OED Holy Grail? Check.


We who are word nerds love a good dictionary. And is there a better one out there than the Oxford English Dictionary (OED)? In my mind, the OED is the holy grail of English dictionaries.

For a very long time (going back decades) I’ve looked on and off to pick up a full OED set in all its 20+ heavy volumes majesty. I never found one at a good used price, and balked at the price of a new set, so my search was seemingly forever in vain.

Last year, I found the older edition’s 12+ volume set at Dawn Treaders, a local AnnArbor used bookstore with a long history in the area supporting Univ. of Michigan students for 40 years. I wrestled with whether I’d be okay with the older, fewer volumes set or should I hold out for the mammoth set nearly requiring its own bookcase.

Fast forward to now when I’m focusing on building up a more extensive personal library, and decided this smaller set (still takes three feet of shelf!) would be better and more functional for me. Besides, I have free access to OED online through the Ann Arbor library should I need deeper information on newer words through that database link.

You’re probably wondering why spend $$$ on a physical set when the online version is available?

If you’re asking that question then you’ve never enjoyed getting lost wandering off on word tangents while looking up a single word in a big dictionary. That’s the fun of set like this one: not just finding deeper and industry-accepted definitions, but usage history and dates, archaic definitions, and more. If all you want is the first usable meaning, spelling, or proper hyphenation, then having 13 volumes on the nearby shelf is overkill. But the exploration, fun, and shear learning value from a big, physical dictionary makes all the difference to me.

Plus, I’m loving and embracing, more and more every day, the analogue thingie. And a set like this says “analogue baby” with a capital A.

Reading Time: 2 minutes

Winter’s Embrace

Why do I enjoy winter while others dread it?

Is it the calming, slowing-down effect from a cold and limiting world?

Is it the beauty at times of a cleansing white blanket, gently nestling the world’s concerns into quiet, temporary submission?

Or is it an encouragement to reflect, renew, and respond more to my inner voice and thoughts than external noise and distractions?

For me it’s these pleasures sustained through long, cold, dark nights and soft, mellow, restful days. While many struggle with winter’s elements, slowing movements and causing nervous commutes, I’m grateful I no longer endure such daily struggles and can contemplate the soulful, peaceful influence winter offers for those who would embrace it.

The only things I’d add to make it perfect is a reading chair positioned in front of a large window, a roaring fire blazing at my right, and a cup of hot cocoa on the table at my left.

The Wind In My Sail

Arise each morning from a good night’s rest,
to work the early zone, my creative’s best.

Start each day well-fed, well-meant,
and every hour embrace each moment.

Write daily to exercise thought and illuminate places
in dark corners and untapped graces.

Be physical daily without convenient excuses,
through walks and exercises and declared truces.

Embrace an attitude that consistently attracts
questioning of conclusions and opinions posing as facts.

Read deeply, with comfort zones at bay,
to stick this habit do so every day.

Eat wisely and choose plants the most,
organic of course, but be humble, don’t boast.

Be a caring parent, a better friend,
but mostly a better listener to the end.

Tolerate one, tolerate all, and remember to forgive
myself and them, for this is the best gift I can give.

Stay the course and I’ll succeed without fail,
if these be the winds that fill my sail.

Now The Healing Begins

Our national nightmare will finally be over today: Trump’s rampage of destruction to this country and its people finally ends today with the inauguration of President Biden and Vice President Harris.

But the story isn’t over: the Republican radical and anarchistic right will continue to plague us, and let no one assume Biden can, in his first four years, reverse the terrible destruction from the last four years. Everything got worse from the environment to the impact on the lives of non-wealthy Americans, the opening of racial wounds and open public displays of hate, to the decimation of morals and truth wrought on this country by Trump, his unqualified appointees, and some Republican leaders (especially those who aided and abetted him in the attempted overthrow of the proven fair and just election and capitol desecration on January 6).

History proves we as a nation are resilient and will eventually move on from this, but it’s going to take time. Hopefully, as the dozens and dozens of likely indictments, trials, and sentencing on those from Trump down through the government come to bear, more will realize the depth of the destruction and understand better. Healing can’t just be Democrats forgiving; there must be Republicans held to justice and Republicans willing to unify truly for the country’s sake and not, as recent history exposes, solely for their political careers and a last-ditch effort to save face over the devastation from backing Trump, their obvious reasons now for suddenly crying “unity.”

Right now, though, at least we can breathe a collective sigh as things will begin to improve, beginning with a President who will act like a real president and get our pandemic response under control. That’s the key piece of a long and arduous path to recovery, and not just to save lives and suffering, but to get us back to work and businesses reopening. There’s hope ahead after all.

Tools of the Trade: Pencils & Pens

One of the joys of being a stationery nerd and a writer is blending the two passions together. I’ve settled in a routine of using specific pencils & pens for certain writing tasks. It may see nerdy to go to such lengths, but there’s comfort in using familiar tools.

Fountain pens, L-R: Franklin Christoph P66 Antique Glass (MCI nib), Edison Baltimore Limited (FCI nib), Diplomat Aero (MCI nib), and a Nakaya Neo (MCI nib) – all in a Rickshaw Bags plus pen roll coiled in a fav mug. To the right: yellow/orange highlighter Slendy+ eraser stick, red pencil for occasional use.

As a long-time lover of fountain pens, for years I would keep too many inked up resulting in extra work to clean those not used enough. After reducing my collection down to my favorites, I’ve settled on four fountain pens to keep in rotation, each inked with a different color. Fountain pen is my tool of choice for journaling, notetaking, or writing letters, and using different color inks adds to the enjoyment.

When it comes to pencils I also have specific ones I use for first- and second-draft work (for everything from blog posts to articles to essays to poetry). I stick with Blackwing pencils (extra-firm cores for everything except poetry where I use soft cores), and there’s a nice variety available between their production pencils and the Volumes limited editions. I love going analog and using pencils longhand for these drafts, since it slows down my thinking and there’s something more authentic about the tactile feel of pencil on paper than finger tips on a keyboard. And if you’re wondering (more…)

Journal Bits – January 15

Occasionally I’ll share unedited bits from my daily journal. These make nice fillers on days I’m not ready to post something I’m working on. Hope you enjoy and get something from them.

‘To the journal!’ That is the rally cry I hear every morning. It doesn’t always become the first thing I do each day though. Example in point: Today I woke late and had coffee and breakfast. After I did a quick online read of the inbox, my daily cartoons I love, then both New York Times crosswords (mini and daily). Washed and dried dishes, dressed for the day, made a cup of hot tea, and here I am…finally…answering the call albeit 2-1/2 hours later. Still, the pen writes, the ideas flow, the pages fill, and all is good.