Friday, July 10, 2009

On the links

Beanie called yesterday for a good long gossip and she mentioned, yet again, that she is getting 20 baby guineas at the end of the month just after they hatch. She tried to hatch 20 of her own guinea eggs, but Peeps didn't live long enough, or was obviously smart enough, to fertilize them before something got him and carried him away. His mate kept looking for him and crying piteously, but I'm not sure I want to know how a guinea fowl howls.

I don't get Beanie's obsession with guineas. She won't eat the eggs. "Gander loves the eggs," she told me after explaining that they were probably no good since the hen had been setting on them for quite a while. I guess Gander, the dog love of her life, doesn't mind a little rotten with his eggs. Yuck! I think guineas are ugly. They look like a cross between a dodo and a lizard with hints of vulture.

Beanie's birds

While I was looking for a picture I noticed that there are uses for guinea fowl, as in roast guinea, and the feathers are lovely. I don't think Beanie would ever kill and cook her guineas. To her, they are simply pets. I just don't get it. Horses as pets, I can see. You can at least ride a horse or use the horse to pull carts, wagons, plows, etc., but you can't ride a guinea. They are too small and get lost under the saddle. Pets like dogs, cats, birds, fish I get. They provide companionship and fish provide an interesting and relaxing show as they swim in their confined kingdoms. Guineas are not companionable and they would drown in the aquarium.

I suppose watching a flock of guineas chasing bugs and hunting for worms and grubs could be interesting and even soothing, but I doubt a flock of guineas would go unnoticed in Beanie's quiet rural bedroom neighborhood. Although their feathers are quite pretty, they don't have the spectacular and breathtaking color of, say, a flock of pink flamingos or a dazzling peacock.

White peacock

As far as I can see, there is no real use for guineas, except that Beanie loves them for some odd reason. She is like Dad that way, except that Dad's chickens laid eggs he ate and provided many chicken dinners. The roosters provided quite a bit of slapstick fun, especially when he got out the blue bucket. That was a sign for the roosters to stop fighting and run for their lives before the flying blue bucket hit them in the head. I can still remember Dad chasing the recalcitrant roosters around the yard with a switch because they wouldn't stop fighting. He would have made a lousy cock fight wrangler. He didn't let them fight and they didn't dare spur him. He'd have had them for dinner.

Oh, well, everyone has some little quirk, like my quirk of posting news and links to the blurb for my new novel. One more link in the publishing chain that will end with the book's debut -- soon, I hope.

With that, I shall leave you with an amazing performance of Toto's hit, Africa, done by a Slovenian Acappella choir.

Thursday, July 09, 2009

Grammar: You can quote me

Quotation marks give some people trouble, but they are really not that difficult to use -- or, evidently, to mess up.

When making a direct quote, the quoted text is enclosed in quotations (they always come in pairs) and the first word of each sentence within the quote requires capitalization.

George Bernard Shaw writing on education said, "A fool's brain digests philosophy into folly, science into superstition, and art into pedantry. Hence University education."

When quoting a fragment of a sentence, the first word is not capitalized.

I couldn't believe what Chili Bob told me so I checked it out for myself in the Cleveland Plain Dealer. I found an article with a diagram that showed how the utility company will be able to manage "power on the grid by automatically adjusting smart thermostats and smart appliances via radio signals" or turn off the electricity from company trucks cruising the neighborhoods.

When breaking a quotation, the second half of the sentence is not capitalized and both parts of the quotation are enclosed within quotation marks. (that's a lot of quotation)

"I do not require a Black president to know that I am a person of worth," and that life is worth living. I do not require a Black president," wrote Dr. Anne Wortham in her short article on the results of the 2008 election, " to love the ideal of America.

If a quotation has a spelling or grammar error, transcribe it as written and follow the quotation with SIC in italics between brackets -- [sic] -- directly after the mistake. SIC is from the Latin meaning"thus," "so," or "just as that." In plain old American language, it means "it's their mistake not mine."

During the 2008 election, Jerome Hudson wrote an op-ed article about being a young, black conservative. On "liberal yammering," he wrote. "But I guess I had made the mistake of buying into all that liberal yammering about being “open minded” and supporting “diversity” that I’d deluded myself into believing that a civil, discussion about the herd-like ideological mentality of so many of my contemporaries suffer from was possible. [sic]

Be careful when using quotes in an article or paper and use them sparingly, otherwise it will look like you didn't do the necessary research and are simply regurgitating someone else's hard work and dressing it up with quotes.

Now, indirect quotations give some people trouble. They shouldn't as long as you provide sufficient citations to avoid the inevitable accusation of plagiarism, and no one wants that.

One of the things I learned from reading Oliver Wendell Holmes is that the best way to expand the mind is not through drugs but by being willing to embrace new ideas. You will never see the world in the same myopic way.

When the language is emotionally or intellectually striking, don't dilute it by paraphrasing.

Martin Luther King Jr. believed that the end of slavery was important and of great hope to millions of slaves done horribly wrong.

Take the time to quote it properly and exercise those quotation marks.

Martin Luther King Jr. said of the Emancipation Proclamation, "This momentous decree came as a great beacon light of hope to millions of Negro slaves who had been seared in the flames of withering injustice."

Forget the quotation marks when summarizing key incidents or the details of a large amount of information and use them judiciously (and correctly) when quoting an author who has coined a unique phrase or term that is unique to your point and relevant to what you're writing, and when you're highlighting the dialogue of a conversation. Sometimes it is better to let the words stand on their own rather than putting your own spin on them.

Until next Thursday, keep those grammar goofs to a minimum. When in doubt -- check it out.

Wednesday, July 08, 2009


I just received the most wonderful piece of news in my email. The cover for my new novel, Past Imperfect.

First published novel

Wasn't that worth the wait?

That is all. Disperse.

Tarot -- Gemini Choices

I drew the cards for today's post on Monday night. I had no particular question in mind, just wanted to know what the future had in store. If you find these readings seem to be about you, they probably are, or maybe you see something of yourself and your situation in them. After all, we are all connected. A leaf to one person is a road map of the future to another. It's all in how you look at things.

Knight of Swords

The Knight of Swords, like all of the knights, embody the element of fire as well as their own element, in this case the element of air associated with swords. In a sense, the Knight of Swords is all about hot air, or you could say that air increases the intensity of the fire, as oxygen is needed to keep a fire burning.

The knight's steed is ready for action and so it seems is the knight with his sword upraised and shining in the sun, but look closer. He holds the steed in check, eyes front, focused on what's ahead with no thought of what is behind him. An owl flies above, the symbol of Athena/Minerva, her familiar, a symbol of wisdom. The Knight of Swords, as all of the knights, is ruled by intellect, more so because the swords symbolize the element of air that governs inspiration and intellect. The knight is focused, committed to the future. He does not look behind. He knows what lies ahead and exactly how he will deal with it. He is single-minded in pursuit, certain of his goal, but he misses what is going on around him, ignoring and being insensitive to those who could and would help him if he doesn't stop in his relentless drive in pursuit of his quarry/goal. He is in danger of moving ahead without thinking of the consequences.

Associated with the astrological sign of Gemini, the Knight of Swords can be equally as foolhardy as he can be wise and courageous, depending on which way the wind blows and which side of the bed he gets out on.

7 of Pentacles

The Seven of Pentacles shows a woman with a basket assessing the harvest. A squirrel in the tree is about to make off with one of the pentacles and sheep graze placidly nearby. The woman has worked hard to help this tree bear fruit, but, instead of climbing the ladder to harvest the fruit, she's already contemplating what she will do with her harvest. Will she bake them into a pie? Preserve them for the future? Call all her friends for a feast? How much money would she gain by selling the fruit so she can plant more trees, grow more fruit and plant an orchard that will necessitate hiring workers to nurture and harvest the fruit so she can buy a bigger house, fancy clothes and spend her twilight years in luxury? She is counting her pentacles before they are harvested and that usually ends up being less successful than the dreams conjured at the sight of a job not yet done.

It took a lot of hard work to sow the seeds, watch over the tree, nurture and protect it from nature's wrath and changeable weather and to bring it to this point, but the job's not done until the fruit is harvested and the best use of its produce is made. It's not enough to do half the work when there is still so much left to do. The job isn't over until the last fruit is picked and the tree made ready for the long sleep of winter. There is no time to daydream and wonder what if? when there is work still to be done.

The Lovers

In older decks, The Lovers were drawn as Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden and symbolized choices. In the Gilded Tarot deck, the couple are clothed, more or less, not standing apart, together, grounded in the earth and surrounded by the waters of change. The warrior lifts his paramour up, but she isn't looking at him; she looks upward towards the heavens, jubilant and safe in the warriors arms. Although it would seem from the name of the card and the symbolism that this card is about romance and love, it's really about partnership and communication and the choices we make.

In the background, dolphins leap playfully around the couple. Dolphins are creatures of the water and the air, so it's no surprise that The Lovers has a connection to Gemini. Gemini is a continuing theme in today's cards, Gemini of the dual nature and double meaning. Dolphins are also very intelligent creatures and in Celtic mythology the dolphin is a symbol of good luck, as it is in many traditions. Sailors saw dolphins playing off the bow of their ship as a good omen of clear sailing and calm waters and if a sailor went overboard, a dolphin would rescue and guide him to safety. The ancient Celts viewed the dolphin as a embodiment of prosperity and guidance, a sign that trouble and strife and the old life had passed away and a new life was dawning. The Chinese believed the dolphin to be tangible proof of the forces of yin and yang, the symbol of harmony, the dream and the world of reality.

The very nature of the bond between warrior and maiden is one of joy and excitement. The Lovers are connected but still able to reach for the sky, grounded firmly and surrounded by water so if they fall they won't get hurt. The warrior is focused on the maiden, supporting her, holding her hand, but not holding her back. He knows she will always come back to him because he is her stable support, her solid foundation, her reliable rock. They are connected and completely in tune with each other. As in older decks, they have made a choice to move forward and not to stagnate. They choose to push away from the safety of the shore to explore what the world has to offer, to reach for more, certain that no matter what happens they can face it together and, if they are separated, they will be guided toward safety.

When taken altogether, the theme is one of choices. There is work to be done, a job to find, a world to conquer, but it's not advisable to focus on one single goal, one aspect of the future. There are other things to consider. Among the choices offered, don't take the first one or the one that will provide immediate reward, but consider the options. Go for the bliss. What at first seems like a good idea may turn out just to be the safe choice, the expedient option. It's not always about the money or clinging to the same old patterns. Sometimes it is better to reach out and find what will provide the most happiness and joy in the task and the end result. What may not pay well at first could well end up nourishing not only the body, but the mind and soul. Consider all the options before making a choice, but don't waste the time dreaming without moving forward. Don't hold the reins too tightly or forget to look around. Keep the mind open, the spirit willing and don't forget that in order to get to the harvest the ladder must be climbed.

Letting one choice overshadow everything else will blind you to the other options. To quote Barbara Moore, "...a career decision with only an intellectual [or financial] appeal or a home opportunity with decadent amenities may not be the best choice in the long run."

Tuesday, July 07, 2009

Wedding errata

Don't have time for a full update or post, but I thought people might find this as interesting as I did. It arrived among my Google Alerts yesterday and was news to me. At least I was told in plenty of time to get ready for the event.

It never occurred to me that anyone who knew me well would mistake the announcement as mine, but some of my friends did. A couple friend called last night to congratulate me on my upcoming wedding and wanted to know why I hadn't mentioned Christopher before. Uh, because I don't know him?

I knew there were at least three other people who shared my name, although I doubt we are related, but I didn't expect a wedding announcement. So, just to be clear, in case you're planning to spring for a wedding gift and a trip to Washington to attend the nuptial celebration, I am not engaged or getting married on August 22nd. I do, however, wish my namesake (I am older than the other three) congratulations and a very happy life.

That is all. Disperse.

Monday, July 06, 2009

Beware, she bites

"I have come to the conclusion that one useless man is called a disgrace, that two are called a law firm and three or more become a Congress."

~ 1776 The Musical

It's 6:30 a.m. and the phone rings. I check the Caller ID. It's work. My boss's brother, Joe, said I had an operative report from Thursday that had not been sent back. He gave me the number. I hadn't even gone into my office yet. I was eating breakfast. I said I'd call him back. I checked. It wasn't on my computer. I checked the very careful list I keep of the jobs and there it was, one of the third batch of reports I downloaded, typed and sent back. I called Joe.

"I don't have it on my system, but it's on my list."

"We don't have it."

"It was signed off. It was a duplicate dictation. I sent an email."

"Oh, I haven't read the emails."

I gave him the number of the original report, said goodbye and hung up. It was 8:30 a.m. there and he was calling me before he had checked the list of returned jobs and the emails. Good. All right then. I can already tell this is not going to be a good week. So much for the five hours of sleep I got last night and I still have to take out the trash.

I got my semi-annual review in Friday's mail. There was good news and bad news. The good news is that my error rate for the previous six months was 0.09%. I had one error and I think it's in one of my macros. A word was missing. Not a major error, but it cost me 4 points and hence the 0.09% error rate, when it should have been a 0% error rate. Oh, well, there's always the next six months.

I have typed more average pages over the past six months than I did the previous six months, but my average page total is down nearly three pages. What's up with that? Therefore, the bad news is that I get less money for vacation and sick days. Good. All right then. And this is on top of all the times that the office calls, usually Joe, and asks me if I can do a few op reports that should have been done earlier in the day, the day before or the week before and need to go out NOW. I always do them. I even stop whatever I'm typing during the day to do special reports for doctors who must have their reports done first and can't wait in the queue for an hour or two. I'm their Go To Girl whenever they need something done quickly and accurately. That should make me feel good but it doesn't, especially not in light of a one-word mistake and a miscalculation of my page totals, in addition to working on the worst account in the company where my pay is automatically docked a minimum of 30% (according to their records and 45% according to my records and math skills).

This is no way to start the week and I can't take vacation until after September. I won't ask if things could get any worse, but then they would.

It's not like I don't have a job. I do. It's not like I don't like my job. I don't. It's not like I have to go to work in an office all day. I don't. And it's not like I have any other options -- at least not until my novels are published and I have a movie deal or two. I don't, not if I want to continue to work at home, thus saving gas, wear and tear on my car, the need for a whole new wardrobe and shoes and boots for inclement weather and my sanity. So, just to be clear, I'm not whining, just reminding people that this week is not a good week and that you should read the warning signs. Beware, she bites.

That is all. Disperse.