I was chatting a couple of weeks ago with a town supervisor about a project he was working on, and he told me it had been paid for with a DANSY grant.
“That’s great,” I said, “What’s a DANSY grant?”
“You know, DANSY. D-A-N-S-Y.”
“I get that, but what does DANSY stand for?”
I might as well have asked him his granddaughter’s opinion of rhizomes. It totally threw him off track, and it was pretty clear that in the 30-some years he had been supervisor, no one had ever asked him that question before. He stumbled around a bit before, with a self-satisfied look on his face he pronounced, “It came out of (Sen.) Betty Little’s office.” As if that should settle things.
I figured no matter, it would be easy enough to look up, and it was in the sense that there is a wonderful DANSY website with everything you could possibly want to know about DANSY, including the month it lost its baby teeth, but you cannot find a word about what DANSY stands for. At least I couldn’t.
To a native New Yorker who has never been steeped in the ways of the press and its Doctrine of First Reference, this probably does not seem strange in the least. As a recovering journalist though, we spell out the acronym on first reference unless it is something commonly known and accepted, like CBS or EPA.
But that, maybe you’ve noticed, doesn’t happen here in the Adirondacks. Here, if I might be so bold as to offer some “constructive criticism,” I’ve noticed that people don’t just write acronyms, they speak acronyms one right after the other, which produces these incomprehensible sounds that make you feel as if you’ve just tuned into an early episode of the Mork and Mindy Show.
I’m painfully slow to pick up on trends, so I thought it was just me, until this weekend when we were taking a tour of the Santanoni Great Camp. We had an excellent young volunteer leading the tour, and half way through I triumphantly exclaimed, “You’re not from around here.” She acknowledged she was from Missouri and asked how I could tell, “Because I can understand you,” I said.
She was saying things like Adirondack Park Agency instead of APA and Unit Management Plan instead of UMP, and it just got me all mushy and tearful for back home.
Indeed, it took me about six months of sitting in on APA (it’s OK on second reference) meetings before I could understand a word that they said. It was all stuff like whether or not the SLUMP, not to be confused with the TCUMP, conformed to the SMP, or if the NYCRR might interfere with the APLUDP.
About the second meeting, I walked out and I guess I was looking as if I’d just emerged from a foxhole after the Battle of the Bulge, because a staff member gave a me a friendly smile and said “You’ll get used to it — in time.”
I beg to differ.
I forget where, but sometime in the last few months I was told about a network of nature trails called the PSC VIC. With a small amount of inquiry, PSC was identifiable as Paul Smith’s College. VIC, however, was a nut not so easily cracked, and since it wasn’t really imperative, I knew it was just one of those things that I needed to let go of.
Which I probably should have, but these things tend to get into my head to the point that I determined I would learn what VIC stood for or die. The website, of course, was no help at all. In fact, it seemed to be taunting me, the was everything was VIC this and VIC that, and everyone’s welcome here at the VIC VIC VIC VIC.
On the About page, I learned The VIC is owned and operated by Paul Smith’s. The VIC was created in 1989. There is a sister to the VIC in Newcomb.
This was my first clue. Call me a keen investigative journalist if you must, but at some point in the text I picked up on an explanation of the Paul Smith’s and Newcomb VICs that generically referred to them as “centers.” Aha! It’s a VI Center. A third of the way there.
From verbal interrogations I was pretty sure the V stood for Visitors. That’s because everyone I asked seemed to be in agreement. The would start confidently, but draw out the end of the word as you could see the mental gears begin to strip. “Oh sure, it stands for Visitorrrrrrss …” So it’s a Visitors Center. But I’m still not certain about the “I.” Most people say Interpretive, but I’ve heard just enough Interactives to plant a seed out of doubt.
Either way, it doesn’t matter. It’s a VIC. Let it be a VIC. It sounds like a lovely place, and I plan on getting there ASAP.
Photo of Paul Smith’s College VIC provided by Paul Smith’s College.