Thursday, August 17, 2017

Wild Wacky Words: Part Won.

As you may know, I edit stuff good. I edit it gooder than most. Goodest, even.

One of the things you need to watch for in this "biz" are commonly confounded words, words that are usually very close in spelling or pronunciation or both but with totally different meanings. I thought, just for fun, that today and tomorrow I might share some of my favorites. And if it's not educational to you, well, at least it might be a good reminder for me.

🔖Then / Than

We all know this one, but sometimes we err. Then is an adverb (most of the time) used to indicate a latter time in a sequence: So he flew a kite, then he took a long walk off a short pier. Than, on the other hand, is a conjunction (most of the time) used for comparative purposes: I did not take the suggestion to go fly a kite; therefore I am less foolish than he is. I think we remember this from grammar school; when I've spotted it it's usually just a typo.

🔖Stationery / Stationary

I wrote about this earlier in the year, but it bears repeating. Stationery is the stuff you write on; stationary is a state of non-motion, like the $1,000 exercise bike on which you hang clothes.

🔖Lightning / Lightening

I'm surprised this one comes up as much as it does, but I guess it's because the -ing in the noun lightning makes it look like a verb. Lightning is the stuff that will shoot out of the sky and electrocute you; lightening is what happens in a room when you turn on a light. The verb is lighten, so lightening just makes sense.

🔖Wail / Whale

Here's a tricky one because it doesn't really make sense. I'm not addressing the large aquatic mammal here (🐳) but rather the verb whale. Wail we know is a cry or to cry loudly, but it is not to beat on something. If you're Rocky, and you want to go work out on the heavy bag, you would go into the meat locker and whale on a side of beef for a while. Why does whale mean to beat up? Webster's does not know. It may just refer to the size and power of the whale, or perhaps is tied in with the other verb use of whale, as in to hunt whales, a career that took a lot of guts and muscle in the old days.

🔖Raise / Raze

This actually doesn't come up that often, because few people use the word raze. The odd thing is that these homophones are essentially opposites, raise meaning to lift up or build, raze meaning to completely destroy ("razed to the ground" being a common construction ... in construction). Another odd thing is the expression "raising Cain," which uses the sense of conjuring for raise -- of course, to bring up that bedeviled spirit could result in a lot of destruction. And I guess to raze Cain would put the spirit back down. "Razing Cain" could be a good title for a movie, come to think of it. We raised Cain and razed the town so we had to raze Cain and raise the town up again.

🔖Illicit / Elicit

Illicit is an adjective describing something naughty or illegal. (Ill behavior, illegal...illicit!) The verb elicit is to prompt or draw a response. Remember the E in elicit as in evoke. My illicit behavior elicited an unpleasant reaction from the judge.

🔖Jive / Jibe / Gibe

I'm just tired of reading about things jiving with each other. Next thing you know they'll be scatting. Things that are operating in sync -- great minds, roaring engines, PB and J -- jibe, they do not jive. As a verb, jive means to talk in a foolish or lying way, or to play or dance to jive music. Jibe is to be in accord. A jibe can also be a cutting remark, but that's also spelled as gibe. So you can jive someone with jibes but then you won't jibe. 

Bonus tip: No h in sync. I've been seeing a lot of synchs lately -- everything but the kitchen synch.

Tune in tomorrow for more sets of commonly confused words. I'm sure the suspense will be killing you until then (not until than).

Wednesday, August 16, 2017

Oui? Yo!

I've been doing product reviews lately because I'm the main shopper in the family and I think about stuff at the store too much. My reviews seem to be well received, though, so I've thought sometimes that I should have just started a food review blog. 

This week I tried a new yogurt by Yoplait called Oui

Neat how they make it look like the flavor is written on the label by hand, isn't it?

But the label is only the second thing we notice about Oui. The first is the fact that it comes in neat little glass jars, like fancy French hotel preserves. When was the last time I saw yogurt packaged this way? How about never? And I'm old enough to remember the cardboard disks on Dannon lids. Oui's lid is a heavy foil; more on that later.

The label says it's French style yogurt, which seems at first like a worthy addition to the Greek and Australian yogurts, the kefirs and quarks, the mix-ins and custard-styles, the almond yogurt and frozen yogurt that we've been consuming. But wait -- isn't French yogurt what we were consuming all along? When the only games in town were outfits like Yoplait and Dannon, two very Frenchy companies? Okay, so maybe that's not so exciting.

But is the Oui exciting? I found it to be very good, rich and creamy, the fruit flavorful and not too sweet. I tried the lemon and blueberry; it also comes in plain, coconut, peach, vanilla, blackberry, and strawberry.

Strangely, I had trouble with the foil lid on the lemon one. It got glued on so tight that it would not peel off the rim. A small knife provided access easily, though.

So it's good, but does the glass pot (as Yoplait calls it) mean it's really pricey? Well, this week Shoprite has it on sale for $1.25 each; regular Yoplait is 89 cents. So, it's definitely more expensive than regular Yoplait, but not as costly as some of the Greek yogurts we're obsessed with now. Anyway, I had coupons, which brought Oui down to typical yogurt price.

I think it would definitely be worth the money if you were including a bunch of them in a big bowl of ice for a fancy breakfast buffet. Or if you were running a hotel, and provided Oui for room service at $5 a pop. At least your guest would get a keepsake votive holder out of it. If they can get the foil off.

Tuesday, August 15, 2017

More summer stuff.

Pre-season football has begun, college students are packing up for school, a lot of county fairs and carnivals have moved on leaving only a whiff of fried dough and corn dogs, but summer isn't over, not by a long shot. Here are some photos to help you keep thinking those summery thoughts. 

Below we have a slightly blurry frog. It was taken in rather a hurry because the baby dog, Nipper, wanted to make friends with it. As that might have resulted in catastrophic injury to the frog, I figured we'd best move on quickly. Strange that this frog was sitting in short grass, as in the summer the reptile population generally must stick to the tall stuff. 

It's been so wet this summer (as I've complained again and again) that the frog was just as comfy in the short grass, at least until we came along. I met a snake a couple of days later in a similar lawn spot, but he slunk away before I get the phone out, sly chap.

Here's a... oh, I don't know. Pretty.

The bird shot below is actually a few weeks old, but what summer picture group is complete without a fat li'l robin? Honestly, the robins around here are so fat, if Robin had been like one of these, Batman would have started him on Weight Watchers before he started the anti-crime training.

Here's an early fall leaf, one I think that may have been affected by the mold problem I mentioned a few weeks back. All I can say is, if Jimi Hendrix used a leaf motif for an album cover, he would have started with this one.

Finally, what would July be without this display in your local supermarket?

Yes, a friend who knows how ballistic I get about early seasonal candy wanted me to know that the Halloween candy was up on July 29 in our local supermarket. What kills me is that, aside from horrible candy corn and circus peanuts, not a single one of these sacks of candy is unavailable in non-Halloween form. You can get packs of bite-size Milky Way, M&M's, Reese's, all of them year-round. But no, some people I guess will only buy holiday-themed candy. Maybe they think there's no calories in them. 

Anyway, I guess as long as there's Halloween-themed candy it's still summer, right? If it were autumn we'd have Christmas candy. One day they'll get too far ahead and give us Easter candy in summer, and it'll look like leftovers. Then we'll get the last laugh! Ha ha!

Monday, August 14, 2017

Eclipse no.

We're a week out from the big event, the first total solar eclipse to sweep the United States since 1918.

And I could be more excited.

But I won't be.

There are two things going on that make me less than mad with eclipse-related glee:

Map: Up here in New York, we're going to see relatively little moon-mobbing action. It'll be about a 0.75 magnitude eclipse, which will look like someone took a bite out of a solar Scooter Pie. Time has a neat feature showing what the eclipse will look like in your zip code, which from here is: not much. It wouldn't likely suffice to keep King Arthur from burning Hank Morgan at the stake.

Weather: I've heard that, as a rule of thumb, you should deduct 10% accuracy for every day out of a forecast -- so, for example, for the fifth day of your weatherman's five-day forecast, assume he only has a 50% chance of nailing it. That said, as of today, our forecast for Monday, August 21, calls for possible thunderstorms, and being that this is the coolest, wettest summer in New York I can recall, I think it's probably on the nose.

What I'm really looking forward to is the next U.S. total solar eclipse, and we won't have to wait 99 years for it. It's going to fall on April 8, 2024, and this one will be flying right over the northeast. It won't appear directly over my house, but it would be a short drive to where it will.

Of course it's also going to be New York in April, which means:

Sunday, August 13, 2017

Miso confused.

I'm a picky eater, I know, and I don't care for sushi. I've tried several kinds and the flavor is always okay, but the texture bothers me. My wife pokes fun at me, although the texture of polenta makes her gag. I'm just saying.

The other thing I don't care for at the Japanese restaurant is miso soup. 

Just a taste thing; its flavors to me are pretty bland, except for the ones that are bad. So I just get something else when there's a choice.

But sometimes there's not.

The best Japanese restaurant around here always gives you miso soup as part of a standard dinner order (a dish such as teriyaki, for example), along with a sad little salad and white rice. I like the homemade dressing on the sad salad, and the rice is good. But I don't care for miso soup, and especially not theirs. And no one else around the house wants it either.

This gets me into Seinfeldian territory. I'm certain one of the 180 episodes of the sitcom Seinfeld must have dealt with such a topic, although I don't recall an exact parallel.

The way I see it, I am faced with 6 choices:

1) Order the dinner and throw out the soup, violating a Key principle to not waste food. (The Depression never really ended in our house.)

2) Order the dinner and force myself to eat the soup I do not like, to avoid violating the Key principle.

3) Tell them not to include the soup, and get mad that they don't give me a discount since I didn't get the soup.

4) Demand that they give me clear soup instead, which they will not do because there is a language barrier and I do not anticipate the concept will be as clear as clear soup over the phone.

5) Try to give the soup to a local bum, except this is a small suburban town with a minuscule bum population. They're hard to find. Soup gets cold fast.

6) Order something a la carte that does not come with soup, which at this restaurant means yakitori and similar things or sushi. You can make a meal of sushi, but I won't; harder to make a meal of yakitori. Besides, I wanted the teriyaki.

My inner Seinfeld won't let this issue go, but I just don't have a solution. On the show this would be a story thread that would ultimately lead to an embarrassing situation with my wacky friends, so I figure I shouldn't pursue it too far. I just know I would be George.

Saturday, August 12, 2017

My stomach! Mylanta!

Earlier this week we covered the return of Hydrox, which has come back after being gone since 1999. Today we have a look at something you might take if you eat too many cookies, or too much anything else -- Mylanta.

ta da
Perhaps your family, like mine, took to Mylanta for the agita of life and the irritations of the stomach lining caused by outsiders and one another. It was introduced in 1961, the first antacid to contain gas-busting simethicone, along with aluminum hydroxide and magnesium hydroxide. Some antacids are designed to treat diarrhea, which you probably don't want if your stomach upset has not cause diarrhea or you'll be constipated (e.g., Pepto-Bismol). Somewhere along the way Mylanta was recommended by a family doctor, and the rest was history.

Until 2010, when Mylanta disappeared!!!!!


What happened was, someone suddenly discovered that Mylanta had an undisclosed ingredient -- alcohol. Less than 1 percent. It was under 2 proof. But it was not labeled that way, and so it faced an enormous recall, at a time when parent company Johnson & Johnson was already dealing with bad retail news. Apparently this caused them to run away like the knights in Monty Python and the Holy Grail and pull Mylanta from the market for years. We were left in a weird place where store brands (like this from CVS) were packaged in imitation of a product that no longer existed.

But they've brought it back now, and you'll be glad to know that the label now has benzyl alcohol as its top inactive ingredient. It tastes the same as it always did, which is pretty good for a medicine but not exactly a milk shake -- although it now also comes in vanilla-caramel flavor too. Which is probably also not exactly a milk shake. And, I figure if you drink 15 gallons of it, you might get a buzz, so it's got that going for it.

Friday, August 11, 2017

Batman’s Day Planner.

5:00 a.m.     Return home.

9:00 a.m.     Wake; check in with Lucius. Need $450,000 in small bills for the new BtMobile. Don’t mention BtMobile.

9:30 a.m.     Check stocks. Trade as needed. Make a quick mill.

9:35 a.m.     Call Arkham. Anyone else out lately? Do NOT let them hit you up for donations again.

10:00 a.m.  Call Qi Jing about secret landing pad for BtPlne. Probably have mission in Shanghai and need clearance. Don’t mention BtPlne.

10:15 a.m.   Reorder Batarangs.

10:30 a.m.  Breakfast. Remember to talk to Alfred about mending speargun hole in BtSuit. OK to mention BtSuit.

10:40 a.m.  Read abstracts in all monthly science journals. Got to keep up with this stuff, B.

11:00 a.m.  Workout---Jujitsu, boxing, karate, defendu, weights, rowing, Pilates, random punching, rings, trampoline, BtLine swinging, elliptical, capoeira, and light aerobics. Squeeze in some gaja-rohana if there's time; you never know when a case might involve an elephant. Hold off on savate until ankle a little better.

3:00 p.m.    Lunch. Check messages. Nigma on outside; may be riddles. 

3:30 p.m.    Clark supposed to call. May fly in. (What’s he want now? Don’t commit.)

4:00 p.m.    Brood.

6:00 p.m.    Go over plans for new exploding BtDarts. Will be sweet if they work. Who to manufacture? See if Murray is available. If not, make appt to go punch him.

6:30 p.m.    Meet Vicki. (Make sure to go to Club Gotham---Bob on the stick tonight, so he’ll make your drinks look like booze.)

7:30 p.m.    Sundown. Act drunk; split.

8:00 p.m.    Patrol from rooftops. May rain---make sure to wear Sur-Grip BtBoots.

9:30 p.m.    Stop by Croc's place; if anyone is there, punch him.

10:30 p.m.  Swing by James’s place to let him know about Dent. See if he’s heard anything about Crane or Nigma. Don’t get your hopes up.

11:00 p.m.  Return call to Justice League. Remind them: Will not be available for monthly business meeting. Do NOT let them hit you up for donations again. If nothing going on, return to patrol.

11:30 p.m.   Pay a call on Crime Alley. If anyone is there, punch him. He will know why.

12:00 a.m.  Dinner. Grab something from Iceberg Lounge. If Cobblepot is there, punch him. He’s overdue for a punch.

12:30 a.m.  Take out BtMobile for patrol. NB: Ignore check engine light. Just needs new gas cap. 

2:00 a.m.   Pudding break!

4:30 a.m.   Head back to Stately Wayne. Film crew from America’s Castles is due at six. Keep them from BtCave. Alfred on hand, but you may have to punch someone. Don’t mention BtCave.