Today’s lesson in how weird English is:

Words which are spelled the same but act as different parts of speech are typically pronounced with emphasis on different syllables. For example, “contract” is a noun and a verb. The former is pronounced CON-tract, while the latter is con-TRACT. A driver’s PER-mit will per-MIT you to operate a car. When you add-RESS an envelope, you usually write your ADD-ress in the corner. You might ob-JECT to an obscene OB-ject. A police officer probably sus-PECTs a SUS-pect. And so on. Note that nouns emphasize the first syllable, and verbs the second.

Also, words which are given different endings tend to change which syllable is emphasized. Take “photograph” for example; it’s pronounced with the emphasis on the first syllable: PHO-to-graph. But add a “-y” and it becomes pho-TO-graph-y. Add an “-ic” and it’s pho-to-GRAPH-ic. Consider Einstein’s theory of rel-a-TI-vi-ty, which explains rel-a-ti-VIS-tic phenomenon between the REL-a-tive positions of things.

Oh, and of course there are plenty of exceptions to these not-quite-rules. Like many idiosyncrasies of English, this is one of those things you just have to know because you’re a native speaker; if you’re learning the language you may never get all the emphases right. Whee.

Global warming

I guess I thought northern Montana would be cold in the winter. Apparently not… it’s currently 55 degrees in February.

It sure is purty ’round here

Pepper and I drove up to Canada yesterday, and although we remembered our passports, I completely forgot my camera. Ugh. I had to use a cell phone to take some shots of the majestic mountains. Criminal.

Anyway, here’s the southern fringe of Glacier, taken somewhere near Essex:

And here’s the northeastern edge of Waterton, taken from somewhere in Alberta:

More critters

Last week as I was shoveling the driveway (technically just the twenty feet of pavement adjoining the garage, not the half-mile gravel switchbacks to the road) I found some paw prints.

Looks like mountain lion tracks to me…

They went right along our garage and up the steps toward our front door. Ahh, life in the forest!

V-day dynamite

Zaque loves hot sauce. Valentine’s Day is coming up. And I found the perfect gift for him: dynamite hot sauce!

It includes five sauces of varying degrees of hotness, including ghost peppers. Zaque should enjoy it. Knowing him, he’ll pour it on his cereal in the morning…

My noggin

I’ve been skiing for twenty-five years now. Never had a lesson, and never wore a helmet. Nope, back in 1995 I bought an amazing stocking cap that I absolutely love, and I’ve worn it every time I’ve gone to the mountain.

Back in those days, no one wore helmets. It just wasn’t cool.

But these days, it seems like I’m the only guy on the slopes without one. Not only are helmets more in vogue, they’re much more comfortable and useful.

So I went helmet-shopping. I’ll probably end up with a Smith Camber, which seems like a good compromise between the fifty-dollar ones that might protect my noggin in a crash, and the three-hundred-dollar ones that are probably meant for skydiving without a parachute.

When I go skiing in a couple weeks, I guess I’ll heave a sigh because I’ll look like the rest of the masses. But, as Pepper reminded me, $170 for a helmet sure beats the cost of skull surgery if I get clocked too hard. RIP, stocking cap.

Bread of the French people

I love French bread. It goes well with so many meals, especially pasta and meats. So these days, when we go “to town” to get groceries, I grab a couple loaves and stash them in the freezer, where they keep quite well for a few weeks.

But I don’t get the expensive French bread. That stuff costs a dollar.

Nor do I get the stuff that’s 40% off. A man could go broke spending that kind of coin.

Nope, I wait until it’s 64% off, and I can get a loaf for thirty-six cents.


For most of the day, there was a really cool fog hanging over the forest.

I would’ve loved to take some time along the shore of the lake, photographing the docks that seemed to extend out into a blank landscape of grey. But we were on the way somewhere and I didn’t have my camera…