SPEAKER NIGHT: Get your head in the cloud with Ryan O’Connor

Speaker Night with Ryan O'Connor
Speaker Night with Ryan O’Connor

April 16: Get your Head in the Cloud

Modern Tools for the Modern Editor

Do you want to use online editing programs but feel technologically overwhelmed? Don’t have time to learn a new method but want to stay engaged? Feel out-of-the-loop when it comes to Google’s web tools?

To an editor, online tools are now as crucial as the red pen. We know our skills, services and client relations can be improved by utilizing web programs, extensions and apps, but it’s not always clear which are best for editors in the NCR.

Ryan O’Connor will focus on the best and simplest ways for an editor to use Google’s new add-ins for Google Docs. Not only will you learn about modern, editor-friendly features, but you’ll come away with a solid understanding of how to use them in a professional setting.

Ryan is Chelsea Tech Guy to residents of Chelsea, Wakefield and Ottawa, a friendly and passionate professional who wants everyone to benefit from modern technology. His international experience as an ESL teacher, trainer and program leader allows him to combine his expertise in language and education with his technical prowess. He speaks four languages fluently, and has performed songs in Mandarin Chinese for international audiences.

Coffee, tea, and cookies will be served.

When: Wednesday, April 16 at 7:30 pm
Where: Capital Hill Hotel and Suites, 88 Albert St.
Cost: Free for members; $10 for non-members

Book Buzz: Why is Q Always Followed by U? A review by Bhavana Gopinath



Book buzz: Why Is Q always followed by U? Michael Quinion, Penguin, 2009

In an office meeting, your boss talks about “pushing the envelope.” Your eyes glaze over at the overused jargon and you wonder how hard it could be to shove around a piece of stationery. But wait! Where did that phrase come from, anyway?

Native speakers of English absorb the language by osmosis and take its quirks for granted. We forget that this vibrant language has assimilated words from many linguistic ancestors and geographies. Until we bump into uncommon words like “scuttlebutt” or “argy-bargy,” or use phrases like “laugh all the way to the bank,” “on a wing and a prayer,” “panic button,” and yes, “push the envelope.” Where do all these words and phrases come from? And while we’re at it, why isQ always followed by U?

Ask Michael Quinion. Having worked on the Oxford English Dictionary for many years, Quinion is well positioned to answer these questions. Indeed he did, in the Q&A section of his website, http://worldwidewords.org. Why is Q always followed by U? is a compilation of the responses to the most popular of these questions.

Quinion’s readers from all over the English-speaking world have submitted wide-ranging questions about usage, origin, spelling, and even pronunciation. Quinion finds clues, connections, and quotations from several sources and answers all of these. For instance, his response to the titular question encompasses the Phoenicians, the Greek, the Etruscans, the Romans, the Old English, and the French. He also provides explanations for such delightful expressions such as “whim-wham for a goose’s bridle,” “trig and trim,” “shaggy dog story,” and others.

My favourite gems:

Spelling bee The “bee” refers not to the insect, but to the English dialect word been. This is a variation on boon, which once meant ‘voluntary help, given to a farmer by his neighbors in time of harvest, haymaking etc.’ Bee is a classic North American word developed among farmers for various kinds of mutual help at key times of the year, hence “sewing bee,” “quilting bee,” and (barn) “raising bee.” In the nineteenth century, informal spelling matches among neighbors or in schools morphed into larger competitions with prizes. These became a big craze. In 1874, the term “spelling bee” first appeared and then spread quickly and widely. For Americans, it redefined bee to mean a public contest.

Lieutenant Ever wondered how to pronounce this correctly? The Americans say “lutenant” while the British say “leftenant”. The word is derived from lieu, meaning place, and tenant, holding. Etymologically, the pronunciation ought to be lieu, so the Americans seem to have gotten it right. Perhaps early readers in Britain misread u as v and therefore settled on “leftenant.” This version was actually taken to the North American colonies, where it changed to its modern pronunciation in the nineteenth century — aided by Noah Webster’s 1928 dictionary, which recommended “lutenant.”

Stationary/stationery These are similar because they come from the Latin “stationarius” and have related meanings. In medieval times, a stationarius was a trader based at a military station, who had a fixed store and not an itinerant business. He usually sold books and had links to universities. The word became stationer in English by the fourteenth century. In the days before movable type, when everything had to be written and copied by hand, a stationer not only sold books but also copied and bound them, and sold related materials such as paper, pens, and ink. By the seventeenth century, when printing had become well established­­, a bookseller sold finished books, while a stationer sold writing materials. Stationery as a term for writing materials appeared in the eighteenth century, while the word stationary became an adjective for things that do not move around.

Push the envelope This term comes from the world of aircraft design. In aeronautics, the flight envelope is the outer boundary of all the mathematical curves that describe the safe performance of the aircraft under various engineering and atmospheric conditions. It is taken to be the known limits for the safe performance of the aircraft. When test pilots test an aircraft, they “push” these limits to compare calculated performance limits against data derived from actual flights and to determine what the plane is capable of doing and where failure is likely to occur. Today, we understand it in the sense of going, or attempting to go, beyond the limits of what is known to be possible.

Suffice to say that Why is Q always followed by U? is a fascinating book for word nerds. Read it to gain a better appreciation of the English language’s dynamic and ever-changing spirit.

Have you read this book? Or perhaps you have read “Port out, starboard home” by the same author? Do share your experiences in the comments section below.

Bhavana is a freelance editor in Ottawa. When not editing, she devours books and really, really, loves her local library.

Copy over Coffee



Looking for a cozy spot to plug in your laptop, grab a java and get a few hours of work done amid ambient chatter and clinking cutlery? The National Capital Region is abundant in coffee shops and eateries that offer free wi-fi connections as well as ambience. From campuses to cafés, we’ll keep you informed on the most wordsmith-friendly spots in town.

Got a favorite location to sip and type? Let us know! We’d love to try it out.

BAKERY BLISS: Panera Bread – 320 West Hunt Club Rd. https://www.panerabread.com

A friend had insisted I try the new Panera Bread that opened recently in Ottawa, so I brought my laptop along just in case I could plug in and stay awhile. I’m glad I did, and will be returning soon!

With about 30 tables, the place manages to be both roomy and full of cozy seating. There are booths, tables and chairs of varying size; I had plenty of space for my winter coat, purse, computer, notes and food.

The menu is elaborate, featuring items from their in-house bakery as well as soups, salads, breakfasts, and hot drinks. Coffee is bottomless and customers serve themselves at an attractive station with several blend options. Twelve bucks got me a sandwich, soup, an apple and a coffee. The sourdough bread was bakery-fresh and tasted authentic, unlike other rapid-service joints where baked goods come with an aroma of cold storage.

Wi-fi is free and doesn’t require a password. I settled into a small booth at 10:30 AM when it was quiet, and by 11:30 the eatery livened up with the lunch crowd. I purchased food at the cash and was given a nifty tracking device that allowed a server to find me when my meal was ready. It was kind of like playing Marco Polo and the winner gets table-service.

Overall, Panera Bread is an excellent location for meetings, laptop work, and brainstorming sessions if you can work with ambient noise.

Perks: Tasty, elaborate menu; in-house bakery; free, unlimited wi-fi; comfortable seating with sturdy tables; plug-in options; great meeting spot; twice as large as most local coffee shops; free parking.

Quirks: In Hunt Club/Algonquin College area; busy at lunch hour; chain restaurant; noisy at peak hours; bakery items are plentiful and hard to resist.

-Allison Whalen