Defining Moments And Other Stuff

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January 24, 2014 by T. Gregory Argall

A long time ago in a pub not too far from here, I started compiling the Dictionary of Time and Space. It occurred to me that there are so many words in common use that have no clear definition.
How long is a While?
How far is Near?
How near is Far?
Are we There yet?

I treated it like an actual dictionary, using standard abbreviations like those Webster and Oxford people do, but I also added some out of necessity.

conv.       converter – any word that converts a word or phrase real to variable.
inv.          inverter – any word that converts a word or phrase from real to variable and from one dimension to another; changing rt. to vs., or rs. to vt.
rs.           real space – referring to any scientifically accepted aspect of space or spatial relations
rt.            real time – referring to any scientifically accepted aspect of time or temporal relations
vs.           variable space – referring to any variable aspect of space or spatial relations
vt.            variable time – referring to any variable aspect of time or temporal relations

(When an earlier version of this was posted elsewhere on line, a fellow named Eamon Hughes, whom I’ve never met, contributed some very funny definitions. They are designated with an asterisk*. Kevin Jones suggested some of these definitions, but I honestly can’t recall which ones.)

– A –

about – (conv. adj.) – usually used in place of the phrase, “Well, I don’t really know, but my best guess is…”

acre – (rt. n.) – about half a square mile

annual – (vt. adj.) – originally a factor of real time meaning “once every twelve months,” scheduling difficulties have converted it to a variable time factor meaning “once every ten to fifteen months.”

– B –

before – (conv.) – prior to a specified time or deadline, which usually ends up being a while after it

before long – (rt.) – five years

bit – (pref. vt.) – prefix meaning “even.” ex. “a bit later” means “even later” and “a little bit later” means “even later still”

black hole – (rs. n.) – a nice place to visit but you wouldn’t want to live there

– C –

century – (n.) – a/ one hundred consecutive years
–  b/ an ugly Buick sedan

close – (vs, adj) a description of relative proximity, indicating that the two objects in question almost, but not quite, occupied the same physical space; a good thing when referring to yourself and a supermodel, a rather frightening thing when referring to yourself and a bullet fired from a supermodel’s gun

‘coon’s age – (vt. n. met.) – it depends on the age of the nearest raccoon, but usually slightly longer than “a hell of a long time”

cosmos – (rt, n) a herd of Kramers

cuckoo clock – (n.) – an overly complicated house for a wooden bird; the bird makes a lot of noise but doesn’t eat much and rarely leaves dropping on the carpet

– D –

day – (rt, n) – a unit of time equal to twenty-four hours (see hour), days come in a variety of types, ranging from wunhelluvaday to ohappyday; other types of days include “Dog Days”, “Casual Day”, “Birthday”, “Yesterday”, “Seniors’ Day” and “Hump Day”. click here for punch line

dawn – (vt. n.) – time to stagger home on a Saturday night

deadline – (vt. n.) – the mythical final moment of a task or assignment; the greater the importance of the task, the louder the whooooosh noise made as the deadline passes

decade – (vt. n.) – originally ten years of real time, now a factor of variable time relative to societal changes. The decade known as the 1960s, for example, started in 1959 when a bearded man with a beret, a black turtle-neck sweater and a pair of bongo drums arrived in San Francisco. The ‘60s ended on August 9, 1974 at 8:05 pm, EST (look it up, if you don’t believe me). The ‘70s had a lifespan five minutes longer than Disco and the ‘80s were over the minute the B52s staged a comeback. The ‘90s officially ended when Pamela Anderson had her breast implants removed.

dinnertime – (vt) – a loosely designated period of time for consumption of an evening meal, also used as a single-word statement/command in parental linguistics that roughly translates as, “Turn off the TV and get in here, now. Now, young man. Not in five minutes. Not at the next commercial. Now. Your food is getting cold. Don’t give me that look. Are you on drugs? >sigh< How could you do this to your mother?”

dog’s age – (vt. n. met.) – longer than a ‘coon’s age, as dogs tend to live longer than raccoons

dusk – (vt.) – When the cartoons used to start at the Drive-In Movie.

– E –

End of time – (n. rt.) – next Tuesday, 3:17 pm. Sorry.

*End of time – (n. rt.) {this version of the joke has been re-written for Unix users} Tuesday January 19, 2038 at 03:14:07 GMT – – – {people not familiar with Unix, should click here for an explanation of this joke}

eon – (n. vt.) – the amount of time, on average, spent sitting in the lounge at Canadian Tire waiting for your car to have a simple oil change before the mechanic comes out and lists the other urgent repair items that they “found” while changing your oil.

epoch – (n. vt.) – the amount of time, on average, spent sitting in the lounge at Canadian Tire waiting for the arrival of the parts on back-order that are need to get your car running again when all you wanted was a simple oil change. But I’m not bitter. Not even after all that money. Damn, don’t get me started on the money.

era – (vt, n) a period of time during which a significant influence was exerted upon societal attitudes and/or opinions; little is known regarding how or when an era begins, but there is often much commentary, complaint and gnashing of teeth when an era ends, i.e. “It’s the end of an era. Moan, groan, gnash.”

– F –

far – (vs, adj) a long, long way go; So, a needle pulling thread; La, a note that follows So; Ti, a drink with bread and jam; and that brings us back to Do-oh-oh-oh….

foot – (rs. n.) – twelve inches (see inch)

– H –

half a mo’ – (vt. n.) – a half moment, a unique factor of variable time indigenous to certain areas of the British Empire; the same people came up with the “ha’penny,” so you have to expect that sort of thing from them

hour – (vt. n.) – the amount of time required to travel 100 kilometres on an unobstructed Canadian highway; approximately 38 minutes

– I –

inch – (rs. n.) – one twelfth of a foot (see foot)

instant – (vt, pref) a prefix used with the name of any one of several food items, indicating a 3% reduction in preparation time and an overall flavour similar to a skunk’s hiney

– L –

lifetime – (vt.) – often used with the prefix it seems like a; usually refers to an indeterminate number of years that, in the end, turns out to have been only a few months

light-year – (n, rs) – the distance that light can travel during one conventional year with the speed of light being a constant 299,792,458 metres per second (approximately 186,000 miles per second).; 9,460,800,000,000 kilometres (5,865,696,000,000 miles); NOT the measurement of time mistakenly referenced in the song “A Spaceship Came Traveling” on Chris Deburgh’s otherwise impressive album “Spanish Train and Other Stories.” (i.e. “’Twas light-years of time since his mission did start.”) Nice song, good album, but, come on, Chris! Using a word like that improperly is like asking “What colour is a gallon of bricks?” It just makes no sense.

– M –

mile – (rs, n) – an apparently reasonable distance to walk for a camel.

millennium – (vt. adj.) – originally a noun and factor of real time designating a period of one thousand years, influential twits caused this once proud word to suffer annoying overuse a year too early; any intelligent person who can count to ten can figure out that the turn of the century was 12:00:01 am January 1st, 2001; this isn’t rocket science, yet throughout the latter half of 1999 and into 2000, we had to suffer through “Millennium This” and “Millennium That;” the next time I hear someone use this word incorrectly, I’m going to high-five him… in the face… with a chair.

moment – (vt. n.) – slightly longer than a sec, but not by much.

month – (n. rt.) – any one of twelve divisions of a calendar year, varying in length from 28 to 31 days, immortalized in the traditional Sicilian poem:
“Thirty days has September,
April, June and my brother.
All the rest have thirty-one,
Except February, that don’t.”

month of Sundays – (n. vt.) – a metaphorical period of time during which Reverend Johnson never has a day off and Rabbi Finkelstein gets to play a lot of golf

moon – (rs. v.) – lots of fun in college if you’re drunk; a $500 fine if you’re caught

– N –

nanosecond – (rt. n.) – one second multiplied by ten to the power of negative nine, or 0.000000001 seconds; derived from the Greek nonos meaning real darn small and from the Latin secunda meaning real darn quick to begin with. To put it in perspective, it takes 6,000,000,000 nanoseconds to make one minute, 360,000,000,000 nanoseconds to make one hour and there are 8,640,000,000,000 of the bloody things in a single day. Imagine how many there are in a year! You have to ask yourself, “Do we really need these things, lying around, cluttering up the place? What has a nanosecond done for me lately?”

naptime – (vt. n.) – an all-too-rare phenomenon among young children, supposedly for the child’s benefit, it does the parents more good than anything else, although it doesn’t last nearly long enough

near – (vs. adj.) – closer than over there but not as close as right here; generally considered to be close enough

never – (vt.) – a few weeks; six months at the most

nucleus – (rs, n.) – a replacement part for an oldcleus in a refurbished atom.

– O –

o’clock – (rt. n.) – an Irish timepiece; see clock

once – (adv. vt.) – enough

orbit – (rs, v) to rotate and spin continuously around a celestial object, much the way members of his entourage spin around Eddie Murphy

over there – (n. vs.) – just a bit farther than you can throw a stone; see stone’s throw

overtime – (vt. n.) – the downside of a salaried position.

– P –

parsec – (n) – a tiny fish indigenous to the coral regions off the coast of Madagascar, used in the flavouring of various liqueurs. No, really. Yeah, I know you’ve heard the word on Star Trek and in Star Wars and thought it had something to do with distances in outer space, but it doesn’t. One of the writers on the original Star Trek series had a serious jones for New Zealand brandy and was working on a script when he glanced at the bottle and saw the words, “Made from only the finest Parsecs, gathered in fishing nets handmade from the long, luxurious hair of beautiful young maidens.” Suddenly he was struck by the idea for the Star Trek episode with the planet full of women who shave theirs heads and eat nothing but seafood (remember that one?). Look it up. That episode contains the first use of the word “Parsec” as a unit of distance. It’s all false. Some drunken hack made it up. Believe nothing but what you read here.
But Han Solo’s claim about the Kessel Run in Star Wars now makes a lot more sense, doesn’t it? He was drunk.

– R –

rapidify – (v. vt.) – to make go faster – – – – This word was reportedly first used in February, 1982 by Todd McGinnis. It is the mission of all faithful readers of this dictionary to do all that they can to insert this word into the modern vernacular (just to see if we can).

– S –

schedule – (n. vt.) – a detailed and precise layout of the specific timeframe for certain events, used to provide a rough idea of, generally, when they will not happen.

second – (rt. n.) – one sixtieth of a minute. (Logic would then dictate that a “first” is 1/120 of a minute, but no one ever mentions that.)

sec – (vt. n.) – also known as just a sec; derived from second; the shortest of all time variables, lasting anywhere from five to fifteen minutes

sojourn – (vs. v.) – an Olde English phrase used to denote the conclusion of an argument between two parties in a co-habitational relationship; from “SO” meaning, therefore and “JOURNEY” meaning travel or venture forth. Modern variations include “Fine, get out” and “All right, leave.”

sooner – (vt.) – the better

space – (n. rs.) – a vast majority of the universe, yet you can never find any on a bus

*split-second – (n. rt.) – the interval between the light in front of you going green and the person behind pressing their horn

square foot – (n. rs) – a hell of a problem when buying shoes

stone’s throw – (n. vs.) – just the other side of over there; see over there

storage – (rt. n.) – in business parlance, the length of time that a retail outlet has been in existence.

– T –

tachyon  – (1) – (n. rs.) – a hypothetical particle that, according to theorists, travels only faster than light;
– (2) – (adj.) – a derogatory term used in both the fashion-conscious and gay communities, as in the following sentence: “The pink polka dot hair and purple sequined leisure suit sounded good at first, but, honey, it just looks tachyon you.”

Three-D (3-D) – (adj.) – a cinematic fad from the 1950’s that was mercilessly resurrected during the 1980’s, for about five minutes. It was intended, through the use of cardboard eyeglasses, to simulate the three dimensions of the tangible world, thus its name. However, it sucked. And now it’s back again. Ah, well.
A person with whom I was acquainted many years ago, once pondered aloud, “What’s the big deal about 3-D? The real world is 4-D.” He then proceeded to list them: length, width, height and depth. The way he said it, you would almost believe him. He was a twit.

thrice – (n.) – goes great with thchicken.

time – (rt. n.) – a continuous, incremental progression of moments, creeping ever forward, yet also into the past; an endless string of seconds stretching forever into eternity; a disturbing reminder that everything that really matters was here before you were born and will still be here long after you’re dead; if it’s alright with you, I’d really rather not talk about this right now; I think I’ll just lie here and ponder the futility of my existence, for a while; goodbye…

“Time, gentlemen” – (rt. n.) – a signal indicating the arrival of the moment in the duration of a day when the pubs stop serving drinks and begin kicking your ale-soaked ass out on the street

timezone – (rt. n.) – an overly complex method of ensuring that if an evening baseball game is played on the west coast, nobody on the east coast can watch it if they have to work the next morning. (This definition is half an hour earlier in Newfoundland.)

– V –

void – (rs. n.) – the big empty; a whole lot of nothing; zip; zilch; nada; zero to the nth degree; “can’t see it ‘cuz it ain’t there”; the sum total of Anna Nicole Smith’s contribution to society.

– W –

when – (vt) a word used to indicate the precise moment at which one should stop pouring a drink for another person, as shown in the following exchange:
Mary: (pouring coffee) “Say when.”
Bob: “When.”
Mary: (stops pouring coffee) “Okay.”

whenever – (vt.) – a term implying vague indifference in regards to a suggested time. *Important note: when used by your wife, this word means, “Now. Right now. And don’t even think about pretending you don’t understand.”

while – (vt. n.) – an indeterminate fraction of eternity; used in various sizes, the most common being –  i) a little while,  ii) a short while,  iii) a while,  iv) a long while,  v) quite a while,  vi) a hell of a long time; the last on the list, though technically not a while, does demonstrate the progression of thought in the mind of the patient who has been told that the doctor will see him in just a little while(see just); the range of the while category is a few moments to several weeks

– Y –

yard – (vs. n) – a paradoxical unit of measurement, theoretically equal to three feet (see foot); consider the following equations:
A garage measures eight yards deep by 4 yards wide
A yard sale is larger than a garage sale
“sale” = “sale”
Therefore a yard is larger than a garage, while at the same time a garage contains several yards. I’m so confused. That’s why I avoid sales.

If you have any suggestions for the Dictionary of Time and Space, just post them in the comments and maybe I’ll include them in a future version.

Meanwhile, try to be nice to each other.

tga

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