Silk Purses and Sows Ears

Like most of the Baboons, I am completely done with this cold weather. We haven’t had a great quantity of snow here in western ND, but the cold is really wearing on us. The only positive thing I can think about it is that prolonged cold like this kills Emerald Ash Borers.

I remember once in grad school when a friend was dismayed to find that he and his girlfriend were going to have a baby. Another friend tried to be positive and told him “Well, at least you know that the bullets aren’t blank”.  I don’t know how comforting that was, but at least the friend tried to make a silk purse out of a sow’s ear.

Give some examples of helpful (or not so helpful) positive spin.

30 thoughts on “Silk Purses and Sows Ears”

  1. “Shutting down the government is a good thing as it reveals all the people who are not essential.”
    “Mexico will pay for The Wall through tariffs put on Mexican imports.”
    Trump University School of Economics

    Liked by 5 people

  2. I suppose I could say that it was good thing that Husband got frostbite and his truck froze up last week, because now he knows he needs different gloves, and he figured out how to put the heating blanket on the engine block. His fingers are healing but look terrible.

    I also suppose I could say that it was a good thing that the power went out at Husband’s work for an hour or so this week, because it alerted the director to the fact that they had forgot to pay the electric bill.

    Liked by 2 people

        1. The reason I ask was I was struggling through snow drifts and subzero temps on a Minneapolis sidewalk one day. I was painfully aware of what winter can mean to a person on foot in Minnesota. The thought came to me with blinding clarity: “At least the cold keeps the riff raff out!” That was an intriguing concept, but somehow I thought it would sound bad if I said, so I carefully avoided expressing it. Years later I was startled to hear it from someone else. Years after that I heard it from a weather guy on TV. And now from you. I think this is one of those rare ur ideas that just seem to crop up in the culture.


        2. I’ve heard that expression since I first arrived in the Twin Cities in 1972, and I’m pretty sure it wasn’t newly coined then.


        3. I think if you tweak it to say it keeps out the faint of heart it fixes the political correctness and gets to the essence of the expression

          I see the homeless living under bridges in Seattle and even Chicago and realize that they would be I real trouble in minneapolis but I think the expression about the hearty individuals that minneapolis produces. Stoic yeah but hearty sob’s just the same


    1. The earliest reference I could find online was an article from the New York Times dated December 26, 1984. The article is titled MIND OVER MERCURY IN NORTH DAKOTA: THE COLD ‘KEEPS THE RIFFRAFF OUT’. An excerpt:

      ”Somebody had some buttons made up that said, ‘Minus 41 Keeps the Riffraff Out,’ ” said S. L. Olsen, head of the Minot Chamber of Commerce. ”Ever since, any time you ask about the cold here, people will tell you, ‘Keeps the riffraff out.’ ”

      ”Keeps the riffraff out,” Sgt. William Flesch of the Minot Police Department said when the question was put to him. ”We don’t get many of these homeless transients coming through looking for handouts. Try panhandling in this weather, and after 30 seconds your hand falls off.”

      I think it has been a pretty common expression for a long time.


  3. I find myself all the time saying things like “At least I can still…” My left foot is acting up this week, so it’s “at least I can still do t’ai chi”. Now when I hear of someone with greater physical ailments than I have, it’s “At least I don’t have what s/he has.”

    Due to get cataract removed sometime in next year or so – At least I can see clearly out of one eye!

    Liked by 2 people

  4. “There is no racism in Minnesota.”

    Yes, someone actually told me that and was all set with arguments to “prove” her point and had an “answer” to all my points.


  5. I was very uncomfortable with the at least theyre not blanks response to the question of parental discovery. It feels like an equally bad response to the cop who shot the woman in the alley last year.
    Serious issue feels archie bunkerish


  6. In response to barbara’s comment , I used to listen to a guy as a motivational speaker named Dennis waitley, one of his tapes had a comment hat I used to complain about how my feet hurt until I saw a man who had no legs.. it kind of sticks with you.

    I hate listening to the negative stuff that surrounds us but to try to put a positive spin on it is beyond my ability. I have to go to another topic and find a positive target instead of trying to turn Donald trump into something other than an impossible obstacle.


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