The Long And Short Of It

Bank of Montreal

Playing Corporation Games, Changing Corporation Names

Once upon a time, long, long ago, before the internet, computers, tablets and smart phones, we had the time to use big words, and impressive speech and writing, and businesses had imposing names.  Then progress(?) brought us Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr, Pinterest and all the rest, and our memory and attention span got carved up into little 140 character slices like cheap sushi.

Soon, we were so busy posting pictures of the baked beans we had for lunch that everything had to be shorter, faster, sooner!  The military especially, got into the business of acronyms.  SNAFU to you, too.  The government gave us FBI, CIA, DEA, IRS and NSA.  Companies began re-inventing themselves in sound-bites, or bytes.

The American Oil Company shortly became Amoco.  Standard Oil turned into Esso (S.O.).  Even the Off-Broadway Awards ended up as the Obies (O.B.s).

The record I think, belongs to the City of Los Angeles, which has truncated down from its original, Spanish name of “El Pueblo de Nuestra Señora la Reina de los Ángeles del Río de Porciúncula”, to the easily recognised L. A., a 98% reduction.

In Canada, it appeared most noticeable among the banks.  It seemed the larger the company, the smaller the name became.  A century ago, we had time to talk about The Canadian Imperial Bank, and The Bank of Commerce.  When they merged to become The Canadian Imperial Bank of Commerce, they soon became known simply as C.I.B.C.

The Bank of Toronto seduced The Dominion Bank of Canada, and their married name, The Toronto Dominion Bank, was soon merely T.D.  When they almost went down the toilet with some American banks, they were White Knight rescued by Canada’s largest trust company, wisely named Canada Trust.  Strangely, there now seems to be time to say TD/Canada Trust – except by the Americans.

The financially re-invigorated corporation has now taken over a chain of 1300 small banks, east of the Mississippi.  They are known in the U.S. simply as TD Banks, so that Americans don’t think we’re stealing all their cash.

Nobody wanted to merge with poor little Bank of Montreal, and shortening its name to B.M. had unfortunate implications, so it became BMo – Bee-Moe.  When banks stopped being places that just stored and lent money and paid interest, BMo spun off BMo Financial.  To keep the banking separate from the gambling investment side of things, BMo Financial now owns The Bank of Montreal.  When they desperately try to drum up banking business with TV ads, they speak of ‘BMo-Bank of Montreal.’  They have come full circle, and the tail is now firmly wagging the dog.

Company names used to accurately and completely describe what a company did, made or sold.  You knew you were going to get greasy hash from ‘Bob’s Diner’, whereas ‘Roberto’s Food Emporium’ might be a wholesale warehouse, a grocery store or a restaurant.

I worked at Waterloo Metal Stamping, which made parts strictly for office furniture.  So many people approached them to make outside parts that they changed their name to Waterloo Furniture Components.

While not making them shorter, some companies hide behind silly names with no informational value.  If it hadn’t been for a class-action lawsuit, caused by allowing a Chinese company to make yoga pants so thin that the labels on panty liners were legible, I would never know what Lululemon was all about.

Likewise, what the hell does the company named Zulily do for a living??!  These two look like they were named by the smoked-up losers in a scrabble game, from leftover tiles.

Is there a literary copyright© on the name Ali Baba?  We have an Ali Baba Steakhouse locally.  I just hope those are beef steaks, not camel.  I think the company Alibaba, has a name which appears to have been formed by a rear-end collision.  What do they make/sell – camel saddles, sesame rolls, flying carpets, oil lamps??  Open says me – and tell all.  It would take a Genie-us to know.

I recently saw an online ad for a product called Lolo.  It came complete with a questionnaire.  Do you take Lolo?  Are you a doctor who prescribes Lolo?  Not without knowing what the Hell it is!  It turns out to be a new, cutesy birth-control pill.  Just what we needed.  It contains a heavy dose of obfuscation.

Do any of you have any silly name stories?  Don’t rush.  I’ve had enough for a while.   🙄

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On Top Of The World

Hans Haus

Hi!  This is Archon, your friendly tour guide/travel agent.  If you’ve been reading my stuff long enough, you’ll know that you’re all invited to Oktoberfest, Kitchener’s beer-bash bacchanalia, beginning Oct. 9, 2015.  That’s a long way off though.  If the Eastern section of the U. S. is accessible to you, and you have some free time and are looking for somewhere scenic to go this summer, I have a suggestion for you.

Skyline map

SKYLINE DRIVE 

Skyline trail

Skyline Drive is a part of the Shenandoah National Park, in Virginia.  It is a glorious 105-mile drive along the tops of the mountains.  There is a reasonable day-trip fee to enter the park.  The Drive is a twisty little two-lane paved road that dodges around this side of this mountain, and then swings around that side of that mountain.  The speed limit is 30 MPH, and nobody rushes it.  The views are magnificent.

Skyline panorama

We took the trip several years ago.  Like the Interstates, once you’re on, you’re committed.  There are only three access roads, one at each end, and one about halfway.  There are several pull-off places where you can park and enjoy the views – a couple with a westerly view, and a couple facing east.

Skyline outlook

At one of the outlook spots, I wandered over to the other side of the road, wondering if I could see any of the opposite vista through the trees.  I encountered several graves, with monument stones set flat to the earth.  I briefly wondered what money or political pull it took to be buried in a National Park.  A glance at the burial dates – late 19th/early 20th century – revealed that these were the resting places of Mountain Folk, people who had lived here, hunted and fished, lived and died, and were buried as close to their God as they could get, long before the Government created this Park.

Skyline Cabin

If you want to do more than a day’s drive-through, there are a couple of lodges, and a couple of sets of cabins that you can rent.  They are extremely popular, so you might have to reserve for next year, or even beyond.

Stony Man

At about the ¾ mark, heading south, is Stony Man Mountain, featured in a set of books I used to read.  I’m glad those arrows hang in midair, or I might have missed it.  Finally pulling off the Drive, we headed west to drive back north up the valley between the two chains of mountains.  We decided that we would pull in somewhere to get food and drink.  I’ve often heard that you should never eat at a place called “Mom’s.”  Apparently many others had also heard this admonition.  Mom’s was closed and boarded up.  The Cracker Barrel in the next town was an acceptable alternative.

Moms 1

Moms 2

We came down from the north, and stayed in Front Royal VA, a small city featured in another series of my books. You can go from high to low, because there are also several caves and caverns in the area, that can be toured.  Just south of Front Royal, near the park access road, is Skyline Caverns.

Skyline caverns

It’s a 2.1 mile underground walk in an almost figure-eight, except the cross point doesn’t touch.  Long before it was opened up, a portion of the roof collapsed, creating a vacuum, and crystals found nowhere else on earth.

Skyline crystals

Among several other caves in the area is Luray Caverns.  This is a 2.2 mile stroll in a helix.  At one point along the edge of a large grotto, there are three levels of the path, 10/12 feet above each other.  An organ was hauled down and assembled, and a caver with perfect pitch wandered the place for days, tapping stalactites with a mallet to hear the note each gave off.  Then little rubber hammers with actuators were attached, and connected to the organ.  Nowadays they have been disconnected to prevent damage, and what you hear is a recording of the final performance, still, it’s awesome.

Luray organ

I’d never heard of Skyline Drive until my plant supervisor told me about it.  I’m not so much interested in any compensation from these sites or the area tourist bureau.  I will be more pleased if only one or two of my readers are the back-to-Earth types who can enjoy what we have experienced.  Happy holidaying!  😀

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