Monday, April 15, 2013

I am testing something. On the off chance anyone still comes across this blog after a four year break, I will explain that I am posting some possible pictures for my book cover. If you notice and want to chime in, let me know what you think.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Just a Moment, Mr. Substitute, I Have More Important Things to Do

I am a substitute teacher. As such, I expect a certain amount of trying to get away with nonsense. Some of the littlest things don’t matter to me and I let them slide. Seating charts, for instance.

Most of the time teachers have seating charts they are up-to-date and correct, but you always have some students try to sit with friends. Mostly, if they are silent during instructions, I let it go. It isn’t worth the fight. I put my energy into more important things and school rules.

Typically, no cell phones in class is a school rule. I warn the students I will take phones I see. I usually get a nice collection. The first couple periods in a new school or class have the most offenders. I average two confiscations a period. My record is four in five minutes. I give the phones back at the end of the period if they don’t make a fuss, and I don’t report the students. They usually give them up.

That kind of behavior is expected with any sub. I don’t allow it, but don’t hit too hard, either. Consequently, I have never had any real severe, dangerous actions while subbing.

Some things are just plain stupid. I question the intelligence of some students. I’m not even speaking of the students who get all the questions wrong or don’t use punctuation. I’m also not referring to the students who do nothing in class and lie about how they will do it at home. Some of those students may genuinely have issues.

No, I’m speaking of students who do things everyone knows should not be done.

The other day I taught in a science class of a first-year teacher. Between two classes I was in the hall, greeting students (as a good teacher will). About a minute before class started, I turned back and entered the classroom to check on the students inside (another good teacher tactic). A girl had entered the room, gone to the back of the room, plugged in a hair straightener, and proceeded to straighten her hair.

Of course I told her to knock it off. Her response was to tell me, “It’s already warmed up,” as if that explanation was enough and I should not question her. She seriously had the expression and tone of voice that indicated she felt she did nothing wrong. She clearly decided her job was to look good (good luck to her, she’ll need it) instead of getting an education. I suppose being smart is so over-rated. She seemed to think I was dumb for even suggesting she was wrong. Good thing she never said that, though.

I was surprised to have any student bring out a potentially dangerous fire-risk tool. I have seen lots of girls doing hair or make-up, but this was a new one.

Anyway, I then told her again to turn it off and sit down or go to the office. Clearly that girl has a couple brain cells since she stopped with only the subtlest huff of breath. At the end of class one of the students told me the class was actually better for me than the usual teacher. (I feel very sorry for the usual teacher.) This same student said several girls regularly use class time as beauty-shop time.

I have now met the next generation of welfare recipients.

Saturday, November 8, 2008

Eat Me! Please

My wife brought me home a treat the other day. It was cute little marshmallow treats shaped like ants.

They taste good, too, thought probably not worth the price. I gave my daughter the queen ant to eat before I thought to take a picture.

First of all, this product shows the ants as cute critters clearly desiring to be devoured. That is either amusing or sick. It is like they are saying, “Eat me, please!”

I had not thought of that application until I went to the Suicide Food blog. That site is great. It seems that all sorts of animals want to be consumed. (Don’t tell PETA!)

Aside from that, the producer of this candy has clearly never seen an ant. Perhaps the research for the candy came from watching “A Bug’s Life.” (Clearly it didn’t come from “Antz.”) This is clear when you count the legs. Each ant has four legs sprouting from random parts of the anatomy.

Friday, November 7, 2008

Check Your Work

When you were in school, did your teachers tell you to check your work? I cannot think of any teacher who would say you should not.

Checking work comes in handy for professional life, too.

Check out the name of this store:

Le Bon Vie

I took French in high school and lived in France for a while. I can see exactly what is wrong with it, but I understand most people would not. I can guess what the person did who named the store. This person thought, “I’ll call the store, ‘The Good Life,’ but I’ll do it in French.” This person then looked up the words in a French-English dictionary.

Unfortunately, French has masculine and feminine words. This means lots of confusion for non-French.

The sign should read: La Bonne Vie.

This would have been avoided by having someone who knows French check the work. It is possible the person who named the store did know the difference but decided the named looks better the way it is and that people wouldn’t understand it otherwise. In that case, the store considers its customers ignorant. It might be so, but I don’t think that is a very smart philosophy.

Thursday, November 6, 2008

Commas ARE Important

One of the many paperwork activities at my part-time job is a communications log. This is for messages between staff members, and isn’t really formal; however, it can be subpoenaed if a lawsuit were to come against the company. All the paperwork we do, including more important documents, is full of grammar problems. I will withhold making fun of the person responsible, and I ask you to as well. I do this for two reasons. First, these papers are not intended for the public, and not really professional. Second, just about every sheet of paperwork we have in the company has a grammar error somewhere in the printing as well. The bosses don’t take the time to clean it up, why should the low-paid pawns?

All that said, I will copy one sentence from the communications log, changing the names, but nothing else.

“Susan Billy and JOE gOT There BalloT’S In the Mail TO day”

Now I will put the sentence the way it should be except for the commas. I’ll fix the capitals, misused apostrophe, and incorrect word choice.

“Susan Billy and Joe got their ballots in the mail today.”

Alright class, how many people got their ballots? Three?

I actually corrected the sentence in the communications log by adding one comma. It now reads:

“Susan, Billy and Joe got their ballots in the mail today.”

Now how many got their ballots? Still three? Two?

The problem is that some people don’t put a comma in front of the “and” when listing items in a series. Often, this doesn’t cause any problems. (It is, I admit, technically allowed according to the writing manuals.) In some cases, however, it will confuse the reader. Here Susan is a staff member who needs information about Billy and Joe. Two people got ballots. If three people got them, a comma should be placed after Billy’s name.

In the sentence in question, the comma is used to separate the person addressed and the information being given. When people don’t put a comma before the and in list sentences, confusion can occur.

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Elementary Capitalization

I know there are some obscure rules of capitalization people rarely use and so they don’t really get it right when they need to. But most capitalization rules are ones we learn in early grades. For example, you always capitalize the names of months and the days of the week. Whoever made this sign I found at K-Mart apparently failed first grade.

This person capitalized the manes of the months, for which we need to give credit. But that means the person knows where the shift key is. No excuse remains for the missing capital letters on the days of the week.

I see this kind of problem all the time. It is extremely common. It shows a lack of thought and/or education. My question is what supervisor approved it. It is up in several places, each one in a plastic sleeve.

Saturday, November 1, 2008

So I’m Self-Righteous? At least I’m Not a [Expletive Omitted].

I want to be absolutely clear about my blog. I know that many of the mistakes I point out are innocent or could be made by anyone. I also know they can be avoided by having people look over something before making it public. The mistakes I make fun of are common ones that anyone beyond elementary school should not make.

Am I overly proud? I hope not. I have plenty of problems and I am constantly trying to improve. I have posted my comments at times with grammar mistakes that readers point out to me. I then change it.

I was reading The Perplexicon yesterday—I check it everyday—and found that the author of the blog was singled out by this article.

The article is called: “Mum, How Do You Spell Self-Righteous”?

I read it. This reporter thinks that people putting up these blogs are self-righteous and overly nit-picky. Look at the blogs used as examples. They are also blogs I check daily. They are funny. None of them are focused on the tiny details this article indicates are worthless. None of them are “grammar Nazis” either. That just shows how idiotic the article is—and possibly the writer.

Most people continue to try and learn new things. These grammar blogs (mine too, though it is not just grammar) can help people learn. Also, they are really amusing.

In fact, I am thankful for the article because I learned what “beg the question” means. Check it out. Incidentally, the article identifies that site as a blog, when it is not.

So, in the end I might demonstrate a little unintended pride by my posts. This article and the people who believe good grammar is only for people who think they are better (in other words, prideful or self-righteous) are even more prideful than the grammar bloggers.

Too many people who blame others for pride are even more proud and self-righteous. They are proud of their willful ignorance.

Which is worse: being proud of learning, or being proud of willful ignorance?

Thursday, October 30, 2008

What is a Wyng?

And is it special that it is boneless?

I recognize that some companies come up with clever names for products by changing good spelling or using phonetic spelling. Some of the time this is good, usually it is pointless. Sometimes it is a detriment to society. I will not buy “chicken fryz.” I taught school children who cannot spell “fries” because of stupid people trying to look original.

I do like to eat chicken, though. Some time ago, a brilliant salesperson came up with the idea to market chicken wings to people and was successful. Let’s face it, what value do the wings have? It is only a tiny bit of meat and hard to get to. Yet people now intentionally buy them. Check out this picture:

Not bad. I’d eat them, though I probably wouldn’t buy them. I would buy something with more meat. Now look at this one:

What value is added by putting a y instead of an i?

I’m not crazy about calling the product, “any’tizers,” but I understand it as marketing and trademarking and so forth. “Wyngs” is just stupid. My IQ dropped just looking at the package.

Check out The Perplexicon for more useless, horrifying, and perplexing spellings on packaged food.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Capitalize Your Names, People!

In this election season, I have seen many dumb things candidates do. (Or many dumb candidates, whichever.)

I already exposed Randy Neatherlin. Since then, I did the responsible thing and looked up what he stands for. I even e-mailed him to ask for an explanation, but I never got a response.

Anyway, Mr. Neatherlin’s poster problem is one of misused (or abused) and poorly thought-out style. These next two people are worse. They are at least different. I drive past these signs regularly and finally got around to criticizing them on this blog.

Here are the pictures:

What nit-wit decided that capitalizing names is passé?

Notice Mr. Faulk’s sign. He only included his last name, which means some idiot might think “Elect” is his first name or “State” is his last name. Clearly the sign-maker knows how to use the shift key since the small print contains capital letters.

Now look at Ms. Smeall’s sign. She bothered to capitalize her given name, but decided her family is made up of losers so she didn’t capitalize her family name. At least, that is my working theory. Perhaps they decided her first name would fit better if they used a small s for the last name.

Or perhaps both these people are foolish and don’t deserve to be in office.

I will, of course, look up what they stand for before voting, but the inability to use basic capitalization makes me question their abilities.

I Can Screw Up Too

In fairness to the people I mock, I need to chastise myself.

I found out last year that I have a slight case of dyslexia or lysdexia (whichever). I hadn’t known this growing up, though it explains a lot. I frequently make small errors when writing quickly, and I often invert numbers when copying them. Of course, since I know I do those things, I have become skilled at checking my work and looking up what I don’t know.

Anyway, I signed up to substitute teach in a particular district a short time ago. I have subbed several times—but they were jobs I went hunting for. The sub system never called me. I didn’t worry because I actually subbed every day I wanted to… until today. This morning I checked and it turns out I had inverted two numbers on the phone number I provided. I now fixed it.

It isn’t a public mistake, but since I make fun of others, I need to self-report too.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

You Decide, 2008: Halloween Edition

Which costume is more frightening?

You decide. Vote with your comments. Be polite, though.

Here is one more, though the person portrayed isn’t in the presidential elections… anymore.

Monday, October 27, 2008


Satire can be a wonderful thing. Unfortunately, many people don't have the mental capacity and/or experience and background to understand it.

This is an exceptionally well crafted bit of satire. Read and enjoy. Whatever your own political leanings, you will have to admit the satire is great.

Credit where it is due: I found this post from 20 Out of 10.

Sunday, October 26, 2008

Not Stupid at All

I had the chance last week to substitute teach in my old high school. Most of my teachers have moved on, but I did find two of them still there. They remembered me too. I am hard to forget.

I saw my physics teacher. He could have retired several years ago, but loves his job and is very good at it. He was teacher of the year last year. I loved his class. He made it very enjoyable. I didn't do my homework and got a C, but I loved the class.

I also talked with my math teacher. He was great too. I had him for three years. I always knew what to expect. He is good and it seems he changes little. Some of my favorite posters are still on the walls in the same spots.

Saturday, October 25, 2008

Just Plain Stupid

I love The "Bolg" of "Unnecessary" Quotation Marks. It is a great site with many good pictures of bad punctuation.

I saw this today:

The quotation misuse is bad enough. I particularly find the lower-case i in DAViD to be dumb. Whoever made the sign should be forced to repeat elementary school.

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Don’t Mess with a WaSP

The Washington State Patrol (WSP) aka “WaSP” does a great job helping people and stopping bad guys. We should always give them proper respect and support.

They also pull people over for speeding.

I fear them sometimes. That said, I am also cautious and rarely excessively speed.

Most people are the same way. Of course, you always have people who will drive very fast and get caught. I was caught once speeding too much. I was guilty of speeding. I knew it. The officer was professional about it. I paid the ticket without protest—or, with only minor grumbling to myself and with no challenge to the ticket.

We all know we can get caught in a speed trap. If we get caught, we pay the ticket and we’re done with it.

We should also know that if you see a WaSP driving along the road you DON’T PASS IT!

I was driving home a couple days ago when I saw a patrol car along the side of the freeway. He had clearly just finished giving a ticket to someone. I was driving along at the flow of traffic: about three miles an hour over the limit. The flow slowed as we passed the officer. The WaSP pulled out a few cars behind me. I figured I hadn’t done anything, but made sure I kept a one mile an hour below the limit, so did the other cars around me… except one.

This guy was coming up quickly in the fast land. He must have noticed the WaSP pulling out since he pulled in front of me and slowed down, but not too much. The officer passed the three people behind me and also me and turned into the lane behind the speeder, who was still going a good three or four miles an hour over the limit. (He did slow down a bit after that.)

I felt sorry for the guy at first, but we went about two miles like that with no problems. I figured the guy was lucky and we would continue for however many miles it took for the WaSP to pull off.

…And then the driver did something that surely lowered his IQ at least a dozen points and lost him my sympathy.

He must have decided the officer was not after him. He changed back into the fast lane, sped up, and passed the car in front of him. If the officer wasn’t going to pull him over before, that bone-headed move cinched it.

So kids, the lesson for today: Never speed up when a police officer is behind you.

I bet he got in even more trouble for pulling over to the left instead of to the right shoulder.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

This Just Seems Wrong

I just love the Cake Wrecks blog. It is very well done and great to read. I had my camera with me at Safeway about a week ago and took a couple pictures of cakes. Then I saw the cakes I am posting here. I took the pictures and have seen others since then; I got pictures of those also.

Here is the first picture I took:

It is a cute enough idea. I know my daughters would like it. They love Cinderella. I thought the frosting looked a little off. Do you also notice that the plastic ledge of Cinderella’s torso (for lack of a better name to call it) shows? It seems you get half a Cinderella doll and a small cake. My first problem is with the doll. What are you supposed to do with half a doll after the cake is gone? I also find the coloring of the frosting disturbing. I have another problem with the cake, but I’ll get to it later.

In any case, I thought the cake wasn’t too bad for what it was… until I saw this one:

It is still half a doll and a tiny cake, but it is so much better than the previous one.

Check out the Tinkerbell cake as well. It does have a whole doll, though I don’t care for the green flower stem and leaves.

Finally, here are some Barbie cakes that, I believe, actually have a whole doll with the tiny cake. I think these ones are really well done. I found them at Top Foods.

Now I will get to my problem with these cakes. (Actually, I also have a problem with the price-to-cake ratio, but that might be me being cheep.) My problem is with the idea. The eatable part of the cake is the dress. So what does that say? Do you really want to eat the dress off a cake? And this is for children? I am a little disturbed with the concept of stripping Disney figures to celebrate a birthday party.

That just seems wrong to me.

Update: I put all this together and then found that today’s cake at Cake Wrecks is also a doll cake, though it is Halloween-themed. I almost didn’t post this for that reason. I don’t want to compete with Cake Wrecks. That site is so much better than this. Check it out.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

What is the Value of One Who Grants a Lease?

I will admit that spelling has never been my strong point. I also make occasional typos. However, I am well aware of my short-comings and always have someone check my work. Most of the stupid actions and writings I see could be avoided with a little fact-checking.

That said, there are also words and grammar rules that should be so well known that there should never be a mistake. This is especially true if the mistake was made by a professional company.

Take this next sign, for example:

It is a nice looking sign, but has a couple of problems. First, take a look at the last line.

As I said, I am not a great speller, but “lesser” is a common word. “Lessor” is a word most people wouldn’t consider a word. In fact, when you type it into Word, it comes up as an error. Also, this mistake must have passed several people since it was professionally printed. Someone paid for the mistake and then put it up without noticing.

The word “lessor” means one who grants a lease. I suppose if you buy one, you can get another free if you plan to rent it. What is the value of a lessor? I suppose that depends on the person. If I feel I am getting a good deal and really want the thing in question, the lessor would likely have a high value. If I feel I am being ripped off and have no choice and am getting a bad deal, I would likely value the lessor less.

Also, check out the misused quotation marks. What are they trying to hide? I’ll leave that interpretation to others. The “Blog” of “Unnecessary” Quotation Marks does a great job exposing misused quotation marks. Check it out.

Update: Someone pointed out that there are only three of the pots left. How did it happen that they have an odd number? How do you get one free when there is only one left?


I think headlines should always be checked for double meanings. I have several Jay Leno books with the headlines he features on his show. You would think people would be more careful after so many years of being made fun of on late-night television. I also remember the headline when my plane was delayed twenty-three hours coming back from England fifteen years ago. It read, “Jumbo Passengers Delayed.” I wish I had kept a copy of it.

This morning I happened to check the news headlines on my phone. I thought the following headline was funny.

“Study: Middle-Age Women Driving Up U.S. Suicide Rate”

Be assured, I don’t find it funny that people are killing themselves. It turns out the article is about the statistic that more middle-aged women are committing suicide. There is no humor in that.

When I looked at the headline, I thought maybe it was the middle-aged women who are driving others to commit suicide. That, also, isn’t funny, but the misinterpretation, I find, is funny. Or maybe I just saw it too early in the morning.

Monday, October 20, 2008

Another Reason I Don’t Shop at Fred Meyer

The biggest reason, of course, is that most of the things I buy can be purchased for less at other stores.

I don’t particularly like Fred Meyer. I make no secret of it. In fact, I’m happy to tell anyone who asks. I suppose I ought to get over it. The store in Lacey was always rude to me when I was in high school. I felt like everyone was watching me, and they treated me like a worthless degenerate each time I was in the store. In fairness, I occasionally overheard some of my classmates at school mention shoplifting from the store; nevertheless, I never did anything but buy stuff the way I should.

My wife says I can get therapy.

I have been to the store many times since I was a teenager, and they do treat me well now. I will also magnanimously admit they often have good deals on a few items and usually have a good price for milk.

The past aside, I went into a Fred Meyer store and saw this:

Kroger, incidentally, is the Fred Meyer store brand.

Capitalization errors are too common as it is. But, really, who doesn’t know to capitalize America. That is the kind of thing you expect from dumb students who think capitalization doesn’t matter and from people who hate our country.

I taught many students who honestly think capitalization doesn’t matter. I will grant that there are times when aesthetics lead a company or publisher to use no caps or all caps. I assume that is what happened here. But who was ignorant or hateful enough to fail to spot that not capitalizing America would make the company look dumb.

Did you also notice they capitalized the company name but not America?

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Great Teachers

There is nothing two digit IQ about this.

I went to the library a couple days ago. As I was walking into the library, I saw a person I almost recognized, but wasn’t sure. I started talking to him, which I don’t usually do when I don’t recall who someone is.

It turns out it was my fourth grade teacher. I haven’t seen him in more years than I care to think about.

I credit my fourth grade teacher with my love of reading.

I had a chance to tell him that. It was a great experience I find myself at a loss to adequately put to words.

I had a similar opportunity a few years ago to talk with my ninth grade teacher; I credit him with my ability to write correctly.

I credit my sixth grade teacher with a love of writing. I haven’t had a chance to see him, yet. I should make the attempt.

If you can, look up your old teachers and tell them how great an influence they had on you. Of course, if you didn’t like them, let it go.