The miracle of sweatpants.

My red fleece sweatpants are evil. Wearing them is basically the antidote to any productivity I might muster. As soon as I changed from sweatpants to proper grownup clothing today, I got a ton of stuff done. But listening to Patton Oswalt talking about the miracle of sweatpants made me laugh a lot.

Today I am having a day of expat feelings, so I am going to talk about something I love about living in Scotland and something that annoys me.

I love hearing SSE (Scottish Standard English) every day. In fact, I have done tireless (read: not tireless) research to bring to you the absolute best (read: or just really good) sentence to hear in SSE: “Will you tell the girls about the murder rate of squirrels in third-world countries?” I also love hearing the following words: dreich, guddle, drouthy, numpty, outwith. I hope I didn’t offend anyone by writing this. At least I didn’t say …

Haggis. I am vastly annoyed by the punchline to jokes from non-Scots being, “Haggis!” And I love haggis, so it’s not like I object on culinary grounds. It’s just such a lazy joke, like responding to anything Italian by saying, “Spaghetti with meatballs!”

Hm, now I’m hungry.

[caption id=“” align=“alignnone” width=“500”]Haggis, neeps & tatties @ The Scotch Malt Whisky Society (Leith) Haggis, neeps, and tatties. Delicious.[/caption]

Writing from: bed, one electric blanket, two kitties. Listening to: Patton Oswalt.

Word of the Moment: smultronstället

Courtesy of Otherwordly, a new favourite blog:

smultronstället. (n.) lit. "place of wild strawberries"; a special place discovered, treasured, returned to for solace and relaxation; a personal idyll free from stress or sadness

Where is your smultronstället?

puppy love

The puppy was named Kenya. She was a service animal – not a guide dog, so it was okay that I interacted with her – and she was three months old. I met her in line at Starbucks. She licked my hand as I petted her and I tried not to cry, but there were at least three very good reasons for tears to occur. So I got an expensive latte with a complimentary trip down memory lane.

I am superstitious about the 23rd day of the month, so today I am finding all sorts of signs amongst chaos. For example, I am now convinced that I wrote that last sentence simply to rediscover my love for the word “amongst”, forgotten until just a few moments ago.

Egyptian Magic is a company with a skin cream that is supposedly the best skin cream ever. They all say that, but this one has all-natural ingredients (if “divine love” is natural) plus a founder and CEO named Lord-Pharaoh ImHotep-AmonRa. Can your skin cream say that?

Yesterday, a patron told me that “feliz navidad” is the most beautiful way to say “merry Christmas”. He may have been biased toward his first language, but I do not doubt its loveliness. In English, the phrase smacks of brisk edges. Spanish lends it some banister-sliding merriment.

You may have wondered what happened to my holiday gift guide. I sure didn’t, because I wrote it and saved it as a draft instead of publishing it. Ha ha, I’ve been doing this for over ten years and I still can’t figure it out. At least I have one ready to go for next year! Ha ha.

Lastly, I boom a hearty greetings to my long-neglected LiveJournal! This is my first automagic cross-post. Let’s comment in a threaded fashion at each other!

on holidayspeak

Yesterday, I tweeted: “In response to someone wishing me a merry Christmas, I said it back instead of wishing him happy holidays. I hope no one reports me.”

As is usual for me, I neglected to be specific enough in 140 characters or less, and should have added a very important word to my tweet: accidentally. I did not think about saying “merry Christmas” in return; I just did it.

As I was raised Roman Catholic, I celebrated Christmas for many years, and during that time wished people a merry Christmas. I was a child, and did not consider my wish to be harmful or prejudiced. As I grew older, I understood the implications of forcing one’s religious preferences on others, and changed my language accordingly. Even when the words lost their religious meaning to me, I avoided saying them. I continue to be careful with my word choice around this time of year, especially at work.

Which is why it was so surprising to hear myself repeat “merry Christmas” after the patron said it yesterday. I cannot remember the last time I intentionally spoke those words, although I probably do without thinking to my mom and dad because that is how we greet each other on the phone when we talk on December 25th.

What do you think about holidayspeak? Did my knee-jerk response violate the rule of political correctness? Or did I respect his faith by responding in kind, even though I no longer share it? If he had mentioned Yule or Hanukkah or Kwanzaa, would the same rule apply? How would you have responded without thinking?

asking the question

We have a question about the menu: what is chow-chow? A table of four library professionals, we are practiced in knowing how to find an answer quickly. The woman who seated us walks by, so we ask her. She responds, “Your server will be right with you.” A different woman approaches the table and asks if we would like iced tap water or bottled water. We agree to the tap water, then ask the water-giver our question: what is chow-chow? She responds, “Your server will be right with you.” Our server arrives, and we jump to ask the question: what is chow-chow? She says it is like cole slaw, except for– and then mumbles something I cannot hear. The dish with the chow-chow was my second choice, so I avoid asking any follow-up questions in case someone else needs to be sent out to answer them, and I order something else.

I go home, look up chow-chow on the web, and desperately attempt not to turn this into a metaphor.

some wordplay with your gunplay

Campers may now pack heat along with their sleeping bags when they travel to national parks.

The Bush administration on Friday struck down federal regulations banning loaded guns in most national forests, a move that was widely seen as a parting shot on behalf of the National Rifle Association.

The ruling overturned a 25-year-old federal regulation severely restricting concealed firearms in national parks and wildlife refuges. The new rule, which would take effect in January, would apparently allow anyone who already has a concealed weapons permit in his or her state to also tote a gun in federal parks within state boundaries.

Guns will be allowed in national parks: Thanks, SFGate, for “pack heat along with their sleeping bags” and “parting shot”, because what good is a ridiculously stupid law change without some wordplay to take the sting out of it?

Sorry, that was a loaded question.

I know, I know: I’m fired!

the linguistics of texting

From ‘Gr8 Db8’ Defends The Linguistics Of Texting on NPR’s All Things Considered:

All the popular beliefs about texting are wrong, or at least debatable. Its graphic distinctiveness is not a totally new phenomenon. Nor is its use restricted to the young generation. There is increasing evidence that it helps rather than hinders literacy. And only a very tiny part of the language uses its distinctive orthography. A trillion text messages may seem a lot, but when we set these alongside the multi-trillion instances of standard orthography in everyday life, they appear as no more than a few ripples on the surface of the sea of language. Texting has added a new dimension to language use, indeed, but its long-term impact on the already existing varieties of language is likely to be negligible. It is not a bad thing.
I don’t agree with David Crystal about texting helping literacy. How does abbreviating language help literacy? I suppose I’ll have to read the book.

What vs. Which

When my friends have grammar questions, they often ask me for help. I don’t consider myself a very good teacher of grammar, however, because the rules make sense to me more intuitively than logically. Sometimes, though, there are rules that make sense on both levels. The difference between “what” and “which” is one of these rules, as it is as straightforward as grammar rules come.

“What” is used for topics of unlimited or unspecified number. For example, if you knew that your friend heard live music last night, but you had no idea which band it might have been, you would ask him: “What band did you see last night?”

On the other hand, “which” is used for topics of limited number. For example, if you knew that your friend went to a specific live music event put on by three bands, you would ask him: “Which band did you see last night?”

The difference between the two is minimal, but precision makes your writing — and speech, for that matter — all the more effective.

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I acknowledge that I live and work on stolen Cowlitz, Clackamas, Atfalati, and Kalapuya land.
I give respect and reverence to those who came before me.