Friday, November 2, 2012

Prince Charming for President

The biggest problem facing the United States today is our relations with foreign governments. Our foreign policy is weak, and I am the perfect man to tackle this problem. My name is Prince Charming, and I am running for the office of President of the United States.

One aspect of foreign policy that I am particularly suited for is diplomacy. See this 100watt smile? I have found that a warm smile combined with my handsome visage and tall, muscular body easily convinces opponents that I am right about whatever topic is being discussed. I am very persuasive and, well, charming, if you will. It's one of my greatest gifts.

Of course, talking often isn't enough to solve our problems with foreign governments that refuse to be reasonable. I am an experienced military leader. I have led several successful campaigns against neighboring countries. My expertise with a sword is widely acknowledged, and I have never lost a cavalry battle.

I intend to build up a strong military presence within the United States to deter attacks. Once enemies understand that we are prepared to unsheathe our swords and defend ourselves, they will back away from the fight or suffer the consequences. We must show the world that we are strong and that we intend to protect what is ours.

Your vote for me will ensure the implementation of an effective foreign policy based on strength, diplomacy, and charm. My name is Prince Charming, and I approved this message.

Paid for by the Committee of Princesses and Average Citizens to Elect Prince Charming.

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPad

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Vote for Me!

So what do YOU think the major problem facing the U.S. today is? If you believe, as I do, that the economy is our biggest problem, I suggest you vote for me. I am the solution you've been seeking.

You see, I have the extraordinary ability to spin straw into gold. What our economy needs is more gold, right? I suggest putting the U.S. back on the gold standard, so that our paper money is backed up by something tangible. We can always print more paper dollars, but we know that flooding the economy with dollars reduces the value of each dollar. This causes inflation, and inflation is not the goal, is it? But gold? Now that's value you can hold in your hand.

You may have heard rumors that I expect payment in the form of your first-born children for my services. I have to state unequivocally that, although I did make this deal once, it was a mutually agreed upon arrangement. Unfortunately, I found the results of this arrangement to be less than satisfying, so you may rest assured that payment in children is no longer acceptable. Vote for me and I am sure we can negotiate terms later. After all, I only want what you want - an economically sound United States.

My name is...um...um...well, you know, and I approved this message.

Paid for by Citizens to Elect Rumplestiltskin.

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPad

Thursday, October 11, 2012

Presidential Candidates Series: Jill Hill

My name is Jill, and I want to tell you a story. Many years ago when my brother and I were children, we were in a serious accident. While climbing a hill near our home, both of us lost our footing and fell. I sustained only minor injuries, but my brother Jack was left with severe brain damage. Since then, providing Jack with the health care he needs has been an enormous burden on our family.

My family is not the only family in this situation. Consider Humpty Dumpty and the cost of hiring all the King's horses and all the King's men, only to have the medical treatment ultimately fail. Humpty remains bed-ridden, and his family has had to declare bankruptcy. The medication necessary to keep Humpty pain-free is outrageously expensive, and often he must go without. This situation is untenable.

I am the Presidential candidate of the Fair Healthcare for All party. If you vote for me for President, I promise to correct the healthcare system that causes these difficult situations for American families. I will immediately hire all health professionals, who will be paid a reasonable and equitable amount to work in the government health program. The money necessary to fund the new, fair medical program will be paid for by taxes on the rich. Only by requiring tax payers to contribute according to their ability to pay can we guarantee that all Americans will receive the medical care they need.

Your vote for me will ensure that everyone receives the healthcare that he or she needs, regardless of ability to pay. This is my solemn promise to you.

My name is Jill Hill and I approved this message.

Paid for by the Concerned Citizens for Equality in Healthcare and by the committee to elect Jill Hill.

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Presidential Candidates Series: Chicken Little

Who is the ideal candidate for President of the United States? Looking for some suggestions? I hope you enjoy my series of political ads much more than you're enjoying the Obama/Romney ads on TV right now. --Vicki

Hello. My name is Chicken Little and I'm running for President of the United States as the Environmental Party candidate. I believe that the number one issue facing this country today is the disastrous impact human beings have had on our planet. Consider man-made global warming, for example. The polar ice caps are melting, the oceans are getting bigger, and soon the entire earth will be covered in water. You have to admit, compared to this catastrophic scenario, all other issues become irrelevant.

I am the ideal candidate to solve this nation's main problem because I have personal experience dealing with environmental disasters. Single-handedly, I solved the terrifying problem of the sky falling. As you can see, the steps I took to correct the sky-falling catastrophe have been and continue to be successful.  I promise that I will implement the steps necessary to avert environmental melt-down from my first day as President, regardless of cost or other petty considerations.

A vote for me in November is a vote for planet Earth. I am Chicken Little, and I approved this message.

Paid for by environmentally-concerned American chickens and the committee to elect Chicken Little.

Thursday, October 4, 2012

Important New Health and Safety Tip

So HOW does something like this happen?

In Aberdeen, Scotland earlier this week, a man got his head stuck in a rubbish bin. When I say stuck, I do mean STUCK. A rescue crew had to use heavy-duty tools normally used for cutting people out of vehicles after auto accidents to free the man.

Now, I’ve reached into a trash can once or twice when I’ve accidentally thrown away something that wasn’t actually trash. We all have, right? I’ve read stories about people dumpster diving to find lost wedding rings, and there are frequently news reports of people who have rescued what turned out to be priceless Rembrandt paintings from trash heaps. However, this gent in Scotland went far past this point. It’s a pretty serious situation when you have to be rescued from a trash bin with the jaws-of-life.

If we think education in the United States is lacking, what can we surmise about the education in Scotland? Did no one ever tell the 52-year-old man that sticking his head in a rubbish bin is a bad idea? We tell small children not to push beans up their noses, but have you ever heard someone tell you not to wedge your head into a rubbish bin? Obviously, Scottish schools need to add this important bit of health information to their curriculum immediately.

So what was so important to this man that he had to go down a rubbish bin after it? Was it the winning million dollar lottery ticket? Was it a stash of illegal drugs that he had placed in the bin for safe-keeping? Was it a priceless family heirloom pocket watch? We don’t actually know, although reporters in Aberdeen believe it might have been a cigarette. Huh?

Monday, October 1, 2012

Who's the head of this household?



“I put the leash on Wreck, but he won’t go outside.”

“Well, it is raining pretty hard.”

“I know, but who ever heard of a dog that refuses to go for a walk?”

“Maybe he’s smarter than other dogs. I wouldn’t go for a walk in this weather either.”

“Don’t you want to go walkies, Wreck?” I crooned.

Wreck looked out at the rain, then up at me. He took a step back.

I sighed. Wreck and I had sloshed through the rain last night, and had gotten completely soaked and cold. He knew better than to do it again tonight, and yet here I was, trying to force him to walk with me.

“Fine, we won’t go. Chris?”

“Yes, Vicki?”

“You’ll have to get up and let this dog out when he has to pee at 2 AM since he won’t go out now.”

“That hardly seems fair.”

“Not my problem. I suggest you address all complaints to the dog. He’s obviously in charge.”

Thursday, September 27, 2012

How the iPad Changes Music Forever

Thanks to guest author and composer Pretty Good Pete for this article and the wonderful music!

    I’m not afraid to admit that I looked down upon the Apple iPad when it was released in April 2010. It was probably 9 months after release before I had my first experience with the device. After all, the iPhone and iPod Touch lines had been released several years before, and the iPad just seemed like a larger version of the Touch. As an early adopter of the Touch, I felt no need to “upgrade” from my first-generation Touch to a larger, heavier version. But one single, solitary app changed my opinion in an instant.

    March 2011 brought the release of Garageband for iPad. Several months later, when I finally acquired my first iPad, the first thing I did was download Garageband. After all, $4.99 wasn’t a whole lot of money at the time, so I wouldn’t lose much if the app was useless. It was going to be a toy, something fun to play with when I was bored, something to DO on a “useless” device.

    Instead, what I found was an extremely robust recording program with a wide-enough bank of sounds and effects that let my creativity run wild. After making the obligatory techno tracks using only the touch-screen instruments, I began to play with the guitar effects - you could plug a guitar into the headphone jack, allowing you to record and use Garageband’s built-in amplifiers and effects “pedals”. A cheap adapter allowed me to plug a “controller” keyboard into the dock connector, allowing me to play the synthesizer instruments without having to use the touchscreen (saving battery a bit in the process). I was completely hooked.

    Expanding my horizons, I found apps that allowed the iPad to control the sounds on a Mac laptop, instead of needing an actual physical keyboard. I have synthesizer apps that generate ridiculous sounds a la King Crimson or Pink Floyd. I found apps that allow the touchscreen to be used as an entire instrument, complete with all of the expressions and emotions of the best physical-instrument virtuosos.

    Jim Morrison once said, “I can envision one person with a lot of machines - tapes, electronic setups - singing and speaking, and using a lot of machines.” Who needs a lot of machines when you can have one single machine do anything you want? The future of music exists on a 10-inch screen.

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Do you borrow money from your children?

“Hey, Alex. Do you have any cash I could borrow?”

“Maybe. What do you need it for, Mom?”

“I’m going to the museum with Gloria and I need $6 in cash to get in. Do you have some?”

“I guess so. You know, you really should put aside some of your paycheck for entertainment expenses like this. You can’t keep borrowing from me.”

“I know. I’m sorry I have to ask you for money again. If I use a bank machine, I have to pay the fees to take money out.”

“Yeah, I’ve heard that one before. When are you going to pay me back?”

“I’ll go to the bank and withdraw some cash tomorrow, OK? For heaven’s sake, I only need to borrow 6 dollars! You’d think I need to borrow the rent money or something.”

My son raised one eyebrow. “It’s not really about the amount, now is it? It’s about your lack of planning and the fact that you keep borrowing money from my piggy bank.”

“I always pay it back, though,” I pointed out.

“But you don’t pay me interest.”

“Do you really want to go there?”

He thought about it for a long moment, then sighed. “I guess not.” He dug in his pocket and carefully counted out six crumpled one-dollar bills. He shoved the five and the twenty back in his pocket as he handed me the ones.

“Thanks, sweetie. I really appreciate the loan.”

He walked away, muttering something under his breath about interest and loans and my frequent borrowing that I totally ignored.

I picked up my phone and dialed Gloria. “I borrowed the $6 from Alex, so I can go to the museum. Would you mind driving? Alex was so grumpy I didn’t want to ask for gas money, too.”

Thursday, September 20, 2012

An Engineering Epic Fail

I think high-end cameras are stupid. I mean your typical Nikons and Canons and such. You know, the pricier ones with the changeable lenses.  SLRs and such. Now, I don't mean the device itself is stupid, or that buying or owning one is stupid... I mean that the design of these cameras is stupid.

Why in the world are we still scrunching our noses up against the back of the camera, often smudging the color display, to squint through the viewfinder? The camera companies figured this out for the little point-and-shoot jobs a long time ago.  I don't think you can even find one with a glass viewfinder anymore. But the big boys still have them.  This wide-body design is a holdover from the days when the roll of film had to spread across the back of the camera lens.  But we don't use film anymore. Today's college graduates have probably never even seen a real film camera. And yet, the nose gets scrunched as we go for that perfect shot.

They figured it out for video cameras. Same technology, better shape. Heck... Keep the old-timey shape... Just extend the viewfinder like they do on video cameras... presto! No nose oil smeared on the LCD display.  Even in the old film days, why didn't they just put the viewfinder on the bottom of the camera instead of the top?  That would have been much better.

Why don't they ever ask me about these kinds of things? They should just check with me first and save themselves a lot of embarrassment.

Thanks to guest blogger Chris Scullion for this amusing article!

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Violent Students: What is a Teacher Supposed to Do?

            What would you do if a 16-year-old student became verbally abusive, doused you with a milkshake, and then picked up a chair with the intent to throw it at you? Unfortunately, this is not a random scenario; incidents like this one that happened at a U.K. high school recently are not isolated cases. How are you, as a teacher, supposed to handle a situation like this?

            Robert Cox, a 13-year teaching veteran, made the decision to push the out-of-control boy into a chair and physically restrain him there. A video record of the incident showed that he was attempting to protect himself and other students. He was fired for his efforts. Obviously, Mr. Cox’s reaction was seen by the administration as unacceptable. Instead, he was accused of escalating the incident and provoking the boy, thereby causing the problem.

            So what should you, as a teacher, do in such a situation? Do you simply talk to the student, try to calm him down? Do you back away and give the child time to cool off by himself? Do you threaten the student with disciplinary action? Do you do whatever is necessary to ensure the safety of all students, even if that means physically restraining an out-of-control student?

            Keep in mind that teachers are human beings. Reacting to a physical threat is instinctual. Mr. Cox had already been physically threatened when the student had thrown a milkshake at him, so it was likely that the chair may indeed have been the student’s next projectile. Was his reaction out of proportion to the threat? Perhaps not.

            Of course, each situation is different and much depends on the personality and experience level of the teacher. I have not seen the video of Mr. Cox’s incident, but I have personally witnessed several such cases when I was teaching in the public schools. Occasionally, a teacher involved in an incident will overreact to a perceived threat, but most often the out-of-control student is truly in danger of harming the teacher, other students, or himself.

            I always try to keep my cool in these situations. Sending for help, talking to the student, and keeping other students from coming too close are priorities. The few times I have had to restrain a student before he or she injured me or someone else, I did not react from anger. Perhaps that is the key. If you can keep the situation from becoming a personal battle between teacher and student, you can keep your head and consider your options. You’re the adult; he or she is the child. Use that experience and keep your cool.

            Teaching is a noble, honorable profession. It is difficult to believe that handling volatile situations like this has become fairly commonplace for teachers.

Thursday, September 13, 2012

An Exercise in Futility: Boys versus Girls

“Gosh darn it all to heck!” I slammed my hand down on the desk.

“What is it you’re darning all to heck, dearest?” Chris tried to hide a smile, but didn’t quite succeed. We’ve been married for 29 years, and I know him pretty well.

“I’m trying to apply for this job and the website keeps refusing to save my input and I keep having to start from the beginning. It’s frustrating, darn it all!”

“…to heck. Yeah, I heard that part. Do you want help?”

“I guess. I don’t understand why this darn computer won’t do what I want it to do. Look, when I click here, it lets me enter my data. Then I click here to save, and the program sends me back to the login screen. It happens every darn time!”

“How many times have you tried doing that?” Chris asked, frowning at me.

“Well, I don’t know. A dozen maybe?”

“I see. I’m going to tell you a little story, OK?”


“Just listen. There was recently a study done to see if boys and girls react differently to just this kind of situation. Boy and girl babies were placed in front of monitors and taught that if they pull a rope, the screen would show colorful pictures. Pulling on the rope changed the picture. Got it?”

“Yes,” I answered with a sigh. There was no point trying to hurry him. He’d get to the point sooner or later.

“Then the researchers changed the test. Now when the babies pulled the rope, the pictures would change for a time or two, and then the rope would stop working. It turns out that boy babies would pull the rope once or twice more, figure out that the toy had stopped working, and look around for something else to do. Girl babies, on the other hand, would continue to pull the rope even though nothing ever happened when they did. They would get frustrated and start to cry.”

“What exactly are you trying to say, Christopher?” I narrowed my eyes and glared at him.

“Just pointing out that you’re a girl, darling wife. If it doesn’t work – ever – why would you continue to try?”

“I don’t like you very much right now,” I warned him.

“How about if I solve your problem? What browser are you using?”

“Google Chrome.”

“I see. Maybe this website doesn’t support Chrome. Try switching to Internet Explorer.”

I sighed heavily, closed Chrome, opened Explorer, and easily completed the job application in just a few minutes. “Gosh darn it all to heck!” I mumbled as I turned off the computer.

“Did that work?” Chris called from the living room.

“Did that work?” I parroted, albeit under my breath. “Um…yeah,” I answered.

“No need to thank me,” he laughed.

I rolled my eyes. “Fine, then. I won’t.”

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Thursday, September 6, 2012

Cowboys Beat Giants in First Game of the Season!

I’m sure there were shouts and huzzahs! all over the U.S. last night, except perhaps for some random people in New York and one couple that I know of  in Orlando, Florida. Here in Lawrenceville, GA, there were no shouts. There were no huzzahs! There was stunned silence.

“The game is over?” I asked doubtfully.

“Yup,” Chris answered.

“And the Cowboys won?”

He smiled at me. “Yes, your Cowboys won.”

“That would be the Dallas Cowboys?”

Chris laughed.

“Tony Romo, Demarcus Ware, et al?”

“You watched the game, Vicki.”

“I know, but really. My Dallas Cowboys won? My Dallas Cowboys won!”

It finally sank in. I pulled out my phone.

“You do have bragging rights,” Chris noted. “It was a great game.”

I texted the couple in Orlando: “Dearest Mom and Dad, Romo Rocks! Sorry about Eli and the Giants. NOT!”

I swear I could hear my parents sigh from 400 miles away. We’ve been a divided family since forever. Staunch Giant fans, somehow my parents raised a staunch, nee rabid, Cowboys fan. They wonder where they went wrong. I wonder why they never saw the light. The Cowboys are obviously superior. Last night, my Cowboys proved it.

Woohoo, Cowboys!!

By the way, Demarcus Ware got 2 sacks last night, which is probably enough to convince the child in the NFL ad to become a Cowboys’ fan. Welcome to the club, little man.

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Reading is...well...fundamental

I do love to read. Now that I'm in control of my addiction to Mafia Wars, all I want to do with my spare time is read. I have bookshelves packed full of hardcovers and paperbacks, and piles of books littering my desk, chairs, and floor. Unfortunately, those aren't the books I'm reading. I will get to them at some point, at least that's what I tell Chris. But really, I'm hooked on my Kindle.

I have a Kindle, the Kindle app on my iPad and my iPhone, and I am deliriously happy. I can read the same book wherever I happen to be, using whichever device I happen to have. I don't even have to search for my page; all of these pieces of hardware automatically sync with each other and with my computer. I tend to read several books at a time, but with these magical devices, I can carry all of them: the classic I'm determined to read at last (e.g. 1984); a textbook on teaching strategies; and the latest vampire romance.

So you've gathered that I like my Kindle and you're wondering how on earth I can afford the hundreds of books stored on it already. Here's my secret: www.pixelofink.com
Pixel of Ink

Pixel of Ink collects the Kindle books that Amazon is giving away for a limited time, and sends you an e-mail or posts on your FB page, and also posts them on the Pixel of Ink webpage. You can "purchase" any of these books for free from Amazon and have them delivered to your Kindle in seconds. Of course, not all selections may appeal to you, and some of the free books are admittedly better than others. You really don't have anything to lose by checking them out, though.

Next time, I'm going to introduce you to Goodreads. It's a gigantic book club! You'll adore it.

Happy reading, my friends.

Thursday, August 30, 2012

The Great Political Tomato Battle

Are you sick of politicians hurling insults at each other? Have you had enough of the media’s frenzied coverage of the upcoming presidential election? Do you secretly harbor a fantasy in which ignorant, lying politicians from both parties spontaneously ignite, leaving behind only a puff of sulfurous smoke?

Believe me, you are not alone. I, personally, trust zero politicians, and I have reached the point where I question whether or not this great American republic is going to last for another generation. Increasingly higher taxes, socialized medicine, unrestricted IRS and Homeland Security powers, outrageous government waste, and a continuing prohibition on drugs are just a few of the issues that the people of our country are facing today. We cannot renounce our citizenship and leave the country without giving our money to the IRS, we have to jump through hoops to exercise our 2nd Amendment rights, and many politicians feel the need to propose legislation that will keep our children from learning science in favor of religious myth, and our women from getting the medical care they need when they have been raped. The government is insidiously seeping into all areas of our personal lives, and it needs to be stopped.

Will either of the two major candidates do anything to restore our personal freedoms and reduce the amount of money the government takes from us? I doubt it. I don’t like either of my options, and I’m tired of listening to the rhetoric. So I suggest this alternative from Spain as a solution to the obnoxious squabbles and the “he said-she said” arguments. Vote “yes” if you want to see a “Great Political Tomato Fight” on CNN next week!

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

It's a Dull, Dull, Dull, Dull World (Today, anyway)

The news today is dreadfully dull. Consider these “riveting” stories:

1.      Prince Harry puts nude Vegas pictures behind him and makes heartwarming speech at the London Paralympic Games.

2.      Snooki gave birth to a baby boy. (I must admit that I have no idea who Snooki is and why she’s famous.)

3.      Pussy Riot members are continuing to try to flee Russia after violating the “absolutely no guaranteed free speech” laws. There are still 14 band members attempting to get out of the country before they are arrested and thrown in jail.

4.      The lion spotted by several people in St. Osyth in southeast England turned out to be a large Maine Coon cat. Yes, it was someone’s pet.

5.      A tourist in Iceland was reported missing from her tour bus, and then helped search for herself. She had changed clothes at a stop, and no one on the bus recognized her in the new clothes. Apparently, she didn’t recognize herself from the description of the missing woman, and so she kindly volunteered to participate in the search. You would have thought that the bus driver could have counted the number of people on the bus to see that he wasn’t missing anyone, but it’s so easy to Monday-morning quarterback, isn’t it?

6.      The GOP convention has begun in Tampa. So far, no one has reported that a politician has made any remarks that are stupider than the normal garbage they’ve been spouting for years. Since we already know that Mitt Romney will be selected as the presidential nominee, the whole convention is kind of a let-down. Perhaps this 19th century convention convention has reached the end of its usefulness and should be eliminated. Just think of the goodwill gained if the parties stopped annoying the American public.

          7.      From my personally dull world:
               ·    It’s raining in Lawrenceville, Georgia.
               ·    Wreck was groomed today.
               ·    I will be meeting Chris for lunch after his noon meeting and then going to work, where I will do my best to help college students improve their writing skills.
               ·    Dinner tonight is homemade chicken stew, which is already cooking away in the crock pot. If you care, each serving is 477 calories.
               ·    Yawn. I think I’ll go take a nap until lunchtime. Have a nice - even if slightly dull - day!

Thursday, August 23, 2012

History of the English Language in 100 Words

I like the exact word, and clarity of statement, and here and there a touch of good grammar for picturesqueness.                          ---Mark Twain
David Crystal, a linguistics professor in Wales, recently decided to tell the history of the English language in 100 words. Now that sounds like quite a task, especially when you take into consideration that English has been spoken in some form or other since the 5th century. That’s a long time!

First, Professor Crystal broke down English history into segments: Old English, Middle English, Early Modern English, and Modern English. Then, he chose words that were linguistically significant. These words represent changes in cultural norms, regional dialects, genres, technology, and religion. From the first known word “Roe” to the most recent addition “Twittersphere,” Crystal’s list gives us fascinating insight into how the English language has evolved.

THE LIST (The comments briefly explain why the word was chosen.)
1 Roe The first word (5th c)
2 Lea Naming places (8th c)
3 And An early abbreviation (8th c)
4 Loaf An unexpected origin (9th c)
5 Out Changing grammar (9th c)
6 Street A Latin loan (9th c)
7 Mead A window into history (9th c)
8 Merry A dialect survivor (9th c)
9 Riddle Playing with language (10th c)
10 What An early exclamation (10th c)
11 Bone-house A word-painting (10th c)
12 Brock A Celtic arrival (10th c)
13 English The language named (10th c)
14 Bridegroom Popular etymology (11th c)
15 Arse An impolite word (11th c)
16 Swain A poetic expression (12th c)
17 Pork An elegant word (13th c)
18 Chattels A legal word (13th c)
19 Dame A form of address (13th c)
20 Skirt A word doublet (13th c)
21 Jail Or Gaol? Competing words (13th c)
22 Take away A phrasal verb (13th c)
23 Cuckoo A sound-symbolic word (13th c)
24 C--- A taboo word (13th c)
25 Wicked A radical alteration (13th c)
26 Wee A Scottish contribution (14th c)
27 Grammar A surprising link (14th c)
28 Valentine First name into word (14th c)
29 Egg A dialect choice (14th c)
30 Royal Word triplets (14th c)
31 Money A productive idiom (14th c)
32 Music A spelling in evolution (14th c)
33 Taffeta An early trade word (14th c)
34 Information(s) (Un)countable nouns (14th c)
35 Gaggle A collective noun (15th c)
36 Doable A mixing of languages (15th c)
37 Matrix A word from Tyndale (16th c)
38 Alphabet Talking about writing (16th c)
39 Potato A European import (16th c)
40 Debt A spelling reform (16th c)
41 Ink-horn A classical food (16th c)
42 Dialect Regional variation (16th c)
43 Bodgery Word-coiners (16th c)
44 Undeaf A word from Shakespeare (16th c)
45 Skunk An early Americanism (17th c)
46 Shibboleth A word from the King James Bible (17th c)
47 Bloody Emerging swear word (17th c)
48 Lakh A word from India (17th c)
49 Fopdoodle A lost word (17th c)
50 Billion A confusing ambiguity (17th c)
51 Yogurt A choice of spelling (17th c)
52 Gazette A taste of journalese (17th c)
53 Tea A social word (17th c)
54 Disinterested A confusable (17th c)
55 Polite A matter of manners (17th c)
56 Dilly-dally A reduplicating word (17th c)
57 Rep A clipping (17th c)
58 Americanism A new nation (18th c)
59 Edit A back-information (18th c)
60 Species Classifying things (18th c)
61 Ain’t Right and wrong (18th c)
62 Trek A word from Africa (19th c)
63 Hello Progress through technology (19th c)
64 Dragsman Thieves’ cant (19th c)
65 Lunch U or non-U (19th c)
66 Dude A cool usage (19th c)
67 Brunch A portmanteau word (19th c)
68 Dinkum A word from Australia (19th c)
69 Mipela Pidgin English (19th c)
70 Schmooze A Yiddishism (19th c)
71 OK Debatable origins (19th c)
72 Ology Suffix into word (19th c)
73 Y’all A new pronoun (19th c)
74 Speech-craft An Anglo-Saxonism (19th c)
75 DNA Scientific terminology (20th c)
76 Garage A pronunciation problem(20th c)
77 Escalator Word into name into word (20th c)
78 Robot A global journey (20th c)
79 UFO Alternative forms (20th c)
80 Watergate Place-name into word (20th c)
81 Doublespeak Weasel words (20th c)
82 Doobry Useful nonsense (20th c)
83 Blurb A moment of arrival (20th c)
84 Strine A comic effect (20th c)
85 Alzheimer’s Surname into word (20th c)
86 Grand Money slang (20th c)
87 Mega Prefix into word (20th c)
88 Gotcha A non-standard spelling (20th c)
89 PC Being politically correct (20th c)
90 Bagonise A nonce-word (20th c)
91 Webzine An internet compound (20th c)
92 App A killer abb (20th c)
93 Cherry-picking Corporate speak (20th c)
94 LOL Netspeak (20th c)
95 Jazz Word of the century (20th c)
96 Sudoku A modern loan (21st c)
97 Muggle A fiction word (21st c)
98 Chillax A fashionable blend (21st c)
99 Unfriend A new age (21st c)
100 Twittersphere Future directions? (21st c)

Read more about this list at:

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Toothpaste, Part Deux

“Hey, look at this article. This guy is even more nuts than you are!”

“Excuse me?” I frowned and glared at Chris. “I am not nuts!”

Chris laughed. “If you say so. But read this anyway.”

It was an article about ways to get all of the toothpaste out of the tube. I’ve written about this topic before, and Chris was actually right (but please don’t tell him I said so). It makes me nuts when he throws away his toothpaste tube when there is obviously several days worth of toothpaste left.

Cut Open Your Toothpaste Tube To Scoop Out the Remains by Shep McAllister

If you've exhausted the binder clip and counter squeezing methods to coax extra toothpaste out of a tube, you can try cutting off the back of the container to fish out the remains.
Just as you would use a chip to scoop up the last bit of salsa from the side of a bowl, you can use the toothbrush to gather any remaining paste stuck to the sides of the tube. It may only be enough for one or two brushings, but it could still save you from having to drive to the pharmacy late at night before bed.
Anyway, after reading the above article from LifeHacker, I have learned one more way to get that last bit of toothpaste out of the tube. I’m so happy! And perhaps a little bit nuts.

Obviously, this whole toothpaste thing has made people nuts for years. This news article is from 1937.

Thursday, August 16, 2012

American Public Education: Epic Fail or Remarkable Success?

When it comes to the question of whether or not the American education system does what it is supposed to do, there’s no easy answer. First of all, we have to decide what we want our schools to do. What should be the final result of 12 years of public school education?

Here’s my list of objectives for graduating high school students:
  • The students should be able to read English (on an 8th grade level at a minimum);
  • The students should be able to do basic mathematical computations;
  • The students should be able to speak and write in standard business English clearly and effectively;
  • The students should have a working knowledge of modern technology;
  • The students should understand basic science concepts (which include health issues);
  • The students should know how the American government and economy function.

 If a student masters these objectives, I would expect him/her to be able to function effectively as an adult. One would expect these adults to be able to read and understand an employment contract, use a computer, communicate ideas effectively, calculate a 15% tip, understand global warming, and know the function of the Electoral College.

Okay, now that we’ve decided what we want our public schools to accomplish, we can try to determine whether or not the American education system does what it is supposed to do. I propose looking at some of the headlines from today’s news and judging the effectiveness of education from these (admittedly limited) viewpoints.

First, let’s take a look at this article from Kentucky:
“Kentucky GOP lawmakers say ACT exam treats evolution as fact, ignores creationism”

Basically, the problem that these politicians have is that there are “questions on an end-of-course biology exam that…seems to require the teaching of evolution as a fact instead of a theory.” Unfortunately, I see this as an epic fail for the education these politicians received at their local public schools. All students should have been taught the scientific method and they should understand the difference between “fact” and “theory.” Facts stay the same, while theories are changeable as more evidence is discovered that proves or disproves the theory. Theories, by their very nature, are not “the truth,” because there might yet be evidence found that disproves them. Evolution is a theory, because scientists are routinely adding to the body of knowledge about the subject. As far as I can tell, there really is no way of teaching evolution as “fact.” These politicians were obviously absent from high school on the day the scientific method was taught. Sigh….

Next, watch the video below:
“Mars Rover’s ‘Voice’ Captured During Nail-Biting Landing”

Now isn’t that just the most remarkable human intellectual accomplishment you’ve seen in quite a while? The scientists who worked on the Curiosity project obviously got the most from their public school educations. They learned basic science, mathematics, and communication skills. They learned from past experiments with similar projects, and they designed a system that worked, and worked well. This is an epic success for American public education. (Note: Credit must be given to the colleges these scientists attended, as well.) If you’re a teacher, feel free to pat yourself on the back. These scientists couldn’t have achieved this incredible feat of ingenuity without the foundation you helped them build.

So does the American education system do what we need it to do? I guess the answer is…sometimes.

Super article on fact versus theory:  http://www.johnpratt.com/items/astronomy/science.html

Kentucky article: http://www.courier-journal.com/viewart/20120815/NEWS0101/308150079/Kentucky-GOP-lawmakers-say-ACT-exam-treats-evolution-fact-ignores-creationism?odyssey=nav%7Chead

Wonderful pictures and video about Curiosity and other space-related issues: http://www.space.com