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Thursday, February 02, 2006

Snarky word day at treppenwitz

[A respectful request:  Overnight I received about 15 emails asking me to write a post about yesterday's events.  I'm not ready to discuss this... yet... and I would prefer that treppenwitz not become a forum for this particular discussion until I get my head screwed on the right (correct) way.  Tomorrow I should be ready.  Until then, please respect my wishes and do not post external links or engage in discussions of yesterday's events in my comments section.  Thank you.]

Yesterday morning I got a wicked case of the giggles in the middle of surfing through my daily reads.  Beth, the SubUrban Housewife was nice enough to share a very funny word (actually, an acronym) with her readers: SWAG.  It means Scientific Wild-Assed Guess.  Now who out there can't think of ten ways to use that in the next 24 hours? Anyone?

After giggling for a little while over 'SWAG' I realized that I have a tendency to collect and retain such helpful new words.  This wouldn't be an issue except for the fact that I'm pretty sure they are crowding out much more important stuff like, say... the shopping lists my wife likes to dictate to me over the phone while I'm driving.

So, without further ado, here is a short list of recently acquired words and acronyms that are largely to blame for my regularly walking through the door sans milk, cream, bread, onions...

PEBCAK - This gem actually comes to us courtesy of Beth's tech-savvy husband Chuck (one of my blogfathers).  PEBCAK is a codeword used by tech-support/help-desk types among themselves to describe a computer problem that is entirely attributable to user error.  It means Problem Exists Between Chair And Keyboard.  I just love that this word can be used right in front of the dumb-ass who caused the problem and they're none-the-wiser (e.g. "Yeah Bob, I'm here at Brad's workstation now and it turns out it was a PEBCAK just like we thought").

Asshat - I have no idea where I first heard this hilarious epithet, but I've found it is the perfect stop-gap insult to use when 'moron' is too tame, but you aren't quite ready to start tossing 'F-bombs' around (e.g. "What kind of asshat thinks it's OK to take a woman to Dunkin' Donuts on a first date?").

Scheissdreck - I read this German word the other day in a post by Stefanella on Israelity and promptly giggled for 15 minutes straight!.  She used it to mean 'really bad' (as in "I am having a Scheissdreck day"), but when I mentioned to one of my German friends how much I loved this word, she informed me that Scheissdreck (along with its northern-German dialectic cousins 'Schietkram' and 'Schietendreck'), is actually a bit of a potty word that one wouldn't necessarily want to use in front of the kids.  All the better, I say!

LUser - Like PEBCAK, this is another tech-support related word that is supposed to be a contraction of the words Local User.  However, LUser is used with a combination of malice and glee by help-desk staff primarily because it is homonymous with the word 'loser'.

LART - I first heard this hilarious word (along with 'LUser') while reading through the Chronicles of George.  What?  You haven't read The Chronicles of George?  Well go read this laugh-out-loud collection of help-desk tickets and the accompanying commentary.  Getting back to LART... it is an acronym for LUser Attitude Readjustment Tool.  It refers to a 2x4 or other large billet of wood used as a club, to be applied by a system administrator to the head of any LUsers who aggravate him/her.  It can also be used as a verb (e.g. "I'm gonna have to LART Jack for calling the help desk before checking to see if his friggin monitor was plugged in".).

I'm sure if it wasn't 5:50AM and I wasn't so pressed for time I'd probably be able to come up with a few more. If I think of any others I'll add them during the day.  In the mean time feel free to share your own snarky favorites.

Last Reminder:  Less than 12 hours left to vote in the JIBs.  If you haven't voted in the last 3 days, you can go to the main page here to vote in all the categories... or go directly to the two categories in which treppenwitz is a finalist here and here. This is it folks... last chance to speak up and be heard.


Posted by David Bogner on February 2, 2006 | Permalink


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"I'm gonna have to LART Jack

It is not my fault that Johnny went to the Yankees. ;)

Posted by: Jack | Feb 2, 2006 9:41:20 AM

Thank you for your good judgement about not posting about something until you are ready. We could all take this advice (and I'm including myself).

Posted by: westbankmama | Feb 2, 2006 10:16:21 AM

Thanks for these minutes of joy reading this post. :D

Posted by: Woland | Feb 2, 2006 12:24:41 PM

Some very funny neologisms can be tracked at WordSpy.


Posted by: Ben-David | Feb 2, 2006 12:31:09 PM

5:50 AM!!?!!! Are you out of your mind??!!!

Posted by: Lisoosh | Feb 2, 2006 3:38:35 PM

I love words and expressions. If I ever put forth the effort to make a blog, that would be its theme I think.

I'm fascinated that you didn't know SWAG. I live and work in St. Louis MO USA, and I've known that word for years and use it frequently even at work. I wouldn't use it with upper management, but in casual conversation or emails with fellow peons or "lower" management, sure. My boss asks me "how much effort will it take to fix that right?" I might say "maybe half a day, but that's a SWAG." I just realized that it usually doesn't mean exactly what it says. It just means I'm estimating and not at all sure of my estimate. If it was truly a wild-ass guess, I would probably say "I'm sorry I have no earthly idea until I dig into it."

Here's another tech one for you: sometimes we refer to an ID-ten-T error, pronounced verbally just like that. But if you write it out in capital letters and digits you'll see it's very similar to a PEBCAK.

Posted by: Dale | Feb 2, 2006 3:52:56 PM

Another favorite: FUBAR, maybe military culture in origin, popularized by some otherwise forgetable movie. It means "fouled* up beyond all recovery" (or recognition). We usually use it to refer to hardware that needs replacing instead of repair.

* Note I didn't want to foul up your comments section by saying what the F really stands for.

Posted by: Dale | Feb 2, 2006 3:56:29 PM

These are great :) We had many PEBCAKs at my first (tech support) job but we just called them stupid users. (not when they were within earshot, of course!) We also used Dale's ID-ten-T error ;)

Posted by: Essie | Feb 2, 2006 4:15:48 PM

Instead of PEBCAK, I sometimes say (in Hebrew) that there is "a problem between the shoulders."

But even better is to use the term 1D10T (said out loud), as in a "one-D-ten-T" error.

However, the funny thing is that as far as I know, Trep, you're not supposed to be on the side saying these terms. So you do realize that us techies are saying them about YOU?

Posted by: Dave | Feb 2, 2006 4:25:48 PM

All I can think of is, you wrote this at 5.30, and that means you either coudln's sleep - YOU POOR THING! - or you woke up at 5 am - YOU POOR THING!

Anyway, I love Sheissdreck myself, and am also partial to Kluhscheisser, which means Smart ass, sort of. "Ach du Scheisse!" Uzi used to say "Cholera" all the time [Kholera? Gah, this transliteration thingy] and I find it rather cute as well. And it's a bland one, imagine that!

That being said, I don't even know what happened yesterday (but I think I aced the exam today, too bad there are 2 more tomorrow). See how you're a public service, and a personalised one at that? Looking forward to hearing abt it, and remember, I heard it here first.

Posted by: Lioness | Feb 2, 2006 5:11:37 PM

Here's a link to my post that I got from some other website. "Corporate Slang" that can be put in good use.

PEBCAK is my fave.

Posted by: Shevy | Feb 2, 2006 5:42:20 PM

There's "Oy, a kholeria!" - a fave of my late Grandma (the one who taught me how to deploy Foul Oaths).

And for acronyms, when something is really funny, you can say you're ROTFCOBCTSOS.

(Rolling On The Floor, Crapping Out Blood Clots The Size Of Softballs)

Posted by: Elisson | Feb 2, 2006 6:25:10 PM

This was absolutely hilarious, thanks for sharing! Believe it or not "asshat" is the only one, I've heard before. What's even funnier is that it was actually illustrated by... well, you can imagine the rest, but it was really funny.

Posted by: Irina | Feb 2, 2006 8:14:02 PM

I always thought swag was the free stuff that celebrities got at parties like the Oscars, but perhaps thats just my imagination running overtime,

Posted by: jonah | Feb 2, 2006 8:32:08 PM

FUBAR was one of my favorites in my mountaineering days, thanks for the reminder.

I'm going to teach my daughter PEBCAK (I like the -CAK part too as it is a grapheme that significes feces in a lot of languages).

Oooh, a new one to me: "Kluhscheisser" -- another good one to pass along to the daughter unit.

And speaking of offspring or sprogs, I do so love your posts about your family.

Posted by: Liz | Feb 2, 2006 8:48:16 PM

To add to FUBAR, there is TARFU and SNAFU. I learned these three from the same person so they always fit together in my mind in a sort of gradation of the extend to which things are emmm...unpleasant we'll say.

SNAFU (Situation Normal-All F***ed Up) generally portrays to me that things are really going quite well.

TARFU (Things Are Really F***ed Up) gives the sense of perhaps slight despair, but really everyone's doin' fine.

And then theres FUBAR (F***ed Up Beyond All Repair). Now stuff is just bad.

Posted by: Alex | Feb 2, 2006 8:57:18 PM

And I had to come back to let you read AKMA's neologism:

On a related note, in a chat today with Pascale, I referred to “a real edfucational institution.” Those of you who know me and my keyboarding skills will realize right away that I didn’t intend to cast aspersions; I just fat-fingered the “d” in “education.”

Pascale and I, however, saw the opportunities. I then alluded to the institutiona as Edfucational U, and she noted that it must colloquially be known as Edfuc U — which then struck us as a tremendous merchandising opportunity (imagine the t-shirt sales). . . .

Posted by: Liz | Feb 2, 2006 9:10:11 PM

My Favorite, and the crown king of all these, (IMO) is SNAFU.

You hear everyone use it in an entirely un-ironic fashion, and you know they have no idea where it came from. If I am not mistaken, it was born out of the military around the middle of last century.

Situation Normal: All F****d Up.

It cracks me up when I see grannies telling people they had a little snafu on their way to brunch or something similar.

Posted by: Ger Tzadik | Feb 2, 2006 9:28:26 PM

Jack... I just chose a name at random... really! :-)

Westbankmama... If you wander through my archives there are more than a couple of examples of how painfully wrong I can be when I start writing without spending enough time thinking. Not pretty at all.

Woland... Don't thank me, I'm a giver. :-)

Ben-David... Thanks for the link. Although I'm wondering how much more important stuff I can afford to displace from my limited memory banks.

Lisoosh... I've been over this a bunch of times. I do pretty much ALL my writing between 5:30 and 6:00AM. After that everyone is waking up and needs to be fed, clothed, etc. If I don't get up before everyone else there is no time to write.

Dale... I had always connected swag with the free giveaways one gets at trade shows. This was a new one for me. Oh, and thanks for keeping this a kid-friendly site. :-)

Essie... You seem far too nice to ever use such terms about anyone!

Dave... I have always been friendly with the IT guys (and girls). How else can I get all that 3rd party software onto my work computer? ;-)

Lioness... See my reply to Lisoosh. Early morning is my writing time. I spend no more than 30 minutes on any journal entry... if I like it when I'm finished I schedule it to publish after lunch Israel time. If I don't like it it goes in the trash.

Shevy... Thanks, I'll check it out.

Elisson... Uh, glad I wasn't eating anything when I read this. :-)

Irina... Glad you enjoyed.

Jonah... I thought so too so don't feel bad.

Elizabth Ditz...Thanks for sharing those words (some of which I'd encountered in the navy) and the funny story. I'll go check out the link later this evening.

Alex... My but aren't we organized. :-)

Ger Tzadik... I think little old ladies have potty mouths just like the rest of us. :-)

Posted by: treppenwitz | Feb 2, 2006 9:54:55 PM

PEBCAK has just earned a venerated place in my vocabulary - absolutely classic. I can only dream of being so snarky...

Posted by: mcaryeh | Feb 3, 2006 8:08:57 AM

I'm afraid that I have a whole list of these. Engineers tend to be rather... ahem... lacking in understanding of those who are less technically inclined. Some that I think haven't been mentioned:

DFU, or Dumb F***ing User. Use: Tech support may inform a user that they are transferring them to another department, and tell the caller to inform the other individuals that they suspect a 'DFU error'.
A slightly less foul version of DFU is BDU - Brain Dead User.
GIGO - Garbage In, Garbage Out. Self-explanatory, I think.
KISS - Keep It Simple, Stupid. Pretty much every engineer's goal.
RTFM - need I even mention what this stands for?
STFW - For those of you involved in online communities, you will appreciate the use of this for people who ask inane questions: Search the F***ing Web.
Other similar slang for techies can be found in the jargon file.

Posted by: matlabfreak | Feb 3, 2006 8:26:59 AM

For the risk of being a Naseweis - it's Klugscheisser, not Kluhscheisser.

(Naseweis mystery revealed - the former word is the childsafe version of the latter potty one)

Posted by: mademoiselle a. | Feb 3, 2006 1:29:11 PM

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