There is no king to whom we owe allegiance other than the heavenly one if we choose to acknowledge Him.  Let us look to a leader who first knows how to serve.

Phil. 2:
5  Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus:
6  Who, being in the form of God, thought it not robbery to be equal with God:
7  But made himself of no reputation, and took upon him the form of a servant, and was made in the likeness of men:
8  And being found in fashion as a man, he humbled himself, and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross.
9  Wherefore God also hath highly exalted him, and given him a name which is above every name:
10  That at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of things in heaven, and things in earth, and things under the earth;
11  And that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.