One of the things many of us were thankful for this week was a shorter workweek. As is often the case, however, I found it to be a mixed blessing, because I had one less workday to collect my thoughts for a column. Hence the following selection of brief items:
One of the things many of us were thankful for this week was a shorter workweek. As is often the case, however, I found it to be a mixed blessing, because I had one less workday to collect my thoughts for a column.
Hence the following selection of brief items:
In addition to focusing on Thanksgiving observances, many people at the Rockford Register Star have been working on our annual Excalibur and Excelsior awards.
That reminded me of a recent mailing from a certain area high school encouraging parents of students to order a copy of the school’s yearbook, also named Excalibur.
Unfortunately, out of four uses of “Excalibur” on the cover page, three were misspelled “Excaliber.”
In Arthurian legend, Excalibur is the name of King Arthur’s sword, which he either drew out of a stone or was given by the Lady of the Lake.
I’m not sure what “Excaliber” would be, but “caliber” is the size of a bullet or shell or the diameter of the bore of a gun. In a general sense, “caliber” is the “degree of worth or value of a person or thing; quality or ability.”
With all the concerns about security in schools, it’s only natural that students would be familiar with “caliber,” but people associated with the school yearbook ought to know how to spell its name.
I know this is an excellent school, but little things like this can make a person worry about the overall caliber of education.
No wonder our No Child Left Behind president was moved to ask, “Is our children learning?”
Now that the holiday shopping season is officially off and running, here’s a word of caution to people shopping for their children or grandchildren, courtesy of one of my wife’s co-workers:
Expect some curious reactions from younger store clerks when inquiring about Erector sets. These classic construction toys are still out there, but their name has acquired an unwelcome cachet in these days of constant bombardment by ads about male enhancement.
Perhaps this was a ploy by the toy company from the outset to appeal to precocious boys, but I doubt it.
The verb “to erect” has perfectly legitimate meanings, including “to raise or construct (a building, etc.),” “to set in an upright position,” “to set up; assemble.”
But in this sex-crazed age, it appears to be doomed to be associated with “to cause to become swollen and rigid by being filled with blood.” Pretty racy, eh?
I hope the sales of Erector sets haven’t suffered because of this association. Who knows, maybe it has given them a lift.
That doesn’t compute
Staying in the wide world of toys, all I know about computer games is that they and the systems on which to play them are quite expensive, and the best one ever made seems to come out every two months or so.
I was reading a review of one of the newest products — I had to, it was part of my job — and I came across the phrase “the easiest difficulty.”
I get the basic concept of rating things by degree of difficulty. But by definition, difficult can’t be easy. How about “the lowest difficulty”?
No wonder I don’t understand this computer stuff.
Barry Wood is a senior copy editor at the Rockford Register Star. Contact him at email@example.com or write to Wood on Words, 99 E. State St., Rockford, IL 61104.