TILWROT III

In Search Of A Name

I was reading a Science Fiction book that began with a Space Navy shipwreck.  After her husband dies, the group of survivors is led by a broadly knowledgeable and adaptable woman with the Italian-ish name of Buccari.  I mentally pronounced it boo-kar-ee, until the author had one of her compatriots address her as, “Hey, Booch.”  I was reminded that in Italian words/names like bocce and Puccini with double C’s, they are pronounced as CH, so she was boo-char-ee.

Now I was curious.  Beginning with The DaVinci Code, I realized that authors often hide Easter Eggs in the background of their books.  What does the name mean??  Whatever it is, there’s a bunch of them, because the final I indicates a plural.  Translation programs just shrugged and walked away.  Google and Bing and friends, didn’t do any better, although one admitted that it was a surname, but the 286,532nd most/least common one.

Down at the bottom of the page, the note said, People who ask about Buccari also research Buccari fiasco navale Croazien.  Clicking on that delivered an article, all in Italian.  I fed the first section back into the translation program.

Apparently, just at the end of World War II, a division of the Italian navy decided to shell the Croatian city of Bakar, because it had been used by the Italians as a concentration camp.  Based on the plural of “people from the city of Bakar,” the Italian name for it, and anyone from it, is Buccari.

Bakar, in Croatian, means ‘copper,’ and our heroine’s head is adorned with luxurious, Italian, copper-red tresses.  The author brought the uncommon name completely around in a circle.

***

The great-grandson is approaching his first birthday.  While a little slow starting, he is developing a nice head of Italian-red hair.  He and his parents will be joining us for a belated Easter/birthday celebration this Sunday.  I’ll bet that a photo or two of him will sneak its way into a blog-post before the end of the month.  😀

To Sleep – Perchance To Dream

I can almost understand why Good Christians think that God, or Jesus, speaks to them, or why schizophrenics listen to the voices in their head – not that there’s much observable difference.

I know that the voices aren’t real, but they come up with some great ideas.

Actually, the voices are quite real.  They’re just completely internal, not external in any way.  They’re me!  It’s a good thing  that I’m eccentric enough to accept the weird thoughts that pop into my head, or I could be startled, or even frightened, by things my mind comes up with on its own, when I’m not holding the reins tightly.  I can see why those who wish to organize and control their thoughts, would want to blame someone/thing else for ideas and views that they might feel are somehow ‘deviant.’

I often awaken from naps with things bubbling around in my head, including solutions to stubborn Word Jumbles.  After being retired for 11 years, I still have dreams about work.  Since so much of my life revolves around writing and the English language, it is no great surprise that I often wake to words.

I recently became conscious, to the word/name ‘Kaiella’ in my head.   At first I thought that my subconscious had coined a new word, but research soon showed that, in Hawaiian, it means ‘happy girl,’ and in Arabic it means ‘sea goddess.’  I am amused that camel chasers, sitting on sand dunes, have a word for sea goddess.

My most complex day was when I woke up wondering why the name of Italian film director Sergio Leone, and that of African country Sierra Leone were so similar, and what they meant.  Leone was easy.  It’s an Italian word meaning lion, or lion-like.  It’s why the name Napoleon means Lion of Naples, even though he was born French, on the island of Corsica.  We’ll follow that lion to Africa later.

Sergio means guard/protector in Italian, as do Serge in French, Sergei in Russian, and the army title sergeant in English.

Sierra is a Spanish word from the Latin serra, meaning, a saw.  It describes a chain of mountains which is spiky and saw-toothed.  Sierra Leone has one, a segment of which resembles a crouching lion.  But if Sierra Leone looks like a lion, what is the Sierra Nevada, for which the American state is named??  😕

That’s easy!  The Spanish word nevada simply means snow, and Sierra Nevada refers to Rocky Mountains so tall that their peaks are perpetually snow-covered.

On the same day, I found that, besides being a gadget for manipulating objects by remote control, particularly in atomic reactors, Waldo is a diminutive of the name Oswald, from the German meaning God’s ruleBurkholder is a German name, but refers to citizens of the Low Countries – The Netherlands/Belgium.  I think I sprained a brain muscle.  Come back soon to watch me heal.  😀

Contrary To Popular Belief

Contrary to popular belief, the Internet doesn’t know everything.

My Mind recently went for a little walk, unaccompanied, but properly masked.  When it returned, it brought back a tiny piece of my childhood – a strange little piece called

UNEEDA LABORATORY

I know that it existed, because Mad Magazine did a send-up on it, and I once read an article saying that jokesters spoofed it with names like Igotta Laboratory, Wewanna Lab. and Theyhadda Lab.  Whether they ever heard of the Laboratory, smart marketers are still using the cutesy name to identify companies like, Uneeda Taxi, Uneeda Tire Center, and Uneeda Burger.

In my youth, I never investigated what Uneeda Laboratory researched, so I plugged it into both Bing and Google.  I got back a black hole.  😯  Nabisco made biscuits that they called Uneeda, back in the early 1900s.  There’s a coated abrasives firm which makes Uneeda wire wheels, sanding belts, and grinding wheels, but they market them as Tanis Brush.  They brag that they’ve been in business for 50 years, but my memories of Uneeda are 65 years or more old.

In the 1960s, there was a Brooklyn company that made a product called Uneeda Dolls.  The dolls are long gone, and the company was bought up by a Hong Kong firm called Tony Toys.  There’s a tiny village named Uneeda in West Virginia, about as big as a mole on a chipmunk’s nose.  It’s not large enough for another outhouse, much less a laboratory.  I’ve heard the joke that, “My home-town was so small; the McDonalds only had one arch.”  This village of 391 at a bend in a mountain road claims to have a McD’s, but there is no arch.

Dictionary sites don’t recognize the name.  It’s probably because I’m a grumpy old technological Luddite: I just don’t know what search terms to enter into search engines like Bing or Google.  When I enter meaning Uneeda, I am referred to the Nabisco biscuits, or the coated-abrasives, sites.  That’s what Uneeda is, not what the word means.

If I enter meaning name Uneeda, I am presented with 6 or 8 baby name sites which claim to know the meanings of every name, but don’t.

Meaning – baby boy name – Uneeda
Meaning – baby girl name – Uneeda

Each and every one of them is a Wiki-style site.  They all say, “We do not currently have a meaning for the name Uneeda.  If you have a meaning for the name Uneeda, please enter it.”

And so, the origin and history of the famous Uneeda Laboratory fades into the mists of time.  Have any of you ever heard of the Uneeda Laboratory?  If you know the meaning of Uneeda Laboratory, please enter it.

You’ll Pay For That

A man appears before a judge, requesting to change his name.
The judge asks, “What is your name now?”
The man replies, “Joe Schitz!”
The judge says, “Well, I can certainly understand you wanting to change it.  What do you want to change it to?”
“Bob!”

There are 7 kinds of English surnames.

Personal Characteristics – Like nicknames – Short, Hardy, Small, Strong
Place Names – Sutton, Bedford, Hamilton
Occupational – Weaver, Tanner, Miller
Estate Name – Windsor, Staunton
Geographical – Bridge, Brooks, Hill
Ancestral – Benson (son of Ben), Marriot (daughter of Mary)
Patronage – Hickman was Hick’s man(servant), Kilpatrick was a follower of Patrick

Back when women were allowed to stay in hospital overnight after giving birth, the wife was put in a semi-private room with a young woman married to  a Dutch-Canadian named vanderPlaats.  Without me asking, he launched into a story about his name.  He said that when the officials came around and told people that they had to have a surname, many thought that it was a joke, and gave themselves silly, stupid names.  He claimed that his name meant ‘A Big Piss.”

Either he was kidding me, or someone had kidded him.  His name comes from a family important enough to live/work next to the city square = from the place – merchants or administrators.  He was wrong, yet in a way, right.

The blame name-game went rather smoothly in Britain.  Names were assigned.  Taxes were levied.  In places like The Germanies and the Netherlands though, opportunistic greed and vindictive bureaucratic pettiness gave the appointed nominators chances to fatten their wallets and punish real or imagined wrongs.

Getting a ‘Good’ family name became dependent on wealth, power, or the good-will of the census taker.  The nobility, like the von Hess, or von Beethoven, got names that showed that they owned and taxed cities and provinces.  The very rich, like the Jewish bankers, got names like Goldman, and Silverman, to display their wealth.

For the rest of the population, names were available for sale to the highest bidder.  If you could fatten the retirement fund, or kiss the ass of, the King’s representative, names like Ehrmentraut = Honored, Reiner = Purer, Erbe = Inheritance (of the Kingdom of God) and Waltraud = Morally Strong, were available.  If you had no money, or had somehow annoyed the bureaucrat, names that meant Bookmaker/Gambler, Cheese-curd (Face), Disrespectful, and Rat-Catcher were handed out.  Being Joe Schitz might be the least of your problems.

After a couple of embarrassing episodes, I learned not to ask locals the meanings of their names.  I just bring them home, and run them through Google Translate.  Do you have, or have you run into, interesting non-English names?

You Thought You Had A Shitty Job

According to Mental Floss, in the Victorian Era, ratteners would capture and sell rats to pubs where they were eaten by dogs and played with for entertainment.
Rats, I can’t believe I missed that “premium” entertainment!

The job disappeared when the internet made porn more universally available.  The word shrank down to ratter, and that task was taken by farm-cats, and digger-dogs like my two Scottish Terriers.

People in Medieval times were often given surnames based on their occupation.  The job, and the name, goes back far beyond the Victorian Era.  In both English and German, the spelling first became Rattner, then diminished to Ratner, like Brett Ratner, a Hollywood director, recently mired in a #MeToo and Time’s Up scandal.

Eventually some versions reduced to Radner, and to Radnor.  There is a Radnorshire in Wales.  This time the egg came before the chicken.  It was founded by a couple of English families who moved there to escape their cruel town and despicable occupation, to become farmers.

At the steel warehouse where I worked – long ago – the floor in the fabrication section was poured concrete, but in the actual metal storage area, it was flattened dirt, covered by pea gravel.  On one side, bundles of steel sheets formed stacks eight and nine feet high.

Rats got in, and would burrow under these stacks, occasionally causing one to collapse and tip over into its neighbor.  Righting one of these piles was a slow, somewhat dangerous task, often with product loss.

Nearby was a worker, a recent immigrant from Germany.  His job was to take bundles of 20 foot steel angles or flat bars, and use a large, gravity-fed, horizontal band-saw to cut them to smaller lengths, for fabrication.  Since the bundles might be fifty to a hundred pieces, each actual cut time could be ten to fifteen minutes.

During these un-busy periods, the company urged him to go through the storage area, spreading rat poison, and baiting and checking 15 or 20 big wooden rat traps.  He once proudly told me that he was the company ‘Rattenfanger,’ another German word for rat catcher.

After having to do this task twice, as a home project, https://archonsden.wordpress.com/2017/04/26/oh-rats/ .  I wouldn’t want to have to do it again.  I prefer capturing accolades.  Why don’t you stop by again in a couple of days, and bring some with you.  Remember, I prefer the butterscotch flavored ones.  😉

TILWROT II

Take me out of the ball game.

In the early 1960’s, before I arrived in this burgh, interest in, and support for, Junior, City-League Baseball was waning.  One local team felt that they needed $10,000, a considerable sum, to pay for a year’s uniforms, equipment and transportation costs, and no sponsors were coming forward.

One 16-year-old, baseball-crazy boy had an idea.  He would sit on a 6’ X 6’ platform on top of a 50 foot flagpole in the ball park, until the amount was raised.  He lasted three days, until unexplained stomach pains caused the same fire crew and ladder truck that put him up, to lower him down again.  His almost-feat was recently recounted in the ‘Flash From The Past’ history column in a Saturday newspaper.  His name was Ken Fryfogel.

Things I Learned While Researching Other Things – Act 2 – Fryfogel

The name Fryfogel is very uncommon.  Ancestry.com only has 298 listed in North America.  The unnumbered few in Canada are all in Ontario, and I suspect, most right here in Southwestern Ontario.  I decided to research.

Fryfogel appears to be a Germanic name, like Vogel – which is a bird, or Logel – who was a cooper.  Surname-meaning websites just shrugged.  I tried a translation website, but got nothing.  I tried changing the spelling from ‘el’ to ‘le.’  I tried pulling it apart, into Fry, and fogel – nothing.  I tried entering ‘fogel’ into a dictionary site.  I got, No listing for ‘fogel.’  Did you mean fodgel?’

I don’t know.  Do I??!  I’ve never run into the word.  What does it mean?   Yorkshire/Scottish dialect – a short, fat person-by extension, a fat hen.  So, a Fryfogel is someone who cooks up a big fat chicken.  Twenty miles from here, at the intersection of a concession road and the highway, halfway to Justin Bieber’s ex-home, stands the historic, 200-year-old Fryfogel Inn.  😎  What better name for an innkeeper than one that says that he’ll serve you up some fried chicken along with your ale?

I’ll be serving up some more interesting drivel in a couple of days.  Hope to see you then.  😀

Smitty’s Loose Change #16

Insanity is believing your hallucinations.
Religion is believing other people’s hallucinations.
Too often, its adherents can’t face reality, and force others to play make-believe.

***

Quite often, Christian Apologists don’t believe some or all of the problematic passages in the Bible.  In fact, they pride themselves and measure their intelligence by how much of the nonsense and contradictions that they reject.  But they just can’t seem to take it to the logical conclusion.

***

Semantic Satiation
You know that thing that happens when you read or hear the same word over and over and over and it starts to sound weird, not like itself, and like gibberish? There’s a word for it: “semantic satiation.”  It’s thought to be a brain form of reactive inhibition, which is a fancy phrase for your body getting tired of doing stuff over and over and over. Basically, when you hear a word, your brain grabs the meaning to the word and associates them for you. But when a word is repeated in a short period, your brain has to grab its neural dictionary over and over, and gets less excited about having to do so each time, eventually just saying, “Whatever,” which is when you just completely lose meaning.

***

More Names – More Fun

I am fascinated by names, because many of them have origins and meanings that even the holders often don’t know.

I was recently followed by HariSeldon2021.  Hari Seldon is a character from Isaac Asimov’s Foundation series.  Sadly, this one doesn’t have a website, so that I can’t read his work, to find why he chose such an interesting and enigmatic name.

The German name Stemmler means stammerer. While
The German name Steffler began with a reference to a German king named Steffen, and means crown.

A vendor at the local Farmers’ Market is Gerber Meats.  A gerber originally was a skinner, or a leather tanner.  I find it amusingly ironic that the name that began with an interest in the outside of cows, is now interested in what’s on the inside of cows.

I recently learned of an Italian actor, named Violante Placido – which translates to violent, peaceful.  She’s a woman.  I only hope that her parents had a (twisted) sense of humor.

I have taken to carefully scanning the obituaries each day, to be sure my photo isn’t there.  Actually, I add up the ages of the deceased, and divide, to get the average age of death and compare it to mine.  Recently I saw an announcement of the death of a man with the surname, Posthumus.

Eurofoods, my local Polish deli sells two checkout papers.  One is Faptu Divers, which means ‘various facts’ or various pieces of information – more colloquially, gossip rag.  The other is Goniec, which can be a (courier) runner, an aide, or a (chess) Bishop – loosely translated nosy paparazzi.  The Tattler, and The National Enquirer, would be proud of their European cousins.

I walked past a car recently, and stopped to inspect its custom vanity plates.  They read OYEZX3.  Oyez!  Oyez!  Oyez!  It is apparently owned by a court clerk, or bailiff.  😯

Either one guy composes all the crosswords in the US, or there is a continent-wide conspiracy theory.  I do a crossword in the local paper, and 2 crosswords per day from the Toronto Sun.  One is from the NY Times, and the other is from the LA Times.  I recently achieved a trifecta of identical clues/solutions in all, on the same day.  “Game Of Thrones” actor Clarke = Emilia.  Greek god pictured with wings and a bow = Eros.  While the clues were not exactly the same, General whose reputation is battered, was General Tso.

***

With so many things coming back in style, I can’t wait until morals, respect and intelligence become a trend again.

Flash Fiction #263

PHOTO PROMPT © Sandra Crook

EXCESS TO REQUIREMENTS

It’s a good thing I’m retired, and have nowhere to go and all day to get there.  They’re hauling the raw material for Trump’s wigs away.  It’s going to a carpet factory to make new flooring for Kamala Harris’s office. Perhaps when it’s delivered, someone could teach her how to pronounce her name correctly.

Her Father, Kamal, pronounced his name, kah-mahl, so, properly, hers should be kah-mahl-ah.  I wonder if the chicken or the egg came first.  Someone would have us believe that there is no connection to Islam, and she’s a white Valley Girl, with a name resembling Pamela.

***

Go to Rochelle’s Addicted to Purple site and use her Wednesday photo as a prompt to write a complete 100 word story

Woke Up, Kitchener!

I had hoped that all this Woke Society/Cancel Culture, delusional fad-du-jour would remain in the Excited States.  Alas, t’was not to be.  This is the Information Age, which means that it’s on the internet, and spreading faster than COVID.  It has wafted North across the border, and settled on Canada like wildfire smoke, including in my usually staid, sane-thinking Kitchener.

The first symptom developed a couple of years ago, when a local artist donated a bronze statue of Sir John A. MacDonald, Canada’s first Prime Minister and the one in charge of the beginning of Indian residential schools, where thousands of unmarked graves are only now being found.

A huge fuss was raised to prevent the statue from being put in the big, down-town park.  It eventually was shipped to a small town, ten miles west, where there is an historic mini-mansion.  It was doused with red paint twice, and finally knocked off its pedestal.

More recently, the statue of Queen Victoria in her namesake park has been painted red twice.  While she was mostly a figurehead monarch, apparently she’s being blamed for British colonialism.  A brown-skinned immigrant from India has started a petition to rename the city.  Beginning as ‘Sand Hills,’ it became ‘Ebytown,’ and then Berlin, Ontario.

105 years ago, the woke generation of English-speakers demanded that the town change its name, to show loyalty to Britain during WW I.  The local German burghers didn’t really care.  Victoria, the ‘English’ queen, was actually German nobility, from the House of Saxe-Coburg-Anhalt.

British Lord Kitchener’s name was a last-minute addition to a referendum with six names.  The outstanding feature of the plebiscite was the absolute indifference displayed by the ratepayers.  With about 10,000 voters, (All of them men  😯 ) only 892 bothered to cast a ballot, and the name Kitchener got a plurality of 346.

Kitchener (the man) was not excessively colonialist, or racist.  He was just steeped in the unthinking beliefs of the time and place.  White, British males held a Manifest Destiny to own and control the world.  It is a huge mistake to try to retroactively apply 21st Century morals.

In 1973, Waterloo Lutheran University went public, and adopted the name Wilfrid Laurier University, partly to honor the subject of my Where’s Willy post, and partly so that they could retain the same initials – WLU.

Now there is another petition being circulated to have that name also changed.  True, Willy helped administrate the residential Indian school system which damaged so many Indigenous, but, like Lord Kitchener, he did what he did out of an honest belief that it was in their best interests.

I think that we are taking this name change of streets, cities, schools, etc. way too far.  The past is the past, which we cannot, nor ever will be able to, change.  Really people, this needs to stop.  Move on.  We need to learn from it, not bury it.

I ask the woke folk to take a good look in the mirror, and ask themselves two questions.  “Looking back at your very short existence and past behaviors, is there anything that you now regret doing and would do differently if you had the chance?”  Judge not, lest ye be judged.  Let he who is without sin, cast the first stone.  “Second, how did Canada become one of the best counties in the world in which to live?  Could it be because of the leaders of the past – the ones whose contributions and reputations you so eagerly want to tarnish?”

Name changes are not only inconvenient, but are also very costly.  Anything that’s associated with a data-base which contains addresses will be affected.  Passports, drivers’ licences, health cards, property and automobile ownerships, Federal, Provincial and municipal taxes, utilities accounts, postal services, road signs, mapping, GPS – the list goes on and on.

Come on, Snowflakes!  Nowhere in the American or Canadian Constitution are you guaranteed the right not to be offended.  😳

Smitty’s Loose Change #15

There are many people in this country today who, through no fault of their own, are sane.  Most of them are Atheists.

***

And God created the universe it expanded exponentially. Then god divided this sky from the sea that then created life and he told it to multiply. After this he added man and subtracted his only son.

Standing back he looked on in confusion and wondered why this equation didn’t work… At this point a mathematics teacher came over and said, “You forgot the brackets ( ).”  And that was the last time God worked with BEDMAS.

***

I recently got within touching distance of two original Volkswagen Beetles, within hours of each other.  I found the first at a French fry wagon.   (Don’t tell the wife! She thinks I’m still on my diet.) It was greenish-yellow, in decent shape, with a little rust, mostly in the rain-gutters above the doors.  The owner said that it was a ’75 model, and it had custom license plates that read KAFER VW.  That’s a deficiency of the License Bureau.  Kafer, translated from German, means ‘coffee(maker).’  What it should have read, was KӒFER VW.  The addition of the umlaut over the A, changes the meaning to ‘beetle.’

The next one I saw was Fire-Engine Red, and in pristine shape.  I saw no rust.  Even Beetles had year-to-year (tiny) model changes.  Slightly smaller and different-shaped tail-lights told me that it was pre-’73.  It had Historic license plates, and its owner said that it was a ’68 version.

FUN WITH NAMES

The service tech at my Kia dealership is named Faucher.  It’s a French verb that means to mow (grass) the lawn.  His Father worked for, then purchased and ran, a landscaping company, all his working life.

A farm boy that the school bus picked up on one side of my town, was/is named Coulter.  I recently discovered that a ‘coulter’ is a plowshare, a cutting wheel or bar, in front of an actual plow.

A farm girl that the school bus picked up on the other side of town, was/is named Collard.  Back then, I did not know of the cultivation and, mostly Southern culinary, use of collard greens.

***

To err is human, but to really fuck up, you need a computer – with a bureaucrat running it.  Locally, we have been blackmailed into recycling green waste.  Garbage pickup has dropped to every two weeks, but blue-bin and green-bin waste is collected every week.

The region has issued every dwelling two green bins – a small one to put kitchen scraps in, and a larger ‘garage’ one to repeatedly dump the smaller one into.  Compostable-plastic-lined paper bags to hold wet waste are available at all local stores.

The larger bin is 12” X 13 ½”.  The Region-approved bags are 8 ½” X 12 ½”.  No wonder it must be dragged to the curb each week – the bag isn’t big enough to fill!  The smaller one, which I use for cat-shit – (it’s compostable) – is 6” X 7”.  The bureaucrat-authorized bags for it are 3 ¾” X 7 ½“– so long that they partly collapse when inserted, causing loss of volume, and barely half wide enough, causing more lost space.  I sense two different departments, each too self-important to communicate with the other, (You change!  No, You change!) involved in this, and Dilbert in the middle, shaking his head.

***

We’ve all seen the movies, or TV shows…. The CSI forensic technician enters the crime scene.  He/she plucks one dust mote from the air, and a couple of tension-filled moments later, gives the age, sex, name, address, phone number, and shoe color of the culprit.  What then to think of this newspaper story??!

A body was pulled from a lake.  She (at least they got the sex) was 28 to 50 years of age.  28??!  Why not 25?  Or 30??  How in Hell did anyone come up with 28?  Was someone converting from metric??  She was between 4’ 5”, and 5’ 1”.  😯  😳  Put her on an autopsy slab and measure her!!

They didn’t give her weight, but did publish a nice photo of a bead bracelet she was wearing…. Oh, and she might have been Asian, based on the keen observation of her yellow complexion, and lycanthropic epicanthic fold at the eyes.

Remind me, if I die of suspicious causes, I should do it in the big city, not in West Hickstowne, where an exciting day for police is one that has a moose fall into someone’s pool.

***

N.B.

In the above VW story, I downloaded a capital A with an umlaut over it, and put it in my post.  For some reason, WordPress separated the A and the two dots, into two adjacent spaces, and I don’t know how to get them back together.  Just try to visualize it correctly.   😳