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Dec 20, 2020
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One thing leads to another ...

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AWADmail Issue 964

A Compendium of Feedback on the Words in A.Word.A.Day
and Other Tidbits about Words and Language

Sponsor’s Message: Quarantine got you down? Cooped up blues? Unpleasant relatives? Wise Up! -- is the perfect cure for cabin fever -- it’s a wicked/smart party card game that asks tons of devilishly difficult questions that’ll give you know-it-alls plenty of life lessons in humility, history, sports, science, literature, and geography. And wit. For example: Everyone knows the First and Second Amendments -- what’s the Third? Sleeping Beauty’s real name? How long is a furlong? But beware, there’s also a slew of “challenge” cards that chuck Darwinian physical and mental wrenches into the works, e.g., “Throw this card on the floor and pick it up without using your hands.” Just what the doctor ordered, especially for this week’s Email of the Week Winner, John T. Egan (see below), and hunkered-down brainiacs everywhere. Wise Up! + FREE Smarts Pills = unHappy Holidays!

From: Athena PN (via website comments)
Subject: Wordsmith-holing

I tend to go Wordsmith-holing, frequently being led all over the Internet by the WOTD or the TOTD -- a time waster(?) I highly recommend!

Athena PN

From: Dan Schubart (danneau danneau.com)
Subject: Re: Wikihole

When I started studying French at university, I bought a “Petit Larousse Illustré”, having seen my Dad’s 1931 edition on the bookshelf (it’s now on my bookshelf), and almost the first time I went to look something up, I got lost in a maze of tangential references, none of which lacked the compelling interest to separate me from the book until I finally had to close it up and go get a bus. It’s an ongoing narrative, and has transferred over to the Web, not only the Wikipedia corner, but I recall a morning a decade and a bit ago when I ran across a reference to Charles Mingus’s composition “Good-bye, Pork Pie Hat” and ended up listening to a dozen different versions on YouTube, but wandering about in the meantime through loops of recommended videos by a broad spectrum of musicians. I was working on a graphics project that kept me in front of the computer until supper, and it wasn’t until that moment that the musical meanderings paused. I love that we can have these experiences with alternate organizational schemes for information.

Dan Schubart, Port Alberni, Canada

From: Mark Snow (MarkTSnow msn.com)
Subject: A rabbit-hole dream

If you consider the subconscious mind a link to this week’s “one thing leads to another” theme, then that’s what happened to me last night -- and I completely attribute my journey down the rabbit hole to the influence of A.Word.A.Day.

Normally, my email reading each day begins with your dispatches (there’s so much to learn from in so little space!). But Monday’s AWAD arrived Sunday night and I read it before turning in.

What followed was one of the most specific sleep dreams I’ve ever had. In it, I was in a reading room-setting with two or three other people, each of us engaged in particular portions of a lexiconic search. We pored over different editions of dictionaries and other reference books, then assembled to give our conclusion: yes, “nihilist” is in the same word family as “annihilate”. It was a big, joyous, Rosetta Stone/ENIGMA-level of celebratory moment.

When I searched AWAD first thing this morning, sure enough, there’s an entry “Nihil “nothing” > nil, null, nihilism, nihilist, nihility, annihilate.” The evidence of AWAD’s completeness was, to use Monday’s selection, irrefutable.

I’ve had dreams take place in libraries and numerous school settings, but the focus has always been on the people in the dream, their conversations and actions; I’ve been on searches in dreams, but never searched through a book; I’ve seen colors, felt heat and cold, tasted food, smelled aromas, and heard music, but never zeroed in on only one word on the printed page.

For a realistic positive thinker like myself, the biggest mystery is: why did I dream about that particular word connection? (I’ll start looking through Wiki’s List Of Paradoxes!)

Mark Snow, San Antonio, Texas

From: Fred Ridder (docudoc hotmail.com)
Subject: amnesia

When I first saw that amnesia was the word of the day, I immediately thought of a brilliant, witty comment to send. But now I can’t remember what it was.

Fred Ridder, Hillsborough, New Jersey

From: Duncan Muirhead (duncan.muirhead iongeo.com)
Subject: amnesia

Some people say memory gets worse with age, but I can’t remember when my memory was better.

Duncan Muirhead, Edinburgh, Scotland

From: Gary Mengel (mengelji outlook.com)
Subject: Psychogenic

“Does the noise in my head bother you?”
from The Gods Must Be Crazy, 1980

Gary Mengel, Westminster, Colorado

From: Davide Migliaccio (dcmiglia gmail.com)
Subject: A Thought for Today

No society that feeds its children on tales of successful violence can expect them not to believe that violence in the end is rewarded. -Margaret Mead, anthropologist (16 Dec 1901-1978)

It wasn’t too long after I became a parent that I realized what I’d express as a corollary to Margaret Mead’s thought:

“A society that uses violence to discipline its children teaches them that violence is the solution to problems, especially interpersonal conflict.”

Likewise with guilt and shame, which tend to teach kids to feel ashamed of themselves. I never hit or threatened my children, and I never used the familiar parental phrase, “Aren’t you ashamed of yourself?” They have turned out beautifully (more of a credit to my wife and to them than to me).

Davide C. Migliaccio, Colorado Springs, Colorado

From: Dave Campbell (museumofdave gmail.com)
Subject: Margaret Mead quotation

Near the conclusion of Shakespeare’s war-themed Henry V, the Duke of Burgundy pleads with the kings of France and England to establish a permanent peace, citing the effect of violent behavior which ultimately infects and degrades the better intentions of humanity:

Even so our houses and ourselves and children
Have lost, or do not learn for want of time,
The sciences that should become our country;
But grow like savages, -- as soldiers will
That nothing do but meditate on blood, --
To swearing and stern looks, diffused attire
And every thing that seems unnatural.

The Duke goes on to advocate for peace, that “merry cheerer of the heart” bringing back to “this best garden of the world...” the arts and “plenties” and joyful births. One hopes for a sort of similar regeneration from Washington in the next four years.

Dave Campbell, Red Bluff, California

From: Courtney Walsh (c.a.walsh hotmail.com)
Subject: Re: psychogenic polydipsia

I’ve been following you for a decade and have never been more gobsmacked than I am this week.

I’m a psych nurse in an acute setting. Very recently I’ve had not one but two patients with psychogenic polydipsia! Just as you feature both of these words this week. Spooky indeed, and, my god, what a difficult condition to manage. I’m not sure how these poor patients will cope when they’re back out in the community, both of them are chronic sufferers.

Courtney Walsh, Australia

Email of the Week -- Brought to you by Wise Up! + FREE Smarts Pills = unHappy Holidays!

From: John T. Egan (johnthomasegan gmail.com)
Subject: On psychogenic polydipsia

I’ll never forget this episode from my very first (internal medicine) rotation in medical school at our county hospital: one of my first patients was admitted for low sodium levels (hyponatremia). In attempting to find the cause and the best treatment for her, it was discovered that she had been refusing her medications for paranoid schizophrenia for some number of days, possibly weeks. Without those medications, her mental condition had deteriorated.

One of her symptoms was suspected to be psychogenic polydipsia. Most dramatically -- and memorably for me -- was one morning finding her bent over her hospital room sink, drinking directly from the short faucet. I learned thereafter this was similar to the “classic” medical school presentation of hyponatremia secondary to psychogenic polydipsia: finding your patient passed out under a sink with a drinking cup in their hand.

Unfortunately, one driver of excessive drinking can be dry mouth (xerostomia), which can be caused by a variety of medications -- including the very antipsychotic medication prescribed for this poor woman in the first place.

Medicine is ever a “practice” and we only seem to improve things ever so slowly.

John Thomas Egan, MD, Minneapolis, Minnesota

From: Dorothy Coombs (djccc comcast.net)
Subject: Re: A.Word.A.Day--polydipsia

The three basic diagnostics for diabetes are polyuria, polydipsia, and polyphagia.

Dorothy Coombs, Beaverton, Oregon

Head Case
From: Alex McCrae (ajmccrae277 gmail.com)(br)
Subject: psychogenic & polydipsia

Our word “psychogenic” prompted this cartoon scenario of Trump in psychoanalysis. His hyper-inflated ego has literally given him an enormous swelled noggin. Granted, the likelihood of actually seeing Trump take to the psychiatrist’s couch is slim-to-none. Frankly, not even a passel of Freuds could figure out this nut-job.

Last Roundup
My ill-fated desperado’s luck is about to run out... a casualty of polydipsia, down to his last precious droplets of agua. The unforgiving desert heat has gotten the best of him. The nearby vulture could well be eyeing its next meal?

Alex McCrae, Van Nuys, California

Anagrams of This Week’s Words
1. irrefutable
2. amnesia
3. psychogenic
4. polydipsia
5. propensity
= 1. proof
2. escape in pain hour
3. mystical
4. dry lips, yet peeing
5. bias
     1. irrefutable
2. amnesia
3. psychogenic
4. polydipsia
5. propensity
= 1. apposite
2. eclipsis
3. signify mad
4. beery or polyuria
5. penchant
-Dharam Khalsa, Burlington, North Carolina (dharamkk2 gmail.com) -Julian Lofts, Auckland, New Zealand (jalofts xtra.co.nz)


This virus for which we must mask
Has detractors -- what questions they ask!
The disease: indisputable,
Not a whit irrefutable;
To teach the unwilling? Some task!
-Marcia Sinclair, Newmarket, Canada (marciasinclair rogers.com)

Election results, irrefutable,
are challenged by loser as mutable.
“They’re rigged!” he declares,
as again he prepares
a lawsuit to prove them disputable.
-Anne Thomas, Sedona, Arizona (antom earthlink.net)

Despair of a fact irrefutable;
A fact must perforce be disputable.
If you think black and white,
You will never be right,
For nature just isn’t immutable.
-Gordon Tully, Charlottesville, Virginia (gordon.tully gmail.com)

She asked him for proof irrefutable
The love he professed was immutable.
He got a tattoo,
But now they are through,
And Amy Forever’s unsuitable.
-Marion Wolf, Bergenfield, New Jersey (marionewolf yahoo.com)

The match was completely unsuitable
And the problems it caused, irrefutable,
But the sweethearts declared
That, ideally paired,
Their happiness was indisputable.
-Zelda Dvoretzky, Haifa, Israel (zeldahaifa gmail.com)

All the schemes that the start-up would hatch
Would suffer a key glitch or catch.
When flaws irrefutable
made a plan unsuitable,
They’d churn out a new one from scratch.
-Shyamal Mukherji, Mumbai, India (mukherjis hotmail.com)

The judges all say it’s immutable,
The evidence quite irrefutable.
“He’s out!” yells the ump,
But nonetheless Trump
Keeps on seeking a call that’s more suitable.
-Bindy Bitterman, Chicago, Illinois (bindy eurekaevanston.com)

The case against Trump’s irrefutable.
His wrongdoings are indisputable.
His loss, I won’t grieve,
But the dolt will not leave.
Oh, please make his ramblings all mutable.
-Joan Perrin, Port Jefferson Station, New York (perrinjoan aol.com)

In George Washington’s day, truth was beautiful;
A fact was a thing irrefutable.
If you chopped down a tree,
You’d admit, “It was me”;
Whereas now, “It’s still standing” is suitable.
-Steve Benko, New York, New York (stevebenko1 gmail.com)

With the White House in such disarray,
He has led many people astray.
He’s so disconnected
Amnesia’s suspected.
The good news is -- Joe’s on his way.
-Gayle Tremblay, Saint John, Canada (gayletremblay hotmail.com)

If you’ve got a case of amnesia,
Anxiety simply may seize ya.
It’s got to feel rotten
When all is forgotten
And nothing familiar can please ya.
-Marion Wolf, Bergenfield, New Jersey (marionewolf yahoo.com)

Amnesia is when you forget
Conveniently! You made a bet
And when it comes due
Oh for goodness sake, YOU
Can’t remember that you’ve even met!
-Bindy Bitterman, Chicago, Illinois (bindy eurekaevanston.com)

His mornings of late had a cost,
in a one-sided war that he lost.
He’d overlook magnesia,
due to old-age amnesia,
And pay as his poor innards tossed.
-Shyamal Mukherji, Mumbai, India (mukherjis hotmail.com)

The patient woke from anesthesia
With an unexplained case of amnesia,
Which quite suddenly went
When she inhaled the scent
Of her favorite flower, the freesia.
-Zelda Dvoretzky, Haifa, Israel (zeldahaifa gmail.com)

I seem to forget quite a lot.
You’d think that amnesia I got.
Recalling recipes,
Or where I left my keys.
My memory just isn’t so hot.
-Joan Perrin, Port Jefferson Station, New York (perrinjoan aol.com)

When Gauguin underwent anesthesia,
He woke up with a case of amnesia.
“A stockbroker I ain’t;
Naked women I paint,”
He announced. “Off to French Polynesia!”
-Steve Benko, New York, New York (stevebenko1 gmail.com)

Psychogenic (It’s all in my head)
Will cease to exist, when I’m dead.
For it’s not really real
Even though I might feel
That it is, it is not, as I said!
-Steve Allison, Milford, Connecticut (steve.allison25 gmail.com)

What I’m saying is truly authentic,
I’m a psych doc, but not schizophrenic.
Psychiatry’s not science.
The brain’s not an appliance.
It jumps around, quite psychogenic.
-Joe Budd Stevens, San Miguel de Allende, Mexico (joebuddstevens gmail.com)

My symptoms had kept me in bed.
“They’re all psychogenic,” Doc said.
“You don’t need a pill;
You just need to chill.”
I got a new doctor instead.
-Marion Wolf, Bergenfield, New Jersey (marionewolf yahoo.com)

“The culture ‘round here is Hellenic,”
Sighed Pontius, “but so schizophrenic.
They’re Hebrew, they’re Greek,
Now some nut says, ‘Though meek,
Follow me and find peace psychogenic.’”
-Steve Benko, New York, New York (stevebenko1 gmail.com)

Polydipsia (drink without end),
A behavior that surely will send
One off to the loo,
Every hour or two,
To pee a right clear-colored blend.
-Steve Allison, Milford, Connecticut (steve.allison25 gmail.com)

Unquenchable thirst is the worst!
It’s almost as if I were cursed.
Polydipsia’s why
I’m feeling so dry,
Although I am ready to burst.
-Marion Wolf, Bergenfield, New Jersey (marionewolf yahoo.com)

A girl with tattoo polydipsia
Had a gift for transmitting chlamydia.
“With the art on my body,”
She’d say, “I’m a hottie!”
Her name, you may ask? Why, ‘twas Lydia!
-Steve Benko, New York, New York (stevebenko1 gmail.com)

Flirty Freddy has a propensity to leer.
His broad smile’s a monstrosity, I fear.
His winks are a curse,
but his stares are much worse.
And he thinks women love him, my dear!
-Mariana Warner, Asheville, North Carolina (marianaw6002 gmail.com)

Poor pigs minimized the immensity
of wolf’s diabolic propensity
for menacing huffing.
They thought he was bluffing,
till puffing increased in intensity.
-Anne Thomas, Sedona, Arizona (antom earthlink.net)

He had a propensity to be
Always stirring up controversy.
When people would see
Him coming, they’d flee.
I’m happy that it’s him and not me!
-Lois Mowat, Orinda, California (lmowat1810 gmail.com)

Said the hiker with much great intensity,
“I have always had such strong propensity
To traverse the long trails,
Where pure nature prevails,
With my first stop: the well-known Yosemite.”
-Judith Marks-White, Westport, Connecticut (joodthmw gmail.com)

An early propensity meant
On tour young Mozart was sent.
With talent galore
And hits by the score,
This prodigy helped pay the rent.
-Marion Wolf, Bergenfield, New Jersey (marionewolf yahoo.com)

For snacking she had a propensity,
Which led to increase in density.
Now with each little treat,
She cannot see her feet,
With a waistline of great immensity.
-Joan Perrin, Port Jefferson Station, New York (perrinjoan aol.com)

Windmills & Don
Illustration: Mark Seltman
With a mind of unparalleled density,
For delusions he has a propensity.
Says Donald, “I’ll stay
And keep Biden at bay,
Then four years from now grant myself clemency.”
-Steve Benko, New York, New York (stevebenko1 gmail.com)


The young man told the Army recruiter, “I was going to join up until you reminded me of a family responsibility by saying, ‘Your uncle’s amnesia!’”
-Steve Benko, New York, New York (stevebenko1 gmail.com)

When the pirate took swing-dancing lessons with his parrot, the instructor told him, “Now you twirl into her left wing and polydipsia.”
-Steve Benko, New York, New York (stevebenko1 gmail.com)

Neighbors of the inventor of the writing instrument supported him so much that his hometown was called propensity.
-Jim Ertner, Greensboro, North Carolina (jde31459 gmail.com)

Once a grifter, always a grifter
From: Alex McCrae (ajmccrae277 gmail.com)
Subject: Grifter and Southern Discomfort

Con-artist, fraudster, chiseler, gouger, scammer, swindler, flim-flam man, charlatan... all terms descriptive of one who cheats others of their money/assets -- can be subsumed under the rubric of “grifter”. Here, Trump, grifter par excellence, is encouraging his supporters to donate to his bogus crusade to combat voter fraud, whilst in reality adding millions to his personal slush fund.

Southern Discomfort
All eyes are on Georgia these days, as two crucial US Senate run-off races come to a vote on Jan 5. Two uber-rich Republicans, incumbents David Perdue and Kelly Loeffler, pitted against Democratic hopefuls Jon Ossoff and Raphael Warnock, respectively. Here, Perdue and Loeffler ponder whether Trump’s backing will be a boon or a bust for their election day prospects. If both Dem rivals manage to pull off victories, the Senate would be deadlocked at 50/50, obliging VP Kamala Harris to cast the tie-breaking vote, giving the Dems the slimmest of majorities. Say sayonara, Mitch.

Alex McCrae, Van Nuys, California

If we would have new knowledge, we must get us a whole world of new questions. -Susanne Langer, philosopher (20 Dec 1895-1985)

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