Ratiocinations Out of Thin Air

THIS BLOGSITE could have been better titled than given my name with “dot com” tacked on to it. I had considered Ratiocinations Out Of Thin Air—and that would have been a great, if confusing, title. As were my other “creative” ideas. So we’re stuck with Neal Umphred Dot Com with Ratiocinations Out Of Thin Air as a sub-title. As someone once famous once said, “So it goes.”

Either way, readers are confronted with two rather uncommon words (although alien has been used in reference to one of them): Umphred and ratiocination. The family name appears to be of Scottish origin, which explains why Laphoaig tasted like the water of life with my first sip!

For long-time readers who want to skip this part and just get to my latest rants, click here: BLOG.

Merriam-Webster defines ratiocination as “1. the process of exact thinking : reasoning; 2. a reasoned train of thought.” It derives from the Latin ratiocinationem (“a calm reasoning”) and ratiocinare (“to calculate, or to deliberate”). There is an adjectival form: ratiocinative.

Ratiocination is not taught at American schools at any level, it is not picked up osmotically, and our peers don’t pass it among themselves casually. Apparently, some people are born ratiocinators; others choose to learn to become ratiocinators.

(According to Merriam-WebsterEdgar Allan Poe supposedly referred to his 1841 story The Murders in the Rue Morgue as his first “tale of ratiocination.” Today that story is often cited as the world’s first detective story. Poe didn’t use the word “ratiocination” in Rue Morgue, but he did use it three times in its 1842 sequel, The Mystery of Marie Roget.)


I call this amazing cat the Upsidedown Zen Kitty. I found the photo on the Internet and purloined the image for some forgotten use. But I fell in love with the kitty and adopted it as this site’s totem. Unfortunately, I did not take down the name and address of the site from which I lifted it.

Baseball, Nicole, and Marisa

I intended the site to address issues that required me to ratiocinate my way through them, even if they were movie reviews or arguments on the misuse of the Designated Hitter in baseball or my crushes on Nicole Kidman and Marisa Tomei.

Hopefully, my words would entice my readers to turn on their ratiocinators.

That is, I babble and learn, you listen and learn; hopefully, we both come out ahead!


You all knew I had to find a place for this photo, as it’s all the “personal branding” I’ve got out there on the wonderfully wacky worldwide web. I can admit that its is almost five years old, and since then I’ve lost my hair, my teeth, my knees, and my boyish waist. In their place, Wholly Grommett has given me the amazing ability to cry at chick-flicks even more than I used to . . .