Thursday, November 19, 2009

A Few Observations While Waiting for the Electrician (Or Someone Like Him)

As a great man once said (I forget who), it's really great to be on vacation.

But it really blows to be on vacation for six months.

As days turn into weeks, and weeks into months, and savings get burnt away until it occurs to him that he owns three guitars that could be pawned, a fella has, it seems, a tendency to mumble into silence.

You run out of things to say. Nothing coming in, ergo nothing going out. Passivity. Watching the room get light, and then watching it get dark.

Six months like that. Avoid it if you can. My heart goes out to you if you can't.

At any rate, that's over now for the foreseeable future. I've landed (finally) on my feet, working on a very large and exciting project for a thoroughly benign client -- started last week. The commute has been a bitch -- two and a half, even three hours in soul-deadening traffic -- but now I've discovered the Brunswick line of the MARC train. It's still two hours door-to-door, but two much more relaxed hours.

Clouds are lifting, 's what I'm saying, and I begin to feel the old élan vitale bubbling up in the bits. Hell, I'm talking to my blog again. That's significant.

The iPod has kept me sane during that bitchly commute -- audiobooks, podcasts, what have you. Which brings up a point that has been nagging at me for some time. I fear a perfectly good and useful English word has been done dreadful injury, and it is up to me to patch up its wounds, apply cooling cloths to its forehead, and coo endearments to it while it heals.

The offense, which I'm hearing more and more, particularly in podcasts and radio shows that promote Web content, is this:


Folks, you do have a backslash key on your keyboard. There it sits on my keyboard under the "Delete" key (oh, if only!), an ugly reminder of the horrible old MS-DOS command-line interface. Its uppercase sibling -- the pipe character -- is nowadays chiefly seen by non-code-jockeys separating items in a horizontal list of hyperlinks.

There is no such thing as a forward-slash. There does exist and has existed for centuries a slash -- also known as a stroke, a virgule, a diagonal, a solidus, a right-leaning stroke, an oblique dash, a slant, a separatrix, a scratch comma, a slaok, a slak, or (my new favorite) a whack.

The thing that cranks my Model T about forward-slash is that it grants equal status to the backslash, a loathsome pustule of a glyph that is found nowhere in nature except in computer code. If there's a backslash, the thinking seems to go, why, its opposite must be a forward-slash. Better call it that, or folks might get confused. Feh. Ptui!

BBC, PBS, Times Online (yay, The Bugle!), all of you clowns: Knock it off. It does you no credit.


EmployeeoftheMonth said...

Glad you're back. Happy you stuck a textbook Telemark landing.

I did a nine month stint following 9/11 and I wish it on nobody.

Kevin Wolf said...

Very, very happy for you, Neddie. I did 16 months last time around, and so awful it was that I swear I'm still suffering from effects of the "break." It aged me, dammit.

But perhaps that pushes me closer to curmudgeon and I can better savor posts like this. Forward-slash? I've never once heard the term used. I'd like to keep it that way.

Froggie said...

Just like that, Neddie's back, trying to act all natural and shit.

giggles said...

YAY!! He lives...he writes!!!!

Glad you're back amongst the walking, talking.... (I was beginning to seriously worry....)


blue girl said...

LOL @ Froggie!

Welcome back, Jeddie. And I hear ya about the slow times. Boy, do I ever. Glad yours are over, my friend.

JD said...

You live, you breathe, you work! Congratulations! We're still beating the pavement, but hoping things turn up aces.

zombie rotten mcdonald said...

dude, good news. Hope you didn't have to pawn those guitars, I had to do that once and it was... not a good thing. I was younger then, and bounced back better than I would now.

I'm still waiting for the second part of that equation for this year - the part where clients cut checks with my name on them - but I've at least been working. Although admittedly, if money doesn't change hands, can it be called working? it's like the difference between sex and hooking.

Decatur Dem said...

Ah, the forward-dash-slash backlash. But now you're making cash, indulging your pash, hopefully replenishing your stash.

Welcome back, Ned. All the best to you and Wonder Woman and the clan. It hasn't been quite the same without you.

Neddie said...

making cash, indulging your pash, hopefully replenishing your stash

Avoiding the lash, scoring some gash, taking out trash, watching my ash....

It aged me, dammit.

A new white hair every day. Late-teen kids? College? How's that gonna fuckin' happen?

Thanks, everybody. I promise to try to get it back to the original Mission Statement: A post a day, no matter how pointless and trivial.

Smashed said...

I'd also like to welcome you back - you've been missed.

Though the Tao does not reside in the DOS, please do not besmirch the CLI. Some things never go out of style.

Jeremy said...

Wait a minute. There's a name for this, but I'm danged if I can remember it. Like, after paperback, we needed hardback, because before paperback all books were hardbacks. You see where I'm going?

Darn. I'll be Language Log would know.

davidspeller said...

Good to have you back. I resisted the urge to intrude with an email but I did worry. Glad I kept up my habit of checking every morning just in case.
Bon Courage as we say up here in Socialist French Canuckistan.
WV - bedownst
I wouldn't want you to bedownst no more.

Larry Jones said...

I now hear announcers on television (where else?), giving URL's and actually saying "backslash." To me, this seems worse than "forward slash" because if one were to type the URL with a backslash, of course it won't work. But -- and here's what planes my shins -- no one will actually type a backslash, because they think a slash is a backslash.

John B. said...

Mr. Jingo, glad you are working again, glad you are posting again and also glad that you haven't sold your guitars. (Spoken even though I happenned to aquire a certain red strat for 21 year old son...) Peace be with you and your family. Have a great Thanksgiving!