1 of 2
1
seeking word
Posted: 28 April 2007 05:46 AM   [ Ignore ]
Rank
Total Posts:  2
Joined  2007-04-28

Here’s the scenario…

I have a leaky faucet. I go to find a wrench, but it’s missing. I decide to drive to the hardware store, but I have a flat tire.  I need to remove the wheel, but I can’t find the jack.  And so on…

Is there a word that describes when you go down one path after another, ever further from the original objective?  Basically compounding diversions?

gary

Profile
 
 
Posted: 28 April 2007 06:41 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 1 ]
RankRankRankRank
Total Posts:  806
Joined  2007-03-01

I don’t know about a word, but there’s a song about it, by the immortal Michael Flanders.
The Gas-Man Cometh

Profile
 
 
Posted: 28 April 2007 07:59 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 2 ]
Avatar
RankRank
Total Posts:  32
Joined  2007-04-08

From the OED:

life, n.
III. Course, condition, or manner of living.

12. a. The series of actions and occurrences constituting the history of an individual (esp. a human being) from birth to death. In generalized sense, the course of human existence from birth to death. (anything, nothing) in life: ‘in the world’, at all; such is life!: see SUCH dem. adj. and pron. 2; similarly that’s life, life’s like that; to live one’s (own) life: to conduct oneself without reference to the opinions of others; this is the life: an expression of satisfaction; it’s a great life (if you don’t weaken): an ironic comment on the difficulties of one’s situation; what a life!: an expression of discontent; how’s life?: how are you faring?

 Signature 

Fregt mikh bekheyrem!
~ Shmegege

Profile
 
 
Posted: 28 April 2007 08:45 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 3 ]
Administrator
Avatar
RankRankRankRankRank
Total Posts:  4599
Joined  2007-01-03

No, it’s more specific than just “life.” The prime concept is a sequence of branching paths. Surfing, as in the web, might serve; errand surfing, perhaps.

Profile
 
 
Posted: 28 April 2007 10:58 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 4 ]
Avatar
RankRankRankRankRank
Total Posts:  2777
Joined  2007-01-31

The humor writer Patrick McManus uses the term “sequences” to describe exactly what Gary is talking about.  You can find a full description in the chapter “Sequences” in his book, The Night the Bear Ate Goombaw.  Unfortunately, Amazon shows only the first page, which isn’t enough to give the flavor, and I don’t have time to type in a suitable excerpt manually right now.  Maybe later.

Profile
 
 
Posted: 28 April 2007 11:06 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 5 ]
RankRankRank
Total Posts:  115
Joined  2007-02-24

Diversion?

Edit for spelling. ;(

[ Edited: 28 April 2007 03:20 PM by Eyehawk ]
Profile
 
 
Posted: 28 April 2007 11:27 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 6 ]
Avatar
RankRankRank
Total Posts:  246
Joined  2007-02-16

Perhaps some word based on ‘tangential’ would fit the bill?

Profile
 
 
Posted: 28 April 2007 11:42 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 7 ]
RankRankRank
Total Posts:  155
Joined  2007-01-28

How about ‘chutes and ladders’?

But I’d have to say in individual cases Shmegege’s suggestion is pretty fitting.

Profile
 
 
Posted: 28 April 2007 11:43 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 8 ]
RankRankRankRank
Total Posts:  590
Joined  2007-02-22

I expect there’s a word in the “Deeper Meaning of Liff” that describes this phenomenon, but I don’t have a copy to hand. 

BTW, what happened to the thread entitled “The little green boxes”?  I was expecting Dr T to get a fourth box when he got to 201 posts, but no, and now I can’t find where the next benchmark is.

Profile
 
 
Posted: 28 April 2007 11:47 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 9 ]
RankRankRank
Total Posts:  155
Joined  2007-01-28

Speaking of such matters, I think I’ve now detected that this site, and presumably Dave, are an hour off the coast of California.

Profile
 
 
Posted: 28 April 2007 12:01 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 10 ]
RankRankRankRankRank
Total Posts:  3411
Joined  2007-01-29

Strange.  When you google “little green boxes” and wordorigins you get this thread, which also refers to a “little green boxes” thread… but where is it?  I too am curious about when the fourth box will appear.

Profile
 
 
Posted: 28 April 2007 12:14 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 11 ]
Avatar
RankRank
Total Posts:  32
Joined  2007-04-08

I’m just working on coming up with brazenly gratuitous posts in order to get to two!

 Signature 

Fregt mikh bekheyrem!
~ Shmegege

Profile
 
 
Posted: 28 April 2007 12:14 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 12 ]
Avatar
RankRank
Total Posts:  32
Joined  2007-04-08

Almost there.

 Signature 

Fregt mikh bekheyrem!
~ Shmegege

Profile
 
 
Posted: 28 April 2007 01:22 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 13 ]
Avatar
RankRankRankRankRank
Total Posts:  2777
Joined  2007-01-31

I have long been a student of sequences, probably because of my upbringing on a farm and, perhaps the larger influence, my association with my stepfather, Hank.... He was a city person, at one time the manager of a minor-league baseball team who had spent most of his life working in the grocery business.  You would expect that someone in the grocery business would know about farming and sequences, but both forever remained a mystery to Hank.

What Hank seemed never to grasp was that on a farm you simply don’t go out and do a piece of work.  No, the first thing you do is determine the lengthy sequence of activities necessary to even begin the job.  Then you realize that the sequence of preparatory activities is so long you will never get to the intended task…

One day Hank said to me, “Pat, let’s take off the day and go fishing up Ruby Crick.”

“Sounds good to me,” I said. “Let’s go”

“Okay. But first we have to fix that hole in the pasture fence.  Won’t take but twenty minutes.”

My shoulders sagged.  “Hank,” I said. “Either we go fishing or we fix the fence. Which is it?”

“Both,” he said. “First we fix the fence, then we go fishing.  Now go get the wire stretcher and we’ll get started.”

I saw that it was hopeless.  No matter how often I had tried to explain sequences to Hank, he could never grasp their significance. “The wire stretcher’s broken.”

“Oh, that’s right.  Well, we’ll just run over to the Haversteads and borrow theirs.”

“Yeah, but the Malloys borrowed our post-hole digger.”

“We can swing by the Malloys and pick up our post-hole digger on the way back from borrowing the Haversteads’ wire stretcher.  Easy as pie.”

“We’re out of fence staples, too.”

“Is that right?  I guess after we borrow the Haversteads’ wire stretcher and pick up our post-hole digger from the Malloys, we can zip into town and buy some staples at Jergans Hardware, come back, fix the fence, and go fishing.”

“But Hank, you promised Sam Jergans you would haul him in a load of hay bales from the Nelsons’ the next time you came to town.”

“Danged if that ain’t what I promised!  I got to take Sam the hay when we go for the staples.  Otherwise he’ll be mad as hops.  We’ll have to take the truck, but first we better pick up the spare tire that’s over at LaRoy’s shop getting fixed.  So here’s what we’ll do.  We’ll borrow the wire stretcher from the Haversteads, pick up our wire stretcher from the Malloys, stop by LaRoy’s Shop and get the spare, go over to Nelson’s and load the hay, haul the hay in to Jergans, buy the staples, come home, fix the fence, and go fishing.  How does that sound?”

“You’re getting mixed up, Hank.  We borrow the wire stretcher from the Haversteads and pick up our post-hole digger from the Malloys.”

“Good leapin’ gosh a’mighty, this is getting complicated. Now where did we start?  I better write it down in the proper...”

“Sequence,” I said. “We started out to go fishing, but first you wanted to fix that stupid hole in the fence.”

From “Sequences” in The Night the Bear Ate Goombaw, by Patrick F. McManus, (c) 1989.  Originally published in Outdoor Life magazine.

Profile
 
 
Posted: 28 April 2007 02:25 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 14 ]
Rank
Total Posts:  2
Joined  2007-04-28

Wow.  Wonderful replies, even if they have strayed a bit and I still don’t have my word.  Maybe it doesn’t exist?

My favorite answer so far?  Life.  How true.

gary

“Life? Don’t talk to me about life!” —Marvin the Paranoid Android

Profile
 
 
Posted: 28 April 2007 03:30 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 15 ]
Avatar
RankRankRankRank
Total Posts:  1365
Joined  2007-01-29

Ever decreasing circles?

For want of a nail the shoe was lost.
For want of a shoe the horse was lost.
For want of a horse the rider was lost.
For want of a rider the battle was lost.
For want of a battle the kingdom was lost.
And all for the want of a horseshoe nail.
(Nursery rhyme)

Profile
 
 
   
1 of 2
1
 
‹‹ Reefers      a-soylede ››