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10 Old-Timey Exclamations From Across the U.S.

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While swear words are awesome, there’s something to be said for old-fashioned exclamations—the more colorful the better. The Dictionary of American Regional English (DARE) delivers, and then some. Here are 10 particularly lively and old-timey exclamations from across the U.S.

1. HOT SPIT AND MONKEY VOMIT

The next time you can’t find your keys, you can yell, “Hot spit and monkey vomit!” This rather disgusting expression is from Texas.

2. MISERY ME

If you prefer your oaths on the the more delicate side, misery me (also miserable me and misery) might be for you. Similar to “Dear me!” the saying has origins in Cape Cod, Massachusetts, and West Virginia.

3. CARRY ME OUT WITH THE TONGS

If someone gives you surprising news, surprise them by saying, “Well carry me out with the tongs!”

4. I’LL BE HOG WALLERED

If you're surprised or skeptical in Indiana, you might say, "I'll be hog wallered!" What the heck’s a hog waller? A place where hogs make their beds and, figuratively, a poor or out-of-the-way place.

5. I'LL BE GO-TO-HELL

I’ll be go-to-hell!” you can holler when you’re surprised or annoyed, whether in New York, Utah, Pennsylvania, Vermont, or Alabama.

6. I'LL BE COW-KICKED

This “often jocular” substitute for I’ll be damned is chiefly used in the North, according to DARE. You can liven up the euphemism by adding by a jackass, mule, or grasshopper.

7. CUSSADANG

Say you’ve whacked your shin on the coffee table but can’t swear: Cussadang to the rescue. The blend of cuss and dang is native to Arizona.

8. UFF-DA

Uff-da!” you can proclaim to the puzzlement of your friends the next time you’re surprised, disgusted, or in pain. This equivalent of Ay caramba! or Oy vey! is Norwegian in origin, and its usage has been recorded in Wisconsin, North Dakota, Alaska, Maryland, Iowa, and Minnesota. One quote in DARE describes the rough translation as “Oh my goodness” or “Oh no,” and says the expression “can be used when things go wrong or in disgust.” Uff-da is also described as “an expression of weariness or exertion,” and “an all-purpose exclamation of frustration” or amazement. And if you want to be a little more forceful, you can say, “Uff-day fyda!”

9. MURDERATION

Surprised? Annoyed? Disgusted? Just shout “Murderation!” This euphemistic take on damnation is from West Virginia, and in Indiana is the even more colorful variation “Murderin’ infants!”

10. THUNDER AND TOM WALKER

While you might have already heard of thunderation, consider also adding thunder and Tom Walker to your bag of exclamations. This Alabama expression might be related to another intensive, the devil and Tom Walker, used in New England and the South Midland. As for Tom Walker, he’s the titular character in Washington Irving’s short story, "The Devil and Tom Walker," in which he makes an ill-fated deal with the devil. At least he left us with some colorful expressions.

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Man Buys Two Metric Tons of LEGO Bricks; Sorts Them Via Machine Learning
May 21, 2017
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iStock // Ekaterina Minaeva

Jacques Mattheij made a small, but awesome, mistake. He went on eBay one evening and bid on a bunch of bulk LEGO brick auctions, then went to sleep. Upon waking, he discovered that he was the high bidder on many, and was now the proud owner of two tons of LEGO bricks. (This is about 4400 pounds.) He wrote, "[L]esson 1: if you win almost all bids you are bidding too high."

Mattheij had noticed that bulk, unsorted bricks sell for something like €10/kilogram, whereas sets are roughly €40/kg and rare parts go for up to €100/kg. Much of the value of the bricks is in their sorting. If he could reduce the entropy of these bins of unsorted bricks, he could make a tidy profit. While many people do this work by hand, the problem is enormous—just the kind of challenge for a computer. Mattheij writes:

There are 38000+ shapes and there are 100+ possible shades of color (you can roughly tell how old someone is by asking them what lego colors they remember from their youth).

In the following months, Mattheij built a proof-of-concept sorting system using, of course, LEGO. He broke the problem down into a series of sub-problems (including "feeding LEGO reliably from a hopper is surprisingly hard," one of those facts of nature that will stymie even the best system design). After tinkering with the prototype at length, he expanded the system to a surprisingly complex system of conveyer belts (powered by a home treadmill), various pieces of cabinetry, and "copious quantities of crazy glue."

Here's a video showing the current system running at low speed:

The key part of the system was running the bricks past a camera paired with a computer running a neural net-based image classifier. That allows the computer (when sufficiently trained on brick images) to recognize bricks and thus categorize them by color, shape, or other parameters. Remember that as bricks pass by, they can be in any orientation, can be dirty, can even be stuck to other pieces. So having a flexible software system is key to recognizing—in a fraction of a second—what a given brick is, in order to sort it out. When a match is found, a jet of compressed air pops the piece off the conveyer belt and into a waiting bin.

After much experimentation, Mattheij rewrote the software (several times in fact) to accomplish a variety of basic tasks. At its core, the system takes images from a webcam and feeds them to a neural network to do the classification. Of course, the neural net needs to be "trained" by showing it lots of images, and telling it what those images represent. Mattheij's breakthrough was allowing the machine to effectively train itself, with guidance: Running pieces through allows the system to take its own photos, make a guess, and build on that guess. As long as Mattheij corrects the incorrect guesses, he ends up with a decent (and self-reinforcing) corpus of training data. As the machine continues running, it can rack up more training, allowing it to recognize a broad variety of pieces on the fly.

Here's another video, focusing on how the pieces move on conveyer belts (running at slow speed so puny humans can follow). You can also see the air jets in action:

In an email interview, Mattheij told Mental Floss that the system currently sorts LEGO bricks into more than 50 categories. It can also be run in a color-sorting mode to bin the parts across 12 color groups. (Thus at present you'd likely do a two-pass sort on the bricks: once for shape, then a separate pass for color.) He continues to refine the system, with a focus on making its recognition abilities faster. At some point down the line, he plans to make the software portion open source. You're on your own as far as building conveyer belts, bins, and so forth.

Check out Mattheij's writeup in two parts for more information. It starts with an overview of the story, followed up with a deep dive on the software. He's also tweeting about the project (among other things). And if you look around a bit, you'll find bulk LEGO brick auctions online—it's definitely a thing!

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What Happened to Jamie and Aurelia From Love Actually?
May 26, 2017
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Fans of the romantic-comedy Love Actually recently got a bonus reunion in the form of Red Nose Day Actually, a short charity special that gave audiences a peek at where their favorite characters ended up almost 15 years later.

One of the most improbable pairings from the original film was between Jamie (Colin Firth) and Aurelia (Lúcia Moniz), who fell in love despite almost no shared vocabulary. Jamie is English, and Aurelia is Portuguese, and they know just enough of each other’s native tongues for Jamie to propose and Aurelia to accept.

A decade and a half on, they have both improved their knowledge of each other’s languages—if not perfectly, in Jamie’s case. But apparently, their love is much stronger than his grasp on Portuguese grammar, because they’ve got three bilingual kids and another on the way. (And still enjoy having important romantic moments in the car.)

In 2015, Love Actually script editor Emma Freud revealed via Twitter what happened between Karen and Harry (Emma Thompson and Alan Rickman, who passed away last year). Most of the other couples get happy endings in the short—even if Hugh Grant's character hasn't gotten any better at dancing.

[h/t TV Guide]

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