Thursday, October 30, 2014

Etymology and the Brain, 4

And typeface. What is typeface? According to Wikipedia, a typeface is a set of characters that share common design features (all of one style) and sometimes one size. There are thousands of different typefaces in existence. Moreover, new ones are being developed constantly, which can be disconcerting to a brain that prefers one style and energizing to a brain that enjoys variety. There is even a term font paralysis to describe a situation wherein an individual cannot even decide on the type of font to use. According to, “Open Sans is the new Arial.” The typeface Times New Roman has perhaps been the most widely used typeface in more modern times. Originally created for a British newspaper The Times in 1931, it was adopted for use in Microsoft products, beginning in 1992 with Windows 3.1. While it may be splitting hairs to talk about a typeface versus a font, typeface designates a consistent visual appearance or style which can be a family or related set of fonts. A font designates a specific member of a type family such as roman, italic, or boldface type. And stenograph? More tomorrow.

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Etymology and the Brain, 3

Enter the word typography (which has nothing to do with topography). It is a combination of two Greek words: typos meaning impression and graphie meaning writing. As a craft, typography reportedly had its origins in the punches and dies used to make currency and seals in ancient times. The world's first known movable type system for printing was created in China, circa 1040 A.D. Until the digital age, typography was a specialized occupation. Digitization opened up typography to new generations of visual designers and lay users. The definition now includes the digital equivalents of typesetting as well as the arrangement and appearance of printed matter along with the style of typeface. According to David Jury, Head of Graphic Design at Colchester Institute in England, “typography is now something everybody does.” Although the digital age brought typography into the reach of lay people, Claudie Fisher’s opinion is that “the art is best left to trained designers who are enjoying increased demand, due in large part to the growth of the Internet.” More tomorrow.

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Etymology and the Brain, 2

Topography. Is it literal or metaphorically? To complicate one’s understanding of topography, the form can be used literally or metaphorically. Used literally, it studies and describes the surface shapes on the earth and other planetary objects. Used metaphorically, it observes an entity and describes the relationship among its components. Here are examples:

“The topography of that country’s economy shows several depressed areas.”
“The topography of that laugh contains dramatic highs and lows.”
“The topography of that curricula is very uneven.”
“That woman’s topography is very eye-catching, to say the least!”
“The topography of that grilled steak leaves plenty of room for sauce!”
“What a ripped topography!”

Figure out ways to use the word to spice up your speech. Have fun with it! More tomorrow.

Monday, October 27, 2014

Etymology and the Brain

I really love words and enjoy etymology (the origin of the meaning of words). Some of it may have come from my mother who was a language teacher. Reportedly, she read aloud to “me” for 30 minutes a day during much of her pregnancy. I wonder how she knew to do that because back in the last century the reading-aloud information wasn’t well known . . . Anyway, the other day I heard someone say, “The topography of the Grand Canyon is amazing.” An individual nearby said, “Don’t you mean typography?” Close, but no cigar. Topography refers to the field of geoscience and includes the study of surface shapes on the earth and other planetary objects. A topographer is a person who describes such surface shapes and features graphically, usually in detail that includes elevation information. Cartography, on the other hand, is the art and science of making maps of the surface shapes. And a cartographer is a person who makes those maps, hand-drawn or computer-prepared. And if that’s not complicated enough, is topography literal or metaphorical? More tomorrow.

Friday, October 24, 2014

Your "Second Brain," 5

Medical understandings about brain-body connection is increasing by leaps and bounds, especially regarding the connection between the brain in one’s skull and the “second brain” in one’s gut. Sue Shepherd, PhD, is a dietitian, senior lecturer at La Trobe University in Melbourne, Australia, and a research scientist who is internationally recognized as an expert on the low-FODMAP diet and irritable bowel syndrome. Diagnosed with celiac disease herself, Dr. Shepherd consults on several international medical advisory committees for gastrointestinal conditions. Her book coauthored with Peter Gibson, MD, and William D. Chey, MD, is entitled The Complete Low-FODMAP Diet: A Revolutionary Plan for Managing IBS and Other Digestive Disorders. I have yet to read it. However, Gerard E. Mullin, MD, Associate Professor of Medicine and Director of Integrative GI Nutrition Services at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine in commenting about this book wrote: “Begin your journey back to good gut health by using food as medicine.” Bottom line? Your “second brain” definitely impacts your “first brain.” Take care of one and it can positively impact the other—and vice versa. 

Thursday, October 23, 2014

Your "Second Brain," 4

Have you heard about FODMAPs—an acronym coined by a group of researchers who were studying several types of digestive disorders? The acronym stands for fermentable oligo-, di- and mono-saccharides, and polyols—types of short-chain carbs that are commonly found in modern Western diets but that are poorly absorbed in the small intestines and easily fermented by bacteria: fructan in wheat, fructose in some fruits and artificial sweeteners, lactose in some dairy products, and galactans in some legumes. Foods that contain these forms of carbohydrates may exacerbate the symptoms of some digestive disorders such as irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), inflammatory bowel disease (IBD), non-celiac gluten sensitivity (NCGS) that may be a type of gluten intolerance, and functional gastrointestinal disorders (FGID). Studies have shown that in some people their bowl symptoms may be due to the presence of these FODMAPs more than to gluten. More tomorrow.

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Your "Second Brain," 3

Gluten-free products, so-called, are proliferating. But what really is gluten? Many people seem to be on the gluten-free bandwagon but don’t always seem to even know what gluten is. You may have watched the YouTube segment by Jimmy Kimmel about gluten (see link below). As you may know, gluten is a protein composite, gliadin and glutenin, that is limited to specific members of the grass family, including wheat, barley, and rye. It gives dough its elasticity, helps it to rise, and provides a chewy texture for many products. Some people have a wheat allergy; the immune system treats a component of wheat as a foreign body. Typically this immune response is time-limited with no lasting harm to body tissues. Different from wheat allergies, some individuals with celiac disease experience adverse health issues ranging from bloating, gas, and diarrhea and vomiting, to migraine headaches and joint pain. And different from either wheat allergy or celiac, some experience non-celiac gluten sensitivity (likely a gluten intolerance) that may be caused by a reaction to other components of wheat. Enter FODMAPs.  More tomorrow.