Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Maybe You Didn't Know: Proofreading the Internet

You all know me. You know I try to be patient when you totally ignore every rule that your poor English teacher tried so hard to teach you while you were fixing your makeup, flirting with the boy in the next row, and passing notes to your bestie across the room.

Really I try. 


But I can only take so much, and then it just all comes bubbling out in a Wicked English Teacher rant. We have reached that point. It is time.

Teacher caricature
Get ready to pay attention!

Now I'm going to try to take it easy on you. Maybe you just didn't know there were rules to spelling and punctuation and so on. How could you have  known? I mean, that homecoming float wasn't going to build itself now, was it? You can't have been expected to listen to everything your English teacher said. It was just all "nouns" this and "semi-colon" that. Who  knows what hideous prom dress you would have ended up with if you hadn't hidden that Seventeen Magazine inside your grammar book!

Seventeen Cover 1989
March 1989

So let me share some things with you that you might not know because you were too dimwitted, er, busy, to pay attention in class. All of these examples come from various websites I have visited in the last month or so.

Maybe you didn't know: "Besides the point" is incorrect. The correct phrase is "beside the point."  As in, "I thought your prom gown looked pretty tacky anyway, but that's beside the point." 

Speaking of "tacky," maybe you didn't know: Manufacturers pretty much always put the correct spelling of their product right on the label. This is directed at the hot cocoa addict who wrote "I pop cocoa like Tick-Taks people."

No. No, you don't.

In addition to misspelling the product name, this writer left out the comma before the word "people." I'm sure the rest of you were paying attention when your teachers, (All of them! Starting in about the third grade until you graduated, assuming you graduated.) told you to use a comma before and after a noun of direct address. In other words, when you're talking to someone, separate their  name (people) from the rest of the sentence by using commas.

Another writer mentioned the "high lite of my day." Don't even get me started. Spell the words, people! There will be no "slang" spelling on my Internet! Thank you. And by the way, "highlight" is one word. You're welcome.

Someone, I believe it was on a cooking blog, said that "A purest probably would not approve..." I'm confused. The word "purest" is a superlative adjective. It means "most pure" and comes after "pure, purer..." Someone who insists things be done correctly is a "purist." Maybe you didn't know. Now you do.

"...keep the ribbon taught." Hee hee hee. Maybe you didn't know that you can't teach ribbons. You can barely teach people. Trust me! You can however keep a ribbon taut, meaning "stretched tight."

Someone was concerned whether a Flexi clip will work in "course hair" Well, of course they work in coarse hair! Not so much in "course" hair. Sorry.

Finally, maybe you didn't know that you can't take advise. Really, you can't! I advise you to take as much good advice as you can get, but don't take it from the person who wrote, "This is good advise!"
There! I feel better now. Did you learn anything you didn't already know? What errors have you run across lately that bring out The Wicked English Teacher in you? Leave me a comment! Thanks.

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

The Hillbilly Reflects on Boston

My Hillbilly has something he wants to talk about, and I'm just going to let him get right to it:

Due to recent news events, I got to thinking about my childhood.  I remember such things as my first attempt at keeping a bicycle upright.  A neighbor had me get on his son’s bike and gave me a running push down a narrow barbwire fenced trail between his fields.  In retrospect, it was probably not a well thought out idea.  Obviously, I crashed but survived without too many scratches.

 I remember getting my first bicycle on my 8th birthday.  It was actually my oldest sister’s bicycle that had been shined up and had new tubes and tires put on it.  Yeah, I learned to ride a bike on a girl’s bicycle!  Do you want to make something of it?  I didn’t get to try to ride it that night or even have birthday cake because we rushed off to where I had my first ride in a plane.

 We flew from Lebanon, Missouri to Tulsa, Oklahoma and then back.  We were in my uncle’s airplane.  He was taking his mother back to her home, and since it was my birthday, Dad worked it out to where we got to tag along.  If any of you remember the television show Sky King the plane looked just like it.  Being just then 8 years old without any previous flying experience, I thought it was really loud and really cool, except for the occasion of when the plane died as we were flying over a large lake.  Then, for a short time it got very quiet and uncool.

 Again, obviously, we didn’t crash, since I am able to keep you enthralled and on the edge of your seats as you read this.  Shortly after that, I signed up to play Little League baseball.  They made me into a pitcher and showed me how to so the wind up and release.  I remember going to stores with my mom and while she shopped, standing off to the side and practicing my windup and release, over and over again.  It was a good year!

The Hillbilly Boy

As to the reason I am writing this, it is because I can.  I am still alive to tell you about some of these things!  I am old enough to tell you about experiences over a large period of years, more years than seem possible because it seems like such a short time.  I can tell you about my experiences, my children, my grandchildren and so on.

 I say all this because recently, a little 8 year old’s life and others’ lives were ended, and others’ lives forever changed by some cowardly people who placed bombs at the Boston Marathon.  I saw the little boy’s picture, his little smiling face topped off with a ball cap.  Usually these things make me worry about my grandchildren, friends’ children, everyone’s children.  But this time it reminded me of my ball cap, my youth and my yesteryears.  This little eight year old, just as the Sandy Hook children, will never get to reach his potential.   We all wonder why and we all grieve!
Martin Richard
As a person who is in his right mind (kind of) I believe it is impossible to understand the acts of crazy people, and they are one of the very few things that frighten me.  As for these radical people, they may actually be crazy also!  I do know that neither will ever have my respect!  Anyone who blows up innocent people, kills innocent children, sometimes making their own children into human bombs or giving their children over to radical groups to become bombs, does not deserve anyone’s respect!  Anyone who does all of the above, then after an attack, uses children and innocent people as shields, knowing that good people (much better than they ever will be) will refrain from attacking them  to keep innocents from being harmed, do not deserve anyone’s respect.  They deserve only to be scorned and possibly pitied for having such a hate that it eats them up and ruins both theirs and other’s lives!

Young Afghan School Girls from Herat
Young Afghan School Girls from Herat 

Anyone who tries to force people to live by their religion, rather than let the people make their own choice as to how they live, is seriously confused as to God’s wishes!  From what I read, God made us to where we could make choices.  He wants us to live for Him and I believe it is best that we do.   But He only wants us to do so if we choose to do so.  To go through the motions because of  the fear that people will kill you if you don’t does not meet His requirements and is a complete waste of time!  
Malala Yousafzai, the teenage girl shot by the Taliban for promoting girls' education
Malala Yousafzai, the teenage girl shot by the Taliban for promoting girls' education

One thing that is obvious, crazy people are amongst us!  Radicals are amongst us!  Criminals are amongst us!  They always have been.  All the laws in the world will not change that!  They only obey the laws they choose to obey!  We can never change enough laws to make them obey them.  The only people affected by law changes are those who obey them, law abiding citizens.  In other words, good people, the majority of us, get punished, give away our rights, etc. to (mistakenly) feel safer, and to (mistakenly) make us feel as if our government is doing something.  Of course they are continually doing something ---- spending lots of our money!

During the prohibition people still got and drank alcohol.  We have laws against drugs; people still are able to get them.  If all guns were made illegal, criminals would still be able to get them.   When things are made illegal, it just creates illegal markets!  Actually, there is already a worldwide market of weapons that come from militaries.
Prohibition Era Prescription Form for "Medicinal" Alcohol. Sound Familiar?

I wish that I could tell you that things are going to get better, safer, and more secure, but they are probably not.  Probably the best thing you can do besides pray, is to live your life, help others, and to learn to be watchful.  Law enforcement generally is of help after the fact.  So mostly you are responsible for your own welfare!  Lots of time when things are not right, they won’t look right.  Learning to see what doesn’t look right around you can be your best defense.  This is something I had to learn once I started working in the large cities.  I got very close to being jumped by two hoodlums but was kept from harm by a buddy that saw it happening.  Since then, I have been much more aware!

Use your Hillbilly Senses. Be Safe!

From the Hillbillies’s Corner

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

If There Be Any Virtue

I had a Wicked English Teacher post ready to go, but frankly we've had enough wickedness for a while. So instead, I want to share with you the brightness of humanity. These are some of my students. They are 13 and 14 years old. They give us hope for the future.

Katy volunteers with the elderly, raking leaves and cleaning house; puts together hygiene kits for people in need, ties baby quilts for needy children, and donated eight inches of hair to Locks of Love.

Ashley helps organize a Thanksgiving canned food drive, organized, signed and passed out Christmas cards for seniors, helped feed the homeless, and helped with a toy drive. She would like to teach elementary school. Her goal is to join or start an organization to feed the homeless every week.

Hannah organized a lanyard sale and raised money for a local animal shelter. She planned and facilitated Christmas caroling at a senior center, collected supplies for military care packages, and helped with a junior livestock camp and farm yard experience. She would like to become a geneticist.

Marlowe served in children's ministry, helped with the Love Our Cities projects, served in a convalescent home, helped build homes in Mexico and helped feed families in need. 

Amarpreet writes Christmas Cards for the senior center, feeds the unfortunate, helps with the toy drive, made Thanksgiving food baskets for the needy, and helped distribute food at the Nagar Kirtan every year. She wants to become a heart surgeon or radiologist.

Emily helps make and distribute baby blankets to the hospital and leads singing, plays music, runs crafts, and plays bingo at retirement homes. She would like to be an engineer, author, or nuclear physicist. 

Another Emily helps feed the homeless and volunteers with Monkey Business, helping  kids whose loved ones have cancer.

Ellen volunteers at a local senior center doing "Fancy Fingertips," painting some of the ladies' nails. She also assists with sewing and distributing baby blankets to the hospital, and volunteers with the project to provide holiday food packages to the needy.

It's easy to get discouraged when horrific things happen around us, but these kids remind me daily that the world is not purely evil, that there are good hearts out there. The future is not all bleak with kids like this growing into adulthood.

Let's keep the good thoughts going! What positive thing have you seen that gives you hope? Share in the comments so we can bear one another up in these trying times.

...  whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things. 
                               Philippians 4:8

Sunday, April 14, 2013

5 Reasons Why Life is Better After 50

So I turned 54 last month, the same age as Barbie. Actually I'm ten days younger than Barbie. Mattel gave birth to Barbie on March 9, 1959 at a New York Toy Fair. I didn't come along until the 19th.

Still, even though she's slightly older, Barbie seems to have aged much better than I have. Personally, I think she's had some work done. I mean, look at how immovable her face is! Barbie has definitely taken Botox to the extreme. I may be wrinkled, but I'm real. Just sayin'.

But that's not what I came to talk about today. I mean Barbie. I did come to talk about being 54.

So here's the thing. I talk about my aches and pains the way I always thought old people did. I have a lot of history behind me that translates into wisdom which comes with age. At work I am the oldest teacher in the language arts department. Next year, after this year's retirees leave, another 54 year old and I will be the oldest teachers in the school.

Oldest teacher in the school!

When my  mom was 54, I thought she was old. After all, she was a grandma. Like I am.

My mom, dad and daughter.
Look how pretty she was! She doesn't look old at all! And here's the thing. I don't feel old either. Deep in my heart, even though I can accept it rationally, I just don't believe I'm old. I'm NOT old. No matter how trite it sounds, I'm actually better than I used to be. 50 was a new beginning. I don't know exactly why, but so much is easier after 50.

In fact, let me share 5 reasons why  life is better after 50 (you knew I was going to work that title in somewhere, right?).

Glig Graphics
1. I care a lot less about what other people think of me. Really. I don't mean I don't care if I hurt other people. I'm still a caring person. I just don't need other people's approval for the decisions I make or who I am. Maybe it's just that I don't have enough energy to think about it very much. Or because I don't have much time left, and I don't want to waste it worrying about what people think about things that are none of their business anyway.

2. I know what's important in life. I'm really comfortable with my priorities in a way that I haven't always been.  I'm content with the things I have because I've surrounded myself with the people I love. I'll leave the rat race to the rats.
4 our of 5 grandchildren

3. I have grandchildren. Okay, technically, I did have a grandchild before I was 50, but you get my point.
The Princess and The Monster

4. I want to put this delicately. I'm beyond childbearing, and this makes...everything...better and much more relaxed. If you know what I mean.

My mama, my sisters, and I

5. I'm just really comfortable in my skin. I'm looking my age, and mostly that's okay. I mean, if you offered to magically make me look 25, I'd take it, but that's not going to happen. My hair has streaks of gray, and they're going to stay there and invite company. I'm not interested in covering them up. I earned them. I raised Ben and Alyssa, for pity's sake! I teach 8th grade!! Those are my gray hairs, and I stand by every one of them. Those wrinkles around my eyes? Too many years of laughter and smiling. Sometimes I was smiling through the tears, but I've always had reasons to smile. Ben and Alyssa for example.

So there we are. I'm 54, and my soul doesn't feel any older than it ever was. I have a feeling when I'm 74, my inner being will still feel the same. Pretty sure those wrinkles and gray hairs will have increased significantly, but that's okay. 

How about you? Are you comfortable with your age? What's good about your current age? Is there an age you'd rather be? Share in the comments.

Sunday, April 7, 2013

You May Be a Grandma If...

You know, life really changes when you become a grandma. It gets better and brighter in every way!

Let me show you some examples:

If you buy the Happy Meal when you're by yourself because you like to  keep small toys in your purse "just in case"  ... you may be a grandma

If you don't have any problem at all with this:
Miss Sunshine

...you may be a grandma!

If your living room floor is covered with toys, and no children live in your house...you may be a grandma!

The Princess

If you have ever said, "Well, I don't think just one cookie before dinner will hurt anything." ... you may be a grandma.

The Model

If you give your daughter a gift certificate for a mani-pedi just so you can babysit ... you may be a grandma.

The Athlete

If you've got Cheerios and Fruit Loops next to your high fiber cereal and Metamucil ... you may be a grandma.

The Monster

If there are children who know exactly which pocket of your purse the candy is kept in ... you  may be a grandma.

Coming in September!
That's right!! Grandchild #6 is on the way! I can't wait to meet her!

Can you think of any other ways to tell if "you may be a grandma"? Share them in the comments section.

Wednesday, April 3, 2013

So I Did the Research

I was hopping around the web today, and I came across the article "28 Incredibly Beautiful Places You Won't Believe Actually Exist."  There are really some amazing pictures here, but there was very little actual information about the places. You really should pop over there and look at the pictures --  after you finish reading my blog, of course.

I was mildly curious  about some of the spots until I came across this picture:
Original Source: World for Travel

I looked at these boats floating in a sea of Pepto-Bismol and was immediately curious to know more. Sadly, the article only included the information that this is Lake Retba, Sengal.  Very little information indeed!

So I immediately decided it was time to do some research, and because I love you, I'm sharing what I learned so that you don't have to leave this page to find more information. You're welcome.

My first big question was, "Where in the world is Sengal, and why have I never heard of it?" I discovered that I had never heard of it because it's supposed to be "Senegal" which I have heard of! Senegal is a small African nation located about exactly where that green mark is:
Source: CIA Factbook

I learned quite a bit while researching this. At first I thought I had read two possible explanations for the color of the water. One theory was that it was due to a pink-colored algae in the water. The other explanation was that it was caused by a bacteria (cyanobacteria). However, when I looked up cyanobacteria , I read that it was actually a form of algae. Who knew?

BUT WAIT!! Further research showed that while cyanobacteria is often called blue-green algae, it's not really an algae at all! I hope you're all as thoroughly confused as I was. I was so confused that for a moment I actually considered calling my ex-husband the biology major. Fortunately, I got hold of myself and did what any intelligent, college-educated person would do. I found a page for kids:

There in language easy enough for a child to understand, DOGONews declares that the pink color is caused by an algae known as Dunaliella Salina. That's good enough for me.

 In either case, it appears to have no ill effects on humans or wildlife.
The salt content of the water is quite high (which makes people buoyant), and harvesting the salt is a major source of income for the local inhabitants.
So to sum up: lots of salt and algae but no bacteria. Good for floating.

This whole event reminds me of the good old pre-Google days when we had to depend on The World Book Encyclopedia if we wanted to know anything. Every time one of the kids would ask me a question I didn't know the answer to, I made them go get the encyclopedia, and we looked it up. This drove them crazy.
Boy studying
One of my children regretting that he had asked, "What makes airplanes fly?"

In the spirit of payback,  my daughter does the same thing to her children, except Google is somehow involved, which I think takes half the fun out of it. 

How did you find information before Google? How do you answer the questions your children ask today?

As it turns out, by the way, there is another pink lake in Australia. That however, will have to wait for another blog post.

Tuesday, April 2, 2013

So The Princess is Seven

My oldest granddaughter, The Princess, turned seven last week. It's hard to believe she's gotten that grown up already. It seems like just yesterday she looked like this:

The Cutest Baby Picture in the History of Baby Pictures!!

Of course, it only seems like the day before yesterday that her mommy looked like this:
One of the Cutest Baby Pictures in the History of Baby Pictures

But now, The Princess is a big girl, and she can dance! Check out this video from her school talent show. She's the pretty blonde with the bright blue shirt right in the middle.

Isn't she fantastic? Happy 7th Birthday to my Princess! Grandma loves you to pieces!

Monday, April 1, 2013

Ask the English Teacher: Adjectives, Adverbs, and Prepositional Phrases

A reader asked: "I am helping my child with adverbs and adjectives and prepositional phrases. I am having a lot of trouble with it my self. The noble lord greedily collected many taxes and became rich. The brave knight in armor rushed blindly toward his foe."

Things to remember:
Adjectives describe nouns and pronouns. Adjectives usually answer the question "what kind," "which one," "how much/many," or "whose."

In your examples,

  • What kind of lord? A noble lord
  • How many taxes? Many taxes
  • What kind of lord (did he become)? A rich lord
  • What kind of knight? A brave knight
Adverbs describe verbs, adjectives, and other adverbs. Adverbs usually answer the question "where," "when," "how," "how often," or "to what extent."  Adverbs often end in -ly.
  • How did he collect taxes? Greedily collected
  • How did the knight rushed? Blindly rushed
Prepositional phrases begin with a preposition and end with a noun or pronoun. A preposition shows how that noun or pronoun relates to some other word in the sentence.
  • In armor tells us how the knight and the armor are related. The knight is in armor
  • Toward his foe tells us how the knight and his foe are related. The knight is rushing toward his foe.
I hope this is helpful. For further help let me recommend lessontutor.com, a very helpful free website.