Thursday, October 29

The Traveling Scholar

Ugh. Somehow the first half of my post was actually deleted or overwritten at some point, so my narrative seemed to have jumped into the middle of the action without prelude. I'll try to sum it up again, in that I was only going on about my bag fetish. Ever since getting out of the military, I've had a separate radar in my consciousness for increasingly efficient bag systems. It's good to have specialized bags, satchels, &c. for specialized purposes, but the holy grail of this is of course the grand go-to, the catch-all, the bag of all seasons. Have I found it? Will I ever? I can only leave this for the philosophers to debate.

I'm brand loyal to Swissgear for their many, many fine products. I can't seem to find my own purchases available on their main Web site, but instead I found many other items to enthuse and lust after. Lust? Absolutely: they don't instigate a biological response but I crave the efficient, multifunctional, sturdy design that is the hallmark of Swissgear. Why, just today I lapsed into a fugue state, pontificating over what it would be like if Swissgear actually designed a coat...

I used the courier bag to carry my laptop and for travel, but the problem with it is that it holds an awful lot and has a zipper to expand its content, so I can really overload it with a lot of heavy books and technology, contributing to cramped shoulders and imbalanced muscular strain. That's all my fault, though, I'm just being irresponsible. I loved that it seriously could hold all my crap, though: the main body had plenty of room for my laptop, which is an oversized model due to its wide screen, as well as folders and books for my college classes, and an array of handy, secure pouches and pockets. Into these went all my fountain pens and ink cartridges, plus letters and small notebooks to be accessed rapidly. I tried storing my cellphone in there but wound up forgetting about it more often than not.

I also found a handy satchel they call a boarding bag, suggesting its use for plane travel. I doubt I'll ever live in a society so sophisticated they would opt to travel with a small satchel rather than lugging their entire household in three oversized suitcases to be crammed in the overhead compartments, but the idea is appealing. I used to call this bag my "traveling office" because of everything it held: perfectly sized for my Kindle (with case), multiple Moleskine notebooks (hardcover and paperback), a robust pen collection, separate pouches for filing stationery, letters, and paperwork, and still more pockets than I needed. That is a desirable feature, to me. It even had a little pocket for my iPod Nano and a hole to run the headphones through, now a standard feature on all backpacks and such.

Most recently I picked up the Synergy notebook-carrying backpack. I was torn between my desire for its absolute utility--sheer volume of stowage and balanced weight on my back/shoulders--versus its perceived stigma: I only saw real geeks using it, apparent social retards. I'm quite geekish myself, I fully acknowledge and proclaim this, but I do shower a few times a week, I can state my position in a discussion without alienating everyone around me, and I can maintain eye contact during conversation. That is, I hope, what sets me apart. At length I finally got over myself and bought it and have been trying it out. Reflexively I want to adore it, but I'm still in a process of getting to know it, familiarizing myself with its physics as boys will.

It has two large compartments and two smaller front pouches, plus an unusual design for bottle holders on either side--they stretch to hold the whole bottle and enclose it entirely in a zippered mesh pouch. The very front pouch is small and I use it to hold bike maps and occasionally a breakfast bar; the larger one is my stationery repository (see pictured) and it holds more than I have labeled in the photo. Next is the first large compartment, holding two folders, the Kindle, a series of Moleskine notebooks, and still has considerable room for more--occasionally I stash my thermal lunch bag here. There's also a hanging pouch not just for my iPod Touch but also my headphones! Even more convenient. And the compartment behind that, up against my back, is where the laptop would go--my oversized laptop just fits in there, with a mesh pouch for power cords, laser mouse, and peripherals.

There is no question this is a very handy bag to have, and I'm sure I will overload it also with books, computer, and everything else, but at least it's built to distribute that weight more evenly. Already this advantage has manifest: yesterday I was about to miss my bus but was able to sprint a block to catch it, something I might not have pulled off if I had to secure an over-the-shoulder bag like a fully loaded courier bag.

I have a large Chinese (in style if not in origin) stationery chest at home, which comes with folding iron legs to support it about a foot off the ground. Something like that is how people used to transport their papers/parchment, inks, quills, pens, sealing wax, cinnabar and chop, &c. Now I've got the same thing, but a more compact containment system that in turn holds more compact instrumentation and supplies. In some abstruse way I'm continuing the tradition of the traveling scholar/scribe, hauling a small library on my back with all my writing accoutrement. I think that's what I like best about all this, feeling like a contemporary interpretation of an ancient tradition. That's how I romanticize it, anyway.

Tuesday, October 27

New Word: Suzuribako

Guess I can do a "word of the day" here, since I said I was going to and failed to do so. Today's word is: suzuribako. (Oh yes, I never said I'd stick to English words.)

A suzuribako is like a little stationery set from feudal Japan, precursor to the inkstand or desk set. It contains an ink-stick, a grinding stone (suzuri), several brushes and perhaps a container for water. The box is usually of lacquered wood, but this means it needn't always be, and in fact it seems I have a suzuribako at home. It's made of a flimsier cardboard body covered in fabric, which is more commonly found throughout stores that sell exotic merchandise in the States. It fulfills much of the function of a suzuribako but isn't as durable or, I suspect, respectable.

That is to say, it's good enough for me and my purposes, but I wouldn't show it off to honored guests. As of this writing I'm including a picture from the Vanderbilt gallery but tonight I'll replace that with a shot of my own suzuribako.

Why would I have one? Once upon a time, I fancied I'd attempt to learn Japanese brush painting, and then became immediately intimidated by all that it entailed. Then I figured I could at least learn to write kanji, and I did in fact practice for a whole week yet somehow failed to attain complete fluency in the Japanese language. I couldn't even remember any of the characters I practiced, so... I keep it around in my stationery chest and will probably take it out and practice it when I'm a little more earnest about learning Japanese (or, for that matter, any of the Chinese dialects).

Monday, October 26

Artistic Admiration

This is not just another attractive postcard, this is a tribute to its artist, Cory McAbee.

I was struck by this imagery as soon as I saw it: lounge rat lighting his cigarette off his own sacred heart.  What did that mean?  The ramifications flooded my mind.  Such a gorgeous illustration, and I pore over the details every time I look at it.  What does the hair tell me about the person?  Why's he standing in front of a velvet curtain? How can someone look so shifty and yet bear a sacred heart?  Are we playing with words now?

I met Cory once at the Triple Rock in West Bank, Mpls., while waiting for a po' boy prior to watching his band perform (now they're Stingray Sam but back then they were the Billy Nayer Show).  A friend of mine was bouncing so I explained to him who I was there to see and was waxing panegyric over this writer/director/musician/artist when there was a tap on my shoulder.  It was Bobby Lurie (drummer/actor), seated behind me, who only grinned and indicated Cory sitting across the table from him.

My capacity for speech was reduced to babbling.  My bouncer friend left me to sort myself out, and soon I was posing for pictures with this creative genius.  There aren't many people who can leave me speechless, but there are a few.  Hero?  I wouldn't say hero: Hercule Poirot is a hero.  Usagi Yojimbo is a hero.  These are fictional icons who have carefully managed flaws and a number of strong, uncompromising merits.  A real person can't be a hero to me, or I might just as well point at myself and use me as a source of inspiration, and that is ludicrous.

But there are some people I admire, not just because they produce stuff I like (Guy Maddin, Wes Anderson, &c.) but because they are capable and diverse, and they are seemingly driven to create the best they can at all times.  Gene Wolfe is another example, a writer whose craft transports me to another world.  The effect is as convincing and thorough as that.  I've written to him to explain as much and have probably alarmed him with my fervor so I struggle to maintain a merely conversational tone.  It's just a bit overwhelming to have an absolute favorite writer/artist who is still around to talk to.

Wednesday, October 21

My Delirious Love-Affair with Language

Currently I'm contracting myself out (yes, that means I'm my own boss, my own company--so weird to think of it like that) as a proofreader/copyeditor.  People hear that and wince inwardly (or outwardly).  They imagine this must be among the most boring, tedious work in the world, and that I must have a huge stick up my ass.

I can't say one way or the other about the latter, but the work is far from boring.  I'm perhaps unique in that I have a real passion for it and, consequently, I enjoy the hell out of my job.  It's not that I get an endorphic rush out of telling people how wrong they are, correcting their spelling errors, stuff like that.  Most of the time spelling doesn't even come into it: the issues have to do with the slight nuance of one word choice over another, the structure of a sentence or a paragraph, the emotional feel of the text as it pertains to the message we're trying to get across.  I'm cleaning things up, making them look nice, not power-tripping over stupid people.

Because language bears such delicious nuance for me on multiple levels, I'm honored to be trained as its custodian.  And again, this does not mean that I browbeat people until they use formal grammatical structure, not at all: the context is the heart of the matter.  If you're speaking to an adolescent audience, a formal tone will be off-putting and repulse people from your message, even if you're trying to carry valuable information to them.  If you're submitting a job application or writing a column for the New York Times, a street-casual tone would be grossly inappropriate, by the same token, and I think no one needs that explained overmuch.  Rather than dressing language up in a suit and making it sit up straight, I want to see it dance, flow, transform.  I want to see it thrive in as many situations as possible.

Included is a picture of my personal little library at work.  The old Webster's New World dictionary doesn't have a lot of functional value, being several decades old--it does not reflect how people currently speak.  My mom gave it to me as a gesture of congratulations, both at landing this job and finally wrapping up my BA in Creative Writing.  When I need a dictionary, my go-to is Merriam-Webster's, as an American, though I do have access to the OED through my old school account and its etymological value is beyond reckoning.  I also have several style guides: Chicago, NYT, and AP.  Those are just basic, essential guides for professional writing and citation.  They're also a useful plea for sanity when you just want things to look nice, and that itself is the first rule of editing: it has to look nice.  My Copyediting guide also reminds me of the core editing lessons I learned in class.

I also have The Deluxe Transitive Vampire, an informative and fun guide to grammatical structure.  I can write a good sentence, but I can't identify the parts of speech very well.  I know adjectives and pronouns, but I'm not so clear on the past participle or subjunctive clause, and so I refer to this often.  Sister Bernadette's Barking Dog also serves this purpose, through the archaic practice of sentence diagrams.  I don't know how I got a passing grade in high school English, never having learned how to construct a sentence diagram.  Less useful is Sin and Syntax, a former textbook written by a woman who lends herself to judgment.  Her picture makes her look a little dumpy and plain, but she writes as though she were a full-blown sybaritic temptress.  The book is as much a guide to the language as it is her self-delusional manifesto of lush indulgence and sensual revelry.  The author's need to represent herself thusly actually distracts from the useful information in here, but there is useful information in here.

The Artful Nuance was a gift from my wife, and it frequently comes in handy.  It specializes in word choice between similar terms, helping to clarify which is closer to what you're trying to express.  The Idiot's book, Weird Word Origins, was a whimsy purchase I deeply regret.  Poorly researched and glazed in unevolved humor, this book so infuriated me that I set upon it with my red editor's pen and marked it all to hell.  Later, I realized I could have simply returned it to the store for a full refund.  I keep it on my shelf to remind myself to restrain my emotions, even in the face of the most egregious text.  At the other end of the spectrum is The Chronology of Words and Phrases, a gift from a friend who knows me quite well, evidently.  Reading this book, which explains the formation of various words throughout history with their colorful background stories, is like eating an entire box of chocolates all by myself.  I use it as a reward or a pick-me-up.  I don't read it straight through: I leaf through it and am inevitably delighted by whatever I find, wherever I land.

Monday, October 19

Pens: the Kaweko Sport

Today I'd like to chat about one of my preferred weapons: the Kaweko.

Actually, the silver ink embossing on the side of the cap says "Kaweko Sport," so this shortened, compact pen must not be the standard model. Browsing Google Images for "kaweko pen", I find... little useful information. There's a picture of a special edition Forbidden City pen, a thumbnail of a vintage poster, quite a few Japanese market sites (these offer suggestions of a longer standard model), and a fairly deep examination of which pen it was Anne Frank used to write her diaries--conjecture is that it was likely a Montblanc, a Pelikan, or a Kaweko.

And it is certainly not the same Kaweko cited in Moses' bible of arcane magic, books six and seven: Altissima Dei Verba Spirituum Cactiva Mosis Aaronis et Salomonis. That's merely coincidence, I'm sure.

I like the Kaweko Sport for its size and its pleasurable nib: it's either gold or has enough gold on it to write very smoothly across the page. Mine is a medium tip, so it produces satisfyingly thick lines. Sometimes I like thin lines, provided the ink is still dark enough, and for that the Slicci is ideal. And the thick lines rather determine what font I'm going to write with, moreso than the texture of the paper. For example, if I had coarse paper I'd happily revert to a ball-point pen, but if I was using the satin-smooth Rhodia paper, I'd have a hard time justifying that. I'd either very carefully choose a favorite ball-point (lately I like the Bic Atlantis) or I'd avoid it altogether: a surface like that calls for a fountain pen, to me. And with a medium-tip Kaweko I have to write larger letters but with smooth paper I have greater control, so I can use a very nice, controlled font.

I like the Sport model in particular because it is so compact: the body of the pen screws out of the cap and then reverses to nestle in the cap, making a longer pen right there. Sealed, it can travel anywhere, in a shirt pocket, jeans pocket, or rattling around in my backpack. I don't think it has ever loosened itself and wrought inky havoc upon clothing or property. I have other pens which have done precisely this.

I wish I could remember the brand of ink cartridges I'm loading in my pen currently. (Update: Private Reserve Ink.) They're made in Slovenia, which doesn't mean a lot because an awful lot of ink comes from there. Its primary feature is that it is a fast-drying ink, which is handy for left-handed writers who are pushing their pen from left to right, rather than a right-handed writer who is pulling it from left to right. With a regular pen or most rollerballs or gel pens, the leftie gets to smudge his/her palm in a fresh trail of ink, but not so with this marvelous Slovenian fast-drying ink. I'll look it up tonight. And the colors are vibrant: I chose a musky rose ink and a deep forest ("Sherwood Green") ink, the latter of which stands beautiful and bold against a clear, perfect sheet of Clairefontaine. It is, all around, a pleasurable writing experience.

Thursday, October 15

Envelope Assembly

I've had reason, recently, to get back into making envelopes. I'm quite pleased to do so: I have a number of pen pals--some of whom are feeling quite neglected lately and so I thought I'd produce something a little special to begin to make up for my inattention.

Several years ago I picked up a packet of envelope templates from a local store, Lunalux, who in turn informed me they were made by another local crafts-person. I won't expound upon the potential environmental benefit yielded by purchasing locally produced craft supplies, but I was pleased to be part of an insular crafts-sphere, of sorts. The envelopes I made from these templates were so admired by one of my pen pals, a DJ in Madison, that she requested a kit of her own, which request I fulfilled.

The templates come in many sizes for different functions. Many are suitable for posting in the mail and may handily travel around the world, depending on the quality of paper you use. Others are a little more intricate or awkwardly sized for postal mail and would better accompany a gift or else might be handed off in person. I prefer those envelopes which lend themselves to being mailed, and I'm careful to outfit them for optimal postal travel: stout paper, all flaps and corners sealed flat, judicious application of stickers, &c.

These pictures are of my personal favorite template, a capacious accordion-sided envelope. I love it because it looks fairly elaborate, hearkens to the classic accordion folder, and permits quite a bit of storage. Also, as pictured, the broad front has enough room for these particular Red Horseshoe address labels as well as postage--not every envelope can say that, not until you start talking to large business envelopes. (Note: lovely though the labels are, their adhesive gum is weak and useless on its own; with the application of Elmer's glue stick, however, it becomes a sovereign bond.)

With this iteration, just as a little quelque chose, I tried out a manual airbrush/paint spatter, I guess you'd call it. It's a simple little device, basically a long, thin metal tube you dip into ink or thin paint/dye, then blow in the other end to spray it upon your paper/canvas/surface. I've never used it before but bought it several years ago with the desire to practice at it. Now I've finally used it and I'm not sure what caused the large globs of ink (I had the foresight to choose a grey ink rather than something darker and less forgiving), whether a finer spray might be achieved with a thicker--or thinner--liquid or whether I'm just doing it wrong, somehow.

So, there we are. I've made four of these bad boys: one will stay in Minneapolis, one will fly out to Turkey, and the other two? I'm not sure now what will happen to them, where they will end up.

Wednesday, October 14

Working Vocabulary


This is evidently a "cloud" of the most frequently used words on my blog, here. Created by

This only shows me that I need to broaden my working vocabulary.

Sunday, October 11

Information Tends to be Freed

Here's something funny: I was dinking around online last night and found, through nebulous contrivance, a Web site new to me, Is This Your Name. You type your name in and it does a multi-platform Web search for you, turning up all sorts of results ranging from the practical to the amusing. From there, you can see who else shares your name, where you've implanted yourself... and who's borrowing stuff from you.

Inspired by a class I took at Metro State, one focusing on children's literature, I dug out some old books from my childhood and scanned in their endpapers.

End papers for McCall's Giant Golden Make-It Book, Simon and Schuster, 1953.

Without being conscious of it, the decorative endpapers were as dear to me as anything else inside or outside the book. I smiled to see them again, this capricious little design meant to serve as nothing but filler and perhaps some foreshadowing to the book's contents. Endpapers also help establish an atmosphere for the reader, and especially in children's literature their design is a strategic deliberation.

What Is This You showed me was that there were a couple of admirers of my scanned-in endpapers that I didn't know about. They each credited me, and if they hadn't I'm sure I wouldn't have heard of this at all.

The blog Yara Kono, in Portuguese, found it and cited me as "Christian Wilkie" (the surname I will be changing to soon). But the Babelfish program is inadequate to translate the author's caption into anything comprehensible.

Similarly, Kelly Rakowski, who maintains a very interesting archive at Nothing is New, has an account with (a "social bookmarking" site I've never heard of) and kept track of the endpapers here. She credits me as "Christian Fredrickson" and it's interesting to me to see who chose what name for me.

Not that interesting, I guess. And I'm not upset that they posted the image: it wasn't mine to begin with, it was only my uncommon find, and each did credit me appropriately. I would've liked a linkback and an e-mail notification, but those are just my druthers. They did everything just fine. And the issue is quite moot anyway: these posts are well over 15 months old, so it's been going on for a while. In all likelihood there are many other places also referencing this picture that I know nothing about. The discovery of Is This Your Name only reinforces how large the Internet is, to the point where sections of it are practically inaccessible (barring luck and chance).

Friday, October 9

DIY Postcards: Think Very Carefully About It

Ugh, this didn't work out so well. I attempted a watercolor of a scene in Minnesota, on the back of a pre-stamped postcard from the Post Office.

The watercolor bit was done with watercolor pencils, which are like colored pencils. I lightly sketch out the images and shading, then I go over it with a paint brush and a little bowl of water. That's it. It's like cheating at watercolors. All the control you need is to not let one area bleed into another area by daubing or strokes, unless the effect is intentional. Here, you can clearly see my amateurish and inept pencil lines, betraying my lack of complete comprehension as to how this simple system is supposed to work.

Then I did the trees and land with black Sharpie. That was also a mistake, as the paper is already so thin that the Sharpie can't help but bleed through, but now the paper is also quite damp from being soaked in water. The other side is almost entirely unsuitable to be written on, yet I had the audacity to write a short message and a destination address, when really this card should've been mercifully shot behind a wood shed.

The mirror image was easy, though. I just decided where the horizon should be and replicated my watercolor strokes on either side of it. For the land, I drew a long, thin line, then punctuated it with short, graduating lines, ensuring equal length on either side of the horizon line. Easiest to do this by turning the card sideways and sketching quick, short lines down the length. After summing up the basic growth pattern of the few kinds of coniferous trees in the original photo, an impressionistic rendition of them was easily done with more scrawlings by the marker.

Let's just say this little project didn't turn out exactly as I'd hoped. It's heading to New York, which itself is funny because the recipient stated her hope to hear from people around the world: instead, she gets a wrinkled, stained little card from some aging kid in a flyover state.

Thursday, October 8

Writing to Other People

Okay, so, basically I just like to send out mail. I like to write recreational mail and send it out to friends. I'm a little disappointed when they don't write back, which is frequently, but there is a brassy core that is my delight at distributing interesting postcards and stationery, and it is dented and a little burnished but otherwise uncompromised.

When I graduated from high school and was about to go into the Army, I very shyly asked a close friend if she wouldn't mind exchanging letters with me. To my delight and confusion, she readily agreed, and she became my first serious pen pal. She introduced me to other media that provided networks of pen pals and correspondents, and when I was stationed in South Korea I was actively writing to no less than thirty individuals. Mainly these were gothchicks around my own age, scattered throughout the U.S. I'm in touch with none of them now.

I got out of active duty in '91 and went into the National Guard until '95. During that time I secured my AA degree at a community college and started further schooling up in St. Cloud, MN. That university provided me with my first e-mail account and I spent a lot of time figuring that thing out. The mail program was PINE, text-only, and when you printed out your e-mail it got sent to a room across the hall where a chamber of large dot-matrix machines cranked out tractor-fed sheets of paper, maybe 11" x 17". They were huge, I remember that, and they took up a lot of space as I explored the Internet through Magellan, printing out all my interesting findings. I happened to find a Usenet group dedicated to pen pals and quickly made a few: it seemed people were very anxious to meet and talk to other people around my nation, around the world.

I'm only in touch with one of them, a lady in South Africa. We're not in regular correspondence, but we do touch base every now and then. I've also sent her regular mail, and she has to me, but it's quickest and most secure to fire off an e-mail to her. I still have our dot-matrix, tractor-feed printed-out conversations, a thick ream folded in half and stored safely away. The one thing that always impressed me in our chats was how indolent and spoiled I felt after listening to her talk about her life. She never actively made me feel that way, no, this was a compare-and-contrast I did on my own. I thought things were hard with school and having to go into the Army for college money, but her personal anecdotes blew me out of the water and I think that's when I started to learn to shut up about my petty gripes.

But anyway... I love writing letters. Not so you'd know: I've dropped the ball on a number of conversations. A friend in Madison, WI had to hammer away at me to get me to write back, and once I did we had a flourishing exchange, it was great, but why did it take so much effort for me to get in the habit of something I tell myself I love to do?
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Wednesday, October 7

Stationery: Mr. Lunch

Wow, someone's actually reading this blog: guess I'd better resume writing in it.

Here's another sample of favored stationery (hope I didn't already cover this one). It's another fold-and-mail variety, very handy when you want to shoot off a note to someone--long note or short entirely depends on your handscript and the pen you're using. With a 0.25 Slicci I could generate a two-page letter in this arrangement. I'm sure I've come close.

I'm completely unfamiliar with the Mr. Lunch brand. I have no idea whether it's an ongoing thing: T-shirts, novelty socks, lunch boxes (how cool would that be), stickers, throws, bobbleheads, iPhone skins, &c. (A cursory scan reveals there is indeed a "highly professional" address book and blank journal on It's something I wouldn't mind seeing everywhere, and yet I hope this isn't the case. I like that it's obscure and special like this, that the people who are most likely to see it are people who like to exchange letters with friends. It's like a bonus: not only do you enjoy the neo-Luddite riches of literacy, but here's a swank little icon for your amusement.

The artwork is familiar. Doesn't it resemble the art in They Might Be Giants' "Istanbul (Not Constantinople)" video? Again, cursory research reveals that J. Otto Seibold is the talent behind Mr. Lunch, the TMBG video, as well as Olive, the Other Reindeer. (Scholastic profile.) I like his style, I really do. I like the abstract tangent, I like the childish simplicity and earnestness of his expression. There's an iconic rendition not far from Keith Haring's oeuvre (yes, I drank the '80s Flavor Aid).

Suffice it to say: this is a very satisfactory product. I used it too quickly and only have one piece left, which I was saving for a collection but now that I've scanned it in and preserved it perfectly for all time (barring system failure), there's no reason for me to keep it around and I will send it out to someone special who hasn't received it before.

In Other News: I'm reading Dr. Richard Restack's Think Smart as part of my reasonable campaign for self-improvement and my paranoid campaign for staving off Alzheimer's. One of the exercises the author cites for keeping one's mind limber and broad is to learn a new word every day. This is, of course, increasingly difficult as one narrows down all the words with which one is unfamiliar. For example, in following Peter Sokolowski on Twitter--he updates the popular words people are searching for on Merriam-Webster--I find I know all of the terms he presents. That's reasonable, that's just trending: it only represents the curiosity of a predominant population less literate than myself. However, Wordnik produces, better than 50% of the time, a word I've never heard of or at least am unfamiliar with. They are a very delicious word source--their Web site is an indulgence of mine.

Where am I going with this? At Dr. Restack's recommendation, I'm going to start devoting posts to learning new words. I still have access to the OED, which is a mother lode of obscurity and obsolescence and their attendant etymology! I'm going to present a new word, relate its definitions, touch on its etymological underpinnings, practice using it in a sentence, and (privately) challenge myself to write a paragraph implementing one week's new words. (Dr. Restack suggests this is more easily done with Wordsmith's A-Word-A-Day e-mail updates, as they are thematic from week to week.)

And--don't be alarmed--I'm going to experiment with jump tags, so I can post an intro entry and the rest must be clicked on to read. Not doing this to be difficult, but I think it'll create a more interactive experience when guessing at new words. If it's too obnoxious I'll cut it out.