Sam "The Man" Adams ... in bronze, life-size

Sam “The Man” Adams … in bronze, life-size. He commanded the crazy Massachusetts regiment in America’s Revolutionary War

Coarse rocks on the edge of Phoenix mountains

Coarse rocks on the edge of Phoenix mountains

Perfectly gibbous moon

Perfectly gibbous moon

New leaves

Incrementally new leaves

On Beacon Hill, old, indelible stone buildings

On Beacon Hill, old, indelible stone buildings. Photo: Garry Armstrong

jupiter najnajnoviji


First of all, for you skeptics out there, “whelmed” is really a word, though we don’t use it because it doesn’t seem to have any relationship to it’s more popular off-spring, Over- and Under.

WHELM (verb)
1. to submerge; engulf.
2. to overcome utterly; overwhelm: whelmed by misfortune.

So overwhelmed implies misfortune? How does that work when used as “Overwhelmed by gratitude, joy, or excitement?” Are those things actually misfortune in disguise? Or is it the oncoming waters of drowning and submersion that carry the negative implication?

Sometimes, the weird ins and outs of our peculiar language leave me agape. That’s right. Agape. And what do you want to make of it, eh? I’ll whelm you if you diss me, girlie!



STOOP, Etymology

Originally brought to the Hudson Valley of New York by settlers from the Netherlands, this word is among the Dutch vocabulary that has survived there from colonial times until the present. Stoop, “a small porch”, comes from Dutch stoep (meaning: step, pronounced the same). The word is now in general use in the Northeastern United States and is spreading. 

Not a stoop. This would qualify as a portico

Not a stoop. This would qualify as a portico. Only one step and it’s recessed

Stoops are important. They offer opportunities for creative play, such as “stoop ball” which is a kind of handball, but you need a stoop. With steps. We used to use them as a kind of grandstand where guests could sit while we gave performances. We thought we were almost ready for Broadway. Not all reviewers agreed.

A stoop is a front porch for urbanites. You sit on the stoop to watch the street, meet and greet your neighbors, get some fresh (?) air. Catch up on the local news. Stoop sitting was an important thing when I was growing up and I’m betting it still is, if you live in a neighborhood in the city that’s not too snooty.

Rich people don’t sit on the stoop. More’s the pity. They’d understand the world a lot better if they did.

As the word “stoop” spreads, we will all be able to recognize one when we see it. It’s one of the first architectural features I look for when I’m trying to figure when a structure was built. In cities, most buildings originally had a stoop. When you see a door that is at or below street level, it usually means the original stoop has been buried by erosion, time, remodeling, sidewalk and street repairs, and so on.

It's a stoop, but it leads to a porch

It’s a stoop, but it leads to a porch

Urban streets tend to rise over the years. In older cities, sometimes the level of the street will actually be slightly higher than the door, requiring a dry well and/or drains to keep from flooding.

Stoops on Beacon Hill, Boston

Stoops on Beacon Hill, Boston

A stoop from the 1700s is still a stoop ... even though it's in Upton, Massachusetts rather than New York

A stoop from the 1700s is still a stoop … even though it’s in Upton, Massachusetts rather than New York

A perfect suburban stoop

A perfect suburban stoop

A stoop leading to the tiny post office in Manchaug

A stoop leading to the tiny post office in Manchaug

I can attest to the spread of the word stoop meaning the steps and landing between the sidewalk (or front walk) and the door. Because when i first came to Boston, only former New Yorkers (which comprise about 50% of everyone in Massachusetts) knew the word, but now everyone does. Probably because of that invasive pest species, refugees from New York.

To qualify as a stoop, it has to lead to the front or another main door. It doesn’t have to have a landing to be a stoop. The steps alone are enough.

The stoop should have from two to six steps. More than six steps is a whole flight of steps and a single step can’t be a stoop. If there’s more than a landing at the top, it also isn’t a stoop. If it’s bigger than a landing, the area is a porch, a veranda, a balcony … maybe even a deck. A proper stoop is just big enough to put down your bag of groceries while you dig around in your bag to find your keys.



There were probably stoops on these doorways 100 years ago, but the city rose. You can also see how many times the building has been remodeled, brickwork changed, and so on. Buildings hold a lot of history

I would call this a stoop, but some would not because it leads to a side door, not the front

I would call this a stoop, but some would not because it leads to a side door, not the front

You now hold a graduate degree in stoopology. Congratulations!



So there we were. It’s late. The dogs are sleeping. Garry and I are watching “The ABC Murders” on the BBC Poirot series. Poirot is reading an article in the newspaper, supposedly quoting Captain Hastings. Hastings says “I say, Poirot, I really didn’t say that, you know.”

“I know,” says Poirot. “But perhaps this will help us. The murderer, he sees what I supposedly said in the daily blog …”


1. A website containing a writer’s or group of writers’ own experiences, observations, opinions, etc., and often having images and links to other websites.
2. A single entry or post on such a website: She regularly contributes a blog to the magazine’s website.
verb (used without object), blogged, blogging.
3. To maintain or add new entries to a blog. Verb (used with object), blogged, blogging.
4. To express or write about on a blog: She’s been blogging her illness for almost a year.

Origin of blog 
1995-2000; shortening of weblog – Related forms: blogger, noun

Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2016.


Blog? He used the word blog? This show was aired in 1992 and the story is set in pre-World War II England. How far back does the word “blog” go? These BBC productions are generally considered accurate renditions of the books.

BLOG (British) 

1998, – short for weblog (which is attested from 1994, though not in the sense “online journal”), from (World Wide) Web + log.

Joe Bloggs (c.1969) was British slang for “any hypothetical person” (cf. U.S. equivalent Joe Blow); earlier “blog” meant “a servant boy” in one of the college houses (c.1860, see Partridge, who describes this use as a “perversion of bloke”). As a verb, “to defeat” in schoolboy slang.

The Blogger online publishing service was launched in 1999.

None of these definitions would be used to describe a newspaper article or column … or even a published rumor. Except — this BBC TV movie was released in 1992. And the word “blog” in a form and meaning we understand is there, where it can’t be because the word did not yet exist.

But it did exist and it meant basically what it means now, except applied to a daily newspaper, not something on the Internet.

I can reach but one conclusion: My accurate sources are wrong. The word did exist at least as early as 1992. If they are wrong about this, what else did they get wrong? Did Agatha Christie use it in the original manuscript? I’d need to have a searchable copy of “The ABC Murders” to do a word search. I don’t have such a book at the moment, but I’ll try to find one. There may be one available as a Kindle and they are searchable. I’ll let you know.

Meanwhile, I can’t find any source that admits any evidence that the word “blog” existed in its current form and usage prior to 1995 (most say 1997). All sources agree on this. The word “blog” comes from “web log.” Except obviously, that’s not true.

It’s a mystery worthy of Dame Agatha herself.

How many other things I know are true, are wrong? Makes you wonder, doesn’t it?

UPDATE: Dateline Uxbridge, 1:22 PM, EDT

After much checking in by helpful readers and friends, the word (given the heavy fake French accent …) might have been one of these three words:

Blood (which is what the transcript of the show thinks it was)

Blab (mebbe, because with the accent, anything that is a single syllable and starts with BL and is followed by an “aw” or “ah” sound could sound like blog


Blah, as in “blah, blah, blah” which had during WWI (around 1918), come into common parlance to mean the same thing it means 100 years later.

If anyone has the book, it would be interesting to find out what Dame Agatha actually wrote, as opposed to what the BBC production used in the script. The show is available on Netflix. It is first show of the 1992 season four. “The ABC Murders” is a movie length feature and very well done. It will stand alone as a single viewing.


What animal walks on all fours in the morning, two in the afternoon and three in the evening? Man, since he crawls as a child then walks and uses a cane when he gets older.

No sooner spoken than broken. What is it? Silence.

I am weightless, but you can see me. Put me in a bucket, and I’ll make it lighter. What am I? A hole.

What is so fragile that when you say its name, you break it? Silence.

I have a tail, and I have a head, but I have no body. I am not a snake. What am I? A coin.

What falls, but does not break. What breaks, but does not fall? Night falls and day breaks.

You throw away the outside and cook the inside. Then you eat the outside and throw away the inside. What is it? An ear of corn.

I have holes in my top and bottom, my left and right, and in the middle. Yet I still hold water. What am I? A sponge.

What can run, but never walks
Has a mouth but never talks,
Has a head but never weeps,
Has a bed but never sleeps?

A river.

I never was, am always to be,
No one ever saw me, nor ever will,
And yet I am the confidence of all
To live and breathe on this terrestrial ball.
What am I?


CONUNDRUM definition meaning

I am the black child of a white father, a wingless bird, flying even to the clouds of heaven. I give birth to tears of mourning in pupils that meet me, even though there is no cause for grief, and at once on my birth I am dissolved into air. What am I? Smoke.

Pronounced as one letter and written with three.
Two letters there are, but two only in me.
I’m double, I’m single,
I’m black, blue, and gray.
I’m read from both ends,
Yet the same either way.
What am I?

An eye.

The final conundrum: How can we get ourselves into this mess?

Answer: I’ll let you know if I ever figure it out. Or, if you get there first, call me. I’ll be waiting!



Who is picking these prompts? Martyr? Seriously?

Personally, I don’t know any martyrs. Historically, there’s a lot to choose from but I’m not in the mood to go pluck one from the pages of the past, or pull someone from the fires of the righteous.

I’m no martyr. Whatever sacrifices I may have made on behalf of my beliefs, they never came anywhere near the level of martyrdom. Discomfort or disruption to a normal life do not make you a martyr. Taking care of your kids, working at jobs you don’t like, or struggling to survive? None of these make you a martyr. This is one of those overused words. Along with “awesome,” “resonate,” and the ubiquitous phrase “back in the day.”


“I’m a martyr to housework,” I hear. Really? What strange belief system do you follow?

I am not a martyr. You are not a martyr. I’m willing to stake money on it — neither was your father, mother, or any of your friends. Even if they served in the military or worked in a coal mine. There are other words for that.

English is a wonderful, rich language. We have words for everything, This one is mostly used incorrectly to mean “dedicated,” “dutiful,” “honorable,” “generous,” or “self-sacrificing.” “Martyr” is a pretty specific term. Unless you are in jail and likely to die for your political or religious beliefs, you ain’t no martyr.

Final note: dedicating your life to a cause doesn’t make you a martyr. If they assassinate you because of it (see “Martin Luthor King” for a recent historical example or any saint in whatever registry saints and their deeds are listed), then (maybe) you are a martyr. I think if you don’t die, but they torture you a lot, you might slip into the martyr category. I’d last about 10 seconds under torture. It’s possible that the threat alone would make me spill my guts. Guess I’m lucky I don’t know anything anyone will kill me to learn … nor do I represent anything except me. I may have a big mouth, but no one is going to kill me to make me shut up.

Well, maybe Garry.


NOTE: We are actually going to be gone most of the day, so if I don’t answer your comments, it’s because we aren’t home. I’ll try to get back to the computer when we get back. It might be late.  So today, the cyber-world may have to soldier on without my help.