Monday, May 19, 2008

Words I'm Looking Up (One in an occasional, cleverly named series on words I'm looking up)


The guy is talking about architecture. And, as a docent at the Gamble House in Pasadena, he knows quite a bit about the subject. It’s clear I could learn a great deal from him if only I could maintain focus. But I can’t, because this docent has just used the word “spline” and I am one of those people for whom a bizarre fixation on words paralyzes other areas of my brain to create a sort of subject-specific mental retardation.

So as our docent continues to share fascinating and downright impressive insights about architecture, a voice in my head is saying. “Spline, spline, bobine, bananafanabospline. Where’s the spline? What’s this spline? Whence came this word 'spline' and am I the only one in this tour group who thinks that it just might have too many consonants?”

Fast forward just 22 hours, and I’m at my local hardware mega-retailer buying materials to make a window screen. 3x5 piece of aluminum screen: check. Two 8-foot pieces of cuttable window frame: check. Gray rubber spline: what?

And that’s enough spline-endipity to persuade me to actually look it up.

spline. n.
1. Any of a series of projections on a shaft that fit into slots on a corresponding shaft, enabling both to rotate together.
2. The groove or slot for such a projection.
3. A flexible piece of wood, hard rubber, or metal used in drawing curves.
4. A wooden or metal strip; a slat.

So the good news is I have a new word and a new window screen. The bad news, of course, is that I still don’t know jack about architecture.


--Deb said...

Funny, I thought that was what Lucy was always doing to Ricky? (grin)

June Casagrande said...

: )

Joel said...

I don't have anything clever to say or erudite to add. I just want to say that I love this post . . . and Deb's comment, too. :-D

June Casagrande said...

For half a day I've been walking around with a mental image of Ricky Ricardo holding up a piece of screen and a rubber strip and yelling, "Lucy, you got some ..." Well, you know the rest.


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