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October 29, 2013

Needless Words

Greg Hill endorses a simple message to all those who write. Omit needless words.

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October 22, 2013

The Curse

Greg Hill tells weird things and startling science.

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October 15, 2013

Name What

"...studies from the University of Toronto have shown that “individuals who often read fiction appear to be better able to understand other people, empathize with them, and view the world from their perspective … even after the researchers factored in the possibility that more empathetic people might chose to read more novels.'' writes Greg Hill.

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October 08, 2013

American Traditions

"Baseball fans were known as 'cranks' until 1889, when the new catchword, 'fan' supplanted it,'' writes Greg Hill, considering various American traditions.

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October 01, 2013

So Many Books

"According to Bowker’s, the company that issues bar codes and tracks the publishing industry’s statistics, 300,000 books — individual titles — were published in the U.S. in 2003. In 2007 it was 411,422, 1,052,803 two years later, and in 2011 it hit 3 million,'' writes Greg Hill.

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September 24, 2013

Fading Memories

Some types of memories seem to evaporate over time far too easily, writes Greg Hill.

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September 10, 2013

Poe’s Law

"Don’t confuse your hyphens and dashes,'' advises columnist Greg Hill.

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September 03, 2013

What A Name

Greg Hill confesses that he is a mondegreen man.

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August 27, 2013

Poop Deck

"...there’s no more moral place to find the truth than your public library,'' writes Greg Hill.

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August 13, 2013

Listening To Books

"Audio books come to life when narrated well,'' declares columnist Greg Hill.

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August 06, 2013

Elemental Humour

"Many women seem to lack the gene that causes appreciation of elemental humor,'' writes Greg Hill.

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July 30, 2013

Nuance

"The English language is marvellously packed with expressions that convey nuance,'' writes Greg Hill.

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July 23, 2013

Someone Is Not Stupid For Seeking An Answer

"It’s easy for weak, fearful individuals to hide behind the remote anonymity of computer-based communications to be brave and brash,'' writes Greg Hill.

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July 16, 2013

Library Cats

"Cats long have been associated with libraries,'' writes columnist and librarian Greg Hill.

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July 09, 2013

Rex Libris

"Amusement, of course, is what keeps me going, and if I’m amused, maybe you will be, too,'' writes columnist Greg Hill.

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July 02, 2013

Cicerone

"The problem booklovers labor under is deciding which new, tempting book is next,;; writes Greg Hill.

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June 25, 2013

Rocketships And Libraries

"If libraries are not moving ahead they are dying,'' declares Greg Hill.

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June 18, 2013

Anlage

"“Anlage,” which means “an organ in its earliest stage of development,” was in John Steinbeck’s vocabulary, but not mine until recently when I re-read a short selection from “Grapes of Wrath” in Lapham’s Quarterly,'' writes columnist and librarian Greg Hill.

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June 11, 2013

Grammarians

"Our brain notices grammatical errors unconsciously when it reads them,'' writes Greg Hill.

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June 04, 2013

Words Forgotten

Columnist and librarian Greg Hill confesses that he is a word glutton.

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May 28, 2013

Immarure or Old Timer

Columnist and librarian Greg Hill contemplates the warping of time.

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May 21, 2013

Vocabulary Appropriate

"In this age of shoot-from-the-hip communication, perhaps more punctuation marks, not fewer, are needed.'' writes Greg Hill.

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May 14, 2013

Miracle Or Fact

"Sometimes the beliefs of the national collective mind are disturbing,'' writes Greg Hill.

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May 07, 2013

Mouth Marvels

"Print comes in many forms these days: paperback, trade, large print, electronic, digital, magnetic, MP3, etc. Nonetheless, to me, they’re all part of a whole, the great book of human understanding and expression that we call a library,'' writes columnist and librarian Greg Hill.

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April 30, 2013

Blank Slates

"Locke, who lived in the 1600s, considered a child to be “a blank slate” upon which good ideas can be transferred,'' writes columnist and librarian Greg Hill.

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April 23, 2013

Hard On The Eyes

"Computer-users’ impatience is apparently growing. A 2009 study “found that online shoppers expected pages to load in two seconds or fewer, and at three seconds a large share abandoned the site, but in the 1960s scientists found people would wait ten seconds,'' writes Greg Hill.

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April 16, 2013

Authors’ Style

"Readers enhance their vocabularies and communication skills by spending quality time with authors who are adept at getting their points across,'' writes Greg Hill.

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April 09, 2013

Paper Passion

Greg Hill declares that paper books will be needed for centuries to come. "They’re the most economical and reliable form of long–term information storage.''

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April 02, 2013

Agelast

"It’s common knowledge that laughing’s good for you. Sometimes it’s necessary. 'When the fearful strain that is on me day and night,” Abraham Lincoln observed, “if I did not laugh I should die','' writes librarian and columnist Greg Hill.

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March 26, 2013

Ancient Rome

"Intellectual stimulation is one of the prime pleasures of being a public librarian,'' writes Greg Hill.

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March 19, 2013

Spoonerisms

...Spooner’s fame resides in his pronounced tendency to transpose the beginning sounds of the words in his phrases. For example, he once referred to “the dear old queen” as “the queer old dean.”...

Columnist and librarian Greg Hill says his family enjoys wordplay and spoonerisms.

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March 18, 2013

Spoonerisms

...Spooner’s fame resides in his pronounced tendency to transpose the beginning sounds of the words in his phrases. For example, he once referred to “the dear old queen” as “the queer old dean.”...

Columnist and librarian Greg Hill says his family enjoy word play and good spoonerisms.

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March 12, 2013

Platitude

"You might have noticed within the salad bowl of public discussion reference to gun control. Polarizing topics like that are often reduced to the basest of platitudes, reflecting the polarization of attitudes rather than forthright discussion,'' writes Greg Hill.

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March 05, 2013

Brewer’s Pupils

Author Terry Pratchett's personal boyhood library included a copy of “Brewer’s Dictionary of Phrase and Fable. "...a brick-sized tome that’s also in my library, and should be in yours,'' writes librarian and columnist Greg Hill.

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February 26, 2013

Books For The Generations

"There’s a place for e-books in the modern world; I certainly enjoy my Nook reader while traveling. But I also have a nice collection of acid-free books that my great-great-great-great-grandchildren will one day use, even without electricity,'' writes librarian and columnist Greg Hill.

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February 19, 2013

Boost The Brain

...As Mortimer Adler wrote, and economic studies show, “Reading is a basic tool in the living of a good life.”...

And columnist and librarian Greg Hill is in full agreement with this statement.

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February 12, 2013

Just Ducky

Giant ducks... Diminutive horses... Greg Hill ventures into the wackier realms of scoence.

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February 05, 2013

Careless Words

"Over the years I’ve grown to abhor some overused fad words, like 'robust' and 'paradigm'. But new, equally annoying ones are constantly emerging, such as 'chillax' (combining chill and relax), 'like' (as in 'and then I’m all like…'), and especially 'whatever'.'' writes columnist and librarian Greg Hill.

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January 29, 2013

Express An Emotion

Columnist and librarian Greg Hill considers words beautiful and words ugly.

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January 22, 2013

Fartlek

Ugsome, cumshaw. xerophytes, fartlet...

Columnist and librarian Greg Hill relishes an exuberance of words.

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January 15, 2013

A Potency Of Life

Columnist Greg Hill considers an itchy subject.

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January 08, 2013

Most-Used Five-Word Phrases

"Calculating 2012’s phrases will be problematic, though. In 1907, there were 9,260 books published; but an online article by Pat Bertram titled, “How Many Books Are Going to be Published in 2012?” reports that publishing had grown from 300,000 to 411,422 in 2007, 1,052,803 in 2009, and approximately 3 million in 2011.,'' writs columnist Greg Hill.

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January 01, 2013

Your Brain On Fiction

...“The brain, it seems, does not make much of a distinction between reading about an experience and encountering it in real life; in each case, the same neurological regions are stimulated,”...

Greg Hill reports exciting disoveries on the effects of reading.

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December 18, 2012

Word Histories

"Family get-togethers can reveal interesting word histories,'' writes columnist and librarian Greg Hill.

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December 11, 2012

Slow Down, It’s Cold Outside

"Slowing our minds periodically is good for us.'' declares columnist and libraian Greg Hill.

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December 04, 2012

MYTH or myths

Columnist and librarian Greg Hill introduces us to a couple of succesful rogues.

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November 27, 2012

Old-fashioned Expressions

"My wife will be relieved to learn that I scored 'low on 'The Psychopath Challenge',” writes columnist and librarian Greg Hill.

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November 20, 2012

Language Invented

"Language changes reflect societal ones, and bigger social changes mean significant language alterations,'' writes Greg Hill, a man who savours the idiosyncracies of the English lanuage.

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November 13, 2012

Ther Richest Guy In Town

A voice message makes librarian Greg Hill realise why he is the richest guy in town.

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November 06, 2012

Straight Dope

"A strong community needs good, reliable information and a place to exchange, organize, and put it to use. Public libraries provide both,'' declares columnist and librarian Greg Hill.

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October 30, 2012

Ham Theorem

*The free Internet’s a mile wide and an inch deep; to get in depth, reliable information that’s on-target involves having costly database subscriptions,'' writes Greg Hill.

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October 23, 2012

Book Hangover

"A friend recently posted the definition of a new expression for something readers know too well,'book hangover: the inability to start a new book because you’re still living in the last book’s world','' writes columnist Greg Hill.

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October 16, 2012

Gray Matter

Columnist and librarian Greg Hill reports on scientific breakthroughs - some exciting, others disturbing.

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October 09, 2012

Life Stories

Autobiographies containing bold-faced lies can be immensely entertaining when well written. writes Greg Hill.

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October 02, 2012

Fiddle-de-dee

"Fiddle-de-dee came to mind upon reading a recent online Atlantic monthly article by Megan Garber titled 'How America Swears'.'' writes Greg Hill.

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September 18, 2012

Peachy!

"...each August the “peachman” comes to Fairbanks laden with boxes of large, perfectly ripe peaches. He vends them to teachers, librarians, and other eager customers, and as usual, I bought more than could be readily consumed,'' writes librarian and columnist Greg Hill.

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September 11, 2012

Puha

" Humans excel at mishearing,'' declares columnist Greg Hill.

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September 04, 2012

Old Fashion Communications

"....knowing how to communicate gracefully and forcefully still counts for something. Reading for pleasure hones that skill, among many others, such as concentration, reading speed, and comprehension,'' writes Greg Hill.

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August 28, 2012

Blue Mondays

"Mondays aren’t going away, but are they merely 'the potholes in the road of life'? Beside tribal bonding and getting us up to speed, what good purpose do Mondays serve besides making all the other days appear more pleasurable?'' writes Greg Hill.

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August 21, 2012

Captain Kangaroo

Librarian and columnist Greg Hill pays tribute to ine of the most enduring characters television ever produced.

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August 14, 2012

Comic Book Literature

More people are reading a wider variety of comics than ever before, writes columnist and librarian Greg Hill.

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August 07, 2012

From Squid To Sugru

"...my encounter three decades ago with photographic evidence of black hairy tongue disease in the Illustrated Dictionary of Medical Symptoms remains remarkably fresh. Even nonlibrarians have learned the danger of doing medical research on the Internet...'' writes ace columnist Greg Hill.

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July 31, 2012

R u talkn 2 me?

"It’s hard to tell what’s being communicated with the latest abbreviation fad in full flow,'' writes Greg Hill.

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July 24, 2012

Voyager I Leaving Solar System

Greg Hill pays tribute to his "gateway into adult fiction'', writer and story teller Ray Bradbury.

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July 17, 2012

The Billionaire And The Library

"Our community values libraries more than some. We all know that kids who love reading grow up with powerful advantages in communications and comprehension skills. They grow up to help create a stronger local workforce and spend far less time in jail,## write columnist and librarian Greg Hill.

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The Billionaire And The Library

"Our community values libraries more than some. We all know that kids who love reading grow up with powerful advantages in communications and comprehension skills. They grow up to help create a stronger local workforce and spend far less time in jail,## write columnist and librarian Greg Hill.

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July 03, 2012

Black Hole Resorts

"Public libraries encapsulate many of the finer virtues, like sharing and treating others with respect,'' writes Greg Hill.

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June 26, 2012

Jemmy Twitcher

Columnist and librarian Greg Hill notes the anniversaries of the the sandwich and the most famous of all thesauruses.

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June 19, 2012

Patience Is A Virtue

"The cynical American lexicographer Ambrose Bierce agreed by defining “patience” in his 1911 'Devil’s Dictionary' as 'A minor form of despair, disguised as a virtue'," writes ace columnist Greg Hill.

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June 12, 2012

Our New Roof

...quoting children’s own definitions produced lines that are just right, like “Hands are to hold,” “Dogs are to kiss people,” and “The ground is to make a garden.”...

Columnist and librarian Greg Hill considers children's literature - and a new roof.

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June 05, 2012

A Wealth Of Information

"Turning the other cheek has proven challenging for humankind, and everyone could use more practice in that regard,'' writes columnist Greg Hill.

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May 08, 2012

Put A Spark In Your Brain

"Scientific reports on how reading affects brain functions have been pouring out lately, and even the smattering of information I’ve gleaned on the subject is fascinating,'' writes columnist Greg Hill.

Continue reading "Put A Spark In Your Brain" »

May 01, 2012

Men In High Heels

..Bryson has a marvelous authorial voice — engaging, humorous and informed. As a Chicago Sun-Times critic wrote, 'Bill Bryson could write an essay about dryer lint or fever reducers and still make us laugh out loud'...

Columnist and keen reader Greg Hill declares his enthusiasm for Bill Bryson's books.

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April 24, 2012

Eat This, Not That

Columnist Greg Hill points out that sweet-eaters are ensuring that the Tooth Fairy is never likely to be unemployed.

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April 17, 2012

The Mad King

King Gerge III may have been deemed legally bonkers but he acquired a large number of books, reveals columnist Greg Hill.

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April 10, 2012

Technologically Adept

...as Victor Hugo said, “Initiative is doing the right thing without being told.”...

But Greg Hill's column confirms that some things should never be attempted.

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April 03, 2012

Graphic Literature

"I’m an unabashed fan of graphic literature, as librarians refer to comic strips, books and graphic novels, because it leads reluctant youngsters to reading,'' declares columnist and librarian Greg Hill.

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March 27, 2012

Paper Wedding Dress

"I could fill several columns writing about advances in toilet paper technology,'' claims Greg Hill.

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March 20, 2012

Dangle Dongel

Wordsman Greg Hill ventures into the world of nerkles, nerds and LolCats.

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March 13, 2012

Goat Roping

Greg Hill pursues the double-tongued meaning of the expression "goat roping''.

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March 06, 2012

Flexitarian

"...scientists have found that once mastered, reading helps keep your mind supple, flexible if you will, even into advanced elderhood. “After all,” best-selling author Jasper Fforde asserts, 'reading is arguably a far more creative and imaginative process that writing'...'' declares librarian Greg Hill.

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February 21, 2012

Shakespeare Banned

"Research from Oxford University last year found that reading, not artistic, athletic, social, or computer pastimes, is the only teen leisure activity that helps them get and hold good jobs,'' writes columnist Greg Hill in this riposte to the book-banners.

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February 14, 2012

The Bozone Layer

So what is the bozone layer? Columnist Greg Hill relishes the evarlasting fun and inventiveness of words.

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February 07, 2012

The Art Of Fielding

Columnist and librarian Greg Hill enjoys a new novel about a tremendously talented college baseball player who strives for perfection. The story weaves in Herman Melville, contemporary college life, and, according to the New York Times, “the Human Condition.”

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January 31, 2012

"Dave, My Mind Is Going''

Columnist and librarian Greg Hill assures us that reading will keep the brain supple.

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January 24, 2012

Gizmo's

"Delving through dusty boxes of the library’s historical records has left me musing about innovations, and fittingly filthy. Many new technologies have come and gone in my two decades on the job here in Fairbanks, and many more in the preceding epochs,'' writes librarian and columnist Greg Hill.

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January 10, 2012

Holiday Gifts

"The commercial side of the holidays offends some people, but it’s a long-standing part of the seasonal celebration. The ancient Romans were early proponents, exchanging small gifts during their Kalends new year festival,'' writes columnist and librarian Greg Hill.

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January 03, 2012

Passwords

Columnist Greg Hill reminds us that many internet users are uninformed babes-in-the-wood when it comes to the most elemental security risk - personal passwords.

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December 27, 2011

Shibboleth

"My daughter Hannah has amazed me for a long time. Her intellectual vitality and sense of fun were evident from infancy, and her siblings owe their very existences in part to the fact that she was such an easy, enjoyable first-born. Hannie’s well into adulthood now, and that’s introduced me to the unanticipated pleasure of the reciprocated liking one’s adult children as friends,'' writes columnist and librarian Greg Hill.

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December 20, 2011

The Hundred Days

"Reading’s amazingly pleasurable if your mind’s in shape,'' declares librarina and columnist Greg Hill.

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December 13, 2011

Book Buying

"Librarians love bookstores, of course, and that affection’s largely returned by booksellers, who’ve long known that thriving libraries inspire readers to buy books,'' writes columnist Greg Hill.

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December 06, 2011

Under Or Over The Roll

"A friend from Texas recently admitted on Facebook to a fetish for having toilet paper dispensed from under the roll rather than over. A Wikipedia article on the subject states, 'Despite its being a trivial topic, people often hold strong opinions on the matter.''

Advice columnist Ann Landers said the subject was the most controversial issue in her column’s history,'' writes columnist and librarian Greg Hill.

Continue reading "Under Or Over The Roll" »

November 29, 2011

Require Information? Go To A Library

"Rely on your public library for reliable knowledge navigation and verifiable information, and ignore the dross produced by simple Google search,'' advises columnist and librarian Greg Hill.

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November 22, 2011

Baseball Or Westerns

...Buffalo Jones was a real westerner. A famous roper, he lassoed warthogs, zebras, rhinos, and a lioness in Africa for zoos, bighorn sheep for the Smithsonian, and musk ox in the Canadian Arctic...

Columnist and librarian Greg Hill "lassos'' a few Westerns.

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November 15, 2011

Anonymous

...“Anonymous” is harmless enough cinematically, but the “viperous motley-minded horse-drenches” who own it are distributing lesson plans depicting de Vere as the true author “to literature and history teachers in the hope of convincing students that Shakespeare was a fraud.” This is despicable...

Greg Hill deplores a film now going the rounds world-wide.

Continue reading "Anonymous" »

November 08, 2011

Baseball

Greg Hill writes about the game which takes Americans outdoors and fills them with oxygen.

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November 01, 2011

Loogy

"What do you suppose Cardinal Richelieu would think of a word such as “loogy?” asks ace columnist Greg Hill.

Continue reading "Loogy" »

October 25, 2011

Wayzgoose

"Modern librarians are also Knowledge Navigators. The overwhelming plethora of information cries out for skilled guides, like your local reference librarians. And we’re also Educators...'' writes columnist and librarian Greg Hill.

Continue reading "Wayzgoose" »

October 18, 2011

Words

"I treasure all the words that spice up our language.'' declares Greg Hill, bringing us another firecracker of a column.

Continue reading "Words" »

October 11, 2011

Appleknockers

"Browsing the Dictionary of American Regional English (DARE) can be fun, as I rediscovered while researching one of my dad’s old euphemisms, “appleknocker.” He often called my brother and me “little appleknockers,” which I always took as an endearment,'' writes columnist and librarian Greg Hill.

Continue reading "Appleknockers" »

October 04, 2011

Intellectual Freedom

"Despots always torture logic as much as necessary to make it fit their ambitions,'' declares columnist and librarian Greg Hill.

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September 27, 2011

Sparrows And Rappers

"A recent DailyMail.com story compares sparrows and rappers, saying sparrow singing “is actually an aggressive form of swapping insults. The species’ soothing sounds have a lot in common with the profanity-strewn bragging of rappers, with male sparrows using them to prove how macho they are, and the tougher the area, the more they do so,'' columnist Greg Hill reports.

Continue reading "Sparrows And Rappers" »

September 20, 2011

Read, And Read Again

Continue reading "Read, And Read Again" »

September 13, 2011

Graphic Literature

"Some 456 months ago I convinced a promising coed to join a nuptial merger that’s persisted despite our differences,'' writes Greg Hill.

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September 06, 2011

Entercation

Columnist Greg Hill tells of a Web site which combines entertainment and education. It entercates!

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August 30, 2011

Brain Processing

...Readers can go from Jane Austen to O’Brian and not miss a beat, except where the former writes about the country life of women in England circa 1810, the latter, who kept a first edition of “Pride and Prejudice” at his bedside, specialized in describing the lives of sailors in the same period in impeccable detail. In fact, Austen’s brothers were prominent sailors, and O’Brian wrote as if he was related...

Greg Hill is again re-reading his favourite author.

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August 23, 2011

Globish

"The author, Nick Patrick, said “Americans in 1776 did have British accents, in that American accents and British accents hadn’t yet diverged.” However, “those accents were much closer to today’s American accents than today’s British accents … it’s actually British accents that have changed much more drastically,'' writes librarian and columnist Greg Hill.

Continue reading "Globish" »

August 16, 2011

Diamond Sutra

"The e-book reading experience is better than online, but booklovers know the satisfaction of getting immersed in a good book, its heft, texture, and smell, the flow of text generating mental images superior to any video,'' declares Greg Hill.

Continue reading "Diamond Sutra" »

August 09, 2011

Colloquialization

"My heart’s been good since the doctor’s worked on it a few years ago, but I do seem prone towards cantankerousness these days, like when I encountered a heart symbol among the Oxford Dictionary Online’s newly added words. Adding slang terms like “La-la land,” “OMG,” “LOL” (“laughing out loud”), and even “wassup” didn’t particularly bother me, but Oxford’s inclusion of the heart symbol did push some buttons,'' writes Greg Hill.

Continue reading "Colloquialization" »

August 02, 2011

OUP

"Why did the OUP editorial board announce last month that the Oxford comma is obsolete and its use is no longer recommended?'' asks columnist and librarian Greg Hill. "Advocates of Oxford comma usage, including yours truly, are aghast...''

Continue reading "OUP" »

July 26, 2011

Fashions Fade

Librarian and columnist Greg Hill subscribes to the view that fashions fade, but style is eternal.

Continue reading "Fashions Fade" »

July 19, 2011

Dictionary Of Slang

Columnist and librarian Greg Hill was more than delighted with his Father's Day gift - “A New Dictionary of the Terms Ancient and Modern of the Canting Crew In Its Several Tribes of Gypsies, Beggers, Thieves, Cheats, Etc., with An Addition of Some Proverbs, Phrases, Figurative Speeches, etc. Useful for all sorts of People (Especially Foreigners) to secure their Money and preserve their Lives, besides very diverting and Entertaining, being wholly New.”

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July 12, 2011

BoingBoing

"That’s when this reference librarian pulls up BoingBoing.net on the computer to quickly read brief entries about unexpected things, like Japanese bagelheads, skateboarding in Kabul, and the origin of Good Humor Bars.'' writes librarian Greg Hill.

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July 05, 2011

Hummingbirds And Tea

...We encountered natural wonders like the largest Western red cedar deep in the Washington rain forest, and had a special, close-up moment with a barred owl, snake, otter, and mama [duck] towing her babies on her back. But the Rufous hummingbirds surmounted them all in marvelousness....

Greg Hill returns from a vacation visit to the Washington rain forest.

Continue reading "Hummingbirds And Tea" »

June 28, 2011

Claques

...“Frank,” James Kaplan’s biography of Sinatra states the already wildly-popular singer “hired the best publicist in show business, George Evans” who “saw that the crowds were hysterical, but not choreographed so he took it upon himself to take Sinatra’s crowds to a new level.”...

Columnist and librarian Greg Hill tells of crowd manipulation.

Continue reading "Claques" »

June 21, 2011

A Picture Book A Day Keeps The Imagination From Flagging

"I began reading children’s books as an adult while in college when a professor with young children recommended the ever-irreverent Roald Dahl’s “James and the Giant Peach” to revive my flagging imagination. I read, was revived and have refreshed my creative juices with kiddy lit ever since,'' writes columnist Greg Hill.

Continue reading "A Picture Book A Day Keeps The Imagination From Flagging" »

June 14, 2011

A Vital Instrument Of Democracy

"Some people think America’s public libraries shouldn’t exist as such, that they should charge for their services. Such thinking leaves me nonplussed. Every year, more than 60 percent of Americans use public libraries, so most Americans value the important roles libraries play,'' says Greg Hill.

Continue reading "A Vital Instrument Of Democracy" »

June 07, 2011

Malarkey

'“Malarkey,” which means “nonsense, flattery,” according to the Dictionary of American Slang, has oodles of unsubstantiated origins,'' says columnist Greg Hill.

Continue reading "Malarkey" »

May 24, 2011

Erroneous Assumptions

"The Internet is a river of information a mile wide and an inch deep; you must pay to get really in-depth information,'' says librarian Greg Hill.

Continue reading "Erroneous Assumptions" »

May 10, 2011

Interesting Times

...Wikipedia says "curse" is "any expressed wish that some form of adversity or misfortune will befall or attach to some entity." The Online Etymological Dictionary says that curse's origins are obscure. "Curuz," Old French for "anger," and the Latin "cursus," or "course," are possible antecedents, but "no similar word exists in Germanic, Romance or Celtic."...

Columnist Greg Hill considers curses, ancient and modern.

Continue reading "Interesting Times" »

May 03, 2011

Orth's

Greg Hill considers the naming of names.

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April 26, 2011

Hokey Pokey

Greg Hill recalls one of America's most enduring poems.

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April 19, 2011

Etymology

Columnist Greg Hill tells of that interjectory fellow Gordon Bennett who offered sound advice to all journalists.

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April 12, 2011

Hoosier

...The American Heritage Dictionary's word history of "hoosier," says Texans were once called "beetheads," South Carolinians "weasels," Nebraskans "bug-eaters," and, Missourians were "pukes." An Indiana University website article titled "Myths and Legends About the Origin of 'Hoosier'" says "In colonial America, the terms 'cracker' and 'hoosier' were widely used to refer to white farmers who did not own slaves or large plantations."...

Top-flight columnist Greg Hill investigates how citizens of that fine American state Indiana came to be called Hoosiers.

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April 05, 2011

Mistakes Are....

...we all adore our preconceived notions. Yet another cited study looked at brain-scans of people watching politicians they agreed and disagreed with. Test subjects easily saw contradictions in statements made by people they opposed politically, but not in those they supported....

Columnist Greg Hill cites research which confirms that we hear what we want to hear.

Continue reading "Mistakes Are...." »

March 29, 2011

Headed For Alaska And Never Looked Back

"Shy, retiring, helpless librarians are purely mythical,'' emphasises Greg Hill, outlining some of the problems he had to face in a single day in his Fairbanks, Alaska, library.

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March 22, 2011

The Philosopher

Why is north always shown on the top of maps? Why are the famed Assam teas of India growing with less flavor? Why will 3D movies not survive? And why did Arthur Frothington build a steam-powered trombone? Fortunately I work in a library, where whys dissolve.

Librarian Greg Hill knows where to find the answers to these, and a host of other questions.

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March 15, 2011

Sam Smiles

Columnist Greg Hill brings shavings of information about being clean-shaven.

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March 08, 2011

Culturally Untranslatable

So what is the meaning of the Bangladesh saying "Don't oil your mustache in anticipation of the jackfruit tree bearing fruit."?

Greg Hill venures into untranslatable realms.

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March 01, 2011

Pleonasm

Columnist and word juggler Greg Hill brings news of a world champion 13,955 word sentence.

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February 22, 2011

I Am A Verb

Columnist Greg Hill offers the best possible advice to those wishing to be skilled in writing English. "If you want to write in a manner than doesn't mark you as a rube or buffoon, start reading for pleasure.''

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February 15, 2011

Samuel Pepys

Greg Hill again reveals his enthusiasm for the words of diarist Samuel Pepys, though he has not a scintilla of enthusiasm for a well-know purveyor of perfume.

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February 08, 2011

Meanness And Viciousness

Columnist Greg Hill highlights ridiculously hard questions put to job interviewees.

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January 25, 2011

Cost of Libraries

..."Whatever the cost of our libraries, Walter Cronkite said, "the price is cheap compared to that of an ignorant nation."...

Librarian and wordsman Greg Hill brings us another column to delight the inquiring mind.

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January 18, 2011

Reading

"What better thing than a good book to give the children you care about,'' declares Greg Hill. "Everyone on my family gift list gets a book. They might get other things, too, but there's always a book...''

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January 11, 2011

Libraries And Hard Times

"Libraries will get you through times of no money better than money will get you through times of no libraries."

Columnist Greg Hill quotes blogger Anne Herbert's useful guiding thought for what may be an austere year.

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January 04, 2011

Language

...Best-selling author Stephen King said in "On Writing" "The real importance of reading is that it creates an ease and intimacy with the process of writing."...

Greg Hill considers the art of writing well.

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December 28, 2010

Krazy Kat

...Finally, Mitchell's husband brought home a typewriter and told her to write her own novel. She decided to write a romance set during the Civil War, and began with the ending. Mitchell drew upon her family's experiences during the War Between the States, but she also did primary research and fact-checking at the Atlanta Public Library...

And the result of Margaret Mitchell's industrious tappings on the typewriter keyboard was Gone With The Wind.

Ace columnist Greg Hill goes by way of one of the best-selling novels of all time to a leaky library roof.

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December 21, 2010

Wilderness Of Monkeys

The inimitable Greg Hill tells of The Great Panjandrum, a mnemonic claim and a wilderness of monkeys. Do read on!

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December 14, 2010

From Corduroy To Whales

...Corduroy's categorized by the number of cords, or "wales," per inch, ranging from 1.5 to 21. The lower numbers indicate ruggedness and warmth, but I'm doubtful that even the chilliest Alaskan could abide pants with one-and-a-half wales per inch. "Wale" descends from the Old English term "walu" and meant "ridge." That got me reflecting on another whale's anniversary...

Columnist Greg Hill goes on another splendidly entertaining literary journey.

Continue reading "From Corduroy To Whales" »

December 07, 2010

Buntline

Greg Hill, writing from Alaska, tells us something of the extraordinary life of journalist Ned Buntline, best known for his dime novel extolling Buffalo Bill Cody. He as also known for the Buntline Special, the Colt revolver equipped with a twelve-inch barrel that Alaskan Wyatt Earp employed in a 1960s television series.

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November 30, 2010

Dangerous Literature

..."Light fiction" wasn't widely popular until the 1800s when literacy mushroomed just as the Industrial Revolution drove down printing costs. The first "dime novel," published in 1860, was Malaeska, the Indian Wife of the White Hunter, by Ann Stephens....

Greg Hill turns the page to reveal fiction which was once deemed too racy.

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November 23, 2010

Seeking Advice

Librarian and columnist Greg Hill presents a well-worded case opposing the banning of books.

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November 16, 2010

Evanescent

...My Texas accent remains somewhat pronounced, despite twenty years in Fairbanks. Those with southern pronunciations are often considered slow or ignorant by non-southerners, so I keep a handy copy of "The Illustrated Texas Dictionary of the English Language" in my office. Written in 1967 by Jim Everhart, it clarifies terms such as "small" ("to assume a facial expression indicating pleasure"), "fair" ("a distressing emotion aroused caused by impending danger"), "Heidi!" ("an expression of greeting"), and "Tom" ("any specific point in a day, month, or year")....

Wordsman Greg Hill tells of some words which cannot be translated into English - or Texan.

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November 09, 2010

Curmudgeonly Writers

..."It is discouraging to try to penetrate a mind like yours. You ought to get it out and dance on it. That would take some of the rigidity out of it. And you ought to use it sometimes; that would help. If you had done this every now and then along through life it would not have petrified." ...

So wrote Mark Twain to an editor who had altered one of his manuscripts.

The inimitable Greg Hill tells of Twain and other curmudgeonly writers.

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November 02, 2010

The Apostrophe Debate

Greg Hill illuminates "the healthy debate that's always accompanied our ever-growing and changing language, and not its demise, which experts have been predicting for centuries.''

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October 26, 2010

Bookstores vs. Internet

Greg Hill says that e-books and other communication toys are not going to go away, but "for now I'm content with print, which requires no electricity to operate, will endure for centuries, and never "goes down," when the Internet glitches.''

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October 19, 2010

Ways To Spend Time On The Internet

Greg Hill spotlights some of the Internet's odder and unexpectedly entertaining sites.

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October 12, 2010

Synaesthesia

...Oxford University researchers think that we might be able to taste sounds, and "hear" shapes and sizes. It's part of the synaesthesia, or "blending of sensory experiences," that humans utilize for things like figuring out who is talking to whom at a crowded party...

Greg Hill takes us on another journey into the wondrous world of language.

Continue reading "Synaesthesia" »

October 05, 2010

Challenge Jumping

...jumpers challenged each other to clear distances or hurdles, jump from building to building, or over large obstacles. Cropp reported that Calverley was a risk taker who "used to jump the wall between the schoolyard and the field, a drop of ten feet, with his hands in his pockets."

Greg Hill tells of the astonishing feats of a Victorian poet.

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September 28, 2010

De-whelming Oz

Greg Hill tells what it took to help a young daughter to settle down in a new home town thousands of miles away from where she had been living.

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September 14, 2010

A Word

...Dictionary-makers hate that sort of thing; that's why they're hesitant to add new, faddish words. So it's not overly surprising that a Kingston University researcher recently discovered that Oxford University Press, publishers of the OED, have a hidden vault containing the words they chose not to include in their massive, twenty-volume dictionary. Perhaps I can understand leaving out "polkadodge (the dance that occurs when two people attempt to pass each other but move in the same direction)," "dringle (the watermark left on wood caused by a glass of liquid)," or even "optotoxical (a look that could kill, normally from a parent or spouse)."...

Wordsman and librarian Greg Hill considers the tools of his trade.

Continue reading "A Word" »

September 07, 2010

Paraskavedekatriaphiobia

...What do a monkey saving a puppy during a recent explosion in China, the mysterious windshield pits of Seattle in the 1950s, and the biting nuns of 15th century Germany have in common with the News Miner's own Dermot Cole?...

Greg Hill poses what may well be the most intriguing question ever used to begin a weekly column,

Continue reading "Paraskavedekatriaphiobia" »

August 31, 2010

Squalor

...A semi-domesticated guy, an emotionally needy cat, and a large dog with a thyroid condition holding down the fort for two weeks naturally leads to today's topic: "squalor,"...

Columnist Greg Hill fends for himself for a while.

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August 24, 2010

Cloudy

Greg Hill introduces us to the wonderful world of word clouds.

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August 17, 2010

Neuromarketing

...Spinning the news is another way companies try to get inside our heads. You probably heard that Amazon now sells more ebooks than print books, or you think you did. Amazon wasn't counting pocket and trade paperbacks, only hardbacks. Meanwhile, the American Book Publishers Association reports that hardback book sales are up 22 percent this year...

Greg Hill writes about those cunning folk who get inside our heads to ensure we buy the goods they are selling.

Continue reading "Neuromarketing" »

August 10, 2010

Ear Wax

...It's usually best to correct misconceptions quickly, since they tend to spread like wildfires on military testing ranges. Take the Krankawa ear wax myth...

Columnist and librarian Greg Hill goes in search of the truth.

For more of Greg's entertaining columns please click on http://www.openwriting.com/archives/alaskan_range/

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August 03, 2010

The Known And The Unknown

"Many people apparently don't know they don't know the proper way to open a banana. According to a recent Slate.com article by Steven Landsburg, peeling from the stem down is the common banana opening method. However, opening it from the bottom is the preferred technique of monkeys, assuredly the world's foremost banana-accessing experts,'' writes Greg Hill, then goes on to consider whether or not plants have feelings.

Continue reading "The Known And The Unknown" »

July 27, 2010

Thou Art Full Of Error

... recent BBC report titled "Bored by the Bard?" says the Royal Shakespeare Company is promoting a three-point plan to keep Shakespeare vital to modern youngsters by enabling them to act out the plays, to see live performances, and to start doing so as early as possible.

That's why the RSC doesn't mind a bit of hilarity at the Bard's expense, like British satirist Martin Baum's "To Be or Not To Be, Innit." Baum's book combines British street slang and texting language to paraphrase Shakespeare in terms the younger generations can comprehend. He covers "Macbeff," "Much Ado About Sod All," and "All's Sweet That Ends Sweet, Innit."...

Columnist Greg Hill informs us that the Bard wrote in the period of Modern English.

Continue reading "Thou Art Full Of Error" »

July 20, 2010

Languages

...Our family doesn't have a special name for the cardboard rolls inside toilet paper, but according to Dickson, other Americans do: "daw-daw," "doot-do," "der-der," "hoo-hoo," and "to-do to-do." His list of family names for dust bunnies includes "pummies," "leap jeeps," "fizziewiggles," and "foochachas."...

Greg Hill delves with delight into the history and development of languages.

Continue reading "Languages" »

July 13, 2010

Charles Stuart Calverley

...Calverley was a risk taker who used to jump the wall between the schoolyard and the field, a drop of ten feet, with his hands in his pockets...

Greg Hill tells of an extraordinary Nineteenth Century Englishman.

Continue reading "Charles Stuart Calverley" »

July 06, 2010

Archaic Expressions And Bizarre Spellings

...Thanks to rampant abbreviating, today our language is rife with archaic expressions and bizarre spellings, viz. the word "twelfth." I always have to stop and work my way through the spelling of "twelfth," invariably stumbling over that "f" someone stuck in there...

Greg Hill undertakes another deliciously discursive disection of the English language.

Continue reading "Archaic Expressions And Bizarre Spellings" »

June 29, 2010

Gulag

...I visited the KGB archives in Vladivostok a dozen years ago. Once past a very large and intimidating female guard, I saw miles of dim shelves filled with identical cardboard boxes. My guide opened several at random, revealing case histories from Czarist times next to some from the 70s, right by others from the 30s. A pale, haggard American researcher, the only other visitor, approached us and asked us to help get the word out that the tragic, compelling stories in the archive needed to be told...

Greg Hill draws attention to a book which details the cruelty perpetrated in Soviet prison camps.

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June 22, 2010

Word Smithing

...H.L. Mencken, one of America’s preeminent wordsmiths, claimed that creating beauty was way down the list of reasons why writers write. “Far ahead of it,” Mencken wrote, “comes the yearning to make money. And after the yearning to make money comes the yearning to make a noise.”..,

Columnist Greg Hill, who never fails to entertain and amuse, brings the two key secrets of how to write well.

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June 15, 2010

Zeugmas

A zeugma is a handy little device - assuming you are aware if its meaning, and how it can be used.

Ace columnist Greg Hill explains all.

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June 08, 2010

Tea Anyone?

Greg Hill brings good news to enthusiastic tea drinkers.

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June 01, 2010

Words From The Beatles

"Many of my generation possess mental timelines of their youth measured off by Beatles songs,'' writes Greg Hill.

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May 25, 2010

Lacuna

...Stretching lingual bounds is a favorite pursuit among the Hill clan, and Hannah called the library recently seeking a word that means “there’s no word for it.” That was a tough one, and before we’d solved it, Hannah and her coterie of literate pals had found “lacuna” and “lexical gap,” defined together in Wikipedia as “an absence of a word in a particular language.”...

Wordsman Greg Hill goes on another delicious lexicological journey.

To read more of Greg's engaging columns please click on http://www.openwriting.com/archives/alaskan_range/

Continue reading "Lacuna" »

May 18, 2010

Travellers

With Spring in the air, columnist Greg Hill is prompted to go travelling on the page.

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May 11, 2010

Purple Cow And Floating Mice

I never saw a purple cow
I never hope to see one;
But I can tell you, anyhow,
I’d rather see than be one.

Greg Hill plunges headlong into the joyous world of light verse.

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May 04, 2010

Pack Rat

...I possess plenty of collections: miniature cannons, funny fishing lures, and baseball cards divided into categories like “Ugly Man,” and “What’s In His Mouth?” Then there are the book collections: autobiographies, first editions of Patrick O’Brian’s novels, Donald Duck comic books, and Scythian history, to name a few...

Greg Hill admits to being a pack rat.

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April 27, 2010

Marlovians

Greg Hill muses upon the theory that Christopher Marlowe wrote the plays attributed to Shakespeare.

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April 20, 2010

Oddities

...one of my favorite sources of the bizarre is the intelligent innovation blog BoingBoing.net, where I recently learned how scientists are using remote control helicopters to hold petri dishes in the spouts of sick whales to collect samples to better monitor whales health...

Greg Hill tells of oddties, and the collecting and storing of information.

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April 13, 2010

Textbook Publishers

Greg Hill puts in a passionate plea for the freedom to express unwelcomed ideas and facts.

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April 06, 2010

Peevishness

''Peevishness finds full flower in literature, and no American writer ever produced undiluted peevery like Ambrose Bierce.''

With a splendid flow of acerbic words Greg Hill introduces us to the Prince of Peeves.

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March 30, 2010

Our Feisty Language

So how many words are there in the English language? And how frequently are new words added?

Greg Hill joyfully plunges into the waves and currents of the English language.

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March 23, 2010

What's In A Name?

Greg Hill considers the naming of names, including that of the young Scotsman who has chosen to call himself Captain Fantastic Faster Than Superman Spiderman Batman Wolverine Hulk And The Flash Combined.

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March 16, 2010

Princess Caraboo

...Princess Caraboo was born plain Mary Wilcox, a poor cobbler’s daughter, in 1791, but she convinced thousands of Britons that she was a lost princess from an unknown land...

Greg Hill emphasises the need to check your sources of information.

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March 09, 2010

Computer Help

Greg Hill suggests help for older folk who wish to learn how to use a computer.

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March 02, 2010

Thesaurus

...Sometimes words are so unusual that they fall on uncomprehendingly deaf ears, which leads listeners to suspect the speaker’s a high-faluting show-off. Well-read people can easily and innocently fall into this trap...

Greg Hill, a zestful wordsman, journeys by way of a number of odd and amusing words to a mega-thesaurus of the English language.

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February 23, 2010

Fiddle-de-dee

Greg Hill goes exploring in the wonderful world of words.

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February 16, 2010

Weasel Words

"Weasel words'' is an informal term for words and phrases that, whilst communicating a vague or ambiguous claim, create an impression that something specific and meaningful has been said. Weasel words may also have the effect of softening the force of potentially loaded or otherwise controversial statements through some form of understatement.

Master wordsman Greg Hill gives some fine examples of the ignoble art of weasel wording.

Continue reading "Weasel Words" »

February 09, 2010

Spices

...The recent cold snap makes travel to anywhere mildly equatorial awfully appealing, but winter remains Alaskans’ best time for armchair traveling. Reading’s often the best way, and always the most comfortable to experience remote and dangerous places...

Greg Hill goes travelling on the magic carpet that is the printed word.

Continue reading "Spices" »

February 02, 2010

Strange Books

...My first memory of dentists is hearing my mom say, “His hands will stop shaking when the needle is in your mouth...

Motivated by suh a memory Greg Hill simply had to buy "What It's Like To Be A Dentist'' when it appeared on the library booksale table.

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January 26, 2010

Computer Vision Syndrome

...Print can be read about 20 percent faster than the same text on computer screens because our eyes struggle to maintain focus reading computer text. Eyestrain results, but glasses with non-glare coated lens that are adjusted to monitor distances can help...

Greg Hill suggests other sources of help for coping with eyestrain resulting from reading text on screen.

Continue reading "Computer Vision Syndrome" »

January 19, 2010

Monkeyspeak

...The problem with English, the Economist says, is that it’s “a relatively simple language, absurdly spelled.” But it’s far more predictable than many other languages. Chinese, for instance, includes vowels that “carry tones: pitch that rises, falls, dips, stays low or high, and so on,” and variations in the tones can convey wildly different meanings. Mandarin, the Chinese language used the most, has four tones, Cantonese has six. Min, the least-used Chinese dialect, has “seven or eight.”...

Columnist Greg Hill goes delving into languages invented by humans - and monkeys.

Continue reading "Monkeyspeak" »

January 12, 2010

Kumbaya


...Words are fascinating. In Turkey, for instance, our “turkey” is known as “dik rumi”, or Roman rooster. In Turkey’s neighbor Bulgaria, it’s called “Mucupka”, the Arabic word for Egypt, and in Egyptian Arabic it’s called the “Greek bird.” In Greece and Scotland it’s called the “French chicken,” and the French call it “poulet d’inde,” or “chicken from India.”...

Alaskan librarian Greg Hill says that new studies are revealing how the underlying meanings of words vary widely between cultures.

Continue reading "Kumbaya" »

January 05, 2010

Reading Aloud

Greg Hill, lucky man, has a wife who reads aloud to him on long car journeys.

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December 29, 2009

Mr Christmas

...in Dickens’ words, "a good time: a kind, forgiving, charitable, pleasant time: the only time I know of in the long calendar of the year, when men and women seem by one consent to open their shut-up hearts freely, and to think of other people below them as if they really were fellow-passengers to the grave, and not another race of creatures bound on other journeys"...

Greg Hill serves up a suitably tasty dish of Christmas words.

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December 22, 2009

Aphorism

... “Learn to wish that everything should come to pass exactly as it does.” There’s a lot of truth there, I believe, and it was made by a master aphorizer, Epictetus....

Wordsman and librarian Greg Hill relishes a terse aphorism.

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December 15, 2009

Cop A Plea

Greg Hill, chief librarian in Fairbanks, Alaska, ruminates on the etymology of the expression "cop a plea''.

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December 08, 2009

Limitless Appeal

...David Galernter, a Yale computer professor and a third expert, points out that “All reading is not migrating to computer screens. So long as books are cheap, tough, easy to read from outside … easy to mark up, rated safe for operation from beaches to polar wastes, and – above all – beautiful, they will remain the best of all word-delivery vehicles … onscreen text will change and improve. But the physical side of reading depends not on the bad aspects of computer screens, but on the brilliance of the traditional book...

Greg Hill considers the future of words on paper.

To read more of Greg's entertaining ccolumns please visit http://www.openwriting.com/cgi-bin/mt-search.cgi?IncludeBlogs=1&search=greg+hill

Continue reading "Limitless Appeal" »

December 01, 2009

Frequentative Computing

...“In grammar,” says Wikipedia, “a frequentative form of a word is one which indicates repeated action.” In English, “-le” and “-er” are appended to verbs to make them frequentatives, like when Shakespeare changed “swag” into “swagger.”...

Librarian and columnist Greg Hill is a man who derives great joy from language and learning, as this column vividly displays.

To read more of Greg's entertaining and informative words please click on http://www.openwriting.com/cgi-bin/mt-search.cgi?IncludeBlogs=1&search=greg+hill

Continue reading "Frequentative Computing" »

November 24, 2009

Fragile Books

...this underscores the tenuousness of human endeavors, especially books. As Umberto Eco put it, “A book is a fragile creature, it suffers the wear of time, it fears rodents, the elements and clumsy hands, so the librarian protects the books not only against mankind, but also against nature.”...

Librarian Greg Hill worries about the future of universal access to uncensored libraries.

To read more of Greg's columns please click on http://www.openwriting.com/cgi-bin/mt-search.cgi?IncludeBlogs=1&search=greg+hill

Continue reading "Fragile Books" »

November 17, 2009

Text 2 Connect

Greg Hill suggests a way that adults can compete with today's texting-addicted youngsters and their plethora of acronyms.

Continue reading "Text 2 Connect" »

November 10, 2009

Intensifiers

...A bunch of us absolutely detest “absolutely,” which seems overly emphatic in context of how it’s being used, like “Can I have a Kleenex?” “Absolutely!”...

Greg Hill highlights some of the words we have begun to hate.

To read more of Greg's columns please visit http://www.openwriting.com/cgi-bin/mt-search.cgi?IncludeBlogs=1&search=greg+hill

Continue reading " Intensifiers" »

November 03, 2009

Coincidence Or Synchronicity

...The word “dear,” for example, takes 100 milliseconds to see the shape and form of the letters. This involves many eye “saccades,” or teeny-tiny eye movements. Another 100 milliseconds goes into turning the letters’ shape into sounds, and for the last 300 milliseconds “the brain is busy trying to make up its mind on what this word means.”...

Greg Hill, going by way of coincidence and synchronicity, considers the surprisingly busy art of reading.

To sample more of Greg's columns please click on http://www.openwriting.com/cgi-bin/mt-search.cgi?IncludeBlogs=1&search=greg+hill

Continue reading "Coincidence Or Synchronicity" »

October 27, 2009

Let Them Choose Their Own Novels

...It’s hard to ignore someone who’s an author, statesman, lawyer and saint, like Thomas Moore, who wrote how “The many great gardens of the world, of literature and poetry, of painting and music, of religion and architecture, all make the point as clear as possible: The soul cannot thrive in the absence of a garden.” That’s why it’s so important for our schools to encourage novel reading more effectively...

Greg Hill endorses the idea that students allowed to choose what they read are more likely to acquire a lasting enthusiasm for reading.

To read more columns by Greg please click on http://www.openwriting.com/cgi-bin/mt-search.cgi?IncludeBlogs=1&search=greg+hill

Continue reading "Let Them Choose Their Own Novels" »

October 20, 2009

Librarian Ants

...I’m not alone in being shy of crazy ants; concerns about them are growing throughout south Texas, according to the Fort Worth Star Telegram. Crazy ants, “so named because they move in all directions rather than in a straight line,” appeared in Houston seven years ago, probably from imported plants, and are spreading throughout South Texas...

Greg Hill, head of the library service in Fairbanks, Alaska, suggest that librarians and ants have a lot in common when it comes to adaptability, teamwork, and long-term persistence.

To read more of Greg's diligently researched columns please click on http://www.openwriting.com/cgi-bin/mt-search.cgi?IncludeBlogs=1&search=greg+hill

Continue reading "Librarian Ants" »

October 13, 2009

Magnify Yourself

...Here’s Robert Louis Stevenson’s take on reading fiction: “The most influential books, and the truest in their influence, are works of fiction. They repeat, they re-arrange, they clarify the lessons of life; they disengage us from ourselves, they constrain us to the acquaintance of others; and they show us the web of experience...

Star columnist Greg Hill tells of efforts to encourage boys to get the reading habit.

For more columns by Greg please click on http://www.openwriting.com/cgi-bin/mt-search.cgi?IncludeBlogs=1&search=greg+hill

Continue reading "Magnify Yourself" »

October 06, 2009

Fame Is A Fickle Food

Columnist Greg Hill, highlighting the fickle nature of fame, tells of an unintended consequence of literature - a plague of starlings.

To read more of Greg's columns please click on http://www.openwriting.com/cgi-bin/mt-search.cgi?IncludeBlogs=1&search=greg+hill

Continue reading "Fame Is A Fickle Food" »

September 29, 2009

Klingon's And Chicks

...The library abounds in unusual books. Need a recipe for pig ear salad or curried tripe stew? Look into “Innards and other Variety Meats.” Want to have fun with a large appliance box? Consult “The Great Big Box Book.” You can turn to humorist Richard Armour’s “The Happy Bookers” for “A Playful History of Librarians and Their World.” And if a dictionary of Klingon words and phrases is needed, your best bet is Marc Okrand’s “Klingon Dictionary.”...

Brilliant columnist Greg Hill found his ideal job when he became a librarian.

Continue reading "Klingon's And Chicks" »

September 22, 2009

Sounds

When cats purr, in France they “ronron,” in Hungary they “doromb,” and Japanese cats “guro-guro'' star columnist Greg Hill informs us.

Greg writes about onomatopoeia, the formation of words immitating the sound of that to which they are assigned.

To read more of Greg's brilliant columns please click on http://www.openwriting.com/cgi-bin/mt-search.cgi?IncludeBlogs=1&search=greg+hill

Continue reading "Sounds" »

September 15, 2009

Nostalgia

...Jack London once cried, “Darn the wheel of the world! Why must it continually turn over?” I agree, and I’ll stick with print...

Greg Hill, after nostalgic musings, reaches a firm conclusion.

To read more of Greg's sprightly columns please click on http://www.openwriting.com/cgi-bin/mt-search.cgi?IncludeBlogs=1&search=greg+hill

Continue reading "Nostalgia" »

September 08, 2009

Trashy Books

...Reading transports the imagination like no other diversion if it’s written engagingly. Books like “Harry Potter” and Twilight” are converting the book-shy into avid readers – national surveys show that teens are buying 25% more books than a decade ago. If kids’ reading and comprehension skills improve, who cares if they’re reading cereal boxes or “War and Peace”? The same mental muscles are being flexed....

And Greg Hill is a writer and columnist who makes reading a joy.

To sample more of his informative and enjoyable words please visit http://www.openwriting.com/cgi-bin/mt-search.cgi?IncludeBlogs=1&search=greg+hill

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September 01, 2009

Plagiarism

Wordsman Greg Hill tells of the highs and lows of plagiarism.

To read more of Greg's columns please click on http://www.openwriting.com/cgi-bin/mt-search.cgi?IncludeBlogs=1&search=greg+hill

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August 25, 2009

A Rose Is...

Greg Hill offers an explanation for the origin of Gertrude Stein's famous line "A rose is a rose is a rose.''

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August 18, 2009

Great Books

Greg Hill presents his holiday reading list.

To read more of Greg's superlative columns please click on http://www.openwriting.com/cgi-bin/mt-search.cgi?IncludeBlogs=1&search=greg+hill

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August 11, 2009

Hot Weather

Greg Hill, head librarian in Fairbanks, Alaska, tells of cold dishes for hot weather, hot monkey sex, and Shakespeare's villain Iago.

Continue reading "Hot Weather" »

August 04, 2009

Embolalia

...Technically known as “embolalia,” filler words, like “er” and “um” are cues to listeners that the speaker isn’t finished and needs a moment to pull their thoughts together...

But the words which annoy Greg Hill, and every other lover of our language, are morphemes, such as “like,” “okay,” and the dread “you know”.

To read more of Greg's satisfying columns please click on http://www.openwriting.com/cgi-bin/mt-search.cgi?IncludeBlogs=1&search=greg+hill

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July 28, 2009

The Pink Moon

Ever heard of Pink Moons, Wolf Moons, Snow Moons?

Greg Hill goes on a Lunar research expidition.

To read more of Greg's brilliant columns please click on http://www.openwriting.com/cgi-bin/mt-search.cgi?IncludeBlogs=1&search=greg+hill

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July 21, 2009

Ancient Primitives

Greg Hill is astonished that in this age of advanced communication technology we have yet to figure out some of the ancient writing of our early ancestors.

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July 14, 2009

Statistics

"Sometimes statistics can confuse as well as mislead. You know what happens when you cross a librarian and a lawyer? You get all the information you want, but you can't understand it,'' says Greg Hill, musing on research which suggested that conservatives enjoyed jokes more than did liberals.

To read more of Greg's top-drawer columns please click on http://www.openwriting.com/cgi-bin/mt-search.cgi?IncludeBlogs=1&search=greg+hill

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July 07, 2009

Lifting And Heaving Days

...It wasn’t until 1815 that Hone began writing professionally, eventually producing some 220 titles, 200 of them within six years. According to the DLB, “Most of his publications were swiftly produced, inexpensive, quick-selling reactions to passing events and current affairs.” Sort of an early Mad Magazine visionary, Hone’s specialty was illustrated satiric parody. Ranging from caricatures and cartoons to pamphlets and books, his writing covered “the full range of late-Regency social and political concerns.”...

And Hone wrote about Lifting and Heaving days, as Greg Hill reveals.

To read more of Greg's brilliant and engaging columns please click on http://www.openwriting.com/cgi-bin/mt-search.cgi?IncludeBlogs=1&search=greg+hill

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June 30, 2009

Gebregeorgis

...people can “imagine everything from books … connections to other cultures, to other people … and to the universe...

Greg Hill tells of people who collected, read and valued books, informing us along the way of the name of Adolf Hitler's favourite author.

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June 23, 2009

Waffles

Greg Hill writes on waffles, bananas and other tasty topics.

To read more of Greg's superlative columns visit http://www.openwriting.com/cgi-bin/mt-search.cgi?IncludeBlogs=1&search=greg+hill

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June 16, 2009

Limericks

Greg Hill writes about the limerick, a form which is essentially transgressive and violates the taboos of traditional poetry as a part of its function.

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June 09, 2009

Curiouser Still

...Myanmar, the country formerly known as Burma, is home to a number of “world’s largest” marvels. The largest ringing bell, broken bell, and underwater bell all reside there, along with the largest gilded building and reclining Buddha. They also claim to possess the “world’s largest book.” This turns out to be Buddhist scriptures carved in gold into 729 white marble tablets, each protected by a small pagoda and all housed in a “pitakat taik,” or religious library, at the foot of Mandalay Hill...

Librarian and columnist Greg Hill presents another selection of curious and astonishing facts.

To read more of Greg's columns please click on http://www.openwriting.com/cgi-bin/mt-search.cgi?IncludeBlogs=1&search=greg+hill

Continue reading "Curiouser Still" »

June 02, 2009

Type With The Serif

Greg Hill tells of monumental blunders, and a type face that said more than its user bargained for.

To read more of Greg's engaging columns please click on http://www.openwriting.com/cgi-bin/mt-search.cgi?IncludeBlogs=1&search=greg+hill

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May 26, 2009

I Write To Be Happy

Greg Hill says that writing columns enables him to wallow in the fount of knoweldge stored in the public library in Fairbanks, Alasaka.

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May 19, 2009

3,300 Years Ago

Greg Hill tells of the the Gilgamesh epic - and the world's first great library.

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May 12, 2009

What Constitutes A Billion

"When it comes to big numbers, there’s lots of uncertainty,'' says Greg Hill as he explores the meaning of the word "billion''.

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May 05, 2009

A Few Words On "Word''

Wordsman Greg Hill sets out to track down the origin of the word "word''.

To read more of Greg's columns please click on http://www.openwriting.com/cgi-bin/mt-search.cgi?IncludeBlogs=1&search=greg+hill

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April 28, 2009

Nugatory

...Recalling my manifold visits to bookstores, I recall both the pleasure of browsing randomly and the torture of not finding specific books without assistance. Turning to bookstore workers for help usually leads to them looking it up in their store catalogs...

That most excellent columnist Greg Hill points out that library classification schemes are used to save thel time of the reader.

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April 21, 2009

Daylight Saving Time

Greg Hill is no fan of moving the clock forward one hour, though he is all in favour of row, row, rowing a boat in a group singalong.

To read more of Greg's entertaining columns please click on http://www.openwriting.com/cgi-bin/mt-search.cgi?IncludeBlogs=1&search=greg+hill

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April 14, 2009

Read, And You Shall Know

...The English language’s roots extend back to ancient India, for instance. The guy who figured it out was Sir William “Orient” Jones. Something of a child prodigy...

Greg Hill introduces us to a very special individual who could converse in more languages than can be counted on the fiingers and toes of one man.

Continue reading "Read, And You Shall Know" »

April 07, 2009

Mortified

...Mea culpa, by the way, is Latin for “I am to blame,” and am I ever. Someone who preaches that using established, reliable sources over the whimsy so often portrayed as wisdom on the Internet ought to have realized that WikiAnswers.com, like Wikipedia, includes information from nearly anyone and consequently is fraught with error. There’s nothing wrong with beginning your research with Wikipedia, because it is so expansive, but its very inclusiveness often provides opportunity for the malicious and misinformed, like me, to wreak intellectual havoc...

Greg Hill muses on the task of discovering facts.

To read more of Greg's entertaining columns please click on http://www.openwriting.com/cgi-bin/mt-search.cgi?IncludeBlogs=1&search=greg+hill

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March 31, 2009

Birmingham, England

Greg Hill goes delving into the English city, Birmingham.

To read more of Greg's sparkling columns please click on http://www.openwriting.com/cgi-bin/mt-search.cgi?IncludeBlogs=1&search=greg+hill

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March 24, 2009

Dr Seuss

...Just last week I made Spenser’s yummy Pork Chops with Pineapple Cream Sauce while listening to Benny Goodman perform at Carnegie Hall in 1938, and after perusing the library’s copy of “Rembrandt’s Eyes.” This hefty biography of the artist is as heavy as it is intellectually stimulating, and Spenser recommends it and Goodman for creatively passing time during stakeouts...

Greg Hill's richly intellectual life is accompanied by gustatory delights.

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March 17, 2009

Shaving's Not Involved

Greg Hill tells of shavers, young and old.

To read more of Greg's finely-honed columns please click on http://www.openwriting.com/cgi-bin/mt-search.cgi?IncludeBlogs=1&search=greg+hill

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March 10, 2009

Why Write?

Greg Hill muses upon the urge to write.

To read more of Greg's columns please click on http://www.openwriting.com/archives/alaskan_range/

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March 03, 2009

River Of Information

Greg Hill considers similes, metaphors and the controversial apostraphe.

For more of Greg's sparkling and thoroughly grammatic columns please click on
http://www.openwriting.com/archives/alaskan_range/

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February 24, 2009

Epeolatry

Greg Hill likes to have a dictionary in every room of his house.

Wordsman Greg brings delight to Open Writing readers every week with his Alaskan Range column. To read more of his words please click on http://www.openwriting.com/archives/alaskan_range/

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February 17, 2009

Things Never Change

...There’s much in life to learn, so I ignore Ralph Emerson’s warning: “Culture, with us, ends in headache.”...

Greg Hill, the man with an ever-inquiring mind, brings us another stylish, entertaining and informative column.

For more of Greg's words please click on http://www.openwriting.com/archives/alaskan_range/

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February 10, 2009

Ben Jonson, Shakespeare’s Contemporary Wordsmith

Wordsmith Greg Hill considers the plethora of new words which now clamour for admittance into commonspeak.

To read more of Greg's wonderful columns please click on http://www.openwriting.com/archives/alaskan_range/

Continue reading "Ben Jonson, Shakespeare’s Contemporary Wordsmith" »

February 03, 2009

The Memory Department

There's a ready source of abstruse information, as columnist Greg Hill reveals.

For more of Greg's superb words please click on http://www.openwriting.com/archives/alaskan_range/

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January 27, 2009

Affection For Punning

...Jimmi Hendrix’ lyric, “kiss the sky.” One contributor mangled the Beatles’ French in “Michelle, with “Michelle ma belle, some say monkeys play piano well, play piano well,” and another worked over “Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds” by changing “the girl with kaleidoscope eyes” into “the girl with colitis goes by.”...

That inimitable columnist Greg Hill turns a muddle of words into a most entertaining read.

For more of Greg's columns please click on http://www.openwriting.com/archives/alaskan_range/

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January 20, 2009

The Doofus Walk

...A lot of adult Americans are functionally illiterate and unable to write, read and compute competently enough for normal day-to-day living. Unsurprisingly, an estimated 60% of the U.S. adult prison population are functionally illiterate, as are 85% of juvenile offenders. Even literate Americans often habitually employ poor communication skills. More than mere cacology, or “the poor choice of words,” many educated people are stylistically challenged when writing...

Greg Hill, a man in love with words, expresses thoughts on effective writing.

For more of Greg's satisfying columns please click on http://www.openwriting.com/archives/alaskan_range/

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January 13, 2009

Surfeit

...Our orbs and brains can only handle so much stimulation, regardless of its beauty and accomplishment, before blurring...

Star columnist Greg Hill suggests that it is possible to have too much of a good thing.

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January 06, 2009

Don’t Bother About Being Modern

"So much information’s being generated now that, rather than become anachronisms, libraries are being used more than ever before,'' declares ace columnist Greg Hill.

To read more of Greg's engaging words please click on
http://www.openwriting.com/archives/alaskan_range/

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December 30, 2008

The Perils Of Catachresis

...Catachresis, pronounced “kat-uh-KREE-sis” and defined by the American Heritage Dictionary as “the misapplication of a word or phrase”.

But a great writer can make deliberate use of catachresis, as Greg Hill reveals.

Continue reading "The Perils Of Catachresis" »

December 23, 2008

The Best Vanity Publisher Ever

...Narnia creator C.S. Lewis claimed “You can never get a cup of tea large enough or a book long enough to suit me,” but he never read Phillip Parker’s “The 2007-2012 Outlook for Tufted Washable Scatter Rugs, Bathmats and Sets That Measure 6-Feet by 9-Feet or Smaller in India.”...

Could there be a more enticing introduction to a column than this by Greg Hill?

For more of Greg’s wizard words please click on http://www.openwriting.com/archives/alaskan_range/

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December 16, 2008

The Power Of A Name

...Then there’s the “Johnny Cash theory” raised in a NY Times article by Marion Tierney, who said Cash’s 1969 song “A Boy Named Sue” “proposed a paradigm shift in the field of developmental psychology.” According to Tierney, “studies have shown that children with odd names got worse grades and were less popular in elementary school. In college they were more likely to flunk out or become ‘psychoneurotic.’”..

Greg Hill ponders on the weighty significance of how we announce ourselves to the world.

To read more of Gregg’s engaging columns please click on http://www.openwriting.com/archives/alaskan_range/

Continue reading "The Power Of A Name" »

December 09, 2008

In Praise Of The LOA

Greg Hill tells of the creation of classics of American literature – and of his adoration of the Library of America editions of these great works.

Continue reading "In Praise Of The LOA" »

December 02, 2008

Paragoge

Wordsmith Greg Hill delights in paragoge, palinode, tashivate, and other choice words.

For more of Greg's delicious columns please click on http://www.openwriting.com/archives/alaskan_range/

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November 25, 2008

Distinguished By Writing

...Once the specialized domain of only a few thousands, today writing is a skill practiced by about 85 per cent of the world’s population – some 5 billion people. All modern society rests on writing’s plinth.”...

When some folk acquire the writing habit they carry on producing words into their nineties, and beyond, as dedicated columnist Greg Hill reveals.

To read more of Greg’s well-crafted words please click on http://www.openwriting.com/archives/alaskan_range/

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November 18, 2008

Bad Ideas

Artificial nose hair, a pogo stick with wheels and propellers, a beer dispensing lawn chair...

Greg Hill highlights some bad ideas.

To read more of Greg’s columns please click on http://www.openwriting.com/archives/alaskan_range/

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November 11, 2008

Reading Pictures

...Reading is hard enough as it is and is physically difficult for lots of people. Comic literature has a history of helping in this regard, since pictures help the assimilation of text. For example, thousands acquired their early, and often only, exposure to important literature through Classics Illustrated. My first exposure to “Red Badge of Courage” came via Classic Illustrated in 3rd grade and led directly to my reading the uncut version...

Greg Hill, head librarian in Fairbanks, Alaska, tells of a well-trodden path that leads to a delight in reading.

To read more of Greg’s columns please click on http://www.openwriting.com/archives/alaskan_range/

Continue reading "Reading Pictures" »

November 04, 2008

Cury

Fancy a slice of roof rat pie?

Greg Hill considers a very particular culinary offering.

To read more of Greg’s erudite columns please click on
http://www.openwriting.com/archives/alaskan_range/

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October 28, 2008

Peonies, Spiders And Urinators

How on earth did peonies, spiders and urinators become interlinked in Greg Hill’s brain. And for that matter, what is a urinator?

To read more of Greg’s columns on unexpected subjects please click on http://www.openwriting.com/archives/alaskan_range/

Continue reading "Peonies, Spiders And Urinators" »

October 21, 2008

Euphemisms

Greg Hill muses on words which wrap up unpleasant truths in diplomatic clothes – and the ultimate euphemism, dashes instead of letters.
For more of Greg’s scintillating columns please click on http://www.openwriting.com/archives/alaskan_range/

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October 14, 2008

Tarantula

Greg Hill considers the incredible strength of the public library system which can pick up and carry the full weight of all human knowledge.

To read more of Greg’s columns please click on http://www.openwriting.com/archives/alaskan_range/

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October 07, 2008

Gruntle

“It drives my wife nuts that some people, like me, will cheerfully use “gruntle” in Scrabble. The little 1,500-page dictionary we use to settle these misunderstandings may not include it, but gruntle’s there in the final arbiter of our language, the 21,730-page Oxford English Dictionary.’’ says Greg Hill.

But how does one progress from gruntle to spiders?

To read more of Greg’s engaging columns please click on http://www.openwriting.com/archives/alaskan_range/

Continue reading "Gruntle" »

October 06, 2008

Fame Is A Fickle Food

Columnist Greg Hill, highlighting the fickle nature of fame, tells of an unintended consequens of literature - a plague of starlings.

To read more of Greg's columns please click on http://www.openwriting.com/cgi-bin/mt-search.cgi?IncludeBlogs=1&search=greg+hill

Continue reading "Fame Is A Fickle Food" »

September 30, 2008

Time To Consider

...My mate and I are polar opposites when it came to the rhythms of physical vitality and emotional highs and lows, we’re on nearly identical tracks intellectually. It’s nice that one of us is generally healthy when the other’s ill and optimistic when the other is blue, but not going through life together feeling dumber or sharper than the other has been a special blessing...

Star columnist Greg Hill allows himself time to muse on the subject of biorhythms.

To read more of Greg’s ever-entertaining words please click on http://www.openwriting.com/archives/alaskan_range/

Continue reading "Time To Consider" »

September 23, 2008

Cursive And Curses

Columnist and librarian Greg Hill tells us something of the history of handwriting.

To read more of Greg’s well-informed words please click on http://www.openwriting.com/archives/alaskan_range/

Continue reading "Cursive And Curses" »

September 16, 2008

Collections And Corrections

The inimitable Greg Hill tells of Bible collectors, proof readers and errors.

To read more of Greg’s sparkling weekly columns please click on http://www.openwriting.com/archives/alaskan_range/

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September 09, 2008

Picking Up Bits Of Information

Greg Hill considers the best conversational ploys for attracting the opposite sex.

To read more of Greg’s brilliant columns please click on http://www.openwriting.com/archives/alaskan_range/

Continue reading "Picking Up Bits Of Information" »

September 02, 2008

Repelling The Inspirational Mosquito

...Cinnamon’s now part of my daily oatmeal regime that keeps my blood happy, particularly since I learned that cinnamon repels insects...

Greg Hill muses on cinnamon, mosquito snouts, and efficacious medical wonders.

For more of Greg’s must-read columns please click on http://www.openwriting.com/archives/alaskan_range/

Continue reading "Repelling The Inspirational Mosquito" »

August 26, 2008

Rat Factories And Serenity

...Last week I read a headline about a “Fort Worth Rat Factory Pesters Neighbors”. The interesting odors emanating from the Big Cheese Rodent Factory, which breeds 500,000 white rats a month to feed exotic pets, matches the overall impression from my Fort Worth foray...

Greg Hill vacations in Texas and Washington State’s Olympic Peninsula. Guess where he found the greatest serenity.

To read more of Greg’s columns please click on http://www.openwriting.com/archives/alaskan_range/

Continue reading "Rat Factories And Serenity" »

August 19, 2008

Grammatolatry

...Futurists have been claiming for over a decade that the artificial intelligence needed for computers to understand humans is imminent, but as evidenced by BabelFish, it’s still a ways off. When BabelFish translated “What is your favorite book?” into simple Chinese and back into English, it came out as “Anything is the book which you like.”...

Wordsmith Greg Hill muses on plain speaking and the complexities of translating one language into another.

For more of Greg’s splendid columns please click on http://www.openwriting.com/archives/alaskan_range/

Continue reading "Grammatolatry" »

August 12, 2008

Catching The Reading Bug

...Books for children came out in the 1600’s but calling them “dour” is putting it mildly. For instance, James Janeway's "Token for Children" (1672) described itself as "being an exact account of the holy lives and joyful deaths of several young children."...

Greg Hill, who runs the library service in Fairbanks, Alaska, tells of literature down the centuries for younger readers.

For more of Greg’s wonderfully literate and entertaining columns please click on Alaskan Range in the menu on this page.

Continue reading "Catching The Reading Bug" »

August 05, 2008

That Lethean Feeling

...Americans who most frequently use their public libraries is the Generation Y age-group. A recent Pew Internet and American Life study found that 53% of American’s visited a public library last year, but those using it the most were in the 18-30 year-old category. Apparently those Americans are more aware of what modern libraries offer since they came of age as libraries underwent their latest computer-age transformations...

Greg Hill, head of libray services in Farbanks, Alaska, acknowledges the need to keep up with the times.

Continue reading "That Lethean Feeling" »

July 29, 2008

Bypaths And Untrodden Depths

Greg Hill tells of marvellous men who explored both the world and the exciting corners of the human mind.

Greg brings us a weekly column from Fairbanks, Alaska. Read his words by click on Alaskan Range in the menu on this page.

Continue reading "Bypaths And Untrodden Depths" »

July 22, 2008

The World's Funniest Joke

Greg Hill presents some seriously interesting information before telling the world’s funniest joke.

Greg will be writing for Open Writing every Tuesday. Don't miss him!

Continue reading "The World's Funniest Joke" »

July 15, 2008

Running The Gamut

Here’s a welcome to a new columnist, Greg Hill.

Greg is the director of the North Star Borough Libraries in Fairbanks, Alaska. He also writes for his local newspaper, the Daily News-Miner. Fairbanks is the second largest city in Alaska, the largest state in the United States.

Greg, as you would expect, has read widely. He has a most engaging way with words.

Today he writes about Julie Andrews, who once said of herself “Sometimes I’m so sweet even I can’t stand it.”

Continue reading "Running The Gamut" »

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