why you can't rely on the "word of the day" in elevators

You probably don't need me to tell you this, but the definitions are not very good.

Yesterday's Skyline Tower Word of the Day was "bell-wether," which the Oxford English Dictionary defines as:

1. The leading sheep of a flock, on whose neck a bell is hung.

c1440 Promp. Parv. 30/1 Belwedyr, shepe, titurus. 1549 Compl. Scot. vi. 66 The bel veddir for blythtnes bleyttit rycht fast. 1591 SPENSER M. Hubberd 296 To follow after their Belwether. 1718 MOTTEUX Quix. (1733) I. 237 He that steals a Bell-weather, shall be discover'd by the Bell. 1847 LEWES Hist. Philos. (1867) II. 254 Men are for the most part like sheep, who always follow the bell-wether.

2. fig. A chief or leader. (Mostly contemptuous.)

c1430 LYDG. Bochas (1554) 224a, I was cleped in my countrey The belweather. 1577 HOLINSHED Chron. II. 40/2 Thomas being the ring-leader of the one sect, and Scotus the belweadder of the other. 1687 T. BROWN Saints in Upr. Wks. 1730 I. 73 The principal bell-weathers of this mutiny. 1794 SOUTHEY Wat Tyler III. i. Wks. II. 50 You bell-wether of the mob. 1848 LOWELL Biglow P. i, 'Taint afollerin' your bell-wethers Will excuse ye in His sight.

3. fig. a. A clamorous person, one ready to give mouth. b. (Used opprobriously.)

c1460 Towneley Myst. 86 Go now, belleweder. 1598 SHAKES. Merry W. III. v. 111 To be detected with a iealious rotten Bell-weather. 1620 SHELTON Quix. IV. xiii. 109 She made me weep, that am no Bell-weather. 1847 HALLIWELL, Bell-wedder, a fretful child. North.

Hence bell-wethering, the fact of leading and being led ‘like sheep.’ bell-wetherishness, tendency to follow one who takes the lead.

1882 Spectator 25 Mar. 388 But for the bell-wethering, there could have been no crinoline at all. Ibid. 387 The gregariousness, and bell-wetherishness of the English people, who must all do the same thing at once.

The Skyline Tower English Dictionary defined bellwether as: "the leader of a group or movement." Well, yes, but, there's no nuance in that. On the other hand, the building is not tall enough to scroll the OED definition past the idle reader's eyes (are there any other kinds of readers of an elevator marquee?).

I should point out that the online OED is, in my opinion, one of the greatest hybrids of old and new technology birthed by the late twentieth century, compared to, say, the 1984 Compact Edition of the OED, which happens to be holding up my computer monitor even as I write. It is much easier to search online, and easier to search the updates.An annual subscription to the OED online costs US$ 550, but I have free, yes, free access to this marvel as a card-holder of the King County Library System, one of the great bargains of all time.

Oh, and the OED's Word of the Day (yes, they have one too, although if they're going to emulate the Skyline Tower they really should have the Muzak Annoying Tune of The Day) for Tuesday, October 22, 2002? Meridian quadrant. Take that, Skyline Tower!


jane's addiction

It started with Dope Wars. At first, I was obsessed. I burned through AAA batteries on my trusty IIIxe.

I was never comfortable with the idea of shooting cops, so I moved on to a clone called Solar Wars, a sanitized version of the same thing.

Eventually it started to seem a little too simple-minded, so I moved on to Space Trader, which has just been updated as of several days ago. This is an intricate strategy game that, when I am too tired to concentrate on law, I will play for hours and hours. Occasionally I will turn pirate, but I still can't bring myself to fire on the police ships.

When I'm too tired to play Space Trader, or when I'm in court, I will play Bejeweled. I have to turn the sound off in court. It's really quite beautiful on a color PDA. Then there's Glom, which is kind of a 21st century Tetris.

If you have no idea what this entry is about, count your lucky stars.


programmable elevator messages--why bother?

I found myself briefly today in the very fancy elevators of the very fancy Skyline Tower in Bellevue to drop in on a Very Fancy Law Firm, which shall remain nameless as it is guiltless in this episode.

While ascending, I happened to glance up at the elevator message line, which displays information like a stock ticker machine. Now, the stock ticker machine is an interesting piece of outmoded technology in and of itself, but what caught my eye is that this particular ticker was saying, "Glorify...Praise..." as my eye fell upon it.

For a giddy moment I thought that perhaps the elevator's microchips had a Goddess Detection Meter, then came to my senses and kept watching the ticker for the Rest of the Story, as Paul Harvey might abjure. The Skyline Tower ticker cycled around, mundanely enough, through the time and date (conveniently provided for those not already alert and oriented x 2) the outside temperature, and, strangely enough, the elevator's Word of the Day (I am not making this up): "exalt." Glorify and praise were simply part of the definition of exalt.

When I returned to the office, having made in my estimation enough money for the day, I began investigating the waste of technology that overly customizable elevator messages appear to constitute. What possible use is a "Word of the Day" in an elevator, unless it's something truly obscure, like usufructuary? Now that's a word.

I was interested to be informed that custom written messages are not ADA-compliant. Those bings that an elevator makes are called "floor passing tones" and are intended for the visually-impaired who cannot read the floor number display (which appeared in Skyline Tower directly above the customized ticker display). I wonder if the Very Fancy Law Firm knows (or cares) that its building is not ADA-compliant?

It turns out that providing supplementary elevator content is, unfortunately, a trend. In the vanguard of elevator information overload is an enterprising company in Westford, Massachusetts, that puts flat-screen monitors with local content in high rise elevators. This is going well beyond the ticker tape information I originally set forth to find.

By the way, I looked up Otis Elevator Co., expecting them to be a voice of reason, to discover that it is now a subsidiary of United Technologies, which seems to own every company that General Electric doesn't. Perhaps not coincidentally, Otis provided no information about elevator media. Are they lagging behind--or using technology sensibly?


report from the dark ages

Your Goddess is pleased to report that, after months of styling herself a "Goddess of Replevin" without any real credentials to back it up, she was actually able to obtain a Writ of Replevin in King County Superior Court.

She also needs to take a deep centering breath and stop referring to herself in the third person.

::coughs:: It should be clear to both my readers by now that I absolutely adore technology and what it can do for law.

There comes a time, however, when there is no substitute for having a guy with a big neck break a door down.

That's exactly what my newly-minted writ buys me, as long as a sheriff's indemnity bond is in place--which bond, the Court of Appeals has helpfully pointed out, is not waivable, though the filing fee to obtain the writ is waivable. Oh, those giddy days of the late sixties and early seventies (well before I went to law school), the prime of Miss Jean Boddie v. Connecticut, when the cost of public access to the courts was still a matter of intense judicial concern!

P.S.: with replevin, as with the prejudgment attachment I did a few years ago, I walked out of the courthouse with the original signed writ in my briefcase. Which is a very strange feeling after twenty years of vigilance to make sure that I don't accidentally walk out of the courthouse with an original order.


cute, very cute

The scene: downtown Seattle, 3:30 p.m. Friday. I am hurtling down 2nd Avenue towards the inception of I-90 to get to my daughter's dance class in Bellevue before it is over.

The sighting: an inexpensive-model BMW in the lane next to mine with vanity plates that say "JEDIESQ"("Jedi, Esq." with punctuation--cute, very cute).

I blink in disbelief, because I think advertising that your car is a lawyer's car is a fine way to get yourself keyed in the parking lot--myself, I drive what looks like an unmarked WSP vehicle--and further observe that the vanity plate has a custom frame that says "Your FORCE for social justice" and www.lawgrp.com.

I discovered later that the website offers "highly experienced litigators" but the firm, as far as I can see, consists of one lawyer, albeit with a nice car.

But I wonder--is it more egocentric to call yourself a "Jedi" on your vanity license plate or a "Goddess" on your vanity blog? Well, there's a good argument that at least in theory you are promoting yourself to a wider audience with a blog than with a vanity plate, even in Seattle at rush hour. As a practical matter, however, because as far as I know I have only two readers (my mom won't even read this), my friend the Jedi is getting a wider audience for his harmless fantasies than I am for mine.

The ultimate level of egocentricity, though, is probably better measured by grandiosity of the self-characterization not the number of people exposed to the fantasy. So I guess that makes me the blowhard here.

jedi update 11-23-2002

One of my newer readers (I think the count is up to six now) is a friend of Jedi, Esq. and assures me that he actually is a highly experienced litigator, and a very good one, too. He apparently uses that moniker a lot. I stand by my point that it's a dumb idea, given our society's general view of lawyers, to put anything with "Esq." on it anywhere near your physical car.

I personally, however, would sign up in a flash for plates that said "804(B)(3)" if I could get the sovereign state of Washington to issue parentheses. It's the perfect inside joke for 'gators, like the plate saying "LIC UNK" I saw on a pickup down at the courthouse that has to belong to a badge. Parentheses, however, appear to beyond the power of our state to control.


midnight confession

Hah! You can put a link in a title! No, that's not the confession.

Here's the confession.

I just used the word "wont "in a brief. Not won't, not want, but wont.

Obscure one-syllable words are even better than obscure long words.