Sunday, August 27, 2006


The most important current question for the Chakas is: Have you been practicing your dance moves? La Salsa, El Merengue, La Bachata? I sure hope so! The next time you're in Mpls we WILL go out together, because we there is at least one venue each and every night of the week. Maybe not quite as sophisticated as La Rumba, but just as fun.

Friday, August 25, 2006

oh, those bed grubs did bite !

no - theres no new question here. this ones a trick. hopefully, getting all your hopes up that there may actually be something new and exciting. but no. there is not. in fact, this may be a complete waste of your time. whY you're still reading is simply beyond my comprehension. its almost as if yoU all actually have nothing better to do with your lives than sit in front of a computer screen and read random dribble off of the lamp post.
and don't even try to turn this around on me. i know all of yoU tricky sneakersters out there - and your ways of devilry. of course i have nothing to do. its a non- event weekend for me. and therefore clearly my thusly writings of ramblings is justified by my decleration of thus saying so and my ever growing pile of revolutionary boredom.

(and YES, i did actually mean to say 'bed bugs' in the title but my backwards-nature-ness (there should be a word for that) won that battle - oh well.)

Saturday, August 19, 2006

Good night, sleep tight

So the wife and I visited historic Milton, WI the other day. There's an inn there that is the only documented Underground Railroad site in Wisconsin. As our adolescent tour guide was leading us through the inn, she attempted to demonstrate the sleeping conditions in the mid-ninteenth century: "As you see, the base is ropes; the bottom mattress is straw; then a feather mattress. That's the origin of the saying 'Good night, sleep tight, don't let the bed bugs bite.'"

Huh? you say--isn't there a part missing in that origin story? Like the part where the bed bugs are introduced? My thoughts exactly. There is clearly a gap in the guide's script. So I put the question to you, askers of Chaka: what is the background of the saying? Did it originate in the U.S. or England? What's the earliest recorded use? Get to work!

Sunday, August 13, 2006

I opine that they're the same

We've generated a few questions for you, in part because rumor has it that you're out of school (and that's not fair for those of us still in school), but the list is two shorter than it originally was, due to my lapse in memory:

1. Why do people not use the word opine? We always opt for the passive sentence structure when opine is such a cool word!

2. What's the difference between a motor and an engine. Most often motors are reserved for electric sources of power, but the Ford Tri-motor is an 1929 airplane. When did the word meanings begin to deviate?

3. Are Aggravation and Sorry! essentially the same game? And why is the newer version creating a generation of liars. If you're truly sorry, you should avoid the action for which you will later have to apologize. The majority of the time, such aggressive and cold-hearted actions are avoidable.

4. What's the difference between a tree and a really big bush? A mulberry bush I've been picking is really quite large and tree-like.

Thanks for doing our work for us! We anticipate the fruits of your wisdom and research!

Saturday, August 12, 2006

I ride bike!

Why do iron-rangers, and possibly others, use the phrases "ride bike" and "drive truck"? What happened to the definite or indefinite articles?

Friday, August 11, 2006

I don't understand!

Why is "understand" a word for comprehending something? Is there an "overstand?"

Why does standing under something means you know what I'm saying?

Thursday, August 03, 2006

Now "nerd" is an interesting word

Nerds have of course been around for a long time. At least as long as people have read Tolkien and wanted to name their first born Boromir. But the word itself is fairly recent. Anatoly Liberman, in his course on the History of English Words, argued that its appearance coincided with the rise of computers.

OED's first citation of the word attests to its use in Detroit in 1951 (reported by Newsweek). As for etymology, it can only give several options that it judges to be unlikely. A curious world demands better. We could engage in thorough research of popular media and private communications from mid-century Detroit. Or we could make up some folk etymologies on the spot. Any takers?

Tuesday, August 01, 2006


As I was researching my refutation of some dastardly folk etymologies (see post blow) I came accross one of the obsolete meanings of the noun "cop." One of the entries for "cop" in OED is devoted to spiders--a related word that is still used is "cobweb." The etymology shows that the Old English word for spider was "attercop."

Now, does that word ring any bells? A prize to the one who answers correctly...

Hint: they hate it when you call them that.