Saturday, November 19, 2005

I'll have a goober butter sandwich

The oldest and I had breakfast with my father today. My father is 81, which means he sometimes chooses words that have faded in the popular vernacular. Other times, his words are still around in usage, but he uses them in ways that are, at least by me, unexpected.

The oldest and my father were discussing candy, a fascinating topic for a seven-year old.

They agreed that Bit O' Honeys are good.
They agreed that Tootsie Rolls are good.
They agreed that M&M's are really good.

"Which kind of M&Ms do you like best?" I asked my father.
"Goober M&Ms," came the reply.

noun, Chiefly Southern U.S.
The edible, nutlike, oily seed of the peanut plant, used for food and as a source of oil.
[Of Bantu origin; akin to Kongo or Kimbundu n-guba.]
REGIONAL NOTE Most Southerners recognize the terms goober and goober pea as other names for the peanut. Goober is related to Kongo or Kimbundu n-guba, “peanut.” The word is especially interesting as one of a small stock of African language borrowings brought over by slaves. Most of these words have to do with the food items imported from Africa for the slaves to eat.
"goober." The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition. Houghton Mifflin Company, 2004. 20 Nov. 2005.

Friday, November 18, 2005

Poor, maligned Nigeria

From: daniel jones <>
Date: Nov 18, 2005 10:23 PM
Subject: mail order............
Reply Reply to all Forward Print Add sender to Contacts list Trash this message Report phishing Show original Message text garbled?

My name is daniel Jones, I have a client that is interested in buying your item,he informed me that the payment will be remmited via a satisfied by credit card . In order to conclude the deal as soon as possible,The shipping methods that i want to use is UPS and the order will be shipping to nigeria,so Hope that i will hear from you soonest okay this monring.



Slang, noun
A fraudulent business scheme; a swindle.
"scam." The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition. Houghton Mifflin Company, 2004. 19 Nov. 2005.

When will the Nigeria madness end?

Personally, I'd buy boots called Funnel Cakes.

Almost any Southerner is familiar with the edible

hush puppy
A small, round or slightly oblong cake of cornmeal fried in deep fat.
"hush puppy." The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition. Houghton Mifflin Company, 2004. 19 Nov. 2005.

Most others associate Hush Puppies with the shoe company.

Both are not only correct, they are linked.

The Hush Puppies name and mascot were coined by the brand's first sales manager, Jim Muir. Initally, the company's advertising agency recommended naming the product "Lasers." Then, on a selling trip to the southeast, Mr. Muir dined with a friend and the meal included hush puppies, traditional fried southern cornballs. When Mr. Muir asked the origin of the name, he was told that farmers threw hush puppies at the hounds to "quiet their barking dogs."

Mr. Muir saw a connection to his new product. "Barking dogs" in the vernacular of the day was an idiom for sore feet. Mr. Muir surmised his new shoes were so comfortable that they could "quiet barking dogs."
"Hush Puppies." Wikipedia. Wikipedia, 2005. 19 Nov. 2005.

Be still, my heart

People who lived in certain parts of LA and San Bernardino counties in the 60s & 70s, had ready access to some of the most beautiful cars in the world. The best, however, were never the expensive models rolling off the lines in Detroit or Germany, but were the insanely-customized and hand-painted masterpieces of thousands of hours of loving care by the creators of the lowrider.

Despite its humble origins in SoCal, the lowrider now comes in countless flavors and modifications, and entire subcultures have emerged within a veritable UN of different communities, now worldwide. My dream: Someday, if/when I grow up, I WILL put my hands on a blue '64 Chevy Impala with spectacular hydraulics and a sound system capable of registering on CalTech's seismographs.

A leisurely stroll through this and this takes me back and sets my heart atingle.

a•tin•gle (ə-tĭng'gəl)
Experiencing a prickling sensation, as from excitement; being in a state of tingling.


Photo credits:
-top image:
-middle image:
-bottom image:

Thursday, November 17, 2005

Lost in Translation

Used to describe poor-quality attempts by Japanese writers to create English words and phrases; whether in mistranslation of an original Japanese language text, or in an attempt to create an original text in the English language.
"Engrish." Wikipedia. Wikipedia, 2005. 18 Nov. 2005.

As notes English is used as a design element in Japanese products and advertising to give them a modern look and feel (or just to "look cool"). There is often no attempt to try to get it right, nor do the vast majority of the Japanese population (= consumers) ever attempt to read the English design element in question...

...There is therefore less emphasis on spell checking and grammatical accuracy (note: the same can be said for the addition of Japanese or Chinese characters to hats, shirts and tattoos found in the US or Europe).

See examples of Engrish at

Dress for Success

The horse show in which the oldest showed last weekend was a fundraiser, which meant that self-expression and flamboyance in attire was not only allowed, it was encouraged. He dressed accordingly.

1. Distinctive and stylish elegance Synonyms: dash, elan, flair, style.
2. A feathered plume on a helmet.
"panache." WordNet 1.7.1. Princeton University, 2001. 17 Nov. 2005.

And yes, his riding helmet really is airbrushed with flames to resemble a motocross helmet.

Wednesday, November 16, 2005

Oh dear...

My son is at this lovely stage of development where he parrots back everything remotely interesting he hears. Most of the time this is quite charming, but sometimes it is quite a shock to hear my own words and intonation just moments after I've uttered them.

A few days ago, I was buckling him into the car seat. As I finished the last bit of the buckle, I said, "You're in! In like Flynn!" At which point, my son laughed and started parroting "In like Flynn! In like Flynn!"

It occurred to me that I had no idea of the origin of that phrase. Oh my...

The phrase "in like Flynn" became popular in the U.S. in the 1940s and is generally acknowledged as a reference to Flynn's success with women.

At least on this topic I'm no longer

  1. Lacking education or knowledge.
  2. Showing or arising from a lack of education or knowledge: an ignorant mistake.
  3. Unaware or uninformed.

You no-good, rotten...

What is the use of some medications if the side effects are worse than the actual ailment you're treating? AY! By the time the side effects are done with ya, you'll be dead or really wishing you were. Who needs flu, depression, and fever just to clear up migraines? Whoa now... pump the brakes. You mean to tell me I have to damn near die to get better? Nosankyoudanielson! My head didn't hurt that bad any-ole-how!

fu·tile (fyūt'l, fyū'tīl') adj.:
1. Having no useful result.
2. Trifling and frivolous; idle: the futile years after her artistic peak.
[Latin fūtilis.]fu'tile·ly adv.fu'tile·ness n

Haint Life Grand?

There is an old, Southern tradition, especially popular in Gullah areas, of painting windows and doorways a bright but light blue known as "Haint Blue". It was thought to prevent evil spirits from entering the house.

This is a brighter, darker color than the sky-blue shade used on the ceilings of porches. That tradition was borne out of a belief that the color would deter flies, who would not land on it, believing it to be the actual sky.

noun, Chiefly southern US
A ghost or other supernatural being.
"haint." The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition. Houghton Mifflin Company, 2004. 16 Nov. 2005.

1. One of a group of people of African ancestry inhabiting the Sea Islands and coastal areas of South Carolina, Georgia, and northern Florida.
2. The creolized language of the Gullahs, based on English but including vocabulary elements and grammatical features from several African languages and spoken in isolated communities from Georgetown in eastern South Carolina to northern Florida.
"Gullah." The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition. Houghton Mifflin Company, 2004. 16 Nov. 2005.

Tuesday, November 15, 2005

Feliz Navidad

Christmas Possibilities
Husband: Obscure N.O. Saints highlights video

Oldest: Remote Control Flywheels

Youngest: Bill Barker ATV Rescue Hero

Daddy: Portable Duke chair for seating at long horseshows

Mother-In-Law: This

Having strong appeal; enticing.
"tempting." The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition. Houghton Mifflin Company, 2004. 16 Nov. 2005.

Pure relief....

My little guy went to the pediatric pulmonologist today and for the first time in two years (and two peds later!) my faith was restored in our healthcare system. After last winter with two sick children (both with asthma, but one measurably worse--the little guy) and one nervous, uneasy, unsure momma (me), I really thought that all the doctors in this whole state were crazy. All nuts. Until today. The doctor told me that I was right to call it what it is--all the other quacks were calling my son's asthma "reactive airway disorder". Riiiiight. So, when he can't breathe and he's just lying on the couch struggling to breathe, that's just a little "reactive airway disorder". I think not!

The doctor diagnosed him with childhood asthma, and although it's intermittent, we have a plan of action now! We also have the medication to back it up! I was in tears--she put my mind at ease, as this was lying SO heavy on my heart for almost a full damn year. I'm breathing easier, I'm not fearful, and I'm prepared. Thanks, Dr. King!!!! WOOHOO!

Reassurance: (noun) the act of reassuring; restoring someone's confidence

Monday, November 14, 2005


The first step toward recovery is to admit that you have a problem. Here is a link to my great tormentor. If the monkey is already on your back, try this.

You have been warned.

ad·dic·tion n.
Habitual psychological and physiological dependence on a substance or practice beyond one's voluntary control.
"addiction." The American Heritage Stedman's Medical Dictionary. Houghton Mifflin Company, 2002. 15 Nov. 2005.

Behold the Power of Love

The oldest child has the most guilt-driven conscience ever. All I have to do is look at him and smile lovingly, and he immediately tells me if he's done anything he should not have done. Often he tells me things I would never have had any way of knowing. Often he shares things that really don't merit confession but are apparently weighing on him. All it takes is one loving glance from Mommy.

Today I looked at him lovingly in the rearview mirror as I was waiting to pull out of the school driveway after afternoon pickup. Instantly, he told me in a quite serious tone that he was sorry that he laughed when a classmate tooted in class.

Oh, my.

To utter suddenly and impulsively.
"blurt." The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition. Houghton Mifflin Company, 2004. 14 Nov. 2005.

Accordingly, I make sure to gaze at him with love when I tuck him in, so he can get it all out and sleep soundly.

Sunday, November 13, 2005

Blue or lazy?

From a poorly written opinion piece about recent break-ins in a local neighborhood:

Chances are that a crack-smoking mope is responsible. He hasn't done anything violent (yet) and steals only what he can carry.

A person given to gloomy or dejected moods.
"mope." The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition. Houghton Mifflin Company, 2004. 13 Nov. 2005.

Someone who wastes time Synonyms: dallier, dillydallier, lounger.
"mope." WordNet 1.7.1. Princeton University, 2001. 13 Nov. 2005.

Whichever definition, what a perfectly odd assumption. He proposes the thief is either depressive or a fribbler.

Where did that come from?

(Background: Each week, a small group of wonderful kids from a nearby New Delhi slum colony enriches my life in an English class that I teach. They work harder than I did at their ages and live in horrifically unhealthful and unsafe circumstances. None lives in a home larger than 8' x 8' (plastic or tin sheet roofs), and none has electricity or water. Most girls in this 30,000 person colony spend an average of about 45-60 minutes walking to bring water home to their families. Few have fathers, and there is NO police protection available inside the colony.)

So anyway, on Saturday, I'm explaining (again) the need to use the proper tense of verbs, and drilling them on the past, present, and future tenses of several regular and irregular verbs. In my clarification of some minor point, I used the word "professional". Rinki, a particularly quiet, attentive, and diligent girl surprised me by pumping her hand in the air with a soft but urgent, "Sir, sir!" I called on her, and she asked, "By professional, do you mean like 'The Rock'?"


1. A person following a profession, especially a learned profession.
2. One who earns a living in a given or implied occupation: hired a professional to decorate the house.
3. A skilled practitioner; an expert.
"professional." The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition. Houghton Mifflin Company, 2004. 13 Nov. 2005.