Author Archive
general
Humor
Old age

Aging Joke

“There are three old golfers um just finishing their round for the day.  And uh one of them said to the other two um oh aren’t you guys um cold it’s a little windy today?  The second one said Wednesday? Today’s not Wednesday its Thursday and the third said thirsty? I am thirsty too. Why don’t we all go in and have a drink.”

The informant sees this joke as a humorous jab at aging and the effects of hearing loss and a way of coping with aging.  The informant heard this from a family friend who is sort of like another grandpa.  Hearing it come from an older person validated the notion that an older person is coping with the struggles of aging.

I agree with the informant, this joke about hearing loss adds some humor to an otherwise depressing process.  It makes sense that the informant heard this joke from an elderly person since the joke is going to be relevant to him or someone he knows.  It find it less likely to circulate in younger populations or in populations that do not working with elderly people.  The need to have a drink at the end of the punch line is probably also due to the frustrations of aging.

general

Big Foot

“Big Foot lives in the wilderness and preys on lost children and hikers to sustain his life. He also preys on animals, but he doesn’t really enjoy the taste. Some also believe he is an extra-terrestrial awaiting the rescue mission at the end of the Mayan calendar, in the year 2012.”
Jordan heard this story from his Uncle while he was on a camping trip.  He said that his uncle is very superstitious and that not just Big Foot, but many other creatures will be rescued in the year 2012.  When I asked Jordan if he believed in the prophecy of the Mayan calendar he said no, but his uncle does.  The Mayan Calendar predicts that the Earth will end at the completion of a long countdown cycle in the year 2012.

Like other big foot stories described this story seems to indicate that Big Foot will eat naughty children who wander away from their parents.  This story places big foot in the wilderness and since Jordan and his uncle are from Russia which is full of forests; Big Foot’s habitat may reflect their original nation.

general
Proverbs

Proverb

“A strawberry blossom does not moisten dry bread.”

The informant believes it means whatever is still is.  He elaborated by saying that you can’t fabricate it by adding anything.  Even if you add the strawberry blossom to dry bread, it only complicates it.  Does not fix the problem, it just adds to it.  Does not remember where he heard the phrase from.

I believe that this phrase is about reality.  You must make do with what you have and have patience.  A strawberry blossom will eventually become a strawberry and you can make a moist jam with the fruit, but until then you will have to wait or make do with dry bread.  I am sure this phrase could be substituted with any other dry blossom.  The proverb teller must have heard this phrase from a place where strawberries are abundant.   In a place where blueberries are plentiful it is likely that the phrase would talk about dry blue berry blossoms.

general

Big Foot

“Big Foot is a creature of camouflage and um lives in the mountains.  He is a big, white, furry creature that lives in the snow. He comes out and eats people when he gets angry.  I first um heard about Big Foot when I was going skiing with my family.  They told me to watch out for Big Foot, because if I wandered off he would eat me.  He also has big feet.”
She heard this legend from her family when she was about 6 or 7 years old.  She thinks it’s significance is not to wander off when you are in the snow.  The mountains can be a dangerous place when you are skiing and if no one warns you to stay close you can fall into the lightly packed snow or get lost in the forest.

Under the context that my informant heard this folklore I understand that the story is meant to scare children from wandering off on their own.  Since her and her family are originally from Costa Rica and to my knowledge there is no skiing in the country, perhaps her parents picked up the story from earlier ski trips where other families told the tale.  There does not seem to be anything significant from her heritage in this story, so this is probably an example of folklore that has spread but has not yet been made into an oicotype in her native land.

general

Big Foot

“Ah the legend of Big Foot.  Big foot’s habitat is forest region north of the 55th parallel in North America.  This animal is a cross between a human, a bear, and a gorilla… possesses enormous strength and is shy around humans and does not wish to be seen.  Big foot is primarily a vegetarian but in times of need he can be carnivorous.  The big foots are both genders but the males are more vicious.  I think we need to recognize the big foot species as an endangered species. Global warming is endangering its habitat.”
This informant stated that he believes in big foot and that he heard the legend from an attorney friend of his.  He shows great concern for the habitat of the big foot species and believes that man is ruining its environment.  He is unsure how the story of big foot came about or what the significance of this story is, although he is sure the animal would be possible to train if we ever caged one.

Since this story was shared between lawyers, perhaps the note that humans are ruining the animal’s environment is an oicotype specific to lawyers.  Perhaps the friend was an environmental lawyer who sees things from an endangered species perspective.  This story could be a lesson that humans need to be more environmentally conscience so that we can keep seemingly mythical creatures around.  This story makes the big foot seem more docile than other versions since it says that the animal is shy and mostly vegetarian, making it out to be more of a victim in the story.  However, although the story states that it resides in North America, its description includes a gorilla which is definitely not native to that region.  Perhaps the lawyer friend heard this story from someone in Africa and the description of big foot took on part of other culture.

general

Gymanst Grips

“Gymnasts use grips which go on your hands for when you do bar work.  Do not touch someone else’s grips, it is very bad luck if you touched or used someone else’s grips.  They are molded to your hand so you don’t want to mess up the shape. Sometimes you write yourself a message on your grips for good luck.  I once wrote “go for it” on the grips.  Most grips are leather which gets supple and bendy.”

She thinks the grips are so vital to gymnast performance that it makes sense not to interfere with another person’s grips.  Touching really will mess up the shape so she believes this superstition is still around because of its practical purpose, keeping your grips in their original form.

Since gymnastics is a very individual sport, it makes sense that people are even more competitive over different aspects of the sport.  You can only rely on yourself, so you might be even more particular about anyone sabotaging you.  Thus it seems like a logical transition to make even touching other people’s items taboo since it discourages people from even coming near your items.

general
Humor

Dead Baby Joke

“SID is really sudden infant death. My friend is an EMT technician and called SID babies “sorry its dead sir” at least that’s what you say to the parents… Awful joke.  Heard from Doug the EMT guy. He is a blunt person.”

The informant thinks that this reflects the EMT attitude toward the situation.  She thinks that it’s such a bad situation that you must make light of it. The EMT friend does have a son so he wouldn’t find it amusing if it happened to him.

I agree with my informant’s analysis.  Clearly the EMT people are exposed to lots of horrible situations and the only way to cope with sadness is with humor.  I do not believe the EMTs are mean people for making the joke, they just make the joke to keep their spirits up.

general
Rituals, festivals, holidays

December 6th in Holland

“When I lived in Holland when I was 6, um at my boarding school you would put out your shoes on the door December 5th and there should be candy or chocolate in your shoes on the 6th

She believes this tradition is similar to putting out stalkings on Christmas.  She thought the goodies were a nice reward in the middle of the winter.  She thought the tradition was like a pre-Christmas.

Perhaps the children put their shoes out to receive candy because Holland has a special emphasis on shoes.  Many people in Holland are known for their clog shoes and since this is almost a national identity, the shoes are used as the conveyer of sweets.  Thus, the people are perpetuating their national identity and making children associate the shoes with good things at a young age since they are filled with goodies.

general

Winchester Mystery House Story

“When I was in San Jose I heard about the Winchester Mystery House.  The place is famous and even has tours.  One friend wanted to go on to the house. The superstition is that the place has staircases that lead no where.  There also windows the look to no where. The widow who owns the house has a rifle fortune from her late husband.  She kept constructing on the house and thought it would ward off death. She was a very rich person.  People say you can see her ghost in the windows that lead to no where.”

She thinks this is a scary house that should be avoided.  She thinks its ironic that the widow is a rifle heir since rifles are used to kill and she tries to cheat death.

I believe this house may have been built for a legacy purpose, not just to ward off death.  Perhaps people in San Jose fear death more. Since San Jose is not the biggest city, people also need more attractions and landmarks, so perhaps people built up this story to give the place more significance.  If there were lots of historic buildings already in the town, people probably would not have singled out this old widow’s home and made it into a tourist attraction.

Folk medicine
general

Thai remedy

“Drinking warm water every day is healthy.”

The informant heard this from her elementary school friend’s mother from Thailand.  She does not believe in this remedy and does not understand it.

Perhaps the Thai culture wants people to stay hydrated by drinking water since Thailand is such a warm place.  However, in Holland it is often cold so drinking cold water may not be as appealing, so perhaps the mother changed the remedy to warm water to adjust to her new climate.  Thai people are also known for their tea so perhaps drinks that remind them of tea, like warm water, express their culture so the drink is encouraged.

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