Saturday, April 30, 2011

Titles Are Such Slippery Subjects

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A couple days ago while watching the TV news I saw an announcement for an upcoming celebration in Tucson, and one of the events was to be Wind Tasting.

The news person was quick to point out with a chuckle that this was a misprint and should have been Wine Tasting -- and then I immediately thought, Hey, that would make a great title for a novel. And when I pursued that thought, I decided that, in this novel one of the main characters was known as Wind Taster and he was called this because he (or possibly she) possessed an extra sensory ability to recognize innovations, or trends, or in other words, the character was somehow mysteriously attuned to changes in the wind.

This ideas seemed to be loaded with possibilities so I told myself, "Well, get busy and write the story."

But I haven't started it . . . yet.

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Book Titles

I recently stumbled upon a web page listing some politically corrected book titles. Here they are:

In light of the new edition of Huckleberry Finn with the "N" word replaced by the word "slave", one of my humor magazines asked its readers to give another classic book a politically correct title. Here are some of the winners:

First Prize: The Still-Productive Senior And The Sea

Second Prize: Crime and Time Out

Third Prize:
The Traumatic Result of Unresolved Labor Management Disputes On The Bounty

Some of the Honorable Mentions:
1. Romeo And Romeo
2. The Taming Of The High Maintenance Woman
3. The Flat Back-Challenged Bell Ringer Of Notre Dame
4. The Cranially Absent Horseman
5. Lady Chatterley's Friend With Benefits
6. Ms. Bovary
7. The Heart Is a Lonely Animal Assassin
8. The Friend You Haven't Met
9. Are You There, Higher Power? It's Me, Margaret
10. The Letter Carrier Always Rings Twice
11. Conflict And Peace
12. To Put To Sleep A Mockingbird
13. The Call Of The Natural Habitat
14. Crime And Corrective Detention
15. The Grapes of Anger Management

And my personal favorite: Moby Penis

Ha! The above list struck my funny-bone and I did a copy and paste. As always, if the originator of the list ever asks me to remove it from this blog I will do so immediately.

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At this present time, I seem to be hopelessly addicted to book titles. Don't know why...

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My Golden Wedding
by Annie Versary

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Short -- But Not So Sweet

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I watched President Obama's short speech announcing the release of his birth certificate. And I can't help wondering why this was not done a long time ago; why did he not do that immediately after the issue was first raised? Not that it matters to me but it just seems curious.


Another thing I wonder about is the attention paid to the wedding of the son of the son of the reigning queen of England. The Monarchy is, of course, recognized as being merely symbolic. A queen or a king no longer has political power in the UK. And yet they remain. Stuff and nonsense.


And it is reported (much too often) that most people living on Planet Earth believe in the existence of a god who created the universe and everything in it.


create
verb
to bring into existence from nothing


But, for a thing to come into existence from nothing is a primary objection creationists use to counter atheistic arguments against there being a creator.

Go figure . . .


No further comment (at this time)

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Nostalgia isn't what it used to be.
--unknown

Monday, April 25, 2011

Connectivity Problems . . . Yes, Again


I will be unable to continue this blog until my Wi-Fi connection problem is resolved.

Sorry . . .

Sunday, April 24, 2011

A Limited Access Day

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Tucson Weather Today

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The Wi-Fi Server says, "This computer has limited access."

Oh well. Nothing to say yet anyway. Maybe later in the morning.

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Saturday, April 23, 2011

First Things First . . .

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I have so much to do today; I want to clean up this apartment and rearrange some files in my Current Fiction folder -- and attend to some other stuff.

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If anything important arises that needs to be appended herein, it will be done, later.

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. . . . . . . . . .

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Friday, April 22, 2011

Hey Kids... What Day Is It?

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Is today Good Friday?

Or is today Earth Day?

According to the Christian religion, the Friday before Easter Sunday is celebrated because on this day Jesus of Nazareth, the Messiah, was crucified to death.

According to the Earth Day Network Earth Day is celebrated by a billion people, making it the world's largest secular holiday.


The Word for This Day is gullible.

gullible
adjective
naive and easily deceived or tricked

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A while back I wrote about a Hormel pre-prepared, non-refrigerated meal sold in the grocery stores for a couple dollars that I really liked. Well, I still like it.

Heat in Microwave Oven or in Boiling Water

A delicious 200-calorie meal

I have no idea if this little tidbit is nutritionally sound or not... and I don't care. It tastes good. The flavor reminds me, believe it or not, of the chicken with mashed potatoes and gravy that my Grandma Morris used to fix for the family. And no, I am not joking. Try it, if you don't believe me, and I'll bet you'll like it too.


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"I try to be candid and level with people, and not purvey a bunch of horseshit."
--Richard Ford

Thursday, April 21, 2011

This Might Be A Place Holder

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Although I am up early, shaved, showered and feeling absolutely fine, depending on circumstances and the many uncertainties of life, I just might not be making my usual content-rich blog entry today.

Time will tell...

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Wednesday, April 20, 2011

National Grilled Cheese Month

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April is National Grilled Cheese Month. My favorite cheese company, Sargento offers some really delicious recipes.


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Mark E. Smith once said, "Blue cheese contains natural amphetamines. Why are students not informed about this?"


According Dr Neal Barnard author of Breaking the Food Seduction, “Cheese holds … drug-like compounds … It contains an amphetamine-like chemical called phenylethylamine, or PEA, which is also found in chocolate and sausage.” (The spelling is more usually phenethylamine.)

My goodness... some people will believe anything.

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At Language Log I recently read about a peculiar website called Unsuck It.

Unsuck It translates jargon words (words that suck) into simple English.

An example of jargon is: "Realize Negative Gains."

Unsuck it translates that into "Accept losses." As in "We want avoid the need to realize negative gains."

Yes, this is a funny, funny world we find ourselves living in.

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Here are two words that sound alike but have different meanings.

complement: something added to complete or embellish or make perfect -- "a fine wine is a perfect complement to the dinner"

compliment: say something to someone that expresses praise -- "He complimented her on her last physics paper"

Now that's not hard to understand... is it?

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Here is one of the latest NASA news bulletins:

April 19, 2011

RELEASE: 11-116

NASA SETS LAUNCH DATE FOR SPACE SHUTTLE ENDEAVOUR MISSION

CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. -- Space shuttle Commander Mark Kelly and his five crewmates are scheduled to begin a 14-day mission to the International Space Station with a launch at 3:47 p.m. EDT on Friday, April 29, from NASA's Kennedy Space Center in Florida. The STS-134 mission is shuttle Endeavour's final scheduled flight.

The launch date was announced Tuesday at the conclusion of a flight readiness review at Kennedy. During the meeting, senior NASA and contractor managers assessed the risks associated with the mission and determined the shuttle and station's equipment, support systems and personnel are ready.

The crew will deliver a particle physics detector, known as the Alpha Magnetic Spectrometer-2 (AMS) to the station. AMS is designed to measure cosmic rays to search for various types of unusual matter, such as dark matter and antimatter. The instrument's experiments will help researchers study the formation of the universe. Endeavour also will deliver the Express Logistics Carrier 3, a platform that carries spare parts to sustain station operations after the shuttles are retired from service. The mission will feature the last four spacewalks by a shuttle crew. The spacewalkers will do maintenance work, install new components, and perform a complex series of tasks to top off the ammonia in one of the station's photovoltaic thermal control system cooling loops.

The crew consists of Commander Kelly, Pilot Greg H. Johnson, NASA Mission Specialists Michael Fincke, Andrew Feustel and Greg Chamitoff and European Space Agency Mission Specialist Roberto Vittori. They are scheduled to arrive at Kennedy on Tuesday, April 26, for final launch preparations.

STS-134 is the 134th shuttle mission, Endeavour's 25th flight and the 36th shuttle mission to the station.

For more information about the STS-134 mission, visit:

http://www.nasa.gov/shuttle

For more information about the space station, visit:

http://www.nasa.gov/station

-end-
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"All my life I've had one dream: to achieve my many goals."
--Homer Simpson

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Using The Tools That Are Available

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While searching for an elusive fact using Google somewhere around five o'clock this morning I was suddenly distressed to find that once again my FREE Wi-Fi connection had failed and was no longer available to me. Yes, after less than one day of its restoration after a previous two-day failure, Wi-Fi had abandoned me and once again I was utterly and helplessly offline.

It is now 5:35 a.m. which is usually my most productive time for online work, and now I am faced with waiting until 10:00 when the office opens before I can report the Wi-Fi failure... again. And even then, of course, the office will have to notify the technician who will have to drive to the router's location and reset the downed equipment.

FREE Wi-Fi... I am reminded of the cliche so often quoted by a fellow member of my writer's group, Mr. Anthony Dauer, who is fond of (gleefully?) repeating: "You get what you pay for."

I have no idea when I will be able to upload this blog entry, but whenever that is, please note that it was written before six a.m. on Tuesday, April 19 in the year 2011, which is surely much earlier than it is now being read, by you or anyone else.

'Drat!'
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I was reading earlier an article about the creation of memorable sentences, and was struck by a short poetic piece written by Kenneth Koch.

One day the Nouns were clustered in the street.
An Adjective walked by, in her dark beauty.
The Nouns were struck, moved, changed.
The next day a Verb drove up and created the Sentence.

Isn't that charming?
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Three pieces of string go into a bar. The first one orders drinks and the barman says, "We don't serve strings in here." The second piece of string fares no better. The third piece fluffs out his ends and saunters up to the bar, shouts, "Three beers and make it snappy!" The barman looks at him and says. "You're a string, aren't you?"

The string says, "No, I'm a frayed knot!"

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I just heard on NPR that the losing prosecutor on the O.J. Simpson trial (ancient history?) Marcia Clark, is now a mystery writer. I was going to look up the details concerning her upcoming novel... but then I remembered that I have no Internet connection.

'Drat!'
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There is an advantage, though, to being helplessly without an Internet connection; I am unable to be distracted from creative composition by the perceived necessity of checking my email, Googling for suddenly needed fact-checks, and anything else available online that will take me away from the hard, hard work of writing fiction.

I suppose one could call that an advantage.

Even though I am offline there are other ways of distracting myself... I can always slip one of my old DVDs into the computer and watch a John Wayne movie, an episode of the old Dick Van Dyke Show, or some of the wonderful skits performed by good old Red Skelton.

See how creative I can be?

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A couple hours ago, since the office was not yet open, I left a note at their drop-box regarding the Wi-Fi situation. Then I embarked upon a long walk. Went to Fry's (formerly Kroger) Supermarket and bought some bananas and apples. They had Organic Gala apples on sale for 99-cents per pound. That's amazing. I bought seven apples, two and a half pounds for a total of $2.47. Wow! Now that's a real-deal.

It's now almost 10:00 a.m. and I am back home -- and now I have Wi-Fi again. That's what I call efficiency.

Thank you, Sallie.

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In all affairs it's a healthy thing now and then to hang a question mark on the things you have long taken for granted.
--Bertrand Russell

Monday, April 18, 2011

Wi-Fi Is Again Available

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Wi-Fi came available again at just a bit before noon Tucson time, so instead of writing a Monday entry I will merely upload the entries I had written for Saturday and Sunday.

Thanks for getting me back online, Sallie... you're the greatest.

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For me the initial delight is in the surprise of remembering something I didn't know I knew.
--Robert Frost
(The Figure a Poem Makes -- 1939)
Which was the year that I was born.
=====

Intended for Sunday -- Title:
A Picture Should Enhance A Tumult Of Words

FYI:
This entry below was belatedly uploaded (as was the Saturday entry) because I have been without an Internet connection all of Saturday and and all of Sunday. I am leaving the entry as it was written, and the reader should please bear with the unavoidable anachronisms that dwell therein...

... again.

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Since I have been denied an Internet connection for a number of days (two, so far) my time for reading from my broken-binding and fast deteriorating copy of The Best Essays of the Century was extended, and two of the essays I read struck me as being particularly relevant to my own sometimes trustworthy memories of what life was 'really' like back in my youngest days of awareness. The essays were: The Crack-Up by F. Scott Fitzgerald and The Ethics of Living Jim Crow by Richard Wright. Both were written in close proximity to an undeniably transitional era, the weird and wacky era of my birth and childhood.

In The Crack-Up the author wrote:

So there was not an "I" any more -- not a basis on which I could organize my self respect -- save my limitless capacity for toil that it seemed I possessed no more. It was strange to have no self -- to be like a little boy left alone in a big house, who knew that now he could do anything he wanted to do, but found that there was noting that he wanted to do --

That small portion of the essay brought me up short in my reading. I knew exactly what Fitzgerald was describing. Yes, I had experienced that same (malady?) upheaval of emotional distress more than once... most recently just after I retired from the active work force and found myself sunk in a similar pit of despair.

I will not (or cannot) belabor this point -- either you know what I mean or you do not.

In The Ethics of Living Jim Crow, like its author Richard Wright did, I too learned through harsh life's experiential osmosis how one must express one's self (no matter what the inward leanings to the contrary) if one were to survive unmolested in America's early twentieth century rural-minded society. And I have learned how heart-breakingly futile (Few-Tile) it is to try to explain to today's ultra-liberal children of The Enlightenment what the times back then were really like.

And once again I will neither dwell upon at this time nor offer more illumination of that period in history in which I found myself living -- either you know what I mean or you do not.
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Walking the streets of Tucson

Below are four photos of the scenery I pass on the days when I embark upon my westerly walk along Speedway Blvd.

Halfway from Camino Seco headed to Pantano
Pedestrian crossover is for MaGee Middle School

During all my daily walks since March 25, I have never seen even one person using this crossover... except for myself, of course, and I did so for the experience, just to see what it was like. It seems easier for the few pedestrians I have encountered to just dash across the street, taking advantage of the road construction that limits the traffic on Speedway Blvd at this time.

Farther along the way there are some vacant desert lots.

Here is one of them
Vacant lots in East Tucson tend to be quite large


Here is another barren stretch
Wanna buy a big building lot?


Below is a picture of an apartment community similar to the one in which I live.


This one is a much smaller complex, though.

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Thoughts On Language And Grammar

Perhaps I am guilty of pedantry in my belief that the American language is being injured by acceptance of the careless usage of certain words that changes the word's official definition and thereby destroys that word's unique original meaning. If this transforms me into a pedant,then so be it.

One example of what I am objecting to is the disgraceful change brought about in the definition of the word decimate which once meant merely to reduce by one-tenth. The word decimate is now recognized by the masses (as well as by overly-permissive, short-sighted educators) as meaning to totally destroy. By allowing this change to occur, the language has lost the only word once correctly defined as reduction by one-tenth. -- decimation -- and reduced it to the same definition as myriad other words synonymous (or nearly synonymous) with total destruction -- such as devastation, obliteration, etc.

There are other examples, such as unique which once meant one of a kind but has now been relegated to being merely a synonym for rare or unusual.

Yes, I probably am a pedant, of sorts.

But, when did and why should the word pedantry itself be seen as pejorative? What's wrong with recognizing a harmful trend and fearlessly objecting to it? Whoa! Wait. That was a rhetorical question. Don't bother to volunteer an opposing response.

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Always do right. This will gratify some people and astonish the rest.
--Mark Twain

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Intended for Saturday -- Title:
Free Wi-Fi ? Hah! What's In A Name?

FYI:
This entry below was belatedly uploaded because I have been without an Internet connection all of Saturday and and all of Sunday. I am leaving the entry as it was written, and the reader should please bear with the unavoidable anachronisms that dwell therein.
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Oh Good Grief! It's eight a.m. and I have not uploaded my quota of today's personal thoughts. Even though this blog entry was completed early this morning, it seems that it will not be uploaded until some time later in the day.

Why?

Because . . .again this morning the FREE Wi-Fi was unavailable.

'FREE' Wi-Fi?

'Riiiight . . .'

Always (or so it seems) we, the gullible Americans, are so laughably prone to fall for those public pronouncements that eventually prove to be what should have been so easily predictable -- they being somewhat less than truly dependable promises.

Right?

And, as for being undependable regarding public promises, Barack Obama could (should?) turn out to be a one-term president.

'Riiiight . . .'

So, the promise of (by implication) uninterrupted FREE Wi-Fi is just another one of the items to add to the Pro and Con list that I am keeping for consultation next March when time for the new lease signing comes around. Although I'm sure the Pros will be a'plenty... like how super the office girls are here.

Since I am unavoidably off-line I suppose I will just go out into the fine Arizona sunshine and get an early start on my daily fitness walk. Might as well.

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What does it mean when a weary old man seated in a comfortable chair before a fiery hearth closes his eyes and sees within his mind an image of a wild boar glaring at him from its mounting plaque on a knotty-pine panel within a rustic cabin in the woods? And the boar's head snarls at him. What means this brief encounter with seemingly prophetic imagery within a restlessly dozing daydream?

I suppose that one could write a fictional story with that subject in mind and thereby find a suitable answer to that question.

A working title for this story might be: Boar's Head Is More Than Merely Meat.

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Success Story by Terence Winch is a poem I read early this morning over at The Writer's Almanac. In fact, I returned to it three times to read the poem again, and each reading, occasioned for a different reason, produced in my mind a different resulting conclusion. Finally, I allowed myself to wander away from the poem although I continued to wonder if success is one of those specific words without a specific meaning.

What is success?

In your opinion?
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Some time ago I posted a picture that to me depicted the essence of the word dystopia

This was that picture


Why does the memory of that image seem to ever lurk near the fringes of my mind, always alert for any opportunity to leap forth without direct bidding to become the central focus of my consciousness?

Good question.
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Last night I attempted to watch Disc 2 of Rose Red, Stephen King's tale of a haunted house. But after only ten minutes I grew so bored with its slowness and silliness that I ejected the DVD and went to bed. Even though it was only a little after eight p.m.

'nuff said?
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Note:
I went for my walk earlier, as I said I would... and when I arrived at Kohl's department store, a walk of just under two miles, I went in and browsed. Glad I did. They have a big special sale going on, and by use of the gift card in my wallet that Kohl's had mailed to me, I came away with two nice Patriotic t-shirts, for which I enjoyed a total savings of $22, having spent (out-of-pocket) only $2.18.

It is now, at this moment, 11:47 a.m. (Tucson, AZ time) and I still cannot connect to Wi-Fi...

Drat!

Another Note:
At 3:30 p.m. Tucson Time, the Wi-Fi is still unavailable . . .
(That would be 6:30 EDST)

Double Drat!

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Reading made Don Quixote a gentleman. Believing what he read made him mad.
--George Bernard Shaw

Friday, April 15, 2011

As Always, Time Goes By . . .

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Latest News!

In the most recent PowerBall lottery drawing (Wednesday night) I won three dollars for picking the Power Ball, which was 39, short form for the year of my birth, 1939.

Glory be!

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Today the end of the first leg of my fitness walk proved to be the Fry's Supermarket (formerly Kroger) where I found that an item on their Super-Special Sale was one of my favorite foods (a 5-count tube of refrigerated bake in ten-minutes at 400 degree biscuits) -- which was only 25 cents per tube (usually 79-cents.) Well... let me tell you, I bought 12 tubes ($3 total) of those taste-tempting, mouth-watering puffed-up rounds of pure delight... potent reminders of the biscuits Grandma Morris used to bake from scratch on her old black wood burning flat-topped kitchen range back in the early 1940s.

Imagine that! Five pipin' hot buttery-flavored biscuits for a quarter. A nickel per biscuit. Mn-mm! What a deal; can't beat that with a big stick.

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Now for something completely different:

For Raymond Carver, a Lifetime of Storytelling

By STEWART KELLERMAN

Reprinted from the New York Times, May 31, 1988

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Three or four days ago I read a statement containing questionable grammar on the Sargento Cheese Company's website and, being the grumpy old busy-body I am, I volunteered an email comment to Sargento concerning their grammar. Here is the comment I sent them:

In the section of your website titled Our Company I read the following:

Sargento Foods Inc. is a family-owned company comprised of three business divisions: Consumer Products, Food Service and Food Ingredients.

The term "comprised of" is incorrect grammar. The correct usage would be "... is a family-owned company comprising three business divisions:" because the word of is never used with comprised -- and you can look it up if you don't wish to believe me.

Just trying to be helpful... I LOVE your cheese and buy some of it at the grocery store every week.

. . .

Yesterday I received the following reply:

Dear Mr. Chambers -- Thank you for your e-mail. My boss and I usually pride ourselves on being the "grammar gurus" at Sargento, but this one got by us. You'll be happy to know that we made the change you suggested. Thanks for caring!

Pat Lombardo
Sargento Consumer Affairs Department

Oh my goodness! Was that not most gracious of them? I am sincerely touched.

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Last night, after watching the first disc of a Stephen King DVD movie titled Rose Red, I went to sleep at ten-thirty o'clock, but woke up a little after midnight and could not get back to sleep, probably because I had foolishly ingested great quantities of caffeine throughout the day -- or perhaps because I had napped for a couple hours that afternoon.

Whatever the cause, I could not sleep so I got out of bed and went into the living room, reclined back in my recliner, and read two selections from The Best American Essays of the Century: Pamplona In July by Ernest Hemingway and The Hills of Zion by H.L. Mencken.

Hemingway gave me no trouble; he never does; I understood his every word. But, Mencken was another story. Below are four of the words I encountered in his essay that gave me some pause:

antinomianism
noun
1. the understanding that under the gospel dispensation of grace the moral law is of no use or obligation because faith alone is necessary to salvation
2. rejection of a socially established morality'

exegesis
noun
exposition, explanation; especially an explanation or critical interpretation of a text.

cosmogony
noun
1. a theory of the origin of the universe.
2. the creation or origin of the world or universe.

aurochs
noun
the ancestor of domestic cattle, aurochs was a type of huge wild cattle which inhabited Europe, Asia and North Africa, but is now extinct.

My goodness... Mencken certainly does make the unschooled among us (me) strive mightily for complete comprehension. It is well worth it though. He sure can write some outrageously humorous stuff.

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Well, it seems that a spending bill for 2011 has at last been passed by Congress. Yesterday, being happily subscribed to their news reports, I received the following email from NASA:

April 14, 2011

David Weaver
Headquarters, Washington
202-358-1600
david.s.weaver@nasa.gov

RELEASE: 11-112

NASA ADMINISTRATOR CHARLES BOLDEN'S STATEMENT ON THE 2011 SPENDING BILL

WASHINGTON -- NASA Administrator Charles Bolden issued the following statement Thursday about the passage of the 2011 spending bill:

"We appreciate the work of Congress to pass a 2011 spending bill. NASA now has appropriated funds to implement the 2010 Authorization Act, which gives us a clear path forward to continue America's leadership in human spaceflight, exploration and scientific discovery. Among other things, this bill lifts funding restrictions that limited our flexibility to carry out our shared vision for the future. With this funding, we will continue to aggressively develop a new heavy lift rocket, multipurpose crew vehicle and commercial capability to transport our astronauts and their supplies on American-made and launched spacecraft. We are committed to living within our means in these tough fiscal times - and we are committed to carrying out our ambitious new plans for exploration and discovery."

-end-

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Time in its aging course brings all things to pass.
--Aeschylus

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Does Proper Grammar Count Anymore?

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Even though I have always tried my best to learn all I could regarding proper English grammar so that I could apply it to my writing, I have lately grown a bit wary of attempting to be so overly precise in this pursuit of absolute correctness as to appear stuffy, aloof, or even pedantic by doing so. The trend today (especially among the younger readers) seems to be to avoid books and stories employing strictly proper grammar because the writing appears foreign to these readers' everyday speech patterns.

But still I am often attracted to articles and discussions of some of the little known finer points of English grammar.

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According to a discussion on a linguistics related forum, there is a difference between the words ravish and ravage but they are often confused, one with the other.

Definitions:

ravish
verb archaic or literary.
1. fill with intense delight; enrapture.
2. seize and carry off by force.
3. rape.

ravage
verb
1. To bring heavy destruction on; devastate: A tornado ravaged the town.
2. To pillage; sack: Enemy soldiers ravaged the village.

v.intr.
To wreak destruction.

noun
1. The act or practice of pillaging, destroying, or devastating.
2. Grievous damage; havoc: the ravages of disease.

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Additionally, Daily Writing Tips states that the terms compare to and compare with is another of those confusing points of English grammar that can be used either way even though there is a subtle difference between the two.

From Strunk and White (The Elements of Style):

To compare to is to point out or imply resemblances between objects regarded as essentially of a different order;

To compare with is mainly to point out differences between objects regarded as essentially of the same order.

Thus, life has been compared to a pilgrimage, to a drama, to a battle; Congress may be compared with the British Parliament. Paris has been compared to ancient Athens; it may be compared with modern London.




Note:
Yes, I know that Strunk and White is currently being held in disrepute by today's recognized scholarly linguists and various other popular authorities on the subject of English grammar.Yes, I know all about the negative opinion of Geoffrey Pullum (of Language Log) regarding the book. Yes, I have great respect for Professor Pullum.

But, still...


William Strunk, Jr.


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“The greater part of the world's troubles are due to questions of grammar”
--Michel de Montaigne

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

A Notable Date In History

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Rate Hike

City bus fares are going up in July here in Tucson. A one-way regular fare is rising from $1.25 to $1.50, and the fare for senior citizens and low-income riders is rising from forty cents to fifty cents. The City Council voted 6 to 1 for this rate hike. The single dissenter voted "No" because he wanted the low-income fare to rise to sixty cents instead of fifty cents.

When I lived in Jacksonville, Florida senior citizens could ride the City Bus at no charge. There is a great difference in the attitudes of the city fathers of Jax when compared to the dictatorial rulers of Tucson, Arizona. Or so it seems to me.

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Update on Space Shuttle Placements

NASA Administrator Charles Bolden on Tuesday announced the facilities where four shuttle orbiters will be displayed permanently at the conclusion of the Space Shuttle Program. Shuttle Enterprise, the first orbiter built, will move from the Smithsonian's National Air and Space Museum Steven F. Udvar-Hazy Center in Virginia to the Intrepid Sea, Air & Space Museum in New York. The Udvar-Hazy Center will become the new home for shuttle Discovery, which retired after completing its 39th mission in March. Shuttle Endeavour, which is preparing for its final flight at the end of the month, will go to the California Science Center in Los Angeles. Atlantis, which will fly the last planned shuttle mission in June, will be displayed at the Kennedy Space Center Visitor's Complex in Florida.
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Madalyn Murray O'Hair was once known as The Most Hated Woman In America...

Godless In America is a nine-minute video (with old clips) that tells her story well.

Madalyn Murray O'Hair

"There is no God.
There's no heaven.
There's no hell.
There are no angels.
When you die,
you go in the ground,
the worms eat you."

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In nature there are neither rewards nor punishments; there are consequences.
--Robert Green Ingersoll

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Fifty Years In Space - $5 A Gallon Gas?


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The International Space Station partner agencies will commemorate the golden anniversary of human spaceflight and 30 years of space shuttle flights today, Tuesday, April 12. The world salutes 50 years of human spaceflight and the anniversary of the first launch of a human to space. Cosmonaut Yuri Gagarin completed that historic milestone on April 12, 1961.

Yuri Gagarin
First Man In Space

During today's commemoration ceremony, which will feature an astronaut from the first shuttle mission, NASA administrator Charles Bolden will name the four institutions that will receive a shuttle orbiter for permanent display.

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Rush Limbaugh yesterday was railing about gasoline prices rising to five dollars per gallon by Memorial Day 2011.

Hm.

I thank my lucky stars that I decided I am no longer capable of driving safely and therefore am no longer owned by a petroleum fueled vehicle.

Speaking of walking -- walking is what I do instead of driving or riding, and yesterday I somewhat outdid myself. When I left the apartment I walked the couple hundred feet to the corner of Speedway and Camino Seco then crossed Speedway and began the mile walk South on Camino Seco, where I turned West onto Broadway and walked another mile to the next main intersection where I turned North onto Pantano and walked the mile to the intersection where I then turned East onto Speedway and walked the mile back to the apartment. That was a healthy and refreshing walk of four miles.

Nearing the halfway point . . .
Walking West on Broadway -- approaching Pantano

Along the way I saw some interesting places where I will eventually visit... such as a Church's Fried Chicken restaurant, an IHOP, Jethro's Cafe, and a Kohl's Department Store (for which I received in the mail a promotional $10 Gift Card) -- and I noted down some other places, too.

Walking North on Pantano toward Speedway
Toward the Santa Catalina Mountains
(And the weather was absolutely beautiful)

Yes, walking is a wonderful way to travel

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"You don't choose to become something like a poet. You write and you write, and the years go by, and you are a poet."
--Mark Strand

Monday, April 11, 2011

How Does A Person Know What's Best?

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I have been eating American Cheese for most of my life so far, but now I have stopped eating it. Why? Well... for one reason a family member (a biologist) discourages its consumption. For another reason, I recently read THIS ALARMING ARTICLE and became suspicious, not only of Kraft Foods, but of the wisdom of eating American Cheese -- a food that is not really cheese but is instead some sort of a processed cheese-like product.

Yes, I have switched brands and now swear allegiance to Sargento -- for now. I want to enjoy real cheese, not a questionable substitute.

And that's not all . . .

While researching Sargento, I found on their web page describing their company the sentence: "Sargento Foods Inc. is a family-owned company comprised of three business divisions: Consumer Products, Food Service and Food Ingredients." and I immediately fired off an email message informing them that the term comprised of -- should have read: 'comprising' instead.

Haven't received a response yet.

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Do you use Pandora Internet Radio?

The Wall Street Journal recently reported:

Federal prosecutors in New Jersey are investigating whether numerous smartphone applications illegally obtained or transmitted information about their users without proper disclosures, according to a person familiar with the matter.

The criminal investigation is examining whether the app makers fully described to users the types of data they collected and why they needed the information—such as a user's location or a unique identifier for the phone—the person familiar with the matter said. Collecting information about a user without proper notice or authorization could violate a federal computer-fraud law.

Online music service Pandora Media Inc. said Monday it received a subpoena related to a federal grand-jury investigation of information-sharing practices by smartphone applications.

Read more:

Do you use Pandora?

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A Sea Of Words by Jessa Crispin is a reviewer's exposition of today's state of the bookwriter's art as presented by The Smart Set of Drexel University. Below is the opining paragraph.

In the week it takes me to read five different books on how to be a writer, approximately 30 books are delivered to my Berlin apartment. This is a decline from the 15 to 30 that used to be delivered every day, and I’m grateful for the barrier of costly international postage that keeps these numbers down. I will immediately discard about three-quarters of the books. Some of these, I would say maybe eight percent of the books I receive, are self-published. Under their bios the writers dutifully list the writing programs they attended. Now they have landed here, with a clip-art book cover, a cheap binding, and a $12 stamp to send it to a book critic who doesn’t even really review fiction anymore. I feel bad for these writers, and the years of effort and money they spent on a writing education, and all of that boundless optimism that had to be required to get to this point. I do not, however, feel bad enough to read their books.

And there is much more of interest following that paragraph to the serious (or even not so serious) modern-day writers. Additionally, Jessa Crispin is editor and founder of Bookslut.com. She currently resides in Berlin, but spent many years in Chicago.

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My New Word For Today

defenestrate - To eject or throw (someone or something) from a window

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In an interview with Kevin Brockmeier I read the sentence fragment -- "...I was just thinking about the dilemma we all face when we try to remember the people we used to be without the mediation of the people we've become..." -- and this struck me as profound. In other words, it made sense to me, and it made me want to step back in time and write a story about an event I experienced, but experienced by the person I was at the time of that event and not through the eyes of the me who now exists.

Does that seem sensible to anyone else besides me?

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Really good fiction operates on you more like a slow poison -- in a good way. It enters your bloodstream and changes the way that you look at the world without your realizing it.
--Allegra Goodman

Sunday, April 10, 2011

Reading Instead Of Writing... Again


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Yesterday, being a long and overcast day filled with scattered and chilly rain showers and periodic sudden cessations of wi-fi service, I took up my old dog-eared hard bound copy of The Best Essays Of The Century edited by Joyce Carol Oates and Robert Atwan and curled up in my recliner under a 40 watt lamp and lost myself in my lifelong favorite pastime... absorbing the thoughts and revelations of other minds.

The first essay was Corn-pone Opinions by Mark Twain which was a stimulating start to an entire day devoted to deep reflection on the many circumlocutions and derivations as well as adroit deviations the biological brain is capable of formulating within myriad minds in its timeless search for the shadowed and shrouded basic meaning behind the existence of human life.

Who better than Mark Twain could cut through the omnipresence of human pretense and point out the Darwinesque bare bones skeleton of self-interest and its underlying instinctual decree for perpetuation of the species that lives merely millimeters beneath the unconsciously fraudulent surface?

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Sometimes I allow myself to laugh (and sometimes I do not) when I read some of the eloquent and prophetic pronouncements from earlier times, such as:

The larger the mob, the harder the test. In small areas, before small electorates, a first-rate man occasionally fights his way through, carrying even the mob with him by force of his personality. But when the field is nationwide, and the fight must be waged chiefly at second and third hand, and the force of personality cannot so readily make itself felt, then all the odds are on the man who is, intrinsically, the most devious and mediocre -- the man who can most easily adeptly disperse the notion that his mind is a virtual vacuum.

The Presidency tends, year by year, to go to such men. As democracy is perfected, the office represents, more and more closely, the inner soul of the people. We move toward a lofty ideal. On some great and glorious day the plain folks of the land will reach their heart's desire at last, and the White House will be adorned by a downright moron.

--H.L. Mencken
Baltimore Evening Sun,
July 26, 1920
H.L. Mencken

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I find myself wondering what both of the above mentioned gentlemen would have to say about the following modern-day innovation:




Or this one . . .





Can't help it . . . that's the way my mind works

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No president who performs his duties faithfully and conscientiously can have any leisure.
--James K. Polk

Saturday, April 9, 2011

The Many Virtues Of Brevity

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I am currently and busily working on my web site's information pages regarding the Editing Service I offer to writers. This FREE service is being modified, and hopefully improved -- so today's blog entry will be brief. In fact, this paragraph might be the whole of it. If I decide to add to it later, I will append more below...



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The most valuable of all talents is that of never using two words when one will do.
--Thomas Jefferson

Friday, April 8, 2011

Eva And I Are Still Just Fellow Pack Members

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Just wound up a three day adventure in dog-sitting at the house out in the desert. I was informed that my new neighbors at Toscana Cove had noticed my unannounced absence and called the police to report it... they were worried about me. Police called my son who explained to them that I had been caring for his house and dog while he and his wife were away on business for three days.

So it goes . . .

Eva at rest . . .

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I arrived back home in the apartment yesterday evening and was strangely body-tired. Seemingly exhausted. First, I checked out my computer and found it to be just as I'd left it. Then had a big glass of Diet Pepsi and read from Gore Vidal's Lincoln for a short time... then went to bed at some time between seven thirty and eight o'clock.

Slept till seven thirty this morning, with only three short wake ups through the night for bathroom visits.

Wow! What a long, restful sleep.

Feel fine today, though.

I am getting ready for my daily fitness walk at this moment.

Nothing more to write about right now . . .

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Thursday, April 7, 2011

Blankety blank blank blank

Nothing to report today... will be returning home tonight.


More tomorrow . . .

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

War, Peace, And Otherwise


This is the second blog posting in my three day stint of Adventures In Dog-sitting... and Eva has been a fine, well behaved puppy... she's a 'good girl' and I strive to tell her so. But not often enough she seems to think because every time I approach her when she is lying on the carpet relaxing and I say, "you're such a good girl, Eva" she rolls over on her back so I can scratch her belly... she really enjoys that.

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According to The Writer's Almanac: On this day in 1917, the United States officially entered World War I. President Woodrow Wilson tried to keep the U.S. out of the war, even after a German U-boat sunk the passenger ship Lusitania, until British intelligence intercepted a secret German communication to Mexico. Apparently, Germany had promised Mexico that they could have the U.S. if Mexico would support the German cause.

Read more about it HERE


Well, the government of Mexico's plan didn't work back then, but their newest method of taking over today (illegal immigration) seems to be succeeding.

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How Hoofed Animals Pick Their Noses is an image from a PZ Myers blog entry. I am re-posting the picture here because I thought it intriguing. I will remove it if PZ asks me to.

Align CenterAlign Center
"Good Gosh!"


Well... my stomach tells me that it's time for breakfast now, so...

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Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Home Away From Home


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I am dog sitting with Eva in the house out here in the desert for a couple of days so I'm not sure how much blogging I will get done. Probably not much. I'll bet that makes you (the reader) sad... right? Or maybe the opposite.

This entry is being composed on a cute little e-machine that Mike has installed here in one of their guest rooms. Personal computers have come a long way since the early days, back in the 1980s. Who'd a thunk it?

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Sandi Jo is visiting here from Florida till Thursday. I hadn't seen her for more than a year, so there's some 'catching up' to do.

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That's it for now... I'll add more later today if something new comes to mind.

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"I have the heart of a child. I keep it in a jar on my shelf."
--Robert B

Monday, April 4, 2011

A Noteworthy Day In History


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Last night, even though I dozed off at around ten o'clock, I woke back up after an hour and lay there for roughly a half hour, finally slipping back into my own (restless) version of the land of nod -- but only to reawaken after another sixty minutes. It was one of those times when I found that I just could not sleep for more than an hour at a time. So, at four a.m. I rose and brewed myself a cup of Pumpkin Pie flavored coffee and turned on the computer.

First I checked my email and then began to visit my favorite daily blogs...

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At The Writer's Almanac I was reminded of some historical facts, such as:

On this day in 1928 Marguerite Ann Johnson was born in St. Louis, Missouri. Later she changed her name to . . .

Global Renaissance Woman

Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. asked Ms Angelou to work for him. After his assassination, on this day in 1968, which was on her 40th birthday, she was devastated.

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If I think of something clever later on today I'll append it here.

If not, I won't.
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Do you know who this is?

A character you love to hate

Oh sure, you recognize the face . . . from Fargo . . . or maybe from Armageddon -- or perhaps from The Sopranos -- but do you know his name?

Well... it's Steve Buscemi

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How about this?
Who is she?

Bet you don't know . . .

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"If civilization had been left in female hands, we'd all still be living in grass huts"
--Camille Paglia
(see picture above)

Sunday, April 3, 2011

Vicissitudes Of Writers And Wannabes


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Writing a short story used to be such a simple task for me... and a most enjoyable one. I would just sit down at my old portable (manual) typewriter and start pounding the keys. More often than not I would continue for hours and hours until the entire first rough draft was finished. Of course, most of those stories died at that point. After the first flush of creativity was concluded I had little incentive to revise or rewrite, since I soon realized that my story was nothing more than a personalized re-hash of a short story I had read recently. Occasionally, though, I did succeed in writing an original story... and some of them were actually accepted and published.


But now the process is quite different. Now I brood for days, weeks, months, and even years on an idea before even sitting down in front of my computer's keyboard.

Even then, I just sit there staring at the monitor for a really long time before tentatively tapping out a sentence. Then I read that sentence, change a word here and there, add a phrase, remove a word, change another word, get up and brew a cup of coffee, go for a long walk, or take a nap.

When I return to the single sentence and again read it, I highlight it and angrily hit the delete key.

I wonder what ever made me believe that I could be a writer.
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As I am preparing this blog entry I am listening to my local Talk Radio station (out of habit) and the Sunday morning show running at this time is some religious call-in program titled The Jesus Christ Show. And believe it or not, the host is supposedly Jesus Christ himself. Each segment opens with the man behind the microphone intoning:

"Welcome to the Jesus Christ Show... this is your holy host (pause) taking your calls."

A lady caller just said: "I would like to know if you could express to me the meaning of the body of Christ?" I thought her question was rather wordy, and I couldn't help revising (in my mind) her question to: "What does the body of Christ mean?"

Don't ask me why I am listening to such a silly radio program. That's not the point.

My point is: If I am not a writer, why then am I always examining, criticizing, and correcting overheard text -- or composing effective sentences of my own?

Why is that?
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While reading The Writer's Almanac I learned that it was Washington Irving -- author of Rip Van Winkle and The Legend of Sleepy Hollow -- who coined one of New York's most enduring nicknames, "Gotham," which is Anglo-Saxon for "Goat Town," and which comes from a town called Gotham (GOAT-um) in Lincolnshire, England, which was famous for tales of its stupid residents.



The Almanac's piece on Washington Irving so intrigued me that I toddled on over to Amazon.com and downloaded one of his stories The Legend of Sleepy Hollow, in the Kindle edition which was FREE, of course. It's been more than fifty years since I first read it, and I'm looking forward to the re-reading.

The Headless Horseman
(From The Legend of Sleepy Hollow)

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vicissitude
-noun
1.
a change or variation occurring in the course of something.
2.
interchange or alternation, as of states or things.
3.
vicissitudes, successive, alternating, or changing phases or conditions, as of life or fortune; ups and downs: They remained friends through the vicissitudes of 40 years.
4.
regular change or succession of one state or thing to another.
5.
change; mutation; mutability.

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Of course man was created before woman . . .there's always a rough draft before the masterpiece.