Stochastic? SO Random.

Members of Generation Y [for Youngling, surely] are often accused of overusing the word “random”, especially in response to matters that are not at all random. For example:

First youngling: “I thought I lost my keys, then I realised they were in my pocket the whole time!”

Second youngling: “Ooo, random!”

I’ll admit I’m a serial offender, out of sheer laziness rather than deep-seated vapidity (I hope).

Anyway, would we suffer less scorn by using the word “stochastic” instead?

First youngling: “I couldn’t find my favourite red pen, then I realised it was in my hair the whole time!”

Second youngling: “Ooo, stochastic!”


… Or would we just be scorned as pretentious AND dim?


Lost in Translation: The USA/Canada > “Australian” edition

This year, the closest I’ve been to snow (my love) is two weeks lounging around with the air conditioning turned down cold, watching The Winterlympics*… and the wearing of snowflake-shaped earrings.

But this time last year, I had just returned from a North American winter: a month stomping/skiing around Salt Lake City (Utah, USA) and Banff (Alberta, Canada) wearing three layers of everything, watching icicles form on my hair, and laughing at the peculiar linguistic variations between Australian English, Canadian English, and American English.


( The image quality is terrible, but this sign was outside the house we lived in for two weeks just outside Salt Lake City. It reads ‘No Solicitors or Deliverie’s’. I shrieked at this abomination every day.).

The following is the blog entry that I drafted upon my return, but quickly found was no longer relevant. UNTIL NOW.


Eh? (Canada)

Innit? (UK)

N’est-ce pas? (French)

Huh? (Youth)

Whut? (Web)

For sure!

For sure! (Canada)

No worries! (Aus)

Of course! (Everywhere else)

Yup! (Youth)


Chocolate-coated peanuts. I can’t believe I never knew this. I mean, I’ve watched American TV my entire life, AND I love chocolate-coated peanuts. But here, a ‘goober’ is, well, snot.

{ image via The Chocolate Cult }






Grape-flavoured apple. ‘Looks like an apple, tastes like a grape’. SO WRONG, and yet so right.

Apparently invented because kids ought to eat apples, but prefer the taste of grapes. Or grape-flavoured candy in this case.

Which is ridiculous.

When I was a child, we didn’t get to make orange-flavoured bananas, just because we liked oranges better. Know what we did if we liked oranges? WE ATE ORANGES!

Anyway, the grāppling process involves some difficult-to-pin-down method of drenching the apples in grape flavouring at some point in the ‘production’ process.

And apparently, the ‘ā’ means that it’s pronounced GRAPE-L, not ‘grapple’ (as in to manhandle/tussle). Know what? That didn’t stop me from saying ‘grapple’. Nor was I sufficiently perturbed by the outright absurdity of the whole idea to just put down the Grāpple and walk away. I should have been, but I couldn’t resist. Why? Because I like apples (okay, just the way they are), and I also like grape-flavoured candy. {image via Coolest Gadgets }

Loonies & Twonies/Toonies


Canadian one dollar and two dollar coin (not children’s cartoon characters). No point talking about ‘one dollar coin’ and ‘two dollar coin’ in Canada: no-one will know what you’re talking about.

The one-dollar ‘loonie’ is so called because it bears the image of a loonie bird. The two dollar coin is worth two loonies, and so, by logical extrapolation, is called a ‘twonie’ (pronounced toonie).

But of course!

{image via Filibuster Cartoons }


Sprinkles. Hundreds-and-thousands. What makes a
chocolate freckle freckly.

The fact that they’re ‘nonpareils’ in Canada is obviously a remnant of French colonial (candy) domination.

I still don’t understand what being unequalled has to do with it (and I think Wikipedia’s explanation that they were unrivalled as cake decorations is a pretty poor effort on the etymology front).

{ Image via Flickriver }



French fries covered with gravy and cheese curds.

Words can’t express how truly repulsive this looks, so I’ll hand over to Google Images.

{via the Calgary Poutine Crawl 2013 }


And I’ll also leave it to Wikipedia to explain that etymologically, Poutine has a closer relation to ‘pudding’ (ie: a whole lot of everything) than it does to the French expletive (though given Canada’s semi-Francophilia, the latter would also make some sense). Traditional pub grub, ski-field fuel, late-night booze food, school’s-out snack, etc. Like kebabs in Australia, only… more disgusting.

Puck Bunnies

Like groupies, but for ice hockey players instead of rock band members. [On Monday morning, I nearly FELL OFF MY CHAIR with excitement during the gold medal ice hockey match. And by chair, I mean perfectly stable and impossible-to-fall-off sofa. THAT IS HOW EXCITED I WAS. In the absence of ice hockey within a tangible geographic radius, this makes me a vicarious puck bunny (minus all the negative innuendo).]
{ image via The Redhead Riter }

Rumble strips

What my sister and I grew up calling ‘fart lines’. The noisy, corrugated part of the road that stops sleepy drivers from veering into oncoming traffic/into a snow drift when the road markings are invisible and/or one has been driving forever and ever and ever.

{ image via Local 4 Traffic }



Beanie (Aus)

Knitted cap (UK)


A tuque is, for Aussies, a beanie. A brimless, knitted head covering. And yes, it shares a common etymological ancestor with the chef’s toque, though one might get a bit warm wearing a tuque in the kitchen.

Controversially pronounced ‘toock’ like the ‘two’ in ‘twonie’ (see above). The pronunciation is only controversial because one can get 5 different opinions in 5 minutes, if you ask around].

{ in the above image of Jay and Silent Bob, Jay is wearing a tuque. Silent Bob is not. }

Turbinado Sugar

The word ‘turbinado’ is, in my mind, a portmanteau of turbine and tornado.

Cyclonic sugar? To me, this is the way sugar ‘normally’ comes. That is, in Australia, ‘raw sugar’ is the norm, and you’d have to do actual research to find out much about the manufacturing process. But in the US and Canada, white sugar is ‘normal’, and so it’s deemed necessary to explain turbinado sugar in explicit detail, right there on the packet.

Turbinado sugar, also known as turbinated sugar, is made from sugar cane extract. It is produced by crushing freshly cut sugar cane; the juice obtained is evaporated by heat, then crystallized. The crystals are spun in a centrifuge, or turbine (thus the name), to remove excess moisture and molasses, resulting in the characteristic large, light brown crystals

Yes, if you check the footnotes in the above-quoted Wikipedia article, that description can be found on the packaging for Trader Joe’s Turbinado Sugar. Which is rather incongruous with the vast amount of packaged ‘food’ one can buy in North America without knowing exactly what’s going on inside the packaging.

And in true toonie… er, twonie spirit, that’s all, folks! At least until the next snowventure (which is so far in the hypothetical future I think I’d be better off just wearing my ski boots into the frozen foods aisle at the supermarket).

* My nominations for the greatest <alt=“most insane”> Olympic sports? Skeleton, Ski Cross, and Ice Hockey.

Riddle me this…*

Q: Why has BankWest suddenly abandoned its premises in Agar House, 457 Railway Street, Chatswood?

A: Because it was unable to maintain the liquidity of its customers’ funds (they kept setting to a satisfyingly firm, gelatinous consistency).

* “Riddle me this, riddle me that: Who’s afraid of the big, bad bat?” — Jim Carrey as The Riddler in Batman Forever (1995). [Click here to listen – via The MovieWavsPage]. I’m honestly impressed that this overwhelmingly underwhelming, mid-90s film managed to produce such a ubiquitous popular idiom.

Happy, shiny bananas

aka. “Temporarily Amusing Diversions That Must Be Banished For the Sake of Sanity and/or Productivity — Why Spellcheck is about as intuitive as a rolling pin, only less suited to its actual purpose”.

Me: Architecture… internal finishes…etcetera and so forth….micaceous paint…

Spellcheck: I’m sorry. Do you mean ‘musaceous’?

Me: I’m pretty sure I don’t. I’m pretty sure I mean ‘micaceous’. As in sparkly and shiny, and pertaining to mica.

Spellcheck: Are you sure?… Are you sure you don’t mean ‘musaceous’?

Me: Well, what does musaceous mean?

Spellcheck: Don’t ask me, I just tagged along with MS Word 2007. Do I look like I know what these words mean?

Me: Fine then, numbskull. I’ll ask Wiktionary.

Wiktionary: ‘Musaceous’ — of or pertaining to a banana.

Me: Yes. Right. See, I did NOT mean musaceous. Who wants their house painted with banana? No-one, that’s who.

Spellcheck: Fine then, see if I care… Err, how ’bout ‘minacious’ then?

Me: Hmm, let’s see.

Wiktionary: Minacious: ‘Of a threatening or menacing nature’.

Me: How fitting! [turns off Spellcheck with one fierce keystroke]. Now back to work!

First published at tumblr Proof (v.)

The Trans-Ditch Lexicon (or why Kiwis and Aussies don’t understand each other and never will)

First published at tumblr Proof (v.)

The scene: A supermarket parking lot. It could be Queenstown, NZ. It could just as well be Sydney, AU. There’s only one way to tell: walk into the nearest café and order a cappuccino. If it comes in a bowl, with a dusting of cinnamon instead of chocolate, and a dish of coffee crystals instead of sugar, you’re almost definitely in Kiwiland (lucky thing).

Kiwi: Did you get the Hokey Pokey ice-cream?
Aussie: Hokey Pokey? As in, left hand, right hand, shake it all about?
Kiwi: Hokey Pokey. As in Violet Crumble. As in Crunchie bar.
Aussie: Mate, you mean honeycomb.
Kiwi: Err, honeycomb is what you pull out of a beehive….
Aussie: Whatever. Can you just take the shopping trolley…
Kiwi: …you mean Trundler…
Aussie: Whatever. Can you take it back to the trolley return…
Kiwi:… you mean trundler park…
Aussie: Stop it. Trundler Park sounds like a wildlife preserve in Colorado. Anyway, hurry up, I could murder a pint right now.
Kiwi: You mean a Handle… But yeah, good idea. And a wee pottle of chips too.
Aussie: A WHAT?!
Kiwi: A wee pottle of chips.
Aussie: A WHAT?!
Kiwi: Sure, it LOOKS like a cup, but I call it a pottle. And it’s wee, as opposed to large.
Aussie: You’re nuts, mate. Or wasted. Just get in the four wheel drive. I’ll drive.
Kiwi: You mean the Bully Bus, eh bro?
Aussie: Okay, I’m ignoring you now. Oh look, it’s snowing.
Kiwi: Nah, it’s just a wee skiff of snow.
Aussie: A WHAT?!
Kiwi: A wee skiff of snow. You know, as opposed to a big snowfall…
Aussie: S***! Bloody speed bumps.
Kiwi: It’s just a wee judder bar. Don’t get your skats in a knot.
Aussie: Skats? A scat is what a wombat does when it goes to the dunny… And would you stop saying ‘wee’? You sound like an incontinent Scotsman.