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24 April 2010

"Literally" a Volcano of Ash

Have you been following the plume of volcanic ash as it travels from west to east (the prevailing direction of winds, planetary spinning, etc)?

Talk about over-reaction! I am not speaking of the National Air Traffic Control Service of the UK or the governments of all northern EU. I am discussing yet again the over- usage of the word "literally," which had been literally used twice, count them: twice by one Tim Smith, airline spokesperson, in an NPR piece last Friday. Was it emphasis or to ensure we listeners really, really understand that 56 is a large number of flights to cancel and that "two or three" times are quite a few times to have hopes dashed for a resumption of air travel to northern Europe?  When I heard this piece as I drove west on I-290 (known in Chicago as "the Eisenhower"), I literally almost ran into the car in front of me. (ha ha)  No, seriously, folks, this has all been riveting news.  And, I give credit to all the media people attempting to pronounce properly the name of the volcano and giving us albeit conflicting tips on our pronouncing it on our own (say, for coffeetime discussion?).

We pulled some volcano-related books from our shelves for those more curious about the whole topic of volcanos:

Volcano Cowboys, about the scientists who have taken extraordinary means to advance the study of volcanos and their work with Mt St Helens after its 1980 eruption, is currently "indefinitely-out-of-stock-at-publisher," so we have one of the few copies left around (unless there's another bookstore even crazier than we are regarding our esoteric choice of remainders).  Krakatoa: The Day the World Exploded: August 27, 1883 is by Simon Winchester, a marvelous writer whose bailiwick is tackling many historic science-related subjects.

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