Thinkin’ about stuff……

Just finished reading an article about the Old Post Office in Washington, DC.  I spent a few years in that building in agent training and later in the Washington Field Office of the Federal Bureau of Investigation.  Most of us took the buses that dropped us off and picked us up within a few paces from the entrance.  I recall the morning I arrived early, only to discover, along with a few others, the frozen body of a homeless man who often panhandled up and down the local streets.

The Old Post Office is now Trump International Hotel, characterized by author Alex Altman in the June 15, 2017, issue of TIME magazine as “The Suite of Power; Why Donald Trump’s Washington Hotel is the Capital’s New Swamp.” Save up for a 90-minute couples massage at $460 or a VIP package (a week?) in a 6,300 square foot townhouse suite on two floors overlooking Pennsylvania Avenue, advertised for $500,000.

Not quite causing the inspiration from our top civil servant that John Kennedy provided in his inauguration speech:

“Let the word go forth from this time and place, to friend and foe alike, that the torch has been passed to a new generation of Americans – born in this century, tempered by war, disciplined by a hard and bitter peace, proud of our ancient heritage…  Let every nation know, whether it wishes us well or ill, that we shall pay any price, bear any burden, meet any hardship, support any friend, oppose any foe to assure the survival and the success of liberty.”

More on the order of “Ask not what I can do for you, but what you can do for me.”

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Too Many Words

A few years ago I came across a newspaper article titled something along the lines of: “Random Word Generator for Managers.”  The article included a lengthy table containing several columns of words one could choose to produce a phrase that sounded quite impressive but meant almost nothing.

In today’s world we are able to search the web using “Random Phrase Generator” and come up with dozens of entries claiming to produce intelligent-sounding phrases one might use to impress readers.

The late, great Elmore Leonard often advised aspiring writers to “Leave out the parts people don’t want to read,” and became successful doing just that in a long list of western and crime novels, many of which became movies.

I thought of all this a few days ago when I read this description in our local newspaper: “dynamic zero-depth aquatic play area.”  I am in awe of the skill it takes to use those six words to say “sprayground,” which is the word used in the master plan developed by the Parks & Recreation Advisory Committee I served on for a couple of years.

My vote was one of the unanimous cast by the Committee to approve, among many other things, “spraygrounds” (I think it was 3 or 4 of them).  A sprayground is a plot of ground outfitted with water jets that are programmed to go off at random.  The idea is for children to run through the plot to laugh, get wet, and cool off, in that order, when the water shoots out.

It’s a great idea, cheaper than a pool, easier to use, safer, and less expensive to maintain, and I probably would still have voted for it, but if they’d called it a “dynamic zero depth aquatic play area” I’m certain we would have wasted some time trying to figure out what that meant.  Really.