Wordies – This one’s for you

wordsMy mother-in-law’s friend Marie and I exchange emails on a fairly regular basis.  I’m always inspired and impressed by Marie’s quick wit and brillant sense of humor, and when I’m older (: P) I hope to be as smart as she is. The latest bit she sent to me was this one about words and their meanings.  Enjoy!

The Washington Post’s Mensa Invitational once again invited readers to take any word from the dictionary, alter it by adding, subtracting, or changing one letter, and supply a new definition.   Here are some of the winners:

Giraffiti : Vandalism spray-painted very, very high
Sarchasm : The gulf between the author of sarcastic wit and the person who doesn’t get it.
Inoculatte : To take coffee intravenously when you are running late.
Karmageddon : It’s like, when everybody is sending off all these really bad vibes, right? And then, like, the Earth explodes and it’s like, a serious bummer.
Decafalon (n.): The grueling event of getting through the day consuming only things that are good for you.
Dopeler Effect: The tendency of stupid ideas to seem smarter when they come at you rapidly.
Arachnoleptic Fit (n.): The frantic dance performed just after you’ve accidentally walked through a spider web.
Caterpallor ( n.): The color you turn after finding half a worm in the fruit you’re eating.

The Post also published the winning submissions to its yearly contest, in which readers are asked to supply alternate meanings for common words.

Coffee, n. The person upon whom one coughs.
Flabbergasted, adj. Appalled by discovering how much weight one has gained.

Abdicate, v. To give up all hope of ever having a flat stomach.Lymph, v.. To walk with a lisp.

Gargoyle, n. Olive-flavored mouthwash.

Balderdash, n. A rapidly receding hairline.

Do you have a cool word or word change to recommend?  Post it below. . . remember this is a family page!  🙂

Think of it as feeding your brain!

prefrontal cortexIn literature class we’ve taken some time so far this month to do what I consider the reading equivalent of wind sprints.  We’ve been reading some short selections:  short stories, essays, persuasive arguments, and informational articles.  Now we’re going to run another marathon by reading a novel. 

I really like food and exercise metaphors when it comes to what we do at school, which is why I was particularly delighted to read Kelly Gallagher’s reference to “starved minds” in his book Readicide.  (I devour little nuggets from this book every chance I get . . . shameless food pun intended.)  This isn’t going to be popular reading for you students, but here is a quote that I highlighted on my Kindle:  In reference to Jane Healy’s book Endangered Minds, Gallagher states,

 “Outside of school, many of our students are not partaking of those critical activities that stretch and deepen their brains.  Instead they often gravitate to those behaviors that offer instant gratification.*  As a result, Healy notes, many children are literally starving the lobes of the prefrontal cortex of their brains, a starvation Healy characterizes as ‘frightening.'” 

*Insert any number of mind-numbing activities here:  video games, television watching, texting, mindless computer surfing, etc.

Prefrontal Cortex!! It sounds like such an important part of the brain that I had to do some research, and it turns out that it IS just as big  a deal as it sounds.  It is the part of the brain that is responsible for cognitive behaviors, personality development, and social decision-making.  Woah!

Realizing that I must do my part to feed your prefrontal cortex, I’m going to bring on the broccoli — a longer book that challenges us to think, that forces us to learn new words, and that causes us to sweat a little as we plug away at longer sentences and paragraphs.  If  you think that sounds like we might be heading toward a classic, you might be right.  And when you’ve run the long distance you can revel in the exercise and strength that you’ve provided your most important muscle — your mind!

Coming out of the deep freeze

icy penguinsOur Indiana Ice Bowl began Monday night, and if my sore shoulders and back are any indication, it’s still not over.  I’ve only chopped 1/8 of the driveway, just enough to have one safe spot to park one vehicle.  I used to think that shoveling snow was a chore, but I’ll gladly take Chicago’s 20 inches of powdery goodness over our 3 inches of icy, sleety chaos.

But here’s the good part, the part about all of the luxurious unplanned time that three days of ice emergency school closing can offer.  I was afforded  opportunities that aren’t part of my regularly-scheduled programming.  In no particular order, I . . .

  • Read three books – one for school; two for me
  • Sat in front of the fire – that’s all – just sat and watched it without doing anything else
  • Watched two good movies
  • Knitted
  • Caught up on some lesson planning
  • Wrote college scholarship letters of recommendation for former students
  • Made a couple of great dinners that included homemade bread
  • Slept 8 hours every night
  • Talked to friends and family on the phone – leisurely!
  • Consumed too much coffee
  • Organized and cleaned my at-home office
  • Skated the neighborhood with the big dog at least twice each day
  • Chopped ice, chopped ice, chopped ice

Having just finished reading Bridge to Terabithia with some of my students, I was reminded of the chapter entitled, “The Perfect Day.”  I have just had three of those.  Now, I will admit that I’m ready to return to my regularly-scheduled programming tomorrow (with a two-hour delay), but it was some good, unexpected R & R.   What did you do with your gift of time?