Some Grammar Rules I Could Do Without

November 13, 2020

I have heard it said that if you end a sentence with a word in quotes, then the punctuation must be placed within the “quotes.”

But, as in the example I just made, it makes no sense. What if you are including a quote that had its own punctuation?

Such as if I referred to the previous sentence and wondered if “punctuation?” should require a separate punctuation if used at the end as in “punctuation?”?

Certainly, if you quote the end of a sentence in the middle of one of your own, the extra punctuation might become confusing. Especially if the “might become confusing.” is being used in the middle of another sentence.

Or one might ask if one should use the period at the end of the statement “might become confusing.”?

Or what about quoting a phrase that did not originally include any punctuation as in “quoting a phrase”? Placing the question mark inside the quotation here is not just clumsy, it is wrong. The original quote was not a question!

Anyway, it is things like this that drive me nuts.

And then there is the rule about not requiring a comma when doing words in series. Such as bread, butter, salt, milk and eggs.

But what about bread and butter, milk and eggs, mustard and ketchup and salt and pepper. Doesn’t make much sense to not use an extra comma, does it?

Still, the rules are continuously changing and things that don’t work well are being adjusted by those who pass such rules on grammar.

I had always heard you should never end a sentence: “Where are you going to?” Instead, you should have “To where are you going?” Except, of course, when using dialog because people are liable to actually talk any way they want instead of following any rules.

But now I have seen at a couple of different websites that rearranging the sentences to read like “To where are you going?” seems rather stilted… and dated. Wow! What a thoroughly unique concept, huh? (And about a century behind the times…)

Regardless of the changes, one supposes, one must still maintain the proper construction of sentences less one sound somewhat boorish, no?

Or whatever.


Not Worried About A I

November 6, 2020

So many today seem to be worried about AI and how it is going to somehow become “smarter than Man”.

Now while I may be the first to admit such is possible Рeven yours truly is not the sharpest wick on the candle… or something Рfaster processors can easily outperform what we mere mortals can accomplish.

Still, I don’t see it being better than what we have now.

Case in point:

We have one of the really new, top-line photocopiers in our office.

It can copy from a wide number of inputs, format the output in a variety of ways, shine your shoes, and make a perfect cup of coffee but it still has a few bugs.

Went to copy something this morning and it refused to budge as it beeped the warning “original left on glass”.

So I lifted the cover to remove whatever original someone had inadvertently abandoned only to find nothing on the glass.

I closed the lid again but it still refused to copy because now “a compartment is open”. The compartment showing on the warning message was the cover I had lifted to retrieve the imaginary original left on glass.

So I opened the top again and closed it, getting the light and warning to stop.

When I pressed the START button, it came again with the warning “original left on glass”.

Three more attempts opening and closing the top cover finally consoled the beast of its imagined woes.

I made my copy and left.

AI seems an awful lot like people to me.

Looking for the Right College

October 30, 2020

My son is of an age when he is getting serious about going to college.

That’s right… he’s thirty-two. But maybe he’s just a late-bloomer, unlike me who’s always been called a blooming… well, something or other.

And in his search for the best fit, he asked me an interesting question:

“How can I get into this Electoral College? And what sort of degrees do they offer?”

I really didn’t want to dash his hopes by telling him it wasn’t a “real” college and most of the things coming out of it do not appear very intelligent.

Still, he does like to dream big.

And it seems quite a bit better than Yale, which I have mentioned several times before.

So, Who’s the Best President Ever?

October 24, 2020

And if you said “Boris Badanov”, I think you’re reading the wrong blog. I am talking about American Presidents here.

This is a follow up to my entry on the Worst President ever. As promised, I’m going to talk about the Best of the Best of… well, whatever.

If we were going for the best ladies man, I think that would be a tough choice. I think every president (with the possible exception of William Harrison who died far too quickly) has been a babe-magnet. Like Henry Kissinger noticed, power is the ultimate aphrodisiac.

For years we heard about the many dalliances of Kennedy, then Lyndon Johnson’s affairs have come out and he promised to outdo JFK in that regard. Apparently, he did.

But that is not a good yardstick for being a good President, is it? Let’s find another measure.

Martyrdom has been a wonderful leg-up for many Presidents. The aforementioned Kennedy was raised to demigod status after his assassination. The same was true for Lincoln. And their stars have yet to tarnish.

The same happened for Garfield and McKinley after their untimely killings but their stars do not shine as bright today as they did in the first years after their assassinations. And the ones that died from illness (William Harrison, Zachary Taylor, and Warren Harding) did not get as many sympathy votes.

If the criteria was for keeping us out of debt, there are no recent Presidents who could claim that honor.

Increasing the size of the country? I think Jefferson hold that distinction.

Being the first? Nah, there was only one… or two if you count that annoying Articles of Confederation thingy.

So what would be a good measurement for the honor?

Until I can figure that out, I guess there’s no point in trying to pick the best. It would only be a popularity contest.

And my vote on that count would be Millard Fillmore.

I mean, how can you not like anyone burdened with a name like Millard?

So, Who’s the Worst President Ever?

October 23, 2020

And if you said “Boris Yeltsin”, I think you’re ready the wrong blog. I am talking about American Presidents here.

A lot of my Republican friends are proclaiming their votes for Obama. But that’s the same as all my Democratic friends said about Bush while he was President.

Other than the party out of power griping and moaning about the current occupant, is there really a worst President ever?

It’s a tough topic but not very much different than the Best President ever, but that will have to wait for another post. Today we examine the scum-magnet.

Some CT (conspiracy theory) people say it was Lincoln, or even Washington because of his Masonic connections.

I have heard good arguments for John Adams, Andrew Jackson, Woodrow Wilson (or rather his wife), Teddy Roosevelt or his cousin Franklin, and on and on. Seems a lot of people have their favorite to hate.

But I think my candidate is hands-on the most obvious choice and for very concrete reasons. Fortunately, I won’t tick off any current members of his political party because the party he was in no longer exists. Whew!

Yes, the Republicans and Democrats can relax. Liberals too… except they’ve not had a president yet so they have nothing to worry about… for now…

And the winner is: (drum roll)

William Henry Harrison!!

And I am hearing a few yawns along with the assorted “Who the f— is that?” or “Was he a President?”

Yes, Mister Harrison (not to be confused with Benjamin Harrison, his grandson who was a President as well) was the ninth President of the United States who won fame being a General at the famous battle at Tippecanoe. He even ran for office with the slogan “Tippecanoe and Tyler too”… Tyler was his Vice-President.

And a very lucky VP, too.

William Henry Harrison, the old war-horse, decided to ride his old war-horse in the inaugural parade – even though the temperatures hovered around the zero mark – and delivered his long-winded inaugural speech in the open air.

As one would expect, the fellow caught pneumonia and passed away thirty days later.

Yes, he was the shortest tenured President in history. And it is that reason that most people overlook him for worst President.

They think he was not President long enough to do any damage… or good.

Au contraire!

The decisions he made for his first day as President were so poor, so wrong, that I think we saw what the next four years was going to bring.

Had he lived, no telling where his poor judgement might have led us.

If you have another candidate for the “honor”, I’d be glad to hear it.

Things are Confusing Enough Without Help

October 16, 2020

I have done accounting work for many years, primarily accounts payable, and there is a practice I have seen over and over through the years that causes so many headaches.

Generally speaking, I’d have to say about 15% of the time is spent tracking down this problem. And the damnedest thing is, the problem should never have existed in the first place. Except by someone’s incompetency, institutionalized.

The practice is applying payments to an account rather than to a specific invoice.

Let’s say your company receives three invoices from Joe’s Mechanical on one day.
#1 is for $20 for a widget,
#2 is $2,000 for some work done, and
#3 is for a $4,000 machine.

You send around the invoices to the people in the company who need to approve the expenditures. #3 is approved immediately and you process it. #1 is waiting for the guy to return from vacation and #2 is waiting on verification of the work done.

Meanwhile, Joe’s company gets the $4,000 check and puts it on your account.

Next day, you get another invoice from Joe’s for $1,350 for another piece of equipment. You send #4 off to the approving party.

Meanwhile, the project manager for invoice #2 calls Joe’s and tells them the task was not done and was not even ordered. Joe’s issues a $200.00 credit for that but does not send a paper credit memo, just keeps it in their system.

Working efficiently, invoice #4 is approved and paid.

Then you get a notice from Joe’s accounting department that says there was a short pay on invoice #3 and you still owe $430.00.

While most people would pull up the records and start hunting, the simplest thing to do is ask Joe’s to send you the statement of the account. Otherwise you are going to be more confused than ever trying to nail this thing down.

And here’s what the statement would show:


Once you have seen their statement, you know the confusion arose from TWO different errors:
1st – they misapplied the payments and
2nd – the internal credit memo was for $200.00 rather than $2,000.00.

This fiasco could have been easily avoided if the vendor had applied the payments properly rather than in a haphazard fashion. Also, if the credit memo had been mailed to the customer, the discrepancy on that count could have been found rather quickly.

I know how this sort of thing came about.

In the primeval days of accounting, there was no computer software for this stuff. Mainly because the only computer was the Univac in New York. The PC was not even in anyone’s daydreams (well, mostly).

Accounting was done by hand, with a pencil, on columnar pads, where every transaction was entered. And it was so much simpler to run an account on a page with the running total. It was fairly standard practice and still led to the headaches outlined above.

But then came the computer and software capable of lightening the workload by the correct assignment of payments. No longer do you have to search back through a year’s worth of invoicing to clear up these problems.

Except when people do not input the data properly – or use inflexible or archaic software.

But even in the olden days, pre-PC, this was a problem.

Still, the problem above had with Joe’s mechanical is not that much of a mind-bending problem. The solution could be found rather quickly.

But what about a vendor who sends out numerous invoices to your firm on a weekly basis?

Firms I have worked for in the past have several facilities each using a certain shipping firm and all the bills are sent to the central office. The shipper seems to be using software that has this little problem – or their personnel need to be trained a little better.

Anyway, for those of you not involved in accounting, this post will be pretty meaningless… perhaps.

Though the problem may exist in other areas of life and business as well.

I have also noticed the same sort of things in shipping departments. Some orders are shipped short, and caught up in a later shipment but shorted from that one as well.

Humans seem to have a propensity for complicating things for everyone else just to make their own job simpler.

This is called laziness.

No, It’s Not Pretty

October 9, 2020

The NFL celebrates it, marathons celebrate it, the USPS celebrates it as well: the fight to find a cure for breast cancer.

Billions are raised every single year for research into finding a cure for this as well as other forms of cancer.

Yes, many are fearful and want – no, NEED! – to find that cure.

Sadly, the cure for cancer was revealed many years ago* and yet no one – especially the medical community – wants that information to be widely disseminated.

Whoa! Back up just a minute here…

IF the cure has been found, why are there so many different facilities working around the clock to find a cure?

The answer isn’t pretty but it is rather typical: money.

The treatment for cancer is really not more than proper diet.

What doesn’t work is waiting until the cancer has grown large enough or aggressive enough to take that cure. One has to be a bit more proactive than that but, as usual, who has the time?

So, billions are being poured into the search for a cure for cancer that someone, somewhere can patent and make a fortune off of, even though the public funded the search.

Some find it a bitter pill but consider it worth the fight so we can find a cure that will allow us to continue the lifestyles we have become accustomed to. Even if the cost is so extremely high that not all those so afflicted can afford the treatments, or drugs, or whatever form the cure takes.

Just as shown in the film Elysium, the rich can get the better healthcare, the poor get the remnants.

Greed fuels the search by a plethora of facilities but it is also the greed of the populace that funds the search.

Cancer is easy to cure.

Curing this social ill will not be so easy.

* – Otto Warburg won the Nobel Prize in 1931 for his work. The accomplishment is downplayed in the modern literature because of, well, obviously, money.

There are several others who have found good cancer-treatment therapies over the years as well but along similar lines.

Until the research community finds a pill to do the trick (and one they can make billions off of, there will be no announcement of a cure.

Procrastinator’s Meeting Canceled… er, Postponed

October 2, 2020

As a proud member of the Procrastinator’s Society – that is, if I would remember to mail in the damned membership application! – I was a bit disappointed to see that the upcoming meeting originally scheduled for February 5th, 2013, has been postponed. Again.

I know it is probably too late to complain about such a thing but I really wanted to review the minutes of that particular meeting as a topic near and dear to my heart was scheduled for discussion on that meeting’s agenda.

“Acting in a Timeful Manner” sounded like a crowd-pleaser to me and I really hoped to get some tips from it.

Not that I plan on getting around to anything in anything vaguely resembling a “timely” manner but I should certainly know how to act like I had done so.

And the “acting like” is much more important in today’s world than actually doing anything, right?

Subjective, at Best

September 25, 2020

I’ve often heard some guy mention encountering “bad sex”.

Most men will tell you “bad sex” is still miles above “no sex”.

I figure it’s all really just a matter of opinion and is not something you can closely define, codify, or quantify. People’s tastes are different.

Years ago, I read a book What Makes Women Good in Bed and its companion volume on the male of the species. Quite a lot of the survey results limited the liking or not liking to some physical characteristic of the female.

In the opposite volume, there were very few physical characteristics as the female were more attuned to the emotional attitudes of their partner.

And far more of the women mentioned having “bad sex” than did the men. So many of the women said the “bad” part was the men seeming to be in it only for their own – somewhat rather quickly gained – satisfaction.

Yes, it seems (surprise, guys!) it takes women somewhat longer to reach climax than men, on the average… but who wants “average sex”, huh?

Women generally tend to value the emotional aspects of the encounter more than the men (yes, men do have emotions… somewhere… I think… maybe…) who focus almost exclusively on the physical. Really smart guys will note that enhancing the emotional aspects will do a lot more for their partner unlike, well… themselves.

That said, there is no “one size fits all” in this area and the best way to get good at it with your partner is through trial and error.

And, hopefully, the error will grow to be a smaller factor over time.

Matrix Life… continued

September 18, 2020

Once you start to question the things around us, you might begin to wonder how and where it started.

So, you turn to “history”… and encounter other matrices specifically created to occlude truth. History, as they say, is written by the victors and as such has always been more than a bit suspect.

This is a rabbit hole into which most will not and should not venture as it really rattles the entire structure of the safe cage you have always thought nestled you snugly.

Another aspect of this matrixing is in our personal relationships. How many times have we heard people get blindsided by revelations about their spouse that they had no clue, even though there had been some telltale signs along the rocky road?

Even in this we tend to create a bubble of ignorance in order to increase that marvelous sense of safety and security.

Battered women will remain with the abusive spouse thinking that “this time things will be different”. Self-delusion is one thing we are very good at. At least for a while.

How long, however, can an entire society continue along this road?