Archive for July, 2009



July 29, 2009

I say “zed.” Maybe you do, too. Or you might say “zee.” Lately, I’ve been noticing that my kids say “zee,” and I’ve also been noticing that I’m saying it here and there. Why?

When you think about it, the whole thing is very weird. A lot of us share the same alphabet, whether we speak English, French, Spanish, Dutch, German or Italian. The Finns use the same alphabet, but only a few of the letters. Same deal with Hawaiians, I think, but I’m not sure, because all I know about Hawaii I learned from Thomas Magnum.

Anyway, despite the fact that we share this alphabet, there’s an issue with the last letter. Letter No. 26 is Z, which represents a sound that can’t be spelled out otherwise. Maybe it’s “ts” or “sts.” I can’t say. I just know it comes in handy when I want to talk about crazy zany lazy zebra zippers. But not lasers. Lasers have no Z (Light Amplified by the Stimulated Emission of Radiation: LASER).

Americans say “zee.” Everyone else says “zed.” The letter used to be called “izzard.” I am not making this up. It’s a new addition to the language — you must have known that, because it’s last — and while we all use it the same way, its name has been an issue. You can thank Thomas Webster for that. Two hundred years ago, he took it upon himself to decide it was “zee” as he wrote his dictionary (he wanted it to fall in line with other letters, like B, C, V, T, etc.) and Americans have called it that ever since.

Best words that start with Z:

  1. Zealot
  2. Zoetrope
  3. Zip
  4. Zest
  5. Zebra
  6. Ziggurat
  7. Zinc
  8. Zanzibar
  9. Zenith
  10. Zero

Here’s a little Canadian secret: We are taught “zed” in school, but we tend to say Z vernacularly. You will never hear someone say “I learned it all from A to zed.”

In the history of human language, Z is still a baby. It has some room to grow. I’m now leaning toward calling it “zee.” Not because of any geopolitical or cultural belief; I just think it sounds better.

Besides, when you sing the alphabet song, it makes the rhyme work. “W, X, Y and … zed?” Ouch.


Bones I Have Broken

July 29, 2009
I dont have any photos of my own fixator, but this is what it looked like. Mine went from knee to toe, with those pins running through my foot and big bolts in my shinbone.

I don't have any photos of my own fixator, but this is what it looked like. Mine went from knee to toe, with those pins running through my foot and big bolts in my shinbone.

Someone asked me the other day if I’ve ever broken a bone. I said “no.” But that wasn’t true. I just didn’t want to get into it in any great detail. But as I considered that answer, I realized I’ve broken a hell of a lot of bones. Here’s a list, in chronological order:

  • 1986: Right middle finger, right ring finger, tragic typewriter accident. I had to wear a splint on my hand for six weeks. You take your writing hand for granted until you don’t have it any more.
  • 1992: Right forearm, right wrist, combat. I was fighting a guy with a piece of lumber in his hands. He was using it like a bat, and I took a couple of good shots to the face before I used my arm to ward off his next blows. My forearm cracked like a piece of kindling. I spent the next few months in a cast. Got arrested, too. The charges were dropped, thankfully. When the cast was removed, my arm looked like a baby’s. Note: Having your right arm in a cast from knuckles to elbow makes a lot of everyday tasks more difficult.
  • 1998: Cracked ribs, slam-dancing, Northern Ontario wedding. To Nirvana, no less. Cracked ribs hurt like I can’t explain.
  • 2000: The big one, car accident, icy road. I broke both legs below the knee, most of my ribs and cracked my skull. Also, my right foot came off and was bolted back on. This was a bad car wreck, and I’m still recovering all these years later. The foot still doesn’t work. Despite the 16 separate breaks in my legs, the months of physio, the medieval torture device known as a fixator and all that time in a wheelchair, it’s still the ribs that I remember as the most painful. Also the teeth. I broke most of my teeth, too. The car looked better than I did.
  • 2004: Ribs again. Guess how? Yes, slam-dancing at a wedding in Northern Ontario. I remember this giant guy flying towards me, and then nothing. I should really stop going to these stupid punk weddings.

Nailin’ Palin 2: The Shatner Effect

July 28, 2009

But We Can Still Buy Vinyl

July 27, 2009


My Kid Drew This

July 25, 2009

This is a portrait of me drawn by my son, who told me this: “Daddy? You know how you’re really smart? This is how smart you are.”

He has a gifted eye for this sort of thing; this is actually a scarily good likeness, right down to my stupid cowlick. I just can’t figure out how he knew about all those unpredictable, explosive bombs I’ve handled in my time. Like his mom.


WD40 and You

July 25, 2009

If you’re like me — you pretend to be handy, but you’re really kind of a klutz, and you look things up online before pretending to be able to fix them — you probably have a grab bag of tools kicking around. Really, though, you just need a few things.

Most basic home, garden and automotive repairs can be carried out with:

  • A pair of vise-grips
  • A multi-headed screwdriver
  • A hammer and assorted nails
  • A tube of super glue
  • Duct tape
  • WD40

Bear in mind that when I say “repair,” I mean “Put together in such a way that it will appear to be repaired until people have forgotten it was supposed to be fixed.” You know, like when you use toothpaste to reattach the broken piece of moulding in the bathroom. It’ll fall off next week, but by then you’ll have picked up some more super glue.

Anyway, John S. Barry, the inventor of Water Displacement Formula 40, or WD40, died this week. His name isn’t as well-known as his famous product, but I thought I’d share some great uses for the miracle spray. You’ve probably heard of these before … wash windows, fix distributors in cars, repel pigeons, cure arthritis. I was all set to craft a magical list of uses, by which I mean cut and paste some stuff. Then I saw this:

Snopes dissects WD40.

So it isn’t really fish oil after all. And it’s probably not going to protect you from fire ants. It’s still a useful product. If you don’t have a can of it, pick one up. It’ll come in handy the next time you have to remove duct tape from your skin. (Please don’t leave a comment explaining why you had duct tape on your skin. Yes, I mean you, “Chuck.”)


I’ll Let Buzz Speak For Himself

July 23, 2009