Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Before You Dig, Drill, or Blast

Is this a reference anyone else gets?

I used to see “Before You Dig, Drill or Blast…” on bumper stickers and billboards as a kid, and I was like, “Who is doing this blasting or drilling or digging and why?”

Well, of course it was an advertisement for a 1-800 line that you were supposed to call if you were going to do any kind of construction work that involved excavation. God knows what epidemic of stupidity prompted the creation of this 1-800 line. The 70s must have been a time of serial disasters, with people routinely digging through buried electrical cables and accidentally disinterring septic tanks.

Also, as a kid, I recall something about calling “Miss Utility,” before you dig, drill or blast, which I thought was like Miss America. So I pictured this woman in a crown, answering the phone and guys in hardhats on the other end, their hands poised above detonator plungers, awaiting permission to blow stuff up.

In the same grand tradition of avoiding potential problems at the get-go, I ask you: When you get a shiny new idea, before you jump into it, do you research to see what else is out there that might be similar? Or do you just plow ahead and assume that your idea will be different enough that it won’t matter?

I do this with titles certainly. Some (potentially cool) phrase will pop into my head, and I’ll run it through The Great and Powerful Google to see what results. This was the case for my blog’s name. A search yielded this odd Japanese punk band, Rock in My Pocket, but I used the title anyway because of that "A" in front of Rock in My Pocket, which makes all the difference in the world in distinguishing me from them, don’t you think?

And speaking of that definite article, I’ve often thought I should change the name of this blog to AAA Rock in my Pocket, because that way I’d always be listed first in everyone’s Google Reader. I’m like a plumber or a cab service that wants to be first in the phone directory.

Oh, and seeing as I opened this post with a question about whether anyone knew what I was referring to, I have another genius idea: The Reference-o-Meter. It could help you determine how widely known something is before you reference it in your writing. The Reference-o-Meter could help us all, especially as we get older. For example, if you plugged in something like, “Who doesn’t love a good piece of liverwurst and some calliope music?” you’d get a very low reference score, and this would tell you that no one under the age of 98 would fondly remember liverwurst and calliope music so you might as well strike that reference out.

So. What were we talking about again?

Oh, yes.

Do you call the 1-800 line before you start drilling away writing something new? If you've encountered a project similar to yours, what did you do about it?

(Some of you have mentioned having difficulty leaving comments. Right now you have to click on the post title to get the comment box to come up. I’ve reinstalled Intense Debate three times, which has more than exhausted my patience with it. If I can’t figure out a way to fix this, I may return to the regular old Blogger comment system. [Do you hear that, Intense Debate? Get with it or Ima slap you good.])