Friday, January 14, 2011

A Couple Of Thoughts . . .


Recently I read the following sentence: "She and her parents and her three brothers and sisters lived in a small, two-bedroom apartment." Nothing wrong with that... right? But, being the weirdly maverick reader that I am, I immediately began to wonder as to whether this sentence meant the she had three brothers and three sisters which would amount to six siblings, or that she had merely three siblings of mixed gender, perhaps two brothers and one sister or two sisters and one brother. And I couldn't drop the question from my mind. It kept coming back, time after time.

Why would I dwell on such a bit of trivia? The meaning of the sentence was clearly that the family lived in an apartment that was too small for them, and not about how many brothers and how many sisters she had.

I succumb to that kind of distraction way too often. Which probably says a lot about my defective cognitive ability and my seeming total lack of higher-literary perception.


The Writer's Almanac is the second website I visit each and every day, without fail. Today, after reading the poem of the day at the top I continued on down to the birthday list (as I always do) and read the capsule excerpts about famous authors and poets who had been born on this day. I read about Mary Robison. Her latest novel, I discovered, is One D.O.A., One on the Way. I was intrigued by the title, so I hopped on over to (as I often do) and read selected pages from the book. What a disappointment. The story was told in first person, present tense. And the artificiality of that type of story-telling (in this instance anyway) simply repelled me. I closed the Amazon page and decided that I wanted nothing further to do with the writings of Mary Robison.


The word couple has been bothering me lately in that it seems to have opposing meanings within itself. I looked it up on the Web

* a pair who associate with one another; "the engaged couple"; "an inseparable twosome"
* match: bring two objects, ideas, or people together; "This fact is coupled to the other one"; "Matchmaker, can you match my daughter with a nice young man?"; "The student was paired with a partner for collaboration on the project"
* a pair of people who live together; "a married couple from Chicago"
* link together; "can we couple these proposals?"
* a small indefinite number; "he's coming for a couple of days"
* pair: form a pair or pairs; "The two old friends paired off"
* two items of the same kind
* copulate: engage in sexual intercourse; "Birds mate in the Spring"
* (physics) something joined by two equal and opposite forces that act along parallel lines

See what I mean? Context is everything.


A 'Couple' of Words Of The Day

bricolage is a term used in several disciplines, among them the visual arts and literature, to refer to the construction or creation of a work from a diverse range of things that happen to be available, or a work created by such a process.

Wikipedia has much to say about this most interesting word.

And . . .

exaptation refers to shifts in the function of a trait during evolution. For example, a trait can evolve because it served one particular function, but subsequently it may come to serve another. Exaptations are common in both anatomy and behavior. Bird feathers are a classic example: initially these evolved for temperature regulation, but then later were adapted for flight.

Wikipedia explains and illustrates this word, too.



C. S. Lewis once stated, "Love anything and your heart will be wrung and possibly broken. If you want to make sure of keeping it intact you must give it to no one. To love is to be vulnerable."

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