Jelling Thoughts

It’s important to learn new things. I can’t say that I learn something new every day, but I always enjoy learning something new. So in that vein, I share something I learned this morning.

I was reading a news article about a football team’s lack of cohesion. It quoted a player as saying “we have to jell as a team,” and I immediately seized upon that in a fit of self-righteousness thinking “That’s not a word! It should be ‘gel’ not ‘jell’.” I found myself quickly humbled to discover that jell is indeed a word, and that the two have distinct meanings.


  • Gel is a substance that has a consistency similar to jelly. A gel may be a cosmetic, a hair product, a medicinal product or other substance. Gel may be used as a noun or a verb, when used as a verb gel means to form something into a gel. Related words are gels, gelled, gelling. Thomas Graham coined the word gel around 1900, as a back-formation from the word gelatin.
  • Jell is a verb that means to become a consistency similar to jelly. Related words are jells, jelled, jelling, the noun form is jelly. Jellmay also be used to mean that something is growing firmer or is becoming set. Last of all, jell is sometimes used to describe the process of a project taking shape or the process of a group of people coming together in harmony, especially when working on a project together. Jell is a back-formation from jelly, coming into the language in the latter 1800s.

Go forth now, share your newfound knowledge, and feel good that you learned something new today.

What’s that? You already knew everything I just told you?!




Although they may look otherworldly, they’re not aliens. They’re called tomato hornworms, they ARE disgusting, and they are a scourge on my tomatoes this year.

Where did they come from? What are they? Why my tomatoes? What did I do to deserve this?!

It turns out that they are the larval stage of the hummingbird moth. Had I known this I would have swatted those suckers when I saw them flitting around the garden earlier this year, but they were pretty cool looking, and as many people do, we initially mistook them for actual hummingbirds!

What’s a guy to do about these little terrors? Well it turns out that unless I want to douse my tomatoes in insecticide (no thanks!) picking them off is the best I can do. Their natural predators are wasps, (unfortunately I killed all the wasps around the house earlier in the summer!) and ladybugs. Although I’d love to see a boatload of ladybugs battle it out for supremacy against the hornworm hoard, I don’t know if that’s a great option this late in the game. I’ll just have to stay vigilant and keep checking daily for more signs of these monsters.

The only upside here is that my kids LOVE playing with them. They were so excited coming home from Costco today because they wanted to go outside to “check on their babies” that I had picked and put in their bucket this morning. They’re outside right now as I type this poking and prodding and doing who knows what to them. It’s fun to see them excited about nature and animals and exploring their curiosity about things, and as long as they’re nowhere near my tomatoes I’m happy to let them go to town!

Tuesday Tips: 17 May 2016

This is the first installment of a new feature here at T&T. On Tuesdays I’ll post a quick and easy tip that I’ve learned, used, or stashed away for future use. This week’s topic, how to manuever your recreational kayak or canoe through a random rapid or wave.

Picture this, you’re out for a leisurely paddle on the river in your canoe or kayak. You come around a bend and find yourself face to face with a couple of downed trees that are channeling the water into a small rapid. We’re not talking whitewater here, but enough to swamp you if you’re careless and hit it the wrong way.

Assuming that you’re not going to exit the river and portage around the rapid, and you can see a clear channel through, the best thing you can do here is to line yourself up and paddle straight through the rough patch. Your instinct might be to approach slowly, but momentum is your friend here. If you keep up your momentum you’re controlling where your boat goes and the river does not. If you have to make a slight course correction by dipping your blade into the water for a rudder stroke that’s fine, but ideally you want to use some power strokes to propel yourself in the right direction.

The same holds true on open water if you encounter the wake from a speedboat or other larger vessel. Turn yourself perpendicular to the approaching wake, paddle strongly into it, and punch through. If you’ve got the space, and are feeling playful, you can even paddle away from the wake to take a little ride. Again, momentum is your friend here because it will keep you in control rather than the water, and it will keep you from turning parallel with the wake and potentially swamping your boat.

That’s all for now!