Let me start off by saying that ‘ail’ is a strange word.
v. t Ail āl To affect with pain or uneasiness, either physical or mental; to trouble; to be the matter with; — used to express some uneasiness or affection, whose cause is unknown; as, what ails the man? I know not what ails him.☞ It is never used to express a specific disease. We do not say, a fever ails him; but, something ails him.
“What aileth thee, Hagar?”
From the Old English, ‘eglan’ – (~14th century) to trouble, plague, pain, molest, afflict, griev, ail. And also the Gothic, ‘agls’ – shameful, disgraceful
When first typing ‘ails’ in the title of this entry, I had to stop and look into it to ensure that I had my spelling correct. There’s so little to it, and it is more a root word than a derivative, that it’s difficult to see anything in it that indicates where it comes from of whether I spelt it correctly.
Luckily for me, W.P. Lehmann’s ‘A Gothic Etymologic Dictionary‘ is available via GoogleBooks (note to self, I’ll have to look into the availablility of this in hard copy as it would go wonderfully with my copy of Reverand Skeat’s Etymological Dictionary)
Enough about etymology though…
What ails me about technology is how my faculty in using programming languages to manipulate big data sets like the complete human genome (So Long, Dr. Watson, and thanks for all the Bases*) does not necessarily translate into an ability to understand and operate my iPhone or the supercomputer AI that evidently controls my wife’s car.
While bumbling about trying to de-ice her car in the morning (the easy part), I managed to bump my phone and send an audio recording of what sounds distinctly like Darth Vader doing a force-choke on Santa Claus to a neighbor.
This was somehow the result of my opening the front door (equipped with sleigh bells for the holiday) while pulling on my shoes and trying to send a text to arrange an ice skating outing for my son – all at the same time.
text – ‘Hi, Holly – wondering if the boys are around to go ice skating this week.’ -beep –
Darth ruins Christmas -beep-
I spent a while trying to explain what happened by text. Then sending another text to sort out why I was sending multiple texts about nothing – ‘Ha, ha, don’t mind me!’
Then realize that the audio text appears not have been sent after all and I have to decide whether I should write again to explain that.
Then I get to the wife’s car. It intimidates me for a number of reasons. One: It’s very nice and not something I would ever expect to be lucky enough to have as part of my life (kind of like my wife, actually). Two: It’s definitely her car. I have keys, but they are very clearly only so that I can warm up the vehicle on cold days like today and in in the unlikely event she is ever locked out of her car. Three: I’m a filthy mess and somehow my wife manages to keep everything in her domain spotless, so I should just back away and not touch anything.
Anyway, it’s a hybrid and has an AI that could probably pilot the Discovery to Jupiter and back (Saturn, if you’re a reader) without killing Dave and the rest of the crew. Nevertheless, I am never convinced I’ve actually turned the car on. There’s just a button that says ‘Start’ and when you push it, nothing seems to happen.
I figured that everything was OK, but I couldn’t find anything that looked like a defrost button and had to take it on faith that anything I did would help since it’s electric and doesn’t have little explosions going on in the engine that normally warm up a car and provide heat.
It also has a habit of shutting itself off for no reason (boredom?) while I’m scraping ice from the windows and I have to try to get it restarted again without bringing my snowy, wet feet into the cabin. I could start my truck by leaning in an open window and turning the key. But safety features of this car insist that you are seated in the front with a foot on the brake in order to start, so I have to lean on the seat with my feet hanging out and bend down to hold the brake with my hand while reaching back up to the dash to find the start button by feel.
That’s about the time she would normally walk outside and find me acting questionably around her car – maybe this is why I’m supposed to stick to driving my own car. But today, I was lucky that she had to spend some time talking with our son about why playing a board game and Uno spun out of control and ended up with everyone going to bed (or not) unhappy last night. So I actually got to appear competent in her eyes.
Thank God for that.
Now, I need to make him a second breakfast (the cat ate his first one and dumped a full glass of orange juice all over the dining room floor) and explain to him why eating a whole 200 pack of Tic Tacs before bed last night might make his tummy a little upset today.
*working title for my in-process manuscript of ‘quirks, slights, and elegant experiments leading to our current understanding of the Life, the Universe and Everything (Genetic)’