A Glimpse into My Secret File

Do you hear a word or a phrase and think “I should remember that, it might come in handy.” Me too! But I have the attention span of a gnat, so unless I scribble down the bons mots they vanish. My work surface gets littered with little pieces of paper, and eventually I’ll do some curation and add the words and phrases to a document on my computer. (The document is called Channel Blurring because that was the first phrase I saved back in 2004 or so).

Now, just like Facebook, I’m giving you access of my private file. For the first time you get a glimpse at what attracts my attention in the word department (“shiny object” was one of the phrases that caught my eye).

  • I have harvested a lot of colourful quotes (clichés?) from journalists talking on radio or TV:

The saga continues

A tour of the sausage factory

The corn is off the cob

Sniff test

A lot to process

I’m still processing

Blind people with guns

Media piñata

Crafting meaning

I’m sorry you asked that

Defensive crouch

Deficiency of character

Too smart for the room

Not playing in the big leagues

Shouting into the jungle

A message in a bottle

Happy talk

Smash and grab

Smuggle the good guys into the fortress

Bait and switch

Poison narrative

Toxic assets

Who can feed the raw meat?

If you keep using the same ingredients, you’re making the same cake

There are always photos in my blog so I looked for some animal pictures to distract you. This working border collie came to visit and shed last spring.

  • As a sign of the times, I’ve taken note of a number of comments about anger and how to deal with it:

Pace the rage

If you aren’t outraged, you aren’t paying attention

Free-flowing anger

Mutual mistrust and fear


Give up the hope for a better past

Non-complimentary behaviour

  • I’m fond of contemporary culture programs, like Spark on CBC radio. Over time some concepts I’ve noted have become commonplace while other remain obscure (at least to me).

Sticky media

Competitive consumption

Capacity assessment

Downstream affects

Creation care


Proof of concept



Productivity hack

Training to the test

Dose response effect

Be your own shaman

Keeping it weird

Observation greed

Life logging

Gratefulness journal

Reputation managers

Fulfillment centre

Using the secret sauce

Snack size

Snack culture

Level up

Signal boost

An encounter on our visit to Vorarlberg, Austria last September.

  • There are words I come upon that I don’t know and some of those get looked up. For example I’m never sure I have “redux” quite right (brought back, revived). Some other examples:

Febrile – feverish

Asperity – harshness of tone or manner

Avuncular – like a uncle

Verklempt – person who is too emotional to speak

Zaftig – pleasingly plump

  • I don’t text, so shorthand like TFW (that feeling when) will immediately send me to Google. In my file are less useful acronyms:

USP – unique selling proposition

UGC – user generated content

CS – customer service

  •  I’m a giant fan-a-rama of suffixes (suffix-a-mania), so these caught my attention:

Snow-mazing (after a big storm)

Have a Kim-bolism (am I the only person who enjoyed Kimmy Schmidt?)

Shag-a-thon (a Bridget Jones concept)

Relaxing, heritage breed pigs.

  • Here are a group of phrases that can be injected into conversations, almost at will:

What could go wrong?

Who thinks that’s going to happen!

This is lame.

Everything is so annoying.

Who saw that coming?

How’s that working for you?

Wait, is that still a problem?

I’m not entirely joking.

Some of this you couldn’t make up.

Did I say that out loud?

Sure, OK, that makes sense.

I’ll loop back in with you.

How delightful!

Take the crash position.

Cling to the wreckage.

Come to papa.

I’m going to steal your dog.

I laughed, I cried.

  • Around 1970 Time Magazine published three columns of jargon words called a Baffle-Gab Generator. All you had to do was chose a random word from each column to make some contemporary, sounding gibberish. Just for you I’ve produced an up to date generator from my collection of words. Fill your boots.

About the author

Stephen Archibald

It’s Stephen Archibald doing the noticing. I’m a huge fan of Nova Scotia’s material culture and cultural landscapes. Twitter (@Cove17 ) made me realize I could share what attracted my attention (perfect for my very short attention) and I’m gratified when folks enjoy my content. Pleased to meet you on the internet.