Tag: Translator

My Little Town 20121121: More Old Words

Those of you that read this regular series know that I am from Hackett, Arkansas, just a mile or so from the Oklahoma border, and just about 10 miles south of the Arkansas River.  It was a rural sort of place that did not particularly appreciate education, and just zoom onto my previous posts to understand a bit about it.

Several folks who follow this regular series, my Pique the Geek one, and my Popular Culture one know that I often use obsolete or archaic spellings for certain, common words.  This is intentional.

Perhaps it is no longer standard English to use these old words, but neither is it incorrect to do so.  I do so partly out of respect whence came I (“whence” is “from where” in a single word, so if you say “from whence” it is sort of like saying “from from where”, sort like folks calling MSDSs “Material Data Safety Sheet Sheets” when they say “MSDS sheets”), but I am not being completely honest.

Another reason that I use them is to try to grab the attention of my readers.  I find it interesting to read pieces from contributors who are sort of off the beaten track.  I do not know if it works well for me or not.  I do believe that my readers realize that I do this not out of ignorance for standard English, but sort of in protest of the conformity to it.

Am I an nonconformist?  As Gibbs would say, “Ya think!?”

Following is a list of words that I often use that are not standard, but not incorrect, and then some recollections that I have for some of the old talk that NEVER was really correct.  This is quite subjective, but here we go.

Pique the Geek 20121118: Scotch Whisky

Scotch whisky is quite different than most other distilled grain spirits.  First of all, it has its own spelling.  Except for Scotch, the spelling is “whiskey”.  In the case of Scotch, it is “whisky”.  I do not know if that is a Gaelic thing, but it is true.  Likewise, the plural of “whisky” is “whiskies”, whilst the plural of “whiskey” is “whiskeys”.  Actually, these distinctions are at best approximate, as some American brands of things that are not Scotch call themselves “whisky”.  But Scotch is almost always spelt “whisky”.

Actually, I am not sure if “Scotch” should even be the name for it.  Some of them call themselves “Scots’ Whisky”.  That might be a better way of saying it.

Now for the Geeky stuff.  Follow with me for several hundreds of years?

My Little Town 20121114: When Dad Blew off His Leg

Those of you that read this regular series know that I am from Hackett, Arkansas, just a mile or so from the Oklahoma border, and just about 10 miles south of the Arkansas River.  It was a rural sort of place that did not particularly appreciate education, and just zoom onto my previous posts to understand a bit about it.

This actually occurred after the former Mrs. Translator and I had married and moved away, but it still is quite a story.  Dad was an avid hunter, mainly upland birds, bobwhite quail in particular.  Our traditional Christmas breakfast, after the gifts were opened, was fried quail, biscuits, gravy, and grits.  Dad always fried the quail and my mum did everything else.

In western Arkansas there were lots of quail except in the rare year that was either really bad as far as the weather goes or if a disease outbreak had occurred.  In my 20 years of living at home and decades afterwards, there were always quail for Christmas breakfast.  In scarce years Dad would freeze enough to assure that there were plenty for Christmas morning.

Dad, in addition to being a deadeye shot, was also a gunsmith.  He also had impressive woodworking skills and often would buy gunstock blanks of fine American black walnut and create his own gunstocks.

Pique the Geek 20121111: Drying Oils

I was painting a wooden basket yesterday with boilt linseed oil and thus came the inspiration for tonight’s topic.  Drying oils are very important in the coatings industry, not as much as in the past but still important.

Back in the day before high quality water based paints had been developed, oil based paints were just about the only good choice except for some specialized applications.  Before we go into detail, we should define some key terms regarding to paint.

The vehicle is the part of the paint that forms a tough, adherent film.  In oil based paints the vehicle is generally linseed oil.  In latex paints the vehicle is some type of synthetic resin.

The second component (not always in paint, but usually) is the solvent, also called the diluent.  In oil paint the solvent is now usually petroleum distillates, but before oil was discovered the solvent was almost always turpentine.  In latex paints the solvent is water.

The pigment is composed of inorganic powders, usually white or colorless.  The pigment can add to the toughness of the film.  For commercial house paints the pigment does not provide color (except for white) and usually organic dyes are added to the pigment for colors, although some other materials are also used.  For art paints, many times the pigment is also the color in many cases.  Pigments are similar for oil and water based paints.

There are also additives in small quantities in most paints to modify drying rate, viscosity, surface tension, and other properties.  Water based paint often contains ethylene glycol as an antifreeze.

Popular Culture 20121109: The Electric Light Orchestra

The Electric Light Orchestra, also known as ELO, were a pretty good British band that officially formed in 1970.  Like many British bands of its era, ELO went through huge personnel changes over the years.  We shall confine our discussion to the band(s) from 1970 to 1983, sort of like what we did with The Moody Blues not that long ago.

The band were founded by Roy Wood (previously leader of the decent British band The Move), and Jeff Lynne (previously from the band The Idle Race, which also had Wood as a member for a while).  Interestingly, The Move continued to record and release records whilst ELO was being formed, largely to pay the bills.

My Little Town 20121107: Voting Then and Now

Those of you that read this regular series know that I am from Hackett, Arkansas, just a mile or so from the Oklahoma border, and just about 10 miles south of the Arkansas River.  It was a rural sort of place that did not particularly appreciate education, and just zoom onto my previous posts to understand a bit about it.

This piece is divided into two parts:  the part that I wrote yesterday after getting back from voting and the part that I wrote this evening after what started as a nailbiting session for me watching the returns come in last night that ended in both relief and satisfaction.

I became eligible to vote in 1975, and my first opportunity to vote was in the primary in 1976 on 25 May.  Arkansas is an “open primary” state, meaning that you can vote in either the Democratic primary or the Republican primary as you wish, but not in both.  This is unlike Kentucky where you have to register as a Democrat (and can vote only in the Democratic primary), a Republican (and can vote only in the Republican primary), or as an Independent (and can vote in no primary).  I voted in the Democratic primary in 1976 because at the time the Republicans were very minor players in Arkansas.

I lived in the 3rd Congressional district, and no Democrat chose to run for the House of Representatives, so I did not vote for anyone for that.  It was also an off year for the Senate for Arkansas, so I did not vote for anyone for that, either.  Under the influence of my parents I made a mistake and voted for Orval Faubus in the primary!  

My Little Town 20121031: Halloween in the Day

Those of you that read this regular series know that I am from Hackett, Arkansas, just a mile or so from the Oklahoma border, and just about 10 miles south of the Arkansas River.  It was a rural sort of place that did not particularly appreciate education, and just zoom onto my previous posts to understand a bit about it.

As a kid, Halloween was one of my favorite birthdays.  I think that around four or five I really came to like it, and by grade school was wild about it.  I still remember the name and the chorus of a poem in my second grade civics book.  It was called “Black and Gold” and the part that I remember

Black and gold, black and gold, and nothing in between,

When the world turns black and gold, you know it’s Halloween

When  was really small my mum and grandmum would take me trick or treating, but by the time I was six or so I was free to go by myself, but usually my cousin Mike and/or my friend Rex would go together.  You have to consider both the time and the culture to understand why our folks would allow us to do that.

Popular Culture 20121026: Fast Food

We normally think of fast food as somehow uniquely American and of recent origin, but that is just not true.  Certainly modern American fast food is different from what in the past qualified and in other places qualifies as fast food, but the concept is nothing new.  Before we start, let us define fast food.

To me, fast food had the following characteristics:

-  The serving establishment has a rather limited menu

-  The food is prepared ahead of time, or is very quickly prepared and reaches the customer in only a few minutes, like ten or fewer

-  The food can be eaten either with only the fingers or with minimal utensils, like plastic “silverware” and throw away plates, cups, and bowls (with some notable exceptions)

-  The food is designed to be consumed quickly, in less than half an hour and often much less, also with some exceptions

-  More often than not, fast food is relatively inexpensive

Note that nothing to do with nutritional value fits into my definition, nor does any specific type of food.  I think that my definition is sound.  By the way, when I mention brand names I am neither endorsing nor denigrating those brands.  I do this simply as a matter of reference so that we are all on the same page.

My Little Town 20121024: The Day I Met Allen Ginsberg

Those of you that read this regular series know that I am from Hackett, Arkansas, just a mile or so from the Oklahoma border, and just about 10 miles south of the Arkansas River.  It was a rural sort of place that did not particularly appreciate education, and just zoom onto my previous posts to understand a bit about it.

This recollection is from a bit later in life rather than in childhood.  I was in graduate school at The University of Arkansas in Fayetteville and I am guessing that this happened around 1983, give or take a year of so.  The former Mrs. Translator had not yet had our first child, so the time sounds about right.

At the time The University of Arkansas was pretty much a run of the mill public university with a couple of notable exceptions:  the Chemistry Department and the English Department.  Those were recognized at outstanding at a national level and I am honored to have been part of the Chemistry Department.  Both of these departments were part of the J. William Fulbright College of Arts and Sciences.

Pique the Geek 20121021: Reflections on the Genus Carya

Today was a splendid day in the Bluegrass.  The temperature was in the low 70s, only a very light breeze, and not a cloud in the sky.  The Woman had gone to birthday party for a relative, but when she got home I took over the pumpkin pie that we had baked together last night and we each had a piece.  The crust, described here, was perfect.

I left a generous portion of the pie, and she gave me a big hunk of the pumpkin roll that we also made last night.  I knew that she was going to be busy later in the day, so I went nutting.  My target today was hickory nuts, getting ready for holiday baking.  There is a tree that is a reliable cropper just about half a mile from my house, in the yard of some very nice people who always tell me to get as many nuts as I care to pick up, and so I did.  Within an hour I had enough clean nuts for all of the holiday cooking, and then some.

Popular Culture 20121012: Rituals for the Deceased

I originally was going to write about the new Dark Shadows motion picture, but circumstances have intervened.  It turns out that my dear friend’s mum’s twin brother died either late Wednesday night or early Thursday morning, alone except for his little dog.  My friend called me around 9:30 Thursday morning to go next door and try to comfort her mum, and I was honored to do so.

Her mum was a basket case.  She and her brother were Christmas Day babies, 65 years ago Christmas past.  I have a brother, but not a twin, and my brother and I are separated by 14 years.  She and her brother were separated by fewer than 14 minutes, so they grew up together.

I did comfort her, and she cried in my arms.  I could not do much except to try to let her know that I really care, and she appreciated that.  Now for the culture part.

Pique the Geek 20101007: More about Sodium

Last time we started our discussion about sodium, and tonight we shall continue it.  We have pretty much covered the quantum mechanical part and the properties and uses of elemental sodium, so tonight we shall focus on some of the compounds of that element.

Sodium compounds are extremely common and widespread, but not universally distributed.  This is important for reasons to be seen later.

The most common sodium compound is common salt, or sodium chloride, NaCl.  Everyone has personal experience with salt, both as a nutrient and as a melting aid for icy surfaces.

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