New Year’s Day: Now is the accepted time to make your regular annual good resolutions. Next week you can begin paving hell with them as usual.
– Mark Twain
Pen name of Samuel Langhorne Clemens
American author and humorist
Each year, the New Oxford American Dictionary picks a “Word of the Year.” Each year, Oxford tracks how the English language is changing, and chooses their word of the year “to reflect the ethos of the year and its lasting potential as a word of cultural significance and use.”
In 2004, Merriam-Webster selected the word “blog,” while Webster’s New World Dictionary went with “overshare” in 2008, inspired by the habit of spewing too much personal information on social networking sites and blogs.
Last year, Oxford’s word was “hypermiling” – i.e., the act of conserving gasoline by making fuel-saving changes to one’s driving habits.
This year, two of the runners-up were:
1. “intexicated” – the state of being distracted while driving and texting at the same time.
2. “zombie bank” – a financial institution still operating, even though its liabilities are greater than its assets.
Well (drum roll, please), the winner this year is “unfriend,” which is a verb meaning “to remove someone as a ‘friend’ on a social networking site such as Facebook.”
Facebook spokeswoman Meredith Chin said that “overall, we’re thrilled that the idea of people connecting, or even unconnecting, with each other on sites like Facebook has officially become part of the lexicon.”
Well, it made me sad that “flicking somebody off the boat” is the word of the year. The act of eliminating a bond, a connection, a relationship (as superficial and petty as these so-called human bonds are on the web) is a sad thing to represent as the American English word of the year. It certainly doesn’t elevate our society. Instead, it mostly reminds me of high school cliques, where kids are excluded on the basis of some temporary, competitive, mean state of mind.
I guess I’m just sad that a negative rules as Word of the Year instead of:
* Congenializing - making nice even when the situation is unpleasant.
* Sexifying – using fluttering eyelashes and a swish of the hips when women alluringly ask their husbands to take out the trash.
* Politisizing – being nice when you really want to pop someone in the nose.
Those are just some of the words I’m going to nominate next year!TrackBack URI
From a listener after hearing another caller on my radio program:
I grew up listening to you as my own stay-at-home mother bussed [sic] my three siblings and me home after school. Listening to you teach the moms that would call in, I remember thinking that if I ever had kids, I would be “my kid’s mom.” I saw Mom spend over 10 years at home with us, and the investment and dedication [she] modeled stuck with me. Now I am a 24 year-old stay-at-home mom to a bright 13-month-old son.
I just finished listening to a caller who was wondering about taking some yoga classes to get her certification. I knew exactly where she was coming from, because recently, I also was debating starting grad classes or taking up a part-time job.
The past week, I have been feeling like a hamster in a wheel – no goals, [no] direction, not really getting anywhere. I’ve been comparing myself to my “friends” who are in grad school, building their careers, globe-trotting, but also “family – less.” I felt like maybe I needed to keep up. I thought you were being too hard on [the caller] until you said something that led me to tears.
You told her she had the most important job in the world right now, [and] that there will be time to take the yoga classes later. I’ve heard you say things like that before, but this time, you were speaking directly to me.
Thank you for that encouragement and truth. All these years, you were telling everyone else, but I’ve finally made it my own. I do have the most important job in the world. It’s challenging, character-building, but full of blessings. This little boy is growing up very fast.
The rat race can wait…I am MY kid’s mom!TrackBack URI
Earlier this month, I took a call that I thought was a perfect example of how “moral nearsightedness” is overcoming American society.
This twenty-something young woman was pregnant out-of-wedlock, “shacking up” with her alleged fiance (they are living with his father), and the fiance doesn’t have enough income to support a wife and child.
But that’s not why she called!!
In fact, when I pointed out the irresponsibility and immaturity of conceiving out of wedlock with a guy incapable of supporting a family, I got back: “Well, that’s not my question!” (And, by the way, she didn’t want to have a wedding until after the baby was born and she got her figure back in order to wear a white gown).
Her question actually related to her mother. Apparently, her mommy came to visit and “got it on” with the fiance’s dad….all night. There were other children (of other family members) in the home when this was happening.
That’s as far as she got when I said: “It’s genetic.”
She responded with: “What?”
I repeated and expanded: “It’s genetic…having no moral foundation for decisions. Like mother, like daughter.”
Now that may sound harsh to you, but truth often is, and there was nothing I could do to change anything about this situation. She was already “shacking up” and pregnant; her mother already had humped the maybe future father-in-law. Her question was going to be about confronting her mom about this outrageous behavior. I couldn’t bear to hear her even go there, considering she was the pot and the kettle all by herself.
It’s a shame both of our eyes point only outwards. It would be a far, far better thing if one of them turned inwards.TrackBack URI
I heard the bells on Christmas Day
Their old, familiar carols play
And wild and sweet
The words repeat
Of peace on earth, good-will to men!
– Henry Wadsworth Longfellow
From “Christmas Bells”
Since this is the season of giving, I thought I’d share with you a letter I got from an Army Captain who was the recipient of a kind deed from a stranger:
I am an active duty soldier stationed at Ft. Bragg, North Carolina. I am not a regular coffee drinker, but after a week of unusually early mornings and late nights, I pulled into the drive-thru of a popular coffee chain this morning on my way to work in need of a caffeine kick. As you would expect, I placed my order and waited behind a few cars until it was my turn to pay and go. When I pulled up to the window, the cashier handed me my cup and informed me that the lady in the car ahead of me had noticed my uniform and graciously paid my tab.
I’ll never be able to thank that lady personally for her kindness, but perhaps she is a listener of yours, and I hope a short note of appreciation can articulate what these kind gestures – no matter how seemingly small – mean to us in the service. I am always moved by the gratitude and patriotism of strangers, and I never forget a simple word of thanks or the enduring impact that it has.
Thank you for everything that you do, Dr. Laura, for us in uniform. I subscribe to your podcast so that I never miss a minute of your wisdom and insight no matter where in the world I find myself these days.
Normally on my radio program, we try to vary the subject matter of the calls I take so that each hour has a wide range of issues, philosophies, ideas, information, insight and dilemmas. However, during the holiday season, this becomes almost impossible. It seems that family dynamics (especially the negative ones) just take over people’s lives. This includes everything from having to buy gifts for (or people (or deal with family members) you don’t like, having to go to dinner and parties you don’t really want to go to, to having to travel to four different sets of divorced parents’ houses and have to deal with their new spouses. And on and on and on….
One of the main problems causing you stress at this time is your unwillingness to accept what “is,” and just hum your way through some unpleasant moments and unpleasant people, and your unwillingness to accept responsibility for making choices that will annoy some others, but will save yourself.
1. If you have four divorced parents or four sets of in-laws, just have the dinner at YOUR house. Invite everyone, and let them sort themselves out.
2. If you’re at a family gathering with one or two bad apples, just steer yourself toward the people you do like and immerse yourself in pleasant conversation, virtually ignoring the troublemakers after a cordial “hello.” If the troublemakers start arguments or get drunk or unruly, excuse yourself and leave. Do what it takes to keep your blood pressure down and enjoy the holiday time.
3. If relatives are visiting, put them up at a local inn. They and you will then have the necessary privacy to keep tensions to a minimum. Pay for the hotel yourself. It’s a small price to pay for serenity.
4. If you’re invited out of town, and you don’t really want to go, don’t travel. Start new traditions in your own home.
As for accepting what “is,” if there are some situations and people you’d rather avoid, but this would bring pain to others who would miss you terribly, go with good humor, become the life of the party, enjoy what there is to appreciate, and know that in your heart, you did a good deed and the right thing.TrackBack URI
Big news late last week: Tiger Woods was named Athlete of the Year by the Associated Press. Not only did his “sexcapades” not limit his votes, but more than half of the 56 votes came in after the scandal made news. I guess the AP-types got confused – maybe they thought they were voting for the “Sexual Athlete of the Year.”
It’s too late now, but it is interesting that the question is being asked after the fact, as to whether or not he should receive this honor. First of all, “Athlete of the Year,” is not based on anybody’s character – just athletic achievement (unfortunately). So, the next question is: is golf an actual athletic sport? Truly, there is no physical hardship. Players might get a little winded from walking the course or get sweaty on hot days, but that’s about it.
Someone responded to the question of whether golf is actually athletic or not by pointing out that Tiger was in good shape, and another retorted with “You also have to be in shape to bowl and even to shoot billiards, but to compare those and golf to baseball, soccer, basketball, football, rugby, track & field, cycling, boxing, tennis and wrestling is silly. Golf requires skill – not athleticism. Having played it myself…”
Additionally, yet another comment pointed out the veracity of many accolades these days: “Al Gore got an Oscar, Obama got a Nobel, Bill Clinton got a Grammy. Nothing is real any more.”
Well, let’s look at the runners-up for “Athlete of the Year:”
1. Lance Armstrong – cancer survivor; won Tour de France six times in one decade. He came in second with 33 of the possible 142 votes.
2. Roger Federer – more grand-slam singles than any other man in history. He came in third with 25 votes.
3. Michael Phelps – record-setting Olympic swimming champion. He came in fourth with 13 votes.
4. Tom Brady: New England quarterback. He had 6 votes.
We all know why they gave it to Tiger Woods: He’s made them more money than any other person in something considered a sport. Because Tiger is good-looking (as all his bimbos also know) and a terrific golfer, the media turned him into a sensation, and more people showed up to golf tournaments (ka-ching), more photographs and stories were printed about golf (ka-ching), more shoes and stuff with his name attached were sold (ka-ching), and so on. Just follow the money. He is a huge money-maker for everyone, and that’s why he got the award.
I agree with the critics who say golf is not athletic. Lance Armstrong and Roger Federer are better qualified for this honor, but it’s not an honor anymore. It is recognition of “Ka ching” Power.TrackBack URI