Oct 18 2012

Sun dogs


Today is the second day I saw sundogs, while driving away from the DayJob.     Sundogs are rare enough, but two days in a row?   And yesterday’s were especially spectacular, with bright glowing nodes on opposite sides of the sun, and a faintly visible full pale ring.

Alas, my camera was unavailable yesterday; but I managed to catch today’s dogs:


I spelled it with two words (sun dog) in the book; but I think the accepted usage is one word (sundog).

Sun dogs are familiar to Rowan, as mentioned in The Language of Power...


The opposite sundog was a) much dimmer, and so did not photograph well, and b) photographed by a person who wiggled the camera too much that time.

They’re caused by ice crystals in the upper atmosphere.

Yesterday’s were really, seriously bright. Under the right circumstances, sundogs can get so bright that it looks like there are three suns in the sky. That’s something I’d like to see in person…

But as much as I delight in every sort of atmospheric phenomenon, and as fascinated as I was by sundogs two days running, I do worry, just a bit.

Ice crystals? It’s only October… too soon for ice, I would think.

But remember last year?

In other news, today’s random quote, from something snagged from the non-fiction section as I was on my way to my little corner of Biographies:

Among the words that have been “done almost to death” with us are alibi, fortuitous, synthetic and sophisticated.  The man who remembers his Latin resents alibi when used as if it meant “excuse,” for it means “other- or else-where,” and in law is the plea of being somewhere else.

Fortuitous, as any one who has studied the word knows, means “by chance”; or, when used loosely, “without any known cause, accidental.”  Its Latin significance is “chance,” and has nothing whatever to do with fortuna, fortune, yet among amateur astrologists fortuitous is commonly misused for fortunate.

… The absurd length to which some persons will go is best illustrated by the ridiculous associations in which the word sophisticated is found.  To speak or write of sophisticated furniture, calories, or peppermints is foolish even as it is to do so of a sophisticated countryside.  In fact, to use the word sophisticated in any sense but relation to an individual is silly.

How to Use English by Frank H. Vizetelly, Litt.D., LL.D., Funk & Wagnals Company, New York and London, 1932


His heart's in the right place...

Hate to break it to you Frank, but you lost the battle for "sophisticated."