And now, some phrases that have crept into my vocabulary from either my own life experiences, my work, or my friends. Enjoy these shared bits of english-language awesomeness:
- Schtonky: In some circumstances, anything that is cool/awesome can be referred to as schtonky. More specifically, schtonk is a measure of some mixture of class, formality, masculinity, and old-timeyness. For example, a fine tobacco pipe carries very high schtonk value, as would any wood-paneled room with a fireplace where leather-bound books are. Snoop-doggy-dog dressed up as a pimp driving around in a ’64 Impala is also quite schtonky, as is anything to do with Frank Sinatra, or the rat pack. Wal-Mart is not schtonky.
- Janky: Something that is constantly near the boundry of working and being broken is janky. But being janky is more than that. Pretty much every one of the crazy electronic / audio / mechanical projects we built in college was janky. Something that is janky but still working carries with it a certain amount of pride and charm. At MIT, on 2ndwest at east campus, the PTZ Audio Network is decidedly janky — random bits of audio cable strewn between points on the hall tied in with various transformers and ancient audio amplifiers that sometimes work.
- To have a stew going on / to be preparing a stew: A stew is a nice warm bowl of goodness. Metaphorically, for someone to have a stew on means that they are settling into and/or enjoying a bit of awesomeness. This is somewhat hard to define. An example would be hanging out with friends and enjoying several alcoholic beverages — you would say: “We’re hanging out here, there’s quite a stew going on.” Other activities, such as enjoying a day at the beach, taking a nice vacation, having a gourmet dinner, watching a marathon of your favorite TV show, going clubbing, etc. may also be considered “stew-like.”
- Torqued up: This one’s fairly easy to understand. Anytime someone is stressed out about something, or getting worked up about anything, it’s like they are twisting themselves and building negative energy. This is much like when you twist a rubber band around itself, or any item that can store torque, so let’s call it being torqued up.
- Degauss: If you’re torqued up about something, you need to degauss. Back in the day, we used to have CRT monitors with “de-gauss” buttons built in to allow us to somehow release magnetic energy or whatever. It made a satisfying “fwongggggggg!” noise when pressed. People can degauss in several ways. One good way to de-gauss would be to get a stew going (see above).
- Cleaning the Basement: When you’re spending all sorts of time and energy doing unnecessary preparation work before starting on the thing you really need to be doing, that’s known as “cleaning the basement.” Back when I used to be a home-owner, I would insist on making sure the basement was clean and well-organized before dealing with clean-up projects on the main floor. Ostensibly, this was to make sure that anything that was going to be moved from the main floor down to the basement would go in a reasonable place and not just get thrown in a pile.
- Bikeshedding / Painting the bike shed: When trying to solve a complex problem or deal with a crisis, it’s important to focus on what’s important. If you’re planning and building your dream estate, or remodeling your home, there’s no reason to waste too much time and energy deciding what color the bike shed is going to be and giving it several magnificent coats of paint. Bikeshedding is a popular activity in groups. When solving a problem, or working on a project, everyone will argue about what color the bike shed should be rather than directing focus on solving the problem at hand.