Archive for November 1st, 2010

November 1, 2010

With baseball being all the rage – another baseball idiom

First base at baseball, pic:

As I write this the San Francisco Giants and the Texas Rangers are playing their 5th World Series game and all of San Francisco and the Bay Area are going crazy over baseball.  I still don’t get baseball, don’t know the rules and have little desire to deal with all the statistics involved – a total give-away  that I am a stranger and will always be.

So today’s idiom is “covering all your bases” 0r “covering your bases”.  It means to thoroughly prepare for all eventualities and cases,  to be very well prepared.  I rather not try and explain the underlying baseball principle but the general idea is that defensive players are assigned to cover a base (one of four positions in the corner of the diamond shaped baseball field).  It is a very bad error to be in the wrong place and not covering the base one is responsible for.

This idiom is widely understood and used and is well suited for business as well as casual conversation.


“We prepared a very thorough report.  I believe covered all the bases.”
“When applying for a new job you should cover all your bases to increase the chances of being hired.”
November 1, 2010

Bubbleboy and goodie bags

The dreaded goodie bag, pic:

Goodie bags – need I say more to sow fear in every parent’s heart? Goodie bags those superfluous little bags full of crap that every parent hates and still can’t get rid off, that scourge of every kiddie birthday.  If you hate goodie bags try politically correct and nutritionally valuable goodie bags and you’ll gladly go back to stuffing fun size Snickers into plastic bags.

The obesity rate in California is about 25% so it makes sense to cut down on the burgers, fries, and Snickers, especially the not-fun-size ones. The place to start, most parents seem to have decided, is their children’s diet.  That makes a certain amount of sense, we want those young impressionable souls to grow up seeing a baby carrot thinking “yum!” and seeing chocolate thinking “unhealthily elevated blood sugar levels”.

Here is something to think about, though: carrot sticks (don’t get me started on their nastier cousins, the celery sticks) are to chocolate fudge what a wooden toy truck is to a nice, big, orange plastic Nerf gun: not their idea of fun! Should we let them stuff their face 365 days a year with chocolate, smarties and other sugar-stuff and have them run around the yard like little guerrilla fighters shooting Nerf guns? (This actually describes my son’s idea of heaven pretty accurately) – probably not.

Should we define our value as parents and human beings by the fact that we will never, ever, under no circumstances and at no occasion let them stuff their faces with the sweet, yummy stuff? Probably not either. That, however, is exactly where we are with respect to the dreaded goodie bags.  Shame and disgrace on any parent who sneaks a candy into a goodie bag and since shame and disgrace seem insufficient in today’s society, lets create some rules around this. Actually only three rules but broad ones which can roughly be summarized as.

Rule 1: you do not have to bring goodie bags to school for your kids birthday, we encourage you to donate a book to the class room instead (this is the good part). If you must bring goodie bags because otherwise your child will blame all future failures on the missing goodie bags at his/her sixth b-day party then rules 2 and 3 apply.

Rule 2: under no circumstances is it ever permitted to put any kind of sweets or candy into a goodie bag. Sweets are to be defined in the broadest possible sense including pretty much everything that contains any sugar.

Rule 3: you are actually not to put anything edible into a goodie bag at all since whatever you put in might offend or irritate somebody. There are possible exceptions for organic, vegan, gluten-free, low-fat, no sugar “treats” (read: freeze-dried celery sticks).

Who needs that hassle?  As a result we get – and make – dozens of goodie bags each year which all contain: an eraser, a pencil – matching the eraser -, stickers (I hate stickers! Do they ever end up on a piece of paper? No way, my iPhone, car, wallet,  books, …), something made of plastic in China (like the other things aren’t): a slinky that does not work, one of those little games where one needs to get metal balls into holes, bubbles that leak, …  All that stuff accumulates because, of course, nothing can ever be thrown out. Things get ignored, teeter on the brink of being forgotten until suddenly, 1 minute after I throw a never-functioning slinky out – as if by divine inspiration – my son will ask “mom, where is that pink-orange slinky I got from Andrew’s birthday goodie bag?” We search the trash …..

Please, people, put some good old fashioned fun-sized Snicker bars into my son’s goodie bag. At least those get used!

November 1, 2010

Keeping up with the Joneses

This is one of those idioms that need a bit of explanation.

Bought a new car to keep up with the Joneses, © Arosoft |

If you always try to outdo your neighbors, the Joneses, by buying a nice car, having fancier Christmas decorations, a bigger grill, a more expensive kitchen remodel, the more fashionable clothing, cooler hobbies, more exclusive schools for you kids – the you are trying to keep up with the Joneses.

The expression has a negative connotation.  It implies that you are trying hard to outdo others when it comes to status symbols and possessions (the expression will likely not be used when you talk about the quest for enlightenment).

Example: “I see you bought a new beamer (BMW) – trying to keep up with the Joneses?”