Friday, May 18, 2012

Fond Memories... of Dictionaries!

Last night I started reading a great book called The Last Lecture by Randy Pausch. The book was written by a Carnegie Mellon University professor as he was dying from pancreatic cancer. I'm sure I'll have more to share about this book as I've been writing down lots of quotes! But, for now, I'd like to share one of them.
"...growing up, I thought there were two types of families:
1) Those who needed a dictionary to get through dinner.
2) Those who didn't.

Wow! First of all, my husband is usually gone during dinner time, so we are usually talking or doing our own thing - not having deep conversations that need dictionaries! We do sometimes watch CNN Student News and discuss that, though. But, when we're at my mom's house, the dictionary comes out fairly often - just like when we were kids! Often, it is to see how to pronounce a word (as my mom often pronounces words differently than we do, but her way is always there, too!). Now, more often, we grab a computer or iPad to check something out.

Growing up, I have fond memories of two dictionaries...

The first was the one we used at home. It was big and reddish brown and well used. The word "dictionary" was indented on the cover and, for some reason, my dad had taken white-out and filled in some of the letters. Anyway, my siblings and I would often have friends over and we loved to play games. One of our favorite was Fictionary. Basically, whoever is 'it' finds a word in the dictionary that no one knows. Then, they write down the correct definition on a slip of paper while the other people write down a bogus definition. "It" then reads all of the definitions and everyone votes for what definition they think is correct. Points are given for creating a definition someone else votes for, voting for the correct definition, and for choosing a word that no one is able to pick the correct definition for. Wikipedia has a pretty good definition of the game and point system that we used.

The second dictionary that I have fond memories of was called Big Bertha. Big Bertha was HUGE and sat on a podium in my 6th grade classroom. In fact, I don't think any of us sixth graders could have picked 'her' up! At least, that's what my 11-year-old brain remembers. Whenever we asked about a word in class, Mr Irvin would tell us to "go check Big Bertha!"

As an aside, I learned that Mr Irvin died several years ago. He couldn't have been very old... maybe in his 60's? Anyway, I really enjoyed him as a teacher. We had just moved from Kansas to Oklahoma and it was my first experience adjusting to my new life. Mr Irvin made the (strange) decision to read the book Congo to us that year. As I looked for the book to post a photo, I realized it was written by Michael Crichton and that it was a new book at the time. Anyway, the book is SCARY!!! It's about gorillas who have gone kind of crazy and are bashing people's heads in. But, we LOVED IT!!! He'd read a little each day and we couldn't wait for more. And, in fact, I think I'll read it to Alex at the start of next year! She loves scary books and movies.

One last thought... I've been reading a lot of books lately in just one or two days. It's fun! And, I'm glad I have the time. But, there is also something special about being immersed in a book for days... just getting little pieces at a time and having to wait for more. I think they become more a part of your life that way. What do you think?

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