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A Dozen Funny Signs

Today is the first day of classes at the university, and there's lots of emotion — excitement, anticipation, happiness, and undoubtedly fear. I don't know if amazement is an emotion, but if it is, I'm experiencing it as I begin my 40th year of teaching! Where has the time gone?! Some of you reading this had me as a teacher my very first year of teaching high school, way back in the fall of 1973. Quite a few years ago I started to teach "grandstudents" — the children of former students. I don't know if I'll be teaching long enough to teach "great-grandstudents," but that phenomenon could start to happen in not too many years. Last year I had a student whose grandfather was younger than I! It must be a sign of something.

Speaking of signs, it's been a while since I posted funny signs, and my readers have been working hard to keep me supplied. So, on to the funny signs....

It seems as if these belts might not do a very good job of holding up a pair of pants.

Speaking of pants, anyone brave enough to buy some of these pants?
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Dedicated to the One I Love

Do you ever read the dedications in the front of books? They are easy to skip over as you eagerly dive into a book. But they often give a glimpse into the heart of the author and to what or who is important to him or her. I remember reading some great book dedications — some eloquent, some succinct, some serious, and some witty.

I recently ran across a humorous book dedication online. It reads as follows:

“To Joanna:
My brilliant and beautiful wife without whom I would be nothing. She always comforts and consoles, never complains or interferes, asks nothing and endures all, and writes my dedications.” — Albert Paul Malvino, Electronic Principles

I never thought about books on electronics being dedicated to someone! :-)

One of the textbooks in our MLF202 Intermediate French is an adaptation of the first part of Victor Hugo's novel Les Misérables. Designed to help people learning French, it is a simplified version from the Hachette publishing house.

Here is a translation of the dedication from the original Les Misérables:

So long as there shall exist, by reason of law and custom, a social condemnation which, in the midst of civilization, artificially creates a hell on earth, and complicates with human fatality a destiny that is divine; so long as the three problems of the century – the degradation of man by the exploitation of his labor, the ruin of woman by starvation, and the atrophy of childhood by physical and spiritual night – are not solved; so long as, in certain regions, social asphyxia shall be possible; in other words, and from a still broader point of view, so long as ignorance and misery remain on earth, there should be a need for books such as this.

In the world of book dedications, that one is quite powerful, and it definitely sets the tone for the book.

I enjoyed reading Shadow of the Almighty — The Life & Testament of Jim Elliot, by Elisabeth Elliot. It is a wife's biography of Jim Elliot, one of the five missionaries martyred by the Aucas, composed largely of things Jim wrote in letters and personal journals. The title of the book comes from Psalm 91:1 "He that dwelleth in the secret place of the most High shall abide under the shadow of the Almighty," which you can clearly see, as you read the book, is what Jim did in his life. Her dedication of the book to their daughter Valerie, who was a small child when her father was martyred, is especially touching. It reads as follows:
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Kulula – the Seriously Humorous Airline

With students flying all over the place for college in the next couple of weeks, I thought I would post the contents of an e-mail I received recently from a long-time reader. Kulula, a low-cost airline based in South Africa, is a subsidiary of British Airways franchise Comair. Kulula is known not only for its great fares, but also for its sense of humor. It seems that most everyone has taken their humor good naturedly, except maybe a kerfuffle with FIFA about some of Kulula's advertising humor.

Here are ten pictures of the livery of some of their planes. I'll make almost no comments, leaving that up to you.

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How to Write Real Good

Twice in the past week I have been reminded of what I'm posting today. First, a colleague tweeted a link to a blog post by Kyle Wiens, CEO of iFixit. In this post he says, "Good grammar is credibility ... I hire people who care about those details." Then later in the week, a German student of mine from the last millennium tagged me on Facebook with a picture of the first part of one of the things I'm posting today, saying it reminded him of something I would come up with.

I e-mailed something similar in my pre-blog days. After finding it in the archives and doing some research, I'm ready to post it with some attribution. There are so many versions of these lists on the Internet that it was hard to determine who wrote what. I believe the first set of rules was written by Frank L. Visco and originally published in the June 1986 issue of Writers' Digest. I think the second set of rules is derived from the late William Safire's October 7, 1979, and November 4, 1979, On Language columns in The New York Times and/or from Safire's book, Fumblerules: A Lighthearted Guide to Grammar and Good Usage.

In both lists, each of the rules is self-contradictory — they've been dubbed "the rules that break themselves." I've culled out my favorites to share with you.

How to Write Good
Frank LaPosta Visco

My several years in the word game have learnt me several rules:

Avoid alliteration. Always.

Prepositions are not words to end sentences with.

Avoid clichés like the plague. (They’re old hat.)

Employ the vernacular.

Eschew ampersands & abbreviations, etc.

Parenthetical remarks (however relevant) are unnecessary.

It is wrong to ever split an infinitive.

Contractions aren’t necessary.

Foreign words and phrases are not apropos.
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Fun with Math!

Did the title of this post make you say, "Yeah, sure!"? Even if you're a person who doesn't enjoy math, I hope that today's post will make you laugh at least several times.

One reason this topic came to my mind is that a high school classmate recently posted on his Facebook a link to the obituary of one of our high school math teachers - Mr. Don Mathews. Mr. Mathews taught me Algebra 2 and Math 4 my junior and senior years. I felt bad for laughing out loud as I read his obit, but I couldn't help it! One thing in it was just so hilarious — "He leaves behind his wife, Ruth, of 49.926 years." I had to wonder if Mr. Mathews helped write his own obituary. :-)

In honor of a very gifted teacher, I am posting some mathematical humor that has accumulated in my files.

Since the 2012 Summer Olympics are going on right now, here's a picture that seems just wrong.

An employee in the store below needs some help with his math facts.
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