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Language Log

Thursday, Sept. 06, 2012 - 4:45 a.m.

The problem with going to bed at 9 is that then you wake up at 4am. I'll be half-dead by midday. Ugh. But for now, here I am.

A strange confluence of events not actually related to me, but which I find oddly compelling anyway: I subscribe to the American Dialect Society discussion list, where they've been on the hunt for the true origin of the phrase "whole nine yards" for years now. Someone found an early occurrence in a magazine article, and was able to track down the author! But. Two weeks ago (TWO WEEKS) he passed away. Of West Nile Virus. Here in Tucson. Apparently his family was kind enough to mention the inquiry to him when he was in the hospital, and he smiled, but was unable to respond.

The mosquitoes have been bad in our yard lately. I have a bite on the bottom of my foot right now that's part of why I'm up at 4am. Most of what we have in our back yard (thanks to our incompletely covered, nonfunctional hot tub that collects rainwater all summer) are Aedes Albopictus. But if I have one that's itching, it's not albopictus (I've spent so much time around them, I'm immune to those). One of the Culex species is, of course, the vector for West Nile. I don't know how to recognize them, except I know they're brown and their bodies are parallel to the surface they sit on. Doesn't narrow it down much. Anopheles are the ones that really make me itch-- they're skinny and sit an an angle. I hate anopheles.

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