Tuesday, April 30, 2013


Local meteorologist David Paul had a rough time on the five o’clock news yesterday.  He had to do his weather report while in the throes of a case of hiccups.


Paul is a local boy – grew up in Houston – who was recently named chief meteorologist at the station.  I wasn’t sure at first, but I’ve come to enjoy his presentations.  I think he’s doing an excellent job.

Monday, April 29, 2013

Little Brother

Boyd 4-12

Had a very pleasant day yesterday visiting with my little brother.  He is in the process of moving back to Texas, and is staying with friends about a half-hour away.  It was the first time we had seen each other since he moved to North Carolina a dozen years ago.

Sunday, April 28, 2013

Weather – Or Not

Weird weather day yesterday. 

Severe flooding in parts of Houston – reports of cars floating off the lot at a dealership on the Southwest Freeway, and a literal river of ice near Reliant Stadium when the rain turned to hail.

Meanwhile, here at the Boggy Thicket, we heard thunder all afternoon and evening, but only got a few light sprinkles about sundown.

Here’s a look at Southwest Houston,  Belfort about 5:00 p.m.


And here’s raw video from Channel 11 news of the hail around Reliant Stadium:

Saturday, April 27, 2013

Thoughts on a Dead Possum

George Jones died yesterday, and almost every news report of his passing mentioned He Stopped Loving Her Today.

It is, I suppose, the quintessential Country Song – it even made the AARP’s list of 16 songs everyone over 50 should own,  but I have to admit that Jones did others I like even better.

For pure poignancy, it’s hard to beat the Tour:

And for fun, there's always the classic White Lightnin’ and my personal favorite, the Corvette Song:

Whatever your preference, whatever you thought of the man himself, a 50+ year career is impressive.  He was is the middle of a nationwide tour when he fell ill, so he was doing what he loved right to the end.

Friday, April 26, 2013

GMC Stands For…

GMC must now stand for Geographical Manipulation Company.  Their ad for the 2013 Denali Terrain shows the Houston skyline in the background, but the car is backed up to a body of water that just doesn’t exist.

gmc ad

One comment sent to the local Fox TV station suggested that it was supposed to represent Houston after Tropical Storm Allison.


Actually, it could be a whole lot worse.  Hollywood usually pictures Houston with hills and cactus.

Thursday, April 25, 2013

Eye of the Beholder


The current issue of People Magazine names Gwyneth Paltrow the world’s most beautiful woman. 

I doubt it.  Pleasant enough to look at, and probably fun to know, but most beautiful?

Maxim, the men’s magazine, has their own idea.  Their pick for most beautiful was Israeli model/actress Bar Refaeli. 


Again, undeniably attractive, but most beautiful?  I would bet that everyone who reads this can think of at least one person they consider more beautiful than either of these two ladies.

 Essence.com has an article about the People selection that asks readers to choose the most beautiful Black entertainer. 

Meanwhile, Essence named the guy they consider to be the sexiest man alive:


Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Miracle Cure

I have taken Plavix (clopidogrel) every day for years, and have complained about it the whole time. 

I have said with only slight exaggeration that a butterfly could land on my arm and cause a bruise, and that the drug makes me look like a victim of spousal abuse.  My doctor just shrugs and tells me to wear long-sleeved shirts.

If you are not familiar with the drug, it is an anti-clotting agent which is prescribed to reduce the chance of heart attacks and strokes. Bristol-Myers Squibb made a ton of money from Plavix ( it was the second most prescribed drug on earth in 2007, and their 2009 sales were $6.6 Billion) but their patent finally ran out and the FDA approved generic versions of the drug in May of 2012.

The cost differential was huge – for example, a month’s supply of Plavix brand pills at Wal-Mart is $232 while the generic clopidogrel costs $8.49 – so I switched to the generic last fall. The new pills are the same 75mg dose, and even look the same, but they are manufactured somewhere in India.

Last week, I commented to my wife that I didn’t seem to be bruising nearly as much on the generic.  We discussed it and decided maybe it wasn’t working as well.  I even left a voice-mail at the doctor’s office expressing our concern.

Then this past weekend, I got out and did some yard work – clearing dead branches out of our azalea beds – and today my arms look as ugly and abused as ever. 

It turns out our fears were unfounded, and the whole thing was a false alarm.  Lack of activity (and wearing long sleeves and jackets during cold weather) had minimized the bruising for the last few months.

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

The Three Bears

If you haven’t seen this before, you should.

Last July, near Ruidoso, New Mexico, three bear cubs got into a dumpster and couldn’t get out.  Residents in the vicinity could hear them crying all night long.

Even though an upset Mama bear was pacing nearby, some very brave Samaritans came to the rescue.

Monday, April 22, 2013

Hot Seat

My daughter Cheryl and son-in-law Gene attended the motorcycle races in Austin this past weekend.  Both are Harley owners/riders, but Cheryl says these MotoGP racers are nuts!


Cheryl also sent me a video via her cell phone, and I’ll have to agree they are insane.  I would add the video here, but apparently I’m missing a piece of software that would let me do that.

Since I can’t share Cheryl’s movie, I decided to post this one instead:

Knights called it riding pillion, and outlaw bikers call it riding bitch.  In either case, if you’re going to ride behind the driver, you’d better have a seat with a back rest.

Sunday, April 21, 2013

Lookin’ Out My Back Door

Maybe not quite as fantastic as what John Fogerty imagines in the Creedence Clearwater classic, but hang around the back door at the old Boggy Thicket, and you’re likely to see just about anything - from the squirrels in the trees, to the hummingbirds fighting over the feeders, to the big old possum with the white patch on its rump that we occasionally see sauntering across the yard between the pool fence and the barn.

Yesterday morning, Honey called me, saying “Bob! Come see what’s happening.  It sounds like dogs fighting, but it’s way up in that tree.”

Well, it wasn’t dogs, and they weren’t exactly fighting, either. 

It was a pair of amorous raccoons who had chosen to hold their tryst in a big oak tree about 45 or 50 feet above the ground.  Not exactly the mile-high club, but pretty impressive.

I ran for my camera. I had to swap lenses, so I didn’t catch them in flagrante delicto, but I did get a shot of them just after -

coons in tree 2

The first one is pretty easy to see – just below dead center in the picture.  If you follow the trunk on up, you can spot the object of his affection peeking out of the leaves.

Just for fun, and because I like it, here’s the song:

Saturday, April 20, 2013



Yellowstone's underground volcanic plumbing is bigger and better connected than previously thought according to a report delivered at the Seismological Society of America's annual meeting last week.

"We are getting a much better understanding of the volcanic system of Yellowstone," said Jamie Farrell, a seismology graduate student at the University of Utah. "The magma reservoir is at least 50 percent larger than previously imaged."

Knowing the volume of molten magma beneath Yellowstone is important for estimating the size of future eruptions, Farrell told OurAmazingPlanet.

Geologists believe Yellowstone sits over a hotspot, a plume of superheated rock rising from Earth's mantle. As North America slowly drifted over the hotspot, the Yellowstone plume punched through the continent's crust, leaving a bread-crumb-like trail of calderas created by massive volcanic eruptions along Idaho's Snake River Plain, leading straight to Yellowstone. The last caldera eruption was 640,000 years ago. Smaller eruptions occurred in between and after the big blasts, most recently about 70,000 years ago.

There is a lot more information – charts and maps here -  [Infographic: Geology of Yellowstone]

The magma chamber seen in the new study fed these smaller eruptions and is the source of the park's amazing hydrothermal springs and geysers. It also creates the surface uplift seen in the park, said Bob Smith, a seismologist at the University of Utah and author of a related study presented at the meeting.

The volcanic plume of partly molten rock that feeds the Yellowstone supervolcano. Yellow and red indicate higher conductivity, green and blue indicate lower conductivity. Made by University of Utah geophysicists and computer scientists, this is the first large-scale 'geoelectric' image of the Yellowstone hotspot.

"This crustal magma body is a little dimple that creates the uplift," Smith said. "It's like putting your finger under a rubber membrane and pushing it up and the sides expand."

Clearer picture
A clearer picture of Yellowstone's shallow
magma chamber emerged from earthquakes, whose waves change speed when they travel through molten or solid rock. Farrell analyzed nearby earthquakes to build a picture of the magma chamber.

The underground magma resembles a mutant banana, with a knobby, bulbous end poking up toward the northeast corner of Yellowstone National Park, and the rest of the tubular fruit angling shallowly southwest. It's a single connected chamber, about 37 miles long, 18 miles wide, and 3 to 7 miles deep.

Previously, researchers had thought the magma beneath Yellowstone was in separate blobs, not a continuous pocket.

The shallowest magma, in the northeast, also matches up with the park's most intense hydrothermal activity, Farrell said. The new study is the best view yet of this zone, which lies outside the youngest caldera rim.

Scientists also think that additional molten rock, not imaged in this study, exists deeper beneath Yellowstone.

Friday, April 19, 2013

Zoom Zoom

Ever want to be involved in a police chase?  I’m sure it is exciting, but this is as close as I ever want to be.

Back on April 8th of this year, Motorcycle  Officer Troy Gurley of the Florence,  Alabama,  Police  was wearing a helmet camera when he attempted to stop a vehicle for traffic violations.

The driver, Justin  Sanders, 24, refused to stop, and led police on an extended chase through the City of Florence. Sanders has now been charged with a variety of drug, firearms, and traffic violations.


Thursday, April 18, 2013

MADD Can’t Be Happy

Yesterday, the US Supreme Court issued one of those rulings that may have huge and wide-ranging consequences.  The justices weighed in on the balancing act between the Fourth Amendment's protection against illegal search and seizure and the public’s need get drunk drivers off the roads.  Although their opinion applies to one specific case in Missouri, prosecutors around the nation are already looking at how this decision will affect laws and procedures in their jurisdictions.

The fact that alcohol dissipates from the bloodstream over time does not by itself give police the right to draw blood without a warrant in drunken-driving investigations, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled Wednesday.

The ruling immediately got the attention of attorneys in Texas, where warrantless blood draws are allowed by state statute for intoxication manslaughter cases, third-time driving while intoxicated offenses or intoxication assault cases in which someone has been sent to the hospital.

While the court's ruling appears to be “extremely narrow” and not pertaining to Texas law, it does leave a lot of questions unanswered, said Cliff Herberg, Bexar County's first assistant district attorney.

“In an abundance of caution, we're going to be changing our procedures,” he said, explaining that prosecutors locally will now advise police to seek warrants in all felony DWI cases.

The ruling has no bearing on the county's “No Refusal” program, District Attorney Susan Reed was quick to point out on Twitter on Wednesday.

Because it focuses on drivers suspected of misdemeanor DWI, warrants have always been required.

The Supreme Court case arose from the arrest of Tyler McNeely, who was pulled over for speeding on a Missouri highway and exhibited signs of intoxication.

He performed poorly on a field sobriety test and was arrested. He refused to take a breath test and, after being taken to a hospital, to consent to a blood test.

A blood test was performed anyway, about 25 minutes after he was pulled over, and it showed a blood alcohol level of 0.15 percent, almost twice the legal limit.

The state Supreme Court suppressed the evidence, saying there had been no “exigent circumstances” that excused the failure to obtain a warrant.

Justice Sonia Sotomayor, in an opinion joined by Justices Antonin Scalia, Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Elena Kagan and, for the most part, Anthony Kennedy, affirmed the state court's decision.

Sotomayor said many factors had to be considered in deciding whether a warrant was needed.

“Whether a warrantless blood test of a drunk-driving suspect is reasonable must be determined case by case based on the totality of the circumstances,” Sotomayor wrote.

Among the relevant factors, she said, are “the practical problems of obtaining a warrant within a time frame that still preserves the opportunity to obtain reliable evidence.”

She said technological developments made promptly obtaining a warrant possible in many circumstances.

You can read more about this  Here

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Chia WHAT?


When I think of the word CHIA, it is always accompanied by PET, as in what I consider the greatest scam in the history of mass marketing.  I never personally owned a Chia Pet, and doubt if I know anyone who will admit to owning one, but they must have sold billions of them over the years.

It had never occurred to me that eating chia seeds might actually be good for you.

Chia Seeds Facts
  • 3x more iron than spinach
  • 3-5x more calcium than milk
  • 8x more omega-3 than salmon
  • 15x more antioxidants than blueberries
More Chia Seeds Benefits
  • Help control appetite and balance blood sugar
  • Help prevent diverticulitis and diverticulosis
  • Lower cholesterol and blood pressure
  • Can be used for baking as a butter substitute
  • Control sugar cravings and aids in weight loss
  • Provide fiber, protein, antioxidants and minerals
  • They are affordable and chemical-free
  • Improve memory, mood and overall energy
  • Improve health of skin, nails and hair
  • Are a mineral powerhouse and great detoxifier

This whole post got started when someone sent me a vegan recipe for Chia Seed Pudding:

Irresistible Pudding Recipes-

Chia-Seed Pudding
As chia seeds soak in almond milk, they create a tapioca-like pudding.

2 1/2 cups almond milk
3 tablespoons agave nectar
1/2 cup chia seeds (3 ounces)
1/2 teaspoon finely grated
lemon zest

In a 1-quart jar, combine the almond milk with the agave nectar. Close the
jar and shake to combine. Add the chia seeds and lemon zest to the jar, then
close and shake well.

Refrigerate until very thick and pudding-like, at least 4 hours or overnight, shaking or stirring occasionally.

Serve the pudding in bowls.
The pudding can be refrigerated for up to 3 days.
Citrus sections, diced mango, almonds and extra agave nectar.

I haven’t tried the recipe, but it occurs to me that you should never substitute water for the almond milk and should keep the jar tightly sealed.   Otherwise, your refrigerator might grow a thick coat of goofy green hair.

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Best Laid Plans

Yesterday’s post was sort of a setup for today. 

As I mentioned, I prepare detailed itineraries for our extended summer trips, and this year started out being no exception – then things started falling apart.

I had the entire trip mapped out by December – highlights were a return to Glacier National Park (this time with a couple days on the Canadian side at Waterton NP) then on to the Hell’s Canyon area of Idaho and Oregon before heading to the Oregon coast. 

The first snag came when our traveling buddies, the Sheltons, had a scheduling conflict.  He is a member of the Viet Nam Helicopter Pilots Association, and their annual convention was coming up while I had originally planned to be on the road.  I moved everything back a week, but it turns out that other issues may keep them from going anyway.

When I did get around to confirming reservations last week I learned that all three Oregon State Parks where we had planned to stay were booked solid through the middle of September. I went to plan B, and started booking private campgrounds near the parks, only to find that nothing was available at our first Oregon stop until the day after we had planned to arrive.

We had an overnight stay in Reno on the way home and planned to stay at the RV park owned by Bordertown Casino.  The guy at the park told me that he had a site available, but we would be arriving during Hot August Nights which is apparently a major event.  We could have the campsite for one night, but would have to pay a four-night minimum at the inflated special event rate.  Needless to say, I passed on his generous offer and rerouted through Carson City, instead.

Trip planning is now complete, and we have confirmed reservations for every stop, but this has been the most difficult trip I’ve ever planned. 

If we were totally self-contained (we don’t have a generator or an expensive system of solar panels and a big bank of batteries) I would be tempted to join the ranks of those who never make reservations and “Boondock” in parking lots wherever they end up each evening.

Monday, April 15, 2013

Mapping Plans


My wife is an extremely organized person, one who always has a specific plan for the future – not to the point of an Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder, but she always has to have a plan.  The fact that none of those plans ever work out exactly as intended does nothing to lessen her need to have one. 

I, on the other hand, am the exact opposite.  I am as organized as the proverbial pillow fight, and couldn’t tell you what I might be doing ten minutes from now, much less tomorrow or next year.  I wake up in a new world every morning, and I like it that way – it keeps life interesting.

I say all that to underscore how amazing it was – what a wonderful surprise to both of us – that I was able to plan our first big trip after retirement.

You might remember that we had both planned to retire in July, but (in an example of how plans never quite work out) I was offered “early” retirement in April.  In the days while I was home and Honey was still going to work, I set out to plan our trip.  I spent countless hours on the computer and the telephone and created a masterpiece.

By the first of June, I was able to present my bride with a three-ring binder outlining our 7,000 mile loop through the Western US and Canada.  It came complete with

  1. Calendars for July and August - Color-coded and labeled to highlight each stop on the way
  2. Spread-sheet showing each stop and
  3. a) mileage
  4. b) estimated drive time
  5. c) cost
  6. d) contact phone numbers
  7. Google Maps directions to the next stop
  8. Screen shots of each campground home page
  9. Reservation Confirmations
  10. Pictures and articles on things to see and do in each area

I even acquired and included shot records for our dogs.

Honey was dumbfounded – and extremely grateful.  It worked so well that I have been given the responsibility of creating a travel book for each trip since then. 

Honey’s one addition/improvement has been to make labeled tabs to insert before each stop.  That first trip, she moved a paper clip each day to provide for quick access to the next day’s agenda.  The tabs are much more convenient.

Sunday, April 14, 2013

Capital Idea


China, Iran, Iraq, Saudi Arabia and the US – these are the five countries that led the world in executions in 2012. A report from the human rights group Amnesty International was published on Wednesday, showing that 682 people were executed in 2012 in all countries other than China. There, it is estimated that more than 1,000 people were given the death penalty. Regardless of the numbers, Amnesty said, we are getting closer to a world without capital punishment.

Following China at second place was Iran, with 314 people executed, then Iraq, with 129. Saudi Arabia came in fourth with 79. The US holds the fifth place with 43 executions and is the only country in the Americas which still practices the death penalty.

Texas had 15 executions last year, which would put them in 8th place if they were a separate country in the world — between Sudan and Afghanistan.

The number of death sentences carried out in the Lone Star State is expected to be even higher in 2013.  There have been only two so far this year – one of them this past week – but there are 12 more executions scheduled over the next four months.

Like Ron (Tater Salad) White said, Texas not only has the death penalty, we have an express lane.

Saturday, April 13, 2013

Coon vs. Hummingbird Feeder – Year Two


Last summer, we found one of our hummingbird feeders – one hanging from a bracket mounted on a tree trunk - on the ground several days in a row.  We figured out that a raccoon was knocking it off its hanger to get at the sugar water inside.  After considering alternatives, we started bringing that feeder in each evening.

This spring, we haven’t had any feeders on the ground, but, after a couple of uneventful weeks, we are now finding that same feeder still on its hanger but almost empty each morning.  Don’t know if the coon got smarter or just developed a more subtle technique.

Friday, April 12, 2013

Driver’s Exam


Jerry Reynolds is a retired automobile dealer who   hosts a weekly radio show called the Car Pro.  Most of today’s post is borrowed from his newsletter where he borrowed it from someone else.  It was originally on  Car Insurance.com.

It may not surprise you to learn that Most Drivers Can’t Pass a Driver’s License Exam!

Forty-four percent of the 500 drivers who answered 20 questions that are typically on a driver’s license test scored less than 80 percent, the passing grade in most states. The average score was 75 percent.
“The rules of the road are meant to reduce uncertainty and risk,” said CarInsurance.com managing editor Des Toups. “All you have to do is meet another car at a four-way stop to know that most of us leave a lot of that knowledge behind at the DMV.”
The most missed questions — all of which were pulled from state department of motor vehicles practice tests — involved pedestrians and school buses.
Fifty-eight percent missed this question:
Give the right of way to any pedestrian who is:
1. In a marked crosswalk.
2. In any crosswalk or intersection.
3. Crossing any street.
(The correct answer is No. 3.)

Sixty-eight percent missed this question:
You are approaching a school bus that has stopped on the other side of a divided highway.
1. Stop and wait for it to load or unload children.
2. Stop, check for children, then proceed.
3. Stop and wait until the flashing red lights go off.
4. Watch for children and be ready to stop.
(The correct answer is No. 4.)

On the flip side, 93 percent of drivers got this question correct:
When should you use a horn?
1. For warning purposes, such as to alert other drivers to an impending collision.
2. To alert other drivers that they are doing something wrong.
3. Whenever you feel like it.
4. If a driver or bicyclist is going too slow.
(The correct answer is No. 1.)

“We may have great horn skills,” Toups noted, “but we’ve got some work to do otherwise. Not knowing the rules means you spend your time behind the wheel offended or unsure, and neither of those is very safe or productive.”

Women scored somewhat higher than men did, averaging 78 percent compared with 71 percent for the guys. Older drivers performed much better than younger drivers did, with those under age 40 scoring an average 67 percent compared with 79 percent for drivers over 40.
Only three drivers out of 500 scored 100 percent: a woman, age 30, a woman, age 51, and a man, age 64.
Take the 20-question CarInsurance.com driver’s license test at
Drivers Exam.

For what it’s worth, I tried the test and got 19 out of 20 right.  I don’t feel too bad about missing one since I’m pretty sure that the one I missed actually had two correct answers.

Thursday, April 11, 2013


On the way home from our Bluebonnet Tour on Tuesday, we stopped at the Waller County Line Barbeque for a late lunch.  If you’ve never been there, it is an experience – it is a combination restaurant, bakery, convenience store and Shell gas station with an adjoining (separate entrance) saloon.  When you pull in, the smell will have you salivating before you can get parked and exit your vehicle. Their barbeque is world-class, and they feed you a TON

Honey and I both ordered the stuffed baked potatoes, an almost guaranteed heart attack in a Styrofoam box.  It’s a BIG potato with the usual trimmings – bacon, chives, cheese and sour cream – buried under a HUGE scoop of chopped barbequed beef. We ate what we could ( just less than half an order had us both stuffed to the gills) and brought the rest home for dinner. 

Out of curiosity, I weighed what we brought home.  Mine maxed out our kitchen food scale before I could let go of the package, so I weighed them on the bathroom scale.  I weighed them by themselves, and then I weighed myself with and without the food.  The part that we did not eat for lunch weighed slightly over three pounds.

Wednesday, April 10, 2013


blue vista

Tuesday, Honey and I made our annual trip to see the Bluebonnets.  We drove from home to Conroe, where we picked up State Hwy 105 through Navasota and Washington-on-the-Brazos.  Then we wandered around on some farm-to-market roads and one unmarked dirt road that led to some of the best fields we saw.  We did see some pretty fields, but some that have been loaded with flowers in the past had only a few scattered bunches or none at all.

blue field 4-09-13

blue dusted hillside

bb closeup

Of course, not all fields were entirely blue. Some had Indian Paintbrush:

blue with paintbrush


Some provided their own variety with pale blue Bluebonnets that reminded me of faded denim:

faded denim

And some had yellow and pink mixed in:

blue with yellow and pink

There were even Huisache trees blooming at the edge of fields adding a bright orange accent.

blue with hiusache 2

And then there is that  field on US 290 just east of Chappell Hill that always has families taking pictures of their kids.

family photos

I’ll bet if you came by that field at 3 a.m. on a school night you would find some fool out there with a kid and a camera.

I didn’t take this last picture, but had to include it.  It was taken at the state salt-water fish hatchery at Sea Center Texas, in Lake Jackson:


Those bright maroon flowers are Aggie Bluebonnets developed at Texas A&M.


Tuesday, April 9, 2013

Week of the Worm


I am officially designating this the Week of the Worm here at the Boggy Thicket

Caterpillars, Inch Worms, Web Worms, etc. – it is impossible to go outside without seeing several different species of the little buggers, and almost as impossible to come back inside without bringing one or two back in on your clothes.

We always see them every spring, but the variety and concentration seem greater than usual this year.

Monday, April 8, 2013

Crow’s Nest

crow nest

Have you ever seen a Crow’s Nest?  Not the lookout’s perch at the top of a ship’s mast – the actual home the bird builds?  The kindest thing you can say about it is that it is functional. 

It is certainly not a paragon of nest building aesthetics, so I got a good laugh a few days ago watching a Crow collecting material for its new home. 

The Crow was in the top of one of our oak trees, breaking off foot-long twigs.  It hopped from limb to limb breaking them off and dropping them on the ground.  Finally, it would get one it liked and would fly it over to the nest site in a big pine tree in our neighbor’s yard.  Then it would return and start the selection process all over again.

I thought it was hilarious that he/she was being so picky when the finished product was going to look so haphazard anyway.

It turned out that the joke was on me. 

An hour or so later, Honey saw the Crow making multiple trips from the ground below our oak tree to the nest in the pine, ferrying all the twigs it had broken off earlier.  The Crow wasn’t being picky – it was being efficient.

Sunday, April 7, 2013

Advice From Your Pet


There is considerable evidence that people who own pets live longer and enjoy a better quality of life. 

Your pet can also teach you some valuable lessons about how to live – check out this slide show prepared by Web MD.

Saturday, April 6, 2013

Not What I Meant

In yesterday’s post, I wrote about foreign words with no exact counterpart in English. 

That situation is bad enough, but when we all agree that communication is critical, how about words that don’t even mean what they mean?Our language has  a whole slew of words that have totally opposite meanings depending on context.

English  includes an interesting category of words and phrases called contronyms (also referred to as autoantonyms) — terms that, depending on context, can have opposite or contradictory meanings.

Just check this list assembled by Mark Nichol:

1. Apology: A statement of contrition for an action, or a defense of one
2. Aught: All, or nothing
3. Bill: A payment, or an invoice for payment
4. Bolt: To secure, or to flee
5. Bound: Heading to a destination, or restrained from movement
6. Buckle: To connect, or to break or collapse
7. Cleave: To adhere, or to separate
8. Clip: To fasten, or detach
9. Consult: To offer advice, or to obtain it
10. Continue: To keep doing an action, or to suspend an action
11. Custom: A common practice, or a special treatment
12. Dike: A wall to prevent flooding, or a ditch
13. Discursive: Moving in an orderly fashion among topics, or proceeding aimlessly in a discussion
14. Dollop: A large amount (British English), or a small amount
15. Dust: To add fine particles, or to remove them
16. Enjoin: To impose, or to prohibit
17. Fast: Quick, or stuck or made stable
18. Fine: Excellent, or acceptable or good enough
19. Finished: Completed, or ended or destroyed
20. First degree: Most severe in the case of a murder charge, or least severe in reference to a burn
21. Fix: To repair, or to castrate
22. Flog: To promote persistently, or to criticize or beat
23. Garnish: To furnish, as with food preparation, or to take away, as with wages
24. Give out: To provide, or to stop because of a lack of supply
25. Go: To proceed or succeed, or to weaken or fail
26. Grade: A degree of slope, or a horizontal line or position
27. Handicap: An advantage provided to ensure equality, or a disadvantage that prevents equal achievement
28. Help: To assist, or to prevent or (in negative constructions) restrain
29. Hold up: To support, or to impede
30. Lease: To offer property for rent, or to hold such property
31. Left: Remained, or departed
32. Let: Allowed, or hindered
33. Liege: A feudal lord, or a vassal
34. Literally: Actually, or virtually
35. Mean: Average or stingy, or excellent
36. Model: An exemplar, or a copy
37. Off: Deactivated, or activated, as an alarm
38. Out: Visible, as with stars showing in the sky, or invisible, in reference to lights
39. Out of: Outside, or inside, as in working out of a specific office
40. Overlook: To supervise, or to neglect
41. Oversight: Monitoring, or failing to oversee
42. Peer: A person of the nobility, or an equal
43. Presently: Now, or soon
44. Put out: Extinguish, or generate
45. Puzzle: A problem, or to solve one
46. Quantum: Significantly large, or a minuscule part
47. Quiddity: Essence, or a trifling point of contention
48. Quite: Rather (as a qualifying modifier), or completely
49. Ravel: To entangle, or to disentangle
50. Refrain: To desist from doing something, or to repeat
51. Rent: To purchase use of something, or to sell use
52. Rock: An immobile mass of stone or figuratively similar phenomenon, or a shaking or unsettling movement or action
53. Sanction: To approve, or to boycott
54. Sanguine: Confidently cheerful, or bloodthirsty
55. Scan: To peruse, or to glance
56. Screen: To present, or to conceal
57. Seed: To sow seeds, or to shed or remove them
58. Shop: To patronize a business in order to purchase something, or to sell something
59. Skin: To cover, or to remove
60. Skinned: Covered with skin, or with the skin removed
61. Splice: To join, or to separate
62. Stakeholder: One who has a stake in an enterprise, or a bystander who holds the stake for those placing a bet
63. Strike: To hit, or to miss in an attempt to hit
64. Table: To propose (in British English), or to set aside
65. Temper: To soften, or to strengthen
66. Throw out: To dispose of, or to present for consideration
67. Transparent: Invisible, or obvious
68. Trim: To decorate, or to remove excess from
69. Trip: A journey, or a stumble
70. Unbending: Rigid, or relaxing
71. Variety: A particular type, or many types
72. Wear: To endure, or to deteriorate
73. Weather: To withstand, or to wear away
74. Wind up: To end, or to start up
75. With: Alongside, or against

I think he cheated a little with 69 and 70 – two words describing the same act/condition in progress or completed.  Otherwise, it’s a great list.

I’ll bet that if you think about it, you can add a word or two of your own.

Friday, April 5, 2013

You Just Can’t Say That

Did you know there are dozens of blog posts and even a couple of entire websites dedicated to foreign words for which there is no English translation? Well, there are, and I’ve been wasting quite a bit of time reading them.

Here are a few of my favorite examples: 

IlungaBantu - In 2004, Ilunga was chosen as the world’s most difficult word to translate. In Bantu it refers to a person willing to forgive abuse the first time, tolerate it the second but never a third time.

Bakku-shanJapanese - Bakku-shan is the word for a girl who looks pretty from behind but ugly in front.

QualunquismoItalian -Are you one of those people who really don’t care all that much about politics and issues in society? Then this word applies to you. The term came from a political party in Italy, in 1944, which promoted anti-political feelings and a mistrust of public organizations.

Toska - Russian – Vladmir Nabokov described it best: “No single word in English renders all the shades of toska. At its deepest and most painful, it is a sensation of great spiritual anguish, often without any specific cause.”

Tartle -Scottish – The act of hesitating while introducing someone because you’ve forgotten their name.

Cafuné- Brazilian Portuguese – “The act of tenderly running one’s fingers through someone’s hair.”

Rugelje – Frisian (Dutch) – The act of pouring a fine solid such as sugar or flour into a container. Rugelje only applies to solids; if pouring a liquid, a Frisian would say dreagje.

And finally, what has to be my favorite:

Jayus - Indonesian – “A joke so poorly told and so unfunny that you can’t help but laugh”

Thursday, April 4, 2013


Houston Texans defensive end Justin James Watt and I have something in common.  Years ago I dislocated my left elbow like he did in training camp last year.  All similarity ends there.


With 20.5 sacks, 81 tackles and 16 pass deflections J.J. Watt's 2012 season was the definition of outstanding. - If you want, you can re-live all those sacks here – Sacks - Just imagine what he might have done if he were playing at 100%.

This week, Houston and the League's  Defensive Player of the Year said he did all that while never having fully healed from a dislocated left elbow suffered early in training camp. That trademark black brace on his left elbow wasn’t just there for show.

"In the beginning, it definitely affected me," Watt said Tuesday on Texans Radio, a service of  HoustonTexans.com. "All the ligaments in there were torn, they were all gone, so they had to have time to recover and regroup. So obviously, I wasn't at full strength. The brace helped a lot, but it was more of a mental thing, getting over the thought process of knowing that it was injured and making sure that I could still have confidence in it. ... But (I'm) looking forward to a 100 percent full healthy season."


Wednesday, April 3, 2013



When the Houston Astros hosted the Texas Rangers on opening day, this fan found a way to demonstrate his obviously  mixed emotions. 

His confusion is understandable – there just may not be much to get excited about this year.

  • The ‘stros have a new owner and a new league.
  • They now find themselves in the American League after spending their entire history as a National League team.  Fans who grew up with the Astros know that the designated hitter is an abomination that destroys the purity of the game.
  • Pre-game activity on opening day showed that Texans Defensive Star J. J. Watt hits better, or at least for more power, than anyone on the Astros.  Messing around in the batting cage, Watt put three in a row over the left field fence and into the Crawford Boxes. 
  • Yankees Star Alex Rodriguez started the season on injured reserve, and may not play at all this year.  Whether he plays or not, his salary is more – a lot more – that the payroll for the entire Astros roster.  The Astros payroll will be $19 million.  Even adding in the 4.5 million owed to Pittsburg from last year’s trade that sent Wandy Rodriguez to the Pirates, that still falls far short of A-Rod’s $29 million paycheck.

The hometown heroes won the opener 8 – 2, defeating the Dallas bunch, and actually leading the American League for a few hours. 

Odds are that is the only lead they’ll see this year.  Last night, they got clobbered 7 – 0 as the Ranger’s new Japanese pitching star, Yu Darvish, made his debut by pitching 8 2/3 perfect innings.

Tuesday, April 2, 2013



This just might be a court decision that had no right answer.

In a decision that both sides agree will have significant consequences, the Supreme Court of India ruled against a major Swiss drug manufacturer yesterday.

The judges denied Novartis AG’s request for patent protection for its Gleevec cancer treatment, allowing the nation’s generic-drug makers to continue to sell copies of the drug at a lower price.

In a decision watched by non-profit groups seeking to expand access to medicines and drug makers concerned about India’s position on intellectual property, the court  upheld regulatory rulings dating to 2006 that the drug wasn’t sufficiently innovative to merit a patent. 

Novartis argued that the molecule imatinib, on which Gleevec is based, required years of research and modification to make it an effective, safe leukemia treatment. They had requested a patent on a formula modification that Novartis claimed made the drug easier to take.

Back in 2006, the Indian Patent Office denied a patent to Novartis, a decision upheld by the Indian Intellectual Property Appellate Board. The board cited a provision of Indian law that aims to prevent “evergreening,” in which companies make an incremental change to a drug’s chemical makeup, without any real medical benefit, to extend its patent life and prevent the introduction of low-cost generic copies.

Monday’s ruling is seen as a huge win for consumer groups concerned with the high price of life saving drugs, but there is a down side they are trying to ignore.  By limiting the ability to receive (and hold on to) patents, the Court has reduced the incentive for major manufacturers to spend the millions of dollars necessary to bring a new drug to market.  

“In decisions like the Gleevec ruling, India is weighing the cost of treating patients today against hampering innovation at a later point,” Darius Lakdawalla, a health economist at the University of Southern California, said in an interview.

“Today, India is allowing a robust generics industry and not protecting patents and the cost for that is low,” Lakdawalla said. “But what is going to happen five to 10 years in the future?”