Only on Vashon – The Weekly Rundown 06/25/2023

I missed last week because I was on vacation, and now I get to catch up on two weeks’ worth of Facebook drama. What have you all been discussing in my absence? You did me a solid by discussing my favorite topic- language. We have this post, which included a poll:

“My brother and I are at odds over how to say the word ‘potable’. As in ‘These villages at the time didn’t have potable water’”

Here is a lovely chart I made to illustrate something I could have just said in 4 words. 

First off, I say ‘potable’ as in ‘post’, so it’s good to know I’m on the right side of history.

Some people point out that it can be pronounced either way, and one person goes so far as to share a screenshot of the dictionary. 

Wait,  the military pronounces it differently? Is it common to have military pronunciation and civilian pronunciation? Is the word ‘potable’ a shibboleth? Does my pronunciation give away the fact that I’ve never been part of the armed forces? Like, if you suspected that I’m not cut out for the army by the way I startle at every noise, cry anytime I get hurt, have hypoglycemia and oppose war, then you could trick me into saying ‘potable’ just to make sure? 

One person says, “Maybe it’s a regional thing? In 59 years of living in the Seattle area I have only ever heard it pronounced as p”ah”table. Pronouncing it like potato seems very strange to me.”

I like the idea that people associate potability with potatoes. What could be more drinkable than a potato? Do you ever squeeze the juice out of potato shreds when making latkes and think potato water could be the newest drink fad. It could be the next pomegranate juice or kombucha. (Note: I have been informed this is vodka.) 

Others point out that these aren’t the only two options for pronunciation. One person recommends “Pow-table.”

And what about ‘poitable’? That’s how Bugs Bunny would say it.

One commenter clears up the whole issue with this definitive statement: “Pohtable for drinking. Pahtable for bongs.”

Someone posts this picture in rants: 

It looks  to me like the buggy driver pissed off and possibly injured the cyclist. This is like showing a war elephant trampling a child and saying, “Villagers: pissing off soldiers since 2000 BCE.” 

The French underneath is barely legible, but it seems to be saying something sarcastic about jolly coach drivers. According to Google Translate this is what it says: 

Ah yes, that clears it up. 

In the comments, someone flips the script: “Anonymous ranters pissing off other users since the inception of the internets 😛

I guess every technological advancement opens the doors to new ways to irritate each other. Telephones brought us prank calls and aviation led to airplane noise. Cars came with car stereos that can boom down the street with unrelenting bass. Television brought Doublemint Gum ads and calculators brought us a way to spell BOOBS with just two eights, two zeroes, and a five. 

I bet when people first harnessed fire, some guy’d always put a torch too close to your face or make the fire too smoky. And after we invented the wheel, that one asshole Grog would always roll it down the hill so it would hit your ankles. 

Speaking of annoying each other,  one person posts, “I encountered a beautiful shit bag tree on my walk the other day at Judd creek. It was glorious. Sometimes I find them alongside the trail. The aroma is unlike anything I’ve experienced. 🙄

Nature is so beautiful. Bowerbirds collect shells and trinkets of one particular color to line their nests to attract a mate. Humans do this:

We learn why this happens from an honest islander who shares their personal journey of learning not to leave bagged shit in the woods. “It took me longer than I’d like to admit to learn that I wasn’t going to remember to grab my dogs’ poo bags on the return trip. I always had really good intentions. We need a “You’re Not Gonna Remember!” campaign.”

The islander then tells us another story that we should shame them for, but they seem so friendly that it’s 100% forgivable. “One time I left a full poo bag on [redacted]’s mailbox, so it would be eye level and I’d see it on my way home. She later commented to me that some arsehole had left dog poop on her mailbox. I had to sheepishly admit it was me. Tote Your Poo!”

I understand where they’re coming from. I’m lucky if I remember my dogs. Once something leaves my hand, it’s gone forever. For that reason, I don’t leave stuff on other people’s mailboxes or randomly alongside a trail in the forest, because it would forever be lost to me. 

Others recommend just burying the poo or pushing it off the trail. But be sure to fling it far off the trail. One islander recounts this horror story: “I stepped in dog poo the other day. I stepped off onto the side trail and right smack in the middle was dog poop. I somehow managed to get it on my pants! So gross haha”

But wait, there is an even worse story: “As someone who has been brushing trails and road sides for most of my adulthood, hitting a bag of poop with a weed eater is one of the most unpleasant experiences. Every time one leaves a bag of poop it will sit there and weeds grow over it until some poor volunteer or underpaid employee finds it while mowing and gets fermented dog poo splattered all over their body. “

I’m going to have nightmares. 

We have yet another annoyance wrought by modern technology. One person shares this rant:  “I have to say, it’s annoying that people comment without reading the previous comments first. In another Facebook page that is Vashon related I commented on an article explaining the reasoning in the pic in the post. It’s appearing as if no one commenting after my comment has read anything anyone has said before. Read people. Read! (I understand blonde/misunderstanding moments, I’ve been known to have my own more than a few times, but this aint blonde or misunderstanding, this is outright not reading other comments.)”

One islander explains the comment dichotomy succinctly: “Some people on Facebook seem to take a conversational approach to posts. Others seem to take a “hit it, in and out” approach.I think there is a place for both, but I definitely enjoy the conversational approach… which is why I read. (I also have time on my hands to do so 🙂 )”

I like the idea that you have to do the required reading before posting. That way you all suffer the way I suffer each week, reading every redundant comment. Come to think of it; you should read each comment, summarize the meaning, and categorize it as for or against the original post. Then maybe make a graph with Python to illustrate your point. Then make a dick joke or something. Basically, do my job for me. 

One person brings up an issue that many commenters face:  “I find it irritating when people miss parts of the original post because they didn’t read it all, and a crucial piece of info is right there in the post. But I don’t expect everyone to read all the other comments before answering a question or offering their own opinion.”

I expect people to read the post twice, read all comments, do any background research necessary, then wildly misinterpret the meaning and assume that they are being personally attacked. For example, take this comment on the above post, “I’m blonde, and I take offense to your comment.” Now THAT’S  how you do Facebook. 

Anna Shomsky
Author: Anna Shomsky

I'm a former teacher and a data engineer living on Vashon Island. My writing has appeared in Five on the Fifth, Women on Writing and on the Post-Culture Podcast. I wrote and produced the radio show Whispers of Vashon for 101.9 KVSH. I’ve had short stories published in the anthologies Island Stories and Chicken Scratchings, as well as through the Open Space Literary Project.

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