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07:45 pm: Useful Words

I sometimes use words and phrases that seem to be... less popular. Given that they were all new to me when I learned them (duh), I figured they might be new to other people too. So here's a list of geek, literary, science, military, and other terms. My assumption is that all are in common usage, but each of these has garnered a "huh?" look or text. [For my LJ readers - the few that remain - this is probably old hat; I really intend this as a work blog]

It's basically a brief peek into the random effluvia (see below) that sloshes around in my brain. I make life harder on my friends by using many of them metaphorically.

Abend - ABnormal END. In computing, when code doesn't terminate the way it ought. "I tried knitting a DNA model, but it abended when I attached the nucleotides." *

Aglet - The little metal or plastic gizmo at the end of a shoelace.

Antepenultimate - The third from the last.

BAPFU - Beyond All Previous Foul-Ups. The extreme version of SNAFU.

BARFO - Best and Really Final Offer, from defense contracting. After you've already submitted your BAFO (best and final offer) in response to an RFP, you often submitted a BARFO. I use this for a shortcut meaning "I thought that last one was final, but it wasn't. Surprise!"

Boolean - In computing and logic, something that is either true or false. More loosely, something with exactly two possible values.

Bozon - Quantum unit of stupidity.

Bristol scale - A stool scale (that's right... calibration for poo). It might seem like TMI, but it's incredibly helpful when you're calling your kid's doctor to explain the child's symptoms. Also a good one for metaphoric use.

Cyberchondria - The state in which you believe you have every disease or condition you read about on the internet.

Cyberrhea - When a story (most often false) craps all over the internet.

Crackpot - Slow cooker. Because that's how my husband pronounces"crockpot" and I'm easily amused.

Defenestrate - To throw someone out a window (originally as a political act, now used more broadly). Although the first recorded incident occurred in the 15th century, it wasn't named until the Defenestrations of Prague in 1618.

Deus ex machina - Latin for "god from the machine." Derived from the (lazy) technique in ancient Greek plays**, whereby a god was literally lowered to the stage in a machine at the end of the show to fix everything. If it's used literally these days, it's meant to be ironic.

Effluvia - A nasty smell, excretion, or fluid (literal or metaphoric).

Excusatio rudis - A literary technique in which a character eloquently begs pardon for his or her lack of eloquence. A really good example is in Shakespeare's Othello. Othello says "Rude am I in my speech/and little blessed with the soft phrase of peace..." and goes on to convince everyone how much he really does deserve Desdemona.

Gound - Sleepy seeds or eye sand. This is a recent one for me; I never knew that eye gunk had a real name. Go figure.

Grok - Understanding something intuitively and thoroughly. Coined by Robert Heinlein (sci-fi writer).

Hoo rah - Whatchamacallit, but with fewer syllables. My filler word; emphasis is on the first syllable (HOO rah).

Logorrhea - Running off at the mouth. When someone just. won't. shut. up.

Lorem Ipsum - From Latin for "pain itself." Used in web design for filler text. Lorem ipsum generators provide you with paragraphs or pages of random text to see what a website looks like with content (without having to actually generate any content yourself).

Mansplain - A highly sexist term for a highly sexist act: explaining something in a condescending way because of gender stereotypes ("he mansplained angioplasty, not realizing she was a cardiologist").

Není možné - Czech, literally meaning "it can't be done," but really meaning more like "meh, it is what it is" (previously mentioned here).

Ohnosecond - That fraction of time between acting (like hitting "send" on an inappropriate email) and realizing you shouldn't have done that.

Post-shakedown availability (PSA) - U.S. Navy term for the tumultuous time after a ship is launched and before everything actually works (technically, the time in the shipyard when the stuff that was found to be broken during the shakedown cruise is fixed). Highly applicable in the world of software. However, software isn't generally kept out of action until after PSA.

QED (quod erat demonstrandum) - Latin for "what was to be proved," or "thus it is proved." Used to conclude a formal logical proof (colloquially "neener neener SEE! I WAS RIGHT!").

Root - The lowest directory in a computer's operating system. People with root access have a LOT of power; amongst geeks, "I am root" means "fear me." Groot's catchphrase in "Guardians of the Galaxy" is probably a play on this.

Scutch - The southern end of a metaphorically north-bound horse. Probably derived from a Scottish term for beating or whipping to separate fibers of flax. Since beating or whipping might be the tempting response to a scutch, there's a certain sense to its derivation. (The lovely Ms. CLG taught me this one!)

Shiny - Cool, generally good. From the best TV show ever: Firefly.

Sock puppet - An online identity used to lie to people, most often to promote or defend oneself ("Kate is awesome!" says NotKateNoReallyTotallyObjectiveStranger). Scott Adams (Dilbert) and John Mackey (Whole Foods CEO) both had sock-puppet scandals.

Stroppy - A Britishism that may be (very!) short for obstreperous. Someone who's touchy, belligerent, and often complaining. Used for toddlers and disgruntled friends alike.

/system name/ Arriving - In the Navy, a ship's captain is referred to by the name of his or her ship. When the captain boards, the ship's bells ring and the announcement "/ship name/ arriving" is made. I find it quietly hilarious to do the same thing with computer systems... mostly because the "bong" when someone enters a Lync meeting sounds suspiciously like the "bong" of the not-real-bells-anymore the Navy uses.

WID - When In Doubt. Bluntly, go to the bathroom when you have a chance (even if you're not sure you have to go). Particularly useful on road trips and long conference calls.


Wicked Good English

or things I learned over the years aren't generally known outside of Boston, or at least aren't used the same way.

cellar - basement (a general basement, not just one that stores food)

bubbler - water fountain (one you drink from, not one you wade in - I hope)

frappe - milk, flavor, and ice cream (in Boston, a milkshake does not traditionally include ice cream)

jimmies - chocolate sprinkles (popular on ice cream)

packie - package (liquor) store

perambulate the perimeter - take a walk around a property, supposedly to check fences or whatever, but actually an excuse to have a beverage or a smoke

rotary - roundabout or traffic circle elsewhere

scrod - white fish; it is not a specific breed of fish, though it's most often cod, haddock, or pollack

tonic - carbonated beverage (not just the one with quinine)


* That's a lie. It came out awesome. Doesn't mean my kid actually played with it, however.

** Yes, it's a Latin expression for Greek plot device.

* * * * *

In other news, our house hasn't sold. I will shout it from the rooftops if/when it does. Please don't ask. I'm trying to not obsess about things I can't control.

Also, a dear friend's Mom died. Wake tonight, funeral tomorrow. I'm mostly concerned about her, but also a bit worried about how I'll react. It'll be my first funeral since Mum died.



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