In November, one of our cats discovered an unexpected house guest who had bedded for the winter in a potted plant we had brought in for the winter two months before. I was stretched out on the couch with my fractured leg propped up, when I noticed Peter’s gaze, his head motionless and his eyes glued to the plants that are in front of the window. Something definitely had his attention.
Suddenly, he jumped from the top of the couch – his throne, as we call it – and came to an abrupt halt in front of the the plants; his nose daring to sniff at something. I considered it might be a mouse – not an impossibility, but a rarity in a house with three cats, so considering I was in no shape to rise and investigate, I told myself it was just a spider, turning my attention back to the movie running on my Kindle Fire. Through my peripheral vision, I saw his Edward Scissorhands paw reach up slowly, tap gently on the side of one of the pots, much too close to my late aunt’s antique lace curtains. “Nooo!” I scolded, and sat straight up, enduring the sharp pain that shot through my knee, while the Kindle slid to the floor with a thud. Peter didn’t budge. Unusual. Any ding-dong, bang or whistle normally sends him running to his haven under the bed.
But Peter wasn’t attacking as he would a mouse, so it had to be something he found pretty darn curious. Now, I didn’t much care that he was at play with a bug, and would have actually appreciated his effort to send whatever it was to the next world, but the thought of shredded lace was quite upsetting. I summoned The Man from his Cave.
“A baby toad,” my hubby announced, stretching out his hand to show me the gray, warted little beast. Don’t get me wrong, I like toads. They keep my veggie garden free of nasty bugs. But I did not want a toad living in my house! I looked out the window at the snow falling and back at the helpless critter curled up to the size less than a silver dollar in Kevin’s large palm, obviously too weak to be frightened. It wasn’t the toad’s fault, really. I should have run a pencil through the soil of the pot before bringing it inside. And it’s not like we didn’t have the equipment to offer temporary shelter, having had our share of turtles and lizards (Kevin has a thing for amphibians). Then I saw the plea in his eyes when he promised, “Just until Spring.” Geez. Okay, I gave in, but only if we agreed it was not a pet and it would not get named. So, he brought out the lizard tank and made a trip to the local pet shop for a few dozen baby crickets.
After about a month I noticed the toad was a little greener some days than others, its eyes were getting bulgy and its legs seemed to stretch out quite long. Even the tiny warts on its head seemed to flatten and raise again with darker spots coming and going, as well. One morning, we found it looking very green in one of several puddles on the floor. No doubt it had made quite a splash when it somehow pushed open the tank lid and escaped with a giant leap to the neighboring, topless, 55-gallon aquarium for a midnight swim. Okay, probably not a toad, but definitely an amphibian.
Kevin secured the lid and to appease the little critter we put a bigger pool in its tank, replacing the mayonnaise jar top with a recycled frozen dinner dish. It immediately took a swim and jumped to the side of the tank. Wait a minute. Do frogs stick to glass like that? Then I got a good look at its toes – or perhaps “pad-like suction cups” is a better description. A quick search at some of the web sites where I’d been surfing for emergency amphibian care revealed that the yellow stripes on its legs clarified it was a Minnesota Tree Frog – a species that has warts and changes color almost like a chameleon. It’s important to know whether it is a toad, a frog or a tree frog to give it proper care. Although they are all amphibians, they each need a little something that the other doesn’t and if I’m not careful, this rescue operation could turn deadly. So after four months of calling it “the toad” we began annoying each other with continuous corrections or we would sputter out, “the toad … uh, frog … er, tree … that dang critter in the tank!”
And that brings me to my two stitches for this post:
I am a digitizer. I am not a digitalizer. To digitize is to create a derivative via technology. To digitalize is to administer digitalis or digoxin. (Do not ask me to do any digitalizing for you. I might kill you.)
There is a growing acceptance of using the word digitalize in place of digitize and it has even become the #2 meaning in some dictionaries. I suppose it’s because everything has gone “digital” in today’s world. Look up digitalizing or its base word of digitalis and you’ll find a slew of explanations from its original floral reference to the name of a recording studio. Look up digitize (or digitise, as it’s spelled across the pond) and it has one precise technological meaning.
It’s my observation that the world trends with whatever is most commonly used, I suppose because it becomes tiring and seemingly rude to correct folks. It’s one thing to not offend a customer, but it’s another to ignore the misuse stated by an industry professional. While a novice in this industry, I referred to a Melco Digitrac as a “digitalis”, to the repeated frustration of my boss, so I’m not innocent of that error and certainly not trying to judge. But for the sake of clarity, I’d like to encourage the experienced to kindly correct the newbie. Don’t let it just slide by. Maybe my personal plea is a battle I’ll lose in years to come, but eventually, I hope folks will see the value of sustaining a word with one precise meaning and the nonsense of using one with multiple meanings, as well as more syllables than necessary.
In my opinion, if one has trouble getting it right, the word “punching” would be the appropriate alternative. Although it, too, has many other different meanings, it is quite acceptable, because punching tapes to create an embroidery design was the original method; hence, the original appropriate terminology.
That’s exactly how we are settling our current problem when referring to the critter residing in the lizard tank. It just seemed to need a word with less syllables than “the tree frog” – a simple, yet more appropriate, word to eliminate confusion (at least that’s what I’m telling myself). Kevin has named it “Paddy”. Is it Spring yet?