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How The World Wags

Vox Populi #2
By Dave Kiffer

January 08, 2005

Ketchikan, Alaska - A lot of you were pretty amused when I misspelled the word satellite a while back in a column about spelling. I suppose I should it say it was an intentional mistake that was placed there to make a point. But no, it was an unintentional one. That definitely makes my point about the spelling bone suffering from osteoporosis as one ages.

jpg Dave Kiffer

That same day, an observant reader noted that a local grocery store was selling "banned" bananas. I guess the FDA must be slipping up if it let them into the country anyway. That reminds me of joke several years ago when some Chilean grapes were responsible for poisoning several folks in New York. A friend of mine wondered aloud if Chilean grape nuts could be considered "cereal (serial) killers."

Another reader called to point out that a local night spot was advertising a "Pimp and Hoe" party. Putting aside the remarkably tasteless idea of such a party in the first place, the word "Hoe" stands out since there is no "e" in the word hooker (so named after the camp followers of Civil War General Fighting Joe Hooker). I looked up "Hoe" in the Oxford English Dictionary and found a variety of meanings (Orkney Island Pickled Dog-Fish anyone?) But none indicating that it was a shortened version of hooker. Of course, "Ho" wasn't in there for that reason either, but still I hold that in this season of holiday cheer, that "Ho" would be the proper spelling. Somehow "Pimps and Hoes" just calls to mind Zoot-Suited Dandies standing around with farm implements.

By the way, there is (at least) one mispelled word in this column. Try to find it!

A whole bunch of readers have taken issue with my Grinch-like approach to holiday lighting. What can I say? I just like to keep things in some sort of order (well, perhaps not my desk, but that's another story). A friend recently asked me if it is too early to put up St. Patrick's Day decorations. Well, sure and begorra (a phrase I never heard uttered once in my time in Ireland). I leave it to a celebrated Irish poet who was generously spending some time helping a couple of American poets celebrate the holiday in Donegal. "It's a very solemn occasion, full of deprivation and penance, " he said. "No craic (talking and merriment) until I finish this pint."

Ketchikan resident driving habits recently sure stirred up a hornet's (a gnarly AMC hatchback!) nest. A Kayhi grad, who lives in the Great American Southwest, dropped an email to suggest that we should just all take a chill pill and walk a bit more (rather than worry about other folks' driving habits). She says we'd all be healthier for it. Good point, but given the recently declining thermometer, it would lend a brisk new meaning to "chilling out."

Just before Christmas, I found myself in traffic behind one of the anti-slowpoke types. He was driving just about 18 mph in the 25 mph zone. And no, there wasn't someone going slowly in front of him.

And a mea culpa. A couple of weeks ago, my car started doing that funky little hop that indicates I have gotten a little too low on my petrol reserve. I coasted (at about 7 mph) for two blocks to the nearest gas station. I'm so sorry that I delayed those speed demons who were stuck behind me.

Finally, I received an interesting email from a reader - a former Kayhi classmate who now lives back east - who remembers his father driving painfully slowly as he was taking the then young man to the airport ferry for his trip away from home. At the time, the young man was impatient and worried about missing the airport ferry. Now, he realizes that his father was trying to make time stand still.

We should all resolve to be in less of a hurry this year.

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Dave Kiffer ©2004

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