Persistent...the word for this bird...
As defined in “Webster’s New World Dictionary of the American Language...The Everyday Encyclopedic Edition...Enlarged From The Concise Edition,” persistent is “1. continuing, especially in the face of opposition, etc.; stubborn. 2. continuing to exist or endure. 3. constantly repeated; continued.”
This initially began with a 21st century, online search of a definition for the word “persistent.” Then, your writer decided to go a little bit “old school.” As in really “old school.” As in: Does anybody even do this anymore?
I pulled the “Webster’s New World Dictionary of the American Language” off the shelf in the newsroom at The Paragraph Factory. The dictionary was sitting on a dusty shelf right next to “The New York Times Guide to Essential Knowledge...A Desk Reference for the Curious Mind.”
The “Guide to Essential Knowledge” was published in 2004. Kind of “old school,” maybe. The dictionary was “old school” indeed. Lyndon B. Johnson was president of the United States. As in the present tense. “1963-” The numbers on the right side of the hyphen were yet to be determined...
The word “internet” was not in the dictionary. No surprise. Didn’t find “laptop,” either. There was a listing for laprobe, which, I suppose, could keep you warm when you are working hard on your laptop.
I did find the word “tablet,” which, when Lyndon B. Johnson was still on his way to the other side of the hyphen, was defined as “1. a flat, thin piece of stone, metal, etc. with an inscription, used as a memorial wall panel. 2. a smooth, flat leaf of wood, metal, etc., used to write on. 3. a writing pad containing sheets of paper fastened at one edge. 4. a small, flat piece of compressed material, as medicine, soap, etc.”
(The Other Half pointed out that “tablet” can be found in the Good Book, too, in the story about Moses. He actually had a couple of tablets...just in case... And, as you well know, both of the tablets are in a wooden crate, hidden away in a gigantic warehouse somewhere...awaiting their latest update from Windows. You can see what happens during an update by watching the end of the first film in the “Raiders of the Lost Ark” series.)
“Computer” was in the old-time dictionary: “a person or thing that computes; specific., an electronic machine that performs rapid, often complex calculations or compiles, correlates, and selects data.” Seems somewhat ironic now that “a person” is connected with the word “computer.”
Of course, nowadays, when we are looking for a definition, we just “Google” the word we are looking for on our “tablet.” I’m guessing there are fair number of folks who have never even seen an old-time dictionary.
Google, by the way, was not in the old-time dictionary, either. However, the words “goof” and “goofy” were listed, which seems appropriate for this column.
As often happens in this space, we’ve taken way too much time getting to where we want to go. Which takes us back to the word for the day: Persistent.
Persistent came to mind one windy day last week when I happened to see a bird, a sparrow of some sort, I think, perched on a yard banner holder. The bird had what looked like a large piece of paper in its beak.
The bird appeared to be doing its best to maintain a beak grip on the piece of paper. As noted, however, the day was windy. A moment or two later, the paper slipped out of the bird’s beak, was carried away in the wind, and landed on a nearby sidewalk.
The bird, however, proved to be...
The critter flew over to the sidewalk, picked up the paper in its beak, and then headed to a nearby roof. The wind was still blowing. The bird still remained...
And headed to some utility wires. I watched for a while. I wondered why a bird needed such a large piece of paper. Was the bird getting ready to draft a memo? A grocery shopping list?
The photographs capture a few images of the bird’s adventure. I wasn’t able to stick around long enough to find out what the bird did with the paper.