New Vocabulary For Working Folks

by Curt Kovener

School is just about out for most students but for the true professionals, we know that education is a year-long life-long experience. So as an early start of summer school, study up on these new ‘real-world business’ vocabulary words so that you will not fall behind your peers.
For extra credit, see if you can attach names of people you know that exemplify these vocabulary words.
•Blamestorming: Sitting around in a group, discussing why a deadline was missed or a project failed, and who was responsible.
•Seagull Manager: A manager, who flies in, makes a lot of noise, craps on everything, and then leaves.
•Assmosis: The process by which some people seem to absorb success and advancement by kissing up to the boss rather than working hard.
•Salmon Day: The workday experience of spending an entire day swimming upstream only to die in the end.
•Cube Farm: An office filled with cubicles.
•Prairie Dogging: When someone yells or drops something loudly in a cube farm, and people’s heads pop up over the walls to see what’s going on.
•Mouse Potato: The on-line, wired generation’s answer to the couch potato.
•SITCOMs: Single Income, Two Children, And Oppressive Mortgage. What young adults turn into when they have children and one of them stops working to stay home with the kids.
•Stress Puppy: A person who seems to thrive on being stressed out and whiney.
•Swipeout: An ATM or credit card that has been rendered useless because the magnetic strip is worn away from extensive use.
•Xerox Subsidy: Euphemism for swiping free photocopies from one’s workplace.
•Irritainment: Entertainment and media spectacles that are annoying but you find yourself unable to stop watching them.
•TINKs: Two Incomes, No Kids. These selfish young adults just hate it when they find out that their new neighbors moving in have 4 kids under 10 years old. (See SITCOMs above.)
•Percussive Maintenance: The fine art of whacking an electronic device to get it to work again.
•Adminisphere: The rarefied organizational layers beginning just above the rank and file. Decisions that fall from the adminisphere are often profoundly inappropriate or irrelevant to the problems they were designed to solve.
•404: Someone who’s clueless. From the World Wide Web error message “404 Not Found”; meaning that the requested document could not be located.
•Generica: Features of the American landscape that are exactly the same no matter where one travels, such as fast food joints, strip malls, most subdivisions.
•Oh-No Second: That minuscule fraction of time in which you realize that you’ve just made a BIG mistake.
•WOOFYS: Well Off Older Folks.
•Crop Dusting: Surreptitiously breaking wind while passing through a cube farm, then enjoying the sounds of dismay and disgust.
Study diligently, there may be a test at the end of the summer.

Spring Finally Arrives In The Wilderness

by Curt Kovener

No matter how long the winter lasts, spring does not miss its turn.
After what seemed like an unusually l-o-n-g winter—the winter that wouldn’t go away—spring has arrived in the wilderness.
The rest of the native trees and bushes are leafing out and catching up with the invasive multiflora roses and autumn olive. I see another invasive—garlic mustard—growing along the county roadside so I am keep my eyes on alert for the serrated heart shape leaves and white blossom plant. Not to worry about spraying these rapidly spreading plants, the best method is the old fashioned one. Pull them up by the roots.
Native wild violets and wild phlox are adding their touch of shades of purple to the forest floor.
We’ve have gotten the ferns, elephant ear bulbs, and Persian shield out from the basement where they seemed to have over-wintered in good shape. They all got a long drink of liquid fertilizer as a spring tonic.
We stored the water catching tray for the elephant ears over the pots for the winter. We were surprised that when we put them on the porch and uncovered the pots, a couple of elephant ears—white for lack of sunlight— were already about 4 inches tall. I guess the ears wanted to hurry spring as well.
Chipmunks scamper around and are stalked and dispatched by Willow the cat. Not to worry, the wilderness has an excess of chipmunks.
Emma the Great Pyrenese keeps the property protected from invasion by deer, turkey, and raccoon. And there are ever increasing numbers of those, as well.
Emma has been most useful digging up moles, for which I am grateful. She considers them a live action squeak toy. It doesn’t end pleasantly for the mole.
A variety of colorful birds passing through the wilderness are eating at the feeders: rose breasted grosbeaks, towhees, and Baltimore orioles along with the usual contingent of chickadees, tufted titmouse, cardinals and several sizes of woodpeckers.
The large crow-size pileated woodpecker is heard up the ridge jackhammering on dead trees looking for insects.
In the evening just before dusk the turkeys gobble before heading to roost. Then the night hawk—whippoorwill —takes over through much of the darkness. Spring peepers and barred and great horned owls add to the night time lullaby that sings us to sleep.

Some Signs I’d Like to See

by Curt Kovener

Those of you who call the newspaper and leave a message with our electronic secretary or perhaps you see some of our ads know that we promote ourselves as “The Best Little Paper In Town!” And now, according to the United State Postal Service we are also “The largest weekly newspaper in Jackson County!”
Some years back the local dry cleaning service, we used to advertise “You can drop your pants here.”
Which got me to thinking about some other sign/slogan possibilities for area businesses.
Perhaps Lee Tire & 4×4 should claim their customers come to them “To be retired”.
Maybe Dorsey’s Auto Body Shop should ask: “May we have the next dents?”
How about on S&L Electric’s truck: “Let us remove your shorts.”
At Scott County Tire where they fix and replace mufflers & exhaust pipes: “No appointment necessary. We’ll hear you coming.”
Maybe Jackson County REMC should say: “We would be delighted if you pay your electric bill. However, if you don’t, you will be.”
At noontime on the door of Redneck Computers, the local computer store might be found: “Out for a quick byte.”
On the maternity room door at Schneck Medical Center: “Push, Push, Push.”
Maybe in the front yard of Adams Funeral Home: “Drive carefully, we’ll wait.”
Or how about at Rick Clark’s Auto Repair where you can get a radiator fixed: “Best place in town to take a leak.”
Maybe a sign in the window of Wilson’s Diner in Freetown should read: “Don’t stand there and be hungry, come in and get fed up.”
The Peoples Bank is known for some pretty good rates for auto loans. Perhaps their time & temperature sign could read: “The best way to get back on your feet—miss a car payment.”
Maybe found in the Brownstown Animal Hospital waiting room: “Be back in 5 minutes. Sit! Stay!”
Crothersville School is a non-smoking area. So maybe they ought to have posted: “If we see you smoking we will assume you are on fire and take appropriate action.”
On the side of Rumpke’s garbage trucks they could claim: “We’ve got what it takes to take what you’ve got.”
What we really need is an optometrist in town so the eye Doc’s sign could read: “If you don’t see what you’re looking for, you’ve come to the right place.”

What’s In A Name…

by Curt Kovener

My high school English teacher Corean Lewis tried very hard to teach us the proper use of the language. She was exceptionally patient with me.
For all of the rules of English, of grammar, of spelling she tried to impart on us, I have found from over 40 years in the writing and newspaper business that there are two exceptions for every one of her rules.
Richard Lederer has a Ph.D. in linguistics and has written books on the confusing, crazy and anguish of the English language.
We will first look at the confusing history of some words and phrases that you may only thought you knew.
In what country did Pennsylvania Dutch originate? Germany—where the language is Deutsch.
French fries were invented in Belgium. Frenching describes a method of cutting vegetables into long strips.
Arabic numbers are not Arabic but invented in India.
Turkish baths originated in Rome not Turkey.
Panama hats weren’t originated in Panama but in the South American country of Ecuador.
The English horn is a reed instrument, an alto oboe invented in France.
Welsh rabbit is a meatless dish whose primary ingredient is cheese.
Egg Cream does not contain eggs or cream but is made from milk, chocolate syrup and a spritz of seltzer water.
Sweetbread is not sweet nor a bread; it is a cooked part of calf’s pancreas. Sweetmeat is not a meat but is candied fruit and is sweet.
Despite the name, refried beans are not fried twice. Frijoles refritos actually means well fried not refried.
In dry cleaning, all material is immersed in a liquid solution.
And since we are approaching that seasonal time of the year, the primary cause of hay fever is not hay but pollen.
Perhaps we should end this week’s discussion of our confusing language with a poem (another literary subject of which Mrs. Lewis was quite fond).
“No matter what their name alleges,
Hedgehogs aren’t hogs or hedges
Like kindred quadrupeds with spines
Who aren’t porks and aren’t pines.”

The Battle Is Ongoing; The War Will Never Be Won

by Curt Kovener

The brown wilderness hills and valleys are greening up. And that is my sign to get to work.
The first plant life to leaf out in the forests after winter are invasives. The one’s that you don’t want taking over: plants like multiflora rose and autumn olive. They both turn green before the native ground level flora so they are easily seen to try to control. Wait too long then everything is green and work becomes more difficult.
In spring green up, I use my long handle loppers and a small spray bottle of herbicide. The long handle loppers keep me away from the always-prickly rose thorns. The leaves may be tender but the cat claw-like thorns are always looking for an arm, a leg, or face. So sometimes I still am successful at getting tangled in the barbed wire like strands after cutting the invasive stalk near the ground.
After untanglement, a sprits or two from the herbicide bottle on the invasive stump should curtail future growth for the coming season.
But there will be more. There will always be more. That is why these plants are called invasives.
Their origin in Indiana is interesting…though the originators don’t like to talk about it.
Back in the 1930’s multiflora rose was recommended to cattle farmers as a way to reduce fence repair and contain their herds by planting a living fence. The problem was that when Purdue University made that recommendation, they forgot to tell the multiflora rose it was supposed to stay in the fence row.
The autumn olive was promoted as a wildlife food source and a butterfly attracting plant. And it does both quite well. It was endorsed by the Indiana DNR and included in their forestry wildlife planting packets distributed by the DNR Nursery in Vallonia. That’s how I got it started in the wilderness.
Birds eat the olive size fruit and then distribute the seed wherever they roost. That explains why I see abundant autumn olive growing along the understory of trees along the edge of the forest.
So my continual battle with these two invasives will be never ending. And as I cut and sprits, I contemplate just what other ‘helpful’ recommendations Purdue and DNR have in store for us.

I Don’t Mean To Bore You, But…

by Curt Kovener

(This week we reached back into the Curt Comments archives for an encore writing.)
Have you ever noticed how diametrically opposed we sometimes speak?
When someone says, “Not to change the subject, but…” what is the next thing they do? They change the subject.
And when someone says “I don’t want to start an argument, but…” whereupon an intense, heated discussion of opinions erupts.
Then there are times when I am engrossed in some activity—reading, watching TV, working on the computer—Becky comes to me saying “I don’t want to disturb you but…” and then what she says disturbs me.
Or worse, when she says, “Now I don’t want to make you mad, but…” and of course my blood pressure begins to rise.
And when you hear “I don’t mean to criticize, but…” you’d better quickly put on your thick skin.
While sitting in the plethora of public meetings we’ve covered over the years, I’ve learned that whenever the speaker says, “I don’t mean to belabor the point, but…” he/she then drones on for another period of time obviously enjoying the sound of his/her voice while the dead horse is beaten further.
And when it comes down to you and a member of the boss’ family who are vying for a promotion, when the boss says, “I don’t mean to play favorites, but…” you shouldn’t count on any increase in your paycheck.
And when your soon-to-be ex-best friend says, “I don’t mean to be too personal, but…” I am sure they will eventually understand why you no longer accept their telephone calls.
And as for this week’s column, “I don’t mean to take up your time, but…”