Word Origin

Every once in awhile I am stunned at the origin of an extremely obvious word. This week’s word?


I didn’t interact with hummingbirds until Jen and I put up a feeder last summer. It was a huge success and we regularly have a couple hummingbirds either sitting at or hovering around the feeder. Recently, we were sitting on the deck and a hummingbird flew up and hovered in front of us.

Only then did I realize that hummingbirds hum.

Long Flights vs. Short Flights

For me there is one very particular difference between a long and a short flight. It’s more potent then the time in the air, the TV in the back of the seat in front of you, the jet lag or the mediocre dinner options (“and for you sir? Pasta mush or chickenish bits?”)

It’s acknowledgment of the length.

On a 2-4 hour flight, I’m constantly looking at the time. How close are we? How much longer before descent? Why is this coffee so bad? For a 10-15 hour flight, I’ve skipped over the first four stages of grief and started right in at Acceptance. I’m cool with this flight. I know I’m going to be here for what seems like forever so let’s just try and enjoy the ride. Yeah, my seat is absurdly uncomfortable and I’m suffering from dehydration but this was expected. Oh, what? Well would you look at that! Only 6 hours left!

The same can be said about my current home project: Shed Construction.

The patio? the vegetable garden? Both small projects compared to this shed. Each of those small endeavors was a trial of sanity as I struggled with not meeting my personal deadlines and going over budget. But the shed? This is a PROJECT. It’s HUUUUUGE. It feels a lot like a 15 hour flight. This is going to take forever and it’s going to cost way more than I expect. So let’s just go with it!

I started planning the shed maybe 6 weeks ago. It’s been a slow trudge through the planning process: picking designs, buying supplies, and eventually starting construction. I’ve had help the entire way which has made everything much more pleasant. Dad D assisted with the foundation, Jen with the wood prep, and my father in law (Dad G) with the framing. It has been genuinely fun. Admittedly my scheduling has been overambitious but the project keeps heading towards its destination and right now I’ll likely get there before the first snow fall. And even if it goes past that? Totally cool. I recognize that this is the biggest construction project I’ve yet embarked on.

If you’re considering building a shed, I strongly encourage you to proceed. It’s far different from typical home projects and mostly in a good way.


I have a question.

Regularly when I interact with strangers they comment on my obviously Italian last name. It almost always comes from a fellow Italian and usually takes its form as some sort of positive association occasionally with Italian language thrown in.

“An Italian! Molto Bene!”
“Ahhh, your name ends in a vowel. That’s always a good thing.”
“DiDonato! Excellent name!”

Really, these are pretty odd statements. I always presumed that they were just a form of small talk focusing on a shared characteristic. But recently I wondered: do other cultural names illicit the same kind of responses? If you’re last name is Muller do Germans on the street applaud your shared heritage? How about French with Archambault or Irish with O’Sullivan?

Any experience on this matter from the readership?

A rose by any other name is still a noun

My sister is expecting another child! Woo! Congrats Sis!

In light of the thoughts of another tiny person in our extended family, Jen and I were playing a name game on a recent long car drive connecting names with parts of speech.

It started simply enough: go back and forth naming different names that were nouns or homophones for nouns: Rose, Sander, Ray, Grace, Skye, Mason, Penny

Then? Verbs or homophones for verbs:
Chase, Peter, Bill, Mark, Josh, Chuck

BUT! The real excitement came when we started looking for names that are also ADVERBS or homophones for verbs.
Reminder: an adverb describes a verb, like the words quickly or sneakily.

After two hours or so I came up with one such name. Can you think of it (or others?)

Puzzle Solutions!

A huge thanks to those of you who participated in the Guess the Itinerary games. Here are the results with all hints explained:

Cologne, Germany
Hint 1: Cologne in Germany is Koln with an umlaut
Hint 2: Movement 4 of Schumann’s Rhenish Symphony was inspired by the cathedral in Cologne
Hint 3: Paco Rabanne – a fashion designer famous for men’s cologne

Amsterdam, Netherlands
Hint 1: Red and Green symbolize the red light district and the legal use of marijuana in Amsterdam.
Hint 2: Amsterdam uses an emblem with great frequency that demonstrates protection from Fire, flood, and Plague
Hint 3: A dutch colonial

Bruges, Belgium
Hint 1: Colin Farrel was in a movie called In Bruges
Hint 2: This giant drum is a music box that plays the bells in the Belfry tower in Bruges
Hint 3: Bruges is building a beer pipeline.

Luxembourg City, Luxembourg
Hint 1: “The inventor of the saxophone without his instrument.” This refers to Adolphe Sax. If you remove the word sax you get “Adolphe” which is the iconic bridge of Luxembourg
Hint 2: Luxembourg City has some of the longest underground fortifications in the world. These are referred to as Casemates.
Hint 3: it’s the Toyota HiLux. Hi Luxembourg!

Metz, France
Hint 1: like Babies and Oranges: Navel – Nave. 41.41m is the height of St. Stephen’s cathedral’s Nave. It is one of the tallest naves in the world.
Hint 2: Wright plays for the Mets. Mets… Metz…
Hint 3: This was the worst hint in the world. It’s a waveform from the band Metz – but I can’t think of anyway that someone could convert this into music. Especially at this resolution.

Thanks again to all the players, and a special thumbs up to Sander’s efforts on the last puzzle. It was so thorough I was almost convinced that I had remembered my trip incorrectly.

Final edition: Where in the World is Mike DiDonato?

Guess my itinerary! Final Edition!

Destination 1: Dusseldorf
Destination 2: Cologne (guessed by Patrick)
Destination 3: Amsterdam (guessed by Patrick and Shamus)
Destination 4: Bruges, Belgium (guessed by Patrick)
Destination 5: Luxembourg City, Luxembourg (guessed by Patrick)
Destination 6: _______

Hint 1:
like oranges and babies bellies

Hint 2:
YouTube Preview Image

Hint 3:

Where in the world is Mike DiDonato?

Guess my itinerary!

Destination 1: Dusseldorf
Destination 2: Cologne (guessed by Patrick)
Destination 3: Amsterdam (guessed by Patrick and Shamus)
Destination 4: Bruges, Belgium (guessed by Patrick)
Destination 5: __________

Hint 1:
The inventor of the saxophone without his insturment

Hint 2:
YouTube Preview Image

Hint 3:

BRUGES in terrible pictures.

The next stop on our Europe 2015 trip was Bruges, Belgium. Although Bruges is the capital of West Flanders, Belgium it feels like less of a city and more like the perfect quaint touristy destination. It’s also amazingly picturesque. It’s no surprise that I really don’t have many bad pictures from our time here.

We only spent two nights in Bruges. And really, that was just about enough. There isn’t tons to do. There’s an amazing tower with a super-amazing music box style bell ringing system. But that’s about it.

The streets are cobble stones and cuteness accented with adorable canals. That this following picture was one of the worst pictures from the trip is quite telling.


Then we have this terrible shot from a train:


But really, that’s it. Every other picture was wonderful. In a week or so I’ll post all the awesome pictures from the trip. Bruges will have plenty of highlights in that post.