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By Lacey Gardner

Wiser’s Wramblings-I’m Awake But am I A-Woke


Woke is now defined in the Merriam Webster dictionary as “aware of and actively attentive to important facts and issues”

By Chuck Wiser, I write the words to share what my eyes see and my heart feels

When I write my Wrambling’s, varies from week to week. I may start the writing (or writhing as the case may be) as early as Wednesday morning if I am anxious to start on a “hot topic,” or as late as Thursday afternoon, which is “day of” my postings, if I have another appointment or commitment.

As I awoke this morning my inner debate was whether to start “Wrambling” right away or wait until after another trip to Olean, as I need to submit my Olean Times Herald Bingo contest “boards” today. I woke up feeling upbeat, pain free from my foot surgeries a month ago, and began my decades long morning ritual of reading the Times Herald. Waking up awoken and starting to read the paper, my first “column read” woke me up. Was I awake or a woke?

As a lover of the English language, somewhat decently educated grammatically, I am still amazed at the abundance and complexities of interesting words. With all due apology to people who are said to be “Woke,” know what the word means, or even care, and are as dumbfounded as I over the term, I have come to despise that word. Now even more so because I can’t really understand its meaning or why it has become so popular. To me it is confusing, not fully understood, and is as offensive, being inclined philosophically toward those who are branded with the term. To me it is almost as offensive subliminally as the word “moist” is to many of the opposite gender.

Do you know what the word means? Are you offended to be put into the “woke” pool, or are you one who accuses others of us to be “Woke”? Using one of my newest words thanks to “Victoria,” I researched the etymology of the word. Combining comments from each of two sources, the meaning and history, albeit slightly edited by me to insert the dates, is as follows:

The phrase originated from African American Vernacular English around 1940 but has been gradually co-opted by right wing players to be used as an insult. Woke is now defined in the Merriam Webster dictionary as “aware of and actively attentive to important facts and issues (especially issues of racial and social justice),” and identified as U.S. slang. It originated in African American English and gained more widespread use beginning in 2014 as part of the Black Lives Matter movement. By the end of that same decade, it was also being applied by some as a general pejorative for anyone who is or appears to be politically left-leaning.”

The word woke with this meaning, was formally added to dictionaries in 2017 making the word, in this “vernacular,” a fairly new word, not fully understood by many, but used by more than who understand what it truly means. I guess I would gladly accept the title or accusation of being a-woke.

Now that I have finished what wasn’t a primary topic until my awakening, not only this morning, but also years ago, I will Wramble on.

Despite May 14th having come and gone, grass and brush fires are still a major problem especially with the “mini drought” we are in. Please don’t leave outside fires unattended.

Another ad nauseum repeat of grammar. The oft repeated debate of how or where to add quote marks relative to punctuation continues. Given my frequent use of them, usually indicating an irony or to make a word or term “stand out,” seems to be validated by MS Word “Auto-correct” now suggesting a correction which I have often maintained as the proper approach. If a comment is made or a reference made with the intention of it being a comment, even only if mentally, then the quote marks should follow the sentence ending punctuation, which is the norm. My contention is that if the last item used in a sentence is “highlighted” by the quote marks, then the sentence ending punctuation should follow the quote marks. That correction was suggested to me earlier in this column. There, once again I have said my piece about “quote marks”.

Kind of related…in mathematics where formulas need “punctuation” to force “orders of operation” in a prescribed manner, the punctuation is in the form of a parenthesis. These must be used in “pairs”, and they are nested to open and close the specific values or terms in a mathematical statement. 4(2+3) means add the two interior numbers and then multiply by 4. If you wanted something subsequently to happen to that value you would add that outside the resulting operation using another set of (  )’s. 6 times that value of the first operation would be indicated by another set as in 6(4(2+3)). Notice there are two ))’s at the end as they need to be in “pairs”. The above operation is for example only, not necessarily logical mathematically.

I Wrambled in that direction to point out that quotes or quote like symbols can also be nested in a sentence by using a combination of quote marks and apostrophes to act like the mathematical parenthesis symbol marks inside a pair of quote marks.  Sally said: “I can say ‘boo’ to you on Halloween.” Just a side note to the side note…it took me a half hour to make the quote and inner quote marks lean in the proper direction as the opening and closing quote and apostrophe symbols differ.

Just to add to the confusion (yours and mine) I had to retype the period at the end of that last sentence three times as I thought it was ending using a comma instead of the period at the end the sentence. A speck of dust was on the screen right where the “period” was, making it look like a comma.

The scanner has remained active as usual. A recent 911 call for a 10-year-old “out of control”; Husband and wife arguing, non-violent; it goes on and on. I can fully understand problems between spouses and arguments escalating, especially as couples get older. I will leave that comment stand as is.

My short-term memory, and I mean sometimes scant minutes short, remains especially frustrating to me. I wanted to look at my Trail Cam SD memory card, which I had retrieved earlier in the day, but I couldn’t find it. I searched high and low, back tracked over every inch of the house, in the cars, and even on a path to the camera trying to find the card assuming I may have misplaced it or dropped it. I checked the pockets of every item of clothing that I remembered wearing that day. I looked for over an hour before giving up. I knew I had taken it out of the camera as there was none there when I re-checked.

I finally gave up on that and went on to other tasks. A few hours later something made me recall that I had worn a pair of sweatpants briefly that morning. Hope-fully, I approached and opened my dresser drawer, retrieved the sweatpants, and there in the pocket I found the missing SD card. As I laughingly told my wife of my success, her only comment was expressing surprise that I had folded the sweatpants and returned them to the dresser drawer in the first place.

You (nor she) will get any argument from me on that account.

Politicians remain a mystery to me. Both parties bickering and squabbling like children, quibbling and unable to work together on anything. They finally came together with a bi-partisan agreement on a very significant recent situation and neither side “won.” Now the hard liners are mad at their own party mates threatening all kinds of things. Not sure where the term “party,” designating political affiliation came from, but who could think anything political could be termed a “party”.

Senior moment the other day as I was eating one of my favorite candies, a BabyRuth bar. They have nuts in them, typically just one half of a full-sized nut. Eating nuts is sometimes difficult for me, so I told my wife that they ought to make a candy that tasted like nuts, but without the nuts. She pointed to my candy dish and asked: “what do you see in there?” The answer, finally obvious to me, was Reese’s white chocolate “thin” bars and the smaller Reese’s cups. Peanuts in the candy but finely ground. Duh!

One of my favorite phrases is “vice-versa.” In my own dictionary mind’s eye, it means “the other way around.” I never say the term as vice versa but rather “versa-vice”. I am continually corrected by others hearing me say it that way, not even comprehending my sarcastic or ironic intentional application of the term itself. Loosely interpreted, the word used is called a malaprop, with the act of doing it called a malapropism. In double checking to verify my use of the term I read an article wherein they called that intentionally mis-pronounced word use a “mispronuncicated” word. I guess then, the actual act of doing it would be called mispronuncicatedism.

When teaching one of my first-year classes at Alfred State College I was being observed and evaluated by one of the senior faculty, Bob Stahlman. Being a little nervous, not so much by the evaluation, but by doing it in front of a longtime colleague from my Air Preheater days, who was also the faculty teaching many of my night school classes when I was a student, I rushed through the 50-minute lecture in less than 40 minutes. Despite being done early, I told the class that I had covered all the intended topics and unless they had any questions, I would end the class early.

Bob, in his verbal, after-the-fact summary, told me that was exactly the right thing to do. No sense or logic in trying to stretch it, or fake it, so if you’re done, admit it and call it quits.

Ok Bob! I am done.

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