An Observation: When?

As part of my public service to the universe, I have tried my best to keep everyone aware of oddities in the way we use words.

If you’ve never visited my blog before, welcome! (What took you so long?!?) You’re about to rethink an expression you probably use all the time.

How many times have you been trying to think of when something occurred in the recent past–be it an appointment, a vacation, or one of your thumbs falling off for no good reason–when you simply shrug your shoulders and realize that your mental calendar has gone kaput?

I knew I had something going on…sometime…

What did you say next?

In all likelihood, you referred to it as–are you ready?

The other day.

Besides being vague (because, hey, it’s vague to you as to when it happened in the first place, although if you can’t remember the exact date that you lost a thumb, your insurance company will), the expression has a few other problems. The biggest problem I have with it is that it implies that there are “other” days other than the ones we’ve already established.

Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, Friday, Saturday, Sunday. We’ve set up seven days per week to work with here. The calendar issues them on a repeating basis across twelve months, further breaking the process down to a series of numbers and month names. Therefore, we have a set number of days available in which anything can happen.

In short, there are no “other” days.

best gif wow GIF
Yeah, I know. Amazing, isn’t it?

Yes, it’s an expression. I get it. For some reason, though, it’s my self-appointed job to point out expressions that need some assistance. (I took on this burden out of the kindness of my heart. It’s tough, but someone has to do it. I think. Even if they don’t, I felt like it, okay?) This one is a challenge sometimes, because you could try to name the day you think the event in question happened, but if you’re wrong, then you know you’re not being truthful.

Just know that you do have choices, however, and that you don’t have to go out and create “other” days.

I just felt I needed to bring it up since I was thinking about it the other day.

An Overthought: Pun-ishing

It’s long been a dream of mine (since I first heard this was a thing about five whole years ago) to go to Austin, Texas to compete in and win the O. Henry Pun-Off.

Obviously, I won’t be going this year as I didn’t take a good look at the dates until the time was u-pun and ultimately past us (heh), but it got me to thinking…

How does one efficiently prepare for such a contest?

In my possibly unpopular o-pun-ion (ha), it wouldn’t be easy.

Why, you ask (besides the obvious–that you’d need to be really good with puns)?

This is not a fence post. Well, okay, the picture has a fence post (more than one, actually) in it, but the blog post isn’t about a fence, and that’s where I was supposed to add some kind of clever pun and…yeah. Just look at the pretty sunset and roll your eyes at me.

Well…I’ll make a list.

1. In order to prepare, you’d probably want to practice with someone. And they’d need to be better than you in order to keep you on your toes, which could potentially lead to a crisis of confidence. That’s the part where you start thinking, “Gee. If they’re so good, why don’t they compete instead of me? Why are they helping? Should I be encouraging them to take my spot? Or was that the strategy all along? Yeah, that’s it. Very sneaky, o worthy adversary.”

2. I’m not sure if I have a second item to add to this list. Technically, this means I don’t have much of a list and I should have just written a couple of paragraphs. Darn. Now I have to come up with a third item to make this a real list. I don’t even have a good pun to add, meaning that I probably shouldn’t even be thinking about doing this contest in the first place. (See also: Item No. 1 on this “list.”)

3. Oh…wait. Maybe I do have something to say. If you practice with someone, you might also want to involve a third party to judge each pun’s worthiness in the practice sessions. Still, if they’re able to identify them that easily, they could also be better at this than you are, once again beginning that self-confidence spiral.

overthinking GIF
Try not to look directly at the gif.

It’s a pun-ishing prospect, isn’t it?!?

An Observation: Have A Good One

I’m guilty. You’re guilty. We’re probably all guilty.

Guilty, you say? Of what?

True, on a philosophical level, we’re all guilty of lots of somethings, so I suppose I should specify this particular instance of guilt before you all start beating yourselves up over other transgressions.

How many times have you said/heard/overheard/responded to this statement?

“Have a good one.”

You know you’ve said it. You’ve also been on the receiving end of that statement. And I know that the linguists and comedians of the world have covered this topic (probably better than I can), but this is my blog and it’s my turn, so there. If you don’t like it, too bad. So sad. Love, Brad (whoever Brad is).

happy brad pitt GIF
I kinda hope it’s this guy.

As I said, it’s probably already been said, so, for my own personal record, I’ll say it.

ONE WHAT?!?

Okay, okay, I get it—it’s a substitute for “day.” Why, though? “Day” is the same number of letters as “one,” it’s just as quick to say as “one,” and it happens to be my middle name (a bit off-topic, sure, but I like my middle name). How did “day” morph into “one”? The “a” in “have a good day” along with the singular nature of “day” is already indicative of “one” being the understood unit of measurement in that statement.

However—to get back to the crux of this post—how does anyone “have a good ONE”? What is a “one”? It has to be a “one” of something—understood as “day” in this situation, as we have established, but someone might have missed the memo the day (or “one”) that it went out—and I’ve just gone and massively complicated a simple pleasantry usually exchanged at drive-thru windows and banks in the name of the typical analytical paranoia that follows me around on a one-to-one (see also: day-to-day) basis.

I should take a nap.

A long one.

An Observation: Very Secondary

I was plucking my eyebrows a few days ago when I had two thoughts: 1) ouch, it still hurts to do this, and 2) the VERY FIRST time I did this, it took about three hours because I was eighteen years old, ignorant about a lot of beauty-related things, and, as a result, was dangerously close to having a unibrow.

miranda sings eyes GIF
I’ll say.

(Okay, those were several thoughts. Sorry about the math skills.)

Anyway, it’s never been much fun and it almost always makes me sneeze to tweeze. Guess the follicles are connected to my sneezer switch or something.

Anyway, anyway—back to one of those thoughts. I was thinking about the VERY FIRST time I plucked my eyebrows.

Does anyone ever call a “second something” the VERY SECOND instance? You rarely hear the word “very” as a modifier of “second” in that context.

Language study time. Do you think that at the second performance of the 1812 Overture, it was introduced with the word “very” in front of “second”? (They’d most likely have been speaking Russian, so just pretend they spoke English to make this easier.)

“Welcome, ladies and gentlemen, to the VERY SECOND performance of Tchaikovsky’s 1812 Overture!”

If you’d been in the audience (and if you’re reading this, I’m assuming you weren’t, because it was a long time ago and if you are still alive and remember the performance with any degree of clarity, you need to call a medical research facility pronto because they’ll want to run a few tests for everyone’s benefit here—have someone show you how to use a phone), you’d probably have heard something more like this:

“Tonight the orchestra will be playing the second performance of the new 1812 Overture by Tchaikovsky. Please express your final wishes to your families now in the event that you are injured by the cannons.”

Seems like everything that happens the first time is expressed as the VERY first time.

“Oh, look! He’s taking his VERY first steps!”

“She just lost her VERY first tooth!”

“We just went to her VERY first graduation! Preschool! We only have thirteen more of these to go before she actually earns a real diploma!”

The only times you ever hear “very second” is when someone is referring to a minute unit of time. (Minute? See what I did there? Haha, yeah…at least I thought it was funny.)

“The very second he jumped out of the plane, he wished he hadn’t.”

“They timed that race down to the very second.”

No one ever says, “You remember the very second time we went to that new barbecue joint?”

Of course they don’t! If the trip was memorable for some reason, they’d just say, “You remember the second time we went to that new barbecue joint?”

“Very” is an interesting modifier that writers are told to use very, very sparingly.

Just something to think about the next time you talk about a very first…or second.

An Observation: Sensible Shoes

I overheard someone mentioning that they needed a pair of sensible shoes.

What exactly is a “sensible” shoe?

As a wordsmith, I would like first to view this term from a strictly literal perspective. I mean, in my mind, I’m picturing a “sensible” shoe as an agreeable item that won’t argue with you. (Shoes have tongues, after all, so it stands to reckon that they could—theoretically—argue.)

If my shoes did this, well, they’d be cute, but distracting; therefore, not sensible.

If you’re constantly arguing with your shoes, how will you have time to walk or tap your feet to music or run a half-marathon? (That is, if you’re someone who runs long distances, which I could never do because it would be my feet arguing with me before my shoes had the chance to talk.)

Next, I’d like to view this term from a realistic perspective. When I hear “sensible” shoe, I think of the nurse shoes of yesteryear. The white ones with the thick soles. Comfortable, sure. Fashionably sensible? Depends on your fashion sense.

If you’re looking strictly for comfort when you use the word “sensible,” I’ve heard that Crocs will have you covered. However, I’m of the school of thought that no matter how comfortable a pair of those might be, I will NEVER know it, because I just can’t even bring myself to try on a pair.

For starters, they have holes. If I have to wear socks with the things in winter just to keep my feet warm AND sensibly comfortable, then I might as well just wrap my feet in bubble wrap and draw even more attention to myself. Sure, the bubble wrap might feel like walking on air for about ten seconds, until all the bubbles started to pop and everyone in the grocery store you’re walking through would hit the deck because they didn’t know what that sound was and…where was I going with this?

Bubblewrap Dog GIF - Dog Rollover Roll GIFs
Uhh, I wasn’t going there, but this is cute.

Oh, yeah. Crocs. Thanks, but no thanks.

I’m going to assume that a “sensible” shoe is somewhat comfortable and moderately stylish (because, as we all know, you can’t completely have both).

I’m thinking loafers, although the word “loafer” tends to imply a sense of laziness that negates sensibility.

I’m going to be productive in my loafers.

tired snow GIF
He’s probably wearing loafers.

Yeah, not a sentence you hear very often.

Then again, neither is, “Original hummus chokes twelve angry tsetse flies every half hour in an Antarctic discotheque.” It could happen, but not likely.

Then, you have your sneakers. Sneaky.

Perhaps you call them tennis shoes, like I do. It’s been a while since I’ve played tennis, though, so it feels a bit dishonest.

I’ll just be here in my socks until I figure this one out. Talk amongst yourselves.

An Observation: “Real” Ice Cream

This is an ice cream sandwich.

I couldn’t seem to wait five whole seconds to take a bite.

It’s no ordinary ice cream sandwich, though.

Nope, according to the box, it’s made with real ice cream. REALLY, REALLY, REAL ICE CREAM.

Naturally, this claim made me pause and think.

Does the fact that it’s branded as real ice cream mean that ice cream is a naturally occurring substance? I’m envisioning a breed of dairy cow indigenous to the Arctic Circle producing frozen milk (and somehow producing refined sugar and vanilla–naturally–at the same time).

It’s an udderly preposterous idea.

cow GIF

I don’t know that I’ve ever had fake ice cream, although the cows should be happy to know that I’ve been carrying authentic imitation leather handbags around much longer than I’d care to admit.

Still, what constitutes real? In the simplest terms of the word, if it exists, then it’s real. Perhaps it’s a tool the company used as confirmation that consumers aren’t imagining things; however, I don’t suspect that too many ice cream marketers are terribly concerned with their customers having existential questions about their product. (Granted, if you leave one of their ice cream sandwiches out in the heat for a few minutes, the ice cream part won’t exist for very long.) I know that I don’t tend to get too philosophical in the frozen foods section. My overriding feeling in the frozen foods section is guilt and shame with each sugary box o’ goodness I pile into the cart. Matter of fact, that’s my overriding feeling during the entire grocery shopping experience.

shopping GIF

Nothing like overthinking a snack. For real.

An Observation: Pi Pie

I’m overthinking about Pi Day.

Of course, I learned about 3.141592somethingorother in school. Being the mathematical non-genius that I am, I have had very little to do with pi outside of my academic career. My dad loved to ask me about what I was learning in school during those years, so I kept at least one equation using pi in the back of my mind all the time.

Father Dearest: What’s the formula for the area of a circle?

Me: Umm…I’m pretty sure it’s pi-r-squared.

Father Dearest: No. Pie aren’t square. Pie are round. (Grin.)

(You can see where I get my senseless of humor.)

I didn’t think too much about the connection between the two until a student brought me a gift a few years back on March 14. You know, 3/14.

Yes, pie-r-round. And tasty. But…this one’s in a square box, so…I think my brain is going to implode.

It wasn’t until recently, though, that I really stopped to consider something.

Do they call it “pie” because pies are round, thus making the use of pi more relevant? Or am I overthinking this as usual?

The etymology is quite interesting. Upon performing a little informal research, I found that the word “pie,” while it referred to meat or fish enclosed in pastry, could also be associated somehow with the magpie and its nesting habits of collecting miscellaneous objects and that’s when I started to trail off in my research and wound up watching YouTube videos of pie recipes because I never learned much beyond figuring out the area of a circle using the formula that my dad would later use as a way to make me groan about his deliberate grammatical mistake the way all teenagers do when an adult tries to tell a joke and…you know, I’m always more excited for Fri Day than Pi Day, but that’s beside the point.

morning GIF
Oh, man…I’m never getting this song out of my head now.

I’m just gonna go get myself a pizza pie. With pepperoni. More round objects…on top of a round object. Sheesh, why don’t they just call it pi-peroni? (Overthinking…I know…)

math pi GIF by Chris Timmons

A Few Thoughts: Writing Humor

Humor is a funny beast.

What makes one person laugh might not necessarily make anyone else laugh. And sometimes, no one laughs. Sometimes, everyone laughs at something you simply can’t believe anyone would find humorous.

There are two words in the English language that, when used in combination, terrify me. That moment when a friend looks me directly in the eyes (yes, I have two of them) and says, simply…

“Be funny.”

Umm…uhh…

So, I started to think (which is usually another scary moment). How in the world do you begin to come up with funny stuff? I sat down and compiled a list of things that work for me. (Ahem…things that work for me occasionally at best…I’m writing this as if I’m some kind of expert…I know that all three of my faithful blog readers are eagerly awaiting this sage advice…if you don’t think any of my writing is funny, then you are free to ignore everything…okay, I’ll get on with it here…)

funny cat GIF

  1. Carry a notebook. Or a journal. Or a notepad. Or plain old paper. Oh, and you might need a pen or a pencil, unless you plan to open up a paper cut and scrawl your ideas in blood (don’t do it). If you’d rather use your phone or tablet, it’s up to you…it’s a purely personal preference. However, I find that ideas stick with me longer when I have to take the time to physically write them down on something that doesn’t have the potential to run out of battery power. And, why should you carry something to write with at all times? Well…
  2. Think of something ordinary you see or hear. Now…are you sure that’s all there is to it? Just make the quick observation, jot it down, and see if anything comes of it. I’m a words person. I like to observe potential with words. For instance, just the other day, I started thinking about what it really means to be a free thinker. I wrote down those two words–free thinker. When I realized no one was paying me for my thoughts, I had my answer.
  3. Compare the incomparable.
ron burgundy what GIF
I said, “COMPARE THE INCOMPARABLE.”

Yes, you read that correctly. Think about seemingly unrelated senses, like comparing sight and smell. A few days ago, I had to throw something away that had overstayed its welcome. When someone asked me why, I responded, “Because the smell was getting pretty graphic.” Laugh, haha, never thought of it that way, etc.

And, finally…

4. Run it by your friends. If they like it, great! If they don’t, go make new friends. Unless you find out that you’re the weird one, and then you might want to sit with that thought for a while…

Remember, these are just ideas. I never said they were good ideas, but they are ideas. Perhaps “ideas” should have been Numero Uno on my list, but I don’t really feel like going back to change it now. So, you can just take your pen and paper and write in “ideas” at the top of the list.

Happy Writing!

An Observation: Non-Labor Day

We’ve arrived at the unofficial end of summer. Let us observe a moment of silence.

(Umm…I said a moment. But, okay. Whatever floats your boat.)

Sure, it’ll still be hotter than a flamethrower on the equator until mid-October here in good old Arkansas, but all the carefree summer fun is magically exchanged for hoodies and pumpkin-spice oxygen once Labor Day concludes.

Labor Day became a federal holiday in 1894. I don’t suppose I know anyone who was around for the first one to interview them for a first-hand perspective, but I’m sure the first one wasn’t like our modern celebration. (And judging by the Labor Day sales offered by most retailers, it doesn’t seem to be universally observed in this here country. But I digress…)

In my family, we used to celebrate the three-day weekend with a trip to the river or by watching television in the air conditioning as a family. When I was in college, a very close relative threw a great Labor Day party he didn’t even know about until he came home to find my brother, myself, and about a dozen of our closest friends enjoying his swimming pool.

I applaud the efforts of those who created a holiday to celebrate the hard working men and women of this country, but I have a problem with it.

More specifically, the wording of it.

As the self-proclaimed Meticulously Observant Observer, I live for details. I feel like calling this holiday “Labor Day” means that one is expected to do just that–labor–on their “holiday.”

Why didn’t they call it “Non-Labor Day” instead?

I understand the intent–honor those who labor–but, let’s say you are the type to take things very literally. You see a day on the calendar marked “Labor Day.” You might think that you have to put in some serious overtime on the first Monday in September. Meanwhile, everyone around you has filled up their cars with camping gear and tells you they’ll “see you Tuesday.” (Maybe you do have to work overtime. I don’t know. I’m not your boss. Again, I digress…)

Oh, well. I’m overthinking things again. It happens.

Have a Happy (Non) Labor Day. And remember…Tuesday is the new Monday this week. Order that extra shot of espresso.

You deserve it.
You deserve it.

A Definition: Essential Oils

Essential oils are awfully popular these days, don’t you think?

My question is twofold: If they’re so essential, then how have I managed to make it all this time without them? And what is an essential oil?

I suppose one answer to the first question is that I’m a lady but I’m not exactly girly. I like wearing dresses and skirts, but I don’t care for spending all of my spare time shopping for them. I didn’t get my first pedicure until I was 31 years old and I was reluctant to ever get another one after I left about half of the skin on my right heel on a nail technician’s cheese (foot) grater.

I’m also the skinniest person you’ll ever meet who subsists on a steady diet of pizza and hamburgers. I have a multivitamin in my medicine cabinet, so I assumed I was covered in the “essentials” department. (From A to Zinc.) Therefore, a health-nut or fashionista-type trend probably would go unnoticed in my world until it was about to go out of style.

I figured it was time to bring Webster into the equation for some good ol’ definitions.

Noah Webster
There he is. Found him. Noah Webster. The dictionary guy.

The definition of an essential oil (from what I could find on the internets) is an oil that that smells like the plant it comes from. The “essence” is the characteristic fragrance of the plant from whence it came.

I’m not satisfied with that, though. Being a words person (and self-proclaimed Meticulously Observant Observer), I decided to break down the nomenclature (ooh, a big word–thanks, Noah Webster) and determine exactly what an essential oil is. I’ve taken what I have deemed as the most appropriate definition for each word (where multiple examples are provided) and listed them below:

essential (adj.): extremely important and necessary

oil (n.): a thick, black liquid that comes from the ground and that is used in making various products (such as gasoline)

Well, then. According to these definitions, the most essential oil in my life appears to be motor oil. It gets me to and fro each day…in an indirect manner, but, still…it’s much more essential to my day-to-day routine than smelling like a botanical garden.

You have to admit, they are nice...
Okay, you do have to admit that they’re nice…

Not that smelling like a botanical garden is a bad thing. Quite the contrary–I really like the idea. I just don’t think it’s as “essential” as the word suggests it is.