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May 04, 2018  |  Friday words #119, 2018-05-04  |  2807 hit(s)

For those few souls who do not follow internet fun, let me point out that today is Star Wars Day. That also means that tomorrow is Cinco de Mayo, a holiday that's popular in the US in spite of its comparatively obscure origins in Mexico. Not that I'm complaining.

Today's new-to-me word is one that proved useful very recently. Last week a bunch of us were at an editors' conference in Chicago. As people trickled home, they reported feeling con crash (from conference crash). This handy word describes the "post-adrenaline blues" that you experience after enjoying a much-anticipated, high-energy event. The article where I learned about this (via Twitter user @jamesfraleigh) describes it this way:
You waited for your favorite con all year. You followed it on Twitter and Facebook. You had three screens ready to rapidly refresh and get your tickets as soon as they went on sale. Four months later, you had a blast all weekend. Friends! Panels! Celebrities! Cosplay! eSports! Food! Parties!

Now it's the day after the con, and you're sitting alone at home. You feel confused and distressed. You expected to feel tired. After all, it was a busy weekend. What you didn't expect was the feeling of emptiness and sadness that you currently feel. You should feel happy, but you don't.
I'm not aware of a term like this for other, similar contexts (like Christmas). Even if such a term exists, maybe it's worth having a term that's specific to the experience of conventions, dunno.

Bonus related word, same article: con crud, the cold you pick up by mingling with hundreds of people at these things.

I've known the word rubric for a long time in an educational context: a guide that explains how an assignment or class is going to be scored. You know, things like "10% of your grade is based on class participation." In fact, I think that's basically the only meaning for rubric that I knew.

The word came up in the other day at work (I can't even remember how), and I wondered about its seemingly non-obvious origin. It was a bit surprising! First, rubric has several meanings, of which the education-related one I'm familiar with isn't even the most prominent. (In the M-W entry, the meaning I know is the fourth one.)

To sort of unspool the sense of rubric to mean "criteria," it also means an "established mode of conduct; a protocol." You can see how the "how to grade" sense is related. In an earlier sense yet, rubric referred to liturgical directions: how to conduct a service. And before that, it referred to a "a title, heading, direction, or the like, in a manuscript, book, statute" which—and here, finally, we get to the ultimate source—"written or printed in red." Red. As in ruby. I sure didn't see that one coming.

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