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Another Take on ‘Oh, You’re Being So Illogical!’

apporangeA recent front-page article in The New York Times was entitled, “In Battle, Hunches Prove to be Valuable Assets.” The article—continuing from the front page of the newspaper to take up the full page on A6—describes the research done with soldiers on subjects like “how the brain processes images, how well it reads emotions and how it manages surges in stress hormones.” Dr. Antonio Damasio, director of the Brain and Creativity Institute at the University of Southern California, is quoted in the article:

Not long ago people thought of emotions as old stuff, or just feelings—feelings that had little to do with rational decision making, or that got in the way of it. Now that position has reversed. We understand emotions as practical action programs that work to solve a problem, often before we’re conscious of it. These processes are at work continually; in pilots, leaders of expeditions, parents, all of us.”

The either/or thinking—logical, rational, conscious thinking versus hunches, feelings, “gut responses”—once again proves to be too simplistic. (more…)

Blessings: Honey in the Heart and Thirteen Thank-Yous


That is an old-fashioned sounding word, isn’t it?

We heard—and spoke—and sang—this word a lot when I was a little girl growing up in the South.

There was the promise of the words of that old Civil-War-era hymn:

There shall be showers of blessing,
Precious reviving again;
Over the hills and the valleys,
Sound of abundance of rain.

And the plaintive request of the hymn’s refrain:

Showers of blessing,
Showers of blessing we need;
Mercy drops round us are falling,
But for the showers we plead.

And there was Granny Leach with her answer to every knee scrape or bump on the head or fright from a rooster chase in the chicken yard : (more…)


Living in London for two plus years was a wonderful experience for my husband, Jerele, and me. Among the many pleasures for me in particular-whose very work is words-was adding some British English to my vocabulary. There were many new uses of English that I heard in the U.K.; but two new words, in particular, became a permanent part of my personal lexicon.

gobsmackedOne of those words was whinging. To say that someone is a whinger is to take our American English word whining to a whole new level. If a person is whining, that’s one thing. But if a person is whinging…now that moves complaining to a ludicrous level!

A second word that I added to my vocabulary while living in England was gobsmacked. The word is a combination of gob, which means mouth, and smacked and means “utterly astonished, astounded.” Gobsmacked is much stronger than just being surprised. The word is used for something that leaves you speechless or, otherwise, stops you dead in your tracks. It suggests that something is as surprising as if you had been suddenly hit in the face. When you are gobsmacked, you are completely dumbfounded, shocked.

Well, this week I was completely gobsmacked. Gobsmacked by a website. A new website called WolframAlpha. (more…)

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