Greetings from the Cole Retirement Community

Day one at the Cole Retirement Community (our motto: “The food is great, the pets are awesome, the hearing is suspect, and the conversation is sketchy at best”) has begun with a fresh round of cleaning, with my father surgically cleaning every square inch of the house, muttering “there’s hair everywhere” the entire time. No one is safe, and the morning ritual for the Cole pets includes a vigorous brushing:

The conversation is, as always, a delight:

And look, I am NOT pinning this on my parents, because I am every bit as bad. I was sitting in the living room and the tv was tuned to the Today Show, and they had a long segment on their fitness goals and kept mentioning planking and I blurted out “what the hell is planking?” A minute or so later, my dad walked through the room dusting and they mentioned planking again, and my dad said to no one in particular “what the hell is planking?” A few minutes later, mom, who had been in the room the entire time but was reading, looked up, looked at me, and asked “Do you know what planking is?”

Lily, of course, is nonplussed:

Dad’s lift chair rental arrived this morning (he’s having another knee surgery), and then I suppose we will go to the beach and the dog park.

108 replies
  1. 1

    I like the carpet/rug in that room. Where did you/parents get it from?

  2. 2
    Yarrow says:

    Are those two fluffballs Ginny and Guesly? We haven’t seen them in ages!

  3. 3
    BC in Illinois says:

    Lily, of course, is nonplussed

    I don’t know if I’ve seen a picture of her when she was plussed.

  4. 4
    TomatoQueen says:

    That’s how Lily does planking, which is the best planking. Give her a treat.

  5. 5
    raven says:

    @schrodingers_cat: Looks like Sisal, we have a couple.

  6. 6

    @raven: Are they easy to clean. Most of my rugs are either wool or cotton.

  7. 7
    Damned at Random says:

    Recovering from knee surgery on Dec 21. It’s a bitch. Best wishes to John Sr

  8. 8
    Boudica says:

    Pet peeve…nonplussed means “confused” not “unperturbed.” I know the meaning is changing because people keep using it incorrectly (this is happening to bemused, as well), but I will keep fighting till I lose.

  9. 9

    @Boudica: He probably meant nonchalant.

  10. 10
    Betty Cracker says:

    @Boudica: I figured this thread wouldn’t get 10 comments deep without someone saying that, but it was close.

  11. 11
    japa21 says:

    @Boudica: I think you may have already lost.

  12. 12
    rikyrah says:

    Your parents are adorable :)

    Lily is so beautiful :)

  13. 13
    Boudica says:

    @japa21: I know. :-(

  14. 14
    Josie says:

    Lily just looks like her usual relaxed, gracious self. Love that dog.

  15. 15
    Gin & Tonic says:

    @schrodingers_cat: In my (limited) experience the dirt falls through them and has to be swept/vacuumed regularly. They’re good for at the beach for that reason.

  16. 16
    SiubhanDuinne says:

    Mom: Have you ever done soduku?

    Me: No.

    *Half hour passes*

    Mom: Do you like sudoku?

    Me: I have never done it.

    *Half hour passes*

    Mom: J.G., what is so fun about soduku?


    I love that you spelled it three different ways in as many conversational exchanges.

  17. 17
    Nicole says:

    Sudoku is really fun. You should try it.

  18. 18
    Brachiator says:

    So, what is planking?

  19. 19
    ThresherK says:

    Good luck to your Dad with knee surgery.

    My wife (who has one replacement knee and will soon get a second) has inherited, from her late mom, a motor-driven mega-recliner which not only reclines but also pushes her up and out.

  20. 20
    Punchy says:

    {glances at time}
    {looks at calendar for day of the week}
    Cant help but ask…does John have a job? Who’s home with the ‘rents on a Wednesday morning?

  21. 21
    karensky says:

    Suduko and planking will be my words for today. I will use them whenever possible.

  22. 22
    Gin & Tonic says:

    @Punchy: He’s on vacation, on his way home from Florida.

  23. 23
    JanieM says:


    Sudoku is really fun. You should try it.

    It is, but it can be dangerous. One of my relatives does one sudoku puzzle a day. I can do either an endless stream, all day long, or none. I once told a counselor they were addictive, and he quibbled and informed me that I was obsessive/compulsive, not addicted.

    A distinction without a difference in my case.


    As for bemused, that’s a potential new item on the pet peeve list. How is it misused? What do some people think it means, that it doesn’t (or didn’t) mean?

    For that matter, I hadn’t seen nonplussed used this way either. Obviously I don’t get out much.

  24. 24
    JanieM says:

    P.S. What is planking? ;-)

    (JK, I do have google to consult.)

  25. 25
    e julius drivingstorm says:

    I am totally nonplussed – in every sense of the word.

  26. 26
    Mnemosyne says:


    It is also a pet peeve of mine, and I will continue to fight by your side for what’s right. ⚔️

  27. 27
    Ohio Mom says:

    @Punchy: Cole teaches at a college. So not exactly 9-5 all year long with two weeks off.

    I am jealous of Mrs. Cole for having wed a man who cleans house obsessively. In my next life…

  28. 28
    cliosfanboy says:

    @Boudica: it’s literally changing before our eyes

  29. 29
  30. 30
    NotMax says:


    A city in China.


  31. 31
    Ohio Mom says:

    I am not bothering googling it to confirm but I believe planking is something like a push-up, held for a length of time so that your body resembles — get this — a plank of wood.

  32. 32
    Barbara says:

    It appears that “nonplussed” has taken on two diametrically opposed meanings. That’s an even bigger feat than the current lines of battle over the use of the word “fulsome.”

    There’s a new sense of nonplussed that people have been using, and…well, we’d just like to give you fair warning in case our descriptivist nature causes us to take action. This new sense appears to stem from a mistaken belief that the first three letters of nonplus are there to indicate that someone is something other than “plussed” (although what being plussed would entail here remains a mystery).
    * * *
    It’s somewhat questionable whether the non in nonplus is actually a prefix at all; the word came into English in the 16th century, and was taken from the Latin non plus, which means “no more.” When it first appeared in our language it was used as a noun, with the meaning of “quandary.”
    * * *
    By the early 17th century nonplus was being used as a verb, with the meaning of “to cause to be at a loss as to what to say, think, or do.” Then, as now, the word is often encountered in its participial form (nonplussed), with a meaning that is nearly synonymous with “perplexed.”
    * * *
    For the next three hundred and some years nonplus remained on the straight and narrow, avoiding the temptations of demon rum and semantic drift, and as a result of this managed to keep its meaning remarkably unchanged. And then in the early 20th century some people began to use nonplus to mean “unruffled, unconcerned,” and ever since then the word just hasn’t been the same.

  33. 33
    Kdaug says:

    John, planking is not for you. At all. Think 4×6 on a yoga ball, or vice versa… lots of rolling off, frustration, etc.

    Best to leave it alone.

  34. 34
    Barbara says:

    @Ohio Mom: “Plank” is a yoga pose. You can do it with your arms straight or with your arms bent and your forearms (rather than your wrists) bearing your upper body weight. You are supposed to hold your abs in and tighten your butt cheeks. My bar class includes one plank at the beginning and one at the end (unless they run out of time). I hate it. Really, when you have to hold it for a while or do movement variations like rolling forward on your shoulders or bending your knees, it’s hard. There is also a variation called a spider plank. Etc.

  35. 35
    CliosFanboy says:

    @SiubhanDuinne: I love that you spelled it three different ways in as many conversational exchanges.

    he was nonplussed.

  36. 36
    geg6 says:


    College faculty have the easiest schedules known to man. I’m guessing Cole is teaching a bunch of online classes this semester (our classes began this week), so no need to actually be in West Virginia to be working.

  37. 37
    JanieM says:

    Okay, a pet peeve embedded in the explanation of a pet peeve [italics unrestored in what follows; I don’t have time]:

    I’m sure the confusion between amused and bemused comes out of the fact bemused is less common and so when people hear it for the first time, they notice the similarity to amused and think the two words must have a similar meaning. In fact, amused and bemused mean two completely different things.

    Taking a cue from Barbara on nonplussed, I looked for something about bemused and found an explanation that included the above paragraph.

    Would it be so damned hard to put the word “that” between “fact” and “bemused”?

    That that “that” is disappearing makes me grind my teeth, along with the missing “that” after “ensure.” “We strive to ensure our restrooms will be clean.” But you can find the usage everywhere nowadays, not just in the restrooms of fast food joints.

  38. 38
    geg6 says:

    @Ohio Mom:

    So a pushup, then. Why must they attach stupid new names to the oldest stuff in the world? Is it to deliberately confuse those of us allergic to exercise fads?

  39. 39
    Boudica says:

    @Barbara: Fulsome! Yes, that’s another one on my list. We’re doomed, I tell ya.

  40. 40
    Kdaug says:

    Meh. Language is dynamic and evolving. Always has been.

  41. 41
    Kdaug says:

    @geg6: No. No motion. Hold the pose.

  42. 42
    Betty Cracker says:

    After 20-plus years in the writing/editing business, I’ve concluded that pedantry is weirdly personal. “Nonplussed” in the sense Cole used it above is perfectly acceptable to me. And, probably due to prolonged exposure to teens/20-somethings, I’m even warming to the use of “literally” as an amplifier — as long as it’s not overdone (e.g., “That literally made my head explode!”). Yet I rejoiced when iPhones started automatically converting two dashes into an em dash in text messages.

  43. 43
    geg6 says:


    Yeah, my linguist friends tells me the same. But as I tell him, my mother’s voice in my head is not dynamic and evolving. She will never stop railing against such travesties!

  44. 44
    Barbara says:

    @Boudica: You might want to look at the 19 words for cranky and disagreeable if you are feeling overly nonplussed at the usage of nonplussed. I learned that “hangry” has been in use for more than 60 years and was not invented by the makers of Snickers.

    P.S. The images used in describing these words tends disproportionately toward the feline.

  45. 45
    geg6 says:


    People have been doing that while doing pushups forever. They just called it a pushup. A plank is piece of wood. It is not exercise, no matter what tv spokespeople and exercise grifters want to call it.

    /my mother’s voice in my head

  46. 46
    Barbara says:

    @geg6: NOT a push-up. We also do push-ups in class. You don’t move your arms at all in plank. Even if you are not completely still, the motion is supposed to come from primarily your abs.

  47. 47
    chris says:


    So a pushup, then.

    Nope. It took me about 15 seconds to realise that it is definitely not a pushup. Pushups I can do but it took some time before I could hold a 60 second plank.

  48. 48
    JanieM says:

    @geg6: Seconded! And now mine is the mother’s voice in some people’s heads. :-)

    @Betty Cracker: Agree totally. My sisters and I share stories of pet peeves sometimes and find that the things that bug us are weirdly different (all the more weirdly since we have the same mother’s voice in our heads!; then again, our mother didn’t get out much, and now she’s very very behind the times). One of my sisters is outraged by the use of “invite” as a noun, but that doesn’t bother me at all. But she (working in a huge corporation) happily refers to “the below chart,” a construction that makes me want to spit nails.

  49. 49
    trollhattan says:

    Lily clearly needs her own blog. The stories….

    Thanks for the larfs!

  50. 50
    trollhattan says:

    My PT had me do them and when I first tried she’d say, “Nice downward dog, now do a plank.”

    Took awhile. (Should be simple, right?)

  51. 51
    Patricia Kayden says:

    John, you’re living the good life with great pets and wonderful parents. Enjoy!!

    In bleak times, we need our distractions.

  52. 52
    JanieM says:

    @trollhattan: Downward dog looks pretty simple too. In my brief stint of trying yoga, it killed my hands, never mind other body parts.

  53. 53
    Gin & Tonic says:

    @geg6: In planking, generally, your forearm (from elbow to palm) is in contact with the floor/mat, so it’s not like a push-up.

    I was weirdly happy when I could do a normal push-up again after my wrist injury.

  54. 54
    CaseyL says:

    There’s something about getting older, deafer, and more absentminded that can turn nearly every conversation into a comedy routine.

    I wish I had recorded the convos between my Mom and Nanny (her Mom). Nanny was pretty loopy to start with, and there were times I’d be literally on the floor laughing, listening to them.

  55. 55
    Betty Cracker says:

    @JanieM: My favorite battles are the one-word vs. two-word skirmishes. I’m old enough to remember when people were willing to die on the hill of “healthcare” being two separate words.

  56. 56
    CliosFanboy says:

    @geg6: um, only if you count hours in the classroom as “working”. I was up until 3 this am working, but since it was on our living room couch it doesn’t count….. My normal week is 60 hours easy, but only 7.5 of it is in a classroom, with another 8 in my office. The rest is generally in my home office.

    It IS flexible. So I can take a break from class prep to check BJ or LGM. That is a huge reason why I returned to academia–the flexible schedule. But that doesn’t mean I work less time total.

  57. 57
    Chris says:





  58. 58
    Betty Cracker says:

    @CaseyL: My old gran (who died at age 99 last summer) was stone deaf for 20 years. Her worst habit was attempting to translate aloud things things she THOUGHT she’d heard, often with hilarious results. One time, my mom was talking to Gran about a friend and said, “She’s a nurse.” Gran replied, loudly and incredulously, “SHE STOLE YOUR PURSE?!?”

  59. 59

    AP doesn’t get it.

  60. 60
    JanieM says:

    @Betty Cracker: Funny, half an hour ago I was editing some text for a non-profit I volunteer for (as comma queen :-), and I had to decide whether to use white tail, whitetail, white-tail, or white-tailed for the deer that live around here. It’s easy to find varying usages at the same website.

    And speaking of “a non-profit I volunteer for,” in some contexts the preposition at the end of a construction or sentence is perfectly fine with me. But when I leave one intact in something I edit, I often get someone’s English teacher’s voice going on about it.

  61. 61
    Barbara says:

    @Betty Cracker: Most of this is just the fluid nature of English, and the number of words that used to be two words that were fused together to form one word. The MW site I found insists that “slugabed” is an actual word, and it means exactly what you might guess, along with “sickabed” and “lieabed.” The fusion of “health” and “care” is natural because both words are being used as nouns, and there is no other sense in which “health” is used as an adjective (unlike “medical care”). So “healthcare” basically refers to all kinds of care that is medical in nature. I accepted this one a long time ago, not least because I had to.

  62. 62
    chris says:

    @CliosFanboy: This. One of my siblings is a full prof with research grants and some admin duties. She would be delighted to put in a 60 hour week.

  63. 63
    Yarrow says:

    @Cheryl Rofer: I love that they are getting so much pushback on their crappy tweet. Pushing Trump/Republican narratives isn’t as easy as it has been.

  64. 64
    Ohio Mom says:

    Sorry I described a plank as “sort of a push-up.” The pictures I’ve seen, people are propped up on their elbows, forearm flat on the ground, and I can’t see how you can get in that position without pushing up.

    All I can say is, one of the great pleasures of adulthood for me is never having to do anything even remotely resembling gym class ever. Anything with an instructor barking out orders to a group, nope, nope, nope.

  65. 65
    Betty Cracker says:

    @Cheryl Rofer: My favorite response to that bone-headed “fact-check” from AP:

  66. 66
    Gin & Tonic says:


    the preposition at the end of a construction

    Always makes me think of William Safire’s famous sentence ending with five prepositions in a row.

  67. 67
    Yarrow says:

    @Ohio Mom: If your yoga instructor is barking instructions at the class, they’re definitely doing it wrong.

  68. 68
    Fair Economist says:

    @Brachiator: Planking as a verb in common use refers not to the yoga posture but to lying down flat on a situation where that is difficult and/or weird, typically with body parts sticking out over an edge into thin air. Think lying face down with your stomach on a bench and your legs and head sticking straight out over the edge.

    Socual media pictures of planking were a fad a few years back.

  69. 69

    @Betty Cracker: There are a ton of them out there. I think my fave was a Star Wars one, now lost in the ever-marching tweet stream. If I see it again, I’ll post it.

  70. 70
    germy says:

    Associated Press headline:

    The Latest: Dems press Trump on shutdown, offer no new plan

  71. 71
    germy says:

    Goshdarn those Dems.

  72. 72
    Ohio Mom says:

    @Yarrow: It is less of a description of the actual instructor and more of a description of how I experience it.

    Gentle suggestions are just as unwanted. As I said yesterday in a thread, my spirit animal is a turtle sunning itself on a rock.

  73. 73
    Fair Economist says:

    @JanieM: “You cannot end a sentence with a preposition” is another case of some idiot grammarian trying to impose a Latin grammar rule on English. It is just wrong, and sometimes would force ridiculous constructions. For example, I heard Churchill mocked it with “That is a conceit up with which I shall not put.”

  74. 74
    JAFD says:

    Greetings, again, from New Jersey (42F here, sunny but iwndy, ‘Nice for January’)

    Thanks to everyone for your good wishes and ‘healing energy’. Blood test this morn, doctors’ appt at 1. Feeling pretty good. Hope all well with you.

  75. 75
    rikyrah says:

    @Patricia Kayden:

    John, you’re living the good life with great pets and wonderful parents. Enjoy!!

    In bleak times, we need our distractions.

    That’s how I feel when I see that Cole has posted. I know a funny anecdote will be inside, and hopefully cute animal pics.
    I still believe that he should just get a reality show….

  76. 76
    WereBear says:

    I am listening to last night’s Maddow podcast, and boy did Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez give a heckuva rebuttal.

    Should have been her on TV, just sayin’

  77. 77
    Ohio Mom says:

    @Fair Economist: That has been another aspect of late adulthood I relish. I write how I speak, and wherever the prepositions land, they land. No one is grading me anymore.

  78. 78
    Fair Economist says:

    @germy: AP version of hostage negotiations: “Hostage negotiators continue to resist suggested executions.”

  79. 79
    Ohio Mom says:

    @JAFD: I missed the thread where you asked for good wishes and healing energy. Consider them sent, along with the advice to consider getting a second opinion.

  80. 80
    piratedan says:

    the bigger question is how come no one is ever plussed these days….

  81. 81
    A Ghost To Most says:

    @CaseyL: What?

  82. 82
    Ceci n est pas mon nym says:

    @Cole’s Parents:

    “Here’s your scrambled eggs” [explained below] is still a joke in our house. But getting closer to reality all the time.

    The source:
    Elderly husband and wife are watching TV. After awhile, the husband gets up and heads for the kitchen, saying “I’m going to get some ice cream.” The wife says “Get some for me too. And put strawberries on it.”
    Husband is gone for a long time. When he finally comes out, he hands her a plate. “Here’s your scrambled eggs.”
    She stares at it before asking, “But where’s my toast?”

  83. 83
    raven says:

    @Ceci n est pas mon nym: You know ever since I had a stroke people like to tell me stroke jokes.

  84. 84
    germy says:

    @Fair Economist:
    “Family of hostage uncooperative, some say.”

  85. 85
    Yarrow says:

    @Ohio Mom: LOL. I get it. Too bad you don’t live in a warmer area where when it gets below 65 degrees everyone puts on a jacket.

  86. 86
    catclub says:

    @Fair Economist: But, “That is a conceit I shall not put up with,up with, motherfucker.” is fine.

  87. 87
    Yarrow says:

    @WereBear: Completely disagree with you on that. Having Chuck and Nancy as the two giving the Dem response emphasized that Congress is a co-equal branch of government. This was not a SOTU response. It was a response as the heads of the Democratic party in the co-equal branch of government. It was the smart move.

  88. 88
    bemused says:

    trump words of wisdom: a drone doesn’t stop thousands of people coming through.

  89. 89
    WereBear says:

    @Yarrow: I agree, actually.

    But then, I’m weird: I respond more to facts than officialdom :) But I am a mutant minority when it comes to the total US population.

  90. 90
    catclub says:

    @Fair Economist: But if you say: “That is a conceit I shall not put up with, motherfucker.” …
    all good.
    ignore the previous attempt to type this thought.

  91. 91
    dmsilev says:

    @Betty Cracker:

    A highwayman holds a pistol to my ear, and mutters through his teeth, “Stand and deliver, or I shall kill you, and then you will be a murderer!”

    (from Lincoln’s Cooper Union Address, in case anyone doesn’t recognize it)

  92. 92
    Kdaug says:

    @Ohio Mom: Not sure how the Voight-Kamph will turn out on this one’s.

  93. 93
    Kdaug says:

    @catclub: To be fair, any sentence that ends in “motherfucker” is likely already past the point of giving a shit about grammer

  94. 94
    Yarrow says:

    Interesting to see this broken out.

    Last night’s Democratic response (9:15-9:30) outrated the POTUS address (9-9:15) by +26% on CNN, +15% on MSNBC, +3% on ABC. POTUS speech outrated Dem response by +3% on CBS.

    The two rated equally on NBC, FOX, FNC.
    — Michael Mulvihill (@mulvihill79) January 9, 2019

  95. 95
    sukabi says:

    father surgically cleaning every square inch of the house, muttering “there’s hair everywhere” the entire time. No one is safe, and the morning ritual for the Cole pets includes a vigorous brushing

    I think I know why there’s hair everywhere.

    Is there a shaded OUTSIDE place to brush the pets?

  96. 96
    sukabi says:

    @Cheryl Rofer: or they get it and they are doing their part to shift the responsibility off drumpf. you know, how team players do.

    Their political team is letting everyone know where their political biases lie.

  97. 97
    Gravenstone says:

    @germy: Um, the Dem plan is pretty clear. No. Fucking. Money. For. WALL!

    No reason to propose anything different. Fuck off AP.

  98. 98
    catclub says:

    @sukabi: The fur call is coming from inside the house.

  99. 99
    Elizabelle says:

    @sukabi: Good point. It’s not like the beach house in in Alaska.

  100. 100
    Elizabelle says:

    @Yarrow: Please note that NBC is right there as Fox World Lite.

    That’s what I have thought for a while now.

  101. 101
    J R in WV says:


    …she … happily refers to “the below chart,”…

    She can’t just do “The chart below”???? What’s wrong with her!??

  102. 102
    JanieM says:

    @J R in WV: Not sure how far your tongue is planted in your cheek (if at all), but whatever is wrong with her is wrong with a lot of the people I work with and otherwise edit for. On the other hand, I’ve never seen it outside a business context, so I think it belongs to that dialect called businessese, along with such gems as “thought leader.”

  103. 103
    Sab says:

    @geg6: Not a pushup. You don’t go up and down. You just go up and then stay there all stiff like a board. Extremely boring until you arms start to shake. You are supposed to gradually build up until you can hold yourself in that pose for minutes at a time.

  104. 104
    WaterGirl says:

    @SiubhanDuinne: I love that you caught that!

  105. 105
    sukabi says:

    @geg6: not a pushup, as there is no up down up down — just static “your body is straight as a board”

    Should have read all the way down…Sab got there first. 😀

  106. 106
    Sister Rail Gun of Warm Humanitarianism says:

    I would point out that RBG does both pushups and front and side planks in her workouts.

  107. 107
    RSA says:


    the bigger question is how come no one is ever plussed these days….

    P.G. Wodehouse: “I could see that, if not actually disgruntled, he was far from being gruntled.”

  108. 108
    gvg says:

    You know, I like home improvement a lot more than exercise lingo. I assumed planking meant flooring in the current trend of very large boards, but not one person before me on this thread suggested that.

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