Word of the Week Wednesday: militate

This Wednesday’s Word of the Week is: militate.

To militate is to have a substantial effect or to weigh heavily.  It used to mean to fight for a belief or to be a soldier.

This is not to be confused with mitigate which has a roughly opposite meaning, at least conceptually: to make better of less intense.

I do kind of like the almost misleading aspect of the word; it looks like military so one would think it has some meaning related to the military, but no more.



Word of the Week Wednesday: lugubrious

This Wednesday’s Word of the Week is: lugubrious

Lugubrious means gloomy or mournful but especially is an over-the-top, affected or melodramatic way.

The word always reminds my of an episode of the Twilight Zone called, “A Piano in the House”.  I can’t recall if I heard the word first in the dialog or if the butler character just struck me as the epitome of lugubriousness.

Besides just being a funny-sounding word, I’ve always been, if not amused, then at least entertained by the overwrought sense of the maudlin.

While Droopy Dog never really did much for me, Eeyore has always been my favorite of Pooh Bear‘s friends and of course Morrissey factors heavily in my music collection.

Word of the Week Wednesday: ferly

This Wednesday’s Word of the Week is: ferly.

Ferly is an adjective meaning strange, unusual or unexpected.

It is also used as a noun meaning something evincing those qualities.

What I like about this word is that it’s a short, simple word with punch that I would never have guessed the meaning of.

This is definitely a word I’d like to use in conversation.  I’d have to make sure the context is enough to get the meaning.

Using a new word and having to define it right away strikes me as pretentious, as if I want people to think, “Wow, he’s got a great vocabulary”.  When, actually, it’s just a cool word that I’d like to encourage others to use.



Word of the Week Wednesday: conundrum

This Wednesday’s Word of the Week is: conundrum.

Roughly, a conundrum is anything that’s puzzling but I’ve most often heard it used to describe a tricky situation or decision; a dilemma.

It turns out that what it really means is a riddle, usually one the answer to which is a pun, or a play on words.

Example: What’s black and white and red all over?  A newspaper.

The word is also spelled quonundrum and is a made-up pseudo-Latin word.

Word of the Week Wednesday: superfluous

This Wednesday’s Word of the Week is: superfluous.

Superfluous means more than necessary or excessive, also unneeded.

From its etymology, it literally means overflowing.

Granted, the term is almost exclusively used negatively, I do like the concept of overflowing abundance.

I’m also quite fond of the u-o-u-s construction.  The concatenation of so many open vowels adds to the sense of flowing.

Word of the Week Wednesday: oubliette

This Wednesday’s Word of the Week is: oubliette.

An oubliette is a dungeon cell.  Specifically one with the only opening being in the ceiling.

It derives from the French word, oublier meaning “to forget”.

The gist is that it was someplace you deposited a prisoner and then forgot about them

I first remember hearing the word in the movie Labyrinth.

This was one of the great geek movies that came out in the 80s, significantly contributing to my burgeoning geekdom.

And, in fact, labyrinth itself is quite a wonderful word, definitely WOWW-worthy.

Song Lyric Spotlight: Halloween Twofer

It’s been a while, but Song Lyric Spotlight is back!

I was inspired because today is Halloween.

There are, of course, countless spooky and Halloween-themed songs floating around like so many ill-mannered ghosts.

Today, I am presenting two songs which take the concept of the lullaby and childhood fears and go in drastically different directions.

The first song is: Lullaby (lyrics) by The Cure from their Disintegration album.

This is an intensely creepy song about a man-spider creeping into the singer’s bedroom to devour him alive.

Some lyrics:

On candystripe legs, the spiderman comes
softly through the shadow of the evening sun
stealing past the windows of the blissfully dead
looking for the victim shivering in bed


The next song, is also a lullaby and it is a much more of a standard, reassuring one.

The song is The Hand That Rocks The Cradle (lyrics) by The Smiths from their debut album.

It is a song a father sings to his son reassuring that he will always be there to protect him.

Please don’t cry
For the ghost and the storm outside
Will not invade this sacred shrine
Nor infiltrate your mind
My life down I shall lie
If the bogey-man should try
To play tricks on your sacred mind
To tease, torment, and tantalise
Wavering shadows loom
A piano plays in an empty room
There’ll be blood on the cleaver tonight

Still creepy, but touching as well.

Word of the Week Wednesday: skullduggery

This Wednesday’s Word of the Week is: skullduggery.

Skullduggery is an uncommon and somewhat folksy-sounding word for trickery, deceit and dirty dealing.

Being that it’s close to Halloween, I figured a word that starts with “skull” would be fitting.

For me, I get a sense of mischief from the word.  It very much reminds me of the incantation for the Marauder’s Map from Harry Potter: “I solemnly swear that I’m up to no good.”

In truth, the word is actually quite a bit more serious than that, and tends to be used as such.  But it has a sound to it that I find hard to take too seriously.

Word of the Week Wednesday: sibilance

This Wednesday’s Word of the Week is: sibilance.

Sibilance is a word that describes a hissing sound.

While it’s just the sound we make for an “s”, the protracted hiss has a connotation of an angry animal like a cat of a snake.

When it’s not necessarily angry, it still suffers for the snake’s evil reputation.

Sssomething about a ssserpent, I sssuppose.



Overdue Toastmasters Update

It’s been an awfully eventful few months for me with Toastmasters as Area Governor.

I’m planning on using that as my excuse for being so slack in my posting of late.

As a result of these two phenomenon, I have quite a few long overdue updates.

In my last Toastmasters-related post, I mentioned that we were in our Fall Contest Season.  We are holding Humorous Speech and Evaluation contests.

September was Area Contest Month and I helped out in eight separate Area contests, during three of which I gave the test speech that the Evaluation Contestants evaluated.

After seeing how just about every other Area in Hampton Roads did it, I finally held my own Area Contest on a dark and stormy night at the end of September.

The contest went very well, mostly because I had a lot of help.


Today was our Division Contest, where all the winners of the various Area Contests competed to see who would move on to the contests to be held at our Fall Convention.  I’m proud to announce that the Humorous Speech contestant from my home club placed third.


Also at today’s contest, the winners of the Division-wide “Battle of the VPs of Membership” were announced.  This was a membership renewal contest to see which clubs could get the highest percentage of members renewed as early as possible.

Of the 24 clubs in the Division, two clubs in my Area (more than any other Area) qualified and one of my clubs took First Place.


Note: Not Me

This coming Friday, my company will be holding its semi-Annual Tech Expo where all of the sizable IT Department gathers together and, after a plenary session where the CIO and the various VPs share status and planning updates, we break into groups and attend sessions presented by different sub-departments to find out what new technologies are being developed and used.

I mention this because I will be presenting a brief overview and introduction at the Expo explaining what we do in our Toastmasters club.  The purpose is to sell the benefits of Toastmasters for both individual skills development and contribution towards the company’s success.


My last update is about the District Conference.  Because I’m in IT and have been willing to help, I’ve been asked to act as the “AV Guy”.  I’ll be in charge of the setup and maintenance for the entire conference.

I’m a bit apprehensive about this because it’s a really big job and AV is not my exact bailiwick.  I’ve made this clear, so hopefully not too much is expected and I have reached out for assistance, with some success.

We’ll be holding a dry run next weekend at the facility to work out the details.  Wish me luck!

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