Saturday, December 26, 2015

WTF? Euphemisms and TLAs

We rarely say exactly what we mean until we are sure the the other(s) are going to understand us. To test the waters we use euphemisms and TLAs (three letter acronyms).

One of the more modern commonly, or overly, used TLAs is WTF. If I were a proper Brit I might think someone is referring to William The First. I would likely be wrong. Maybe a writer of love poetry would mean Warm Tender Feelings. No? Maybe describing a politician as Way Too Feckless. How about Wafting Tiny Farts, Waiting to Fart, or Way Too Flatulent after eating too many fruits and vegetables? Student pilots Wanting To Fly, refugees Walking To Freedom, fire dancers and the rest of us sometimes Walking Through Fire, Cubans Wading To Florida, silk manufacturers Wildly Torching Flannel, plumbers Wanting To Flush, tugboat drivers Winching The Frigate, trying to find love in the retirement home by Wooing The Fossil.  I am sure there are more so use your imaginations.

Euphemisms can be gentle or more direct, depending on how well you know your conversational partners and how formal is the setting. Pregnancy has always been a personal favorite recipient of round about descriptions. For example, when you are with your more proper and straight laced friends you might refer to someone's pregnancy as "being with child." Among your peers or fellow low lifes you may say "knocked up". Off the top of my head I came up with two lists. The second one is for nice people and the first is for people more like me.

A bun in the oven,
Bat in the cave,
The rabbit died
Pea in the pod
Up the spout (Brit.)
Pillow smuggling
On the nest
Harboring a fugitive
In trouble
On stork watch
Hosting a parasite
Pirate in the brig
Gut full of human
Carrying (insert name here, Joe's, e.g.) spawn

In a family way
In a delicate condition
Eating for two
Baby bump
Far along
Having a baby

Note that we can also use our WTF here, as well. How about "with two fetuses" or "way too fertile" as examples.

All that lives is born to die and while death is sometimes tragic, painful for the survivors, and sometimes a relief for suffering, it is surrounded by euphemisms. Like pregnancy there are some nice ones and a lot of coarse ones. We can count on not getting out of this world alive and at this age we may start to see the end of the road. It is a natural process not to be feared and while it is happening in horrible ways in many parts of the world I am going to look at it in a humorous way in order to keep from crying. I like to look at it like Jimmy Durante does in It's a Mad Mad Mad World.

 Or Vizzini in The Princess Bride.
You have no doubt heard  many of them, so I won't list them here, but remember it is important not to get dragged down by talk of death. And we always have WTF so we can laugh at it. Worm's Tasty Food.

There are terrific euphemisms for sex. Bisecting the triangle, checking the oil, disappointing the wife, the horizontal hokey-pokey, gland to gland combat, oscillating the unmentionables, putting ranch dressing in Hidden Valley, taking ol’ One-Eye to the optometrist, and hundreds of others. Again, we have WTF, Watering The Forest. That also works as a TLA for urinating.

The medical field has needs for both euphemisms and TLAs sometimes used in tandem. Some euphemisms are Cranial-rectal synostosis, Chronic donut toxicity, Transferring patients to the ECU (eternal care unit), Testosterone poisoning for certain trauma cases, faecal encephalopathy (shit for brains), Code Brown, Hazardous spill, harbour tour: rectal exam, BATS Fracture - Broke All To Shit,
Recreational miscalculation, PTT = pillow therapy treatment. Then the familiar TLAs such as MRI, ECG, LVA, ABG, CNS. But wait! There are actual WTFs! Somewhat obscure, but there is wall-thickening fraction and weight transferal frequency. Maybe Whirly Tingly Feelings should be one, too!

I must be getting tired. I don't know what the fuck I'm talking about any more.

Saturday, December 19, 2015

Holiday Traditions

Christmas means a lot of different things to different people. Some have to do with religion, but many don't. Different religions and cultures celebrate something or other this time of year. Some of that may depend on in which hemisphere you live. Christmas is more of a short sub-season to me during which many things are celebrated. The biggie for me is the return of the light. It doesn't mean I am a sun worshiper, I just like the lengthening daylight so I can see what the hell I am doing outside without needing outdoor lights on or a flashlight. It also is a major vitamin D source when it gets warm enough to expose any parts. Where am I going with this? Oh yeah, traditions.

So, when I was just a wee lad I vaguely remember some Santa Clause stuff and a few things that were relatively unique in our house. Being a fairly recent immigrant, my father had these little flags on a string. They were U.S. and Norwegian flags in about a five foot string. He would bake awesome Norwegian cookies that would test my self control to the limits. Until the year he died, 2006, he would always, without fail, send me at least a coffee can full of them. It was always one of the best gifts I would get and I always looked forward to it weeks in advance.

My cousins, Erik and Giske are on the left, my brother who appears to be filling his pants, and me on the right looking like I could flap my ears and fly. Note the part of an American flag at the top middle. Click to embiggen ( I got the term from Elephant's Child. I remembered!)

One of the best traditions we had was listening to Yogi Yorgesson's Christmas songs. Harry (Skarbo) Stewart was a Norwegian American who had developed a Swedish shtick and the character of Yogi Yorgesson. He sang memorable songs such as, "I Yust Go Nuts at Christmas" and "Yingle Bells". There were other great tunes on the album like "Who Hid the Halibut on the Poop Deck?"

Seriously! What are the holidays without music? Or what passes for music.


 One I hadn't heard until I moved out here to the Midwest was, " My Little Old Shack In Minneapolis, Minnesota" (sung to the tune of "My Little Grass Shack In Kealakekua, Hawaii,")

Now some people might think his Swedish accent is a bit over the top, but not by much. Modern Swedes don't sound like this, but in the old days when they learned English after they got here it was a different story. The Swedish chef on the Muppets has a strong Swedish twang. To me it is a friendly, matter-of-fact, genuine, and honest sound that is almost musical. Most accents from that part of the world have a sing-song quality to them that sounds so much nicer than my own monotone for example. Maybe it is my own upbringing with a father who never entirely lost his Norwegian accent that makes those sounds feel like a warm embrace to me. Funny and lovable all at once.

Saturday, December 12, 2015

Fact or Fiction?

Sometimes life is so mundane it is not even recognized as "life as we know it."  I know it's difficult to imagine that someone such as myself, someone so dynamic and multi-talented, that my life could be momentarily dull. It may also surprise you that I have come to enjoy those moments of quiet inactivity.  I know, I know. Some of you have imagined my life as being similar to a high speed roller coaster twisting and turning, going upside down and trying to throw me into the stratosphere. It's not that I haven't had actual moments like that, screaming down the highway with total disregard, but for the most part my life is more like someone caught in start and stop traffic in a busy city, frustrated with the inability to get where I am going in a timely manner.

Today, for example, I have to clean the stalls in the barn. I had put the horses in the other night because it had been raining on them all day with temperatures just above freezing. They have shelter, but they still manage to get fairly wet and the wind was picking up. So, with my muck boots and trusty manure fork, I will make the horsey hotel presentable again. Until the next crappy weather event. Beats going to a gym.

Speaking of weather (here comes boring), it has been unusual to say the least. You must understand that talking about the weather in Northern Minnesota is not considered "small talk." It is right up there with religion and politics and is just as controversial. If you have ever spent any time in this state you would understand. Having grown up (allegedly) in Delaware (yes, I did go to high school with George Thorogood) I found it to be an odd thing that people were always talking about the weather as though something should be done about it. Normally we would have a foot or two of snow and be warming up into the 20's (-5C). We only occasionally get below freezing at night this year.

Speaking of speaking in Minnesota, the people here do not believe they have an accent. Some were downright offended when I told them it is not the Queen's English they are speaking. They say the movie Fargo and apparently the TV series of the same name (I haven't seen it yet) exaggerate the sound of Minnesotan. Not by much. If you get into the rural areas of the state it starts to sound more like Sven and Ole. "Ver yew bin to Ole?" "I yust bin loggin in da wuts" No wonder they can't understand anyone from Alabama.

Gone are the days when the CIA would call when they needed to run special ops against the Russians. They erased my memory well enough that I only get bits of what happened in my dreams. The strength and stamina of youth are gone, but at least the older I get the better I was. I remember enough to put some stories together, but Robert Ludlum already did something like that with the Bourne series. I don't want to take away any of his glory. It's just the kind of guy I am.  Even when under surveillance by the FBI back in '74 I never took advantage of the situation to write a best seller. Could have retired long ago.

It's true that I could go outside on the deck, plug in 100 watts of pure Marshall crunch and make the neighbors think they are in a remake of Woodstock. Even with their windows closed. I just don't want them all coming over like the last time when Clapton came for a quick visit. We just play acoustic now so he can get some peace and quiet.  

So, you see, I have been around the block, but I am grounded in reality. Tomorrow's big project is changing out the old water softener and replacing it with a nice new shiny bright one from the modern era. I have talked a neighbor into giving me a hand. Maybe we'll have a beer and talk about the things we may or may not have done in the past. You know, relive the glory days when we were living on the edge, foot free and fancy loose. Was it fact or was it fiction? Does it really matter?