2007 — 28 Apr: drinking responsibly

Listening (as I do) to the American satellite radio channel "NPR" — basically their equivalent to the BBC World Service, but with markedly different accents and the occasional pronunciation that brings me up short — I also take in the sponsorship announcements that are their sneakily frequent way of getting around their "no commercials" rule. The latest (though I didn't bother to note the name) promotes a vintner who reminds us they support and promote "responsible drinking", which naturally brings to (my) mind the adjective "abstemious" which, in turn, reminds me of a tolerably amusing semi-fact about that word.

Any ideas,1 I wonder? Well, if you haven't drifted down to my footnote, I believed at the time that "abstemious" and "facetious" were the only two words that contained the five vowels in alphabetic order. I obviously should have narrowed my search argument to state, say, the five vowels, in order, and only once each. The two words had been burned into my brain stem (or wherever these things are stored) long before search engines were in common use.

Martin Gardner (as ever) went the extra mile, identifying five words consisting only of vowels. Ideas?!

Those poor shelves department

Having been challenged by Junior to do a smarter job on my Diary archive2 calendars, I bought CSS For Web Designers Only by Donna L Baker. The "about the author" paragraph asserts "She designed her first Web site in 1991" which strikes me as a pretty neat trick when you consider Tim Berners-Lee's first web browser ("WorldWideWeb") for the NeXTStep operating system dates to then, while NCSA Mosaic only appeared in March 1993. I didn't write my own web site (inside IBM, of course) until mid-1993 or thereabouts. And it was hosted under VM on a mainframe — a bit of a kludge, but a clever one — not on my PC.

Plus, having "gifted" my original Photoshop Elements book to Big Bro I had to replace it with something. I chose Easy Adobe Photoshop Elements 4 by Kate Binder. And finally the "bargain bin, everything in this box £1" in the West Quay Waterstones twinkled enticingly Nudes: the world's top photographers, and the stories behind their greatest images by Anthony LaSala at me. I can resist everything but temptation, and a book reduced from £24-99...

Case Logic "M"

Is also starting to fill up. Mr Postie delivered one of my favourite TV shows, and FOPP in East Street yielded two nice titles:

"Elive" looks gorgeous

I mentioned (here) that I'd picked up the latest Linux Format magazine (May 2007). Its DVD has a live distro of the Enlightenment (aka E) Debian-based Linux on it. This not only does a superb job of probing and configuring the nVidia card on my HP Media PC, casually offering the full high resolution desktop without any fuss, but the eventual desktop is extremely good-looking. In truth, the only thing stopping me from installing it is the news that "the installer is still in heavy development."

Day 176  


1  In August 1996 the three of us spent a delightful two weeks in New York state staying with my friend Carol and catching up with her Gang (a close circle of IBM friends including recent Turing Award winner Fran Allen and FORTRAN team pioneer Lois Haibt). I made the mistake of asserting in the midst of this high-IQ assemblage that "abstemious" shared a particular property with just one other word, namely "facetious". I suspect we were enjoying a drink at the time. Unsmart move.
The following note had arrived while we were flying home:
Date: 18 August 1996, 13:29:25 EDT
Subject: Vowels
Please pass this on to David. It was prompted by his comment, "only two words in English that have vowels in order... ". I don't have a computer dictionary handy (but I will find one), but I could easily do an InfoGate search of one technical and one business database with the query: *a*e*iou* (the present algorithm won't accept *a*e*i*o*u*.) It didn't find abstemious, but it found facetious and arsenious! and related words: facetiously and words with a vowel repeated: adventitious and adjectives that started out being proper names Arrhenious (but I guess this is a mis-spelling of Arrhenius); and, to my surprise, supercalifragilisticexpialidocious. I also learned that there is a much-cited scientist named Papageorgiou.
2  Done!