Friday, December 25, 2009

Year-end Fun-AT-tix and More Same Song Titles

Fun-AT-tix is my wordplay on phonetics, but I'm also using the base syllable "phon-" to talk about homophones. (I wrote about homophones in a previous article.). I wanted to use "fun@tix", but I have a feeling the blogspot would have an issue with the "@" sign in the article title.

The first part of this article is about …
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Saturday, December 19, 2009

Holiday Gadgets to Inspire or Not

Over the years during the holiday season, I have smiled bemusedly at gadgets hawked on TV as prospective gifts. Questions that pop up in my mind are usually "Really? A saucepan would work, and most people already have one", "Gee, another appliance to take up shelf, cupboard, or drawer space", "Does that gadget really work?", "[price, usually ending in .99] sure seems like a lot for what that thing is supposed to do".

Gadgets in the past that trigger one or more of my above thoughts include …
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Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Color N R Lives

Colors make their ways into many facets of our lives. They have strong associations with moods and emotions. They also appear frequently in names, particularly surnames. When they're associated with specific nouns, they often conjure up images.

Color first names don't seem common. Blanca, Blanche, and Bianca are all variations of foreign words for white (feminine). Notable names include …

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Monday, November 30, 2009

The 99¢ Effect and Other Saver Thoughts

My article started out about pricing with regard to saving, particularly how 99¢ is such a popular price, a price ending, anyway. As I "scribbled" my streams of consciousness—besides 99¢—thoughts also included tenths of cents still anachronistically attached to gasoline per-gallon prices, coupons, before/after price changes indicated in print ads, sales taxes that no advertiser includes, and baked goods pricing.

As the seasonal buying rush is spiking around this time, …

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Monday, November 23, 2009

Dobbs looking for a new home?

Lou Dobbs told Washington's WTOP Monday morning that he is not ruling out a presidential run, and, according toPolitico's Glenn Thrush,that he will leave the final decision up to his wife. Asked by an anchor if rumors about his presidential ambitions were crazy talk, Dobbs repsonded, "What's so crazy about that?"

"For the first time I'm actually listening to [people who want him to run for office], " Dobbs said. "I don't think I have the nature for it . . . But we've got to do something for this country." He said a run for president was "one of the conversations we're having" and that he would receive "the best advice" about whether it was a good idea.

Dobbs recently left his position as an opinion anchor at CNN to pursue an activist role in politics.

Fifty Is the New Forty

Last week proved volatile in preventive health care for American women. On Monday, November 16, 2009 the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force (USPSTF) released new recommendations for screening mammography. The recommendations included a reversal of a twenty-year standard. The USPSTF's new recommendations increase the age for a first mammogram to 50 years old (up from 40) for women of average breast cancer risk. Further, the Task Force only recommends routine mammography screenings every two years for women ages 50 to 74 (decreased from annually). Later in the week the American College of OB/GYNs recommended that women in their 20s only get pap smears every other year (also decreased from annually).

The USPSTF) is a panel of experts that advises doctors on medical care. Just seven years ago the Task Force, comprised of different members, recommended that women have mammograms every one to two years starting at age 40. The USPSTF's, "Recommendations highlight the opportunities for improving delivery of effective services and have helped others in narrowing gaps in the provision of preventive care in different populations." The panel's current composition has sixteen members but does not include an oncologist.

The White House blog states that the USPTF would have no power to deny insurance coverage in any way. The Task Force's recommendations would be used to help determine the types of services that must be provided for little or no cost. Further, "The Task Force does not address insurance coverage and payment issues; it focuses on the science of the clinical services it evaluates."

According to Marisa Weiss, M.D., director of Breast Radiation Oncology and director of Breast Health Outreach at Pennsylvania's Lankenau Hospital, "These new recommendations could have a devastating effect on African-American women, African-American women are more likely to get breast cancer than white women when they're under age 40." Weiss, who is also the founder of leading online resource, believes that given the unique impact of the illness on black women, USPSTF's recommendations could prove "disproportionately harmful."

Fear and loathing of the dreaded mammogram will likely cause many women in their lower forties to blindly accept the new recommendation. You have rights and they can be found succinctly here and in depth here. Don't let a doctor passively steer you away from life-saving medical care or bully you into tests or procedures you are uncomfortable with. Stay informed and vigilant about your health and medical care. "Fifty is the new forty" is only a cute sentiment when discussing fashion and ageless celebrities, not bare bones medical care.

Friday, November 20, 2009

Thanksgiving Day Menu, From a Language Perspective

Being someone who thinks about the English language a lot, I often think of associative terminology. In my topic about Thanksgiving Day food, I'm putting a twist on it and injecting some flavor into the discussion, language-wise. Turkey is at the top of the food list. For vegetarians and vegans, skip reading "turkey", or discontinue reading this article. Other items are (from the top of my head) potatoes, sweet potatoes (sometimes interchangeably called yams), cranberry sauce, dressing (aka stuffing), gravy, and pumpkin pie. What about veggies? They'll roll onto the scene. I'll bypass food discussion pertaining to all-day football, as that could be an entire subject by itself.

Turkey: Legend has it that …

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Monday, November 9, 2009

My Trip Over an Apostrophe

I created and continue to maintain the Austin Heart of Texas (AHOT) Designers Council website. (AHOT is a professional organization for printed circuit board designers.) The other day, I uncloaked a navigation link, then uploaded the javascript file, not expecting hiccups. Surprise! Surprise! Surprise!

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Tuesday, November 3, 2009

A Convenient Quiche

(Quiche pixstrip retrofitted into article May 18, 2010)

Yesterday, I baked a quiche that requires only 5 ingredients: …

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Friday, October 30, 2009

Get Acquainted With Eden Moss

Do you know Eden Moss? Probably not. Eden is one of the newest writers in the blogosphere. She is also a wholly fictional creation of writer, arm-chair activist and mench, Paulet Smart. You can follow the life, times and musings of Eden Moss, the youngest of the Moss triplets at Happy reading!

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Dual-theme "Weird Al" Yankovic Songs

YouTube playlist for this article,
playlist compilation article

Weird Al is probably currently the best-known parodist of long-time longevity. He made his mark in the early 80s and continues even now. This blog item is mostly about his parodies that capture music from one song and integrates lyrics and visuals of his vision from another song. Viewing and listening to such music videos can be somewhat discombobulating. You might be pulled in two directions of what to pay attention to, especially if you are familiar with both cultural aspects you see and hear. The following links …

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Wednesday, October 21, 2009

SNL's Virtual Reading Skit a Possible Influence for E-Readers

Several years ago, there had been a skit on Saturday Night Live that pushed a product for purposes of virtual reading. The skit opened with someone wearing virtual-reality visors, holding a book-size object. After sweeping an index finger from the top of a virtual page to the bottom, simulating reading, the actor made a motion with the hand or finger as though …

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Saturday, October 10, 2009

Same Song Titles, Different Songs

Over time, there have been well-known pop/rock songs with identical song titles but very different tunes and lyrics. I've created the following paragraph that has such song titles. If you know more than one version of each song (bolded), which version do you think of first?

Sherry and I talked on the phone today. She told me her best long jump the other day was her personal best. Within minutes of that jump, though, she had started to hurt like crazy and began crying from the pain. She then experienced an out-of-the-body sensation—viewing herself climbing a stairway to heaven. She wondered, "What's going on?" Fortunately, she recovered by the evening. During the conversation, she also mentioned her roommate Sara decided to act more like a lady and less of a tomboy, hoping to find somebody to love who might be more inclined to love her back.

"Sherry" by the Four Seasons (1963) is undergoing a revival from …

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Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Cross Words Over Crosswords

I'm a casual crossword-puzzle doer. I work on the LA Times one that my newspaper carries on Sundays, the one in the weekly Onion, and the monthly National Geographic's. I'm not a fanatic over solving entire puzzles. I'm somewhat proud if I complete somewhere between 80% and 100%, but don't fret too much if I'm able to complete only 10 words. High and total completions don't occur often.
In working crossword puzzles, I don't do web lookups, I don't use a thesaurus, and only occasionally look in a dictionary. As another indication of my casual methodology, I use a pen. Oh, sure, I letter in answers that turn out incorrect, then do a somewhat messy job of …

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Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Homophones—Hear There Everywhere

Homophones are dissimilar words that sound the same. Their incorrect usages are especially pervasive on the web—in comments sections in articles, blogs, and forums—where people share their opinions. Professionally written articles …

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Saturday, September 5, 2009

Some Wordplays Placed in the Wicked Play (and Other Wicked References)

Wicked was written by Gregory Maguire in 1995 as a prequel-type story to L. Frank Baum’s Wizard of Oz. In Maguire’s story, three of the main characters bear little resemblance to how they appear in Wizard.
  • Galinda (Glinda)—the Good Witch—is vain, self-centered, and rather ditzy.
  • Elphaba—the eventual Wicked Witch of the West—is misunderstood and can’t seem to catch a PR break.
  • Elphaba’s sister Nessarose—the eventual Wicked Witch of the East—is "tragically beautiful" at the start.
In 2003, Wicked became a Broadway musical and won several Tony awards in 2004. The book and musical greatly differ …

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Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Gratitude for Being Stretched

     I just came home from a two week visit to mountains in New Mexico and Colorado. About mid trip, I noticed that I was exhausted each evening, and that it was the good kind.  I was being stretched in the direction of how much beauty can I take in today?  How many good, rich, nourishing human connections can I take?  How much good stuff can I handle?
    There was a time in my life when I wondered how much more pain can I take, how much more can I suffer through?  That was a very different kind of stretching, and I learned from it.  I am grateful for the lessons learned. 
     I am thankful today that the stretching is in the direction of beauty, joy, and good human connection.  I really like being tired at the end of the day from that kind of stretching, and I am aware that I couldn't have gotten here by myself.  
     When I stood on the mountain and looked out at the vastness, I felt humbled, in the good way.  It took good connections from many very special people to help me to see that it is okay to enjoy my Life, that good communion is possible, that I don't have to do it all by myself.  I am thankful that I listened to the nudges, that quiet voice inside, that I was willing to follow directions, and was able to notice how big Life is.  
Standing in Chaco Canyon, I noticed that the structures the ancient ones created were aligned with vastness.  In that world, the human aligns the forms of his life with that which lies beyond the horizon.  In our world, we make the natural world align with our own ideas of our self.  I noticed that I find more peace in myself when I align with that which is beyond my horizon.
     When I was a teenager, it wasn't cool to be happy.  Happy people were suspect.  It was thought they must be stupid  not to see how bad things are.  I am very grateful that I am now so uncool I'm Happy!

Saturday, August 8, 2009


What is a pet? That's a pretty open question that could have a lot of answers. The obvious answer is the four-legged creature that shares a home with you. A dog or a cat. And that's a good answer. But it doesn't stop there.

My daughter has a pet. Other people would call it a rodent. I call it a mouse. And it actually is known as a gerbil. Well, it looks a lot like a mouse to me. Same face, same long tail (although it does have more hair than most mice I've seen). But wait, there is a difference: Most common mice come in one color... gray. This one is two-toned. Brown and white. No matter what it looks like, my daughter likes it, sometimes plays with it, and generally takes care of it.

OK, so if you can call this thing a pet, what can you do with it? Imagine taking it out for a walk. A leash around its neck, running frantically down the road to keep up with its mistress, neighborhood dogs barking as it scrabbles past. And if one of those dogs got out, her pet would valiantly stand between her and the attacking dog. Yeah, right.

So what do you do with a gerbil? You can put it into a large plastic ball and let it run around in the kitchen for exercise. That's a good idea, but you have to teach it how to move the ball. Soccer anyone?

What else? I had a dog once that liked to sleep on the bed. Sometimes she got in the way of my feet, but I never wanted to kick her off the bed. You can do that with a gerbil, too! As long as you don't roll over on it in the middle of the night. And what if it didn't want to sleep, but instead decided to wander around the house? You might look for it for a long time. I suppose if you didn't find it, you'd have to put out a mouse trap. Would it be attracted to cheese?

I guess by now you're getting the idea that I have difficulty getting used to the idea of having a mouse, er, gerbil, that is, for a pet. And believe it or not, I once had a guinea pig as a pet. I couldn't play with it either for the same reasons as one encounters trying to play with a gerbil.

But pets don't stop there. I have a friend that has parakeets. At least they do something. They tend to make noise. Most people would call it singing. And I guess you can do things with a parakeet. You can let it out of its cage to perch on your finger. Larger birds could perch on your shoulder and then try to eat your ear. The smaller ones just perch and, and, and, OK, I give up, what do they do when they perch. Other than the obvious, for which you need a tissue. Wait! I've got it! They fly! And you immediately have to check to make sure the windows and doors aren't open. And that the cat isn't in the house. Cats and birds get along well together. At least from the cat's point of view.

But at least each of these creatures are low cost to keep fed. To feed my dog costs about twenty dollars a month. A bird or a gerbil could probably get by on about one dollar a month. A cat is somewhere in the middle, particularly if you have birds that you let out of the cage now and then.

So if you don't want a dog, a cat, a gerbil, or a bird, what other choices do you have? How about a nice friendly, personable snake? I understand that you only need to feed them a mouse every one or two weeks. Or a gerbil if you get tired of having one. (No, I didn't mean that! Really!) But what do you do with a snake? Same problems as with a gerbil. Can't take them for a walk. They don't have a neck that's thick enough for a collar. If you took a snake for a walk down the road, you'd constantly be stopping to put the collar back on. Unless, of course, it was a python or an anaconda. Then you'd only have to worry whether or not your pet was hungry. Smaller ones would like to meet your neighbors' dogs. Larger ones might be interested in, well, you!

How about a nice, furry tarantula? I understand that they almost never bite their owners. And I suppose that you could pet them. But I'd always have the feeling that I was being watched. And the same problem with taking one for a walk down the road. And you might find that your neighbors want to step on it.

A lion or a tiger? I think they'd outgrow you pretty quickly. And if they ever got hungry... At least if you took it out for a walk, you won't have to worry about the neighborhood dogs. In fact, if you let it into the back yard for a run, you might not have any neighborhood dogs anymore.

So how many other choices are there? You could have an ant farm. Or a flea circus. Some people like to have a pot bellied pig. Or a cow. Or a horse. Or a chicken. Or a sheep. Hmmmm. All of a sudden, this is beginning to sound like a farm. Of course, the bigger they get, the more food they take, and the more mess they leave behind. And try to imagine taking some of these pets for a walk. In some cases, they would be taking you for a walk.

And there are probably restrictions in some places on the size and type of pet you can have. Not that that stops a lot of people.

I'm sure some of you have gotten somewhat upset over the way I have been characterizing your favorite pets. Don't worry, I'm not criticizing anyone for your kind of preferred pet. I'm a dog person. My daughter, for the moment, at least, is a gerbil person. I know someone who is a cat person. Another who is a parakeet person. And I respect your choices and defend your right to choose a different pet. And I'm sure anyone with an exotic pet would probably wonder about my choice of dog.

So far, at least, we still live in a country where we are allowed to make choices like that. Ask me again next year... that may have changed. I hope you enjoyed this little romp through pet-land. And I hope that I'm leaving you with...

Something to think about.

Note from the Editor

लास्ट (that is Hindi script. Pretty isn't it?)

Last Thursday, Don McCaig friend and colleague persistently hinted that this club needed an organizer. His request needled me sleepless.

Now, why would I volunteer for this, you may ask? Have you ever met someone that is OCD about organizing stuff? Like for example, when I go to the store and browse the shelves and see a mess, what do I do? Well, I'll tell you I cannot shop till that mess is fixed. I'll reorg the boxes, shop items, and whatever so I can "comfortably" make my decision. Ugh, like who wants a dented can of something? How do I know I got the best one from among the mess?

Well, I see organizations like this and I use web tools to help organize them and make them successful.

Also I cannot stand for someone to ask for something and not give it to them if I have it. Now, that doesn't work for money.

If you ask me for money, I might give you a buck. Which reminds me, years ago I wrote a column titled "Bucks for Beggars". I wonder how many bucks that job pays? Anyone know?

Well, anyways here I am creating a little blogspot for "The Write Job" clublet to organize themselves.

What I learned from visiting them last Thursday is that they are still very much in the development stage and have an initiator named Fletch and three possible organizers and me (a web publisher).

Organizing your meeting on the web serves several purposes:
  • Web exposure
  • Web blogging skills (you need it, may as well learn it)
  • Consolidates all current info in one place
  • Provides information to searchers wanting to hook up with you
  • Provides friends with similar interests
  • Advertises your Location, Meeting Times
  • Allows you to share your thoughts, writing skills, and comaraderie

I could go on, but I think you get the drift. Hope you enjoy "The Write Job" clublet. They looked like interesting, and friendly folk. So, I bet they will come up with a lot of juicy stories.