Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Random Occurrences that I Find Irksome

  • It irks me when a health care provider (can't say just plain old Doctor anymore because you could be seeing a Nurse Practitioner or a Physician's Assistant; it's all so confusing these days) is checking my lung sounds with the standard, "Okay, take a nice deep breath in" routine and the cold, creepy stethoscope is moving around to different areas on my back and I'm being instructed to "take another deep breath and another and again, and one more...good". I have never once been given enough time to let all the air out and then naturally inhale. It all feels so rushed and hyper-ventilate-y. Don't they know how long it takes a healthy person to inhale and exhale deeply? Have they never been to a yoga class? The next time you're at the doctor's office, I dare you to ask, "could you just give me a second to breathe normally here, please?!?" Maybe I'm just putting too much effort in to my breaths - showing off my respiratory vigor for the health care provider. Could be. Sounds like something I'd do.
  • I don't understand why anyone would put the toilet paper roll on the holder with the paper coming off the back so that you have to search for the flimsy little end and fight with the wall to get a grip on it. Why would anyone do this? Does it not make it easier if the paper falls over the top of the roll? The end then hangs down in the open air where it's obvious and easy to grab. Don't people pay attention to this detail when they put on a new roll? Put the damn toilet paper on the RIGHT WAY, people! This is a serious pet peeve of mine to which I've never before admitted. There, I feel better now, how 'bout you.
  • There are tons of things that irk me at the grocery store. Anyone who's read all my blog entries is aware of my hate/hate relationship with the local Shaw's. Have I mentioned how much it annoys me when people enter the automatic doors, stand smack between the theft detectors making it impossible to safely pass them - right or left - and then stop dead in their tracks as if they've never before entered a grocery store and are baffled as to their next move. KEEP WALKING!! I know the store enters into the frightening produce section and you're looking for Hamburger Helper...but don't worry, the veggies and fruits won't hurt you if you just keep walking forward! There should be a device that would goose anyone who stopped on the way through the doors. Or maybe it would be better if some creepy old man with a nice alcohol stench to him was hired to do it. That would keep people moving and provide a job for someone in this lousy economy. Instead of a Greeter (like at Wall-Mart) you could have the Gooser.

Okay, so this blog post was mostly for my entertainment. Other than the 25" of snow in the front yard, 10-12" of it just from the last 12 hours, it was a pretty dull day.

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Homegrown Dictionary

A bunch of years ago around the winter holidays, NPR ran a story about portmanteau words. It's where you take two or more words, combine some of their sounds and also their meanings. The only example I remember from the show was "anticiparcelpation"- the feeling of excitement while waiting for a package to arrive in the mail. Since then I have had occasion to create my own portmanteau words, not always on purpose. Sometimes it's just that in a nanosecond of speech production, two words cross through my brain almost simultaneously. The signal that gets sent to my speech mechanisms gets goofed up and a blend of the two words comes out. Examples of accidental portmanteau-ing:

Clapter- n. Audience noise caused by hands clapping and people laughing at the end of a very funny performance when the mood is high and people are joyous. (eg. My date couldn't hear my marriage proposal over the thundering clapter at the end of Nunsense and that's why I'm still single 20 years later.)

Thermomostat- n. Just a combination of the words thermometer and thermostat. I don't see any reason why the thing in your house that controls the heat isn't both at the same time...hence a thermomostat. (eg. Could someone check the thermomostat? I'm freezing.)

Exstrenuating- adj. Circumstances that are both extenuating and involve strenous effort. (eg. You may be excused from turning in your homework due to exstrenuating circumstances such as childbirth or a flat tire on the way to class.)

The rest of the list contains words that did not occur spontaneously. These are words that ought to be in our dictionaries. Feel free to memorize and use them as often as possible.

Nontrepreneur - n. This is the first word I ever invented (as an adult). "Entrepreneurial spirit" is highly valued in this country and gets a lot of lip service. But some of us just don't have that kind of spirit. We're more nontrepreneurial. I think that's an okay way to be, so I gave it a word.

Mommentary - n. A long, drawn out commentary given by your Mom. (eg. I got home 30 minutes late from my date to see Nunsence and was treated to an hour long Mommentary about responsibility and trust when all I wanted to do was go to bed.)

Dramastic - adj. state of agitation that is both drastic and dramatic. Kind of related to melodramatic but a bit more harsh, angular, and spazzy and less pathetic and woe-is-me-ish. I haven't come up with a good usage for this word yet. Feel free to try it out and share your sentences. Originally created as - dramastically.

Befortitude - n. Strength and stamina you must work up in yourself before tackling a tough project. (eg. I dug up some serious befortitude to get out of my sleeping bag when I was camping at -20F.) <--- this is fiction for me, although people do it. I'd never camp at -20F. That's insanity.

- adj. (slang) Being ambitious and bitchin' at the same time. (eg. That line you took down Tuckerman's Ravine was ambitchous, dude!)

Dreamality - n. the real, believeable and urgent world of your dreams. (e.g. In the morning you try to explain last night's dreamality to someone-- you were riding a hippo through the airport to catch the plane that was really a train with dolphin flippers and if you didn't make it you'd miss math class again which you didn't even remember where the room for that class was--and suddenly your dream seems completely illogical and yet it was so real, made so much sense and seemed urgently important last night. That's dreamality, baby.)

Most of the time I'm the wordsmith in our house. I like games like Boggle and Balderdash (my favorite because it involves both words and BS-ing people). But I've saved for last, the word that Chip created. This is how he presented it to me:

C: So the clothes that a nun wears are called a habit, right?
J: uh-huh.
C: And you told me yesterday that the thing around the face and head is called a wimple, right?
J: Yep.
C: So, what do they call the stuff they wear underneath all that?
J: Um...I don't really know.
C: Nunderwear!

Yup...Chip created a portmanteau groaner.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Armchair Philosopher

Welcome to the new and improved Cozy Toes. Okay well, really it's exactly the same except for a little cosmetic re-arranging. But it does provide a pleasant illusion of change, doesn't it? Hey, if we're not going to sign up for the gym, start lifting weights and doing lots of cardio work to make ourselves look and feel better, then at least I can improve the look of my blog and for a few days we'll all feel refreshed without even breaking a sweat. You can thank me in the comments section.

Hopefully the new administration isn't banking on this kind of illusory tactic.

Winter is a good time for pondering. I have tons of free time at work so I'm basically being paid to read for my enjoyment with an occasional patient getting in the way of that task. My reading in the past month has led me down abstract paths involving the evolution of Free Will within the framework of a Deterministic world and whether this can really exist. I've also been spending some of my time visiting a really great blog called Visual Skeptic. It's exposed me to some fascinating modern philosophers and pseudo-philosophers all hashing it out over the topics of religion, atheism and the nature of belief. It's all very cerebral stuff and most of the time I feel I'm barely hanging on intellectually. I'm loving every minute of it!

After plowing along in Daniel Dennett's Freedom Evolves, I started to feel overwhelmed. Philosophical explorations can begin to feel like crazy spirals of semantics and logic games where even what is meant by the word "meaning" gets called into question. It's maddening. And thrilling. I start to suspect that the search for knowledge, truth and meaning doesn't really need to be so complicated, so convoluted. Why do we make it so?

Perhaps we all get too caught up in spinning webs of our own words as we attempt to forge an understanding of human consciousness. Language is a strange and powerful tool but what if it's not enough? Colin McGinn, in his autobiography The Making of A Philosopher, proposed an idea that I'd never considered but is now percolating away in my brain. I won't do his idea justice because I'm not very good at paraphrasing, but basically he proposes that our language has not kept up with the demands of our intellectual needs. That perhaps our words and language-based concepts have fallen behind the needs of philosophers and cognitive psychologists as they attempt to understand the meaning of consciousness and to explain where the "mind" is within the brain. A fascinating theory. He also seems to be saying that humans may never come to an understanding of these mysteries, that perhaps we are not capable of doing so. Although I am not a formidable philosopher such as Colin McGinn and perhaps don't have a large enough base of knowledge upon which to stand, I choose to disagree with Mr. McGinn on this point. I'll leave that for a future post.

And for anyone who has been following this blog since it's inception--you'll be glad to know that the annual Cleaning of the Toaster Oven occurred last week (a little ahead of schedule actually).