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Grammar and Spelling

Being a language teacher, I am obviously interested in grammar. I know that the word grammar chills the blood of many people, as they entertain thoughts of struggling with grammar in school. But honestly, vocabulary alone is not enough to allow us to communicate our thoughts so that others can comprehend them. We cannot just string words together with no order. To quote William B. Bradshaw, "Grammar, regardless of the country or the language, is the foundation for communication — the better the grammar, the clearer the message, the more likelihood of understanding the message's intent and meaning. That is what communication is all about."

This is particularly true in writing, where the clarifying impact of vocal intonation is missing. Let me demonstrate....

Lets Eat Grandma

I'm sure that Grandma would prefer clearer communication that would help her avoid being the victim of cannibalism. There would have been no problem when the suggestion of eating was said aloud, but the written form needs to reflect that pause, hence the comma.

This next one on punctuation is a bit more subtle.
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Engineers, take 2

Engineer Tinkering

Not everyone has an engineer in his or her life, but those of us who do must admit that the way engineers look at life is amazing and amusing to the rest of us. Several things in life lately have reminded me of this, and so I thought I would post some engineer humor that has accumulated in my files. Engineers are among the most revered professionals in France, and so it is fitting that the first joke about engineers go way back in French history.

On a beautiful Sunday afternoon in the midst of the French Revolution, the revolting citizens led an physicist, a mathematician, and an engineer to the guillotine where they were sentenced to die. As the physicist is led to the guillotine, he decides that he'd like to observe the blade as it falls, perhaps to verify, and requests to be strapped in face up. The executioner agrees (why not? it all pays the same...), and straps him in as requested. As the blade falls, it sticks about two thirds of the way down. Seeing this, the crowd cheers — the physicist must be innocent! So the executioner unstraps him and sets him free.

The mathematician is next. Being well versed in all matters statistical (perhaps he is an actuary), he quickly asks to be placed face up as well — after all, the odds of its happening again are pretty good, especially if the initial conditions are similar. So the executioner obliges, and once again, the blade sticks about two thirds of the way down. Again the crowd cheers, and the mathematician is also set free.

Finally, the engineer. Not willing to do anything in public that is different from his peers, he also requests to be placed face up. As the executioner is strapping him in, the engineer is looking up at the blade and studying the track in which it slides. As he does so, he notices something. "Do you see that?" he asks. "About one third of the way up? If you fixed that...."


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Dogs or Cats?

The debate over which pet is better will never be settled, but that's not the goal of this blog post. I just have a few funny pictures of dogs and cats that have accumulated, begging to be released to the world at large. I hope they will give you a good laugh or smile.

I'll start off with dogs....

Some dogs are so beautiful that they're hard to resist. Here's one example of such animal magnetism.

Chick Magnet

If your dog needs help in the area of appearance, there are a couple of things you might consider.

A fake tongue on a ball...
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Why, Oh Why!

Why Oh Why

Do you ever look at situations in life and wonder "why?" If so, there is sometimes no good answer to your question, or else the answer is painfully obvious. Today's blog post is a combination of parts of an e-mail I received recently with a list of "why?" questions and a blog post I did back in January 2008. If you know the real answer to any of the less obvious questions, please post them in the comments.

Why do drug stores and supermarkets make the sick walk all the way to the back of the store to get their prescriptions while (currently) healthy people can buy cigarettes at the front?

Why do people order double cheeseburgers, large fries, and a diet coke?

Why do banks leave vault doors open and then chain the pens to the counters?

Why do we leave cars worth thousands of dollars in our driveways and put our useless junk in the garage?

Why does the sun lighten our hair, but darkens our skin?

Why can't women put on mascara with their mouth closed?

Why don't you ever see the headline "Psychic Wins Lottery"?

Why is it that doctors and attorneys call what they do a "practice"?

Why is the time of day with the slowest traffic called rush hour?
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Back to School Jokes

Back to school

With Labor Day this coming Monday, almost everyone who is going back to school is either in school already or getting ready to be. We find ourselves asking where the summer went! So here at the beginning of another school year, I am posting several school-related jokes that I have on file.

A student reported for his final exam which consisted of True/False questions.

He took his seat in the examination hall, stared at the test, and then in a bit of inspiration, took a quarter out of his pocket. He started tossing the coin and marking the answer sheet "True" for heads and "False" for tails.

Within 30 minutes he was all done, whereas the rest of the class was still sweating it out. During the last few minutes of the exam period, the student frantically started flipping the coin again.

The moderator, concerned about what he was doing, stopped by his desk and asked if everything was ok.

"Oh yes, I'm fine. I finished the exam a half hour ago, but I'm going back through now and checking my answers!"


Teacher to class: "Give me a sentence with a direct object."

Student: "Everybody thinks our teacher is beautiful."

Teacher: "Why, thank you. But what is the direct object?"

Student: "A good report card."
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