Crap that goes through my head in the stairwell

I take words way too personally. I get an allergic reaction to words or phrases that strike me as buzzwords, but I love words that introduce some nuanced meaning into language. I was thinking of this yesterday in the stairwell up to my apartment because somehow or another, the word meme caught my attention.

A couple of years ago, meme was a big word in some circles. It means an idea that gets passed around. At the time, I read plenty of comments and articles by people very much like me who hated the word, because it really just means “idea”. Why introduce a new word when there’s already a word that means the same thing?

Well, for me, meme is a great word because there’s a subtle distinction between meme and idea. The word idea describes an idea, a concept, a pattern that can be held in the mind. But meme adds the nuance of motion. If I have a secret thought in my head that I never share with anyone, it’s an idea – not a meme. Once I put that thought down in words or speak it to someone, then it might become a meme. It depends on whether or not the idea gets copied around. That distinction of a static idea versus a mobile one is important for me, so I like the word meme.

I really hate the word silo. That word is getting passed around in the business world a lot right now to describe barriers of communication or influence between business units. There’s a lot of talk of “breaking down silos” around work these days. Every time I hear the word, my blood pressure spikes a few points.

Why do I hate silo? It reeks of buzzword-ness. Buzzwords are used to show that you’re hip and current and using the modern lingo, but they don’t add any value of meaning or understanding to the language. I don’t see any meaningful distinction between “break down your silos” and “talk to other people”.

I could be wrong – there may be some nuance to silo that I’m missing. But for now, it irritates me.

Barbeque is another word that’s been on my mind for the last day for very similar reasons. I love the world barbeque, but it suffers from imprecision. I asked my buddy Cory to go out to lunch today, and I suggested barbeque. He told me that he didn’t like barbeque.

How can anyone not like barbeque?

Well, it turns out that he likes barbeque, just not the way it’s done in Texas. Or more precisely San Antonio. See, in most of the barbeque restaurants in town, they prepare it by slow-cooking the meat and basting it with a tomato-based sauce that is sweet and spicy. But where Cory comes from, the sauces used for making barbeque aren’t tomato-based; they’re vinegar-based and not nearly as sweet.

I figured we’d meet halfway and go to Willard’s Jamaican Jerk down on North St. Mary’s – Willard keeps his smoker running 24 hours a day and has a variety of sauces. Some sweet, some sour, and some burn-a-hole-through-the-back-of-your-head hot.

The problem with barbeque is that it only describes one aspect of the process – slow cooking over a low heat. There are some places in Texas that make great barbeque, but they don’t use any sauce at all. Then there are other regions in the south that use vinegar- or mustard-based sauces.

You can describe the different styles of barbeque by specifying what region it comes from, but that seems kind of imprecise to me. Anyone out there with a serious food fetish that knows of a more accurate way of describing what kind of barbeque you’re talking about?

No Responses to “Crap that goes through my head in the stairwell”

  1. Hilary Says:

    So strange that you were thinking about the idea of memes – cos I was just reading about this…

  2. Lilith Says:

    Up this way, barbeque has nothing to do with slow cooking… it just means “cooked over flame,” which makes it the same thing as grilling. All of the sauce is vinegar-based, too.

    Found this just now:

  3. Cynthia Says:

    And here I thought that a silo was something in which to store wheat and corn 😉

  4. lara Says:

    And I thought I was the only one who ‘thinks’ to much.

  5. cari Says:

    I was about to say what Cynthia said. So… What Cynthia said.

    I tend to take a like or dislike to words just based on sound. Like “pantyhose.” I hate that word. I don’t wear the actual item. Ever. So it’s not that that’s getting me riled up. Just the sound. It’s awful.

  6. Kaetchen Says:

    When serious food people (just as you hate “silo”, I DESPISE “foodie”) discuss barbecue, they usually attach a place name. In other words, saying “I like Owensboro ‘cue” translates to “I like smoked and slow-cooked lamb with vinegary mustard sauce.”

    In other words, you have to be specific, something it’s hard to do with a buzz word.

    Personally, I’m more bothered by acronyms. But that’s because I work at UCD on SMG items covered by PPSM and the APM.

    Shoot me.

  7. Kaetchen Says:

    OH! I thought of another way to describe your ‘cue – by telling them which sides you like. If you’re all about white bread and pickles, it’s usually Texan ‘cue. Coleslaw and vinegar seem to mean Tennessee ribs. Etc etc etc.

  8. Kaetchen Says:

    You bastard, now I’m starving.

  9. bonnie Says:

    And I always thought these little internet games of show-and-tell were called memes because it’s sort of like saying:
    (look at) ME!
    (look at) ME!

  10. KatherineOfItAll Says:

    I like the word “silo” in its original form. I like it a lot. I despise the buzzword incarnation of it. I also LUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUurve good barbecue, of any provenance. In Utah, really good ‘cue is damn hard to find, but there’s one guy in town who opens for a few days every couple of days and knocks my socks off. He can afford to have crazy, irregular hours because his meat is so good that people will drop by (the way I do) in a constant random stream on the off-chance that his doors are ooen.

  11. Christine Says:

    I’ve been blogging for over 5 years now, so a “meme” isn’t so much an “idea” to me, but rather a thing that is passed along – a survey, a picture, something like that. But it drives me nuts when people pronounce it “Me-me” (as in saying the word “me” twice) – I’ve always pronounced it as a meme – like the word mime, but with an “e” in the middle.

    Somedays, it is all about the little things.

    I think that County Line Barbeque is more vinegar based than tomato sauce based; I mean, it has tomato sauce, but I can taste the vinegar too. Does he like that? Although I guess you might not want to deal with the riverwalk tourist crowd to get it.

    That whole “silo” thing would drive me nuts though – a silo holds grain. You find them on a farm. It has absolutely nothing to do with business. Silly people and their buzzwords…