Hi there! Welcome to my very miscellaneous blog. Here, I write about everything from mis-used words to gardening, to bad habits in society to going places and seeing things! Enjoy my ramblings.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009


This applies to you if you are on FaceBook, and play any of their games and/or ever decide to click an ad for an online game.


Below is the verbatim text as I sent it to Face Book as a complaint:

"There are some 3rd-Party applications and games running on FaceBook, and then there are those which come up as ads. I believe this complaint falls into that category, and this is an ad/company that FaceBook should block/disallow in order to retain its credibility as a safe venue.

"Specifically, the outfit in question is “GAMEVANCE.” They run the game “Duck Hunt” among their other ‘free online games’ offerings. In order to play, they require a person to sign up for an ‘account.’ This is free, but they ask for you to supply your e-mail address.

"Yesterday, I did sign up, and attempted to play a few games. The site is not user-friendly at all, because after you have finished a game, (screen reads, “game over”), you cannot open another one; it tells you that you already have a game open, and must close it first. Unfortunately, there is no way to do this. No ‘close’ button, and by the time this message is displayed, the game you were playing is no longer visible, anyway. The only way to effectively ‘close’ the game is to log out and start again. A nuisance, at best.

"Yet, that is not the worst part. The major problem with this outfit is that they ARE guilty of SPYWARE and ADWARE!!

"I had not had my “account” for even 2 hours, when I noticed, when checking one of my blogs, that all of a sudden, one of the words well down in an article was underlined as a hyperlink, and a mouse-over brought up a “GAMEVANCE” search engine dialog box.

"Now, HOW did they get INTO my blog, and mess with it to do this??? Because they are SPIES!!! How do I know this? Simple! In signing up for anything that I’m not quite sure I trust, I use a DIFFERENT e-mail address than I do for anything else. No one knows about what this e-mail addy is; I don’t tell anyone. It IS a DIFFERENT e-mail than the one I use for both my blogs and my FaceBook account!

"ERGO---this PROVES that “GAMEVANCE” snooped into my computer, and found all my other items, and without permission, inserted their invasive link into my blog!!! This is INTOLERABLE, UNACCEPTABLE, AND UNETHICAL IN THE EXTREME!

"FaceBook should take whatever steps are necessary to IMMEDIATELY block/cancel/remove “GAMEVANCE” and any and all of its apps from any connection with FaceBook. This is vital in order for FaceBook to maintain its credibility as a safe venue.

"This information WILL BE POSTED everywhere else on the web I can think of…including copies to the ‘big 3’ broadcast corporations. “GAMEVANCE” is a dangerous player, and needs to be taken down posthaste!

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

A Sad Day for Equal Rights

Today, the California Supreme Court handed out their decision on the controversial Proposition 8, passed by voters last November.

Their ruling, tragically, was in favor of upholding the proposition. In their edict, the justices stated that the actual ruling concerned whether or not voters had the right to amend the state's constitution, and in upholding the proposition, claimed that, yes, voters had that right.

Sadly, everyone, (including the judges), has missed the point by light years. That point being that the entire 'gay'/lesbian marriage/domestic partner issue is about equal rights for all people. In upholding Prop. 8, a serious blow has been dealt to the rights of a very large number of individuals.

Furthermore, the main opponents of this controversial proposition were religious right-wing church holier-than-thou people, who seem to have no clue whatsoever that any pronouncements about "morality," and "what god finds offensive," are the purview of churches, and not of the state.

Indeed, by the voters passing this proposition, and the judges in upholding it, our guarantee of separation of church and state has been sorely undermined. Remember, that guarantee is federal, found in the U.S. Constitution; it is not up to the State of California to overturn our federal rights.

Anyone who bothered to pay attention, or do a minimal amount of digging knows that the main funding, advertising campaigns and backing in favor of this horribly discriminatory piece of legislation came from two of the largest churches on the planet: the Catholics and the Mormons.

That is about as far wrong as anything can get! Deny it though they might, the paper trail speaks for itself.

Now, given our guaranteed separation of church and state, what business to churches, as organization, have messing about in our political process in the first place, and attempting (and often succeeding) in influencing the vote? No business whatever, that's what! This needs to be banned, and stopped, or we will soon find ourselves stripped of all the freedoms our forefathers worked and fought to put into place.

Let us not forget that this country was founded by people fleeing from religious persecution! The pilgrims wanted to worship as they saw fit. Their descendants assured that right to all future generations with their wise clause in the constitution making sure church stayed out of state business, and vice-versa. This also includes the right of atheists to have their views, and also not be persecuted for any 'failure to worship.'

Now, these people who call themselves the "moral majority," (which, by the way, is neither!), want to take all these protections away from everyone based on their own selfish, uneducated, intolerant, and yes, even brainwashed views! For as soon as the way is cleared for the oppression of any one group, or the removal of any guaranteed rights, the way is paved to make the next attack on anyone's rights all the easier.

The time has come for a rebellion! Rebel against moneyed special interests. Rebel against churches influencing state issues. Rebel against self-appointed religious "watchdogs" dictating to others how their lives should be lived.

It does not matter if these people hold the opinion that the gay "lifestyle" is "an "abomination to god." So what? What someone else does in their private life doesn't hurt these judgemental folks. It is, in the end, only their opinion (and we all know what those are worth!) The matter is still none of their business, and it is not their responsibility to babysit anyone else's "immortal soul." That is strictly the business of each individual unto himself. And incidentally, it's a pretty presumptuous position to take that any human knows the mind of any 'god.'

(And no, being 'gay' or lesbian is NOT a 'choice' or 'lifestyle'; it's a biological difference, and this is scientifically proven!) They need to do their homework before they spout off. Furthermore, if one believes in a god that supposedly "made everyone and everything," then that entity also made homosexuals...so to rail against homosexuality is, in the end, to find fault with the very god they claim to worship as the creator of all things. So if this godhead made people that are gay or lesbian, then are the complainers saying that their god made... junk? Ironic, isn't it?

Truth be told, nothing is new under the sun. Homosexuality has always been part of the human condition. The only difference in the modern era is the speed at which news travels combined with more openness and willingness to discuss formerly 'taboo' topics.

If these folks would follow the advice of "Live, and Let Live," and just mind their own business, the country, and even the world would be a much better and happier place.

Sunday, March 15, 2009

Words and More, "Lesson" 2

Among the hundreds of thousands words in this crazy language we call “English,” there are hundreds ready and willing to trip us up at every turn. In this edition of the exploration of rascally words, I’ll expose more of the tricksters.

Some of the problems lie with an accumulated laziness of speech patterns, which seem to get worse with every passing generation. Others, as was pointed out before, are just snares in their own right, waiting to trip the unwary or careless.

To start with, lets examine a word having to do with facts: data. Notice I said ‘facts,’ in the plural That is ‘data.’ However, its singular form seems to be falling into disuse. A single fact is datum. “This datum.” “These data.” Awkward though it may sound, those are the correct forms. Thank our Latin section of language roots for that.

Let me digress for a moment. The problems people have with English are in large part due to it’s being a “bastard language.” English is descended mostly from Germanic roots, if we go back far enough in the etymology, but it has also borrowed heavily from French, Spanish, Italian, and Latin. The French, Spanish and Italian are all of Latin descent themselves. As a group, these are the ones often referred to as the “romance languages.” Coming down from their origins, then, modern day Italian remains nearest to its Latin roots, Spanish is next in line, and French has strayed the furthest away. With all this mix-up, and the Germanic roots, there is the compounding problem of attempting to apply Latin grammatical rules. No wonder people get aggravated trying to learn our spellings and usage!

The Germanic languages are themselves a far-reaching variety, including: Norwegian, Swedish, Faroese, (of the Faroe islands) Danish, Yiddish, Dutch, Afrikaans, Flemish, Frisian, and of course, modern English and German. Of these languages, many have themselves borrowed from others, complicating things even worse.

With that out of the way, let’s move on with the discussion of just-plain-wrong usage. Blame it on today’s public school system. There are plenty of errors made even in print media, and people in those professions should certainly know better. I think proofreading has gone by the wayside.

A prime example often seen is this: “Advanced tickets now on sale for xyz event.” Wrong! Advanced means at an accelerated or higher level, as in “Sally was in the advanced placement English class,” or, “John has taken his guitar playing skill to an advanced level.” To obtain ahead of time, however, is to do so in advance. No ending “d.” So, the advertisement should read, “Advance ticket sales for xyz event available through such and such a date,” or, “I learned in advance about the test questions.”

“Of” is a frequently over-used and mis-used word. Consider this example: “Harry is a friend of Emily’s.” Incorrect, because the “of” is simply not needed. Instead, the correct form would be one of the following two choices: “Harry is Emily’s friend,” or “Harry is a friend of Emily.” The first example is wrong because it uses a double-possessive. By using the apostrophe and ‘s’ with Emily, it’s already been established that the friendship “belongs” to Emily…the “of” duplicates this indication.

Next up is the shade of difference between responsible and reliable. These words do have similar meanings, but not the same meaning. It is this subtle difference that can cause a world of separation in the final meaning of the statement.

For example, a person I knew years ago constantly used this pair incorrectly. If something went wrong at work, but was not within her job description, she would say, “I’m not reliable for that.” Wrong, because ‘reliable’ means trustworthy, able to be relied upon to carry out one’s duties or follow through on a promise. Responsible, on the other hand, is the word she should have used. Responsible means able to stand on ones’ own and do what is expected without supervision. In your job description, there are certain duties which you are expected to carry out. you are responsible doing your job properly. You are not responsible for a task which falls under someone else’s job description.

A responsible adult is a reliable person. This is not a redundancy; the words are so similar in meaning, that ‘reliable’ even appears far down the list of definitions of ‘responsible’ in the dictionary. That said, there are real distinctions in how they are used, and for most purposes, it is best not to consider them as synonymous or interchangeable.

Now, some further irritating plural forms. Just how maddening is a language which assigns the plural of mouse as mice, and yet the plural of moose is still moose, and not ‘meese’? As most children learn from Dr. Seuss, “one fish, two fish…” ..fish and fish are both plural and singular. Once the Dr. Seuss story moves on to “…red fish, blue fish…” we are now dealing with fishes. The plural remaining the same as the singular applies only to fish of all the same type. As soon as there are different kinds of fish involved, it becomes ‘fishes.’ If you have 10 goldfish in your aquarium, you have 10 fish. If you have 5 goldfish and 5 betas, you now have 10 fishes. With a fair amount of regularity, we hear the phrase, “all the fish in the sea.” To be absolutely correct, however, it should be, “all the fishes in the sea.”

The next item on today’s list falls strictly under lazy or careless pronunciation. I doubt that there are very many people who actually do not know the correct word. I refer to folks saying, “supposably” (no such word), when they mean, “supposedly.” There are not too many problems with understanding the definition:

most of us understand that ‘supposedly’ means “expected,” “in the ideal sense,” and “if things work as they should.” “The bus supposedly arrives at 10:00 a.m.” “He supposedly cleaned his room.” Maybe so, and maybe not. There is an “iffy-ness” to this word. In point of fact, it would be better to say, in the first example, “the bus is scheduled to arrive at 10:00 a.m.,” and in the second, “he was supposed to have cleaned his room.” Tricky, subtle shades of meaning.

Finally, I will move into the restaurants. What will you have to drink? Cold tea with ice cubes added? How often do you hear an order for “ice tea,” (which usually comes out sounding like “eyestee”) .. instead of the correct, “iced tea.” Granted, this one takes conscious thought to say correctly as it involves a “hard stop” to make the break between the words so they do not run together as one. Not impossible, however.

Be careful with the language! The more difficult the language, the more care must be taken, and the more diligent its speakers must be. Subtle variations and mispronunciations do matter. Fistfights and worse have been started over something said the wrong way; and on a global level, so have wars!

There’s the bell. Class dismissed!

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

The Death of Manners

The first hint that any society is in decay is a decline in manners and courtesy. Witness the upsurge of the "me generation" of the 1990's (and to some extent the 1980's), which shows no signs of abating, and is, in fact, increasing at an exponential rate. The folks who back then were so into "looking out for number one" are now raising (or have raised) children, and passing on those same selfish attitudes.

Folks do not seem to realize that selfishness and greed are connected to more than just their own private lives. Oh, but I forgot...they don't care about anyone else or the connections...and that is the whole problem.

It begins with small slips of decorum, such as neglecting to thank someone for holding a door open, or not writing a thank-you note to someone for a gift. Over time, these small lapses grow into larger and more glaring errors of etiquette, such as a younger person refusing to give their bus seat to an elderly person, or deliberately allowing a door to swing shut in someone's face.

An invitation to an event, any event, normally has the letters "RSVP" at the bottom. Everyone knows what this means. It means the courtesy of a reply is requested, and polite persons will reply. All it takes is a short phone call, or even an e-mail, "I'm sorry, I have a prior appointment, and won't be able to attend." Or, "Thank you very much for inviting me. I'd be delighted to come and share your celebration."

It's very simple, very quick, to do, and it is very rude to ignore an RSVP. It is even more rude to reply that you will come, and then not show up, and with no notification or apology. It is the rudest behavior of all to offer a "maybe, if no better offers come up in the meantime," reply, or to call at the last minute and tell the host that you will not come after all because so-and-so invited you to something else more recently.

This behavior is insulting to the hosts, and is like a slap in the face. Everyone today is so focused on "me first and foremost" that they have completely forgotten how to imagine themselves in the other person's place, and how that behavior would make them feel. (Remember the old Golden Rule? "Treat others as you would like to be treated"? It is as valid today as it ever was.)

After all, the host/hostess has a lot of planning to do--they need to know how many people to plan for. What if they bought all the food for the party, and no one bothered to show up, and no one had replied to the invitation? The hosts have spent all that money for nothing, because they did not know that their party was perhaps at a bad time, so they could cancel the event instead. Now they are stuck with food "for an army," and much in the way of party fare does not keep well. What a waste!

Next it is the selfish person who zips around the corner and into that parking space that they perfectly well have seen you sitting and waiting for, with your turn signal on. Or the road hog: we've all seen the type--thinks it is perfectly acceptable to block traffic while he lets off a passenger or carries on a conversation with the guy in the car going the other way. Then there's the guy in a hurry weaving in and out of traffic, driving using his horn to yell, "get out of my way! I'm more important than you are!" Very rude behaviors all.

Manners are the very glue that holds society together, as well as the lubricant that keeps it running smoothly. When manners go into decline, all sorts of bad things happen. It follows that not caring about those in one's immediate circle leads to devaluing everyone else as well. This is the origin of greed.

Me first, me in the middle, and me last, and me for me and to blazes with everyone else. It is from this mindset that jobs are lost to offshore "outsourcing," because the CEO of the corporation is greedy, cares only for his own bottom line and his own wealth, and gives not a hoot for the well being of either his workers or that of his community. It is all about short-term gain, and has no long range benefit. This is the mindset that has put the country into its current economic state.

On the other side of the same coin are the folks with the same mindset as the CEO, but who are in a much different place economically speaking. They do not have either the education or the drive to make something of themselves, so they waste their lives away pimping, dealing drugs, shooting each other in gang wars, and committing crimes against law-abiding citizens.

The only difference between these two groups lies in technicalities of the law. The CEO is technically within legal rights (even though his actions are unethical in the extreme) to destroy someone's livelihood and ability to earn a living. The gang member is breaking laws concerning assorted drugs and how he obtains and distributes them, and is also flouting laws about use of guns. As he shoots his victim to gain a few bucks from that person's wallet, he has also destroyed someone's ability to earn a living. If that person is killed in the process, the gang member has destroyed more than just a livelihood for the survivors--he has destroyed a family, destroyed their ability to trust, and fostered a good reason for predjudice.

These differences are only about which side of the law a person decides to follow: the end result of both courses of action is the same. The community is destroyed, blighted, becomes run down, and illegal activity blossoms because of loss of hope. Even those who were once law-abiding citizens may turn to stealing in an effort to keep their family fed and clothed.

It is sad that we have come to this place. Why not be the one to put a stop to this downhill slide? One person can make a difference--lead by example--and teach children that it is not 'ok' to bully, lie, cheat, steal or be rude.

Get a grip on yourself, America! Wake up from this selfish trap...for a trap it surely is, and as we are seeing daily in the news, those who pursue these ways of living eventually end up getting caught, paying dearly, and loosing everything they had. Ah, but the damage they have done is not so easily put to rights. The damage caused by the selfish generation will be with us for a long time to come. It did not happen overnight, and it will not be cured overnight. But cure it we must, and the time to start the process of change is right this very instant!

Friday, February 6, 2009

A Joke

There was once a sea captain who had a faithful cabin boy. When they would encounter hostile ships, the captain would say, "Cabin boy! Bring me my red shirt!"
This happened on several occasions, and finally the cabin boy asked, "Captain, why do you always call for a red shirt when we go into battle?"
The captain replied, "Because if I am hit, the blood will not show, and my crew will have the courage and will to carry on."

All was well for some time, until one day the captain found himself surrounded by the entire British Naval fleet. "Cabin boy!" he shouted, "Bring me my brown pants!"

Thursday, February 5, 2009



In the interest of making this more interesting and readable than simply looking things up in the dictionary, I offer here a random sampling of words that often seem to cause problems in both written and spoken English. To that end, nothing is in alphabetical order.

Some of the problems stem from cultural laziness; taking shortcuts in the proper pronunciation of common, everyday words—a study known in our grandparent’s generation as ‘elocution’—it was a specific subject taught in school. The fact that this is no longer taught as a subject unto itself is blatantly evident today.

One of the most common, and most grating misuses is the confusion of “then” and “than.” It seems that the majority of misuse with this pair of words errs on the side of always using “then” and forgetting the existence of “than.”
I have lost count of how often I have come across the misuse of “then” in this vein: “I would rather have chocolate pie then cherry.” This is wrong because “then” is a word referring to time sequence. The proper use of “then” would be as in this example: “I went to the bank, then I went to the store.” In the choice of pie example above, “than” is the correct usage: “I would rather have chocolate pie than cherry.” “Than” is a word for comparisons and statements of preference; it has nothing to do with time or sequence. You could also correctly say, “I ate the chocolate pie and then I ate the cherry pie, but I liked the chocolate better than the cherry.”

Other less common mistakes occur when someone seems to simply not know the definition of a given word. In more than one case, I have heard folks mix up “fray” and “frail.” One lady I used to know always would speak of her coat “frailing.” Worse than using the wrong word, she also added an incorrect suffix in an attempt to make it into an active present tense. “Frail” is not a verb—it cannot take such an attempt to assign tense. To fray is to come undone; to unravel or become ragged. Frail means weak; not strong. Correct usages of this pair: “The sleeve of my jacket is starting to fray.” “My grandmother has become very frail.”

English is a devilishly confusing language, I’ll agree. It is filled with unruly words that change their meaning with a whim of pronunciation, yet don’t change their spelling. “Present” comes to mind. To “present arms” is spelled exactly the same as its use in “give a present.” The shift happens in the emphasis on the syllable, and with the change of the first “e” from long to short.

Language, however, is fluid, and does change over time. For example, a hundred years ago, “ain’t” was acceptable common usage. Now it is considered grammatically incorrect, and disdained as slang, uneducated usage. “Gay” is another case in point: its original meaning was, “carefree, happy, lighthearted.”

I can well imagine that in another hundred years, thanks in large measure to the internet with its chat rooms, instant messaging, and other forms of electronic communication, that we will see other words elided (that is, shortened, with their spelling changed). The one I see most often is the substitution/abbreviation of “prolly” as a stand-in for “probably.” There are others, I know. Perhaps an Internet dictionary is in order. ;-)

Some words are mixed up because someone is trying to show off their idea of advanced vocabulary, when in fact, they do not know the true meaning of the words they are using. “Flout” and “flaunt” are a pair that fall into this trap. “Flout” means to show disregard for, to ignore, and do as one pleases despite a rule. “His habit of flouting the law got him into continual trouble.” “Flaunt,” on the other hand, means to show off excessively; to be “in your face.” “She was flaunting the large diamond ring on her finger.”

At other times, the misuse falls rather under failure to have specific knowledge of a subject, not knowing the ‘jargon’ if you will. Most every adult knows what an autopsy is. However, many people will speak of an autopsy on an animal, whether found dead at the zoo, in a wildlife study, or of a beloved pet. This is incorrect—a dissection to determine cause of death on an animal is a necropsy.
Why? Well, I must get into a bit of Latin word origins for that one. the prefix “auto” means “self,” so an “auto-psy” is a dissection of a human being…one of ourselves. While necrosis is the state of being dead, and since animals are not “one of us,” but simply another life form that is deceased, so ‘necropsy’ is the correct terminology.
The "opsy" suffix common to both words, means to study a sample of; to examine for cause or pathology. Hence, a living person can have a biopsy taken of a body part or organ, for study to determine cause of illness. (Bio= life; live; living) and the 'opsy' suffix as discussed above.)

Lie, Lay, Lain: This triad is a bugaboo for many, many folks…(myself included!)…I have to keep a ‘cheat sheet’ handy when I’m writing. This is one of those annoying “irregular” verbs. Let’s sort it out:

To lie is to recline, as on a bed, or a command given to a dog, “lie down!” That is the present tense. Awkward though it may sound, the past tense is lay, “The dog lay down.” and the past participle is lain. “The dog has lain in this spot.”

Now, to “the other side” of this triad: lay in the present tense means to put, “Lay the book on the table.” Past tense, laid, “I laid the book on the table.” Ironically, the past participle of this set is the same as the past tense, laid. “I had laid the book on the table, and now it is gone.”

Next, I come to a pair I just heard misused the other day: collaborate and corroborate. Not synonymous, to be sure. To ‘collaborate,’ is to work together with another person or a team: “He collaborated with Charles and Gail to finish the project.” Corroborate means to agree, back up, or substantiate. “His testimony corroborated the claims of the other witnesses.”


And just for fun: Some $5. words for more common expressions:

Oeuvre: 1. a work of art. 2. the lifework of an artist, writer or composer

Aphorism: an adage or saying
(such as, "One man's drink is another man's poison," or, "He who lies with dogs wakes with fleas.")

Isogloss: a geographical boundary line delimiting the area in which a given linguistic feature occurs.
(Example: "limber cream" means heavy cream that is still liquid and has not been made into whipped cream. My grandfather came from New Bedford, Massachussetts, and I have not heard that expression anywhere else, nor has anyone else I know who does not hail from that area of the country.)

Solecism: 1. non-standard usage or grammatical construction. 2. a violation of etiquette. 3. an impropriety, mistake or incongruity.


Thanks for stopping by! I hope you enjoyed this foray into the oddities of the English Language. There may be more articles forthcoming as I come across other problematic useages.