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"Roundheads and Ramblings"

Tongue-in-cheek

Preparing for a Blizzard

At his suggestion that we share his article, I am turning this blog over to a fellow MWSA member today.  Enjoy!

As the first snows fall I prepare myself for a blizzard. Having been born in Virginia but raised in Michigan (The Winter Wonderland) I’m familiar with snow. Snow and I go way back. Of course I live outside of Washington DC now and if they get a half-an-inch of powder, local officials and civilians wet themselves out of fear, panic, excitement, and the thought of rednecks driving four-wheel drive trucks and SUV’s at 60 mph on roads covered with ice…oblivious to the laws of physics and commons sense.So, how do I brace for a blizzard?
 Here’s Blaine Pardoe’s tips for blizzard survival:
  • Move the snow often. Don’t wait for it to end to get started.Pretend the snowblower is a tank. It makes driving it much more fun.
  • Be creative…did you know you can spell obscene words in your yard with a snowblower or shovel? Experiment!
  • Torture the dog. Two feet is a shitload of snow. So you have to dig out a path and, shall we say, dumping ground, for your dog. Indulge yourself. Make a maze. See just how smart your dog really is.
  • Avoid individuals with snowplow blades on the front of their trucks. They just put them on and frankly have no idea what they’re doing or how much they stick out.When the dude shows up and offers to plow your driveway for $100…mooning him is a viable option.
  • Your kids are worthless when it comes to shoveling snow. Don’t count on them. The first and last time I asked for their help I saw my son making snow angels and my daughter attempting to permanently bury him in snow.
  • Don’t be in a rush. There’s no place to go even if you could get out.At some point you will have the urge to leave your house. This is the kind of thinking that killed the Neanderthals. Stay at home.
  • Remember this formula one glass of alcohol per two inches of snowfall. Finally math has meaning!
  • Always plow out for the mail. They won’t come, but it creates the illusion that you believe they will.
  • Layers count in this weather. Please use your own clothing.
  • Nothing sucks as badly as the TV schedule when you are trapped in the house. Might I recommend a good book? I can definitely recommend a good author.
  • This is not a good time to try and teach your significant other to learn to play BattleTech.
  • Limit your photographing and posting of photos of snow. We get it. It’s a blizzard.
  • Beware the wind. Ever blow snow into a gust of wind? Don't. Trust me on this one...it doesn't blow - it sucks.Just remember, nature, gravity, momentum, wind, and the laws of physics are all working against you during a blizzard. And those are the fun parts.
  • There is no good way to dress. If you are warm, you're too warm and sweating. If you are cold, you're freezing. I don't make the rules, I just play by 'em.
  • Don't push your snow into the street. That's a douchbag move if there ever was one.
  • Don't curse the snowplow driver when they heap everything in the road in front of your driveway. 1. They didn't do it on purpose (despite the look they gave you when they passed by). 2. No matter how bad you day is going, they are out driving a snowplow in a blizzard. Be cool. Be a dude.

Feel free to use the comments section to add your own tips! Share as you deem appropriate.

Have You Ever Felt Totally Invisible?

I should have been having an identity crisis last week.  It felt like everyone I talked to was shocked to discover that I could find my way in out of the rain.  Examples:
 
I was at a dinner for 100 people, acting as hostess, moving from table to table to be sure everyone was having a good time.  One guest commented that she didn’t know how I was able to do everything I did and still have time to read.  Then she went on to say that she kept seeing me on the internet talking about some book I was reading. My comment was that, if I was talking about a book, it was probably one I was writing. “You’re writing a book? Wow!” she said. And then we continued to have an increasingly uncomfortable exchange about whether I hoped to publish, and then more shock that I was already published, followed by a question about how many books I’d written, and even more shock when I said 7 or 8. “Why didn’t I know that?” she asked. Beats me!
 
I was having dinner with some important visiting members of Lions, and the gentleman was regaling the table with stories of his students when he taught a class as an adjunct at the University of Memphis many years ago.  I matched his story with a similar one that had happened to me while I was on the faculty at Rhodes College. His wife looked at me in surprise.  “You taught a class, too?” she asked. I gingerly acknowledged that I was a tenured faculty member, and she shook her head in disbelief. “I never knew that,” she said.
 
This past Saturday I was setting up a room for another banquet and adjusting the slide show that would run in the background during our social hour.  One of the caterers came up behind me to watch as I changed the computer settings. “Wow! You did that just like you knew what you were doing,” he commented. “I’d be afraid to touch somebody else’s computer for fear of messing it up.”  Sigh!  “I do know what I’m doing, and it’s my computer.” “Oh.  How about that!”
 
I walked over to where one of my committee members was setting up a display table. “Who does your powerpoints for you,” she asked.  “Uh, I do them myself.” “Huh! Well, maybe if I had a better computer, I’d be able to do that, too.”
 
And then that night at the second dinner, I ran into the older brother of one of my college students and asked how he was doing.  He immediately gave me a long lecture on how well the brother was doing, followed by an increasingly bizarre conversation: “How do you know my brother?” “He was one of my students.” “Where?” “At Rhodes.”  “Oh. You worked there? So did my mom. What did you do?”  “I was in the history department.”  “OH, I knew all the great professors in that department - - -(naming names). What did you do?” “I taught medieval history.” “You were a professor? I’ve known your husband for years, but I never knew he had a wife who did something.”
 
Maybe I should wear a sign around my neck!
 

Wise Sayings from Tennessee

WISE SAYINGS

I've been super-busy today with family responsibilities, cooking chores to finish before the predicted storms hit, and a horrible backlog of e-mails to answer.  So for a day or so, I'll be pulling out some old posts from my other blog.  These are such fun that I'd hate to have you miss them.

Several years ago, Floyd and I spend six months traveling around western Tennessee to visit each Lions Club in the district.  As we rode along the back roads, away from the din of traffic on I-40, we began to notice that church marquees and  bumper stickers on pickup trucks contained a wealth of down-home wisdom. Here are some of our favorites.


  •  “Never try to teach a frog to sing. You’ll annoy the frog, wear yourself out, and the music will be awful.”
  •  “Don’t drive faster than your angel can fly.”
  •  “Amateurs built the ark.  Professionals built the Titanic.”
  •  “Lord, help me be the kind of person my dog thinks I am.”
  • “All experts are twits.”
  • “When you’ve dug yourself into a hole, quit digging.”
  • Sign on back of an ordinary-looking van: “This is a church vehicle.  Please report any suspicious behavior.”
  •  “Teamwork means there’s someone else to blame.”
  •  Sign on a casket company truck: “Please drive safely. Heaven can wait.”
  •  “Do not meddle in the affairs of Dragons, for you are crunchy and good with ketchup.”
  • “Some people stop looking for work as soon as they find a job.”
  •  “You gain experience just AFTER you discover you need it.
  • Sign on church: “Under same management for 2000 years.”

Five Great Additions to Your Vocabulary.


The following words were once a common part of the English language. Today, if they appear in a dictionary at all, they are marked as obsolete. But just think what opportunities they offer if you want to insult someone without being understood. I really wish I had known some of them when I was writing lots of letters of recommendation for problematic students.

1. Jargogle

Verb trans. – “To confuse, jumble” – First of all this word is just fun to say in its various forms. John Locke used the word in a 1692 publication, writing “I fear, that the jumbling of those good and plausible Words in your Head..might a little jargogle your Thoughts…” I’m planning to use it next time my husband attempts to explain complicated Physics concepts to me for fun: “Seriously, I don’t need you to further jargogle my brain.”

2. Deliciate

Verb intr. – “To take one’s pleasure, enjoy oneself, revel, luxuriate” – Often I feel the word “enjoy” just isn’t enough to describe an experience, and “revel” tends to conjure up images of people dancing and spinning around in circles – at least in my head. “Deliciate” would be a welcome addition to the modern English vocabulary, as in “After dinner, we deliciated in chocolate cream pie.”

3. Corrade

Verb trans. – “To scrape together; to gather together from various sources” – I’m sure this wasn’t the original meaning of the word, but when I read the definition I immediately thought of copy-pasting. Any English teacher can picture what a corraded assignment looks like.

4. Kench

Verb intr. – “To laugh loudly” – This Middle English word sounds like it would do well in describing one of those times when you inadvertently laugh out loud while reading a text message in class and manage to thoroughly embarrass yourself.

5. Ludibrious

Adj. – “Apt to be a subject of jest or mockery” – This word describes a person, thing or situation that is likely to be the butt of jokes. Use it when you want to sound justified in poking fun at someone. “How could I resist? He’s just so ludibrious.”


These items in this list (and others to follow) appeared in a blog entry by Heather Carreiro on November 8, 2010. Words are from Erin McKean’s two-volume series:" Weird and Wonderful Words" and "Totally Weird and Wonderful Words." Definitions have been quoted from the Oxford English Dictionary.

Sometimes a Gesture Says It All

We do a lot of talking here on the blog.  Words are the basic tools of every writer, it's true, but now and then we need a reminder that it is possible to get a message across without the use of a single word.

Sunday's New York Times offered some new hand signals to extend the usefulness of the old children's game, Rock, Paper, and Scissors.