Monday, March 16, 2009

Time Vampires, Open Kimonos, and other Lexical Joys

When it comes to anything involving words, or the English language in general, I'm a self-admitted (but unrepentant) dork. In another life, I think I would've become an English professor (but at least in this life I can be the next best thing, an ESL teacher). Anyway, I've stumbled across a few good expressions lately that I'd like to share:

(1) Time vampire. Pretty much speaks to itself, but it's any activity or obligation that, well, sucks away your time, often in a sneaky manner. It can be voluntary (playing with all the new gizmos on your cell phone), semi-voluntary (getting sucked into TV shows with relatives), or involuntary (endless staff meetings). I first heard this expression last week, and finally got to use it today. For a 2:00 p.m. brief, I had to be "on call" from 12:45 onward to set up the room and welcome people in. Then the brief itself took an hour and fifteen minutes, followed by fifteen more minutes of people standing around and talking in the room I had to lock up. By the end of normal working hours, when I wondered why I hadn't gotten through any of the several dozen messages I had to read/summarize for tomorrow, I realized, "Wow, that whole brief thing ate up the meat of my afternoon. What a time vampire."

(2) Open kimono. As the name suggests, this just means you're basically letting it all hang out there, much as you might if someone, well, opened your kimono. I first heard this come from an Admiral who was getting ready to do a "Lessons Learned" type session following a situation where the unit being discussed had screwed something up. "I don't want you guys to hold back here...between these four walls we're going to put everything out's going to be open kimono."

(3) Sat for sea. This one will take a little more explaining. "Sat" is military shorthand for "satisfactory." XOs in particular are quick to describe things as "unsat" as a means of expressing displeasure, so of course "sat" is a way of saying something's good enough. For a seagoing unit trying to do maintenance on a particular system or part, "sat for sea" just means something is "good enough." Where it gets more interesting is when it gets brought into different realms, as in "I'm not so sure about my date to the Submarine Ball, but I guess you could say she's 'sat for sea.'" The sailor who said that is saying that he feels okay walking in with this companion on his arm, but he's not otherwise particularly psyched (or at least willing to admit it to his buddies).

(4) Soup sandwich. This is an old military mainstay (even featured on but the main idea here is that if you try to literally picture a soup sandwich, it's something that doesn't make any sense, won't hold up, just generally won't work. It's usually used to describe someone, as in "Thompson? Yeah, that guy's a real soup sandwich." It can also be used to describe a plan, an idea, or a uniform in need of some new creases and a trip to the dry cleaner's.


Shannon said...


HaHa I really like those! Fun to read and it broadened my vocabulary. Can't wait to use one. I think my favorite is Soup sandwich!


The New Englander said...


Glad you dug it! If you've got any local Arizona twang to throw in there, lemme know -- I love this stuff too..