Hurricane Irene: What’s In A Name?

For the past couple of days up here in New England, we are talking about Hurricane Irene. Constantly. We loyally watch every weatherperson’s analysis of its path, as well as their predictions on landfall location and time. One thing has become clear, we will be getting strong winds and significant amounts of rainfall. We will be the worst hit on Sunday.

Yesterday I realized how inappropriate a hurricane name Irene is.  ‘Irene’ is a Greek word that means ‘peace’. Obviously, there is nothing remotely peaceful about a hurricane; there is calm in their eye, but that’s about it. Hurricanes bring destruction and damage, not peace. Thus I am awarding ‘Hurricane Irene’ the title of the Oxymoron Of The Week.

Perhaps we are attempting the good old trick of euphemism. Ancient Greeks used to give good names to bad things, substitute the unpleasant with something, well, pleasant. In Greek we call the Black Sea, a historically difficult to navigate sea, Εὔξεινος Πόντος meaning Hospitable Sea.  This name replaced the original Aξεινος Πόντος meaning Inhospitable Sea. I can only imagine the morale of the seamen called in for the voyage to the Inhospitable Sea: “Uh, sorry, Captain, something came up,” the sailor announced. “Oh, really, what?” the Captain inquired. “My wife, Captain. She is due. Very soon,” the sailor said. “Oh, I see… Wait, didn’t your wife just give birth a month ago?” the Captain probed. “Miracle, Captain, miiiiiraaaacleeee!” the sailor shouted, as he ran away as fast as he could.

Just like another euphemism, the Cape of Good Hope (original name: Cape of Tempests), by naming the hurricane ‘Irene’, instead of, say, Hurricane Terminator, we are hoping it will be as peaceful as possible, as far as out in the ocean as possible. Perhaps our wishful thinking and peaceful naming will do the trick. But then again, it’s a hurricane we’re talking about, inherently powerful and potentially destructive. We’d better pay attention to the weather forecasts, be prepared and keep calm.


I Predict Songs

Lately, it seems that at least one morning a week the following happens: I’m going down the stairs singing a certain song, I get in my car, turn on the radio and station I’m tuned in is playing that particular song. Sometimes is happens slightly differently; I wake up with a song in my head, turn on the radio and that song is playing.  I remember last week it was ‘Will Do’ by TV On The Radio, this morning it was ‘Options’  by Gomez.

This morning actually when I realized I was singing ‘Options’ my next thought was “I bet when I get in the car and turn on the radio WERS will be playing it”. And that’s what happened. But instead of feeling that the whole thing was peculiar, it felt normal. Like it was bound to happen, and of course, it did.

Post Vacation Hard Landing

You went away for two weeks, you enjoyed yourself, you relaxed, you got lazy. Then you came back. You thought that everything must have gotten better in two weeks. You were irrationally expecting things to be different, improved, lighter, brighter, just like your vacation. Then you realized all stayed the same. The office, the work, the people. Head on collision with the pedestrian reality wall.

You went away for two weeks and you thought you would come back and conquer the world. But the world didn’t get the memo. You settle. You shrug. You carry on.