17 February 2009

Does this sign really bother anyone else?

Because I drive by it nearly every damn day, and every time I think “who came up with that?”  (as always, you can click on the pic to see a larger version) 

The name of the street in question, not that you could tell from the sign (which is, in fact, my main problem with said sign), is Live Oak Plantation Road.  Now, I’m all for abbreviations.  Brevity is the soul of wit and all that (o.k., that saying is not actually about abbreviations, but you get my meaning). However, in this case I take issue because... well, just because you want a word to be shorter doesn’t mean you can just make-up the abbreviation out of thin air.  

Abbreviations have to have some sort of accepted convention or textual clue that gives the people reading the abbreviation an inkling as to what the original word was.  It works fine for things that are commonly shortened, the abbreviations we encounter everyday: road = Rd., meeting = mtg., President = Pres., birthday=Bday.  (Although, common abbreviations can be problematic as well.  Take the widely used St.  That’s street, right?  Or Saint?  What about All Saints Street in Tallahassee? That would be All St. St.? Or the adjacent Saint Francis Street, which would be St. Francis St.) Again, textual clues help us out.  The St. at the end is generally going to be street (especially if it’s on a street sign).  Likewise, you would assume St. Michael was Michael the saint, not Michael the hoodlum (although Street Michael would be an excellent name for a young delinquent al la Ponyboy).

Anyway, my point is - I can’t just decide to randomly abbreviate something.  Ok, I take that back, I can and often do do that.  But, what I can’t do is expect you to know what I’m talking about if I use a self-made abbreviation.  Say I decide that “paperwork” is too long and time consuming for my purposes and that I shall now just refer to it as “pw”.  That’s fine.  But if I then leave a note saying, “Hey, Jack, make sure you complete your pw. before you leave,” I’m not really sure that Jack will know of the correct course of action right off the bat.  Maybe he does his paperwork.  Maybe he takes a power walk.  Perhaps he plows a field.  Again, if he’s in an office and the note is on his inbox, he might be ok. Otherwise, it’s a bit of a crap shoot.

So, back to the sign.  Plantation = PLT, huh?  Not really.  I mean first off, there isn’t really that much need in everyday life to talk about plantations, much less to abbreviate the word.  Even here in the Deep South, they just don’t really come up that often.  And context is not helpful here, as the sign is not on a plantation.  Also, I argue that anyone who didn't already know the name of this street would glance at the sign and assume it meant Place or Plaza or some other more commonly roadway-related term.  The mind does not instinctively go to “plantation.”

And yes, I understand that the reason for the abbreviation in the first place, indeed the raison d'ĂȘtre of all abbreviations, is space constraints.  And Plantation is a long-ish word for a street sign.  But, made up abbreviations are not the way forward.  Might I suggest a smaller font? Larger sign? Second line of text? Really...anything other than this PLT.  I just want some clarity on my signage.  Is that too much to ask?

12 February 2009

Birthday Boys

Ok, so how did I not know until today thatAbraham Lincoln and Charles Darwin were born on the same day (February 12, 1809)? It seems like Darwin should be older than Lincoln for some reason (maybe because he lived longer?)

Anyway, that makes today the 200th anniversary of both of their births. That’s quite an impressive day in history. FYI, some less historically significant others born on Feb. 12 include Omar Bradley, Lorne Greene, Judy Blume, Arlen Specter,Joe Don Baker, Ray Manzarek, Micheal McDonald, Bill Russell, Arsenio Hall, Josh Brolin, Darren Aronofsky, Ed Lover, Christina Ricci, and Fonzworth Bentley (yes, Diddy's manservant or whatever). Quite a diverse assortment there.
People who died on this day include: Charles Schultz, Tom Landry, and Screamin’ Jay Hawkins (the album title “Black Music for White People is still one of my favorites)]

I included both of the boys beardless in the photos, just to go against the norm. Also, I’ve always loved beardless Lincoln (check him out there, with his hipster hair), and you almost never see him that way, even though he only had the beard when he was president, basically for the last 5 years of his life. (A fact I discovered while looking for the pic. I also stumbled on this charming story of why he grew a beard. Apparently, it's all about the ladies. Ladies love beards and will therefore get their husbands to elect you president...or something.)

Anyway, Happy Birthday boys. Go out and celebrate the Union and Evolution in their honor.

11 February 2009

Style guide for comics

I randomly stumbled upon this article while following a link from someone on Twitter

I weirdly enjoy reading things like Strunk and White and Garner's, so this was right up my alley.  And timely, since comics have been cropping up in my life lately (from EDP's blog, among other places). 

Plus, I got to make a graphic to go with this blog entry, so...fun all around!

06 February 2009

Hi there!

I was cleaning up around the house today and I found this item that I forgot about. I got it at the Inauguration (obviously) but I thought it was a really cool idea. Also, it really made me want to greet everyone with "hello, fellow American" In fact, I may just start doing it again now. You know, people at work, in the bank, at the gym. That would be entertaining.

(as always click to embiggen)

04 February 2009

Band names from life...

Potential Band Name: Druffie

Origin: The verification word I was given when positing a comment to EDP's blog. I like it. Although, you would run the risk of getting confused with Duffy, which would suck, because something about her frightens and disturbs me. I just can't put my finger on it, but something is not right there...

Second choice from a similar source: bilymp
(See, it's like blimp, but with a more annoying hipster/hiphop/indie rock spelling. You know, for kids!)

Another excellent euphemism...

...arrived in my inbox.  I will have to add it to my collection:

"You must have this.  Your rocket will fly higher. Replace your pant snake with python!"

03 February 2009

A rose by any other name...

So I just heard on the news this morning that we are using a new type of drone to drop bombs on suspected al-Qaida and Taliban targets in Pakistan. The old one was called the Predator.  This one is called the Reaper and the missiles it carries are called Hellfire missiles. Have we decided that our new technique to fight terrorists is to frighten them with our alarmingly named hardware?

01 February 2009

An open letter to Pottery Barn

Dear Pottery Barn,

I'm really enjoying that item I purchased from you, like three years ago. However, I really don't need to continue to receive approximately 35 catalogs a year from you. If I need to make a purchase from Pottery Barn, Pottery Barn Kids, Pottery Barn Bed & Bath, or PB Teen, I assure you that you will be the first to know.

Until then, please stop slaughtering a pine forest every 3 months just to ensure that I will have these never ending opportunities to purchase over-priced, mass-produced goods.

Thanks ever so much, Zil

P.S. Did Seinfeld teach you nothing?