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From jjchew Fri Nov 13 16:04:30 1992
Subject: Re: DOSLNIT

Solomon Douglas ('92) says:

Where did DOSLNIT originate? Cause I know UTS isn't the only school to do it, but it'd be cool (and I would be surprised) if it were the first. Did you guys invent the concept?

After some consultation with Justin Bur ('81) and my personal archives, I have come to the conclusion that I invented the DOSLNIT in the fall of either 1977 or 1978, while in an acronymic phase and under the influence of hearing the annual shopping days until Christmas countdown on CBL-AM and the then mysterious blackboard incantation 'P.L.O.'. The earliest documentary evidence of it that I can find is my 1979 agenda, which has DOSLNITs marked down for each day as far back as January, which means that I would have been posting them the previous fall. It could even have been the previous fall that I started, but I moved in 1979 and haven't yet unpacked much of my earlier archives :-).

[E-mail correspondence in January 2004 with David Colbert '81 shed further light on the origin of the DOSLNIT. He recalls that he used a program that came with his TI-55 programmable calculator to count the number of days between two dates: today and the last day of the school year. He guesses that he showed it to me in Greek class, which faintly rings a bell, and credits me with pointing out that a more interesting and relevant statistic would omit school holidays from the count. Since he came to the school in the fall of 1978, my abovementioned January 1979 agenda notes were in fact made during the first year of the DOSLNIT. ]

For the historical record, I would also like to state a brief definition and etymology of the word 'poslfit' and its back-formation, the prefix 'posl-'.

By the 1980/81 school year, most people were quite familiar with the sight of Justin, myself, or various other appropriately minded individuals dashing from home room to home room early in the morning, updating what had become a fairly lengthy list of vital statistics. This activity was met for the most part with stunned apathy, occasional mild interest, and of course bursts of derision. One person who seemd to take an exaggerated negative interest was Andrew Dick '81, who took to chanting words such as DOSLNIT [Days Of School Left Not Including Today], POSLNIT [Percentage...], DOSSFIT [... So Far Including Today], POSSFIT and eventually to intentionally mangling them to cause further distress. The most euphonic of these manglings was 'poslfit' and came to be used as a general term referring to our form of possibly aberrant behaviour, then to a mindset and way of life. Thus:

(stress on first syllable, unvoiced 's').


  1. Order, especially in excess, or when based upon an ordering that is more arbitrary than reasonable. "My desk is finally in a state of poslfit." (Ant.: entropy).

  2. A quasi-religious belief that poslfit (n 1) is necessary for the well-being of the universe. "I believe in poslfit."

  3. A frenzy of activity intended to increase, though not often successful in increasing, the local density of poslfit (n 1). "When Justin saw that the network was down, he had a poslfit."


  1. To put things into a state of poslfit. "Justin and John used to poslfit the sale books at SCM by putting them into ISBN order."

  2. More generally, to catalogue a collection of items, even if they are actually reordered. "I can't talk now, I have too much state on my mind from poslfitting my collection of bandes dessinées."

  3. Even more broadly, to check a thing for errors and to correct them. "Justin, when you see this message, could you poslfit these definitions and mail me back a copy for archival?"

  1. Pertaining to activities of poslfit. "The exact date of the origin of poslfit is a matter open to poslfitic debate."

  1. Pertaining to a thing which one has poslfitted, or which needs no poslfitting by its innate nature. "Letts agendas are very poslfitted."

[by back-formation from poslfit (n 3)] prefix.
  1. Originally, poslfitic. "I have used Clairefontaine notebooks as poslbooks for almost ten years."

  2. In modern usage, pertaining to a group of people, known as the poslpeople, including jjc and jbb, who got to know each other mostly through various poslfitic activities in the early eighties, and too often refer to each other by their so-called posl-identifiers rather than their names. "dmo and jwr will be hosting this year's posl-New Year's Eve-party again."

Thank you for your attention.


john j. chew, iii (uts '81) / department of mathematics / university of toronto / poslfit@utorgpu.bitnet /
"My Canada includes... a Lebesgue non-measurable subset."