Five Necessary German Nouns*

Schmerzescheissekandynacht

The late-night sadness of seeing from 20 paces that the office candy jar has been refilled with despised black licorice, when the planned high point of one’s day was grabbing a handful of Werther’s butterscotch to eat in the elevator on the way down to the underground bike parking cage–a sadness compounded by the knowledge that nobody else likes the black licorice either, so it will be there for many nights to come.

Freudentelefonikageist

The small moment of delight in getting voicemail, not a person.

Schadenbloggenstille

The disappointment of checking one’s RSS reader to note that one has not updated one’s own blog.

Kumulusverklempt

The strong desire to bounce on, roll around in, and possible eat, the bed of fluffy clouds beneath one on an airplane.

Kinodietrichzeit

The inability to enjoy a movie until one has established who that character reminds one of.

*Crediting the great Merlin Mann.

Thank You.

As a kid, I worried about Santa Claus’s feelings. For weeks–months–he was all we thought about and talked about. We laboured over letters with our tongues stuck out, explaining that we would please like a Ballerina Sindy Clear Casters a selection box and a surprise please. We listened to the radio on Christmas Eve, dying to hear Santy read our names. That night, excitement edged towards panic as the hours refused to get out of the way. Then–sandy-eyed after bad sleep–the breathless unwrapping. What is it? What is it? Strap-on rollerskates. Here’s the Sindy. A Timex watch! And Clear Casters? No, the selection box. (Disappointment.)

And as the wrapping paper piled up, Santy disappeared from our consciousness, like a porn star after the money shot. We stood ready to catalogue our swag: “Was Santy good to you?” the aunties would ask. “What d’ya get?” said the other kids, jostling to compare. But beyond that, we didn’t give him a thought. No reports, no thank yous. No more being-good-for-Santy. Stupid old stupidhead forgot the batteries again, anyway.
Continue reading “Thank You.”

Strong Language

Engineers, scientists, and military officers often turn out good prose. Their sentences may not always be limpid, lyrical or arresting, but as writers they are capable of a clarity and precision that academics and marketers often can’t or won’t match. Their work demands it. When a software engineer writes vague instructions, her program breaks. When a scientist notes observations imprecisely, her experiment suffers. When a Green Beret commander gives a rambling order, his guys are put at risk.

But a literary theorist who expresses his ideas in clear language betrays the “expert” mystery on which tenure depends. An MBA student who avoids crass jargon might fail for seeming not to know it. A marketer who relies on simple, direct language must know exactly what the product can do for the customer–and understanding that takes effort.
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He told us that he is your Friend

Most social software acts more like a gawky thirteen-year-old than like Emily Post. I write customer service email for a living, so I’m touchy about software corporations telling me how fabulous a job they’re doing.

Below are some common questions asked about Multiply:

Is this just like other “networking” sites I have heard
about?

Actually it’s much different, and much better. While other
sites are strictly about meeting new people, Multiply is a
communication tool that makes it easier to stay in touch
with people you already know.

Spare me and show me, kids.

Frank has added you as his contact on Multiply so he can better stay in touch with you, and he told us that he is your Friend. To see Frank’s Multiply home page, or start your own, please go to the following address to confirm that he is your Friend:

Frank is my Friend? That’s what my mother called menstruation when I was twelve.

Beating Skin

A year ago I wrote a piece on Van Morrison that sparked a small discussion on the meaning of the Irish term “the crack was good”. This morning Eddie enlightened me on the roots of ‘craic’.

Thought it might be as well to ensure for posterity that the origin of the term ‘craic’ went on record. Anglicised as ‘crack’, the term ‘craic’ comes from ‘ag buaileadh craiceann’ or ‘beating skin’. It is a reference to a highly private inter-personal (and usually inter-gender) activity which tends to promote mutual enjoyment, and sometimes progeny. But, there it is … buaileadh craiceann; an craic; the crack. All good fun really.

Beir beannacht [Blessings; good wishes]

So there you have it. The crack is as good as knockin’ boots and rock ‘n’ roll. Thanks, Eddie!