Archive for January 11th, 2011

January 11, 2011


This is another of my favorite “funny” words, funny in quotes because what it means is really not necessarily all that funny.

If you look at the ultimate source, Merriam-Webster dictionary the word has two meanings:

1. Secret or dishonest activity or maneuvering.
2. Silly or high-spirited behavior; mischief; prank.  In this context the word is generally used in the plural: shenanigans.
The second qualifies for funny, the first doesn’t really.
An example of the first meaning is the following headline found here.  The headline reads: Examples of Music Industry Shenanigans and implies that some dishonest conduct is going on there.
Another context in which the word is frequently used to mean dishonesty is in connection with finance, as in “financial shenanigans” (here).
Then there are the funny shenanigans as in: “the students engaged in shenanigans at the last day of school”
January 11, 2011

Drop-off offense

When I started 1st grade my mom walked me to school for about 2 weeks and then decided that I was big girl now and could manage on my own. I think she secretly followed me a couple days and then she worried for a few more – and that was that.

I, on the other hand, pick my son up from school every day. It is just a little too far for him to go by himself from school to after-school especially given the four lane street he would have to cross. Admittedly, where I grew up streets weren’t four lanes wide.

The other day the pick-up here, drop-off there routine was upset by an important and unmovable meeting happening very soon after drop-off time. I figured, if I got my son to move reasonably fast – which is like willing a copy machine into copying faster – cut the chit-chat at drop-off, and hit all the traffic lights just right I might be able to make it with three minutes to spare.

The daily drop-off ritual, pic: © Steven Pepple |

Great plan, but as always in such cases, this turned out to be the one day where the teacher wanted to speak to me because of some incident involving my child (for once he was hit by someone accidentally and didn’t do the accidental hitting himself – relief) and so we were running terribly late. Ruthless mother that I am I thought up the following obnoxious plan: “Boy” I said “I am going to drop you off right where we always park. You my big, smart boy walk the ten steps to the door, open it, and run in – all by yourself.”

“Yeah, a real drop-off” my big, smart and increasingly independent boy said and couldn’t wait to get out of the car without mom in tow.

Boy, did I get in trouble for this in the evening when I picked him up. Turns out everybody under the age of 12 needs to be signed in by a parent else the school gets fined. 12?? Sign-in?? Please! My mom had to take care of her baby sister at the age of 11 and I – who was way less responsible than that – worked in restaurant kitchens for pocket money at 12.

I can see that you wouldn’t abandon a three-year old in the parking lot and leave him to wonder around and eventually end up in some neighbor’s front yard. But a six-year old? Come on, on the one hand we expect them to say, understand, and believe sentences like “it really hurts my feelings if you say unfriendly things to me and I wish you would make wiser choices” but then they can’t walk 10 steps, open a door and sign themselves in – once in a very big while, when mom is running late and is still waiting in the car to see whether those 10 steps are taken, the door is opened, and the kid disappears safely behind it.

In an attempt to avoid any even the remotest of risks from our children’s life I am afraid we will turn them into adolescents who will need mom’s help well into their 30s.

January 11, 2011

Rubbing somebody the wrong way

Somebody rubbed that one the wrong way, pic: (c) Eric Gevaert |

This just happened to me at my son’s martial arts class.  A mother just totally rubbed me the wrong way and it took my utmost restraint not to say something politically incorrect – or rather something quite offensive.  No point in dwelling on what she did or said, let’s focus on the phrase: “to rub somebody the wrong way”:

It means to irritate, annoy somebody, to upset somebody, to bother somebody.

Generally rubbing somebody the wrong way is no major offense, it probably is something that does not bother many people at all but for one reason or another it really does upset somebody else.  Rubbing somebody the wrong way is actually likely unintentional.

Here are some examples:

Girl: “Why are you so unfriendly to McKenzie?”

Other girl: “oh, she just rubs me the wrong way.  The way she always talks about her wonderful boy-friend this, her wonderful boy-friend that, how he bought her that fancy jewelry, took her on a luxury trip.  It’s just annoying.”

The origin of this phrase is quite clear – when you rub a cat’s fur the wrong way – from tail to head – you annoy the cat – and that is never a good thing.