Sunday, December 27, 2009

Picking dingleberries

As with most slang terms, the word “dingleberry” cannot be found in standard dictionaries (and also appears as a misspelled word in Microsoft Word). But the Internet provides some interesting information, including possible origins as well as advice on how to prevent “dingleberries” from forming in the first place.

For the uninitiated,
a “dingleberry” is a small clump of feces with or without the inclusion of toilet paper that clings to anal hair.
These specimens can be found on humans and animals alike, although humans are the only ones that seem preoccupied with getting rid of them.

A clever contributor to also offered the definition of “dingleberry” in Star Trek terms as “a Klingon near Uranus.” Another definition of “dingleberry” is “an incompetent, foolish, or stupid person”.

From The Poop Report, we learn that “dingleberries” can be dealt with in a number of ways. The simplest would be to wipe thoroughly after going No.2, preferably with a good quality toilet paper. If the “dingleberries” are especially troublesome, the inflicted may also choose to wipe with a wet wipe or even resort to waxing excess anal hair.

Other terms for “dingleberry” include “dangleberry” (Irish), “dag” (Australian), and “clinker” (English).

One theory regarding the origins of the word “dingleberry” arises from a contemporary of Albert Einstein, the English astrophysicist Herbert Dingle. According to this theory, Dingle coined the term after relieving himself outdoors on a camping trip. Showing his friends the little poop ball hanging from his butt, he remarked on how much it resembled a berry. (See and Know Your Poop).

Related Links

The Free Dictionary

Origins and Interesting Info
Know Your Poop

Anecdotes and Advice
The Poop Report

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Stand still! The solstice is here!

December 21 marks the Winter Solstice, which is the longest night of the year. Sounds depressing, but the good news is that from here on out, the days will be getting gradually longer and longer and the nights will get shorter. So in honor of this occasion, I decided to do some digging into the meaning of the word “solstice.”

First used in approximately 1250, the word “solstice” derives from Old French, Latin, Middle English and Indo-European roots. Literally, it means "point at which the sun seems to stand still." Without reference to the movement of the sun, it can also be used to mean "a highest point or culmination."

Earlier manifestations of the word “solstice” were “solstitium” (Latin), “solsticy” (Middle English), “solsticio” (Portuguese) and “solstizio” (Italian).

The peculiar thing about the solstice is that the sun does seem to stand still.
Appearing at the lowest point in the sky, the sun stays along the horizon instead of arcing overhead at noontime. This visual phenomenon occurs for several days before, during, and after the solstice. This occurs because the tilt of the Earth’s equator is at its zenith on the solstice.

Although Americans tend to think of the Winter Solstice as the beginning of winter, that was not always the case in other parts of the world. In fact, the Summer Soltice was once known in many places as Midsummer.

So, I foolishly mark this solstice as the middle of my winter. May the snow melt and the flowers grow!

Related Links
Online Etymology Dictionary: solstice

Wiktionary: solstice

Neology: Jed Hartman’s words-and-wordplay blog

Wordnik: solstice

Webster’s Online Dictionary: solstice

Wikipedia: winter solstice solstice

Infoplease: Winter Solstice

eHow: What does the word solstice mean?

Saturday, December 19, 2009

Who do I think I am?

This is a profile piece a friend put together of me (mostly about my poetry). His name is David Geisler and he is most closely associated with a place (and place of being) called 716, a graphic arts online mag FEED, and an ongoing series of podcasts.

Read it here.

Happy Christmas

Every holiday marked on the American calendar can be met with the greeting of “Happy” this-or-that (Happy New Year, Happy Valentine’s Day, Happy Fourth of July, Happy Halloween, Happy Thanksgiving), with the exception of one – Christmas. Because “happy” is also a synonym for “merry” this difference really irks me. What makes Christmas so special?

The current definition of “merry” is generally “cheerful and lively” (according to Oxford), but a second meaning of the term is “slightly drunk” and “merrymaking” is defined as “lively celebration.” All of these definitions, including that of drunkenness, are generally true of Christmas.

However, the original meaning of “merry” (or “merrie” as they spelled it in the England of the Middle Ages) was “pleasing and delightful,” which is obviously a more toned-down version of festivities. Early uses of the world “merry” included “make merry” (1300), “Merry England” (1400) and the “merry month of May” (1560’s).

One of the first documented uses of the word “merry” in reference to Christmas was in 1565 when it appeared in a publication entitled the Hereford Municipal Manuscript: “And thus I comytt you to god, who send you a mery Christmas and many.”

The phrase “Merry Christmas” came into more common usage in the 1840’s when it appeared widely on the first commercially available Christmas card and placed prominently in Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol. At this time, the word “merry” started to take on some of its modern connotations, including that of drunkenness.
It has been said, and recorded by Paul Burell in A Royal Duty that Queen Elizabeth II prefers to greet her subjects with “Happy Christmas” because the word "merry" implies disorderly drunkenness. Clearly, she is still stuck in an earlier era.

Another naysayer I would avoid wishing a “Merry Christmas” (besides over-secularized individuals who insist on “Happy Holidays”) would be a gentleman named David J. Meyer from Beaver Dam, WI. He claims that when someone is wishing him a “Merry Christmas” they are literally saying “Merry death of Christ!” He also believes that when Santa says “Ho! Ho! Ho! Merry Christmas,” the jolly old man is “mocking and laughing at the suffering and bleeding” of Jesus Christ.

It seems that the phrase "Merry Christmas" is generally preferred when it is known that the receiver is Christian or celebrates Christmas (with the exception of Mr. Meyer, or course). At the same time, nonreligious people use the greeting in reference to the secular aspects of Christmas rather than the birth of the Christ child. Happily, it appears that people in the United Kingdom and Ireland use another phrase alongside “Merry Christmas."

You guessed it – “Happy Christmas!”

Links of Interest

The Phrase Finder: Christmas words and phrases

Collins Language blog: Christmas etymology

Wikipedia: Holiday Greetings

Last Trumpet Ministries International: The True Meaning of Christ-Mass(please don't take this one seriously)