’19 A To Z Challenge – Kludge

Calipers

Three Laws Of Practical Engineering
Force to fit
File to hide
Paint to cover

At the steel fabricating plant where I once worked, the difference between a welder, and a welder/fitter, was a ten-pound sledgehammer. Those storage tanks always fit.

Kludge

Noun – a software or hardware configuration that, while inelegant, inefficient, clumsy, or patched together, succeeds in solving a specific problem or performing a particular task.

Verb – the atypical act or action of achieving such a goal

Coined 1960/65 by American author Jackson W. Granholm.

Too often, ivory-tower engineers design things for the perfect, optimum conditions, and ignore reality. If you design something to be foolproof, someone will design a bigger fool. As James Bond said to Q, in one of the movies, “There’s a lot of wear and tear goes on out in the field.”

The concept of ‘Kludge’ indicates an open and adaptive mind, instead of one bounded by unchanging rules and regulations. Larry the Cable Guy may not be the sharpest tool in the shed, but you have to admire his Git ’er done philosophy.

I got this challenge done, and I’ve got a couple more, ready to post soon. Y’all come back now, y’hear?

Chastised

Shrew

I took shit twice this week, and both times from a woman….  Wait, I’m a male, and I’m married – that statement is redundant.

I took the wife to a grocery store that we don’t normally patronize.  Once you’re in, they give you all the room in the world, but, worried about ‘shrinkage’, they funnel you in, and funnel you out.

Finished with our shopping, we joined the mule-train heading for the exit.  Suddenly, the two women with carts ahead of us, came to a complete stop.  I waited for a few seconds to allow someone to put change or coupons in a purse, but when a minute had passed and we still weren’t moving, I looked to see what the holdup was.

Three women had entered the store, one, 5 to 10 years older than me, and what seemed to be her daughter and a friend.  The daughter was treating her like she was senile, and giving minute instructions – go here, look for that, don’t buy this, etc., etc.  The problem was, they’d stopped her when her cart was crossways to the access aisle.  If the two in front of me wanted to stand there like sheep, I’d play herd-dog.

The old gal wasn’t leaning on the cart, so I grasped the front and slowly, gently turned it 90°, till it was against the wall, and out of everybody’s way.  The senior’s hand and wrist moved with it.  Now the two dreamers woke up and headed out of the store.  The darling little old lady looked up in surprise and said, “Oh, was I blocking the aisle?  I’m so sorry.  I apologise!”, because that’s what thoughtful, well-mannered people do.

Suddenly, like a fireworks display, the daughter started popping off.  To the friend, “Well, isn’t he aggressive?”  To me, “What’s the matter?  Are you so busy that you couldn’t wait a minute?  She’s an old lady you know, and she has mobility problems.”  At which point my wife hobbled up to the corner with her forearm crutch, where the bitch could now see her, and blasted right back at her.  “I’m an old lady too, and I also have mobility problems, and it causes me a lot of pain to have to just stand there and wait!”  Uh…yeah…well…  She was still trying to close her mouth when we walked out.

Later in the week, I went down to my usual supermarket.  It sits on a five-lane street, the center lane for left turns, everywhere except at the supermarket’s driveway, where the roads crew have painted a swoop and stop-line.  I must turn left into that store, and oncoming traffic must turn left into the side street for the EuroFood market.

I pulled over and stopped for oncoming traffic in the other lanes.  I looked up and saw a pair of seniors, older than me, coming at me.  They want to go in on the side-road….  Whoa!!  No they don’t!  He wants to go on past me to the entrance at the far end of the strip-mall.  He managed to get the car stopped just before he hit me, and then they sat there gesticulating at me.

When it was safe to do so, I pulled past them and made my left, but as I did so, the sweet little, 80-year-old wife rolled down her window and offered some verbal opinions.  I’m glad I had my windows rolled up.  When I got home I had to buff scorch marks off the passenger side of the car.  I think a taxi driver had to pull over and catch his breath.

I saw the kind, round, old Germanic face, and heard (faintly) what was coming out of it, and all I could think of was the subservient, aproned haus-frau who curtseyed, and opened the counter-weighted gate for Goldfinger, in the James Bond movie – who went all Valkyrie, and pulled out a Schmeisser machine gun on him when he tried to escape.

Entitled without being attentive, opinionated without being informed, judgemental without the faintest shred of suspicion that they may be in error – I begin to understand how wars, and jihads, and feuds, and murders come about.  It all comes back to the Ego and Insecurity.

Has someone taken you to task for something you were innocent of??  How did you handle it?  😕

While I’m asking questions….like the occasional debate as to whether to call carbonated soft-drinks Pop, Soda, or Coke (even when it’s obviously not)….I only referred to them as ‘carts’ in the body of the post, but I tagged it ‘shopping carts’, which is what I call them.  I have heard them referred to as ‘buggies’, which I think of as a baby conveyance.  At a couple of stores, I’ve heard the teenager paged to ‘go bring in the wagons.’  What do you call them?

#466

Oh Yeah? Name One!

I’ve done a post about meanings of family names, and son-/daughter-of names.  This is just a collection of odd/interesting names that can be encountered in North America.  I was talking about this sort of thing with “Long”, my ethnic-Chinese, Thai-born co-worker.  Asian names have strong bonds to family.  Clan name is given first, and member name follows.  This is often reversed here on this side of the planet, but family name is always family name, entirely separate from personal names.

Long had a problem coping with a supervisor being named Todd Craig, when I explained that either Todd, or Craig, could be a surname, or a given name.  He as easily could have been Craig Todd.  I recently met Carson Arthur, whose name rests in the same pile.  Arthur Carson is actually more likely.

Names like these often happen when mothers wish to memorialize their surnames, by handing them to their sons (usually), as given names.  An old James Garner movie had him as a financial wheeler-dealer/gambler named Cash McCall.  Everyone assumed that the money-man had been given a money nickname, until he revealed that his mother’s maiden name was Cash.  The famous Western-writer, Zane Grey was born to a woman of the Zane clan who founded Zanesville, Ohio.

The son works with a man named Bradley Joe.  He’s on Facebook, but you can’t find him.  “Did you mean Joe Bradley?”  He also works with Marc Terry.  A man named Tom Nobody was roughed up by police in 2010’s Toronto G20 summit.  I suspect his name has been translated from another language.  Perhaps his distant ancestor was Odysseus, who told the Cyclops that “Nobody had blinded him.”

Side note: After more than three years, the officer charged, was given a 45 day jail sentence.  I’ll believe he’ll serve it when I see it.  Ten minutes after the case closed, he was out on bail.

Another man with police problems is John Vroom.  That sounds like a name he picked out for himself when he was eight, but is simply an uncommon variant of an Anglo-Saxon name which now includes Frum, From, Frome, and the owner of a local printing shop, Froome.

I worked, for a while, with Gerry, Bert, and Wally – all women.  Gerry had shortened the archaic Geraldine, Bert had done the same with Roberta, after being named for her dad, Bob, and Wally was a German immigrant named Waltrout.

Hyphenated names came into being in the Middle Ages, when one self-important minor aristocratic family married into another.  Smith married Jones, and became Smith-Jones.  What is overbearingly humorous, is when the compound name becomes Smith-Smith.  It is possible to be born into a hyphenated name but they usually occur nowadays when a certain type of woman gets married.

These gals are usually well educated, and have well-paying careers of their own.  Their families often have money and power.  Sociologically, they are often doers, running this charity or chairing that board.   I had seen a photo in the local paper of nine women, involved with Feed The Aardvarks, or some silly such.  Seven of the nine had hyphenated names.

With my usual humorous social acceptance, I told the young lad I was working with, that they’d got their hyphenated names because they wanted to show that they were powerful, modern women, who could take care of themselves, yet weren’t such ugly, nasty bitches that they couldn’t get a man.  He plaintively protested that his wife had taken a hyphenated name when they married.  Intrigued, I asked him why.

The answer was that, she had written her University paper under her maiden name, and wanted to maintain it, in case anyone wished to contact her later.  Not being one of my favorite co-workers, I told him that there were two problems with that.  Nobody cared in the first place, and nobody cared now.  She took E.C.E., Early Childhood Education.  She was a baby-sitter at a day-care facility.  You don’t need two names to do that.  Nobody’s going to follow up to get your opinion on disposable diapers.

Another male co-worker had been adopted as a baby, taken away from a pair of druggie-drunks, and given his adoptive parents name.  When he turned 21, he managed to locate his birth-father, who had significantly turned his life around.  He loved and respected his foster-parents, but wanted to get to know his bio-dad.  They remembered only the loser from 21 years ago, and raised an outrageous, continuing fuss.  He became so disenchanted, that, when he married, instead of his wife taking his (adoptive) name, he took hers.

We gave our daughter a single, hyphenated first name.  Since we had an extra one lying around, we gave our son three first names, partly to honor my maternal grandfather.  She only uses the first half.  In fact she’s adopted an archaic diminutive.  Son never presents the third name because it’s not needed, and just confuses clerks.  It’s the clan name which, like the above, can be used as a first name.

The most extreme I’ve seen so far is a woman in the paper, with a hyphenated first….and last, name.  She’s Marie-Elizabeth Richards-Collinson.  She has to order checks as big as Publisher’s Clearing House, to have room enough to sign.

Charles Dickens’ works are inhabited by a plethora of strangely-named people.  Fortunately few of these names seem to have crossed the Atlantic, and have mostly died out in England.  The English still have strange, multiple-lettered names which they can spell – but not pronounce.  James Bond once pretended to be a Mr. Saint John-Smith, which he insisted was pronounced sin-jin-smythe.  Featherstonehaugh becomes either festun-haw, or fanshaw.  Pemberton shrinks in the wash to become pembun, and Chumondeley is pronounced Chumly.

Out at the edge of town, near a plant nursery I sometimes take the wife to, is a mailbox with the name Hawthornthwaite on it.  Some day I’m going to work up the nerve to leave the wife spending money on gardening supplies, and walk up and ask just how they pronounce it.

I’ve still got some strange names lying around.  Any of you guys got some weird ones you want to trade?

In The Name Of The Son

Even in today’s society, who you are is often important in terms of who you are in relation to others.  Back when surnames were being handed out, relationships were even more important, especially for the rich and titled, but also for the common man.  Many surnames, in many languages, tell who our forefather was.

In English, it would seem obvious, although many fail to understand the significance.  If your name ends in “son”, who’s your (great-great-great-grand) daddy?  There are Johnson, and Jackson, Donaldson, our favorite commenter, Erickson, Tomson (although it’s often spelled Thomson, Thompson, or even Tompson), and Williamson.

I worked for several years with a Bill Williamson.  I commented one day that his name was actually William, William’s son, and asked if his dad was a Bill, also.  Dad’s name was Robert, but he and mom had immigrated from Wales, and Bill’s real first name was Gwyllem.

My blue-painted, claymore-wielding, skirt-wearing ancestors were much interested in lineage also.  The Scottish-Gaelic word for “son” was Mac.  A large percentage of Scottish names therefore mean “son of”.  MacDougall, MacDonald, MacIntosh, MacKenzie, Macready, etc.

Fitz is an English/French prefix also meaning son of.  It comes from the Latin, filius.  It gives us names like Fitzsimmons, Fitzpatrick and Fitzgibbons.  Fitz, however, means illegitimate son of.  This was especially important to the royalty and aristocracy.  The one surname which was not supposed to exist, was Fitzroy.  This was an illegitimate son of a king, and had the power to cause civil war for inheritance rights.

To be the first son of someone important, meant inheriting….title, land, money, income and power.  Second and third sons got next to nothing, and often had to beg for support from the first-born.  There was pressure to go out into the world and perform daring feats to wrest some fame and fortune for themselves.

North America was not taken and settled by Spanish first-borns.  The Spanish word hidalgo comes from “hijo d’algo” – meaning “son of *someone*”, or “a son with something”, a horse, a sword, and enough money to get into trouble.  Much of history has been wrought by second sons trying to get a little, or a lot, for themselves.

Once upon a time, a large group of Scottish second-sons got together and decided to take over Ireland, since Scotland was already divvied up.  Many were successful at obtaining land and serfs for themselves, and they settled in comfortably.  First came love, then came marriage, pretty soon the baby-carriage and then the lazy pronunciation habits of the Irish changed all the good Scottish Macs into Irish Mcs.  They became McArthur, McClure, McMahon and McMillan.  This is where the slang term Micks, for Irishmen came from.

Ireland had already been taught English by the time the need for surnames occurred.  Many were given the name, “the son of *their father*”.  Lazy pronunciation soon turned son “of”, into O’Malley, O’Hara, O’Daye, O’Connor, and the like.  Clocks and time are not Irish, but that same lax pronunciation turned, ten (hours) of the clock, into ten o’clock.

In Arabic, the word for son is Ibn.  The Hebrew word is rendered in English as Ben.  Israel’s first prime Minister was David Ben-Gurion.  Many languages use a suffix rather than a prefix to indicate “son of”.  In Polish, the majority of names end in –ski.  All the rest are Polish toboggans, or so the Pole named Yantha told me.

From Russian, the Cyrillic-language, son-of suffix, comes to English as, of, off, ov and ev.  Ivanoff and Petrov mean son of John, and son of Peter.  Russians are often creative with their names, sometimes taking new ones to hide behind.  Vladimir Lenin’s surname means ‘Iron.”  To go him one better, Joseph Stalin adopted a name which means “Steel.”  I’ve never read why Nikita Khrushchev took his last name.  It has the “ev” suffix meaning son of, but the Russian word khrusht, means “beetle.”

It seems that most languages are only interested in who you were the son of.  Russian is one of the few which also has an identifier for “daughter”.  It takes the patronymic family name and adds the suffix “ova”.  The female cosmonaut was Valentina Tereshkova.

In one of the James Bond movies, the writers did a little joke by giving a sexually aggressive, female Russian agent the double entendre name of Onatop.  I can find no proof that Onatop is a real Russian name.  Even if it were, correctly, she would be Onatopova, but that wouldn’t tickle teenage male humor.

Nordic languages like Swedish and Icelandic have the suffix “sen”, which means the same as “son.”  They also have the female version, “dottir” for, you guessed it, daughter.  In these languages, the surnames change every generation.  If you are Gunnar Thorvaldsen, your father’s name is Thorvald.  Your son is Erick Gunnarsen, and his male child, John Erickson, becomes a famous blog-commenter.  (How did he sneak in here again?  Somebody close and lock the door!)

Your female child would be Frieda Gunnarsdottir, and would keep that name even after marrying, but her little girl might be Inga Svensdottir.

I was going to title this post, “It’s All Relative”, but since a large part of the world still has a fascination with male offspring, I went with the son label.  I know most of us are leery about revealing actual names on the open internet, but, do any of my readers have an “offspring of” name?

Strangers In A Strange Land

With all due apologies to Robert Heinlein.

While none of us actively seek to do so, each member of our family often manages to be the odd man out.  The last place the son worked, he said he was the weirdest guy in the room.  He’s actually happy at the new plant, where, he says, he’s just the opening act.  There’s nothing that will hold a mirror up to your normalcy, or lack of it, like a road-trip, to see how others do it.  Jeff Foxworthy says it’s like goin’ to the local fair.  “Why, we’s dang near royalty!”  With that in mind, the son and I spent a weekend in the Detroit area.

He hasn’t been able to make the trip for almost ten years.  He had seen the photos of the big wind-turbines we passed last October, but nothing gives the scale like driving right under them.  I’ll include pictures, and maybe a video, in a later post.  He was impressed by their size, and proximity to the highway.  He was less impressed by the two fields of solar panels, which we didn’t get a picture of.  They just looked like someone had pulled a black shroud over a couple of acres of dead farmland, which, in effect, they had.

I think we passed the home of the lady who objected when the turbines were going up.  She complained that they already had enough wind in the area.  They didn’t need these big fans making more.  She could have been Liz’s sister.  D’oh!!

We crossed the Ambassador Bridge and stopped at a Security booth manned by a 30-ish male.  As I’ve said, we never mention knife shows.  As I do when the wife and I go down, I told him we were going to do some shopping.  I should have told him that the wife had sent along a list of stuff we can’t get in Canada.  We got Searched!  He looked in the car and saw two males claiming to be going shopping, and said, “Pop the trunk.  I want to take a look.”

I wasn’t worried.  He saw a shopping basket with five bottles of Pepsi, a large orange juice bottle, filled with iced tea, a smaller bottle with two days worth of orange juice, two newspapers and two crossword puzzles.  I’m surprised he wasn’t so bored he dozed off and fell into the trunk, but, back he came.  “Thanks guys.  Have a nice time.”  Them boys is too bland to be smugglers or terrorists.

We were supposed to have phoned the wife, our designated worrier, when we crossed the border in each direction, but we got distracted by all the big-city lights, and forgot till we were on the wrong side of the river.  The son tried to place a billed-to-the-room call when we got to the motel, but the phone system malfunctioned.  Finally on Saturday he placed a collect call.  She said that no police officer had showed up by 11 PM to report an accident, so she assumed we were safe.

After we booked in, we both lay down for a nap.  Mine was only an hour and a half.  Since the son had been up since 7 PM the previous day, I let him sleep four hours.  While he was still out, I took a walk, circling the Big Boy restaurant in front of the motel.  In the James Bond movie, Diamonds Are Forever, Bond apologizes to a rat for having a gay assassin’s cheap cologne spilled on him.  He says, “One of us smells like a tart’s handkerchief.  Sorry old man, I think it’s me.”  Around on the unused side of the restaurant, two guys were doing something near two vehicles.  I assume they were the gay assassins, because, from 10 feet away, I could hardly breathe from the tart’s handkerchief smell.  I left quickly, lest I be invited to join the party.

We went out to check a couple of possible places to get good fish and chips.  I passed a place I had found on-line, on the way to another spot.  We decided to go back to it, because it looked more reputable than the one recommended by the on-call ambulance team I had met.  We walked in just ahead of two young men, just before 7 PM.  A sign out front threatened “Live Entertainment”, and they were it.

The fish was good.  The chips were the milk-powder coated variety for crispness, the kind the lactose-intolerant wife can’t eat.  Without the spoilsport chaperone wife along, I had a cup of decent bean soup, a bowl of crisp, well-dressed coleslaw, and  a 20 ounce glass of well-chilled, Australian-type, 8.5 percent, craft-brewed ale from Wisconsin.

The two musicians (?) played a keyboard and a guitar, and one of them sang – I think, although the noun caterwauling came to mind.  Without any help from the studio audience, I managed to identify every song they played, even if they couldn’t.  Is it cynical to note that those few of the audience who clapped, did so when these guys stopped playing?

We stopped at my favorite Meijer store on the way back to the motel, and got everything on the wife’s list except flavored coffee creamers.  Oh, the excitement, it was like electricity in the air.  We were asleep again by midnight.  Tomorrow we attend the knife show.  Stop in to the site, I hope to post pictures.

W.T.F. Inc. II

Co-workers that make you go Hmmm??!  A couple of happenings recently reminded me of a couple of the gems I’d been honored to work with over the years, and I thought I might regale you with more tales of clerical buffoonery.

Long ago, I worked in the inventory department for that steel fabrication company.  There was another young man who worked with me as a clerk.  He was honest, reliable and hard-working, but so was my Labrador Retriever.  He wasn’t stupid in any way.  He did the job well, but he definitely came to work each day on the short bus.  Does anyone but me, remember Candice Bergen’s father, Edgar Bergen, the ventriloquist?  This guy was like the dumb dummy, Mortimer Snerd’s even dumber brother.  For the younger crowd, imagine Jeff Dunham’s character, Bubba J, without the urbane smoothness.

Reality could sneak up on this boy.  Hell, reality could come dancing in wearing wooden shoes and a bright pink tutu, and he wouldn’t notice.  He wasn’t even distracted by squirrels or shiny objects.  He had a one track mind, but it was narrow-gauge.  I worked with him for over a year but never asked him if he was a local city boy or if he was raised in the country.  Country seemed likely, but I thought I might not survive the story.

The fourth in the series of James Bond movies had recently been released.  I had seen them all.  The wife and I had attended the most recent, a couple of weeks before.  He came bubbling in one morning all agog about this movie he had found.  It was a real action/thriller movie about this English spy.  I should go see it.  The guy who played the hero, whose name he couldn’t remember, was this really good actor, whose name he DID remember.  It was Seen Conaway.

He lived in a front apartment, in a fairly big apartment building on a main street.  He told me one day that he had asked the supervisor if he could hang planters from the windows and balcony rail.   I asked him what he wanted to plant.  Apparently the super had also asked him what kind of flowers he was going to put in.  He told the super that he wanted to grow vegetables.  Interesting, but if he wants some fresh radishes or beets, more power to him.

Later that summer I had to be in his section of town and looked up to his apartment on the fourth floor.  I almost crashed my car.  He was growing corn.  Each planter box had three corn plants, one at each end and one in the middle.  The roots were already three feet off the ground because of the height of the window-sills and balcony.  The guy in the apartment above him might have been able to reach the cobs, to harvest them, but I don’t know how he ever did.

The best Newfy jokes I’ve ever heard have been told by Newfies.  The best Polack jokes I’ve ever heard have been told by Polacks.  I’ve never heard a Paki tell a joke, because, when they packed to come here, they only had enough room for all their attitude, and had to leave their sense of humor behind.  Both Newfies and Polacks insist that, no matter how dumb the joke, one of them has actually done it. I worked with a Polish-Canadian woman who was so dumb, she didn’t know that she was Polish.  She was animal-cunning and street-smart.  She parlayed a divorce settlement into three houses.  Two she rented.  The first was paid off.  The rent from #1 paid the mortgage on #3.  The rent on #2 paid the mortgage and helped on #3.

All names have been changed to protect the writer, in case she finds out that the internet exists.  She and three other Polish women used to sit together and gossip at lunch.  There were two Skis, and two Polish toboggans.  For those of you shaking your heads, many Polish names end in SKI, they’re the Skis. Most people know about the Polish heritage, but, other names, like Zuwala, or Yantha, or Dueck, are also Polish.  These are the Polish toboggans.

I kidded her one day, about the four Polish women, sitting around, plotting to take over the world.  She had no idea who I was talking about.  I named all four of them and said they were all Polish names.  She explained to me that her name, Gutowski, was not her maiden name.  Remember, she was divorced!  I had just assumed that she had gone back to her maiden name, so I asked her what it was.  Pacheski!  But that’s still a Polish name.  “But Dad spoke perfect German!” she insisted.  What?  And if he could speak Mandarin, you’d have slant-eyes?

She was a prank-playing shit-disturber.  One day she had four people, including me, willing to wring her neck, all at the same time.  To her, this was fun.  She couldn’t understand why anyone would get upset.  She started a water fight with a guy in the plant, that ended with her getting three gallons of water dumped on her, and couldn’t understand why he would do such a thing.  I saw it happen, and reminded her that she had started it.  “No I didn’t.”  She got a drink from a big thermos of cold water and threw the last of the glass at him.  He went and got a full glass and threw it at her.  She grabbed a hard-hat and filled it and poured it on him, so he grabbed the pail of process water and poured it on her.  “But HE started it!”

Nobody wants to take responsibility for what they’ve done.  Some are so stunned, they don’t even know that they’ve done something.  Looking back now, I can find things like this amusing.  I’m just so glad that I no longer have to put up with this s**t, any more.