Category Archives: Words

Advanced Social Media

Many thanks to the gentle baboons who have kept this blog going for several months and especially the past few weeks while I’ve been distracted by work.

Our Fall Membership drive is underway at Fresh Air Community Radio – we’re in the middle of the second week of fundraising, just two days away from the scheduled conclusion. Just recently I’ve been preoccupied helping friends like the Morning Blend hosts (pictured above) as they try to get listeners to call 612 375-9030 to make a contribution.

KFAI_SignIf you’ve never listened, you should give it a try. The most baboon-friendly show on the schedule is Stone Soup, Wednesday mornings from 10am to noon. I often hear host Pam K. playing music that was, or would have been, featured on the old MPR Morning Show.

But that’s no surprise. Our station has many personalities, literally and figuratively. We are the antidote for anyone fed up with tightly formatted radio. While the most popular stations in town strive for stability by trying to sound exactly the same whenever you tune in, we are like the flowing river. Stick your dial at 90.3 / 106.7 FM and you’ll find that you can’t listen to the same station twice. No matter what you think you’re going to hear, it’s always going to become something else.

KFAI_State_FairSome people look at that and say we’re hanging on too long to an outdated model, suggesting that the volunteer-based grab bag approach to programming where individuals use the medium as a form of self-expression is a hippie artifact. They say we’ve got to step into the digital age and create a coherent multi-platform brand that is consistent and predictable and is tied to something more marketable than the quirk factor.

But I look at the digital age and see an environment where any form of media that’s seen as monolithic and prepackaged is at risk of being overwhelmed by thousands of small-time operators who are creatively and subversively employing the same tools as the big players.  And I don’t think subversive is too strong a word.  After all, we have a broadcast frequency in a major American city, and we routinely hand it over to just ordinary folks so they can be heard.

In that sense, community radio is the original social media.

If we were Facebook, we’d give everyone their own show, and I do sometimes encounter people who think they can walk in the door  at KFAI and have an on-air slot within days.  After all, they have excellent musical taste!  Unfortunately, we’re limited by the number of hours in a day, and new program hosts soon find out having your own weekly radio show is a more demanding commitment than simply posting your thoughts and putting up a cat video every now and then.

But it is an enticing thought.

If you had a radio show, what would it sound like and what would you call it?  

A Roll in the Hay

Today’s post comes from Clyde in Mankato.

I know, I was an English teacher and all that, but I am really far more visually oriented than word-oriented. I opened at random a book called The Prairie World by David F. Costello. I read this description, and until I came to the key words, which I have left blank below, I had no idea what plant he was describing:

If you examine a stem closely, you will see that the leaves alternate in opposite directions from the stem, and only one leaf grows from the node. The leaf itself consists of two parts: the sheath which forms tube around the stem, and is split its full length; and the blade, which is wide and often flat but nearly always elongated. The portion of the leaf at the junction of the blade and sheath is called the collar. The mebranous or hairy structures where the base of the blade touches the stem is called the ligule. This structure, which varies greatly among different _____s, is useful in their identification. It keeps water from flowing inside the sheath where fungi might grow. Some _____s have appendages, one on either side of the base of the blade, known as auricles . . . As the ______ continues its seasonal growth it produces new stems from buds that develop from old stem bases near the surface of the ground . . .”

Do you recognize that plant? We all know it well. But we seldom look at it at such close range. I had a colleague who taught biology who tried to get students to notice, to look, to see at both the close range and the larger picture; to see patterns, to see differences and similarities and to relish the wonder of nature. I tired to teach essentially the same thing about reading and literature.

Costello is describing grass. Just grass, grown taller than we let it grow in our cultured yards. The technical jargon does not help, it never does, except to the those in the inner circle of the world circumscribed by the given jargon.  But since every June of my childhood was driven by a high concern for grass, or hay as farmers call it in full form, I should recognize it by any description. I used to lie in it, just to relax in the sun, to rest with my dog by my side, to look up at the clouds drifting across the sky on their way to Lake Superior.

Somehow I did not Mowingroll over and look carefully at the intricacy of a single plant of grass. In the larger picture, driven by the daily details, a biology teacher and an English teacher are teaching many of the same skills.

Praises be for the small and simple yet wonder-filled things which sustain us heart, body, and soul.

Are you a good looker?

The Mystery of S.A.L.T.

Today’s post comes from Barbara in Robbindsale.

A couple of weeks ago in mid-August, I noticed something on our kitchen wall calendar penciled in on Wednesday morning, “SALT.” It is in my writing, and is apparently an acronym for something I wanted to attend. On checking further, it also appears in mid-September, mid-October, November, and December. I have been racking my brain, and I have NO IDEA WHAT THIS IS. I’ve hunted through the various little “rat-piles” that lie around the house for leaflets announcing various events. I’ve looked through old emails and through my list of “Favorites”.  And I finally entered S.A.L.T. into my search engine to see if something rang a bell. Here’s most of what showed up:

  • Salina
  • Speech Application Language Tags
  • State and Local Taxation
  • Strategic Arms Limitation(s) Talks/Treaty
  • Short and Long Term
  • spending a lot of time
  • Serum Alanine Aminotransferase
  • Salt and Light Television
  • Southern African Large Telescope
  • Supporting Arms Liaison Team
  • Sloping Agricultural Land Technology
  • Special Altimeter
  • Society for Applied Learning Technology
  • Subscriber Access Line Terminal
  • Save A Life Today
  • Skin-Associated Lymphoid Tissue
  • Same As Last Time
  • Seminars About Long-term Thinking
  • Seminars About Long Term
  • Society of American Law Teachers
  • Sloping Agriculture Land Technology
  • Student Action Leadership Team
  • Scottish Association for Language Teaching
  • Society for Accelerative Learning and Teaching
  • Systematic Analysis of Language Transcripts
  • Subscriber’s Apparatus Line Tester

Although some are interesting, none of these seems be what I was thinking of attending, but it’s kind of refreshing to know they exist.

I’m pretty sure it’s nothing urgent, or I would have remembered it!

What’s been the most crucial thing you completely forgot?

Why I Don’t Eat The Coleslaw

Header image by Amanda Wood via Flickr

I have been thinking about and reading lately the voluminous works of Ogden Nash, a silly poet who was taken seriously. How he managed to become widely known by working in the disrespected field of light verse is still perplexing. Nash died in 1971. There has been no one like him since.

You hardly hear about Nash today. People have a way of vanishing. Even the most accomplished artists and statesmen can quickly become inconsequential, postmortem.

But during the many hours I’ve spent standing in the supermarket checkout line, one thing I’ve learned that you can stay relevant if you manage to perish under a cloud of suspicion.  If you can’t do that, at least make your exit in some unconventional and potentially memorable way.

It turns out Nash died after eating “improperly prepared” coleslaw, although few details about the incident are available online. The official cause was said to be Crohn’s Disease, aggravated by side dish.

Here is where we might identify some fame-extending mysterious circumstances. How could Nash, a well-known hypochondriac, so casually imbibe a lethal helping of such an unhelpful multi-layered vegetable?   Was he force-fed into oblivion?  Or was it intentional?

In pursuit of the truth,  the public demands a dogged persistence.
But all it will get right now is doggerel.

Did Ogden Nash know?

Did Ogden Nash, with his last breath,
decide to die a funny death?
His final meal – some stringy gabbage
hid the reaper ‘mongst the cabbage.
Did fate, ironic, choose to slay him
with this side of gastro-mayhem?
Or did Nash select this gaffe
to seal his doom with one last laugh?
One last punchline – Woe betide
all those who chews coleslawicide.

Describe the circumstances of your ideal, intriguing death.

We’ve Got Your G.O.A.T.

Today’s guest post comes from Barbara in Robbinsdale.

Ah, Babooners are a word-loving bunch, and if they don’t find the word they seek in the common lexicon, they will create their own. To keep track of these, we occasionally update our “Glossary of Accepted Terms” , or G.O.A.T.

This acronym was coined by our Alpha Baboon, Dale (he of the CAP – see ACRONYMS, below). For the uninitiated:  when we started this “dictionary”, we had a couple of goat farmers among our personnel (welcome back, Cynthia), which explains a little. Jacque and I collaborated on the first one, and I’ve kept it going, sporadically. Here we are past Summer Solstice of 2015, two years since the last update in May of 2013.

Sometimes the newly created word is the result of a typo; others are just sheer cleaverness . The dates are left in, in case you have a lot of time on your hands and wish to find out what the HECK was going on at the time.

I now have a system – copy and paste the new word into a M’soft Word file with all the information I’ll need, and then edit like crazy when I’ve collected enough to make a post. It appeals to my love for making order out of chaos.

To visit the Glossary, go to top right, under The Trail Photo.

Here are the latest additions:

Accidentalics – i.e. “Ooops… unintended italics.  Do we have a word for that?”   December 16, 2013 at 11:12 pm 

Achedemic – Learning something the hard way, as in “she seems to be heading off in more achedemic directions…”          September 3, 2014 at 8:17 am 

Binoculookers – a device that helps you see farther than you usually can. For instance “Then she asked her dad if she could ‘use his binoculookersto view the bear in the night sky’ ”.   February 23, 2015 at 12:10 pm 

Crimea River – a river in Crimea, OR a sad song. “If you’re aim is to turn this geopolitical episode into a musical, don’t forget to include Crimea River as one of the numbers.”  (unfortunately, I lost track of the date for this one.) .March 24, 2014 at 7:40 pm 

Disphasia – the condition of being out of synch with others of your generation  (did I get this right, Clyde?), as in “The gap has created some interesting disphasia in our life.”   June 23, 2015

Distraughtitude – The condition of being distraught, as in:  “I’m sure that the distraughtitude of the usual suspects will probably be more pronounced.”   June 3, 2015 at 8:09 am

Experience Loyal – An alternative to being  brand loyal:   “I am experience-loyal  Give me a good experience, and I’m bound to come back.”   November 25, 2013 at 11:58 am 

fauxtimming  November 25, 2013 at 3:34 pm – “a disorder having to do with the inability to remember to capitalize and or punctuate. on occasion there may be a hand held device that intercedes and give the impression of english etiquette but it is an illusion. it is called fauxtimming. [timism] * and fauxtimming are not taught but can be easily implemented with any standard keyboard and a computer that has a disarm feature on its spell checker.”       October 6, 2014 at 11:16 am

Hygge, hyggelig – A Danish word that doesn’t have an English counterpart:  “Hygge” is part state of mind, part physical coziness that includes comfort and warmth, and good smells. As we get close to Christmas, a batch of gløg, a few Christmas cookies, soothing music and, again, a lot of lit candles help make things  hyggelig  …”       December 21, 2013 at 8:03 am

Mingy, minginginess – “Being skimpy, paring everything just inside of “enough”. Rhymes with stingy, and means about the same but not quite, as there is also an implication of deception-pretended generosity. (This is actually in the dictionary, folks.)”  October 22, 2014 at 11:36 am 

Mushroomisticism – slow cooking a mushroomy dish for hours at low heat.  “im tackling suaces as my next challenge, that and mushroomisticism.” February 5, 2015 at 7:49 am

Multi-nontasking – looking around and seeing all the things one hasn’t managed to get done. August 1, 2013 at 7:15 pm       i.e. “I can sit with a cat on my lap while listening to a ball game.”  August 2, 2013 at 12:03 am

Procrasti-tasks – “things you don’t want to do, but you do them to avoid something you want to do less. For example, if you have laundry to fold which has been sitting for days but you also have a grant request to write, suddenly the laundry is folded.”   January 12, 2015 at 10:37 am

timism – (from G.O.A.T.) – An ambiguity in which you are not sure whether there was a typo, or an intentional misspelling, as in “My favorite timism of the week is ‘Talk snout dysfunctional’…” (See Dec. 23, 2010 TBB for rich, complete discussion.)

To-do-plegia – Wikipedia uses “plegia” to describe paralysis in which all voluntary movement is lost.” To-do-plegia involves a to-do list, as in “I need lots of good energy sent my way this week. … [to accomplish] the to-do list…”     September 8, 2014 at 10:31 am 

Turbo-mouse – A rodent capable of monumental achievement, say, climbing with a malted milk ball to a place 12’ off the ground.   “My apologies to the turbo-mouse if I am not giving credit where it is due.” November 25, 2014 at 6:23 am 

Unfronding – In response to Dale’s hand-weeding description: I need to confront the weeds personally, face to frond”, there was this comment: “These days we call what you do unfronding the weeds.” August 5, 2013 at 7:06 am        DC: “Hah! Just think, I could have wasted all those hours on Facebook instead!”

Weasel words – Product description lingo that disguises some aspect of the contents of a food, as in “If a product is described as chocolatey, that’s an almost certain indicator that there’s no actual chocolate in it.”   February 28, 2014 at 11:29 am

Worm wigs – a very creative typo that created this mental image:  “I wonder if I wore a worm wig if that could solve my winter composting problems – I could have compost-eating worms right on top of my head.”   March 27, 2014 at 1:12 pm

Yikes meter – a measure of… take your pick:  outrageousness, offensiveness, or unbelievability that causes a Baboon to say “Well, that’s way up there on the yikes meter.”   March 22, 2015 at 9:58 pm


CAT – I admit to having Compulsive Acronym Tendencies     February 21, 2015

CRAPO – Calendar Reactive Anniversary Pile On   November 22, 2013

When you feel compelled to make a list, what’s on it?




Summer Reading!

Today’s guest post comes from Sherrilee.

It’s that time of year when everyone across America trots out their summer reading list.

Newspapers, online `zines, libraries – they are all hawking their ideas for filling up our lazy summer days with reading. When do they think we’ll get all this reading done? I don’t know about anybody else, but my summer is pretty full – yardwork, graduation parties, out-of-town visitors and vacations. And in my world vacations are pretty jam-packed with not much reading time.

But who am I to go against tradition? In the spirit of the Summer Reading List, here are a few of the books that are on my list this summer.


Death by Rhubarb by Lou Jane Temple. This title was unearthed by Clyde last month in a discussion on the trail of toxic rhubarb.

The Creation of Anne Boleyn by Susan Bordo. If you are interested in Henry VIII’s second wife, for whom he upended the country, this book challenges what you think you know and why you think you know it!


The Dead in Their Vaulted Arches by Alan Bradley. #6 in the Flavia de Luce mystery series, featuring the very precocious 11-year old, Flavia.

Cider with Rosie by Laurie Lee. A nostalgic look at growing up in another time. I have the Illustrated volume and it’s charming!


As You Wish by Cary Elwes. This title takes a look behind the scenes of one of my favorite movies of all time, Princess Bride.

Uprooted by Naomi Novik. I haven’t a clue what this is about but it’s by Naomi Novik, so it’s on my list!


Some Luck by Jane Smiley. The first in the Hundred Years Family Saga – promises some emotional ups and downs.

Sophia: Princess, Suffragette, Revolutionary by Anita Anand. Biography of Sophia Duleep Singh.

Where’s your favorite summer reading spot?