Archive for October, 2012

October 30, 2012

Thar they blow: The Writing Center’s Sea Creatures

New this year: the Writing Center Aquarium! The latest additions to the Writing Center’s peculiar ecosystem are four fish:

From left: Yossarian, Flounder, and Bob, named by unanimous vote by the Writing Center Subcommittee for the Naming of Sea Creatures. Swim the other way, Bob!


There we go. A little more coordination among the three.


The tri-colored trio is joined by our hardworking camouflaged algae-eater, Suspicious. He came to us named Suspicious, and of course we wouldn’t want to confuse him by naming him something else, right?

Come in and check out the fish! And improve your writing! Or both, at the same time!

October 30, 2012

Anonymous Magnetic Poetry, Harvested on Tuesday, Oct. 30

Students, WC consultants, and mischievous wind spirits have been observed moving word magnets on the Writing Center’s magnetic cabinets to create poems. Here are some of the tastiest of Monday’s harvest.


why incubate that stare you dress as knowledge

emerge the shadow of luscious power pictured

in global screams   smear a bitter symphony on

success   a robust hit

     do you feel frantic

          utilize eternity

                     I shot the boy in the black suit

I drool languidly

I please death

by worshipping life


all the men identify a suit above vision


copy delicate form not for profit






create a


a purple flood voids my fiddle

sun sings the garden apparatus

under crushing rain    read tiny life

Two of the poems took on shapes that were impossible to reproduce in word-processor text:

Note how the wordy, weighty corporate-lingo words appear to break the back of the sentence below them.

‘Nuff said.

October 30, 2012

Shelby’s Paper Plate Poem

Tuesday morning breakfast in the WC became an opportunity for poetry. Click photo to enlarge.

October 30, 2012

A Word: Why Do We Call Dollars ‘Dollars’?

Ah, the ubiquitous crumpled dollar—that small greenish rectangle of linen that purchases our chewing gum, under-tips the wait staff at restaurants, and refuses to be inserted into vending machines. But where does that word dollar actually come from?

Dollar, just like Dvorák, RENT, Pilsener, a lengthy pseudo-operatic rock song from the 1970s, and Ántonia Shimerda, comes to us from Bohemia, which is now part of the Czech Republic. In 1516, the town of Jáchymov, situated near the German border and called by the nearby Germans Joachimsthal (literally “Joachim’s valley”), a new silver mine opened. Three years later, Count Hieronymus Schlick, a nobleman wishing to extend his coolness even beyond being a Bohemian count named Hieronymous Schlick, decided to start minting his own money from the silver mined in Joachimsthal, and called his large coins Joachimsthalers. (Note that in German, ‘th’ is pronounced as a hard ‘t,’ and that the ‘a’ in Joachimsthalers is pronounced like ‘a’ in English ‘what.’) As this coin gained use throughout Bohemia and Germany, burghers chose to shorten this unwieldy name to just thaler, which became the currency in many German states until German unification under Otto von Bismarck, when the mark gained precedence. According to the Oxford English Dictionary, in the 16th century the thaler spread from High and Low German to Dutch, the language of the great sea-traders who spread their dalars all over the world, and from thence finally to England, where it was Anglicized into daler, daller, and finally dollar. Moral of the story: next time you go to buy a bag of Cheetos from the vending machine in the laundry room, thank Count Schlick for not naming his coins Hieronyms or Schlicks.