08 Nov 2021

City Nicknames

Q. City nicknames are a tricky thing, more often used by people who live elsewhere. When I moved to the Bay Area, new friends were quick to tell me: “Whatever you do, do not call San Francisco ‘Frisco’. And don’t even think about calling it ‘San Fran’. It’s just ‘The

02 Oct 2021

Yoo-Hoo, Baby Pigeons

Q. Someone came to us with a really good question. Where are all the baby pigeons? Have you ever seen a baby pigeon? . A. Well, come to think of it: no. We see pigeons aplenty. Yesterday, a Granville Island pigeon party seemed none too concerned about the cars trying

03 Sep 2021

Ogre Diva + Other Semordnilaps

Q. What is a Semordnilap? And what are some examples? . A. A Semordnilap is a two for one word: that’s one word when you read it forwards, and an altogether different word when you read it backwards. Any idea how they got this odd name? Answer at the bottom.

30 Aug 2021

Prize Emojis

Q. Do you have a favourite emoji? Maybe an ambiguous facial expression or innocent fruit that fills in your blanks just right. Do you use different emojis in and outside work? And how do your emoji preferences compare to others? . A. In a 2021 survey of 7,000 emoji users

05 Aug 2021

That Doll Is Creepy

Q. Why do people differ so much about dolls? Love dolls, hate dolls. Treasure my doll, creeped out by your doll. . A. There are some who find all dolls creepy. Pick up a doll couture magazine in the store and watch people back away slowly.  Those who experience extreme,

09 Jun 2021

Lilibet, Elsa, or Zibby

Q. Congratulations to the Sussexes on the birth of wee Lilibet! Take it from a decidedly non-royal Elizabeth, certain names – especially those that have been around for a while – have an endless roster of commonly used variants (can we still use that word without cringing?) and nicknames. What

06 Mar 2021

Canadian Travel Dreams

Q. We may be sheltered in place, but we can still dream about where we’d like to go when travel is safe again. Where do Canadians dream about voyaging? . A. One dreamy vote here for Harbour Island in the Bahamas – pink sand, gentle turquoise waves, white picket fences,

01 Jan 2021

12 Grapes for 2021

Q. Why is there a run on grapes in Spain on the days leading up to New Years Eve? . A. The grapes are for a tradition said to date back to the late 1800s. How to bring in a New Year of good fortune and health? Eat one grape

05 Nov 2020

Heard It Through The Grapevine

Q. Where did this expression come from: ‘heard it through the grapevine’? . A. On hearing the expression, most think quickly of the Marvin Gaye 1968 hit – 15 weeks at #1, the top-selling Motown single of the decade. ‘I bet you’re wonderin’ how I knew ‘Bout your plans to

23 Sep 2020

Robert + His Rules

Q. Who is this Robert and why do so many people follow his meeting rules? . A. Official meetings across the world still sample generously from the rules of Robert: General H.M. Robert, that is. The General’s Rules are particularly handy when we are trying to run virtual meetings where