05 November 2009

Totidem Verbis

I realize by posting this entry I risk a major case of the pot calling the kettle black (or however that saying goes), but I feel this subject needs to be broached. I speak of our ostentatious dispositions to utilize pedantic and neological morphemes whence non-convoluted locutions suffice (ha!). In other words: speak and write simply.

I do reiterate, mia culpa, on this one, but for what it's worth, I suppose my real gripe is not the use of more diverse word choices so much as the motive behind them. I've read enough peoples' papers and reports to tell when someone is just fluffing their paper with complex lexicons simply to sound brilliant (which inevitably it doesn't). This plague isn't just limited to the average college student who wants to dazzle their professors, it's frankly the whole of the academic community. Have you actually ever read many academic papers? They're terribly written with the most jargon-filled mazes you could imagine.

One of the worst tendencies is the random use of Latin phrases. The language is dead folks, let it go. You know how in some languages they have one word to describe a very complex concept? Latin isn't one of those languages. It would be one thing if we were actually cutting down time and energy, but we're not. I caught myself today almost saying modus operandi. I stepped out of the room where I was, slapped myself, and then walked back in and continued my conversation.

Let's look at some common Latin phrases and think about the benefit of their use by timing the difference in saying each in Latin and then in English:

Tempus fugit (.95 seconds) = Time flies (.93 seconds)
Semper paratus (1.35 seconds) = Always prepared (1.34 seconds)
Quid pro quo (1.34 seconds) = Tit for tat (1.12 seconds)
Ergo (1.06 seconds) = Therefore (.88 seconds)

And the list could go on ad nauseum. The benefit of using the Latin? Well you sound smarter, but you might end up a persona non grata because you also sound arrogant. Not to mention, on average your will be speaking .11 seconds longer per Latin phrase. Multiply that by some made-up number that is meant to represent how many time you'd use those phrases in a day and then multiply that by 365 and then multiply that by an average adult life, divide by 60 and then 60 again and we're talking over two days of extra talking because of your flair for Latin. Absit invidia, but I wouldn't want to lose so much time when I could be sleeping, eating, or even listening to others.

In all honesty, I have a bona fide interest in the fun complexities of our language (or in this case another language), I just think we should go simple when we can and when personal entertainment allows it. And for what it's worth, I hope you take this cum grano salis.

04 November 2009

American Psychos

I got rid of my dog.

Yes, to the credit of a number of pessimistic, gloomy, antagonistic, naysayers in my life (yes, you told me so), I decided my undeniable urge for independence was being stifled by a cute little hairy thing with a curly tail (I mean I had to feed and walk him at least twice a day).

For those who are genuinely concerned about my dog's 20, Parker found a great home with a young couple who have a Husky named Hunter. After Hunter savagely attacked Parker for coming in on his turf, they actually became great friends and played for 90 minutes while I imagined my life without the adorable hair ball.

Let me be clear, I love my (well, their) dog. He was a wonderful pet and taught me some great lessons about tenacity, Houdinism, and anger channeling. When he wasn't destroying my wood molding, flip-flops, area rugs, computer cords, books, magazines, table legs, couch, papers, dryer sheets, socks [insert breath], pillows, doggie gate, toilet paper, belts, carpet, dress shoes and blankets, he was a heck of a good time. He was adorable like no other dog I've ever seen, and had the uncanny ability to piss me off like I thought no living being other than my sister when she was six and cut up my Smurf shirt to make a super hero costume could ever do.

Now that he is gone, I've realized that I was missing the down time, and while I can't wait to have a family of my own, that will be the end of down time, like forever. One day it won't be a puppy destroying things, it will be a little man or lady spawned from my own genetics, pushing my buttons like only a blood relative can do. Not only will they have teeth and claws, but opposable thumbs and brains more devilish than any dog.

The other day I was driving by the dog park we used to frequent, and I glanced over to see if any of our doggy "friends" and their "parents" were there. As I turned back from my strained gaze and swerved back from on-coming traffic, I didn't see any dog I recognized. Continuing on my way, I had to laugh at the enjoyable six months I spent with Parker the puppy.

Since Parker is no longer a part of my life, I thought I would take this time to reflect on the crazy Oregonian dog-owner world that almost took me (We are legion?). The following are a few memorable crazies encircling my life as a Single Puppy Parent at the dog park:

Lady 1: [in a frantic tone] "Does anyone know where her mommy or daddy is? Where are her parents!?"
Me: [Internal monologue] Holy crap! There's a kid here in the dog park whose parent's abandoned him or her. I better help! [I look up and realize she's talking about a dog] Lame.

Lady 2: [Talking to my dog] "Well hi there, aren't you cute! These are my kids, Bernard and Willie. They are really friendly and love to play! Do you want to play with them?" [My dog, not understanding a lick of English, walks away]. "Well guys, I guess you'll have to find another friend to play with."

Lady 3: (yes, by the way these were all ladies) "I just bring Princess (the foofy little dog sitting on her lap that didn't look entirely unlike its owner) here so she can feel a part of things (Princess didn't give a hoot). She doesn't like to play with other dogs, well, not since a little run-in she had with a mean old Bichon when she was a puppy (mind you the dog looked ancient, so the fight had to have been at least a decade ago.)."

And since making fun of other people isn't fair without a little for myself:

Me: "Parker, are you hungry? Parker, are you hun-gry? Are you? [blank stare from dog] Yes you are, you're hun-gry!"

Me: [absolutely about to blow a gasket] "Did you chew up the rug!? [blank stare from dog] Look at this! Did you do this! Did you? [feeling persistent, after no answer at all] Did you chew up this rug!? You're going into time-out!" (yes, I did have a time-out for my dog)

In the end, pets are great. They allow those of us who live alone to talk out loud without feeling too crazy and they serve as an explanation for spooky sounds in the night for those who get scared sometimes (not me, of course). They drive us to the edge of homicidal acts, but then make everything better after a few licks and some snuggling. Sometimes, groups of unsocialized dog "parents" get together to socialize their dog "children" at parks. The awkward, eccentric outcome is to be expected, I guess I'm just okay with not being a part of that scene anymore. I've got a ton of photos, some great chew marks on items around my house and a bunch of fun stories. Gosh, owning a dog was great!

Here's to you Parker!

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