My first offshore rig job was on the Piper Alpha. I didn’t know it at the time but the Piper was one of the biggest, oldest, most profitable production platforms in the British sector of the North Sea. I emerged onto the helideck from my first chopper ride with the wide-eyed feeling you tried to hide on your first trip offshore. I had time to dump my duffel bag in the cabin they assigned me, get some pairs of coveralls, a bag of gloves. It wasn’t a normal crew change. I was replacing a guy who got hurt and medivacced off the night before. I started a twelve-hour shift with a crew of three other roustabouts and the crane driver, Kenny. I was bunking in with Kenny for an unknown reason. Normally, the four roustabouts, alternating twelve hour shifts, shared cabins with their opposite numbers. Mine was a bottom bunk in a room of crane drivers. Kenny was the boss of the crane drivers. I was replacing a guy on his crew, so we slept and worked at the same time. My first job, on my first shift as a roustabout, was dumping fifty-five gallon drums of radioactive shale into the sea. I watched the roughnecks shovel the shale into a drum on the drill floor. In addition to their usual coveralls, they wore outer suits which looked like rubber. It was supposed to be protection against the radioactivity in the rock that was coming out of the hole. Because of the work on the drill floor, the protective suits were shredded and torn, hanging off the roughnecks in strips. There was an engineer running up and down the catwalk with a crackling Geiger counter. Roughnecks, in the smoke room, joked about watching their appendages fall off. The smoke room provided breaks in the twelve hour shifts, scenes of laughter, boredom and rage. When you were new, they tested you. They tried to scare you, probe you, disturb you, wind you up. Then they sat back, chuckled at your reaction. The Scots were masters at this. It seemed to be a racially imbedded talent. All done in good humour, anything for a laugh. During one of those breaks, soaked in mud and oil from relieving the roughnecks, I listened to one the veterans talk. He looked around the steel room, at the walls. “You could put your fist through the legs of this old piece of shit. If there’s ever gonna be a disaster in the North Sea, it’ll be on this old piece of shit” I didn’t think much about it at the time. I laughed like everyone else. There were moments in the next years when I did think about it, though. His words came back to me on other rigs, as I was getting cozy in a bunk. Exhaustion, food, a hot shower, warm inside; outside, a gale blowing between the Shetlands and Norway. Nights like that, I remembered, had a shiver, as sleep descended. Was it just another trick to scare a green hand? The old guy who said it, didn’t laugh. By the time the crane brought the first drum down from the drill floor, I had been told what to do by the man I relieved. When the crane driver lowered the drum, I gave him a signal to stop at the right spot so I could tip it over the rail, while he held the weight. As I tipped the first few drums of shale over the side, I was thinking about the wisdom of dumping radioactive rocks into the North Sea. Who would believe me onshore, who would care? There was no point in complaining. This was the job I’d tried so hard to get. What choice did I have? Pack my bags and wait for the next flight on the helideck? So when the drums of radioactive shale descended from the sky, seawater pouring out of holes in the sides, I dumped the grey, flat pieces, hoping they wouldn’t poison anything. The Piper Alpha, like most platforms, had big cranes on opposite sides of the deck. The deck held all the pipe and equipment needed on the drill floor. Almost everything brought on board was moved by container. Supply ships filled the deck with steel containers which had to be stacked on top of each other, for lack of space. The roustabouts, one with a radio on the same the frequency as the crane driver, landed the containers and pipe. The crane driver moved back and forth between the cranes, depending upon the load, where he had to pick it up, where he had to land it. A night shift, on deck, in a North Sea gale, wasn’t a good time to discover that Kenny was near sighted. The remarks weren’t made by the other roustabouts, as I suspected, to try to scare me. In the black and white shadows of the big, swaying lights, in the horizontal rain, it was an unwelcome revelation. Kenny’s cranes lifted tons of steel from the decks of bobbing sea going tugs, up over the sides of the platform, across containers of different heights. They said that it was his perspective which was bad. On those stormy nights, when it was hard to see and he was tired, the best tactics were to find the spot the container was supposed to go, do your best to signal him, get out of the way. You always looked around for an escape route, in case he didn’t see you. Your greasy rain suit and slipping boots didn’t help when you were being chased across the container tops by steel boxes, in high winds. What could you do about a crane driver with bad eye sight? Everyone knew about it, but no one seemed to care. Kenny was Kenny. He was a fixture, no one had been killed or crushed yet. During my time offshore with Kenny and the boys I did little except eat, sleep and shower when we weren’t working. On occasion, I lay half asleep in my bunk, while Kenny did business with visitors from all parts of the rig. I had long ago given up trying to sort out the dialects of the British Isles. Many of the thousands of offshore workers were from Northern England and Scotland. The money to be made on the rigs, for fishermen who were risking much more, for no guaranteed income, drew the coastal Scots like flies. Since they were sailors to begin with, they knew about ropes, knots, shackles, hard graft in the rottenest weather. It was understood that they would prefer to fish rather than this, but their fishery was in trouble, they had families. The oil business, like the British army, was happy to recruit there, because they knew the value of the workers. The industrial cities of Britain all sent men to work offshore. There were men from the islands and from small farm villages. There were ex military men as well as merchant mariners driven off their decks by containers. When you mixed in some Aussies and Kiwis, you came close to Babylon when they all spoke fast, at once. Many of Kenny’s conversations took place while I was in the cabin but were unintelligible to me, though I heard them. The language was impossible to understand. Kenny, was a partner with another crane driver in a pornographic video scam. He got videos for the rig. Probably he was selling them to individuals, as well. I laid in my bunk, reading, when a conversation about videos took place. It was business talk with a group of guys, about a week after I arrived. By then, Kenny judged me to be safe to have around. He knew that I was only there till the end of the hitch, I’d probably never be back. On this old rig, the crews were pretty well set. The company had a seniority list they’d use if the injured man didn’t return. As they left the cabin, one guy told me to keep my mouth shut by zipping his lip. I nodded. He left with a smile. What was I going to say about it? I had enough problems surviving the twelve hour shifts. We were a hundred ninety kilometres northeast of Aberdeen in the North Sea. Like dumping the shale into the ocean, it seemed a necessary compromise. I did the job, kept my mouth shut, in return for good money and experience offshore. The first step in working offshore was to get experience. It was the first thing they asked when you applied for a job. When you had worked offshore once, you were ahead of the game. There were piles of applications for the jobs on each company’s desk. It was the classic catch - 22. The Piper had two theatres. There was a regular theatre, with comfortable movie type seating, where they showed contemporary movies. They even had a guy outside the theatre with a request sheet on a clipboard. If you wanted to request a movie, they’d try to get it. The other theatre, with the same interior, was strictly for porn. Kenny had a connection, through the supply ships, to Denmark, where they manufacture a lot of porn. He got every kind of porn. I tried the porn theatre one night. I didn’t like it. There were forty or fifty guys sitting together with their hands in the pockets of their accommodation coveralls, watching endless sex videos. Living for two weeks with three hundred men was bad enough. That just made it worse. I went to bed. Kenny and his boys were busy. To supplement the porn enterprise, they were stealing from the containers. Word was, there were cartons of cigarettes and booze stashed all over the rig. As the roustabouts and crane driver landed containers on the deck, they tried to place the ones for the galley as close to the accommodation as possible. There was even a small deck outside the back door of the galley where some containers could be landed. That was supposed to be the end of the roustabouts’ and crane drivers’ dealings with those containers. Certain sealed containers were locked by Customs and Excise. They were opened only by the galley boss, emptied into the galley by the stewards. There was no drinking allowed offshore but at Christmas each man was allowed one beer and a cigar. It varied from company to company, rig to rig. Who knew what the bosses got shipped in? Teetotallers became very popular around Christmas time, offshore. The Christmas I was there, Kenny’s gang, the other crane driver and some roustabouts, managed to land the special containers at night, break into them, steal the booze and cigarettes. They had a system of ripping off the containers, stashing the goods, blaming it on the cooks and stewards. I didn’t know anything about it at the time. It could have happened on a shift when I was working. There were jobs all over the rig to which Kenny could have assigned me to get me out of the way. There were no fire drills when I was there. No one knew if the evacuation procedures would work. The platform kept pumping oil, one hundred twenty thousand barrels a day, everybody made good money, the company was happy. The British government collected five hundred million pounds a year, in revenues, from the Piper Alpha. When my hitch ended on the Piper, I took the taxi from the heliport to the warm Aberdeen pubs to have a drink with the boys, say our goodbyes. I met one of them, a few years later, in Aberdeen. He had left the Piper, was working on another rig, like myself. He told me that the police had finally raided the platform, searched lockers and the rest of the rig from top to bottom, found all kinds of contraband including a working homebrew still. Some guys lost their jobs, some were charged. I assumed Kenny would have been fired. But, sometimes, guys like him never get caught. Even if he did get run off of the Piper, it might have saved his life. A few years later, I was in Ottawa, trying to deal with my mother’s Alzheimer’s. It was a major change after what I’d been doing for the past twenty years. I picked up the paper outside of the apartment we shared. The headline read, ‘153 missing in rig disaster’. Two hundred, twenty-seven men, including construction workers, were working the night shift or in their bunks. The ones inside the accommodation, near the centre of the platform, were killed immediately by the explosion and shaft of fire, which sucked up all the oxygen. The ones working their shift up on deck, were lucky. One survivor said, “It was a case of over the side or die there”. They jumped seventy metres into the heaving, black North Sea. Some were rescued. The emergency procedures didn’t work, nor did the lifeboats. As for the spark which ignited the leaking gas, a welder’s torch was suggested, but it could just as easily have been a guy having a smoke where he wasn’t supposed to. Some of the men I worked with were on the Piper, that night. There were stewards, cooks, office workers, even a few roustabouts, who were lifers on the platforms. They said goodbye to families and friends, went off to work for two weeks at a time, for their whole working lives. Two weeks off every month beat a nine to five. The money was good, there were no expenses at work except tobacco and toothpaste. Your bed was made, your laundry done, there was good food, all you could eat every day, prepared by professional chefs. Many guys got addicted to it. They couldn’t work any other way. The longer you did it, the harder it was to leave. Those crews packed their bags for that two week trip in the summer of 1988, said their goodbyes, never came back. The final count was 164 dead.Add a Comment
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Blog: Elizabeth O. Dulemba (Login to Add to MyJacketFlap)
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I LOVE this picture! This is me (in the back) with my walking buddies. Every morning at 6:30am, Candice Ransom, Claudia Mills, Ashley Wolff (taking the photo), Tula (doggie) and I walk the perimeter of the Hollins campus. Twice around is about 3.5 miles. Three times around is over five (we do that on the days we aren't teaching). We do it every day except Sunday, and sometimes even then. The light at this time of day is stunning, like liquid gold gilding the edges of trees and hills and slowly melting across the landscape as the morning rises. It's a magical way to begin each day. This is the part of Hollins I miss the most when I'm away.
Blog: Becky's Book Reviews (Login to Add to MyJacketFlap)
JacketFlap tags: 2013, books reviewed in 2014, dystopia, Random House, YA Fiction, YA Science Fiction, Add a tag
My second attempt at reading Dualed went much better than my first. The second time I picked it up, it was an easy read. Easy meaning that I read almost all of it in one sitting. The content itself, well, easy doesn't really describe the world Chapman created in her novel.
West, the heroine, has known her whole life that she'll have to kill or be killed in order to take a place in the community. That's just how things are now. Every person has an alt--a genetic clone of sorts. Every alt poses a threat. When an assignment goes active, both know it's kill or be killed. And both also know that timing is key. They have exactly one month to complete their assignment or both will be killed. West is the only one left in her family. It's a dangerous world, a violent world. Many people are PK's peripheral kills--being killed "accidentally" during the fight between two alts. No street or neighborhood is really safe because of it. There will always be teens who have gone active and are in survival mode. Though West does not have any family in her life--readers do briefly meet Luc, her brother--she is not truly alone. Her brother's friend, Chord, cares about her a great deal. The book opens with Chord receiving his assignment; readers get a brief glimpse of what the book will be like. His assignment is completed very quickly and dramatically. Though some of the drama is lost since readers barely know the characters and haven't come to care yet. Effective for letting readers know that death, violent death, is what this book is all about perhaps.
West. I didn't like or dislike her really. I had a hard time understanding her, why, she would be completely fine being an assassin and murdering others on almost a daily or at least weekly basis. Yet be so anxious about facing her own alt. After all, the risks to her own life are the same. The fact that she was an assassin meant that she was capable of killing. It also meant that she was not afraid to put her own life in danger. Every job she took, there was risk that she could die if it went bad. Yet West does the opposite of what you'd expect: she hides and waits and hides and waits and hides and waits and mopes a bit.
Chord was a good guy, well, as good a guy as you're going to get in this crazy society where all adults have committed murder at least once. I did get the sense that he cared about West and wanted a relationship with her that was based more on them and less on Luc.
Overall, Dualed is a not-for-me book. Others may enjoy it more, of course.
© 2014 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews Add a Comment
Blog: Creative Whimsies (Login to Add to MyJacketFlap)
JacketFlap tags: chicken dance, chickens dancing, Chihuahua, painting, pigs, sibling rivalry illustration, sketching, Add a tag
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JacketFlap tags: Manga Articles, age called blue, emanga, Est Em, Yaoi, Add a tag
Title: Age Called Blue Genre: Drama, Romance, Yaoi Artist: Est Em Publisher: Tokyo Mangasha (JP), DMG (EN) Translation: DMG Original Release Date: April 4, 2014 Free Preview: >>HERE<< Relationships can be just as painful as they can be beneficial. In Est Em’s one-shot Age Called Blue, we are shown various romantic relationships which all lead to the ... Read moreAdd a Comment
I have released a collection of eight new black & white wildlife prints. Each print is limited to just 25 editions. Below are three preview images from this new collection.
Print I: “Lion”
Photographed with BeetleCam in Kenya.
Print III: “Elephants in Rain”
This image was taken during an almighty downpour in the Serengeti. I achieved the charcoal-sketch effect in-camera by focusing in front of the elephants and using a slow shutter speed to blur the raindrops.
Print VIII: “African Wild Dog”
An African wild dog running through the undergrowth. I used a slow shutter-speed and panned with the moving animal to blur the background.
Subscribers to my newsletter may download a document showing all eight images that make up this new collection:Add a Comment
Blog: Galley Cat (Mediabistro) (Login to Add to MyJacketFlap)
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Adam Tuff, editor in chief of the Sonic Stadium website, has raised more than £2,200 on Kickstarter. He plans to use the funds to organize the UK’s first Sonic the Comic convention.
This event will celebrate the comics inspired by the “Sonic the Hedgehog” video games. Here’s more from the Kickstarter page:
“Although the comic was discontinued in 2002, the artwork and stories had a resonating effect with many readers, who have continued the comic in an online incarnation as Sonic the Comic – Online. The comic still continues to garner interest to present day, with many stories featured in the comic being cited by fans as some of the best written across all of the many universes of Sonic the Hedgehog.”
New Career Opportunities Daily: The best jobs in media.Add a Comment
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Do you have to believe in the Trinity to be saved? The short answer is no. The Bible does not mention a “Trinity,” let alone state that one must believe in it in order to attain salvation. Furthermore, no verse in Scripture says you must believe that Jesus Christ is God in order to be saved.
1. Jesus is the son of God – NOT GOD.
2. Soul is breath life; it’s what animates you and makes you a LIVE person. You lose your soul, your breath life, when you die.
3. Holy Spirit is the gift of salvation that is bestowed upon you when you do one simple thing:
That if you confess with your mouth, “Jesus is Lord,” and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved.
Salvation is of the utmost importance, so let’s be sure we understand God’s instructions, which are really quite simple. To be saved, you must confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord. What does that mean? It means that you say what the Bible clearly declares—that Jesus is the Son of God who died for your sins, was raised from the dead, and highly exalted to the right hand of God. Have you ever opened your mouth and said, “Jesus is Lord?” Why not say it right now? It’s simple: “Jesus is Lord.”
Romans 10:9 goes on to say that along with confessing that Jesus is Lord, you are to believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead. What is it to believe in your heart? It means to really believe it. Is that difficult? No, not at all. You probably believe that George Washington was the first president of the United States, even though you never saw him. In the same way, there are many, many valid reasons to believe that God raised Jesus up from the dead.
For proof, read our article, “23 Arguments for the Historical Validity of the Resurrection of Jesus Christ.”
Once you have confessed with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believed in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you are saved. Salvation is very easy because God wants all men to be saved (1 Tim. 2:4), and He is offering it as a free gift. The reason it is free to you is because Jesus Christ paid the price for it with his life.
[For further study, click here]
If what you have just listened to has been a blessing to you, please consider sowing into our continued outreach of the Gospel, all over the globe.
We trust you have enjoyed this free online class. God bless you!
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Blog: Laura Bowers (Login to Add to MyJacketFlap)
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- Tue, 19:23: RT @writerstephanie: Agent @LitEpiphany sent a singing/dancing gorilla to tell me I'd sold my YA memoir to @jsgabel. Best Call story Ever: …
Question: I recently found out that I am more of a plot driven story teller. Before, when I think of an idea for a story, I tend to think of the plot first,Add a Comment
Yesterday's post about sketching strangers on subways led to a lively discussion about how best to manage the encounter between the artist and the unwitting model.
|Here I am painting at the Platte Clove Community in Elka Park, New York.|
Actually these folks were very respectful and asked smart, observant questions.
Anyone who has sketched outside have heard some of these same questions, and probably a lot more (Please tell me in the comments).
These questions unnerve a lot of would-be sketchers, who often feel that they're being judged, or they irritate painters who need to fully concentrate on a difficult step. It eventually wears me out if the comments are too repetitive or inane.
I've gotten plenty of weird comments. A landowner once shouted from his monster truck: "Makin' money off my tree?" A lawyer who owned a property said, "Don't fall into the water and drown. That would be actionable."
Another time I had to jettison a good spot because I realized it was the unloading zone for busload after busload of bored tourists.
Here's Spanish painter Antonio Lopez Garcia facing unusual odds in Puerta Del Sol.
Tomorrow: Some Solutions to the Problem of Curious Spectators
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Blog: brian's blog: writer talk (Login to Add to MyJacketFlap)
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So here--yes, in my quirky way--there's the surprise of the monkey himself and the fact that he can talk and has a laptop. But how I make this particular paragraph create suspense is I want the reader to want to read on because there's something the text raises that makes he/she want an explanation for "...maybe when you're dead and you died the way I did...". I hope the reader reads this line and wants to know more about my death, in particular how I died.
It's helpful to look at your use of language in this way during revision. With me--and I've noticed this in others--sometimes I word my sentence in such a way that I miss an opportunity to make the reader want an answer to a question--whether it's on the local level of the scene or a bigger question in the larger story.
Blog: Write What Inspires You (Login to Add to MyJacketFlap)
JacketFlap tags: A.R. Silverberry, adventure, Book Review, coming-of-age, spiritual journey, The Stream, Wyndano's Cloak, Add a tag
If I were not already a fan of A.R. Silverberry’s from Wyndano’s Cloak, I now would be after the exhilarating adventure of The Stream. Silverberry’s masterful storytelling technique will have you hooked from the onset. So much so for me, I was unable to concentrate on anything else until the end.
Donna M. McDine
Multi Award-winning Children's Author
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A Sandy Grave ~ January 2014 ~ Guardian Angel Publishing, Inc. ~ 2014 Purple Dragonfly 1st Place Picture Books 6+, Story Monster Approved, Beach Book Festival Honorable Mention 2014, Reader's Favorite Five Star Review
Powder Monkey ~ May 2013 ~ Guardian Angel Publishing, Inc. ~ Reader's Favorite Five Star Review
Hockey Agony ~ January 2013 ~ Guardian Angel Publishing, Inc. ~ Reader's Farvorite Five Star Review
The Golden Pathway ~ August 2010 ~ Guardian Angel Publishing, Inc.
~ Literary Classics Silver Award and Seal of Approval, Readers Favorite 2012 International Book Awards Honorable Mention and Dan Poynter's Global e-Book Awards Finalist
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Blog: Through the Looking Glass Book Review (Login to Add to MyJacketFlap)
JacketFlap tags: Children's book reviews, Poetry books, Poetry Friday, Add a tag
Blog: Koosje Koene (Login to Add to MyJacketFlap)
JacketFlap tags: colour, coloured pencils, cooking, food, journal, kitchen, Add a tag
Looking forward to get more colour pencil drawings done during my upcoming online drawing course 'Just Draw It!', starting next Monday. Add a Comment
Blog: Emily Smith Pearce (Login to Add to MyJacketFlap)
JacketFlap tags: Art, apps, digital artwork, drawing, flowers, Instagram, iPad art, photography, Add a tag
I have a little more to share about our trip to France, but for now, here’s a little artwork.
On a recent flight from Boston to Charlotte, I took a break from reading and started fiddling around with an app (Adobe Ideas), drawing on some of my photographs. If you follow me on Instagram, you may have seen some of these before, both pre and post-drawing.
Fun, eh? Have a favorite?
Just finished watching the BBC adaptation of Dickens’ Bleak House. Really enjoyed it. Currently reading Call the Midwife by Jennifer Worth (it’s the memoir upon which the show is based). Now watching Bletchley Circle. I seem to be in a BBC/ British kind of mood.
For more posts about my artwork and others’, click here.
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Blog: OUPblog (Login to Add to MyJacketFlap)
JacketFlap tags: *Featured, Books, Dictionaries & Lexicography, Language, Oxford Etymologist, anatoly liberman, autumn, etymology, February, Heavy rain, monthly gleanings, sloo, slough, so long, Ukraine, who whom, word origins, Wrap, Add a tag
By Anatoly Liberman
Since I’ll be out of town at the end of July, I was not sure I would be able to write these “gleanings.” But the questions have been many, and I could answer some of them ahead of time.
Autumn: its etymology
Our correspondent wonders whether the Latin word from which English, via French, has autumn, could be identified with the name of the Egyptian god Autun. The Romans derived the word autumnus, which was both an adjective (“autumnal”) and a noun (“autumn”), from augere “to increase.” This verb’s perfect participle is auctus “rich (“autumn as a rich season”). The Roman derivation, though not implausible, looks like a tribute to folk etymology. A more serious conjecture allies autumn to the Germanic root aud-, as in Gothic aud-ags “blessed” (in the related languages, also “rich”). But, more probably, Latin autumnus goes back to Etruscan. The main argument for the Etruscan origin is the resemblance of autumnus to Vertumnus, the name of a seasonal deity (or so it seems), about whom little is known besides the tale of his seduction, in the shape of an old woman, of Pomona, as told by Ovid. Vertumnus, or Vortumnus, may be a Latinized form of an Etruscan name. A definite conclusion about autumnus is hardly possible, even though some sources, while tracing this word to Etruscan, add “without doubt.” The Egyptian Autun was a creation god and the god of the setting sun, so that his connection with autumn is remote at best. Nor do we have any evidence that Autun had a cult in Ancient Rome. Everything is so uncertain here that the origin of autumnus must needs remain unknown. In my opinion, the Egyptian hypothesis holds out little promise.
The origin of so long
I received an interesting letter from Mr. Paul Nance. He writes about so long:
“It seems the kind of expression that should have derived from some fuller social nicety, such as I regret that it will be so long before we meet again or the like, but no one has proposed a clear antecedent. An oddity is its sudden appearance in the early nineteenth century; there are only a handful of sightings before Walt Whitman’s use of it in a poem (including the title) in the 1860-1861 edition of Leaves of Grass. I can, by the way, offer an antedating to the OED citations: so, good bye, so long in the story ‘Cruise of a Guinean Man’. Knickerbocker: New York (Monthly Magazine 5, February 1835, p. 105; available on Google Books). Given the lack of a fuller antecedent, suggestions as to its origin all propose a borrowing from another language. Does this seem reasonable to you?”
Mr. Nance was kind enough to append two articles (by Alan S. Kaye and Joachim Grzega) on so long, both of which I had in my folders but have not reread since 2004 and 2005, when I found and copied them. Grzega’s contribution is especially detailed. My database contains only one more tiny comment on so long by Frank Penny: “About twenty years ago I was informed that it [the expression so long] is allied to Samuel Pepys’s expression so home, and should be written so along or so ’long, meaning that the person using the expression must go his way” (Notes and Queries, Series 12, vol. IX, 1921, p. 419). The group so home does turn up in the Diary more than once, but no citation I could find looks like a formula. Perhaps Stephen Goranson will ferret it out. In any case, so long looks like an Americanism, and it is unlikely that such a popular phrase should have remained dormant in texts for almost two centuries.
Be that as it may, I agree with Mr. Nance that a formula of this type probably arose in civil conversation. The numerous attempts to find a foreign source for it carry little conviction. Norwegian does have an almost identical phrase, but, since its antecedents are unknown, it may have been borrowed from English. I suspect (a favorite turn of speech by old etymologists) that so long is indeed a curtailed version of a once more comprehensible parting formula, unless it belongs with the likes of for auld lang sine. It may have been brought to the New World from England or Scotland and later abbreviated and reinterpreted.
“Heavy rain” in languages other than English
Once I wrote a post titled “When it rains, it does not necessarily pour.” There I mentioned many German and Swedish idioms like it is raining cats and dogs, and, rather than recycling that text, will refer our old correspondent Mr. John Larsson to it.
Ukraine and Baltic place names
The comment on this matter was welcome. In my response, I preferred not to talk about the things alien to me, but I wondered whether the Latvian place name could be of Slavic origin. That is why I said cautiously: “If this is a native Latvian word…” The question, as I understand, remains unanswered, but the suggestion is tempting. And yes, of course, Serb/Croat Krajna is an exact counterpart of Ukraina, only without a prefix. In Russian, stress falls on i; in Ukrainian, I think, the first a is stressed. The same holds for the derived adjectives: ukrainskii ~ ukrainskii. Pushkin said ukrainskaia (feminine).
Slough, sloo, and the rest
Many thanks to those who informed me about their pronunciation of slough “mire.” It was new to me that the surname Slough is pronounced differently in England and the United States. I also received a question about the history of slew. The past tense of slay (Old Engl. slahan) was sloh (with a long vowel), and this form developed like scoh “shoe,” though the verb vacillated between the 6th and the 7th class. The fact that slew and shoe have such dissimilar written forms is due to the vagaries of English spelling. One can think of too, who, you, group, fruit, cruise, rheum, truth, and true, which have the same vowel as slew. In addition, consider Bruin and ruin, which look deceptively like fruit, and add manoeuver for good measure. A mild spelling reform looks like a good idea, doesn’t it?
The pronunciation of February
In one of the letters I received, the writer expresses her indignation that some people insist on sounding the first r in February. Everybody, she asserts, says Febyooary. In such matters, everybody is a dangerous word (as we will also see from the next item). All of us tend to think that what we say is the only correct norm. Words with the succession r…r tend to lose one of them. Yet library is more often pronounced with both, and Drury, brewery, and prurient have withstood the tendency. February has changed its form many times. Thus, long ago feverer (from Old French) became feverel (possibly under the influence of averel “April”). In the older language of New England, January and February turned into Janry and Febry. However powerful the phonetic forces may have been in affecting the pronunciation of February, of great importance was also the fact that the names of the months often occur in enumeration. Without the first r, January and February rhyme. A similar situation is well-known from the etymology of some numerals. Although the pronunciation Febyooary is equally common on both sides of the Atlantic and is recognized as standard throughout the English-speaking world, not “everybody” has accepted it. The consonant b in February is due to the Latinization of the French etymon (late Latin februarius).
Who versus whom
Discussion of these pronouns lost all interest long ago, because the confusion of who and whom and the defeat of whom in American English go back to old days. Yet I am not sure that what I said about the educated norm is “nonsense.” Who will marry our son? Whom will our son marry? Is it “nonsense” to distinguish them, and should (or only can) it be who in both cases? Despite the rebuke, I believe that even in Modern American English the woman who we visited won’t suffer if who is replaced with whom. But, unlike my opponent, I admit that tastes differ.
Another question I received was about the origin of the verb wrap. This is a rather long story, and I decided to devote a special post to it in the foreseeable future.
PS. I notice that of the two questions asked by our correspondent last month only copacetic attracted some attention (read Stephen Goranson’s response). But what about hubba hubba?
Anatoly Liberman is the author of Word Origins And How We Know Them as well as An Analytic Dictionary of English Etymology: An Introduction. His column on word origins, The Oxford Etymologist, appears on the OUPblog each Wednesday. Send your etymology question to him care of email@example.com; he’ll do his best to avoid responding with “origin unknown.” Subscribe to Anatoly Liberman’s weekly etymology articles via email or RSS.
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The only way to be a writer is to write, right? This is the advice we give at WD, online and in the magazine. If you want to write, you must write. But sometimes getting started is difficult. Perhaps you have a fully-formed character but no idea what to do with him. Maybe your idea is a great plot, but you don’t know who the woman who must live it will be. I would argue that getting started—the actual act of sitting down and beginning something new—is the most difficult part of writing. (Your mileage may vary, of course, but for me, this is the hard part.)
Imagine my excitement this morning when I encountered the following paragraph as I read That Would Make a Good Novel by Lily King on The New York Times:
When I teach fiction I often start a workshop with one of my favorite exercises called Two Truths and a Lie. I tell my students to write the first paragraph of a short story. The first sentence of the paragraph must be true (My sister has brown hair.), the second sentence must be true (Her name is Lisa.), but the third sentence must be a lie (Yesterday she went to prison.). … The lie is the steering wheel, the gearshift and the engine. The lie takes your two true sentences and makes a left turn off road and straight into the woods. It slams the story into fifth gear and guns it.
Although this extremely useful exercise is not at all the point of King’s article, I think it deserves its own post here for those of you who, like me, have trouble with beginnings. So let’s do an exercise! This one is three-pronged:
1. Write the beginning of a story—three full sentences—using the Two Truths and a Lie method. The first two sentences must be true, and the third sentence must be a lie.
2. Carry that story out to at least 500 words. Write more if you’d like. Go wherever your lie takes you. Be ridiculous or be introspective. Whatever suits you.
3. Post your story on your blog, and leave a link here (with a title and your first three sentences to avoid being trapped in our spam filters) so that the rest of us can read it.
BONUS: Tweet a link to your story, too! Use the hashtag #WD2Truths1Lie so we can all see your efforts.
Adrienne Crezo is the managing editor of Writer’s Digest magazine. Follow her on Twitter at @a_crezo.
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Mystery Question #10
"Though the Alps are wondrous, you know I have no great love for them," spouted Max as he wandered about the room reorganizing as he went. Max and Morris had been talking idly about skiers, remembering the last time they had gone skiing and the events that had ensued afterwards. "One of the lesser known perils is that it can be difficult to keep the precise time."
"You mean you get distracted?" popped in Morris as he dabbled on his computer.
"Not a bit," Max retorted. "Both our watches are scrupulously accurate, they need to be in out line of work. But if I were to go and spend a period of time up in the Alps, making sure to keep my watch at a healthy room temperature at all times, when I returned here our watches would show a noticeable difference. Despite the fact that the accuracy of my watch should not have suffered one iota from the experience. Can you account for it?"
The popular note taking app Evernote has a new feature that lets users produce an eBook or PDF directly from the app.
The new tool comes as part of an integration with self-publishing platform FastPencil. Users can publish a group of notes from Evernote or their entire notebook by importing the pages into FastPencil’s self-publishing platform from within the Evernote app. There is an option to edit, collate, format and create a table of contents. Once the files are ready, a writer can publish them on the web or in print through FastPencil’s partnership with Gung-Ho.
Users can also use FastPencil’s distribution network which includes Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Kindle, iPad, Sony eReaders and Ingram to self-publish their titles.
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There are few pleasures in bookmaking greater than that moment when you're paginating a picture book text, and suddenly it all clicks.
I have no idea how others do it, but I make a 40 page Word document (so I can include ends—hence the “[pasted down endsheet]” tag shown above). Then, I dump in the manuscript and work backward from the key spreads and page turns.
I find the manuscript’s dramatic high points really reveal themselves in this process, especially when you put in the page turns.
And sometimes, like the one I worked on last night, the thing just calls for one of my favorite parts:
Now I get six months or so of anticipating what the illustrator will do with this blank space. Delicious.
This is Vaunda Micheaux Nelson picture book, by the way. To be illustrated by the marvelous Elizabeth Zunon and designed by @carkneetoe. It’s becoming very clear in my imagination. You’re going to love it.Add a Comment
The Onion has created a video report about a fake new Kindle that supposedly shouts out the name of the book that you are reading so that you can brag about your reading list to those around you.
“With one click downloads, you can see a title you want online, press a button and within minutes let everyone around you know that you are reading that big fancy book by Joan Didion,” explains an executive in the video.
We’ve embedded the video above for you to enjoy.
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- Wed, 00:32: Darn you, Jennifer Maimone! http://t.co/bZT0PliUc3
- Wed, 01:14: So, if I don't have enough hand strength to get the ice cream out of the container, it probably means I shouldn't eat it? Can I lick it?
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New Line Cinema has unveiled a teaser trailer for The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies. The video embedded above offers glimpses of Bilbo Baggins, Gandalf the Wizard, and the Dwarves.
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The trees didn’t say a word. They never did. They watched. They always watched. Well, today, I watched them right back. I stood in the middle of the dog park, staring at the woods in the distance. The trees huddled together like giant aliens, studying me for some crazy experiment. The leaves flickered in the breeze as if a million green fingers were reaching out, begging me to come inside.
Sure, Mom’s warning blared in my head for the millionth time. I mean it, Cody. It’s too dangerous. Gangs and drug addicts hang out in those woods. You’re never to go in there. Understand? Never.
I stared at the trees. Never? Like never ever? But my friends would be stinking jealous if I went in the woods without them. This time, I’d have all the great stories to tell when they got back from summer camp.
Sweat dripped down my face and I wiped it with my t-shirt. Matt and Zach left for camp yesterday. They were probably swimming in that freeze-your-toes-off lake right now. Lucky turds. The only water I’d get to swim in was in the bathtub.
But that wouldn't be so bad if it was the giant alien trees' bathtub, cause it would have to be as big as the lake, only deeper and there'd be whales I could ride and I'd have my own personal submarine with torpedoes to blow up sea monsters and save the world from Aquaman's enemies now that he's too old to be fighting underwater supervillains like The Malignant Amoeba and The Human Flying Fish and Aquabeast. Plus I'd have my own enemies like Sharkwoman and The Electric Eel, and Captain Piranha. And there'd be pirates, of course, and crocodiles and daily sharknadoes and my weapons would be spear guns and rubberduck grenades and I'd have a sidekick named Squirt and they'd call me--
"Cody," Mom yelled. "Time to go home for your bath."
Opening: Diane Adrian.....Continuation:Evil Editor
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