Thursday, January 28, 2010


Today, the Writer's Almanac from NPR

had a wonderful piece on


here it is....and here too

It was on this day in 1754 that the word "serendipity" was first coined. It's defined by Merriam-Webster as "the faculty or phenomenon of finding valuable or agreeable things not sought for." It was recently listed by a U.K. translation company as one of the English language's 10 most difficult words to translate. Other words to make their list include plenipotentiary, gobbledegook, poppycock, whimsy, spam, and kitsch.

"Serendipity" was first used by parliament member and writer Horace Walpole in a letter that he wrote to an English friend who was spending time in Italy. In the letter to his friend written on this day in 1754, Walpole wrote that he came up with the word after a fairy tale he once read, called "The Three Princes of Serendip," explaining, "as their Highnesses travelled, they were always making discoveries, by accidents and sagacity, of things which they were not in quest of." The three princes of Serendip hail from modern-day Sri Lanka. "Serendip" is the Persian word for the island nation off the southern tip of India, Sri Lanka.

The invention of many wonderful things have been attributed to "serendipity," including Kellogg's Corn Flakes, Charles Goodyear's vulcanization of rubber, inkjet printers, Silly Putty, the Slinky, and chocolate chip cookies.

Alexander Fleming discovered penicillin after he left for vacation without disinfecting some of his petri dishes filled with bacteria cultures; when he got back to his lab, he found that the penicillium mold had killed the bacteria.

Viagra had been developed to treat hypertension an

d angina pectoris; it didn't do such a good job at these things, researchers found during the first phase of clinical trials, but it was good for something else.

The principles of radioactivity, X-rays, and infrared radiation were all found when researchers were looking for something else.

Julius Comroe said, "Serendipity is looking in a haystack for a needle and discovering a farmer's daughter."

Wiktionary lists serendipity's antonyms as "Murphy's law" and "perfect storm."

Last night as I was reading my latest Harper's Bazaar,
I was amused
by these adverts by ghd
To fully appreciate the ads I will repeat the copy which is hard to read:

"Rapunzel, Rapunzel, you're quite debonair
Now you've straightened and curled that long flowing hair
Your locks would appeal to many a suitor
So why not find someone who's taller and cuter?"


"Cinderella's a beauty, her hair all a-curl
No need of a prince for this stunning young girl
She's saying goodbye to glass slippers forever
And running away with a bloke dressed in leather."

and finally:

"Little Red Riding Hood, neither timid nor shy
Whilst straightening her locks, a wolf she did spy
But far from fainting or running a fever
She started to laugh and pulled out a cleaver."

Call me crazy
but I was excessively diverted
and then
I had an e-mail about a new collection
Heather Ross
(one of my favorite fabric designers)
and who should appear
but Rapunzel
in her designs

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