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The year of muffin tops and prairie dogging comes to pass

By G. Michael Dobbs

Managing Editor

Random thoughts are running through my head for the New Year and no it wasn't the drink that caused them.


Most years some pundits or elected officials decide what year it's going to be. You know what I mean: "The Year of the Child," "The Year of the Woman," "The Education Year."

Supposedly these designations are to indicate some sort of common agenda or trend and the people who declare them have enough power or influence to make them happen.

Of course we know that it's all just puffery. Usually these titles are so general that the agenda could never be accomplished.

The titles make easy copy and afford editors the opportunities to assemble big think pieces with lots of quotes from experts and academics. It makes everyone involved feel ever so important.

Well, I'd like to follow the trend, but I'm going to be a bit more prosaic. So here are some suggestions to make 2007.

"The Year of Nationally Franchised Doughnut Shop Employees Actually Getting My Order Correct;"

"The Year of Big Oil Not Making Record Profits Off the Backs of Americans;"

"The Year of Not Spilling Something on my Shirt Every Time I Eat;"

"The Year of Boston Politicians Actually Understanding Where Western Massachusetts is Located;"

"The Year of a Local Radio Station Daring to Put on Local Programming after 10 A.M.;"

"The Year of Overweight People Deciding a Bare Bulging Midrift is Not Attractive;"

"The Year of People Actually Understanding that I Don't Like Their Music and I Don't Want to Hear It When I'm Sitting in my House;"

"The Year of Sanitation Trucks not Leaking a Trail of Slime Down the Side of my Street;"

"The Year of my Neighbors Not Throwing their Snow onto my Cleared Sidewalk and Driveway;"

"The Year Of Lucky the Wonder Bichon not Waking me at Dawn with a Passionate Kiss;"

You know I have as much chance of these things happening as the agenda of "the Year of the Child" becoming reality.


My real wish for 2007 is to find a safe place to smoke a cigar without gagging my wife or stinking up the house or car. I suppose I could sit in my garage in a lawn chair listening to the radio. Perhaps I'll build a smoking shed. Now, that could be the beginning of a national trend!


My wife forwarded some interesting words that were apparently coined during 2006. If you're reading a newspaper, you probably are a bit of a word buff, so here they are. Drop me a line if you've heard of any of them.

Blamestorming: A group process where participants analyze a failed project and look for scapegoats other than themselves.

Death by Tweakage: When a product or project fails due to unnecessary tinkering or too many last-minute revisions.

Clockroaches: Employees who spend most of their day watching the clock - instead of doing their jobs.

Plutoed: To be unceremoniously dumped or relegated to a lower position without an adequate reason or explanation.

Prairie dogging: A modern office phenomenon. Occurs when workers simultaneously pop their heads up out of their cubicles to see what's going on.

Carbon-based error: Error caused by a human, not a computer (which we assume would be a silicon-based error).

Menoporsche: Male menopause. Symptoms include a sudden lack of energy, crankiness and the overpowering urge to buy a Porsche.

Adminisphere: The upper levels of management where big, impractical, and counterproductive decisions are made.

Bobbleheading: The mass nod of agreement by participants in a meeting to comments made by the boss even though most have no idea what he/she just said.

Ringtone rage: The violent response by cube mates after hearing your annoying cell phone ringtone for the 15th time.

Muffin top: The unsightly roll of flesh that spills over the waist of a pair of too-tight jeans.

This column represents the opinions of its author. Send your comments to or to 280 N. Main St., East Longmeadow, MA 01028.