Archive for the ‘Categorization and Labeling’ Category

Morning: the call of nature

October 13, 2015

Yesterday’s morning expression on awakening (with a need to answer the call of nature) was not exactly a name, but, well, the NP the call of nature. That led to the product Serutan — that is a name — and, in another direction, to the PP against nature, which I’ll reserve for another day.

Basic dictionary work. From NOAD2:

call of nature  used euphemistically to refer to a need to urinate or defecate.

and AHD5:

A need to urinate or defecate. Often used with answer: He left the room to answer the call of nature.

Idiom dictions are roughly similar, and some offer nature’s call as an alternative.


From the 80s

October 11, 2015

The restaurant Reposado, where I regularly have lunch, plays Mexican popular music, in Spanish (more on this below), on its sound system on weekdays, but popular music in English on weekends, when visitors to Palo Alto might prefer it. Yesterday I noticed that I recognized almost all of the songs, even while I was mostly concentrated on reading and taking notes. It started with Madonna’s “Material Girl” and went through a range of other songs. Here’s a list of the ones I caught, with the dates of their release:

“Material Girl” (1984), “Owner of a Lonely Heart” (1983), “Electric Avenue” (1982), “Relax” (1983), “(I’m) Bad” (1987), “Tainted Love” (Soft Cell version, 1981), “Take My Breath Away” (1986)

Oh my, hit songs of the 80s. The 80s were my 40s, and a very complex time in my life — my first stint at the Center for Advanced Study in the Behavioral Sciences, my wife’s death, the shift to an Ohio State/Stanford split schedule, and more — but I seem to have been attentive to the music of the decade.

Two things: the categories of popular music, the song “Relax”.



September 18, 2015

Big advertising campaign underway for Olive Garden’s “breadstick sandwiches”. Now the idea of a breadstick sandwich might strike you as absurd, if you think of breadsticks as pencil-thin and crisp, like the grissini here:


But OG’s breadsticks are wide grissini, and they are chewy rather than crisp, so they can serve as the bun in a sandwich.


Chaste trees and jumping spiders

September 12, 2015

Yesterday at the Gamble Garden in Palo Alto, a plant note and an animal note: chaste trees and jumping spiders.


Plant family backlog

September 9, 2015

This is an assemblage of plant families that have been mentioned on this blog but not treated in any detail (I might well have missed some). I’ll start with those from my “Birthday flowers” posting, which referred to the olive family (including the genera Syringa and Jasminum) and to the violet family (including the genus Viola) and will lead to a few other families. Then I’ll go back through earlier postings, starting in 2012 and pick up some more.


Shooting stars, hydrangeas, and lemongrass

September 7, 2015

Yesterday’s investigations into plants, focusing on names, both common and botanical: mail from a friend, a gift plant for my birthday, and grass plants for cooking.


Birthday flowers

September 6, 2015

I’m a few hours into my 75th birthday — 75 is a seriously round number — and already I’ve gotten (electronically) two wonderful cards, both with flowers on them, both leading to another plant family, the Asparagaceae, though neither depicts an asparagus (instead, a lily-of-the-valley and a  Joshua tree, which are, amazingly, in the asparagus family). As a bonus, the first card introduces (via four flowers) three more plant families I haven’t discussed in my recent postings on plant families —  one of which, the Primulaceae (which comes via the pimpernel plant), I’ll talk about here. As a further bonus, the second card has a nearly naked young man with notable abs (and a woolly mammoth).


Cotinus and the cousins of Cotinus

September 4, 2015

Noted at Palo Alto’s Gamble Garden earlier this week: Cotinus coggygyria. A handsome large shrub or small tree that I grew in my Columbus garden. A silhouette of the plant in Columbus, in a photo taken by Elizabeth Daingerfield Zwicky in 1998:



Eat your weeds

August 31, 2015

Laboring on WWI (Weeds, Wildflowers, and Invasives), I was reunited with the work of Euell Gibbons, who (50 years ago) served as a cheerleader for eating foods from nature, rather than agriculture. Eat your weeds!


Cow parsnip

August 30, 2015

My continuing investigations into invasive plants take me further and further afield (so to speak), today to Bay Area wildflowers, of which there are a great many — some shy woodland flowers, some small plants that (in their season) blanket hillsides and meadows, and some weedy and imposing plants. Now a web list of area wildflowers turns up many familiar plants from my days of wildflower tracking, including a giant, the cow parsnip:


(Note the big white umbels and the huge celery-like leaves.)



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