Amusing Monday: Expanding the dictionary with help from friends

If you don’t know what something is called, you can make up a word for it — or perhaps a word to describe it. I guess that’s nothing new; every word in the dictionary must have come from someone.

I was amused recently when I heard an episode of “Says You” on public radio featuring a segment on made-up words. “Says You” is a game show that enlists a panel of well-read folks who try to explain the meaning of obscure words in the English language.

What surprised me was when the game went off on a tangent with the panel trying to guess the meaning of words taken from the Addictionary, which is sort of an alternative dictionary for made-up words not found in a regular dictionary.

So how does a game-show contestant define a word he or she has never heard before, a word that does not even exist? Thankfully, the made-up words used in the game were amalgams of recognizable words, so it was fun to hear the panelists struggle to find the definition of these new “words.” They were deemed correct only if their definitions matched those of the people who made up the words.

One that I recall was “bozone,” defined as “the substance surrounding stupid people that stops bright ideas from penetrating” — as in “bozone layer.” The panel had fun discussing how the word might relate to clowns.

Comedian Rich Hall did a routine on made-up words in the 1980s on the HBO program “Not Necessarily the News.” As Hall described them, these are “words that don’t appear in the dictionary, but should.”

Hall’s approach was to make up words for off-beat items and actions — and he was not constrained by using amalgams of existing words. He called his new words “sniglets.” The video on this page shows one of those early comedy sketches.

In support of the water-related theme of this blog, I located some newly invented words related to water:

Aquadextrous (ak-wa-DEK-trus) (adj.) Possessing the ability to turn the bathtub tap on and off with your toes.

Bathquake (BATH-kwake) (n.) The violent quake that rattles the entire house when the water faucet is turned to a certain point.

Detruncus (de-TRUNK-us) (n.) The embarrassing phenomenon of losing one’s bathing shorts while diving into a swimming pool.

Flowfright (FLO frite) (n.) The desperate attempt by a homeowner to talk his overflowing toilet into backing down.

Genderplex (JEN-dur-pleks) (n.) The predicament of a person in a theme restaurant who is unable to determine his or her designated bathroom (e.g., turtles and tortoises).

Hydralation (hi-dra-LAY shun) (n.) Acclimating oneself to a cold swimming pool by bodily regions: toe-to-knee, knee-to-waist, waist-to-elbow, elbow-to-neck.

Musquirt (MUS-kwirt) (n.) The water that comes out with the initial squirts of a squeeze mustard bottle.

Spubbling (SPUB-ling) (v.) The superhuman feat of trying to wash one’s hands and manipulate the “water saving” faucets at the same time.

Tepidacious (TEP-i-da-shus) (adj.) The act of setting the water temperature too cold before you enter the shower to ensure that you don’t get burned.

Thermalophobia (Thur-muh-lo-FO-be-uh) (n.) The fear when showering that someone will sneak in, flush the toilet and scald you to death.

Tubswizzle (TUB-swi-zuhl) (v.) To slide oneself back and forth in the bathtub in order to mix the too-hot water with the cooler water.

Others I found amusing:

Airdirt (AYR-dirt) (n.) A hanging plant that’s been ignored for three weeks or more.

Arachnoleptic fit (Ah-RAK-no-lep-tik fit) (n.) The frantic dance performed just after you’ve accidentally walked through a spider web.

Bovilexia (bo-vil-EKS-ee-uh) (n.) The uncontrollable urge to lean out the car window and yell “Moo!” every time you pass a cow.

Dillrelict (dil-REL-ikt) (n.) The last pickle in the jar that avoids all attempts to be captured.

Doork (dawrk) n. A person who always pushes on a door marked “pull” or vice versa.

Dopeler effect (n.) The tendency of stupid ideas to seem smarter when they come at you rapidly.

Downpause (DOWN-pawz) (n.) The split second of dry weather experienced when driving under an overpass during a storm.

Elbonics (el-BON-iks) (n.) The actions of two people maneuvering for one armrest in a movie theater.

Fauxtography (n.) Altering a photographic image with editing software to create an image that appears real but is in fact misleading or untrue.

Flopcorn (FLOP-korn) (n.) The unpopped kernels at the bottom of the cooker.

Flosstitution (FLOS-tit-oo-shun) (n.) The act of using anything other than a waxed string product —i.e. matchbook covers —to clean between your teeth.

Ignoranus (IG-nor-A-nus) (n.) A person who’s both stupid and an asshole.

Intaxication (in-TAX-ik-a-shun) (n.) Euphoria at getting a tax refund, which lasts until you realize it was your money to start with.

Irritainment (ir-uh-TAYN-ment) (n.) Entertainment and media spectacles that are annoying but you find yourself unable to stop watching them.

Mopeeps (MOH-peeps) (n.) People compelled to look through the curtain opening of your motel room as they pass by.

Newswafer (n.) An old newspaper that stays on a driveway so long that cars driving over it have turned it into a flattened pile of pulp. The only way to pick it up is with a snow shovel.

Peppier (peph-ee-AY) (n.) The waiter at a fancy restaurant whose sole purpose seems to be walking around asking diners if they want fresh ground pepper.

Phonesia (fo-NEE-zhuh) (n.) The affliction of dialing a phone number and forgetting whom you were calling just as they answer.

Pigslice (PIG-slys) (n.) The last unclaimed piece of pizza that everyone is secretly dying for.

Slotgreed (SLOT-greed) (n.) The habit of checking every coin return one passes for change.

Smellucination (smel-LOO-suh-NAY-shun) (n.) Thinking you smell something you really don’t.

Sofuse (SO-fyuse) (n.) The coins, combs, bobby pins and other detritus discovered in the corners under the seat cushions of a sofa, davenport or settee.

Solichair (SAHL-e-chair) (n.) A seat where a child caught misbehaving is made to sit.

Subnougate (sub-NEW-get) (v.) To eat the bottom caramels in a candy box and carefully replace the top level, hoping no one will notice.

Telecrastination (tel-e-kras-tin-AY-shun) (n.) The act of always letting the phone ring at least twice before you pick it up, even when you’re only six inches away.

Unipea-(YEW-ni-pee) (n.) A peanut with only one compartment.


Interactive map brings together extensive salmon information

When I first started covering the environment for the Kitsap Sun in the early 1980s, I convinced a state fish biologist to make me a copy of a notebook containing information about salmon streams on the Kitsap Peninsula.

Winter steelhead streams in Puget Sound from SalmonScape. Map: Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife
Winter steelhead streams in Puget Sound, as shown in SalmonScape, a GIS-based interactive map.
Map: Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife

Hand-drawn maps of streams, both big and small, along with field notes about the migration of salmon, stream blockages and other information were listed in that notebook. Through the years, the information was updated, combined with other data and eventually transferred to electronic databases for wider access.

A few years ago, much of this little-known information was digitized into a map that could be accessed by anyone from a web browser. The map, using a geographic information system, is such a valuable tool that I wanted to make sure that readers of this blog are aware of it.

It was given the name SalmonScape, and the map shows salmon streams across the state (click “hydrography”); salmon migration by species (“fish distribution”); stream blockages (“fish passage”); and hatcheries, fish traps and major dams (“facilities”).

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New toxic chemical law begins to review most-dangerous compounds

The first 10 toxic chemicals to be reviewed under the amended Toxic Substances Control Act were announced this week by the Environmental Protection Agency. After review, these chemicals could be banned or significantly restricted in their use.

Photo:André Künzelmann, Wikimedia commons
Photo:André Künzelmann, Wikimedia commons

As specified by law, the first 10 chemicals were chosen from 90 listed in the TSCA Work Plan, based on their high hazard and the likelihood of human and environmental exposure.

Incidentally, seven of the 10 chemicals to be reviewed are contaminants that have reached sources of drinking water at various sites across the country. Six of the seven are known or suspected of causing cancer in humans.

These are the seven chemicals known to contaminate drinking water:

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Amusing Monday: Winter outings are antidotes for the gloom

The gloomy feeling of rainy weather, as experienced by looking out from the inside of your house, can be defeated with a trip to the mountains, where all kinds of winter fun await.

Longmire at Mount Rainier, looking east from Administration Building.
Webcam: Longmire at Mount Rainier, looking southwest from the Administration Building.

Downhill skiing and snowboarding are popular activities at Washington’s ski resorts. Cross-country skiing and snowshoeing are less-vigorous options, as are sledding and inner-tubing. One of many useful websites is “Pacific Northwest Winter Sports.”

If these activities don’t sound like great fun, you can plan a drive that takes you into wonderful snow conditions and provides an opportunity to build a snowman or enjoy a snowball fight. Lodges and visitor centers offer a retreat from the cold. You might make friends with others who love the winter weather.

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Upgrade to North Pacific fishing fleet benefits Puget Sound economy

A major “modernization” of the North Pacific fishing fleet has begun, bringing new jobs to the Puget Sound region and a potential boost of $1.3 billion in total economic activity over the next 10 years, according to a new study.

Fishermen’s Terminal from the Ballard Bridge, Seattle. Photo: Joe Mabel, Wikimedia Commons
Fishermen’s Terminal from the Ballard Bridge, Seattle. // Photo: Joe Mabel, Wikimedia Commons

If economic and environmental conditions allow, 37 new fishing boats and fish-processing vessels over 58 feet long will be built, bringing new efficiencies to fishing and increased safety to those working in the North Pacific — an area off the Alaskan coast. Most North Pacific vessels over 58 feet are home-ported in Puget Sound.

Ship-building companies in the Puget Sound region are expected to be the primary beneficiaries of this modernization, as half of all the new vessels will come out of Washington state, according to predictions in the report. The study was conducted by the McDowell Group, an Alaska-based consulting company hired by the Port of Seattle and Washington Maritime Federation.

Although many factors are in play, a key impetus for this modernization is the development of catch shares — a type of management system that divides the allowable harvest into individual fishing quotas, or IFCs. This management regime, sometimes called fisheries “rationalization,” avoids the wasteful and sometimes dangerous race once seen among fishing vessels, as each crew tries to catch the most fish within a specified time period or before a total quota is reached.

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Amusing Monday: A fanciful exploration of rain, tides and life

“Have you ever experienced water falling from the sky? … And how would you describe that experience?”

These questions are thrown out to people in the first episode of “The Adventures of Tracy & Felt,” in which a young woman and an octopus explore the wonders of rain. In the second episode, they explore the wonders of tides.

These videos make for an amusing approach to science education, and it was nice to learn that this project is based in Puget Sound with origins on Whidbey Island. The videos were shown at this year’s Celluloid Bainbridge Film Festival.

The producer of the series, Elizabeth Schiffler, describes the development of this video series and the strange relationship between a human and an octopus with ongoing references to alien life forms:

“The Adventures of Tracy & Felt was born out of a desire to work with talented young Washington filmmakers, writers, and artists to ground work in the location we love and learn from,” she wrote. “Developed on Whidbey Island, we challenged ourselves to create a story full of laughs (mostly our own) and exploring the magical and not-too-distant world of science and nature.”

Unlike other simple videos engaged in the explanation of science, these stories do not take a straight line to describing natural phenomena. Instead, Tracy and Felt take a roundabout path, engaging in questions that most people take for granted, such as the experience of rain. How about this question from the second video: “Have you noticed how the ocean has been crawling up and down the beach the past few days?”

Thanks to John F. Williams of Still Hope Productions for letting me know about these videos.

What comes next under water-quality standards imposed by the EPA?

The Environmental Protection Agency approved new water-quality standards for Washington state this week, overriding a plan approved by Gov. Jay Inslee and the state Department of Ecology.

It was a rare posture for the EPA. Now the state will be pressured to appeal the EPA standards to federal court. Cities and counties as well as some industrial organizations are clearly unhappy with the EPA’s action, while environmental and tribal representatives got most of what they wanted.

The basic structure of polychlorinated biphenyls, where the number and location of chlorine atoms can vary.
The basic structure of polychlorinated biphenyls, where the number and location of chlorine atoms can vary.

The EPA action is especially unusual, given that this state is known for some of the strongest environmental regulations in the country. After much dispute, Ecology finally agreed to much higher fish-consumption rates without increasing the cancer-risk rate, leading to more stringent standards for many of the chemicals. But Ecology had its own ideas for the most troublesome compounds with implications for human health. They include polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs), arsenic and mercury. For background, see Water Ways, Oct. 18, 2015.

Some news reports I saw this week said EPA’s action will lead to salmon that are safer to eat. But that’s not at all certain, and opponents say it is unlikely that the revised limits on chemical pollution will have any practical effect on compounds that affect human health.

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Understanding how rogue chemicals affect people and marine life

Scientists are just beginning to understand the profound impact that synthetic chemicals are having on humans and other animals in the Puget Sound region.

As a major predator, harbor seals accumulate more than their share of toxic chemicals, including flame retardants. A legal ban on certain chemicals seems to be reducing levels in their tissues. Photo: hj_west,
As a major predator, harbor seals accumulate more than their share of toxic chemicals, including flame retardants. A legal ban on certain chemicals seems to be reducing average levels in their tissues.
Photo: hj_west

My latest story for the Encyclopedia of Puget Sound addresses so-called chemicals of emerging concern. Please check out “Concerns rise over rogue chemicals in the environment.”

While talking to researchers and investigating a variety of biologically active compounds, I began to realize the complexity of the body’s internal chemistry. I thought I knew something about the endocrine system, but I never fully considered how one hormone can trigger responses in multiple organs, including the release of additional hormones, even creating feedback loops.

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Amusing Monday: To the far end of Earth for love

Dripping with symbolism, a trip to Iceland by ice skater Jennifer Don and her boyfriend Matt Truebe created an opportunity for a most unusual marriage proposal. Check out the first video for this romantic underwater encounter.

Matt’s business trips often take him to Europe and other countries, keeping the couple apart, according to Jennifer. So before a trip to Amsterdam, Jennifer secretly planned a stop-over visit to Iceland’s Lake Thingvellir. The lake lies on the Mid-Atlantic Ridge, which separates the Eurasian tectonic plate from the North American plates.

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Harper Estuary project gets started following years of discussion

Excavation started today on a $1.3-million project to reshape and restore Harper Estuary in South Kitsap.

Work began today on access roads for the Harper Estuary restoration project. Photo: Doris Small, WDFW
Heavy equipment begins work today to build access roads for the Harper Estuary restoration project.
Photo: Doris Small, WDFW

It is a project that I’ve been discussing since 2001, when former Harper resident Chuck Hower first introduced me to the idea, a concept that he had been promoting with state and federal officials. (See Kitsap Sun, Feb. 2, 2001.)

Orion Marine Contractors was the successful bidder among six companies that offered bids on the project to remove much of the fill material placed in and around the estuary. The amount of soil to be removed is estimated at more than 15,000 cubic yards, or enough to fill roughly 1,000 dump trucks.

“The work will restore (the estuary) to levels conducive to marsh establishment,” said Doris Small of the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife. The project will recover a spit, reconnect saltwater to an impounded wetland and remove a bulkhead and old “relic” road that impounds the wetland, she said.

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