When Better Is Worser

dimprovement

If you’ve visited terrycolon.com before you may notice things are a little different. The navigation matrix has been redone. But still with all the fun, or annoying, bells and whistles you’ve come to enjoy, or bemoan. Whether this improves your browsing experience or not is debatable. I just hope the change is not a…

dimprovement (dĭm prōōv′-mənt) noun. An improvement that makes something worse.

Remember New Coke? Ever see Changing Rooms? New ain’t always improved, is it.

The Germans already have a word for a bad improvement, schlimmerverbesserung. Though some say it’s not a real word. Whether my made-up word is an improvement over the possibly made-up schlimmerver­besserung is another question. Maybe one not worth answering.

Filed 12/4/12

Quick Quips from P.J. O’Rourke

PJ

And now a few sarcastic words from my favorite curmudgeon not named H.L. Mencken.

“When buying and selling are controlled by legislation, the first things to be bought and sold are legislators.”

“The Democrats are the party that says government will make you smarter, taller, richer, and remove the crabgrass on your lawn… The Republicans are the party that says government doesn’t work and then they get elected and prove it.”

“If you are young and you drink a great deal it will spoil your health, slow your mind, make you fat — in other words, turn you into an adult.”

“The question is not how does government work, but how to make it stop.”

All courtesy of the poison pen of P.J. O’Rourke. Though he probably writes on a computer.

Filed 11/19/12

Loophole

loophole

You likely know what a legal loophole is. It’s pretty much a way to evade a law legally. Slip through the cracks, as it were. But why is this called a loophole? Where did that come from?

If you are familiar with military history or castles you might know what else a loophole is. It’s a small opening in a castle wall, fortification, or bulwark, usually a vertical slit or cross-shaped, from which a defending archer or crossbowman can shoot at attackers.

A loophole is a small opening in an otherwise impregnable wall through which, if you could squeeze through, you can defeat the wall. That’s where the term legal loophole comes from. It’s a simile. Or is it an allusion? Whatever it is it’s a gap in the defense. A chink in the armor. (A phrase harkening back to days of loopholes, appropriately enough.)

Now then, actual castle loop­holes were much too small for a person to squeeze through. You’d have to be pretty slippery, able to contort yourself to extremes to weasel your way through one. Sounds like a lawyer to me.

Filed 10/2/12

When Undo Won’t Do

commandZ

Here’s how to know your mindset has been taken over by the computer age. You’re doing something away from your computer, and you make a mis­take, and the first thing that comes to mind is “hit command undo.” Need­less to say there is no command undo when you spill your drink or say something really stupid. Be nice if there were. Anyway, there’s a word for that. Or at least I’m coining one right here, right now.

und’oh (ŭn d-ō′) noun, The impulse to hit command undo whenever you make a mistake, then realizing you’re not working on your computer and that won’t work.

Filed 9/7/12

A Half-a-smidgeon of Minutia

scunch

Ten Small Measurements Employed by Art Directors

pica
point
bit
tad
touch
hair
skunch
skosh
sliver
smidgeon

As in, “Close it up a tad” or “Air it out a bit” or “Bump it up a skunch” or “Drop it down a skosh.” Unlike points and picas, these other measurements are not exactly exact. To say the least. All the same, some folks take some of these into the realm of ultra-precise imprecise measurements. As in, “Move it up a half-a-smidgeon.” As if one should know there are 3 half-a-smidgeons in a hair. Then again, some employ more than one kind of hair depending on color and bodily location. But that’s just rude, so we’ll leave it at that.

Filed 7/18/12

Welcome to the S___burbs


Your usual big cities have a variety of neighborhoods. For instance, there’s downtown, uptown, mid­town, the warehouse district, the docks, and so on. Suburbs are like that, they vary. Not all suburbs are like where the Clampetts live, or where the Bundys live. Some might have a cement pond and others might have a cement lawn. Here is the rundown on suburb sub-categories and how to identify them.

SHRUB-urb  Older middle-class community with well-kept lawns and gardens; big, mature trees; lots of hedges and shrubs. What to look for: Privacy fences, ground cover and folks doing gardening.

SHRUG-burb  Nondescript, middle-class, comfortable suburb. Can you say cliché? What to look for: Garden gnomes, sports team flags and satellite dishes.

SCRUB-urb  Older area with not-so-well-kept yards full of scrub and dying trees. Often as not a shruburb gone to seed. What to look for: Broken pavement, aluminum siding and wildflowers, a.k.a. weeds.

SNUG-burb  Town with recently built tracts, often condos and gated communities. What to look for: McMansions and brick walls.

SLUG-burb  Slightly run down bedroom community. This was a brand spanking new subdivision in the 50s, only now it’s 2012. What to look for: Strange home “improvements” and kids riding bikes.

‘SUP-burb  Gentrified older area with caché. What to look for: Volvos, hipsters, rainbow flags and adults riding bikes.

SMUG-burb  Up-scale suburb of big houses and big lawns. Can you say hoity-toity? What to look for: Topiary and landscaping crews.

SNUB-urb  Town so up-scale the denizens look down their noses at the smugburbs. Posh with a capital $. What to look for: Golf courses and private police force.

STUB-urb  Swath of unfinished homes where the builders ran out of money and buyers when the housing bubble burst. Basically a just built ghost town. What to look for: Construction sites without construction crews.

SPUD-burb  A suburban tract in the middle of farm country. What to look for: Deer, both real and painted cement.

SLUM-burb  I think the name tells you everything you need to know. What to look for: Graffiti and security grates on doors and windows.

SHLUB-urb  Trailer park. What to look for: Houses with wheels and pickup trucks without wheels.

Perhaps you live in one of these. Though it goes by another name: Something Park, Whatever Heights, Whatnot Woods, or the like. Call it what you will, it’s the burbs of some sort or other. What exactly that means depends on the unlisted prefix. At least, according to this.

Filed 5/13/12

Sayings That Don’t Say Anything

duhuh

File under: Duh-uh

Nothing succeeds like success.

A promise is a promise.

Enough is enough.

It is what it is.

What will be will be.

What’s done is done.

We’ll get there when we get there.

Sometimes a cigar is just a cigar.

File under: Can that be right?

The only constant is change.

Expect the unexpected.

The more things change the more they stay the same.

Never say never.

Less is more.

And in the spirit of less is more, I’ve nothing more to add. This entry is what it is. Which ain’t much.

Filed 4/17/12

Distinctions That Leave Us Betwixt and Between

pigs

Eleven Pairs of Things There Must be a Difference Between Only I Don’t Know What Exactly

a bun and a roll
a street and a road
a stone and a rock
a bush and a shrub
dinner and supper
shears and scissors
a faucet and a spigot
pants and trousers
a jacket and a coat
a vest and a waistcoat
a pig and a hog

And why is pork “the other white meat” except when it’s ham when it’s pink? While we’re on the subject, I’d add boar to pig and hog and add slacks to pants and trousers which I don’t know the difference between. Though with three items I must be confused among and not confused between. You can’t be between three things, only two, that’s what tween means. Perhaps for three it’s betwixed?

That’s it. I’m over and done. Though I don’t know that there’s any difference between over and done. Though perhaps I’ve overdone it. Sheesh.

Filed 2/28/12

More Fauxcabulary Words

flex

People generally speak differently depending who they talk to. At work you use industry jargon. At the bar with your buds you curse like a sailor. At a family gathering you don’t curse like a sailor. Unless maybe you come from a family of salty-talking sailors. The point is, our speech is flexible, we adjust for who, when and where. For this I have coined some bits of fauxcabulary…

flexicon: words one uses tailored to the audience or social setting.

Within our flexicon there are any number of subsets. Following my usual formula of combining two words into a single portmanteau word, here are a few more using synonyms for lexicon like lingo, argot, and patios. Here are but a few.

gobble-degeek: tech terms you sort-of know used to impress people who don’t know.

Texicon: words used to sound like a Texan, y’all.

ar-r-rgot: words used to sound like a pirate, ye matie.

phatois: words used to sound like a gansta, dog.

badda-balingo: words used to sound like an Italian gangster, capice?

libberish: politically correct terms used in politically correct society.

bluephemism: substitute term for a sexual act or naughty bit. Sometimes more polite versions, sometimes more raunchy. “Naughty bit” is an example of the former, an example of the latter I leave to your imagination.

brocabulary: words used among male friends. Often as not a lot of blue­phemisms and no libberish.

hocabulary: female version of brocabulary.

That’s all I got. Yar, I’m out, y’all fuggitabouddit.

Filed 1/27/12

Way Beyond ESP

beyond

Top Ten Pretty Much Worthless Paranormal Powers:

Rubberglubility: Ability to have insults bounce of you and stick to the insulter.

Oblivoyance: Ability to have sounds go in one ear and out the other.

Revoyance: Ability to bounce ideas off people.

Televoyance: Ability to project your thoughts into inanimate objects. For thinking inside or outside the box.

Unvoyance: Ability to know what people are not thinking.

Nix-ray vision: Ability to see the invisible. When used clear things are opaque. Which, unfortunately, includes the air.

Chronosis: Ability to speed or slow time and yourself at the same rate. Which makes no difference to anyone else, or yourself for that matter.

Circularnation: Ability to die and come back as yourself and do it all over again exactly the same way, though you never realize it.

Paralevitation: Ability to levitate in weightless environments.

Gullibility: Ability to believe the unbelievable.

And five sensory perceptions that aren’t so worthless. Ability to smell a rat, taste success, feel good, hear opportunity knocking, and see the truth.

Filed 1/24/12

Truth in Humor

pain

“Doctor, it hurts when I do this.”
“Don’t do that.”

An old one-liner from Henny Youngman. But true all the same. I mean, would you stick your hand in the fire if it didn’t hurt? The problem of sticking your hand in the fire is not the pain, but burning your hand to a crisp. Pain is the warning signal that maybe you shouldn’t be doing that.

It’s like another old gag line, “Pain hurts.” Good thing it does. Better some pain to make you stop than painless self-destruction. Pain is your body’s way of saying, “Hey, cut it out!” It’s mother nature’s corporal punishment for doing stupid things.

Now this may seem like belaboring the obvious, but the same sort-of idea applies to all sorts of things. Better to have a warning signal that something is wrong than letting things fail cata­strophically. That’s what the idiot lights on the dashboard are for, right? Though they might be more effective if they sent an electric shock through the seat.

People tend to think things work a certain way and will keep on working that way. “Ignore it. It’ll go away.” And so people often tend to ignore warning signs. Or cover them up. Like a bit of black tape over the check engine light. That’s like painkillers for cars.

There might be some kind of lesson in all this, but it eludes me. Like looking for a hidden meaning that just isn’t there. Which leads to my segue, as contrived as it might be, to a quote from Sigmund Freud about dream symbolism.

“Sometimes a cigar is just a cigar.”

Though that reminds me of another line about cigars from the final episode of Cheers, “There’s nothing like a good cigar. And this is nothing like a good cigar.” So everywhere it says cigar you can put in posting.

Filed 1/20/12

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