Tapioca and Sago

As a kid, my mother would produce tapioca and sago puddings fairly regularly as an option for dessert and I have the sensation that I was one of the last generations to enjoy this    pleasure, even if it was in their instant packet form. Very very occasionally I have seen them on restaurant menus in those new bistros that want to unearth traditional dishes and give them a trendy new twist.


Tapioca is a starch made from the cassava root, which we in South America recognise as yuca or mandioca. It is gluten and protein-free, thus fat-free. Notice that it has a pearly texture.


Sago is from the pith or spongy stem of the sago palm tree. Very similar in texture to tapioca as I recall.

Tapioca has various slang meanings including clingy and crazy and some we won’t go into here!

And lastly a joke. I am pretty useless at recalling jokes but somehow I remember this one from a Christmas cracker: How do you start a pudding race? Sago.




One of the many new words to be incorporated into English from the business world is the noun, a taser (or taser gun) and the verb, to taser someone or to be tasered. A taser is a stun gun produced by a company called Taser International. taser-gun

Of course, the gun acts by means of a laser which presumably accounts for the company name. So another case like Google and Whatsapp of a product name turning into a multi-form item of language.

They are in demand from armed forces like the police because this electroshock weapon can be less lethal than a conventional firearm when the police want to stop a criminal in action. Research shows, however, that they can cause death via the condition of “excited delirium”.

There is considerable debate about the police force’s alleged overuse of taser guns in their work.

 Last year 6 people were tasered in error by security guards in the city of Bajotierra.

When the rubber meets the road


Time spent recently with North Americans reminded me of some of the idioms they are fond of. Being such mobile societies, you find plenty of examples of driving language in everyday speech.

When the rubber meets the road (sometimes seen as where the rubber hits the road) refers to the moment when you test an idea or plan in real conditions. It is like taking a car for a test drive. It may look nice but you don’t really know how it handles the road until you get in it and take it for a drive. The rubber refers to the tyres.

We won’t know if the upgraded system works until we go online with it. That’s when the rubber meets the road.

I don’t know how the new employee will shape up yet. Once the new season starts and we are operating at full capacity, that’s when the rubber meets the road and we’ll see if she has what it takes.

Indisposed and ill-disposed

English loves to confuse its learners with words that seem to contradict logic.

If I am indisposed, it means I am sick, ill, off-colour. I’ll probably be staying at home and possibly in bed. It is a formal and somewhat old-fashioned word used for effect or as a euphemism.


The boss is indisposed today. He had a heavy night with his golfing partners.

If you don’t want to do something or feel negative towards a person or a project, you can say you are ill-disposed. It has nothing to do with health.


Susan seems very ill-disposed to working with Marina.  Oh, didn’t you know? Marina is dating Sue’s ex.

The manager was ill-disposed towards Eric because he felt that Eric’s department was not producing enough results.

Riveting and riveted


A nice alternative to compelling, gripping or all-engrossing is the word riveting

The latest Clint Eastwood movie is riveting. You can’t take your eyes off the screen.

Hers was a riveting display of gymnastic talent.

 Obviously the –ed version is riveted.

I was riveted by the story he told of crossing the desert as a child.


The word rivet itself refers to those metal or steel bolts that hold things together like two sheets of iron or even the seams on a pair of jeans. So when we say we are riveted by something, it’s like saying we were so fascinated by it, it was like being bolted to the spot. It tends to be used to describe positive experiences.

Despite this somewhat painful analogy, I like the sound of the word in its various forms.

Have you had a rivetingly good read lately?