Vocabulary: The Letter H and 100th Post

HOLY CHRISTMAS, BATMAN!  I have reached 100 POSTS!

Not bad, considering my initial fear that I had nothing to say.  Since this is my 100th post, I should mark the occasion with a special celebration.  I have no published books to give away, alas.  Guess I’ll have to save that for my next milestone, like actually publishing one.  *snerk*

Thank you to all my readers, both known and unknown.  Stick around because I’m working on some plans for next year’s posts, including some audience participation and other goodies.

Today’s letter is H, for hospital, Harry Potter (did you see Deathly Hallows Part 1 yet???), heaps (as in heaps of presents – hope you got some!) and Hell, which I am in when it gets cold enough to make my fingers crack and bleed.  Onward!

Haggis – the national dish of Scotland, immortalized as such by Robert Burns’ poem Address to a Haggis.  A large sausage-like sheep’s stomach stuffed with sheep’s pluck (heart, liver and lungs), oatmeal, onions, spices and suet (fat).  Traditionally served with neeps (mashed turnips) and tatties (mashed potatoes).

Hallux – scientific name for the big toe on primate feet.  In birds, it’s the toe that points backward.  Contrary to popular belief, you can walk without a big toe.

Hedonist – one who practices a devotion to a life of pure pleasure, believing it is the greatest good.  The Doctor was no hedonist; while he enjoyed traveling through time in his trusty Tardis, he always took on the messy task of stopping aliens from destroying humanity.

Herpetophobia – fear of snakes.  I like them.  No really.  They eat nasty bugs, slugs and mice.  Without them we’d be overrun.  And except for the ones that can kill you with a well-aimed glance, they’re kind of cute.

Peek-a-boo! Aww!

Hircine – smelling like a smelly goat.  Yoda was cute, but centuries of climbing around the swamps of Dagobah had left him with a rather hircine odor.

Hillbilly – common and derogatory term for a mountain dweller, mostly in the Ozarks and Appalachians.  It is sometimes used interchangeably with the term white trash when referring to rural folks, along with redneck, yokel, trailer trash and cracker (Southern).  Here’s a great article about Ozark hillbillies at Ozark Mossman’s Bizzaritorium.

Holograph – text written in the author’s handwriting.  For example, a holographic will is a handwritten document, usually not witnessed.  Even with a legal signature, they aren’t valid in all states.  In those where they are, a properly executed, signed and dated holographic will, with or without witnesses, including a statement that it supercedes all previous wills, may get your character his inheritance.  Double-check with a lawyer, because I ain’t one.  I’m just a hillbilly.

Hornpipe – British country folk dance named after the instrument that played the tune.  Yarr! Dance this on the poop deck, me hearties!  Looks like fun, especially with a snootful o’ grog!

HP – short for Harry Potter.  I promise I won’t nerd out…really…okay, any writer who wants to do a series should read this.  In fact, read it anyway, just because it’s loads of fun.  I don’t care if you don’t like fantasy. You’ll like this.  Who among us didn’t wish as a child that we could do magic?

HQ – short for headquarters.  I know acronyms aren’t really words, but since some of them have entered the vernacular, one or two of your characters might drop them in conversation.  For wacky fun, a character who talks primarily in acronyms will drive everyone else crazy.

HR – okay, last one, I promise. Human Resources, everyone’s favorite corporate department! “Hey, did you hear about Stinky Bob?” the office gossip said, her voice shivering with suppressed glee.  “He was called into HR a while ago.”

Huarache – Mexican sandal. And a Mexican dish of cornmeal dough topped with all kinds of yummy noms.  It gets its name from the shape, which is similar to the shoe.  If your huarache tastes like a huarache, I’d probably send it back.

Huarache you wear.

Huarache you eat.

Husbandry – science of cultivating animals or crops for food.  No, it’s not the science of keeping your husband in line.  That’s a whole other article.

Hyoid – U-shaped.  A little bone in the throat above the larynx, the hyoid bone, is often fractured by manual strangulation.  If you’re writing a detective novel where someone gets strangled you’ll want to remember this.

Hypotrichosis – hairlessness. Your hypotrichotic villain could leave behind someone else’s hair at the crime scene, thus implicating that person in the strangulation murder.  Muwahahaha.

That’s all for today, kids.  Have a safe and Happy New Year!

10 Things Receptionists Won’t Tell You

Working a front desk for a living isn’t always as simple as it looks.   Receptionists are the gatekeepers to companies. Whether you’re a walk-in sales representative or a prominent bigwig with an appointment, it’s best to treat us with dignity.

In no particular order, here are ten things receptionists won’t tell you (but would probably like to):

#10 – Jerky sales tactics won’t work.

If we tell you your target doesn’t see people without an appointment, believe us.  Don’t try to argue, because we’ll just tell the person you were a jerk, if we give him your card at all.   Don’t try to trick a name out of us either.  “Your purchasing manager…what was his name again?” won’t work on a savvy receptionist.   We’re onto your tricks.

Also, if we tell you nicely that our bosses don’t allow you to set up your scammy vending machines in our break room, don’t yell and stomp out in a huff.   We didn’t make the rules.

#9 – We have other things to do besides chat.

As social creatures, most humans enjoy small talk.  But not everyone does, or has time.  Most receptionists are also the company’s switchboard operators, not to mention saddled with a plethora of clerical tasks.  We can’t always talk to visitors  while they wait for their appointments.

We know how much waiting sucks.  Carry a magazine in your briefcase, or use the time to go over your presentation / sales literature / notes before your meeting.  If the receptionist seems open to chatting, keep it away from personal topics.

#8 – We already have a job; we’re not YOUR assistants.

The receptionist’s job is to welcome you and notify your appointment that you’re here.  If asked by our bosses, we will gladly make a copy, fetch a file or even a coffee for you.  Please don’t ask us to phone your dentist, your wife, or anything else you’d ask your secretary to do.  You may be our customer, but we don’t work for you.  Use your cell phone and make your own personal calls.  In fact, you shouldn’t be asking your own secretary to do personal crap either!

#7 – We can’t always answer your questions, but we’ll try our best to find someone who can.

We’re not usually trained on product information or tech issues.  We’re happy to get you to someone who can help you.  That’s what we do.  We may have to ask you a few questions to do that, so bear with us.  If we transfer you to the wrong person, either it was a simple mistake or you didn’t give us clear information.  Please don’t call us back and bitch us out.

#6 – Our execs and salespeople don’t always tell us their schedules.

A big receptionist pet peeve is when people leave without telling anyone.  Some offices have sign-out boards or policies set up to notify the switchboard when someone is gone.  Others, especially large companies, don’t.  We transfer your call automatically and if the person isn’t there, we may not even know it.  Companies have voice mail so people can get back to you if they miss your call.  Leave a clear message with your contact info.  If someone is out indefinitely or has left us, we’ll probably have an alternative for you already.

#5 – We can’t make anyone do anything.

In most companies, the receptionist is the underground part of the totem pole.  We can’t make someone pick up the phone, be in the office, or call you back, etc.  Please don’t launch into a tirade at us if we transfer you and you get voice mail.  We’re sorry you aren’t getting through, but once we transfer a call it’s beyond our control.

We’ll be happy to transfer you to a manager if necessary.  We don’t like it when our co-workers don’t answer their calls either, but often we aren’t allowed to say anything.

#4 – Our lobby is not a public rest area.

This is a business.  Our facilities are for our employees.  Don’t come in and ask us if you can use the bathroom.  Chances are we aren’t allowed to let you past the desk.  Find an alternative.  Emergencies happen, but we may be risking a reprimand or even termination if we let you in.  Don’t put us in that position.

We’ll call 911 for you if you need us to.  Make sure it’s not because you lost your cell phone and your fast food burger didn’t have ketchup on it like you wanted.

#3 – If you’re applying for a job at the company, treat the receptionist with respect.

HR will sometimes ask us what we thought of an applicant because they know people often treat the servants badly.  If you’re rude to us, the hiring manager will know it.  We’ll either paste a note to your resume or tell on you after your interview.  Sucking up is much better.  Practice until you can do it without sounding fake, and we’ll tell our boss we really liked you.

#2 – We love it when you acknowledge us at holiday time.

Vendors and customers often send or bring goodies for a little Christmas suck-up.  If we deal with you on a regular basis, it’s nice when you remember us with a candy box, a cookie tin or card just for us.  It’s torture to watch packages loaded with chocolate march by, knowing the recipient won’t share.  And when something yummy gets put in the break room for everyone, by the time we can get away from the phone, it’s usually gone.

#1 – Keep your crazy to yourself.

It’s scary working the front desk, especially where the general public passes through.  Some of the people we see are certifiable.  We don’t care about your Martian neighbors.  We don’t want to hear your whole life story while you fill out your job application.  And for God’s sake, DON’T PULL UP YOUR SHIRT AND SHOW US YOUR SURGERY SCAR.

See?  It’s not so hard.  All you have to do is remember your manners.  We want to like you when you walk through our door.   And thanks for the cookies. *wink*


Short post today; Christmas prep is underway.  I’ve finished all my shopping.  I received a present of my own to share with you.  Recently I opened my Gmail and found a notice for my very first pay as a writer, for test articles on a site to which I’m hoping to become a regular contributor.  Yay!

No, wait.  That doesn’t really do the moment justice.


That’s better.

I haven’t done this kind of informational writing before, using keywords.  It’s new to me.  I see it as a challenge, not an obstacle.  The more I branch out with different types of writing, the more avenues of success open up to me.

The thought exploded in my mind that a small beginning is ONLY the beginning.  For the first time in my life, I’ve tried something new, and it actually worked.  I know now I can do this.  I really can.  That’s the sort of realization that opens the world to a person.  If this can work, maybe my other writing will.  And someday, I may be gracing the shelves of your nearest bookstore.*

Most people work from necessity.  Few of us have trust funds.  It’s a great feeling to get paid for something you want to do rather than something you have to do.  Any time you can experience that, savor it.   Even small jobs add up to your collective experience.  Writing for websites can give you clips.   Pop these things on your resume or CV and rejoice in your hard work.  You should be proud of yourself when you finish a job well done, especially if you feel you’ve really earned your pay.

If you’ve earned money doing something you enjoy, please share in the comments.  Tell us why you chose to do it and how it felt to realize the possibilities of your dream.

*Oh please oh please oh please.

Vocabulary: Gee!

Today’s letter stands for grits (yummy with butter and pepper – haven’t tried them with red-eye gravy yet), guns, gentlemen, Gollum and gargoyle.  Let us begin.

Galactophagist – one who drinks milk.  I didn’t know there was a word for that…I love the stuff.

Mmm…moo juice.

Image: aopsan / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Garret – attic room, commonly occupied by starving artists/writers/poets in romantic literature.

Genre – type of literature, such as romance, mystery, paranormal, sci-fi, etc.  Can be combined with others to create subgenres.  Example – paranormal romance like Twilight or a historical mystery like The Name of the Rose.  The short-lived TV program Firefly is a space western, with strong elements of each.

Gelato – Italian version of ice cream with less butterfat than the American kind.  While ice cream is whipped with air, gelato is not, making it melt faster in the mouth for a burst of immediate, rich, delicious flavor.

Ghawazi – tribe of Egyptian dancers, whose style is thought to be the origin of modern belly dancing.  Fascinating article here by orientalist Edwina Nearing.

Ghostwriter – a writer hired to write a book for somebody else.  Celebrity books are often written by ghostwriters, and then sold under the celebrity’s name.  You didn’t think they did their own writing, did you?

Gibbet – an old word for gallows.  Scooby and the gang freed the heroine from the noose just seconds before the monster sprung the gibbet’s trapdoor.  “Jinkies!” Velma exclaimed. “He nearly hanged you!”

Gimlet – small tool for boring holes; also a drink made with gin or vodka and lime juice.


Glaucous – light bluish-green.  I heard Richard Dreyfuss use this word in Jaws and I always wondered what it meant, but I never looked it up.  Bad writer! Bad!

Glossary – list of terms and definitions, often found at the back of a textbook.

Gormless – unintelligent.  Batman wondered how Robin could be so gormless as to let Joker capture him.  Perhaps his hot chocolate had been drugged.  Could that rather hirsute waitress have been one of Joker’s henchmen in a dress?

Goalmouth – the area between goalposts.

Gravid – pregnant.   Willow didn’t want to tell Buffy she was gravid with a mutant demon baby. Fooling around with Spike while hypnotized was embarrassing enough.

Groundlings – the Elizabethan commoners who paid a penny to stand in the yard (central open area) at the Globe Theater and watch Shakespeare’s plays.

Guile – crafty deception, wiles.

Guignol (grand guignol) – shocking or horrifying entertainment; over-the-top.  From Theatre du Grand Guignol in Paris, a bastion of in-your-face theater from its opening in 1897 until it closed in 1962.

Gwynedd – a county in Wales.

I could go there.

Gynotikolobomassophile – someone who enjoys nibbling on women’s earlobes. I swear this vocabulary search gets weirder every time.

Gyre – circular motion.  Those slithy toves who gyred and gimbled in the wabe in Lewis Carroll’s Jabberwocky must have been pretty dizzy.  Gimble means to make holes as with a gimlet.

A slithy tove gimbling. No word on whether he gyred first.

That’s all for G.  Good night kids!