The state of our youth today (writing-wise)

by L

What do you think about corporate-speak, Totebaggers? Do you have much of it at your workplace? Have you run into other types of -speak in different spheres of your life?

Finally, what do you think about this example of -speak? What name should we give it?

the cultivator distilled

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269 thoughts on “The state of our youth today (writing-wise)

  1. We have a lot of jargon in our inwardly facing writing and speaking at my work place. In part that is because the law gives things names that take way to long to say/type out every time you use them. Acronyms/Initialisms abound, but so do other short-hands. When I was new and attending several internal meetings, for the first few times I wondered if they were speaking English.

    I will praise my organization for working very hard to make our outward-facing writing and speaking very understandable. We have a wide variety of audiences, but except in a few circumstances, the goal is that anyone could understand what they read/heard. Bringing new employees up to speed, especially if they have not had government experience before could use a little work.

  2. I was an English major and I still can’t understand the first paragraph. And I stopped reading after the first sentence in the second paragraph — between the lack of subject-verb agreement and the completely unnecessary “literally,” I just can’t. I think we should just call it “bad writing.”

    I think most people struggle to write, despite increasing focus in schools. I think we have taught our kids to follow templates and rubrics, but we haven’t taught them the bigger-picture skills of figuring out which template to apply in a given situation, how to evaluate and analyze the arguments, and how to adjust their tone/approach for the audience. So they use jargon and big words that sound official to mask that they don’t really know what they’re talking about. It’s the same concept that leads to “he gave it to Jim and I” (it sounds fancier so it must be right!), just transported into the business world.

    The biggest flaws I see in my practice:

    1. The litigator who throws lots of adverbs and adjectives in to underscore his point. Yelling and pontificating don’t work. The basic rule is, as I was taught, if you have to say “clearly,” it’s not actually clear.

    2. People — consultants, engineers, attorneys, etc. — who feel compelled to put every detail and fact on the page. They don’t understand that this approach ends up hiding the important nugget in all of the crap.

    3. Consultants and clients who trade in consultant-speak and business-speak. These are hard even to characterize as “writing,” because they are usually designed to hide the truth rather than convey it, or mask the fact that what they are selling is semantic bullshit without substance.

    Overwrought rhetoric is usually a flaw of youthful exuberance and is trainable. Overwhelming detail is most frequently a flaw of muddled thinking and is not. And consultant- and business-speak is at best a flaw of pure laziness and merits immediate execution by firing squad.

  3. I think this is a broader problem in corporations that includes more than just the younger generation.

    Lucy Kellaway is a Financial Times columnist, and she will write about some of the worst offenders in her FT column. A bit of good news is that she reaches the C suite of many companies, and a few corporate leaders have tried to make changes after seeing one of their emails in print with her comments.

  4. And yes, I do realize I missed a comma in the first sentence of my post. Bad editing, lazy proofing. :-)

  5. I was an English major and I still can’t understand the first paragraph.

    I think the point is that it doesn’t actually say anything but with just enough jargon to make you think twice about calling the author out for writing nonsense.

  6. I’m in one sector and now trying to understand the jargon in another sector. Acronyms run amok. I feel like a stranger in a foreign country. I don’t need to travel to explore a new culture. I’m doing it at work.

  7. Do any terms set your teeth on edge? For me, it’s any education related jargon: rubric, rigor, even the term “get the wiggles out.” It’s all so pompous and patronizing.

  8. Rhett – ITA, except I think rigor and rigorous are fine. I started using it more after I read a biography on TR, who was often quoted endorsing the “rigorous lifestyle.”

    When my kids were in the newborn stage, I couldn’t stand the way people, usually in hospitals or on blogs, refer to “baby” without any article.

    “Oh Mom and Baby are doing fine. A couple times a night, Baby will want to nurse…”

  9. I started using it more after I read a biography on TR, who was often quoted endorsing the “rigorous lifestyle.”

    Are you sure it wasn’t vigorous?

  10. The audience is important. In writing where an emotional response is desired, the educational level and background of the reader is key. Many educated people found the statement by the woman victimized at Stanford to be emotionally powerful. I read it, and my first thought was, “I could have made about the same impression with 1/3 the words.” My second thought was, “This is why I would not have been a good liberal arts major at Stanford.”

  11. At work, there are suggestions from time to time to shorten explanations. When that is done, very often the explanation becomes incomprehensible except to the group that produces it. Then the point has to be explained in plain language to other groups in conference calls. Such a waste of time.

  12. What I observed in my children’s education is a focus on creative writing and assignments with length requirements versus informative or persuasive writing that gave more weight being concise, clear and, if appropriate, persuasive.

    It is difficult to coach new employees that while they need to know a lot of details about the topic they are writing on, the audience only needs to know the key facts to make a decision. Further, the longer you write for a particular audience, the more you can refine what the key facts are and how much detail/back-up is needed.

    My personal example is that I had to write letters for a boss who approved certain types of expenditures. The approval was based upon the analysis I did and whether the outcome fit inside a set of predetermined parameters. The letters pulled out the key data points used to issue the approval, which was always different. At first, not only did I have to submit the letter, but he also reviewed every calculation. After a few months, I only submitted letters with the exception of a few hot-button expenditures that he always reviewed in detail.

  13. Sept 2016

    Cultivator is a working title for a patterned set of relationships designed to facilitate paradigm shift by removing the pathologizing influence of money.

    Cultivators produce a generative way of being in economy that recognize and literally appreciate the uniqueness of each inherent whole, from individuals to groups to the places that envelope all life. The resulting resonant alignment of authentic and mindful maturation unlocks an upward spiral leading to thriving genuine wealth and health across all dimensions.

    The key to the cultivator is that it invites a different way of being in relationship that supports self-discovery & expression, deep caring and trust, being responsively generous with what you have (particularly human ingenuity), autonomy, and interdependence.

    By explicitly supporting collaboration the cultivator sets the stage for sovereignty from the current paradigm. When this community of people unafraid to care for one another begin to work together, each according to their essential talents, the resulting efforts take shape as new entities possessing vocational purpose in context.

    Some of these activities can be carefully monetized in forms that we call “businesses.” In this way economic activities are generated that vitalize rather than degenerate the natural world and all people involved. Sharing some profits with the cultivator meta-entity means that over time the cultivator becomes self-financing.

    Another way of understanding cultivators is that they create a story and legal structure in which everyone and everything who share a place come to feel part of the same thing dedicated to a life-affirming purpose. It is likely that most cultivators will organize themselves as cooperatives with multiple classes of members.

  14. The entities that get started within this context do not launch to become new separate businesses as in the incubator context. Everything grows together within a cultivator which works by facilitating coordination of value exchange and flow intra-network. Many resources that currently idle as private property will become available and therefore optimized.

    Through a diversity of activities cultivators will generate financial capital beyond what is required to support itself. The pernicious influence of money will be dissolved as the context shifts into abundance rather than scarcity. There will be more than enough multi-capital resources available to support any activities that make sense to the community, regardless of whether they are “economic.”

    Cultivators will help us to look back and laugh / cry at the system we inherited which encourages us to enact violence on ourselves, one another, and the natural world.

  15. “I think the point is that it doesn’t actually say anything but with just enough jargon to make you think twice about calling the author out for writing nonsense.”

    I think you are exactly right. Which is why this example goes directly into category 3 for immediate execution.

    I honestly don’t mind acronyms in the right situation. My practice has a bunch of terms of art that tend to be known by acronyms. When I’m dealing with people who know the area, it is much more efficient to use the acronyms. The problems is failing to know your audience sufficiently to understand when *not* to use them.

    Jargon is the bigger problem. If acronyms are matter, jargon is antimatter: big words designed to create the appearance of knowledge and substance, specifically designed to hide the complete lack of same. Jargon is the Great and Powerful Oz. It needs to be beaten with a stick.

  16. From the other thread, because I’m just catching up. Milo, I cannot believe you did not touch on the Duggar Academy triple – graduation! They called each of them by first and last name! One of the twins expressed his relief to finally be done the pressure of homeschool? Somehow Michele does not appear to be a particularly rigorous instructor to me.

  17. “get the wiggles out” has no more appropriate phrasing,

    Little Timmy needs to run around at recess to help him get the wiggles out.

    Little Timmy needs to run around at recess to help him relax.

    Little Timmy needs to run around at recess to help him calm down.

  18. Thanks Rhett. I stopped reading at the second paragraph. Unclear jargon-y drivel with an imbedded axe to grind about the evils of money.

    My company uses a ton of acronyms that change every so often, just to make it confusing. Internal e-mails and memos are often poorly written, but after a while of working here everyone seems to know what is intended. Along with dealing with many non-native English speakers, everything is produced in tight timeframes and just needs to cover the basic requirements to move on to the next step. There has been a push (by some) to improve internal communications. Formal (non-e-mail) communications with external clients get a lot more scrutiny and are much better written. A lot of my job is simply being a good editor and helping clarify the issues.

  19. Somehow Michele does not appear to be a particularly rigorous instructor to me.

    That word! It’s like nails on a chalk board.

  20. what’s written is crap, just total crap. My eyes glazed over after about word 7.

    Jargon is inherent to any industry, whether spoken or written. It’s an effective way to communicate internally to a workgroup, team, etc. Within organizations, specific functions (finance, HR etc) will in addition have their own specialized jargon.

    The example I have found to be pretty universal is the way the top person of the organization (could be the President/CEO, CFO (if you’re a finance person), the local leader of the sales branch in Kansas City, whatever) is referred to in the third person simply by their first name as in “Chet is expecting us to really kill the sales quota this quarter.” I’ve had stuff said like that when I’ve interviewed, and I had no idea who Chet was since he was something like 7 layers above the job I was interviewing for. Anybody else in the group with the same first name has to have some other identifier.

  21. “Chet is expecting us to really kill the sales quota this quarter.”

    Kill or crush used in that sense also set me teeth on edge.

  22. I despise, DESPISE, the word “ginormous.” Something is either gigantic or enormous. Pick one. It is like nails on a chalkboard to me.

    I also hate, when I say thank you, to be told “no problem.”

  23. “I cannot believe you did not touch on the Duggar Academy triple – graduation! They called each of them by first and last name! One of the twins expressed his relief to finally be done the pressure of homeschool? Somehow Michele does not appear to be a particularly rigorous instructor to me.”

    I know, I just haven’t been feeling as sarcastic lately, so I can’t write the same.

    The brief snippets of school that they have shown are always the most elementary lessons on any topic.

  24. Old biddy here. You may not like the word rigorous, but I know exactly how I was taught to write in middle school, the same way my girls were taught in middle school but not the boys, and the way all of us were redlined in the workplace until we got it down. Perhaps we shoukd use the term Procrustean, as in Procrustean bed, instead. Harrumpf.

  25. Remember this from Weird Al?

    I wanted to do a song about all the ridiculous double-speak and meaningless buzzwords that I’ve been hearing in office environments my entire life. I just thought it would be ironic to juxtapose that with the song stylings of CSN, whose music pretty much symbolizes the antithesis of corporate America.

    “Mission Statement”

    [Verse 1:]
    We must all efficiently
    Operationalize our strategies
    Invest in world-class technology
    And leverage our core competencies
    In order to holistically administrate
    Exceptional synergy
    We’ll set a brand trajectory
    Using management’s philosophy
    Advance our market share vis-à-vis
    Our proven methodology
    With strong commitment to quality
    Effectively enhancing corporate synergy
    Transitioning our company
    By awareness of functionality
    Promoting viability
    Providing our supply chain with diversity (versity, ooooh)
    We will distill our identity
    Through client-centric solutions and synergy (oooooh oooh oooh)
    (ahhhhhh)

  26. I had to look it up, but I LOVE the word Procrustean. It’s fun to say, and I need to find ways to use it in my conversations.

  27. Lark. Apparently millennials have changed your welcome into a sarcastic comment made when someone fails to say thank you or fails to say it quickly enough. They think it is rude as a reply to thank you. A waitress explained it to my husband when he mentioned he preferred it to no problem

  28. I, too, hate baby without the or a, ginormous, get the wiggles out and lots of other things. I also despise when people call children the littles. Can’t stand DH, DW, DS1, etc. I am grumpy today.

  29. Chick-fil-A solves that problem with “my pleasure.”

    It used to be the same at Ritz-Carlton.

    It works for every demographic.

  30. Chick-fil-A solves that problem with “my pleasure.”

    So does the Ritz. Of course, it’s all gone down hill since they were bought by Marriott.

    Interesting:

    The “my pleasure” policy instituted by the company’s founder, Truett Cathy, was inspired by a visit to the Ritz Carlton. When Cathy said “thank you” to the man behind the counter, he responded, “My pleasure.” Out of this exchange, Chick-fil-A’s novel idea was born: treat customers as if they’re at a luxury establishment.

  31. Meme’s comment on learning to write reminds me of the competition I had with debaters at other schools to slip the Pledge of Allegiance unnoticed into our assigned high school papers. Teachers who drew a box around it (demonstrating they had actually read what they assigned us) were more respected than those who didn’t.

  32. Current phrases that I totally hate

    any phrase with the word “disruption” in it

    architect used as a verb. Folks, you don’t “architect a system”, you “design a system”. The architecture is the result.

    having a national conversation. Originally, we had discussions, then it turned into dialogs, and now it seems to be conversations. Conversations are when you chat about the weather and your sports team. I would rather go back to having discussions, which is a term that means a serious and informed interchange. How about a serious debate? That might be even better.

    digital native, which seems to mean someone who is really really good at putting selfies on Instagram

    any term at all concatenated to “bro”

    hashtags applied to random phrases

    creating spaces

    learning outcomes

    oh snap,duh, and other slang word farts

  33. “No problem” is clearly a generational thing. It drives my mom batshit — it sets her off more than I have seen since the great “hopefully” debate of 1982. And yet she is a huge francophone, and she has no problem (heh) with “de rien,” which is effectively the French version of the same.

    I think many countries have more and less formal responses (e.g., “je vous en prie” = you’re welcome; “de rien” = “it was nothing”). The problem isn’t the term, it’s how/when/with whom it is used — it used to be that you’d say “no problem” with friends, for example, but not if you are a server in a fine dining establishment. But the culture overall has become more casual (thanks, in large part, to the very Boomers who now complain about it). I think that for people who grew up when language and behavior was more formal, hearing some whippersnapper address their elders/presumed social superiors with “no problem” is a Sign of the Downfall of Western Civilization (right up there with servers introducing themselves by first name, muffin tops, and rap).

    Personally, I find it kind of funny to hear the generation that established “hey, man” as an appropriate greeting get all worked up now that the shoe’s on the other foot. :-)

  34. I have a friend who received a call at work with an inappropriate request and the caller said “I know the optics aren’t good in this situation.” and I said you should have denied the request right there simply for using “optics”.

    Kate, I hate that “get the wiggles out” too.

    My other term I hate is curate – everything is curated now. A museum, the menu at Chipotle, your dumb blog!!!

    I also hate this thing kids do now whenever someone says something they like they all start snapping their fingers! What is that! Do they need that much validation that every word and thought must be acknowledged as it streams from their mouth! HATE HATE IT! Did I mention that I hate it?

  35. “Meme’s comment on learning to write reminds me of the competition I had with debaters at other schools to slip the Pledge of Allegiance unnoticed into our assigned high school papers. Teachers who drew a box around it (demonstrating they had actually read what they assigned us) were more respected than those who didn’t.”

    WCE – My AP history class did similar things to the teacher. By the end of the year, the whole class was convinced she based the grades on the name on the front of the report. We all slid crap (quotes from movies, full text from plays, the Pledge, etc) into the reports. They were fairly obvious and yet she never called anyone out on it. Grades were also ridiculously consistent, as were the comments on the report.

  36. Milo,

    DH and I were talking about that yesterday as we were waiting for our order at Chick-fil-A. DH was wondering if they really meant it because they are always so cheerful or if they are required to say it. I just assumed it was done at that one location, but I now know that it is company wide policy.
    Last school year we had a German exchange student. She asked me why all checkout clerks, waitrsses, etc. always ask “how you are doing?”. She thought that it was very odd, especially when I told her that for the most part they don’t really want an honest answer.

  37. Also on writing – sometimes I read this blog & the comments at night, so I don’t have a chance to comment during the day. But a little while ago Louise I saw you asked about ideas for reinforcing writing skills. I wanted to 2nd the suggestion that you have them write persuasively for any request.

    During the summer, I have a spiral notebook, and every week I write a topic at the top: “Why Mom should take us for donuts this morning.” “Why we should spend the rest of the day playing Minecraft.” “Why our allowance should be higher this week.” Etc. Always something special, and if they are persuasive enough, they get whatever the topic allowed for. (But I am demanding – it’s certainly possible I read and say, eh, you didn’t persuade me.) Over the years I’ve had them also include the reasons against the XYZ being offered, and then they have to explain why their arguments FOR outweigh any arguments AGAINST. This has been a very effective way to keep them writing over the summer, and a pared-down version might work for you.

  38. Lark, genius! I may just force them to write something extolling my virtues! “Reasons Why Mom is the Greatest!” winner gets an iTunes card!

  39. DD and I have been watching Call the Midwife. Drives me crazy how they say “Baby”‘without and article and “Doctor” without a last name. There’s only one doctor in all of Poplar (it would seem) — use his last name! Or at least say “the doctor.” I swear at this point they’re doing it to drive me crazy.

    Not office jargon comes to mind (I’m likely inured to it) but there’s real estate jargon – “it’s a really great SPACE” (instead of room) – that makes me roll my eyes.

    DH works from home, so I hear his end of a lot of phone conferences. The jargon is astounding, and added to the tech speak, I often can’t discern entire paragraphs. He’s fluent in it and I don’t think it’s ironic for him – he’s just so used to it he barely notices it’s not real language.

  40. I’ve never heard anyone use the phrase “get the wiggles out”.

    On the other hand, I have heard adults inappropriately say things like “use your inside voice” or “use your words” to each other, usually being snarky. I think that is beyond snarky and descends right into insulting.

  41. Another thing I detest: nurses and medical office staff who call me “Mom”. Either use my name or don’t use anything. You could say “What medications is your child on?” without prefacing it with “Mom”

  42. Risley – That’s a British thing. They also say just “Hospital” like “He is in hospital” not in “the” hospital. I had a friend from Russia call me once saying “I’m in the hospital” and I was all “Oh dear what happened?” and she said “Just visiting my grandmother” and I said “Dude, you are AT the hospital not IN the hospital.” they mean two very different things!

    Moosh – I think they use Mom so they don’t have to bother knowing your name to call you Ms. Mooshi.

  43. “having a national conversation.”

    Yes!!! but I thought all liberals loved this sort of thing. Whenever I hear someone talking about having a national conversation, it’s always in regard to a progressive — usually socially progressive — way of thinking that they intend to teach the rest of the public about. You can’t listen to NPR for five minutes without hearing someone reference a national conversation about something.

    “No problem” is clearly a generational thing. It drives my mom batshit — it sets her off more than I have seen since the great “hopefully” debate of 1982.

    You guys are reminding me of a college professor I had. He had graduated from the same school in the 1970s, and after his service he obtained a master’s, then a doctorate, and joined the faculty so he was a full professor by the time I met him.

    One day in class soon after 9/11, when the gate guards suddenly got serious about checking IDs, he’s telling us about how he lost it at the poor Marine private first class that morning. To drive onto campus, everyone has to have those decals/stickers on their cars. An officer has a blue sticker, and a faculty or staff member got a green one. The root of the problem here is that this professor still carried some of the blue mentality while driving with a green sticker, toward which this young enlisted gate guard was insufficiently obsequious. Complicating matters, this professor followed the very old school tradition of putting the stickers on the front bumper of his ancient Volvo wagon rather than on the windshield like everyone else. Missing this as the car approached, the sentry looked at his faculty ID, then questioned why there was no sticker on the windshield. After checking the bumper, he comes back to the window and says “very well,” which was an act of impertinence that sent the professor through the roof. It sounds innocent and crisp, but in the Navy, “very well” is the standard response a watch officer uses when acknowledging the constant reports from various watch-standers, but it’s just not said to a senior.

  44. I love this topic and can go on at length but I think one of my favorite WordRakes covers it. (I hope the formatting isn’t too messed up.)

    DEAR ABBY:
    I work for a large insurance company. A guy in our office has been here for a year and has spoken not one original word since he arrived. He strings corporate clichés together like a necklace. He writes to clients that his interface with them has been impactful. One time, he introduced me as the guy who offices next to him. Another time, he actually said, “They drank the Kool-Aid. Now we need to drill down and get our ducks in a row.” My jaw has come unhinged, and I’ve been grinding my teeth so much they’re now half as long as they used to be. Lately, I spend whole days fantasizing about grabbing the chalk end of a pool cue and taking aim at that little knob on the back of his skull. Please help, before I kill him. – JUSTIFIABLY HOMICIDAL

    THE LESSON

    If you want colleagues and clients to take you seriously, cut the Corporatese:

    No more pointless banter:

    as you can imagine
    if at all possible
    let’s face facts
    by way of background
    let me explain what I mean

    No more clichés:

    drinking the Kool-Aid
    moving the needle
    pressing the flesh
    peeling the onion
    shooting the puppy

    No more:

    drilling down
    circling back
    reaching out
    lawyering up
    cutting bait

    No more:

    implementing
    facilitating
    impacting
    accessing

    No more:

    hard stops
    deep dives
    game plans
    food chains
    tiger teams
    dogs in the fight
    DEAR JUSTIFIABLY:
    Don’t let me stop you. I have no patience with Corporatese. Have you ever wondered why the guy who says open the kimono is always the guy you would never want to see in a kimono, especially an open one? I know he’s using it to make a point, but he can make the point without exposing himself. Every time he writes or speaks this stuff, the real message is, “I have not one creative thought in my head.” That’s my point.

    If my twin sister Ann or I ever spoke or wrote unimaginative pablum like this, our mother would wash our mouths out with Strunk & White. If she met your guy, she would throw him under a real bus. No metaphor there. I know a lot of smart people in the business world, and they have the same reaction my mother does when she sees sawdust in the sausage:

    think outside the box – he doesn’t
    if at all possible – I guess if it’s not possible, don’t worry about it
    let’s face facts – nawww
    by way of background – one of the many routes from Boston to Newport
    let me explain what I mean – why didn’t you do that the first time?

    My all-time favorite: It is what it is. Oh my, how can you argue with that?

    I propose we put everyone who speaks Corporatese on an island and let them hackney each other to death. But I don’t know if there’s an island big enough. Maybe Antarctica. Until that day, here’s my advice: Hang this guy off a scaffold with the window-washer. Before you haul him in, have him vow:

    I will no longer drill down, circle back, reach out, lawyer up, or impact the bottom line.

    I will never mention a hard stop, deep dive, game plan, food chain, orrodeos.

    I will not drink the Kool-Aid, move the needle, press the flesh, peel the onion, or shoot the puppy.

    I will stop implementing, facilitating, impacting, and accessing.

    I will do nothing from the get go or going forward.

    I will not pursue low-hanging fruit or cut bait, and tiger teams will remain cartoons busting out of gas tanks and cereal boxes.

    I will not have a dog in the fight.

    Then tell him that in place of all those stale expressions to use real words. No slang. No jargon. Instead of impactful use “effective,” because people then concentrate on the meaning of the sentence, not the jarring of the jargon.
    Even better advice: Put the cue back in the rack and let him ramble in Corporatese. You will get the promotion, and he’ll still be officing next to where your office used to be. Or give me his name, and I’ll have my mother kill him.

  45. The dropping of articles REALLY bothers me. Baby, Doctor, NICU. Your baby is in the NICU. Not in NICU. It is an actual, countable thing.

  46. I will confess to having said “drink the Kool-Aid”. Not sure the millennial I said it to had any idea what I meant.

  47. Moxie – yeah, I get that. “My people” say “in hospital” without the article too. Well, more my parents’ generation. (For that matter, my dad still says petrol instead of gas). Yet, they say “the baby” and “the doctor.” I’m fine with the hospital thing and incensed by the baby and doctor.

    I agree with you though – your friend needs to use AT and not IN to avoid panic!

    Also agree with Mooshi about being “mom” in certain places. Our doc doesn’t do that – I find its only people we are seeing for the first time.

    And of course we have discussed Duggar jargon. “She has a real heart for children” and the like.

  48. Milo, I’m a liberal, and I still hate the idea of national conversations. Or dialogs.

    Conservatives have their own set of cliches. Putting “government” in front of almost anything as a perjorative is one that comes to mind, and makes me crazy in the same way as “national conversations”. Government schools, government hospitals. How about saying “government fighters” instead of “military”? I am betting conservatives wouldn’t go there.

  49. Everytime I hear the phrase “Ducks in a row”, I am reminded of an old boyfriend who used the phrase “Lord love a duck!” as an exclamation. I really like that one – I should cultivate it

  50. I don’t want to have any national conversations.

    I don’t mind being called mom (almost always by healthcare providers).

  51. I hate to explain “drink the koolaid” to my teenagers on the way to school a few weeks ago. They were horrified by the origin story.

    I have it when healthcare providers or educators call me mom especially when they emphasize their title.. I generally give healthcare providers a pass, but if educators try calling me mom while using their title, I pull out my degrees. I can play alphabet games all day long…

  52. “Putting “government” in front of almost anything as a perjorative is one that comes to mind”

    Haha, yes, very true.

    “Duggar jargon. “She has a real heart for children” and the like.”

    Yes, they’re always talking about hearts. There’s the phrase that seems like it can either be “has a servant’s heart” or a “service heart.” Maybe they’re interchangeable at this point. And if God wants you to do something, He [see what I did there?] “puts it on your heart.” Before a couple starts courting, her father wants to make sure he has a good heart, and during a courtship, the couple gets to know each other’s heart.

    They also never decide to do certain things, but “purpose” to do them. My CO was overjoyed one night (I was so desperate for fresh, borrowed reading material) to find me reading “The Purpose Driven Life.”

    We dialogued about it.

  53. “Yes, they’re always talking about hearts. There’s the phrase that seems like it can either be “has a servant’s heart” or a “service heart.” ”

    I think this is just evangelical-speak. I know lots of people who say things like this. As well as “prayer warriors”

  54. L: Awesome! I was just telling DH that I had to buy some decorative gourds this weekend… It’s fall in Texas. High tomorrow is only 89!!

  55. I don’t mind the pediatrician’s office calling me Mom. I’m sure it can be hard for them to keep with last names and whether the kids have the same last name as the parent. I think it’s a gentle way around that.

  56. Did you find everything you were looking for? Does the checkou clerk really want to know that you settled for mint chocolate chip because the sea salt caramel was sold out?

    How is everything tasting? Usually said before anyone has actually tasted anything.

  57. My MIL referred to all of her grandchildren baby, well past baby age. I think it was do she didn’t have to learn their names.

    “whenever someone says something they like they all start snapping their fingers!”
    I should be anon for this, but we used that back in the 80’s in sorority chapter meetings. It was less chaotic than people yelling out “yeah! Me too!” And was generally used to show support for whatever idea was being floated. Originally, at least. Then we used it as a joke for everything. Even now it is a bit of a joke, but we would say “snaps” rather than snapping. That makes me laugh that the practice is still alive.

    I hate when people use acronyms to try to make other people in the room feel stupid. In accounting world, that would include giving the SAP name for a report such as the YMRZ2096 instead of just calling it the inventory summary.

    And to Fred’s point about using someone’s single first name, my first six months on this job, I thought Chad was the name of an inventory system, not the guy who produced the reports

  58. MBT – I had totally forgotten about the sorority snaps, we did that too. I despise corporate speak. I especially hated in my old line of work (fundraising) when development officers would refer to donors as “folks”. It just seemed so ridiculous in describing multimillionaires like they were at all in the same social circle. “Let’s get some folks together with the President for dinner, etc.” It was used at every job I had.

    LfB – just saw your post on appliances – thank you! I keep seeing the Blue Star range pop up. We can’t inset the fridge so we do need a counter depth and am leaning towards the 42″. Still trying to decide between brands but I’m sending my husband back there this weekend and to go look at slabs/tile while I’m camping with the girl scouts this weekend (my trip today was unsuccessful – looking for a marble looking quartzite and they only had two).

  59. Atlanta, if I recall, your kids are young. You will definitely want more fridge space as they get older. I would go for the larger.

  60. OK, I finally finished the entire article, and I am alternating between laughing and crying. It’s like Karl Marx meets Huggy Bear.

  61. “Is there any other way to say kool aid drinker?”

    Rhett – the term we had in college was a “Joe” as in “he’s such a Joe,” or “That’s a Joe thing to do.”

    But it’s not a perfect comparison because Joe wasn’t someone who had drunk all of the official Kool-Aid. He was just this mythical, douchey person who had drunk most of it and still considered himself a little bit sarcastic, rebellious, or subversive, but only to a degree that could be winked at by the Administration without any discomfort.

  62. The higher ed sphere is filled with icky phrases. We were the originators of infamous examples such as “trigger warnings” and ” safe spaces”. But there are lots more
    “center for teaching and learning” – an office filled with low level administrators who exhort everyone to use flipped classrooms and clickers
    “committed to student success” – translated, “we never flunk anyone”
    “learning communities” – “we’ll take a bunch of you on a field trip”
    “service learning” – “to pass this class, you will have to tutor small kids or serve food at a soup kitchen even though it has nothing whatsoever to do with the topic of the course”

    And the education-speak phrase I hate the most: “critical thinking”

  63. On topic – I work in a field of jargon and acronyms.

    We had to remove acronyms from a technical report recently. The process added 4 pages to the entire document. The document started in the 200 page range. So 4 pages isn’t terrible, but it’s still 4 pages…

    “It is what is it is” sends chills up my spine.

    I avoid “no problem” as a response to “thank you” in the office. I saw you’re welcome, or I’m glad you enjoyed it.

    In the NICU, I hated being called “Mom”. Yes, I know I’m a mom, but I have a first and last name. The last name is ON THE BABY’S CHART/BRACELET/DOOR. You can say “Ms. LAST NAME” or at least allow me to request using my name. In my hospital they use the mother’s legal last name for the baby’s name (even if the baby legally has the father’s last name), so the staff can’t get the mom’s preferred moniker wrong.

    I just came across this issue today – I’m on a email chain I should respond to. A person responded with changes I agree with. I feel really awkward saying “Jane, I like the changes you made. I agree that it will open the session up to a broader audience.” because my statement adds nothing to the discussion. So I have no idea what to write…

  64. “Rhett – the term we had in college was a “Joe” as in “he’s such a Joe,” or “That’s a Joe thing to do.”

    But it’s not a perfect comparison because Joe wasn’t someone who had drunk all of the official Kool-Aid. He was just this mythical, douchey person who had drunk most of it and still considered himself a little bit sarcastic, rebellious, or subversive, but only to a degree that could be winked at by the Administration without any discomfort.”

    Holy sh!t… your college put a lot of nuanced thought into its jargon.

  65. And the education-speak phrase I hate the most: “critical thinking”

    Isn’t a critical thinker the opposite of a Kool-Aid drinker? I find it odd when Corporate America says it wants more “critical thinkers.” Um, no, you really don’t.

  66. Sycophant might work. I don’t think lemming would work because a lemming doesn’t know it’s a lemming. Being a Kool-Aid drinker involved the willing suspension of disbelief. You’re willingly going along with what, in your heart of hearts, you know to be nonsense.

  67. Rhode –
    is it your document? If so, just thank Jane saying you agree and will add her thoughts in.
    If not, how about replying all and saying to the writer something like “I support with Jane’s additions; I think they make the report/whatever read more clearly.”

  68. Bishop Butler said, “Everything is what it is, and not another thing.” DH (sorry, Kate!) and I use that a lot.

  69. Rhett – Interesting. I think the people at Jonestown were lemmings (true believers or delusional)[at least I hope they were], but the reference has now been twisted to be closer to sycophant than a lemming.

  70. I’m not even trying to read that thing. It made my eyes glaze over.
    Rhett, what word would you use for the matrix of requirements and how many points are awarded for each level of meeting them? I think “rubric” is just fine for that. I was surprised at how things changed once I learned to use the magic word for tweaking the assignment to meet different kids where they are.

    Somehow Michele does not appear to be a particularly rigorous instructor to me.

    That word! It’s like nails on a chalk board.

    What would you replace it with?

    Milo, in the sentence “oh, mom and baby are doing fine”, the thing that bothers you is how “baby” is used?
    LfB, I see jargon the same way you see acronyms. There is probably a technical legal meaning for the word “retainer”. That is why I do not use it, unless referring to teeth. If you used it while discussing a legal matter with me, I would ask you to explain exactly what the retainer in question does. That word is jargon. Why wouldn’t you use it with another lawyer? Could it be that you meant that jargon from Oz should not be used in Alice’s Wonderland; each should keep its own special vocabulary?
    WCE, she wasn’t writing a technical description; she spelled things out and used a lot of words to force feaders to slow down and think of each thing being described.
    I can’t remember the Disney version of “my pleasure”, but I’m sure it was nauseating. They somehow pull off the neat trick of getting customers, guests, to use jargon they learn from employees, cast members, and to think of it as a treat. Gag!

  71. Whenever I’ve used “drank the Koolaid” it’s always been to people who blindly follow. They may have known better (or have the skills to know better) but they follow devoutly without question and without suspension of disbelief. These people honestly believe what they’ve been told regardless of past positions – a complete reversal of position, if you will. I’ve never known the phrase to be used to define someone who’s trying to gain advantage… though I can see in some situations how that might be.

  72. Rhett, what word would you use for the matrix of requirements and how many points are awarded for each level of meeting them?

    The requirements?

  73. Some of these phrases get used because there’s not a ready alternative that captures exactly the same meaning. Like Rhett’s suggestion of “relax” or “calm down” instead of “get the wiggles out” — that makes it sound like maybe pouring Timmy a good stiff drink would work just as well. Timmy’s problem isn’t that his boss tore him a new one over the missing cover sheet on the TSP reports and he’s also worried about rumored layoffs; it’s that he’s five and he’s got a ton of excess energy that, if not burned off in some harmless way, will express itself through evil.

    (Speaking of energy expressed through evil, I swear my youngest is back in the bat-from-Adventure phase again. (Early video game featuring a bat that would randomly fly through replacing items with whatever it happened to be carrying at the time. Notorious for grabbing your sword and replacing it with a live dragon. Later recognized to be the perfect metaphor for toddlers.))

    Similarly, “it is what it is” is shorter than saying “we may not like this but it is the existing condition so there’s no point in discussing whether we approve.” And saying someone has “drunk the koolaid,” while it has changed in meaning from the original reference (you’d think from the way it’s used now that the koolaid was some sort of belief potion), is a shorthand way to get across “has uncritically accepted a system of beliefs that I believe to be ludicrously ill-founded.”

    We still use all sorts of cliches that have become divorced from their original references. Like being ‘a few sheets to the wind,’ which calls up a vivid image only to Milo and Mafalda. Or not ‘crying over spilled milk’ — that one never really made visceral sense to me until I was nursing and pumping and I spilled some pumped milk that I simply could not replace. Until then I’d vaguely supposed the reason you might cry was because you had to spend a minute wiping it up.

    And is the problem with “rubric” that people think there’s a better term for a grid of things to be done / shown in a piece of schoolwork versus grades to be awarded across varying quality for each? Or is it just that people don’t like rubrics?

    I’m not sure I have any real pet peeve words or phrases. I correct my kids’ grammar all the time, of course, but that’s my job.

  74. Guilty on “it is what it is.” Part of my job is listening to people get upset about stuff that happened that they can’t change. My job is to figure out how to fix the problem, so I listen and then nudge them into an action plan. But sometimes they get stuck and keep cycling back to “I wish I hadn’t said X.” By about the 5th time I don’t know what to say other than, you know, it is what it is, so let’s figure out a way to navigate through it.

    I guess I could say “You can’t change the past, so STFU and let’s focus on fixing the problem.” But it seems somewhat less empathetic.

  75. LfB – An alternate to “it is what it is”: “We need to move on”. Mind you, I’m not known for my tact.

  76. I absolutely hate “It is what it is.” Drives me crazy. And lately my DH says it as a tribute to his dad, who would say it all the time. I even tried to to explain why I hated the phrase and was told I’m lacking empathy. If I end up in the loony bin it will be from that phrase.

    Around here everyone says “you bet” instead of “you’re welcome” or “no problem.”

  77. Timmy’s problem isn’t that his boss tore him a new one over the missing cover sheet on the TSP reports and he’s also worried about rumored layoffs;

    If you’d call his teacher his boss, it’s more or less true. It’s how the term demeans and diminishes a very real problem that bothers me.

  78. It is what it is doesn’t really bother me. Usually I am not in a work context when that comes up, and I say “well, we can’t do anything about it now, so…”

  79. “Like being ‘a few sheets to the wind,’ which calls up a vivid image only to Milo and Mafalda.”

    I had an idea in my head, and every site I click on gives an entirely different explanation.

    My assumption was that the rope that should be controlling the sail is blowing wildly and out of control, so the sail is flapping uselessly. There’s a brief suggestion of that in Wiktionary.

    But then the same article quotes a text box that suggests something entirely different, a situation in a storm in which the jib (sail at the front of the boat) is purposely held on the opposite side than you’d expect — to the wind — to, as I understand it, counter the heavy force on the main sail that tends to make the boat turn into the wind.

    https://en.wiktionary.org/wiki/three_sheets_to_the_wind

    And then the NYT is suggesting that three sheets to the wind refers to an unbalanced Dutch windmill. Two sheets, or four sheets would be fine, but not three.

    http://www.nytimes.com/1994/12/19/opinion/l-what-three-sheets-to-the-wind-means-141275.html

  80. Well, shoot, I shared your initial assumption. I guess the origin of that one is so long ago that we’re all just making up explanations now!

  81. “Could it be that you meant that jargon from Oz should not be used in Alice’s Wonderland; each should keep its own special vocabulary?”

    Yes. I have no problems when Group X creates their own jargon to expedite their work. I have problems when it spreads so far beyond its origin that it at best becomes meaningless drivel and at worst becomes Orwellian doublespeak that is intended to hide the truth.

    Example: I have some clients that are super-jargon-ey. E.g., they have management “principles” (I forget the exact term) that they actually use to drive their analysis — I’ve heard people refer to principles BY NUMBER. But it works for them — and very efficiently, too. You say something like “I worry we haven’t considered principle XX” and everyone knows exactly what that means and the conversation moves immediately to address and resolve that issue. Personally, some of the language is waaaayyyyy too business-speak for me — but it is meaningful to them and helps them make better decisions more efficiently. So, yay! OTOH, I will inflict physical violence on anyone who starts using those terms in common parlance.

    Or: it’s find when my kids’ school system does studies using educational jargon, as long as that helps them figure things out. But they’d also better figure out ways to translate those findings in plain English for the rest of us. Which, of course, they don’t do — they just post the studies and lots of edu-speak on the website so the parents can’t really get it without a teaching degree. Which I sometimes think is, to them, a feature instead of a bug.

  82. “Bro/Bra” annoy me to no end.
    “Have a good one!” was dumb when people thought it was funny. Now that it’s been worked into everyday language as normal, it bothers me even more.

    “Get the wiggles out” does not mean “relax” or “calm down”. When he was in the early grades, my kid would be in constant motion while he hung out at home, reading a book that was five or six years above his grade level. He was calm, but had a lot of wiggles. And we don’t want kids to be too relaxed during school or else they’ll sleep through class.
    MM, “lord love a duck!” was something someone in my childhood said. Also “God bless!”, which I am attempting to get my son to use for at least some of the times he condemns someone to hell (which was h-e-double hockey sticks to us)

    “Drink the Koolaid” has a very specific referent. I don’t think it should be used by someone who doesn’t know what that event was. Of course, there’s always the problem of how people find out that there is a thing to know.

    I agree with MM that “having a heart for e.g. children”, “praying on” something (not “preying”) and the like are not unique to Duggars. But when you started using them in discussing that show, I knew immediately what communities they are part of.

    “And the education-speak phrase I hate the most: “critical thinking””. Idk what it means in your college, but in some places it still means what it says.

    I thought the finger-snapping thing came from poetry slams, did not realize sororities did it. There is a Southpark episode in which the girls have meetings with hilarious jargon, including “it sparkles with me”.

    And “drink the Kool-aid” means “be a true believer”. I can’t stand when things get moved away from the thing that started them so much that it has an entirely different meaning. There are quite a few phrases on people’s “hate” lists that I find are not identical to the substitutions suggested.

    Instead of “mom” (or “mami”) from an adult who works with my child, I’d prefer to be address directly as MM suggested. “Do you have an epipen with you?” does not need to be preceded by any name. If you have to get my attention first, there is a convention of saying “excuse me”. I think it works just fine.

    My $.02. I haven’t decided yet if I find that funny, sad, or irritating. When there was a cent symbol easily available, it was mildly annoying.

  83. Most other articles are going with our initial assumption that the sheets (ropes) are not secured and blowing wildly, so the sails are blowing wildly.

    But that one in Wiktionary is really intriguing. The only thing I would know to do is to reef the main sail: lower it partways and re-tie it so that you reduce the sail area–that’s very common. But maybe that wasn’t a thing in the old days.

  84. ‘a few sheets to the wind,’

    I’ve never heard that you can be anything other than three sheets to the wind.

  85. Rhett, if your 2:05 comment refers to the quote from me at 2:05, then no, “qualified” does not work in place of “rubric”.

  86. I wonder if balls out or building up a head of steam were corporate speak in the 1890s that have managed to stick around?

  87. When the cats decide that I have forgotten their meal and remind me via love taps with increasingly extended claws or even love nips, I turn to them and say, now kitties, use your words.

  88. @Milo — Damn, I was counting on you for the definitive “three sheets to the wind” explanation. I also thought it was the flapping sail thing, but then the reference to “three” didn’t make sense. The explanation I read [we ended up arguing about this over vacation, so I consulted the magic of Dr. Google] started with your story about the jib, that in high winds you’d put one sheet to the wind to control the boat, but then it went on to say that in really really nasty weather (think Wrath of God hurricane) you’d actually put all three sails to the wind in a last-ditch effort to avoid keeling over. And when you did that you were sideways to the waves and so rolling drunkenly from side to side.

  89. “The requirements” only covers half of “rubric”. It isn’t usually a yes/no thing. If you use poor grammar but spell things correctly, you get some credit for orthography, but not all the points. Same thing for name-dropping sources, but not really using them in your argument.

  90. All my sailing experience is day-sailing (well, ok, a couple of overnights) so the response to a storm would be ‘don’t go sailing that day.’ But I agree that reefing the sail is the commonly known technique. I’m not quite picturing how the thing with the jib would work — I’ll have to go see if there’s a picture.

  91. Rhett – I do occasionally use three sheets to the wind, but growing up it was “in the bag” or “half in the wrapper”. I must have grown up in a more downscale environment.

  92. If I didn’t know what a rubric was called – I would call it a grid. I never had assignments at school where there were a strict number of points assigned for each item. So, math would say things like show your work or a piece of writing would say, should have a beginning, middle and an end but the rest of it was all up to the teacher.

  93. It is what it is

    Men [and women] write their own history, but not in conditions of their own choice.

    –Karl Marx (according to frequent users of that quote in my grad program)

    The client must now make choices and decisions (“write their own history”) but can’t change the situation in which their actions must take place (“not in conditions of their own choosing”)

  94. “I hate when people use acronyms to try to make other people in the room feel stupid. In accounting world, that would include giving the SAP name for a report such as the YMRZ2096 instead of just calling it the inventory summary.”

    +1. Yes, I agree. That’s the perfect example because the name makes no sense – it’s a mix of nonsense numbers and German acronyms with no discernible meaning.

    @Fred – I also agree with the name dropping as if we are all supposed to know who someone is.

    I find myself using more corporate speak the older I get and the higher up in the organization. While some of it sounds ridiculous, it is also sometimes good shorthand for conveying meaning in a concise way. I am talking about things along the lines of HM’s examples. I still hate the word “synergy”. I couldn’t get past the first line of that linked essay (was it an essay?), and I can’t stand TED talk BS.

  95. “you’d actually put all three sails to the wind in a last-ditch effort to avoid keeling over.”

    Alright, it’s definitely heaving to.

    In sailing, heaving to (to heave to and to be hove to) is a way of slowing a sailboat’s forward progress, as well as fixing the helm and sail positions so that the boat does not actively have to be steered. It is commonly used for a “break”; this may be to wait for the tide before proceeding, to wait out a strong or contrary wind.

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Heaving_to

    Here’s more about how to do it:
    http://www.bwsailing.com/bw/cruising-news/heaving-to/

  96. A sad but true anecdote. Judge away – I was at McDonalds, with the littles (I love that term, btw). On the way to the airport. Ordered three happy meals and some other food, seated the kids, returned to the counter to get my food. Saw someone walking away with a tray of what was probably my food – saw them sit down and scowl at the white milk and apple slices . Waited quite awhile, told a person in white collared shirt that someone took my food. She looked at my number, said “Nope, we’re still cooking it.” Really, it’s been like 15 minute? So, then the woman comes back and is like, “we opened all this food and it isn’t ours.” So, I complained to the next level up (white collared shirt and tie) that not only have I been waiting for my food, but someone flat-out lied to me about it still cooking. I was pissed, we were running late, and I said very forcefully, “I can’t believe she told me it wasn’t done. She didn’t even check! I am very, VERY disappointed in this behavior. This is not meeting my expectations.” I then realized that I was the most embarrassing mom stereo-type ever and retreated in shame. And for the first time ever, we had to run to catch a flight.

    (how many totebag demerits?)

  97. “I do occasionally use three sheets to the wind, but growing up it was “in the bag” or “half in the wrapper”. I must have grown up in a more downscale environment.”

    Loretta Lynn, and some other country singers, have used “half tight”

    You thought that I’d be waitin’ up
    When you came home last night
    You’d been out with all the boys
    And you ended up half tight

  98. Just to be pedantic, I’ll mention that the stuff they drank in Jonestown was actually Flavor Aid, not KoolAid, and most of them drank it at gunpoint. It was drink the poison or get shot. So they weren’t really true believers. They were murder victims.

  99. “I am very, VERY disappointed in this behavior. This is not meeting my expectations.” ”

    Ada – you are far too polite.

  100. Ada – I must be an Easterner. I would have gone over straight over to the person who took my food and said – I think you have our tray there. Unless he or she was 6 3 and covered with tattoos

  101. RMS – I had forgotten that (about gunpoint, not Flavor Aid)! I remember watching a very in-depth documentary on Jonestown (probably on PBS). There were some true believers, but yes some were forced.

  102. Milo, your first translation of “three sheets to the wind” is how I’ve always understood that phrase. Any explanation that includes a position of sails assumes (including Laura’s hurricane/gals suggestion) that the person is still in control, but making suboptimal decisions. I think the saying is more in line with someone who’s let go of all the lines and has no control.

    Lemon, you could try “Womp! There it is” or other more irritating variations. At home only, nsfw.

    Louise, it is a grid, but a grid with certain items in the rows and columns. Saying just “grid” gives half the definition. You could combine it with Rhett’s “requirements” and add in “point values”. I’ll stick with “rubric”, thanks.

    ” In accounting world, that would include giving the SAP name”. HAHA! (You did include that jargony acronym intentionally, right?)

    I thought “balls out” meant “ballsy”, aka “gutsy”, whereas “balls to the wall” meant under incredible pressure to accomplish the task correctly.

    Working in a doctor’s office and chatting with staff at the office of a solo practitioner doctor, I rarely heard the word “doctor” or the doctor’s name. It was always just “he” (both docs were men)

    Laura, how do you feel about 404 and 504?

  103. Ada, demerits begin with going to McD’s. :D I would have approached the person directly, and used phrasing that made it sound like I was resolving their problem. Worked when I was young & tight, works when I’m soft & middle aged.

    DS is not home from school. I asked what cliches irritate him and his generation. He said, in a very chatty tone “every word you say”. It’s ok, because the other day I caught him using a line from a song that I have used with him since he was a baby, one he rolled his eyes at 1 or 2 years ago.

  104. The problem was she had three kids and three happy meals. I just remembered she was in line behind me. And she looked confused by what was on her tray. And I get all the confrontation I need at work.

  105. Ada – makes much more sense. I am only ever at line at McDs with old people – never someone else getting 3 happy meals! :)

  106. Lemon, I agree with you on “man up”! This trailer explains why. In W Texas, they said “cowboy up” and “cowgirl up”, which are funny, but I still don’t like the point of them.

  107. Well, at least they acknowledge it:

    ‘Head over heels’ is a good example of how language can communicate meaning even when it makes no literal sense. After all, our head is normally over our heels. The phrase originated in the 14th century as ‘heels over head’, meaning doing a cartwheel or somersault.

    http://www.phrases.org.uk/meanings/head-over-heels.html

    Also, to pull yourself up by your bootstraps was meant as an absurdly impossible task, but now when people argue about whether it’s possible, everyone assumes that the task is at least theoretically possible, but may be unrealistic due only to adverse external challenges.

  108. Arg. Autocorrect correction for a few posts back: “DS is not home from school” should be “DS is now home from school”, as you may have gathered.

  109. HM, I had to think a minute about that one. Are you saying that people now think we could simply take out the bad apple whenever we get around to it? Maybe we should go back to using the second half “…spoils the whole bunch”.

  110. It distresses me to realize that the origins of all these turns of phrase really wouldn’t make intuitive sense to, say, my children. (And need I add that they all make sense to me?)

  111. Sorry HM. I read to the end and found the answer to my own question. Makes me feel old that this is the part that had me scratching my head.
    ough to taint the group. These days, those are the phrases people use to imply that some misdeeds were an isolated incident — a couple of rogue cops, a handful of unprincipled loan officers, two or three sociopathic soldiers. Then there’s the version that goes, “There are always going to be a few bad apples.” That’s a counsel of moral realism: as in, there’s evil in the world; get over it. It’s not a sentiment you would have heard in a 19th century sermon, much less from a grocer you were complaining to about the wormy fruit he’d sold you the week before. “Well, Mrs. Gold, we all have to expect find a few rotten apples, don’t we?”

  112. “Did anyone else here grow up with the phrase “cotton-picking hands”?”

    No, but my people were all Northerners.

    Charley Pride surely did, though:

  113. “Any explanation that includes a position of sails assumes (including Laura’s hurricane/gals suggestion) that the person is still in control, but making suboptimal decisions.”

    No, I think it’s Milo’s second explanation of heaving to — you put all three sails to the wind and then hunker down below while the storm blows, rocking wildly back and forth — it’s not the effort to maintain control, it’s what the boat is doing. I think the point is that under normal circumstances, you could heave to with minor effort (e.g., one sheet to the wind), because I gather you are using sail positioning and other factors to counterbalance the wind and tide so you basically stay still. In a really bad storm, you might need two sheets because the wind is blowing so hard. So if you’re three sheets to the wind (which The Internet claims was known to happen in horrible storms), the wind is off the charts and the boat is rocking like crazy and literally on the point of capsizing.

    I love how I am arguing this vociferously despite knowing absolutely nothing about anything relevant. :-)

  114. Within the last year my 7 year old asked me why I say “hang up the phone.” When she visited my parents, who still have a phone hanging on the wall with the four foot long cord, she understood.

  115. Milo, I heard that phrase from Minnasotan & Wisconsonite relatives. There were race riots as far North as Duluth in the first half of the 20th century.

    Laura, maybe we need to see if we agree on what the phrase is used to mean. Is it someone who has clearly been drinking but is still attempting to hold it together and hopes that their ship doesn’t drown/they don’t puke on everyone or otherwise do something that will be horribly embarrassing later, or is it someone who just doesn’t give a damn anymore and is free-floating wherever their intoxication takes them?

  116. “Lark, genius! I may just force them to write something extolling my virtues! “Reasons Why Mom is the Greatest!” winner gets an iTunes card!”

    Never too early for kids to start preparing to write their college application essays.

  117. I’ll admit to not knowing or listening to the C Pride song, but the lyric on the link looks like a slightly different usage. “Get your cotton-pickin hands off that” was used to mean “you have absolutely no business touching or using that. Put it down immediately and don’t touch it again”.

  118. I have “washing the second refrigerator produce drawer and pick the perfect apples” as a weekend chore. The reason they have to be perfect is that one bad apple spoils the whole drawer. :)

  119. “I love how I am arguing this vociferously despite knowing absolutely nothing about anything relevant. :-)”

    The idea was all new to me. I was in what I thought was a Wrath of God storm on our way to Halifax one night, and we’d find out later that a couple of the boats in the race had been de-masted, so it was reasonably serious. But all we did was reef the main as low as we could (lower it, re-tie, reducing the sail area) and use a storm jib normally and kept going. The guy who was in charge was one of the older coaches (1970 grad) and mostly everyone was in some state of seasickness, but I’ll always remember him standing resolutely behind the steering wheel in the driving wind and rain in his yellow foul weather coat like the guy in the picture on the box of fish sticks, and I’m to the side of him, but the boat is heeled over so much that I’m more below him, and I’m throwing up everything my stomach could possibly give into the water that’s whipping by only a few feet from my face, and he’s not saying a word but has one hand on the steering wheel and the other hand is gripping the back of my harness like you’d hold a stuffed teddy bear, so that I’m really just this wet mess of a body suspended in the air puking uncontrollably from the mouth.

    What a night.

  120. LfB, the problem is that the sheets are the ropes, not the sails.

    I notice that one of the links (Milo’s one from the UK?) said that the earliest written forms refer to sheets *in* the wind rather than *to* the wind, with stages of drunkenness going from one sheet in the wind to three sheets in the wind.

  121. SAP is a (21 billion Euro annual revenue) company/brand name, similar to IBM (82 billion dollar) or 3M (31 billion dollar).

  122. of a body suspended in the air puking uncontrollably from the mouth.

    Better than from the other end I guess.

  123. I never keep that many apples for such a long time, but I do check over strawberries carefully before buying them precisely so that a fine spot doesn’t suddenly cost us half the quart. Then I usually rinse them in heavily diluted vinegar, just to be sure.

    Good news! Idk why NPR is suddenly giving me push updates, but the cop in Tilsa who got scared of a black man with his hands in the air and killed him will be tried for manslaughter! That term fits the description.

  124. Saac, SAP is the software company name. As Ivy said, they are German, so the acronyms are meaningless to most of us.

  125. Saac,

    It stands for Systemanalyse und Programmentwicklung.

    There is a funny scene in War Dogs where the Jonah Hill character is giving the new employee orientation for his gun smuggling firm AEY. One of the new hires asks what AEY stands for and Hill replies, “Nothing, like IBM, what does that stand for, it’s just a name.” The employee responds, “International Business Machines.” So, obviously, Hill screams obscenities at him and fires him.

    If you liked Wolf of Wall Street you’ll like War Dogs.

  126. Those, “You don’t know arrp.” commercials also grate on my nerves. Almost as annoying as the mail they’ve started to send me.

  127. “Is it someone who has clearly been drinking but is still attempting to hold it together and hopes that their ship doesn’t drown/they don’t puke on everyone or otherwise do something that will be horribly embarrassing later, or is it someone who just doesn’t give a damn anymore and is free-floating wherever their intoxication takes them?”

    Neither. It is someone who is so drunk he is walking like a ship that is crosswise to the waves in a big storm, about to keel over.

    @HM: My Reliable Source (a/k/a some anonymous dude on the internet) says “The sheets are the ropes used for adjusting the sail to take the wind direction into account. The other ropes used to hold and adjust the sails are lines but not sheets.”

    So I can see the same meaning — three sheets to the wind means that three sails are adjusted to the wind.

    Then again, I argued to my dad that the term meant the lines flapping in the breeze, which just about everyone on the internet now seems to say is correct. I just like the other one better as it’s a little more eloquent, with that implication of teetering just on the edge of going over.

    @Milo — ah, the romance of the sea.

  128. The other ropes used to hold and adjust the sails are lines but not sheets.

    Also rope is just rope. A line is a rope with a purpose.

  129. I might be wrong on the UPS one.

    LfB – The thing that’s still bothering me about that is I generally thought that you were safest pointing into the wind, and boats are designed so that, in the absence of any rudder steering, they’ll always turn into the wind. That’s why it still seems a little strange that in the worst of all storms, you might be rigging this elaborate set up so that you can make the sails fight each other and stay sideways to the wind. But again, as I tried to illustrate, my experience in the storm was not one of measured and competent seamanship.

  130. “Also rope is just rope. A line is a rope with a purpose.”

    And a sheet is a line that adjusts a sail.

  131. “I’m not sure I have any real pet peeve words or phrases.”

    Mine is NOT. Said without criticizing any of what you wrote HM (and I readily agree you write better and much more entertainingly than I do), but my gripe is there seems to be a way to say (almost*) everything without its use.

    e.g. “I’m UNsure I have any real pet peeve words or phrases.”

    Perfect.

    Most particularly, I dislike its use as in “don’t do it that way” “don’t put it there” and one of my truly least favorites “don’t forget”. How about turning it positive…”do it this way” “please put it there” “remember”. Especially with kids, I think the positive actually teaches them something vs making them feel like they did something wrong.

    Another that grates: e.g. “10 times less” Huh? is it because we’re so innumerate we don’t understand when someone says 1/10th or 10%?

    * there is always an exception

  132. Rhett, really? I thought it was Standard and Poors.

    From now on, we can just describe being stupifyingly drunk as “puking in the harness old salt hold up”.

  133. OTOH, my brother gets pi$$ed off if my Dad and I use even basic nautical terms on the water, like knots.

    “Just use miles per hour”

    I try to explain that a knot is more useful because a nautical mile is equal to a minute of latitude on the Earth, and he points out that not a single Joe Sixpack on a lake in the middle of Virginia gives a shit about latitude.

  134. Fred, yes on the math thing! It took me so long to figure out that “ten times less than” is just a tenth, and I’m still not sure how to interpret “4 times smaller”. Is that a quarter of the original size?

    Your other point sounds like parenting advice; tell them what you want them to do (put your bottom on the seat), not what they shouldn’t do (don’t run around) or generalities (behave). Pedagogical issues aside, I hate the last one because it doesn’t make sense (makes no sense/is senseless–can’t avoid a negative somehow). Anything you do is behaving, but there is a distinction between behaving well and behaving badly.

  135. Milo, my dad uses cotton pickin to mean like gosh darn. “Those cotton pickin kids tee peed the house again.”

  136. I hate the term “critical thinking” not because of what it means at my university (we don’t actually use the term very much – we are more of a service learning kinda place), but because of its utter vagueness as used in the education establishment. I have heard used to promote every kind of educational initiative, from the reading of classic literature to discussing current events in the classroom to using tablets and apps in elementary school. Nobody seems to be able to give a good definition of what this actually means.

    “Critical thinking is that mode of thinking — about any subject, content, or problem — in which the thinker improves the quality of his or her thinking by skillfully analyzing, assessing, and reconstructing it. Critical thinking is self-directed, self-disciplined, self-monitored, and self-corrective thinking. It presupposes assent to rigorous standards of excellence and mindful command of their use. It entails effective communication and problem-solving abilities, as well as a commitment to overcome our native egocentrism and sociocentrism.”
    http://www.criticalthinking.org/pages/our-concept-and-definition-of-critical-thinking/411

    I have no idea what this is trying to say, but hey, it gets that trendy term “mindful” in there.

    Here is another one, from University of Louisville
    “Critical thinking is the intellectually disciplined process of actively and skillfully conceptualizing, applying, analyzing, synthesizing, and/or evaluating information gathered from, or generated by, observation, experience, reflection, reasoning, or communication, as a guide to belief and action”

    Isn’t that what all thinking is?

    From the Thomas More College website
    “Critical Thinking is active evaluation, based on thoughtful deliberation, resulting in improved understanding and productive decisions.”

    I’m sorry, but that is so vague as to be meaningless.

  137. Just got a text from my kid’s school:

    Sign outs must take place BEFORE 8th period begins each and every day. Thank you.

    Uh, ok. He never wants to go to math anyway.

  138. MM, how is the first not clear?

    And of course there are other kinds of thinking. Reminiscence, for example, or rore learning.

  139. You consider ” self-directed, self-disciplined, self-monitored, and self-corrective thinking” to be a clear phrase???

  140. My Dad was big on saying “mind your P’s and Q’s,” which I know has some disputed origins, either from the days of typesetters or English pubs.

    It wasn’t so much an admonishment for younger kids to simply behave, but a preemptive warning for older kids who were going to be on their own, away from adult supervision.

  141. @Milo — yeah. I wish I could find my original source, it gave a very detailed account about how people didn’t believe that was the source of the saying because no one in their right mind would actually position the boat that way; but that there was a very specific situation based on where the wind is coming from and where the waves are going and that it was basically the last-ditch-maneuver-before-instant-death-and-you’re-probably-going-to-die-anyway move, and there were reports of ships doing that in 1700-something-or-other, etc. It was very persuasive, even though it doesn’t appear to exist any more.

    “From now on, we can just describe being stupifyingly drunk as ‘puking in the harness old salt hold up’.”

    Nah. Let’s just call it “pulling a Milo.” :-)

  142. “AARP and UPS no longer stand for anything.”

    And apparently “SAT test” is no longer redundant.

  143. HM – see? the exception. Even if jargon / tech speak.

    Something I saw once at the grocery store, pharmacy section, on the shelf next to Tylenol(r): a bottle/box of “Non-Aspirin Product”. Seriously. So what is it? Ice cream, lobster, charcoal lighter? (really acetomenaphine — generic Tylenol).

    Say what it is or what you want, people. The negative leaves too much room for interpretation.

  144. “We had to remove acronyms from a technical report recently. The process added 4 pages to the entire document. The document started in the 200 page range. So 4 pages isn’t terrible, but it’s still 4 pages…”

    Why not add an appendix of acronym definitions instead?

  145. Let’s just call it “pulling a Milo.”

    I thought that was falling asleep at 9:30 after two drinks?

  146. And, actually, KFC is just that. Trying to get away from the bad-for-you image of fried food.

  147. “and there were reports of ships doing that in 1700-something-or-other, etc”

    Certainly could be, since we’re all thinking about modern sloops, and it came from something like:

    That ships is heaved to, btw.

    DW and I watched that whaling movie “In the Heart of the Sea” recently. It didn’t do so well in the box office, but we liked it. Interesting for history and Nantucket.

  148. “oh, mom and baby are doing fine”

    Perhaps “oh, Mom and Baby are doing fine” would be less annoying?

    Or would “oh, mother and child are doing fine” be less annoying?

  149. Fred, well, I’d argue that “not” has a useful place in the language as a whole. And it’s not the case — I mean it didn’t happen that — I mean — ok, the word not has long been in the English language and only in the last century was incorporated into circuit design, not the other way around — ah, shoot, there it is again.

  150. “Part of my job is listening to people get upset about stuff that happened that they can’t change.”

    Not unlike the job of someone from Mars in relation to someone from Venus.

    Is it your observation that husbands that husbands are better at this than unmarried or divorced guys? It is good to know that it is a marketable skill.

  151. I would say, “I can’t believe we’re arguing about the acceptability of not,” but it’s in there again. And “I disbelieve that we’re arguing . . . ” has a slightly different meaning.

  152. “There is probably a technical legal meaning for the word “retainer”. That is why I do not use it, unless referring to teeth.”

    Or discussions of medieval society?

  153. Sorry Fred, I don’t think — I mean, I think I am unable to eliminate the word “not” from my vocabulary even in the limited context of Totebag usage!

  154. HM – it is hard! I realize it’s easier in many ways, and can sound less, um, pompous, than always trying to use the negating prefix. “don’t put it there” = “put it someplace else”, and I’m just as likely to guess wrongly the second time around. “Put it on the bench in the front hall” gets the job done.

    Sometimes it’s common use: uncooperative vs not cooperative sounds just fine.

    “Not that car” in our house gives someone a 1 in 4 chance of guessing right which of the other cars we’re using if all of us are home.

  155. ““I think we should just call it “bad writing.””

    Or perhaps, “poor writing.””

    Nah. That was so bad I like the implication that it was misbehaving.

    [I totally punted on internal internal quotes on that one]

    “Let’s just call it ‘pulling a Milo.’

    I thought that was falling asleep at 9:30 after two drinks?”

    Nah. That’s called “pulling a Laura.”

    “Is it your observation that husbands are better at this than unmarried or divorced guys?”

    IDK. I have observed only that it is a difficult skill for me to learn. :-) Although it may not be a coincidence that the guy I learned it from is married to a social worker.

  156. A lot of the mommy bloggers who refer to their children as littles recommend never using the word “not” with your children. I told my husband this and he laughed and laughed and told me to GTFO.

  157. What is difficult to understand in that phrase? Would you prefer they lay out those four steps as a process, and then say each of them is done by the individual without coercion or instruction? The simpler way they put it seems better to me.

  158. Finn, yeah, the archaic form works for me. But using the current terms and just calling a grown woman to whom the speaker is not related “mom” gives me the creeps. And apparently other women too, judging from today’s comments.

  159. A lot of the mommy bloggers who refer to their children as littles recommend never using the word “not” with your children.

    When I was a kid the same types believed in never using the word “no” because it would stunt a child’s creativity.

  160. Had a similar discussion with some beginner sailors the other day. Turning your boat (bow) “into the wind” and keeping it there means you aren’t sailing because you cannot sail directly into the wind. It is also called the “safety position”. Without a raging storm or other boats causing wakes, your boat should be generally pointed into the waves, however, the waves can toss and turn you around. You technically have some control if you still have your rudder in the water, but it is minimal.

  161. Rhett — I’m trying to figure out what that statue is in the rotunda of the $90M Brookline house. I’m disappointed that there is just one picture of the interior!

    I think that’s the neighborhood where Tom and Giselle live.

  162. Oh, ok, I read the rest of the comments. You guys (esp HM) are hilarious on this topic.

    Milo- I love the comment from your brother about using nautical terms. My sister says the same thing- but our sailing instructor (I’m a recent sailor,) says using proper terms is imperative for communication. We’ve noticed that it’s true about everything!

    LFB – you summed up my thoughts when you said you hate it when jargon degenerates into “Orwellian double speak” – EXACTLY. That’s when it starts changing from being a clever, abbreviated way to convey a slightly more complex thought into a way to avoid thinking clearly or really saying what you mean or outright fooling people.

  163. In the rotunda

    Honey, have you seen my car keys? I think you left them in the rotunda.

    That’s when you known you’re rich.

  164. I thought that was falling asleep at 9:30 after two drinks?

    That’s a Louise for sure !

    In my childhood the phrase “early to bed and early to rise makes a man, healthy, wealthy and wise” was quoted often mainly to get reluctant kids into bed at a decent hour.

  165. Yup, that is definitely down the road from Tom and Gisele. I drove by their house but it is hidden from the road, nothing to be seen except a lovely large fence and a lot of rhododendrons.

  166. Rhett – The property taxes are $28,0000 per MONTH. That’s definitely going to trigger AMT. :)

    That’s like $280 on a $900k house. It’s actually quite reasonable.

  167. “That’s like $280 on a $900k house. It’s actually quite reasonable.”

    I was wondering the same thing, actually. It makes me think that the taxes are either capped, or the new owners will be due for a significant re-assessment.

  168. Milo,

    Possibly, but I think assessed value is based on comps not selling price. So, while this selling for $90 million will be a data point influencing it’s valuation, Tom and Gisele’s valuaton, etc. it wouldn’t automatically be assessed at $90 million.

  169. L – hilarious McDonald’s story. (We called ours The Bigs and The Littles for many years, until The Littles decided they were “too big” for that. So then we referred to them as The Young Ladies. Given their predominant behavior in those years, it was a highly ironic nickname).

    Very funny “three sheets to the wind” conversation.

    Off topic: I feel like I’m on the other side of the border today; just called to book an appt at a specialty clinic at the U and was told JANUARY would be the first they could get me in. WTF? I thought this was America, land of the “How does next Wednesday sound” medical appointments!

    Maybe I should have L call them and state how very VERY disappointed she is about this.

  170. That is most definitely a Mansion. But it is slightly suspect that there aren’t many pictures of the interior.

    I had no idea until this thread that “No problem” could be seen as rude. Then again, if I responded to a request from my superiors with “My pleasure” I suspect that they would think that I was being sarcastic. But I enjoy that response from the Chik-Fil-A guy when I ask for a refill or more sauce packets.

  171. Ris – my mom recently had a 2am appointment for an open MRI, which she booked two months in advanced. And DD’s endocrinologist is booked out 4 months in advance. I don’t dare try to reschedule.

  172. @Ris – that’s part of what I don’t get. As a regular old PPO customer, I have long waits for specialists here too.

    I had to make my annual mammogram appointment 3 months in advance for the imaging center attached to my medical provider (large university hospital system). And for my annual checkup with my gyn, it’s a couple months as well. Same with DS’s ped. If you have need a sick visit, you will likely not see your own doctor. Maybe it’s faster if you have an issue, but for routine care, it’s not like this is Shang-ri-la. And I have good insurance and live in a major city!

  173. Totally off-topic, but Milo’s boat pics (drool) reminded me that I am now completely obsessed with RVs. I am taping and watching all of the RV versions of “House Hunters” and looking at all of the options. I am just taken by the idea of travel without all the schedule and hassle — pack and unpack once, sleep in your own bed, have a bathroom and fridge wherever you go, AC/heat for bad weather, etc.

    The biggest problem is that I don’t like RV parks — prefer more privacy and views. And IDK if anyone has invented housecleaning services for RVs, as I don’t exactly fantasize about scrubbing toilets in my golden years. :-)

    Anyway, I’m really set on the idea of the RV trip between Denver/Salt Lake and Portland next summer, assuming we can find a one-way rental (with separate bunks for kiddos — no fold-down sofas or convertible dinettes). DH is not. So I have some persuading to do (i.e., telling him I’m really interested in a year or two long post-retirement trip, so we should rent one now so he can convince me that it’s a really stupid idea).

  174. Ivy/Lemon – I’ve never had this kind of delay before! I couldn’t believe it. My first thought was, “This sounds like the kind of delay my sister and mother take in stride, while I’m listening to their months-out appointment date and thinking, Thank God I don’t live *there* anymore!”

    I’ve had mammograms, MRIs, bone density scans, joint surgeries and I don’t think I’ve waited even a full week for any of those. Well, maybe the surgeries were over a week, but not by much.

  175. Risley, three-month waits for a new patient appointment for a specialist is very common, especially at a university medical center. Four months seems a tad long but not overly so.

  176. Denver – ah, it’s because I’m a new patient? I suppose they have to set aside a longer appt time in that case. This will be a once/year monitoring sort of thing, so after the first appt, I guess I won’t care how long it takes.

    I’ll get on the cancellation list, anyway (go in at a moment’s notice if someone cancels) but who knows how long that list is. (I guess the upside of being a local is that I can get there very fast, whereas others on the list might live an hour or more away).

  177. LfB – There are certainly a lot of contradictions and tradeoffs with those choices. Our campground in TN was probably the best I’ve ever seen for natural beauty and seclusion, but the bigger “rigs” are still pretty close together. It seems that the economics of the situation don’t allow it any other way, as they were already paying about $80 per night.

    I got talking to this one couple easily enough, since I had kids and they had dogs. They were an older (55/60 or so) physician and a nurse and had a brand new coach (the kind that looks like a bus) that they were trying out for the first time on a three-week trip, spending maybe five days where we were. But they weren’t towing any car, so every time we walked by, they were just kind of stuck there, although that may have suited them fine.

    On the other hand, you see the rentals from Cruise America driving all over the national park, but that means whatever you’re doing to set up, you’re doing that every night.

    A trailer RV solves this problem, but a lot of people prefer the idea of having your motorhome to walk around in and eat lunch while driving.

    If you want separate bunks (not the over-cab and pull-out), that’s going to be a really big one. If we rent one next year for Spring Break, my kids aren’t worth that.

    If I were buying one primarily for DW and me, I think I would look for something in this range, as long as it can comfortably tow a Honda Fit:

  178. Risley, that’s a big part of it. Besides the longer appt time, it’s also how they limit their patient panel. Once you’re established, you usually get in quicker, but it depends on the practice/clinic. With DD’s neurologist, it’s usually about 3 weeks out even as an established patient.

  179. To make a yearly appt with our pediatrician, you have to call 6 months out (although they are very good about seeing you same day for illness).

    To get in to see my GYN, you have to make the appt a full year out. Last appt I made was 13 months out. Its ridiculous, but we are in a significantly underserved part of the country.

    It’s actually almost easier to get in to see specialists than primary care physicians.

  180. The thing about traveling in an RV is that you should be able to stay anywhere. Including WalMart parking lots, in a pinch. http://www.legendsofamerica.com/rv-walmart.html

    So, while people tend to end up in RV resorts, you can camp in pretty much any Forest Service campground, or any wide spot in the road in most national forests. You may know this LFB, but the west is very different from the east in this regard – so much public land. When I was a kid, we camped all the time in a trailer. My parents felt forest service campgrounds were too crowded and civilized, so we spent a lot of time on turnouts next to logging roads.

  181. On the other hand, you see the rentals from Cruise America driving all over the national park, but that means whatever you’re doing to set up, you’re doing that every night.

    With an RV there isn’t much set up, which is the point.

  182. Milo – the boats do nothing for me, but the Sprinter motorhomes get my heart fluttering. I would love something like that. Was actively looking at some last year, but bought the fixer-upper house instead.

    We recently got our well-used Suburban and now I’m back in teardrop fantasy land – kids can sleep in a tent on the ground nearby.

    A little perplexed about “fold down bunks” – those are pretty rare except in the school-bus framed motor homes.

  183. “With an RV there isn’t much set up, which is the point.”

    If you have a level site, you can skip any leveling. But you still have to connect electric, water, and sewer. Although with a smaller RV like I put in the picture, that still might be preferable to the hassle of towing a car.

    With a boat, however, you tend to be tying up in the center of town, as towns have tended to form along waterways, so a car isn’t usually necessary unless you want to venture farther out.

  184. “A little perplexed about “fold down bunks” – those are pretty rare except in the school-bus framed motor homes.”

    This is what they do:

  185. Milo – I know how they work. Out of 100 Class c motorhomes on craigslist 1 or 2 have bunks. Cruiseamerica has no RVs with bunk beds available.

  186. If you have a level site, you can skip any leveling. But you still have to connect electric, water, and sewer.

    Which takes about a minute.

  187. LfB, the state park campground at Beverly Beach is nicer than that the RV place Rhett linked to in Lincoln city. It has a forested trail through lush coastal forest (which makes the sites seem farther apart), hot showers, a playground and you can walk under the highway to the beach.

    Lots of state parks in Oregon feature hot showers.

  188. And in case you want my opinion, I’d visit national parks from Denver or Salt Lake City before I drove from Salt Lake City to Portland. That is definitely a “fly” trip, unless you know you want the full “nothingness” experience.

  189. And in case you want my opinion, I’d visit national parks from Denver or Salt Lake City before I drove from Salt Lake City to Portland. That is definitely a “fly” trip, unless you know you want the full “nothingness” experience.

    Although it does help you understand why the pioneers were so susceptible to various tricksters who promised a shorter route.

  190. “But they weren’t towing any car, so every time we walked by, they were just kind of stuck there, although that may have suited them fine.”

    Yeah, that really makes me understand why it seems like so many full-timers use 5th-wheels — I’ve been surprised how much space those things have (I always thought Class As were the biggest). And at least you have a truck to detach and drive. (Tangent: what seems strange to me is that they make these awesome toy haulers that fit vehicles in the back — but only on 5th wheels, where you already have a vehicle to drive! I want a bus with a garage in back. :-) But I think most of the good buses are diesels with the engine in back, which is probably the reason you don’t see that much, and most of those are for things like ATVs anyway). But no way to entertain kids/go to the bathroom/nap while driving.

    You’re also right that my desire for bunks now is largely driven by kiddos, whereas when I am looking at doing this is probably post-retirement, when at most kids would join us for a week. Plus, you know, the nice Class As get ridiculous in price pretty quickly. :-) So we probably also end up with something like what you posted. But I’d need to find one with a king bed in back — totally non-negotiable. Still have to drag a car (if we’re going to do this, we’re going offroad), but at least it’s not as bad as dragging a car behind a bus.

  191. @WCE: Thanks. The idea of the trip is that we are going to visit my sister and all rent a “beach” house on the OR coast for a week. But then I got sad that even though DD was born in CO, neither kid has ever really seen the beauty out there, and why don’t we do a week-long RV trip on the way out? I have a strong preference for Denver but had to expand scope because of dearth of rental places (at least SLC we could drive directly N to Yellowstone).

  192. Renting a beach house on the coast is a great idea. Renting an RV from either Denver or Salt Lake City is a great idea. Salt Lake City to Yellowstone to the Oregon Coast is a reasonable trip (Craters of the Moon is worth a stop in Idaho), but I’d make the focus of your travel week “Yellowstone/Teton” and not “the part in between SLC and Yellowstone” or “the part between Yellowstone and the Oregon Coast.”

    Hwy 20 across Oregon is where I drove for 45 minutes before seeing another car going the same direction. Buy gas in Ontario because there won’t likely be another gas station open until Bend.

  193. We go to the pediatrics residents’ clinic at the uni. Annual appts have to be booked a few weeks out, but we can usually get in in less than a week for other stuff, and of course sick visits are same day. That means we almost never know the doc doing the exam, but we can book with one of the supervising docs specifically if we are willing to wait a few weeks. In any event, there is always a supervising doc who comes in and reviews what the resident did, so we basically get two minds working on it–one that has just learned the latest & greatest stuff in med school, and one with experience who has seen a lot of kids. I think we know all of the supervising docs. The staff all know my kid by name, and the familiarity of the routine is good.

  194. “but a lot of people prefer the idea of having your motorhome to walk around in and eat lunch while driving.”

    Not exactly the safest practice.

    Another option I’ve seen a lot for mobility after setting up camp is bringing along bicycles (here’s one option: http://dahon.com/bikes/) or motor scooters.

    “that really makes me understand why it seems like so many full-timers use 5th-wheels”

    I had a neighbor with a 5th wheeler. He kept it parked in his front yard most of the time, right next to a sewer cleanout, and the truck was his everyday vehicle. He used it as a guest room, and when they were remodeling their kitchen, they did all most of their cooking in the RV (they grilled a lot too).

    Every summer they’d take it for a couple of weeks or so to southern OR where they had some property. He planned to build a cabin there after he retired, but unfortunately he passed shortly after retiring.

  195. “Every summer they’d take it for a couple of weeks or so to southern OR.”

    So I take it you were not in your current location. Or else I think Milo and I will both want to know who made that camper.

  196. LfB, as you undoubtedly surmised, that was my neighbor when I was living on the continent.

    And as you alluded, he told me he’d unhitch it and set it up on his property in OR, and have the truck available for mobility.

  197. “Salt Lake City to Portland. That is definitely a “fly” trip, unless you know you want the full “nothingness” experience.”

    OTOH, there are vast swaths of “nothingness” throughout the western part of the continental US, many of them surrounding some well-known attractions, so it’s hard to avoid.

    From SLC to Reno is about a day’s worth of nothingness (I’ve done the reverse route), although the Bonneville Salt Flats are interesting for a few minutes, as is the lake itself. But once past Reno, it gets interesting, with a lot of interesting places on the way to Portland, e.g., Lassen NP, Lake Oroville and Whiskeytown and Shasta Lakes (assuming they still exist), Crater Lake NP, Lava Beds NM, and Ashland (Shakespeare Festival). There’s also a lot along the coast, including Redwood NP and WCE’s favorite town.

    Another route could take you through the Columbia River Gorge. From there you go into eastern OR, where I’ve never ventured but looks like it could include a lot of nothingness, although if you’ve ever been to Kalamazoo, you might want drive through Walla Walla, WA. You could also see Snake River Canyon, made famous by Evel Knievel, and visit Sun Valley near WCE’s suggestion of Craters of the Moon.

    BTW, this route through southern ID is through an area I looked at as a possible retirement destination, thanks to some of WCE’s posts. It looks like a good place for outdoor activities like skiing, cycling, and boating.

  198. LfB, if two routes look appealing, maybe you can do a round trip instead of looking for a one-way rental

  199. @SM: yeah, except for that week in between where we don’t need it – those things are expensive!

    Thanks all for route suggestions. I have driven the northerly route before and don’t really mind the vast stretches – they’re gorgeous in their own way, and it’s all different from here.

  200. LfB, have you considered buying a trailer? Perhaps one that sleeps two would work, along with a tent for your kids, or perhaps two people can sleep in the car. Then the week when you don’t need it won’t cost you any more.

    It might also give you more options for your beach house, as it could serve as one bedroom.

  201. Laura, How can your kids not have seen the beauty of CO? Don’t you have a ski place there?

    Outdoor sports aren’t the only thing in Idaho. I’ll take a pass, tyvm. http://idahostatejournal.com/members/center-recognizes-nine-hate-groups-in-idaho/article_2fc18774-ec87-11e3-a505-001a4bcf887a.html
    I had a conference interview with a university in Eastern Washington state once. When I asked the interviewer how friendly the region is to non-whites, and told him my Ghanaian BF and our child would be coming with me, he gave me a brief history of discrimination there; highlighting anti-Chinese actions, but including anti-Semitism and sunset towns as well. Then he quickly ended the interview, apologizing profusely.

  202. Yes. I also don’t consider flying out to ski for a week a year to be really seeing a state — it’s awesome but limited. I mean, Telluride is gorgeous, but offroading in the mountains nearby was amazing.

  203. @SM – SPLC recognizes 58 hate groups in Florida. I can’t imagine why one would choose that over a state with just 8. Idaho (and other western states, especially when you leave the coast) has a long history of discrimination. I’m wondering how that is different from any other place in the US?

  204. Ada, a source with straight numbers probably wasn’t the best way to make that point, because number of hate groups says nothing about number of members, size of population (Florida has at least 5 metro areas with populations bigger than or comparable to Idaho’s), or activity of members. Besides the interviewer from Washington State, I also heard lots about hate groups in Idaho and bordering states from a colleague in Kenrucky who wrote her dissertation on them.

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