It's sometimes enlightening to learn new words. Better yet, if you can toss those words into a conversation it's a trifecta. You acquire new terminology, you utilize that knowledge, and you amaze your audience with your genius. Give it a try.


For example, you are probably engaging in “subvocalization” as you read this column.  “Do you have a voice that is essentially saying the words in your head? If so, then this is what is referred to as subvocalization, or silent speech.”


This is pretty common. “It's more than just thinking words as you read them. It engages with body parts as well, such as the eyes, lips, throat, tongue, vocal cords, larynx, and jaws. Believe it or not, even when you are silently reading, you are still making tiny movements that are similar to those you make in active speech. You just don’t realize it.” (https://www.iflscience.com/subvocalization-why-do-we-have-a-voice-in-our-heads-when-we-read-74659)


“Spaving” is another thing that many of us do without giving it a lot of thought. “Any time you buy two of something and get a third item for half off, or add a few dollars to an online order to secure free shipping, you are spaving. Spaving is a mashup of spending and saving: spending more to trigger savings. But don’t fool yourself, experts say: Spaving is mostly spending.”


Spaving can have a downside and an upside. One one hand: “The problem with spaving is that it can lead a shopper to overspend on something they did not want, do not need and will not use.” On the other hand: “There is one kind of spaving that guarantees a good deal and has you spending less money in the end. Say you’re going to check out, and your cart is $5 short of the minimum to save you $30 on shipping. Maybe spending the $5 to get the free shipping is a good idea.” (https://www.usatoday.com/story/money/2024/06/16/spaving-meaning-discounts-can-derail-finances/74095929007/)


If you're shopping online, perhaps it's wise to do so on your own time. Utilizing a “mouse jiggler” at work cold have disastrous consequences. Mouse jigglers are devices sit on your mouse or trackpad and periodically move it an inch, to simulate an active status on your work computer.” Sounds ingenious, but beware. Using one of these could cost you your job.


This happened at Wells Fargo. “Over a dozen Wells Fargo employees were fired for trying to fool their bosses into thinking they were working when they were not. The bank  investigated the staff’s simulation of keyboard activity and let some folks go who were creating the impression of active work.” (https://gizmodo.com/wells-fargo-employees-fired-mouse-jigglers-1851541393)


A computer mouse is a fake animal, but in the world of real animals we could have a “crepuscular” beast lurking in many of our homes. Don't be alarmed, though, because these are just common house cats. 


Most of us are familiar with two of the terms for periods of activity in animals: nocturnal and diurnal. “Nocturnal animals are active at night and diurnal animals are active during the day. But there’s another major category for the activity for animals and that’s crepuscular. It's a term for animals that are active primarily at dawn and dusk.” 


Deer hunters sometimes hunt at dawn because whitetails are crepuscular. However, it pays to be careful because bears, skunks, and bobcats also share this trait. (https://www.treehugger.com/what-is-a-crepuscular-animal-4864558


Speaking of animals, just be thankful we are not experiencing a “dzud” like the one in Mongolia. “An extreme weather phenomenon known as the dzud has killed more than 7.1 million animals in Mongolia this year, more than a tenth of the country's entire livestock holdings. Dzuds are a combination of perennial droughts and severe snowy winters.”


Talk about a disaster. “Herding is central to Mongolia's economy and culture—contributing to eighty percent of its agricultural production. Thousands of families have lost over seventy percent of their entire herds. Disposing of the carcasses quickly to ensure they don't spread diseases is another big challenge. By early May, 5.6 million of the dead animals had been buried.” (https://www.newser.com/story/351564/the-deadly-dzud-is-back-has-killed-millions-of-animals.html)


Sometimes it's just silly fun to dive into the past and bring back some old words. Reader's Digest suggests: “Ten Funny Vintage Slang Words People Should Start Using Again.” (https://www.rd.com/list/vintage-slang/)


It could be even more fun to string some of these words together. The “mutton shunters” (police) thought there might be a “row-de-dow” (riot). They found it was just a bunch of “arf-an-arfs” (drunks) shooting off their “sauce boxes” (mouths). The troublemakers were nothing more than “gigglemugs” (smiling faces).  


Finally, one of those old slang words applies to those of us with smooth pates. We have to deal with an annoyance that occurs every summer. Deer flies think such a dome is akin to the landing deck of an aircraft carrier. It turns out there's an old-time term for our condition.


The term is “fly rink” and it means a polished head. Reader's Digest supplies a usage. “Be sure to wear sunglasses if you go outside; Grandpa’s fly rink is blinding today.” 


Jim Neff is a local columnist. Read Neff Zone columns online at CadillacNews.com and NeffZone.com/cadillacnews