Category Archives: Words

Baby Talk

Today’s post comes to us from Bill.

I was driving somewhere the other day and my iPod was playing randomized tunes. Patsy Cline’s “Back in Baby’s Arms” had just finished and was followed by John Pizzarelli singing “Be My Baby Tonight”. That started me thinking about the use of “Baby” as a term of endearment. It’s probably the most common way of addressing one’s significant other in popular music. More popular, I suspect, in songs than in real life.

In the 47 years Robin and I have been together, I’ve never called her an infant. But, as one who can’t let random musings pass unconsidered, I wonder: How and when did infantilizing one’s partner become desirable? Why would that be considered romantic? Is calling someone a baby ever the basis of an equitable adult relationship?

And isn’t it sort of creepy when you think about it?

Shelf Life

As most of you know, my library account and I are in a special relationship. I try to keep the number of books I have checked out at any given time to under 20. I’m usually at my max allowed on my waiting list. I know my 16-digit library number by heart, my library card is on a cell phone app so I don’t need a separate card and of course I know all the hours that my local library is open.

I only buy about five books a year so that means I usually try every avenue to find a book when it comes to my attention. In addition to my regular account I also have an active interlibrary loan account. I even have the phone number of the gal who runs the ILL section of the Hennepin County system and have unbelievably talked her into extending the 3-week only loan allowance for an interlibrary selection.  Twice.

Obsessive is probably the word that is popping into most of your minds right now, but the library and I are very happy together.

Last week I picked up two ILL books that had come in and as I looked them over I realized that one had not been checked out since 1999 and the other hadn’t been checked out since 1988. For some reason this makes me very happy – I like to think I’m giving these books a little vacation from their regular shelf life.

What book would you like to go on vacation with?

write good

Today’s post comes from tim

the suggestion that we sharpen up the pencil and write a blog by renae last week led me to think about writing untensils. i am a typist for the most part these days and the point of my finger has leaned to navigated the space allowed on the 4inch screen of an iphone as allowed in the world of steve jobs vision come true.

in a former life i wrote with pens and pencils. i still do on occasion and seldom think about the writing utensil in my hand but when i do i have an opinion.

remember the big black pencils in the 1st grade classroom? as big as a magic marker instead of a pencil. i wonder what the logic there was. give a little tiny hand a monster pencil to learn how to write? someone obviously thought it was a good idea. i graduated from the big black pencil in miss majeras’ first grade class to a fountain pen in the catholioc shcool i went to begining in second grade. there was a penmanship grade on our report cards and a portion of the week ( i dont think it was daily but it definately was a regular class) was dedicated to making sure we all did good when attempting to write a paper about our second grade observations on the world around us or penning stories about our understanding of the place of an 8 uear old in the universe.

the fountain pen was a magic implement. it made all ink it discharged seem important. a ballpoint pen was the way the rest of the world functioned in 1962 but at the nativity of the blessed virgin mary we were above all that. we needed to have our writing be special and so we used either a bottle of ink and an old fashion fountain pen with a bladder or as most in the class did we bought he shaffer pen with the little cartridges or we  could if we were rich do the wearever which was a fancy version with a better nib on the pen and a more flamboyant script was certainly bound to come out the tip.

i am a fan of the roller ball pen today but by today i mean 1970/80 technology. form what i can tell anything gel pen is the same thing today. the smooth writing that flows out of the tip of a rollerball/gelpen is a feeling i apprecaite.

my friend the organized former landscape architect likes a .05 not .07 lead pencil. always a quality point and always a good tool to write with.i never know where i put that darn little pack of lead inserts to keep it writin .   the old bic with the clear body and the bic blue top is a classic design that makes my jaw hurt looking at it remembering all the blue caps i have chewed on until the no longer went back on to cover the business part of the pen to keep it from blue spotting the pocket i am going to put it in.

my new cell phone has a feature that allows me to write either with a stylus on the screen or even with my fingertip. it is a feeling of being from the future to have the tip of yur finger be a writing utensil that works.

black pencil, yellow pencil, mechanical pencil, ball point pen, roller ball, fountain pen, keyboard, touchscreen, dictation pop ups on the screen that transform what i meant to what the spellchecker translator thought i said…

usually the way i get the meat of the idea i am trying to form onto a transferable  format is a non thought but as i have started using the franklin planner for my business notes and charting the day it find it is great to start journaling the day. the thoughts and ambitions of the day get lined up and forgotten unless there is a way of keeping track. so paper is good. i am sure the notes of my internet life will go unnoticed with me to the great beyond in the year i depart. no one will ever want to look at my emails and files other than the pictures and some of the special chosen few snippets of the deep and profound thoughts i have on occasion.

what makes you write good?

A Pocketful of?

Spring is the time to clean out winter jacket pockets.  Much
accumulates there in a few short months.

Once I planned to write a book of poems entirely about the things in
my pocket. But I found it would be too long; and the age of the great
epics is past.
— Gilbert Chesterton

What’s in your pockets?  What would you like to find there?

MORE Glossary

It’s been almost two years, Babooners, since our last glossary update. Here are the new terms I’ve picked up in that interim, with some context added when known, in case you want to go to the archives to revisit the conversation.

Blucky – A weather term, a combination of blustery and icky. Ex: “At the moment, it’s just cold, wet and blucky out.”    xdfben says:    March 23, 2016 at 6:00 pm    

Cententious? –  billinmpls says:   [Unfortunately, baboons, I forgot to note the date of this one, and I have no idea what was being discussed. Any idea, Bill?

Coleslawicide – a term coined by our Alpha Baboon, Dale Connelly, in this parody of Ogden Nash poetry in a post titled, “Why I don’t Eat the Coleslaw”:

 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.

BiR, if you’re on the trail today, “coleslawicide” has GOT to go in our glossary.   verily sherrilee says: August 31, 2015 at 7:40 am

Corridordial – see Hallway friendships:        billinmpls says: January 27, 2016 at 11:19 am 

Degusting – a variation on disgusting, as in the following:    Wessew – “If prepared right”. I’m on to the games you culinary con artists love to play; trying to disguise the degusting. Next you’ll be saying lutefisk and liver are luscious… “if prepared right.” On with the food fight!      NOVMBER 6, 2015, 8:06 A.M.       PlainJane – I thing “degusting” deserves a place in our glossary. Sort of takes the wind out of culinary excesses. NOVEMBER 6, 2015, 8:55 A.M.

Espo-used – An alternate pronunciation for “espoused”.       Ex:  “As a 6th grader, back in the days when you could actually acknowledge Christmas in school, I was the narrator and got to read the Christmas story. Nearly got tripped up by the word espoused.”  K-two  DECEMBER 25, 2015, 9:20 A.M..

Hallway friendship – An apartment living phenomenon, as in:  “in our building those of us who have lived here a few years have a hallway friendship, hallway only. Clyde of Mankato  JANUARY 27, 2016, 10:29 A.M.

Outhousing – To be in the habit of using an outhouse, as in: “’modern’ shower facilities were separate and there were outhouses for, well, outhousing”… from Anna’s post called File For T Under Treasure.  AUGUST 15, 2015

Psychiatrically disabled – A person who is somewhat off-center.  Ex:  “As I recall, she was married to this guy who was somewhat psychiatrically disabled, and who walked up and down mainstreet in a big cowboy hat.    reneeinnd says: October 12, 2015 at 11:17 am

Teflon desk – the state in which everything that lands on your desk slides off onto someone else’s.   Comment to Wessew – “I think you’ve got this down!”     verily sherrilee says: August 22, 2015 at 10:40 am


_____________________   [creative opportunity here, baboons]

 verily sherrilee says: January 26, 2016 at 3:47 pm   Didn’t we have a word for a day when we went over 100 comments? I just checked glossary and didn’t see anything. Who has the best memory around here?


ABD   The appearance of an icon (gravatar) that looks like a blue doily beside your comment, and renders your comment as an Anonymous, rather than inserting your chosen icon. WordPress has done this to virtually everyone on the Trail at some time or another… it’s now considered an initiation exercise.

What’s your favorite dictionary or reference book?

A Head Full Of Connections

Often when I am alone and my mind is free to wander, I am drawn to make connections between things I observe and things I know. Hisstarstorical things. Cultural things. Sometimes something I see or hear will trigger a question of etymology. I see a word or name in a new light and wonder, what’s the association there? Why are cantaloupes named for the call of the wolf? What does porcelain have to do with pigs? How does lactation fit into galactic? (It all goes back to the Milky Way) Is there any link between taxicabs and taxidermy? (There isn’t. Different root.)

I was out walking and happened to see an advertisement that used the word POSH. A widely held and completely unsubstantiated explanation of its etymology is that it originated with British sea voyage to India and that the most desirable staterooms were, on a round trip, “Port Out, Starboard Home”, and that this acronym was stamped on tickets of passage in purple ink. The problem is thaposht, though many souvenir tickets still exist in scrapbooks and museums, not a single one is so stamped, not in purple or otherwise. And who would such a stamp inform? The passenger would know what they had reserved. The crew would surely know the stateroom’s orientation by its number.

Like many etymological theories, the real origins of posh are speculative but a late nineteenth century dictionary of Romany (gypsy) terms lists “pash” as describing a dandy. By the early twentieth century, P. G. Wodehouse used it in its currently understood sense in a story, suggesting that by then it had entered into common parlance.

So, that’s a glimpse at what goes on inside my head when I am by myself.

What goes on in your head? Any favorite etymology?