Friday, June 24, 2011

As Plane as the Knows on Your Phase

Thought for the day:  If ministers get defrocked, do electricians get delighted? And musicians, denoted?

One of the things amateur radio operators do is relay messages. Although the nature of those messages has changed since the early 1900s, one thing that hasn't changed is the importance, particularly during times of emergency, of efficiently and accurately delivering the information contained in those messages. In recent years, emergency communicators have also recognized the importance of using  plain English. No radio lingo, no acronyms ... just plain easy-to-understand language. Hams aren't alone in adopting this policy, either. The use of plain English is now mandated for governmental departments and agencies, as well as for emergency response professionals.

So, let's take a closer look at plain English, shall we? I've been a word nerd all my life, but if you think about it, the English language  is a mess. Must be extremely difficult to learn as a second language, and what may be plain to you and me could very well be Greek to someone else.

Consider these:

  • Why is the man who invests all your money called a broker?
  • Howcum the third hand on your watch is called a second hand
  • Hmmm, avoidable. Is that what a bullfighter tries to do?
  • And is relief what trees do in the springtime?
  • How about an eyedropper? Surely, that must mean a clumsy ophthalmologist.
  • And eclipse. Sounds like something a cockney barber does for a living, doesn't it?
  • Oh, and selfish. I'm pretty sure that's what the guy at the seafood market does.
  • And, of course, the classic: Why do we park on the driveway and drive on the parkway?
Still not convinced? Consider these sentences:
  • The nurse wound the bandage around the wound.
  • He could lead quite well if he ever got the lead out. (And, by the way, how did lead get in there in the first place?)
  • Betsy Ross, a sewer, fell into the sewer.
  • When I saw the tear in my expensive new dress, I shed a tear.
  • Get close to the door so you can close it.
  • The lawyer said, "I object to that object!"
And don't get me started on pluralization! Really. (I believe we'll take an amusing gander at that insanity on Monday ...)

CQ Field Day, CQ field day
Before taking a look at some of the wacko news stories of the week, one additional word about amateur radio. This weekend, amateur radio operators all over the United States will be participating in something we call Field Day. In many areas, set-up will begin this evening, but the actual 24-hour operation period begins tomorrow afternoon. Most, but not all, groups will be set up in  the great outdoors, and will be powering their stations with anything from generators to solar power. The idea is to practice emergency communications, to contact as many other stations as possible, and to have FUN. And ALL are welcome. The public is invited, and if interested, can even operate under the watchful eye of a licensed operator. You can see the unusual antennas used, the wide range of modes, and might even get to hear contacts made via satellite or with the international space station. We LOVE to show people ... especially youngsters ... around and "infect" them with the radio bug. Oh, and we hams really like to EAT, so you can probably find yourself some mighty fine grub there, as well. Sound interesting? To see if there's any Field Day activity going on near you, check here

Oh, yeah. One thing I wanted to mention before looking at the news. There was a very interesting obituary in our newspaper last week. The gentleman, one Harry Bernstein, died at the ripe old age of 101. The obit says he wrote somewhere in the neighborhood of forty books in his lifetime, but destroyed most of them after receiving rejection notices from publishers. And here's the thing: at the age of NINETY-SIX, his memoir "The Invisible Wall" was published. And at the age of NINETY-EIGHT, he received a Guggenheim Fellowship to pursue his writing ... and wrote three more books!

So again, I tell you ... never, never, NEVER give up!

OK, so now the time has come to look at the (ta DA!)

Weirdest News Stories of the Week

***  Find a penny, pick it up, and all the day, you'll have good luck. Ever say that when you were a kid? I still do. (But if the penny is tails up when I find it, I always flip it over, and leave it for the next person to pocket. I know. Weird, huh?) Anyway, an unemployed jewelry setter has been picking up a lot more than pennies in his spare time. On 47th Street, in what is known as New York's Diamond District, this gentleman has been crawling on his hands and knees, plucking treasures from the pavement cracks with a pair of tweezers. He's found diamond chips, rubies, bits of platinum, and gold fragments, which have earned him more than one thousand dollars in the past two weeks. (Heck, and I'm happy when I find a penny ... )

*** Police suspected a 46-year-old Minnesota woman of shoplifting, and placed her under arrest on other charges. Three days later, while still in jail, she whipped out a $6500 mink coat, which she'd hidden in her underwear. Hmmm, softer than Charmin, but I hope the store dry-cleaned that puppy before putting it back on the rack ...

*** A woman attending a Colorado yoga and music festival, called the Hanuman Festival, got a little more than she bargained for when she went into one of those standard blue port-a-potties. She thought she saw something moving in the tank. So she alerted a security guard, and it turned out, that "something" was a 20-year-old, 6' 8" man. In the tank. With the, uh, stuff you'd expect to find in the tank. The man, shirtless, shoeless, and covered in sewage, fled before he could be arrested. Somehow, I don't think the police tried overly hard to apprehend this fellow, who's wanted on suspicion of making "unlawful sexual contact." I mean, would you have wanted to put him in YOUR back seat?

*** An unemployed North Carolina man entered a bank this week, and gave the teller a note reading, "This is a bank robbery. Please give me one dollar." Then, the polite man, who carried no weapon, sat and waited for the police. This 59-year-old, who has a multitude of serious medical problems, has no medical insurance. After considering his options, he decided jail was the best. He hopes to be sentenced to three years so he can get all the healthcare he needs. If his plan works, I fear we may have a rash of one-dollar robberies all over the country.

Enjoy your weekend, and until next time, take care of yourselves. And each other.


  1. Re your final 'weird story'. I have always advised that the 'elderly' should commit a reasonably serious crime. Get away with it and you're rich; fail and you're looked after handsomely for the rest of your life! Not stupid.

  2. Hi, Cro. You've made an interesting point there. Doesn't say much about the deterrent or punitive aspect of today's prisons, though, does it?

  3. Doesn't say much for your countries economy either.
    As for the penny....yep, I always pick them up nd give them away. That is how you seal the luck. there's a word for your collection.

  4. English is a strange language. I've always said I'd hate to try to learn it if I hadn't been raised with it.

    Re the penny: I always say that, too! Not sure it works, but I figure it can't hurt. Besides, if nothing else, you're a penny richer. ;)

  5. Gotta love english! I'm jotting these gems down. :)

  6. It's a shame people with no insurance have to go to jail to get medical care. He was smart he involved a bank, that's a felony. If it was only the gas'n'go he would have gotten a slap on the wrist.

  7. I giggled so much @ your title - so perfect! :) Love the weird stories. Wow. Hugs!

  8. Word Nerd! Your word study was very interesting indeed :-)

    Have a great weekend :-)


  9. Hi, All. Thank you so much for your comments.

    Delores- Well, I don't think it says as much about our economy as it does about the ridiculously high cost of health insurance and healthcare in our country. It's a terrible catch-22 situation: can't afford insurance, and can't afford not to have it, either.

    Linda- It's amazing me many people turn their noses up at the idea of bending over to pick up a lowly penny ... let alone flip one over for the next person. Superstition? Maybe. More of a habit, like stomping my feet and saying, "Trip, trap! Trip, trap! Who's that tripping over MY bridge?!" when we walk over a footbridge.

    Sam- Yup, glad it's my first language!

    Anne- You're right; it's a terrible shame. A few years back, a terribly ill fellow in our county got so desperate, he punched his mail carrier in the nose, in the hopes of going to the slammer for attacking a federal employee. Didn't work out so well for him. He served a very brief sentence in the local jail, and didn't get his medical treatment.

    Skippy- I'm glad to hear that; it's always good to make someone laugh or giggle.

    Ron- Yup, not only a word nerd, but as an amateur radio operator, a run-of-the-mill nerd, too.

  10. Crazy stories, especially that dude in the toilet! Reminds me of a Stephen King story....

    Angela @ The Bookshelf Muse

  11. Fun list!

    You're hard pressed to find a penny in Oz theses days. Our treasury stopped minting 'copper' coins about fifteen years ago. Our smallest coin now is 5 cents. All prices are rounded up or down to the nearest 5c. I can't say I miss having a pocket full of useless coins.

  12. Brilliant as ever :-) Cheered me up no end. Loved the look at wacky English and the news. The former reminds me of the office memo thing when one guy in the office was in the habit of writing 'Balls' on nitpicking memos from his superior. Taken to task for the use of obscene language on office stationery, he wrote, instead, 'Round Objects.' The memo came back annotated with 'Who is Round, and to what does he object?'
    Have a great rest of the weekend

  13. Hi, Angela- In looking for this week's stories, I came across another similar story. only it was a couple years old. In that case, a man was hiding in a farmer's manure pit, a mixture of pig and dog feces ... up to his NECK. For a whole HOUR. Hmmm, given the choice of that or being locked up, I believe I would've chosen the relatively clean jail cell.

    Hi, Al. Wow, no more pennies. I didn't know that. Guess you can no longer give someone a penny for his thoughts ... or your two cents' worth, eh? (Well, actually I generally give THREE cent's worth. Inflation.)

    Hi, Karla. I love your story about the office memos. Thanks for sharing it, dear lady. Absolutely priceless!

  14. Just catching up after being away for a few days. Loved the post; it was very clever.

    I had read the story about Harry Bernstein and saw it on the news. Harry was a person who never gave up and his story is certainly inspirational. However, now his relatives will all get the royalties that took him 98 years to earn.

  15. Hi Starting Over. Welcome back to the blogosphere. Glad you enjoyed the post, and glad you saw that obituary, too. I thought it told an amazing story of perseverance. And, don't our relatives all end up getting what we take a whole lifetime to build? (unless we get a new attitude and one of those bumper stickers that says, "I'm spending my kids' inheritance.")