Archive for July 29th, 2009

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Z

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.

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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.
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