Things Not to Step In


These are, I do not jest, categorized by the Jimmy Dean company as “Flapsticks.” It’s just so many kinds of wrong.


Someone offered me some gum today. It was a stick of New! Wrigley’s · Extra · Fruit Sensations · Long Lasting Fruit Flavor · Sweet Watermelon · Sugarfree Gum. Now, aside from having a name nearly as long as the phone book, the box was roughly the shape of a phone book, in miniature:


New! Wrigley's Extra Fruit Sensations Long Lasting Fruit Flavor Sweet Watermelon Sugarfree Gum

— But that’s okay. Not a problem. Not where I’m going today —


With apologies to Emily Letilla, I’d like to caution everyone about not being fully engaged with current events. In my opinion it’s fine to be either totally ignorant or completely apprised of what’s going on in the world. It’s the middle ground, that notorious ‘little bit of knowledge’ that provides occasion for danger.

The Apple (1980) (more…)

If other websites proffered update questions like twitter and facebook…


“What are you doing?”


What’s on your mind?” (was “What are you doing right now?”)


puerile-britainNo Snickering: That Road Sign Means Something Else is currently the most e-mailed article at The New York Times website. But just in case your internet browser is under a rock, I’m highlighting and linking to it here at pannaceaeae because grownups (who may have outgrown the cartoons on television ) still like to see something silly on Saturday mornings.

Don’t have much time to write this, but I suspect everyone would appreciate it if I posted something else so little noosey kitten isn’t the first thing confronting you upon arrival.

So once again it’s time for a grammar peeve. This one is personal. Much as I mentally kicked myself as a teenager every time I gratuitously said “like” or “you know,” nowadays I commit a verbal faux pas that really irks me (although I wouldn’t be surprised if no one else notices it). Here it is:

I try to avoid using the contraction of “it is” followed by the word “not” because it sounds like I’m saying “snot.” Now, I’m not much of a prude, but if I’m going to say “snot” I’ll say it when I damn well intend to. In this particular case it’s just as easy to transfer the contraction from “it is” to “is not” and I am diligently trying to train my mind to say “it isn’t.” Another possibility is to invent a new contraction: “it’sn’t” which is kind of funky but I doubt it’ll catch on as it sounds too similar to “isn’t.”

Next: The Mystery of Snu.

I generally don’t get involved with politics, but it seems as if the entire world is currently saturated with news and updates of the endless U.S. Presidential campaign / election / potential annunciation. Somehow it combined and evolved within my head into a bizarre hybrid political rhetoric earworm, which I fear I can only expunge through a blog posting:

Pieces of Eight Two Thousand and Eight

Pieces of Eight Two Thousand and Eight


Working intermittently on a big old elaborate post which is taking a while to fruiten.

In the interim I’m slapping together, as per usual in such circumstances, another episode of the old blog standby, the word usage and grammar philippic. This one’s rather brief, but I hope it will abate any withdrawal symptoms you may be experiencing, Dear Reader(s).

  • guesstimate. Merriam-Webster defines it as “an estimate usually made without adequate information.” The Oxford English Dictionary says it’s “an estimate which is based on both guesswork and reasoning.”  Listen, something is either a guess or it’s an estimate! You can have a well-informed guess or a poor estimate, but the former is still a guess and the latter is still an estimate. These species do not commingle. No viable offspring here. Incidentally, I was amazed to find out how long this misbegotten creature’s been around; M-W says 1923, while the OED cites a 1936 New York Times article. The OED is incorrect, however. I searched the Times’ website and the oldest citation there is:

    ‘GUESSTIMATE’ APPRAISAL.; Realtor Coins New Word to Express Careless Methods. [May 6, 1928, Sunday · Section: Classified Ad, Page 197, 135 words]

    Sorry, I can’t tell you any more about it because I wasn’t going to pay $3.95 to see the rest.


My adoring fans demand, demand, a new post. Okay, maybe it’s not quite that overwhelming. Fully half of my regular readers asked me to get back on the keyboard and do something. Well, it’s really only one person, Dish, but since I have only two regular readers it’s technically half. (update: while I was intermittently composing this, curlywurlygurly chimed in in agreement, so now 100% of my quote fans unquote are breathing down my neck).

My response? The hoariest of blog staples: the diatribe on word usage and grammar! Ta-da!

Yes, I know everyone does at least one of these. But in this case I’m doing it to show you all that I’m not special. I’m just like everyone else: I put my panties on one leg at a time (then I take them off because they’re inside-out, put them on one leg at a time again, take them off because they’re backwards, and put them on yet again one leg at a time – hmm… maybe I am “special”).

So anyway, I have so many gripes about language that I’m sure I could write a whole book on the subject, but I’ll limit this post to a select few that are (a) most prominent in my mind right now, and (b) have, I believe, not already been written about to death by every blogger and their little sister (apostrophes, axe vs. ask, “should of,” et al.). (more…)

This morning I’ve been thinking about books. Library books in particular. I like books, love them. I own many, some of which I’ve even read. But still I can’t resist a good bookstore or a nice library.

Despite the many books at home that I haven’t yet but am eternally keen to read, I find that I’m constantly borrowing books from the library. New York City, where I work, has a great library system: many titles, excellent on-line interface, and a superb inter-branch lending program. I exploit the latter extensively, reserving books, CDs, DVDs, etc. and having them sent to my local branch. Sometimes there’s a waiting list for popular titles and the wait may be months, but if there’s a copy not spoken for it usually arrives within a few days, a week at most.

There is, however, a price to paid: one is often reminded that this is a communal operation. These are not the lovingly-cared for, gently read volumes of my home library, where the paperbacks’ spines have no cracks and the hardcovers’ corners are not dented. Oh no. These are the books that are thrown into the seething masses of humanity, at best like stage divers at a rave, at worst like chum for great whites. Now, it’s true that not all of the library’s patrons are selfish and inconsiderate of the group enterprise aspect, but there are enough of that sort to make a significant impact, and the books bear the battle scars as proof. Here’s my list of the major types: (more…)

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