1. I’m completely against the anathematizing of specific words or word-types. Except. You know. Sometimes.
Does anyone except a geologist ever really need to say “epicenter”? And “virtually”: there’s virtually never a reason to use it. Those are old complaints. The thing that’s bugging me lately is “basically”: what does it tell the listener except that they can’t trust what you’re saying? But “basically” is the new “virtually”–people are using it all over the place, sometimes several times in a sentence and–this is the main thing–they should not. It makes the angels cry. And I believe this strongly and sincerely, but I heard myself using “basically” this morning, so maybe there’s nothing that can be done about it.
2. It has been perfect biking weather lately–cool and clear, with the color changes in the leaves well under way. But time pressures of various sorts have kept me off the bike-trail. I’ve been trying to keep up on the exercise thing by using the old rowing machine we’ve had around the house, eh, basically forever.
The thing is, this practice causes one of our cats very deep concern. Clark is an older kitten, maybe five or six months now, and he evidently considers me his second-string human, worth paying attention to when my daughter isn’t around. When I sit down on the rowing machine, he usually comes from wherever he is in the house and perches in a window nearby, staring bemusedly at me as I work the machine or vice versa. He clearly thinks the rowing stuff is puzzling and stupid.
Once, though, as I started to row, it happened to start raining. Clark whipped his head around to stare out at the drops falling on him through the screen, then whipped his head back to stare at me accusingly: What did you do?
“Post hoc, propter hoc,” I said to him, but he was already out of there. It probably wouldn’t have made much of a difference if he’d stayed to listen; kittens are surprisingly unresponsive to Latin or logic.