Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Hwæt eart þū?

hen I'm at Upham Manor sitting in the parlor watching TV, it is a truism that the volume of the show that I am watching is only a third of that of the commercials that come on. If don't have the button in hand, I have to ask someone else to make the adjustment.

"Can you louden the volume, please?"

It's a sentence that has been spoken in my family since long before the advent of the button. (What you might call the clicker or the remote.)

Sometimes, if we have guests they'll ask, "What did you say? You want me to do what? What the heck is 'louden'?"

I get more grief for that simple word than almost any other word I use. Now, in researching this post, I went looking to see if this is a regional thing and what exactly its origins were. But frankly, I found precious little apart from the etymology. In fact, what little I did find claimed that this is simply incorrect usage.

I say that's scitte.

The fact is, the use of -en as a suffix is simply a convention of Middle English that enabled the formation of transitive or instransitive verbs from adjectives or from nouns. It comes from the our linguistic roots in the Germanic. I suspect Anglo-Saxon influences here. (29% of our English language comes from Germanic roots.)

We soften water. We hearken to speakers. We fasten things together. We sweeten our coffee. We strengthen supports. Drama is heightened. We moisten stamps. There is certainly no reason we cannot louden the volume of a television. Are you listening?

It's clear to me that we here in New England have a penchant for keeping linguistic constructs in vogue long after such knowledge has passed out of memory from other parts of the English speaking world. I was once told by a professor of English, a man who is from England, that the dialects of New England are closer to Elizabethan English than the dialects spoken in England. You can hear those same roots in the way Bostonians say words like "bath" and "path" with the ah sound rather then the short of used in the word "cat".

Of course, not all of us speak this way anymore. More and more the non-regional pronunciations of television and radio has weakened our dialect with its vanilla, mid-west non-accent. It's sad, but even Bostonians have become Ohio-ized.

But our dialect is not gone. A few weeks ago, I perked up in delight when, while watching the news, a woman on the street was being interviewed by a reporter. The woman used the phrase "will have had boughten" in referring to the future acquisition of a certain municiple resource. Will have had boughten. Man, you just don't get to hear good old fashioned vernacular like that anymore.

More recently, a colleague here at the Lab was recounting a negotiation in which he had been involved. He referred to the benefits that one party "will have broughten" to the proverbial table. It sent chills down my spine.

Language is a beautiful thing. I am one of those freakish people that feel that language must be preserved. It's a gift passed down to us from our ancestors as a sacred trust. Though I may stand out in crowd, I want to keep my manner of speaking. I owe it to posterity.

One last story to illustrate keeping language alive. I was sitting in the common room at Virginia Tech when Professor John Rhor walked in the front door. At that same moment, doctoral student George Assibey-Mensah walked in from the another room. They greeted one another, exchanged a question and a retort or two, made their farewells and went their separate ways. They had done so in a language that sounded familiar, but I couldn't place it. "What language was that?" I asked of the student next to me. He said, "That was Latin."

Latin. Conversational Latin. That is wicked pisser.

So, are you going to bring your dialect with you into the future?

For me, my friend, it's already been broughten.



Tuesday, April 21, 2009


We cannot expect the Americans to jump from capitalism to communism, but we can assist their leaders in giving Americans small doses of socialism until they suddenly awake to find they have communism.

-Soviet Leader Nikita Krushchev, 1959

When I find quotes like this, it makes me wonder why I bother blogging at all. I mean, what more do I really need to say? Doesn't this say it all? Isn't infinitely more prescient than I could ever hope to be with my diminutive predictions?

The other thing that blows my mind is the fact that one of the two most powerful men in the world could say this and, despite the fact that he stands for everything we stood against (note the past tense), it has still come to pass.

Wake up. Wake up, America.

Friday, April 17, 2009

Where Does the Time Go?

Stop him before he grows again!!
A couple days ago, my wife gave birth to our baby Benjamin. I blinked and he graduated from college.
OK, it's not quite that bad, but in a few minutes it will be. How can he be growing up so quickly?!

We only just had you, Ben! Slow down! Let me enjoy your littleness before it's gone!!

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Alien Attack

So I'm listening to National Public Radio today (yes, I know, that was my first mistake) and they were talking about the great many people who have been rendered without a home due to current financial problems tied to the current economic mess (read, "depression") that we're in.

They were interviewing individuals and families and informing listeners of their plight. At one point, I began to wonder if I could, and logistically how I could, help out a family should I encounter one that had indeed lost its home and found itself with no place to sleep. I began wondering how long a family of three or four could abide in the Mead Hall should the opportunity and need be presented.

Then I hear from one unfortunate mother how exactly that had happened to her. She had been staying with a family who had enountered them out in the cold and had taken them in. I was rather touched to hear it and felt all the more that doing anything I could would be the right thing to do.

Until the NPR reporter mentioned that this woman was, in fact, in the country illegally.

But the reporter wasn't making an issue of the fact that this woman was here illegally -- no. In fact, it was only brought up to point out that it was difficult for this woman to obtain public assistance: food stamps, welfare, subsidized housing, etc.

At that point, my empathy was replaced by justifiable anger with this woman, with NPR, and with our system of government.

In order to try and complete this posting without swearing or sounding like a raving lunatic, allow me please to make my point by virtue of analogy:

Let's say you encounter me at a party at a private club of which you are a paying member, or perhaps at a wedding reception that you are hosting. You find that, due to some physical limitation, I am unable to reach the hor'd ourves table. You feel pity on me and you help me out by offering me a tray of treats. You help me move around the room, cut my meat, and offer to buy me a drink.

Then you find out that I'm not a member of the club or that I wasn't invited to the wedding. What's more, I'm there with my three kids. We're not just helping ourselves to the refreshments that are provided to the guests, but you, my friend, had in part paid for these refreshments.

Do you still feel the same pity that you had before?

Well, I for one don't. I feel robbed. And more than that, I feel outraged that the bartender, whose salary I pay, has been working to keep these party-crashers from being thrown out on their asses or has refrained from calling the cops like should be done because these party-crashers might vote for him later if he doesn't.

I'm trying to keep calm right now, but it's getting increasingly harder. In fact, my increasing discontent (to be very euphemistic) is what has kept me from posting to this blog more often than I have lately.

I'm very angry at the unprecedented levels of my income and my assets that are being taken by force from me a citizen and being handed over to criminals who have hopped a fence or to companies and individuals that have proven incapable of proper stewardship of their own income and assets.

I am very close to rebellion.

Thursday, April 9, 2009

An Open Letter (Sent) to Bank of Amerika


I've been a customer now, according to your records, for some fifteen years. I just received "The" letter today indicating that you'd be jacking up my interest rate by 6 percentage points for, as far as I can tell, no reason directly connected to me or my activity.

I made a couple phone calls to your personnel and was fed the standard line of garbage about how this was tied to the economoy, etc, etc. Problem is, when I cited report after report of how interest rates were falling rather than increasing, no one had an answer other than that of double-speak.

So here's the situation as I see it: You guys are getting boned by myriad customers who have defaulted on their credit lines, failed to pay you, and generally screwed you out of your money. In turn, you'ved decided to screw me in hopes of recouping those losses.However, your new "strategy" has resulted only in a decline in your good customers and, no doubt, a tigher grip on those that you probably shouldn't have issued credit to in the first place. Nice move, bowel.

So there you have it. Instead of getting the 6.9% interest from me that you were getting, I've decided to freeze(and will shortly close) my account with you after 15 years of dedicated and, I daresay, loyal customership. Oh, and don't forget the on-time payments you've always gotten from me. Good luck with extracting payment from the other people who you've trapped into the 13% rate.

Before I close, here are a couple comments I think are worth mentioning:

When you increase an interest rate by a factor two, it's not "different" as your reps took such care to say. No. It's an INCREASE. It's HIGHER. "Different" would be a change from wanting US dollars to, say, having me pay in soda crackers or glass beads. More is still more regardless of how you spin it.

Secondly, the absurdity that you called my "option" of being able to keep my current interest rate but never again being able to use my card again was nothing more than insulting. That sort of verbal asshattery may be sufficient to fake out your marketing department, but in the real world, real people know when they're being hosed.

Here's a pretty cool quote from a money expert that I thought was rather salient:

Sean Gardner, director of MoneyExpert.com, said:
"Even when we started monitoring average credit card interest rates they were already around 16 per cent, so to see them continue to increase is testament to how much the card companies feel they can get away with."

But I digress.

I just wanted to let you know that I'll be sharing this letter, and my un-recommendation of your company with everyone I know, my blog, all of the forums I troll, and in general anyone I come across that might in the future have otherwise considered transacting business with you.

I sign off wishing you luck when you do eventually go looking for a government bailout, and the suggestion that you dump your current batch of "strategists" for those who do actually have something akin to a clue.


Wednesday, April 8, 2009


One day a guy dies and finds himself in hell. Walking around, he runs into the devil.

Devil: Why are you so sad?

Guy: Why do you think? I’m in hell.

Devil: Hell’s not so bad. We actually have a lot of fun down here. You a drinkin’ man?

Guy: Sure, I love to drink.

Devil: Well you’re gonna love Mondays then. On Mondays, all we do is drink. Whiskey, tequila, Guinness, wine coolers, Diet Tab. We drink until we throw up and then we drink some more.

Guy: Gee, that sounds great.

Devil: You a smoker?

Guy: You better believe it.

Devil: All right! You’re gonna love Tuesdays. We get the finest cigars from around the world and smoke our friggin’ lungs out. If you get cancer, it’s okay — you’re already dead.

Guy: Golly!

Devil: I bet you like to gamble, too.

Guy: Yes, as a matter of fact I do.

Devil: Good, because Wednesday is gambling day. Craps, blackjack, horse races, youname it. You like to do drugs?

Guy: Yes, I love to do drugs. You don’t mean…?

Devil: That’s right! Thursday is drug day. Help yourself to a great big bowl of crack. Smoke a doobie the size of the Titanic. You can do all the drugs you want, and you’ll never die — you’re already dead.

Guy: Neat! I never realized hell was such a happenin’ place!

Devil: You gay?

Guy: No.

Devil: Oh, you’re gonna hate Fridays.

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Rantings & Ramblings

Zoinks. So many thoughts have been whirling by since I last posted that rather than trying to make sense of them all, I'm going to just file this under R&R. Boy, don't I wish that stood for Rest and Relaxation.

Work Work Work
Work at the office has picked up speed to a break neck pace. I'm responsible for training the entire company in MS Office 2007. I've developed a curriculum, written manuals, established a schedule and I'm frantically teaching classes every day as I try to get people in as quickly as possibe. I'm currently the only trainer in the IT Department. My hope is that one day I may find myself managing a small staff of trainers here. Right now, given the success I've had to date, that is a very real possibility.

Work on Upham Manor
I don't believe I've mentioned it here before, but Janet has started a home day care. Completely apart from the time, effort, and expense that has gone into this, I have found myself slaving on the grounds of the manor each week making sure that things are well groomed, safe, secured, fenced off, and made child-friendly. I've had to construct and install fencing, clean areas once used for construction materials, relocated various elements of the yard from one place to another, and ensure that things are very well groomed. I've been spending long days expending mental energy and coming home to expend physical energy.

The parlor has been lost. My precious room has been wholly revamped to make way for kids. A fine splay of swords has been replaced with cardboard letters of the alphabet and other preschool visuals. My all of my great furniture has been moved out to the Mead Hall. In short, my very existence has been relocated. I'll no doubt be spending my time out in the Hall over the next few months seeking some peace and that R&R I mentioned needing.

Janet's first client has been found after a great deal of advertising and effort. Huzzah! We hope to bring in four more children for a total of five.

Master Benjamin
Poor Been Jammin's been sick for several days! An occasional touch of fever that we were not sure was the result of teething or of the cold has been fought off and he is finally recovering well. His nose was still running like a fountain when I kissed him goodbye this morning, but he seems much happier and filled with energy and appetite.

He is not yet "crawling" in the conventional meaning, but he has found his own means of locomotion that takes him all over the house. Rather than bending his legs and crawling on his hands and knees, he's discovered a manner of crawling much like that of a World War I soldier going under the wire. He lies flat to the ground and uses his hands and elbows to pull his limp legs and feet along behind him. It's a great method for avoiding enemy fire and it has the added benefit of keeping the kitchen floor clean.

There seems to be a growing undercurrent -- one I am all too ready to be swept along in -- that rejects the exponential increase of governmental inteference in our lives for a reactionist, activist, libertarian attitude. It has become increasingly difficult to sit and listen to news reports of the next new program the Commonwealth or the Federal government has put into place to "help" you and me and our economy.

New France. That's who we've become. We've untied our capitalist, laissez-faire mooring and we've cast off, rowing at full speed, into a sea of socialism.

Very soon I am going to write a post explaining one more time what government is supposed to do. It's a very short list. And no, it doesn't include things like giving private companies money as a reward for failing to earn their own. Nor does it include backing warrantees to consumers on low quality automobiles. Why am I paying for some moron's Chevy Blazer or Ford Taurus? If they were dumb enough to buy that kind of crap, let them eat their own destiny. I'm on my fourth Nissan Maxima having never experienced a breakdown or major repair on any of them.

Why do we reward failure?

Why do we spend so much on special education for people with limited abilities and zero ability to contribute to society and we provide next to nothing to gifted kids who may one day change our world?

But I digress... Stay tuned.