Acronym, according to Merriam Webster’s New Collegiate Dictionary, “a word formed from the initial letter or letters of each of the successive parts or a major part of a compound term.”
The beginning of my love/hate relationship with acronyms came to a head in 1985. I was in the shower, a place I considered private and a bit of a sanctuary. There were no cell phone and no cordless phones. If there were; I would have had them.
In marches Bill Paparian to tell me that Jack was on the phone and needed me to get him some figures from the ERA--- fast. As I turned off the water and started toweling off, I was stumped as to what Jack Moore needed with “Equal Rights Amendment information.” I had eliminated his need for ERA – “Earned Run Average.”
I dripped through the bedroom to answer the phone. Jack Moore was my co-chair on CITI (Citizens Intending To Incorporate.) I barely had the chance to say hello when Jack was shouting into the phone, “No, No, I need something from the EIR!” That did make sense, as we were trying to incorporate Solana Beach and the Environmental Impact Report was a critical document in that process.
I couldn’t really be annoyed with Bill for his scrambling of an acronym, most of us spend too much time spewing psycho-babble or speaking in shortcuts; another description of acronyms. Mr. Guy McCarthy, editor of this fine patch.com (http://banning-beaumont.patch.com/) has chided me more than once to … spell it out.
In fairness to Mr. McCarthy and all the others who struggle through short-hand-speak, here was how my morning played out. My smart phone was beeping, so I took a moment to find out who the email was from. It turns out it was from Microsoft and they asked me how my ERP was working. For the uninformed, including me, ERP in Microsoft-ease means Enterprise Resource Management. Since I had no idea what this was and my life seemed to be functioning quite satisfactorily without it, I hit the delete button and went on to start of one of my three daily newspapers.
It didn’t take me one headline to find my first acronym of this morning’s newspaper. IMF head, Dominique Strauss-Kahn goes down. IMF stands for the International Monetary Fund and if the allegations against Mr. Strauss-Kahn are true, he will not only not be the next president of France, he will be receiving his room service in an American prison.
Each person has a signature move when it comes to attacking the daily papers; sports, business, front page, entertainment; all have their particular lure. Since my former editor was fond of describing his paper’s beat as “fiercely local”- I gravitate to the local section. My process goes: Press Enterprise, Los Angeles Times finishing off with the Wall Street Journal. I only deviate from this routine on Friday, when I will look at the weekly Record Gazette first.
The next headline went as follows: “Local project does EIR to see if it complies with CEQA.” Huh?
For those who do not subscribe to acronym soup; here is how the sentence should read: An EIR (Environmental Impact Report) is being continued to see if applicant has bet the terms and conditions of CEQA (California Environmental Quality Act).
At this point, an ad in the paper asked me if I was suffering from IBS? Yes, thought, I was suffering from Irritable Bowel Syndrome, as I had just read another article about CalPERS. (California Public Employees Retirement System.) When I die and go to heaven, I want to come back as a CalPERS retiree….. PLEASE.
For the most part, I don’t understand the sports page, so I ignore it. I am interested in what will be playing on the television, so I look at the guide. ABC is American Broadcast Company, CBS is Columbia Broadcasting System, NBC is the National Broadcasting Company, CNN is Cable News Network and FoxNEWS is self explanatory.
It’s time for me to work, so it’s off to the computer. I need to find something on the Internet, so I have to find its name a/k/a (also known as) url or universal resource locator. Once I determine that information, I need to input (used to be type: http:// This jawbreaker stands for hyper text transfer protocol. Many times, www. (worldwide web) must be included in the address. Once done, it goes something like this: http://www.WritingSolutions.com). The blue color, underlined is what is called a hyperlink. By double clicking on it, it will whisk you to an Internet address; in this case, my website.
Many of my colleagues fall into acronym-speak, particularly if they are talking with someone in their own industry. That’s how the EIR/ERA mishap occurred, as described at the beginning of this column.
I’m going to try to finish the rest of my day without indulging in another acronym. Just for the fun (and education) of it, please send me your favorite acronyms and I will pass them.
Translation: By the way, have a good day.