Thursday, May 27, 2010

At this time (no poker content)

I keep thinking that I should start another blog, called something like, "All the OTHER stuff that annoys me." Because, folks, trust me--I get just as irritated by all of the stupid things that people do in life as much as by the ones specifically related to poker. I just don't tend to write about them. But maybe I should.

Anyway, after three recent flights, this particular annoyance is on my mind: It's the incredible overuse of the phrase "at this time."

"At this time we will begin the boarding process."

"At this time passengers in zones 1 and 2 may board."

"At this time all passengers should be in their seats."

"At this time we ask that you shut off all electronic devices."

"At this time please be sure that all carry-on items are securely stowed."

"At this time the captain has turned off the seat belt sign."

"At this time we will begin beverage and snack service."

"At this time we have reached our cruising altitude of 30,000 feet."

"At this time you can see the Grand Canyon from the left windows."

"At this time the weather in D.C. is 75 degrees and clear."

"At this time we direct your attention to the in-flight magazine, which you may take with you as you leave."

"At this time we expect to be landing a few minutes ahead of schedule."

"At this time we invite you to apply for our company's Visa card and be rewarded with bonus miles."

"At this time we are beginning our final descent."

"At this time we will be collecting any trash or leftover items."

"At this time please be sure that your seats are fully upright and tray tables are up."

"At this time we ask that you remain in your seats until the aircraft has come to a complete stop."

"At this time we thank you for choosing U.S. Air."

At this time, I'd like to put a bullet in the brain of the next person who says, "At this time."

Really, what do these pinheads think is added to the meaning of their sentences with that phrase? Are they worried that without it, for example, we might mistakenly assume that the pilot is telling us what the weather was like yesterday, or that the seat belt sign was turned on an hour ago, or that they're announcing that the beverage service will be starting the day after tomorrow?

Hint to the clueless: We have a present tense in English. When you use it, people understand that you are talking about the present, rather than the past or the future. On the rare occasion that there might be some doubt about your meaning, and you wish to clarify, the word "now" serves quite nicely, and has done so for several centuries.

I have no idea how, when, or why this strange verbal affectation of "at this time" came into popularity, but the ubiquity and monotony of its use in certain industries and situations--the airlines being the most obvious and obnoxious offenders--is driving me nuts.

At this time I'd like to ask them to knock it off.


Josie said...

LOL great post.

Minton said...

at this time I am commenting on your blog.

at this time I am wishing there was more poker content

at this time I hope to see you around town squishing the wsop fish

at this time I am done with my comment

lightning36 said...

The thing I hate most? When a waitess or waiter brings you your food and says "Enjoy."

They never say anything like "Enjoy your meal" -- they just say that single word. Drives me crazy.

Wolynski said...

Very funny. Who says a poker blog has to be all poker all the time?

JT88Keys said...

AS long as we're on the topic of semantics that annoy us, here are a couple of mine.

PIN number and ATM Machine

When using an acronym you should consider what it stands for. PIN stands for Personal Identification Number. If you say PIN number you have in essence just said Personal Identification Number Number. Sounds ridiculous, right? The same thing applies for Automated Teller Machine Machine.

The other is the word myriad. People generally use that word when they're trying to sound smart, but most make themselves sound dumb by misusing it. The word myriad is a synonym of the word many. Most people say something like, "There are a myriad of ways to..." What they should say is, "There are myriad ways to..." You wouldn't say, "There are a many of ways to..."

Thanks for letting me get that off my chest. And keep up the good work on the blog. I enjoy the poker posts just as much as the non-poker ones.

Rakewell said...


My favorite general-purpose dictionary is the American Heritage. One of the main reasons is that tricky/debated points of usage get notes explaining the controversy. Here's the one for "myriad":

Usage Note: Throughout most of its history in English myriad was used as a noun, as in a myriad of men. In the 19th century it began to be used in poetry as an adjective, as in myriad men. Both usages in English are acceptable, as in Samuel Taylor Coleridge's "Myriad myriads of lives." This poetic, adjectival use became so well entrenched generally that many people came to consider it as the only correct use. In fact, both uses in English are parallel with those of the original ancient Greek. The Greek word mūrias, from which myriad derives, could be used as either a noun or an adjective, but the noun mūrias was used in general prose and in mathematics while the adjective mūrias was used only in poetry.


Another favorite resource when I have doubts about usage is the "Common Errors in English Usage" web site, Here's what its author says about "myriad": "Some traditionalists object to the word “of” after “myriad” or an “a” before, though both are fairly common in formal writing."

Sorry, but it seems that your pet peeve passes muster.

Bluejack said...

My impression of "At this time" is that before it became a verbal affectation it was used to nuance "now" like so:

"There are no job openings at this time." (nuanced implication: but we are expecting some to open up pretty soon.)

That, in any case, is when I choose the phrase of "now" or "right now."

That said, it sounds like it was more a verbal tic than a mere affectation on the part of you airline crew.

Anonymous said...

I used to be annoyed by so many (myriad?) pet peeves that I realized I was not very likeable. In fact, I became my own pet peeve. It was a lot of wasted energy over small things. Then I started to change my attitude and realize that some things are just not worth it. Am I always successful? No. But I like myself more because I don't let these little annoying things be that way to me. At this time, why let it bother you? There are more important things in life, like bluffing with 2-5 (slightly more powerful than the 2-4). Did it last night and it worked!

JT88Keys said...

Thanks, Rakewell.

I stand corrected. I'm forwarding that link to my college English professor and I guess I can stop gritting my teeth when I hear the noun usage.

The ATM/PIN thing still drives me crazy though. It's along the same lines as people who say raise when there isn't a bet to be raised.

Conan776 said...

Have you heard what comes out of the sound systems in some airports? It's good communication protocol to lead off with a few syllables of filler while people key in. I wouldn't be surprised to learn there have been whole studies supporting the lilting hard-consonant alliteration of "at this time" is perfectly suited for getting a crowd's at-ten-tion.

Fred said...

Conan's right. But I think the simple delay allowing for people's mind to transition from 'this newspaper-or-harry-potter-book is really interesting' to 'I should listen in case this is my gate' is as important as the sound of the phrase itself.

In fact, according to my theory, one of the reasons grump hates the phrase, its waste of time, is the reason its being used.

Sorry, Grump, no relief in sight.

Fred said...

I should add that personally I root for a change from "at this time" to "now hear this!"

As in:

Now hear this! Gate 23 with service to Ouagadougou is boarding zones one and two.

Bonus advantage:

A grump post asking why "now hear this" is over-used in airports. They're already talking to us... do they expect the average airport traveler to immediately begin looking for someone holding a giant sign once a spoken message begins?

Conan776 said...

I was just perusing wikipedia and came across the same idea.

"Experienced radio operators know that the first syllable of a transmission is frequently not going to be understood, but is a necessary part of 'tuning in'; hence preceding every code with 'ten' allows a better chance of understanding the critical portion."