Okay, I’m not really known for my accuracy. Nor my precision. I can only barely distinguish between those two words, in fact.
I tend to be a “big picture thinker” which is a really nice way of saying that I don’t pay enough attention to minute details to notice small inconsistencies like “your bank account is now empty–do not buy those Zingers” or “it is now 5:42 and you were supposed to be at your meeting at 5:00–please stop reading the decade old copy of The New Yorker you found as you were ‘cleaning’ and get in the car,” or “You have two children in your charge and they are no longer audible–find them before they die,” or “you just used a capital Y in the previous example and that doesn’t jive with the preceding two examples where you did not–please fix this.” It also implies that I can understand larger constructs and concepts very clearly–viewing the forest, not the trees. We’re talking complicated, big-picture things here such as “I’m pretty sure that every flavor of ice cream is delicious” and “Pain hurts every time” and “the United States is called the United States because it is comprised of 50 individual states!”
Sometimes, the burden of this broader vision lends itself to situations where I overlook important details that affect others. I was recently made aware of just such an instance when my friend, Lindsey, who is getting her PhD at Loma Linda University, alerted me to a minor error I made in Spanish translation back when we were interns together.
When I first heard that she was going to Loma Linda, I had recently decided not to apply to PhD programs myself, which meant I was required to good-naturedly tear down the hopes and dreams of those who had decided to not be wussy. Thus, upon hearing her news I blurted out, “well, you do realize what Loma Linda means don’t you?”
“What?” she asked.
“It means Pretty Loins. That’s right, Lindsey. You’re getting your PhD from Pretty Loins University.”
Ahem. You Spanish speakers who pay attention to barely significant details like the gender of nouns know that I made a slight error. One of those little oversights that I am prone to make as I’m busy seeing the big picture (which in this case was either that Lindsey needed to be heckled for doing something I was jealous of, or that I was really bored doing paperwork and wanted to laugh about stuff. Not sure which. Let’s not sweat the details here, folks.)
Loma in Spanish means hill. Lomo means loins.
If I had put on my thinking cap I might have listened to the voice in the back of my brain saying “this can’t possibly be right.” I might also have gone on to note that Lindsey thinking her school’s name was “pretty loins” when it meant something much less weird and improbable could possibly lead to an embarrassing situation.
Well, such a situation occurred. But thankfully, Lindsey narrowly escaped humiliation.
The following is the wall post she just left me:
Oh! I forgot to tell you! Guess what one of the group questions was on orientation day? … (drumroll) … What does ‘Loma Linda’ mean in Spanish! Although motivated to win the world’s ugliest beige LLU sweatshirt, I wasn’t able to spit out the answer before some brown-noser beat me to it. And she said “Beautiful hills.” And they said she was right. BUT WE KNOW BETTER!
That’s right, Lindsey! We do know better. We know better than to trust the accuracy of any information Josh ever shares ever ever ever. (Except when he’s right. Which, according to his scientifically sound process of relying on his broad impressions of reality and then ignoring pesky distractions like “facts” or “lack of bias” or “actual math,” is approximately 93% of the time*.)
Is it bad if part of me wishes I could know what would’ve happened if the brown-noser had kept her mouth shut and Lindsey had had the chance to answer?
*Did you note my use of the word “approximately” right there? This handy trick negates all responsibility if your statistic ends up being wrong! Which is why I can say that Loma approximately means loins–just one letter off–and still feel good about myself. Aren’t stats fun???