Sunday, November 16, 2008

Speaking of Words

It's Word of the Year time again! No, it's not my invention. (Not that I'd admit it if even if it was, but it isn't, so I'm not. So there.) It's the concoction of the, surprise, New Oxford American Dictionary folks. (Actually, that is a little surprising. Isn't Oxford over there by London? That's not "new America". That's "old England". I don't get it.) Regardless, over there on the Oxford University Press blog, OUPblog (unique), they've announced that it's their "absolute favorite time of the year". Favorite time, eh? Huh. Interesting. They claim that they "prepare for the holidays" by making its "biggest announcement of the year", that being the unveiling of the WOTY, Word of the Year. You know, if announcing which word is the word for the whole year qualifies as their "biggest announcement", I'm guessing it's not all hustle and bustle around those offices during the other 364 days of each year. I'm just sayin'.

But back to the WOTY. (I absolutely hate that acronym. It's horrible. But I'm not about to type out "Word of the Year" every time I need to write it. So WOTY it is, but I'm not happy about it. Just so you know.) The dumbass word for the year 2008 is a word that takes things like thrift and a desire to conserve and takes them to a ridiculous extreme which is often at the expense of annoying (and frightening, in some cases) others. The word is......Hypermiling. Wait. It's what?

Hypermiling. According to the dude who coined the phrase, a one Wayne Hypermile Gerdes, to hypermile is "to attempt to maximize gas mileage by making fuel-conserving adjustments to one’s car and one’s driving techniques." Sounds like "driving slower", doesn't it? That's part of it, but that's only the most normal part. While it involves things such as driving at or below the speed limit, maintaining the correct tire pressure, not letting your vehicle idle and eliminating excess cargo (passengers do qualify as "excess cargo" in this case, yes), hypermiling also involves things such as:
  • Driving without shoes (to increase the foot’s sensitivity on the pedals) (also known as "Driving home from the beach."),

  • Parking so that you don’t have to back up to exit the space, and

  • Ridge-riding” or driving with your tires lined up with the white line at the edge of the road to avoid driving through water-filled ruts in the road when it’s raining.

Yes, driving with tires lined up on the white lines. Are you kidding me? I was under the impression that those "water filled ruts" on the road were so you didn't engage in another driving technique, that of hydroplaning! While it is true that you will be saving gasoline as your car glides atop the sheet of water without the tires even touching the asphalt and sails uncontrollably across the Interstate before careening into a semi-truck and bursting into an inferno of flames, it's really kind of worth it to use that extra tablespoon of gas and keep your damn tires on the freaking road! But that might just be me. It's hard to say. But whatever, that's your WOTY. Try not to kill yourself.

Interested in the WOTY Finalists? No? That's too bad. You're going to be a little disappointed right about now, because here they are:
  • Frugalista: "A person who leads a frugal lifestyle, but stays fashionable and healthy by swapping clothes, buying second-hand, growing own produce, etc." (OK, when did "growing own produce" become "frugal" as opposed to "granola"?
  • Moofer: "A mobile out of office worker – ie. someone who works away from a fixed workplace, via Blackberry/laptop/wi-fi etc." Sooooo...everyone? The moofers and the shakers? Isn't this what you yell when you have one of those hypermilers in front of you on the freeway? "Moofer to the right lane so I can pass you, you jackass!" Ah, I thought so!

  • Topless meeting: "A meeting in which the participants are barred from using their laptops, Blackberries, cellphones, etc." So if you're a 'moofer', just be prepared to 'go topless'. For the good of the company, of course.

    Toxic debt: "Mainly sub-prime debts that are now proving so disastrous to banks." So, sub-prime mortgages? (Why do they do this? Are they trying to be all tricky? It doesn't work.)
And not only were the WOTY Finalists, there is also a WOTY Shortlist! They don't really tell you what the "shortlist" is exactly, but it seems to be perhaps the rest of the words that weren't good enough to make the finals, but were in the running at some point. They didn't make the finals because most of them are lame, but without them, it would have been a really short list. And when you're promoting your WOTY, you don't want to look stupid. Everyone knows that.
  • Carrot mob: "A flashmob type of gathering, in which people are invited via the Net to all support and reward a local small ethical business such as a shop or cafĂ© by all patronizing it at the same time. Also as noun, carrotmobbing." (Never heard of it. This is possibly something the WOTY folks made up to fill out the list of WOTY candidates.)

  • Ecohacking: "The use of science in very large-scale projects to change the environment for the better/stop global warming (e.g. by using mirrors in space to deflect sunlight away from Earth)." Are we doing this? Where exactly are these big mirrors? Is that why it was so hot today? It's November, for cryin' out loud! Knock it off.)

  • Hockey mom: This is self explanatory. ("Lipstick" noticeably absent from WOTY list.)

  • Link bait: "Content on a website that encourages a user to place links to it from other websites." Huh. So it's not using sausages to catch fish. Interesting. Note to self....

  • Luchador: "A wrestler, an exponent of lucha libre (Spanish for ‘free wrestling’.) They might mean "an opponent", as "an exponent" is a math notation designating the power of a number. But, then again, maybe it's right and it just means "powerful Mexican wrestling guy". Maybe.

  • Rewilding: "The process of returning an area to its original wild state/flora/fauna etc." But what was it before it was "rewilded"? Is that process "dewilding"? "Unwilding"? "Miswilding"?

  • Staycation: "Vacation taken at or near one’s home, taking day trips, etc." Also the last and least well-known installment of the Chevy Chase 'Vacation' movies.

  • Tweet: "A short message sent via the Twitter service, using a cellphone or other mobile device." I thought that was 'Twittering". But it's 'tweet'? So to Twitter, you tweet? If you're tweeting, you're Twittering? If you tweeted, you've Twittered? Is there a Puddy Tat involved with this? It feels like there should be.
  • Wardrobe: "Has become a verb, as in: Ms. Mendes has a long-standing relationship with the house of Calvin Klein and has been wardrobed by Calvin Klein Collection." So, "dressed"? "Wearing clothes"?

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Alice Amplified said...

I tot I taw a puddy tat. Man this was funny. Could be that I'm wrought with "the fever", or maybe it's just funny as hell.


Ecohacker. I think I've found a new career. I'll be an ecohacker that goes around the world educating naysayers like you on the realities of global warming!

Don't hit me! I'm not well!

I must go now, the mirrors we placed in the earths atmosphere need polishing and I have a veeeery big bottle of windex and an infinite supply of paper towels.

Off I go, the earth awaits.

Mare said...

Hey, thanks! I'm glad that it's just me that's funny and not "the vapors" that are causing you to think that it's funny.

And of course, only you would be out there de-smudging the atmospheric mirrors with your Windex and endless paper towel supply that you just happened to have with you!

Do you get a badge with that 'ecohacker' moniker? You might need one.