Half signs mean about as much as whole ones around here

  • Follow Glynn Moore

My co-worker Dustin told me about a sign near his house when he was growing up. Attached to a barbed-wire fence in his rural community, it warned:

POSTED

NO TRESPASSING

KEEP OUT

Well, that's what it had said when new. Over time, though, the left side of the sign had broken clean off, leaving only:

TED

PASSING

OUT

Except for being a great name for a rock band, Ted Passing Out doesn't mean a lot to us. (Unless, of course, Ted is passing out in our direction and he's as tall as a tree. Timber? No. Tedddddddd!)

I'm sure that sign did little to warn hunters to stay off the property. People who might get shot by careless hunters also wouldn't know to keep clear. Legally, half a sign probably carries no weight.

About the only use I can see for a broken sign is as a tourist attraction. Visitors might rate it right up there with funny church marquees, or a neighbor might use it for helping lost motorists:

"The interstate? Sure; you need to drive straight ahead until you see Ted Passing Out, then take a right, go about eight miles, and you can't miss it."

I grew up in the country, too, but our signs were short, few and far between. While waiting for the bus each morning, I would stare at the stop sign where our dirt road met the highway.

After a while, I learned the four letters of "stop" can be rearranged into many words: tops, pots, post, opts, spot. Yes, I realize I wasn't translating Latin, but it kept me out of trouble most of the time.

Normally, this is where I might contrast an incomprehensible half-sign with the complete, highly legible speed limit and yield signs that line the interstate on my morning commute -- the ones that motorists ignore in their constant attempt to scare me to death in traffic. I won't do that, though. I have given up.

Those drivers obviously can't read signs, you see, and no doubt can't read this. Those who can read are too busy texting and smoking and primping in the mirror (yes, lady, I mean you) to bother with road signs. They'll keep doing it until they succeed and won't even notice that the cause of my crash was a clear case of Glynn passing out.

MOORE WORDS: You've probably noticed that when discussing the swine flu (or whatever it's being called this week), medical professionals have warned of the danger of a pandemic.

Given a choice, I would take an epidemic any day. An epidemic is a disease that is spreading fast among a large group of people: "Epi-" means "at or upon," and "demic" comes from the Greek word for "people" (as in "democracy").

A pandemic is worse, both in size and severity. "Pan-" means "all," so a pandemic affects all people (or has the potential to be universal, anyway). The prefix shows up in many common words, including panacea (a cure-all), pancreas (all flesh), pandemonium (all evil spirits), Pangea (all Earth, the supercontinent that existed before we all started drifting apart), panorama (all views), pantomime (imitator of all) and, of course, Pandora, who opened the box that loosed all "gifts" on mankind.

Now, go wash your hands and don't cough on me.

Reach Glynn Moore at (706) 823-3419 or glynn.moore@augustachronicle.com.


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