Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Who is the Genius at MicroSoft?

Many of us use MicroSoft's Outlook e-mail program. Not a bad program. You can send and receive e-mail and use the calendar function to keep track of your life and days.

But there is one thing that really pets my peeve.

When you need to "dump" all your deleted e-mail you need to use Empty "Deleted Items" folder. Fine enough, it's pretty straight forward. But where do you find this command?

Logically, one should find it under Actions. It is an action after all.

But not Outlook. Nope, you have to click on Tools to get the Empty "Deleted Items" folder to appear.

So tell me, what tool do you use to empty deleted e-mails? A digital wheelbarrow?

Tuesday, November 13, 2007


Learned a new word today: ultracrepidarian

The word is an odd mix of Latin (ultra) and Greek (crepidas). It means to go beyound your step. Basically it means to opine about a subject that is beyond your expertise or that you have no business talking about.

Here is what "World Wide Words" has to say about how we got this interesting word:

Ultracrepidarian comes from a classical allusion. The Latin writer Pliny recorded that Apelles, the famous Greek painter who was a contemporary of Alexander the Great, would put his pictures where the public could see them and then stand out of sight so he could listen to their comments.

A shoemaker once faulted the painter for a sandal with one loop too few, which Apelles corrected. The shoemaker, emboldened by this acceptance of his views, then criticised the subject’s leg. To this Apelles is reported as replying (no doubt with expletives deleted) that the shoemaker should not judge beyond his sandals, in other words that critics should only comment on matters they know something about. In modern English, we might say “the cobbler should stick to his last”, a proverb that comes from the same incident. (A last is a shoemaker’s pattern, ultimately from a Germanic root meaning to follow a track, hence footstep.)

What Pliny actually wrote was ne supra crepidam judicaret, where crepidam is a sandal or the sole of a shoe, but the idea has been expressed in several ways in Latin tags, such as Ne sutor ultra crepidam sutor means “cobbler”, a word still known in Scotland in the spelling souter). The best-known version is the abbreviated tag ultra crepidam, “beyond the sole”, from which Hazlitt formed ultracrepidarian.

Crepidam derives from Greek krepis, a shoe; it has no link with words like decrepit or crepitation (which are from Latin crepare, to creak, rattle, or make a noise) or crepuscular (from the Latin word for twilight), though crepidarian is a very rare adjective meaning “pertaining to a shoemaker”.

Monday, November 12, 2007

The Timing of Christmas Music

On November 1, 2007, my wife drove me to work. She likes to listen to an FM station that plays middle-of-the-road music. I enjoy it, too, but in recent years I have settled for the drive-time newsy stations and talk radio. But on this day—November 1, mind you—the station played nothing but Christmas music on the ride to work.

You read that right—Christmas music on November 1.

By the end of the day another Milwaukee station started playing Christmas music. The first station that started playing it stopped at noon and went back to its traditional playlist.

Why this rush to get Christmas music on the airwaves? Do merchants need to prod us this early for our shopping dollars?

When I worked part-time at a radio station Christmas music made its appearance after Thanksgiving. And then it wasn’t “all Christmas music all the time.” We played one Christmas tune each hour the first week, two each hour the second week, three each hour the third week, etc. Christmas Day was all Christmas music.

At the other end it seems all Christmas music is shut down on December 26. Then for a week you only hear the season-appropriate songs like “Frosty the Snow Man” and “Let it Snow.” Notice how soon those are erased from the airwaves after the New Year festivities are over?

Personally I don’t want the Christmas music before I have had a chance to digest my turkey. Okay, maybe while I’m eating my turkey (especially if the meal is supper). I would also like the music extended. Epiphany is January 6; Orthodox Christmas is January 7. Can’t we extend the Christmas music out to those dates? I personally still play it out to those dates.

Certainly extending the holiday music could go a long way to fight the winter blahs, ease the depression of impending taxes and tax preparation, and the like. Hey, maybe merchants wouldn’t have to rely on a local sports team playing late into the playoffs to keep sales numbers up (a friend of mine bought a store with his wife and their first year the Packers won the Super Bowl; he remarked that their numbers that year were dramatically better than the previous owner had the previous years and he believed people continued buying party supplies as long as Green Bay remained in the playoffs).

So let’s get a realistic policy on Christmas music.