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‘Hi. Sorry I missed your call. Please leave a message, and I’ll get back to you as soon as …’

A call to the Bulletin Board Hot Line (outgoing message unchanged since the 20th Century) from Kate of Oakdale: “Finally, after 10 years, I changed the message on my answering machine. My daughter had recorded it when she still lived at home. Being as I never call myself, I’d forgotten what the message was.

“The new one I put on is: ‘Hi. Sorry I missed your call. Please leave a message, and I’ll get back to you as soon as I find the phone. Thanks, and have a great day.’

“You, too! Bye-bye.”

Great comebacks

Walt of Wayzata: “In the October 31st Red Star Trombone, under ‘television + books,’ ‘critic’s picks,’ ‘A dog’s life,’ it talks about how ‘It’s the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown’ was going to be on. And they say you might decide not to sit through yet another airing, but if you do, ‘you might want to bring your iPad along. That’s because none other than @Snoopy will be tweeting throughout the episode.’

“Wouldn’t it be better to have @Woodstock do the tweeting?”

Life as we know it

Wee Hours Division

A 5:30 a.m. Friday email fromSharonof Roseville: “I have been awake since 4 a.m. I got up to get an extra blanket — one of those unbelievably soft fleece blankets. I tossed and turned, with the weight of my blankets being too heavy for my feet. Finally I gave up and descended to the lower level in my townhouse and fed the cats.

“The TV is on again, just has it has been every day this week, as we have all watched the story of Hurricane Sandy unfolding street by street, house by house. One scene repeats itself in my memory. It is a 62-year-old woman. ‘I want to go home,’ she cries. ‘But there is no home.’

“No, there is no home.”

What’s in a (Bulletin Board) name?

A call to the Bulletin Board Hot Line: “Hi. This isGrandma Pat — not of rural Roberts anymore. Now I’ve done it. I have moved from my woods into the nearby town of Hudson. I’ve traded my apple trees for an attached garage, and I’ve traded deer and turkeys for a laundry room just two steps from my kitchen. These trade-offs are appropriate when you’re in your early 80s, but not a moment before.

“I have a question, though. Who am I now? I can’t be ‘Grandma Pat of rural Roberts’ anymore. I thought of being ‘Grandma Pat,formerly of rural Roberts,’ but that sounds too much like an area musician. Perhaps I’ll just be ‘Grandma Patof southern Hudson.’

“It will be an adjustment, though.”

What’s in a name?

Grandparents Division (responsorial)

Raindancer of North Oaks: “Subject: Beklager, bestefar.

“Being half-Norwegian (on my mother’s side), I enjoyedSqrdncr‘s comments about Norwegian terms for family members. You’ll probably hear from many other BB readers, too (this region being saturated with Norwegian descendants), but ‘farmor’ refers to grandmother, not grandfather. Literally, it’s ‘father’s mother.’ One learns many things researching Norsk genealogy.

“[The subject line translates: ‘Sorry, grandfather.’]”

And nowJules: “Please letSqrDncr know that she has her Norwegian grandparent names a bit mixed up. Farmor does not mean grandfather, as she states; it means grandmother (father’s mother). She was correct that Mormor is also grandmother (mother’s mother), and Bestemor can be used for a grandmother from either side of the family.

“A grandfather could be referred to as Morfar (mother’s father), Farfar (father’s father) or Bestefar (from either side).

“Wouldn’t want the Norwegian relatives chuckling behind our backs when they come to visit….

“Vennlig hilsen,


Plain Jane of the West Side: “While it’s true that Mormor and Bedstemor are Norwegian (and Danish) terms for grandmother, it is not true that Farmor means grandfather in Norwegian (or Danish); it means grandmother. AsSqrDncr correctly informs us, Mormor means mother’s mother; Farmor means father’s mother.

“Bedstemor is the more generic term’ it can mean either. Morfar and Farfar would be the two corresponding terms for grandfather, whereas Bedstefar would be the generic term for either.

“I have a Danish friend with a son who grew up in the U.S. speaking English. As a small child, he referred to his maternal grandmother as Mormor; it’s the only Danish term he is familiar with for grandmother.

“When he became a father himself, he taught his little boy to call my friend, his mother, Mormor, which of course she’s not. In this case, my friend is the mother of the father, so she would be Farmor. A technical detail that doesn’t get in the way of my friend enjoying her first grandchild.”

The Permanent Grandfatherly Record

M.F. of North Branch: “I didn’t have any grandmas when I was growing up. They were both gone.

“But I did have one grandfather. We called him Pampy. I don’t know where it came from, but that’s what my brother and I called him.

“I have really good memories of him. He was a good man. His wife died in childbirth, with their 10th child. He managed to keep the family together, with the help of his daughter Minnie, until the rest of them were old enough to take care of themselves.

“Good memories are of him coming into town with his horse and sleigh in the wintertime. When he was going to go back home, I’d hook my sled on the back of it and get a free sled ride for a while. Then I’d have to turn around and walk back home again.

“That’s my story. I didn’t have any grandmas, but I had a very special grandpa.”

Our theater of seasons

Or: Could be verse!

Candy Corn in My Slipper: “November haiku:

“Bleak, the bare branches,

“Longing for winter’s white cloak.

“Frost on the pumpkin.”

Could be verse!

Tim Torkildson: “The race for House was neck-and-neck, too close to call by half.

“The candidates had spake their best, avoiding any gaffe.

“The district had blue collars, and white collars, and some few

“Who lived in cardboard boxes and dressed up like Mötley Crà 1/4e.

‘Hi. Sorry I missed your call. Please leave a message, and I’ll get back to you as soon as …’

“The PACs had plowed a million bucks, and more, into the race;

“And now you couldn’t see the trees, for all the billboard space.

“The outcome was a toss-up, till one candidate let slip

“That he had never in his life read any comic strip.

“Lo, how the opposition leaped upon this little quirk,

“And made of the opponent both a snob and snarling jerk!

“Never read the funnies? Such a beast must lack all mirth;

“Who knows what other vices they must surely soon unearth?

“It just ain’t patriotic to ignore a ‘Garfield’ gag;

” ‘Dilbert’ is asde rigueur as organic shopping bag.

“When the votes were cast, a landslide put the other fellow

“Into office, with a rousing cheer and raucous bellow.

“So even though you have the virtues of Mahatma Gandhi,

“You will never win election if you do not read your ‘Blondie.’ ”

What this country has been needing?

Thirty Day Novels Division

The Stillwater Scouter: “A minor quibble with Dr. Samuel Johnson’s observation that ‘No man but a blockhead ever wrote, except for money.’

“I used to write … letters to my Sweetie prior to our marriage.

“What I got in return was worth so much more than cash, I have not the words to begin to even frame the riches.”

Popcorn in My Recliner:“Count me as one of the innumerable blockheads who love to write for the sheer joy of seeing my stuff in print!”

Old Hand of Oakdale: “Wow! I can’t believe that Bulletin Board would quote Samuel Johnson, ‘No man but a blockhead ever wrote, except for money,’ without adding exemptions — such as people who write submissions, without expecting money, for publication in the Dispatch [Bulletin Board notes: Decades later, people still call your beloved Pioneer Press “the Dispatch”!] with regards to Obituaries, Letters to the Editor, Sainted & Tainted, and last, but not least, Bulletin Board.”

BULLETIN BOARD SAYS: We did not say that weagreewith the good Dr. J. — and, in fact, we emphatically do not.

We were replying to a query fromPeggyof South St. Paul (and her sister, who are undertaking the 30 Day Novel project in November): “How can we convince our niece and my daughter to participate?”

Money (or its moral equivalent) seemed like the best inducement!

Our times

Email fromDonald: “Subject: Amateurs seeking help from the pros.

“From ‘SIGN OF THE APOCALYPSE’ in this week’s Sports Illustrated: ‘In an effort to raise funding, the Voukefalas amateur soccer club in Larissa, Greece, has signed two local brothels as sponsors and is wearing their logos on pink practice jerseys.’ ”

Everyone’s a copy editor!

FW Addit: “The Minnesota/Wisconsin Local section of the SPPP reports [10/24/2012] an Eau Claire County, Wis., incident in which a truck almost struck a state trooper who had made a traffic stop. The headline erroneously uses the termnear-miss.In standard usage, that spelling with the hyphen implies ‘nearly a miss,’ not the actual situation of “a miss that came near.”

“A few pages farther on, in BB,Twitty of Como tells about setting a trap that sprung and just missed catching the mouse he set it for. He follows standard practice by using two separate words:near miss.

“Even though most readers have seennear miss enough to know what writers mean by it, many consider it a misnomer because they interpret it (even without the hyphen) to mean ‘nearly a miss.’ A bit of history is in order.

“The term comes from target shooting, where it applies to a shot that strikes barely outside the target; a clearer synonym isclose miss. The term for the opposite kind of miss iswide miss. These specialized usages sound odd because in current general usage we seldom use near in the position before the noun and seldom use wide to mean ‘distant.’ Target shooting is not popular enough as a spectator sport to familiarize the terms for a broad audience.

“Furthermore, readers lose out on a potentially enlightening contrast becausewide miss did not enter the general vocabulary whennear miss did. There was a good reason: The term has a useful meaning only when a marksman is trying to hit a mark. A pilot or truck driver is tryingnot to hit anything, so that if a plane flies five miles wide of another plane or a truck misses a parked police cruiser by a wide margin, nobody thinks of it as a wide miss. It’s not a miss of any kind; it’s just normal traffic.”

Mixed messages

The Old Woodchopperof Eagan: “My siblings and I inherited some property from our parents. Since then, the property-tax statements were sent to my two sisters, as they were the executors of the estate.

“Recently, for various reasons, we agreed that I would take over the actual payment of the taxes, so my oldest sister called the county to see what was involved in changing the responsibility over to me.

“The person on the phone said: ‘There is a form on the county Website. Print it, fill it out and send it in with a check for 65 dollars, and we will take care of it for you.’

“No applicable form was found on the Website, so my sister went to the county real estate offices to get the form. She was told by the person at the real estate window: ‘No. You cannot do that. It can’t be done. No way.’

“My sister asked to speak to the person’s supervisor. The supervisor said: ‘No problem. Write me a letter stating what you want done, and I will take care of it for you at no cost.’

“My sister wrote the letter as requested and sent it.

“It remains to be determined which county person was correct. The one thing I do know is that the county needs to upgrade its training program for employees who work in the real estate area.”

The darnedest things

WARNING! Cute kid story ahead, fromJon of St. Paul Park, who called us Thursday: “Over the years, I guess I’ve heard a lot of different things said by kids as they come to the door, trick-or-treating. ‘Trick or treat!’ ‘Happy Halloween!’ Some little ones just stand there with their bag out and don’t say anything. There was even one, one time, who said ‘Merry Christmas!’ I think he was joking.

“Last night, I opened the door, and there were two very small cowboys there, about 3 or 4 years old, and one of them yelled: ‘I gotta go pee!’

“Luckily, his parents were standing right there, and they started laughing and said: ‘OK, we’ll get you home real quick.’

“I was laughing, too — so I hope I remembered to give them a piece of candy.”

Band Name of the Day: The Great Pumpkins

Website of the Day:English-to-Norwegian- to-English dictionary, at http://tinyurl.com/all-norse-to-us

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