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Archive for October, 2009:

Omega Dog

Written by AJ on October 27, 2009 – 12:02 pm

I have to tell you, when you live in LA there are few things that startle you. In ten years there, I saw a coyote on the streets twice. But that’s no big deal – you always hear about missing cats and how we, the people, had encroached on the coyotes’ space so, of course, they were getting their revenge any way they could.

Weirder still, I was at the Coffee Bean one day and upon walking out to my car I saw a chicken. Just a random chicken out clucking in a nice neighborhood. Maybe the chicken truck driver had stopped at the strip mall for a Baja Burrito? Or maybe those sweet folks in the yellow house weren’t able to afford market food given what they were paying for their mortgage? Maybe the eight foot tall fence concealed a working farm. Who knows? After I stood there, mouth open for about five minutes, the chicken just wandered off and I never saw another.

There was also a red macaw one day, flying in my neighborhood. And later the news reported a tiger walking the streets of Burbank. That one’s bad. Someone owned an illegal tiger and it got away. Well, you can’t just come out and say, ‘oops! Did Fluffy get out?’ ‘cause they are going to haul you to jail for that one. You and Fluffy are never getting back together after he has been out terrorizing the kiddies.

Yes, there’s all kinds of wildlife in LA and a lot of it ends up at the Humane Society. (No, it’s not the ‘pound’, and it’s not even an ‘animal shelter’ – the good folks balk at those terms!) I have two dogs from the LA system and my sister has had three.

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Grammatical Crimes Squad: Qualifier Crackdown

Written by AJ on October 23, 2009 – 12:02 pm

For some reason, people have forgotten what a qualifier does. And because of this these words have been tossed about like seals in a shark pool.

In case you were unaware, a qualifier lessens a meaning. For example: Sylvia can be a redhead or (qualified) sortof a redhead. In the second instance we know that Sylvia’s hair might be disputed as ‘red’.

I’d also like to point out that Word gives that nasty red underline to ‘kindof’ and ‘sortof’ as these aren’t real words. And I know that some of you may be cringing at the very use of them. But I’m okay with new words. I like words, legit or not. I am a firm believer that if you don’t know of a word for the situation, you should use existing words to cobble a new one together. But you don’t abuse the grammar. The rules are what allow us to know what’s going on. A smart man is quite different from a smarting one.

My little brother once said that bad milk had a foresmell. You know this, that very faint odor that tells you something is wrong with the milk (even though you often ignore it and take that first, sputtering sip anyway.) There’s no word for ‘an indicative odor that prefaces a fermented food’. ‘Foresmell’ follows the rules using a common word and a known prefix. I think we should adopt it and kudos to my brother for making it up.

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Grammatical Crimes Squad: Adjective Abuse

Written by AJ on October 20, 2009 – 12:02 pm

There’s a serious crime out there. And it goes unpunished every day. In fact, to many people it’s invisible, but for those who see it, it makes us cringe and wish we could put a stop to the horror. I’m talking about Adjective Abuse.

I’m not talking about the kind of misdemeanor that results from the slightly off adjective. Though that’s often a bad thing, we can all live through “the grisly trees” or “a Curacao sky”. In fact, from the right author we just might call it poetic.

Adjective Abuse occurs when the word either changes the meaning to something you know wasn’t the intent or obscures the idea to the point of bad advertising.

Here’s the most recent one I encountered . . . Perhaps you have seen one of the wand-waving, rune-gathering games that are popping up throughout the nation these days. The one we played this week involved “The Ancient Book of Wisdom”. Um, right. The pages were printed on paper commonly referred to in business as ‘slicks’. It was folded in the middle and stapled. And a fresh clean copy was handed to each participant. There was nothing ancient about this book. (In fact, even the term ‘book’ is a misnomer, it was really nothing more than a pamphlet.) I’m pretty sure they intended this thing to be “The Book of Ancient Wisdom.” Though, since the company is quite new, I doubt there’s anything ancient about it, wisdom included. Though I guess they don’t really care about accuracy if you consider the way they are making money hand over fist – some of it mine!

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Game day, Game brain.

Written by AJ on October 16, 2009 – 12:02 pm

I’m not sure what it is about a good game that makes people go nucking futs. But there’s a clear and undeniable mental shift that occurs when sitting in the stands. And, honestly, none of it reflects well on us.

Within the past five days I have attended an NHL game, a college soccer game, and a JV high school football game. I am seriously played out. But doing so many games in such a short period has left some lasting impressions. Though everything one does at a game seems to be a mental regression, maybe there’s a good point to it. You know, even besides backing a winning team.

Where else can you stand up and yell “That’s it!” at the top of your lungs and not be looked at like you had a very sudden bout of Mad Cow Disease? Try yelling anything in the boardroom, or giving a good “Hell, yeah!” after a particularly interesting bit of info from your college professor.

Because of this, there’s a social ‘pass’, so to speak, at a game. Others won’t call you on behavior that would usually get you kicked out of your circle – say a good hard slap on the back because something great occurred, chest-butting a stranger, or ogling a series of girls in short skirts.

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Stupid is as Stupid Does – Part 2

Written by AJ on October 13, 2009 – 12:02 pm

(Enjoy Part 1 from the archives!)

Today I learned something new: I learned that my state is dumb. Sorry, Tennessee, the rankings don’t put us very high up . . . in fact we hit the bottom ten. At least we weren’t dead last. That would be Louisiana and that probably wouldn’t be a surprise.

The creators of this study, Martek, show the top ten states as having a high likelihood of being near the oceans and cite fish consumption as a possible reason for higher brain health. Excuse me? Then how did Louisiana come in dead last? There’s a humongous quantity of fish being consumed there. Now, I believe almost all of that fish is fried, but California is getting a lot of its fish in Wahoo’s fish tacos, and that’s not going to rank too high on the old Omega-3 list either.

The low ten is heavily weighted into the south. Tennessee didn’t make the bottom on their own. Aside from a Dakota, there’s: a Carolina, Arkansas, Kentucky, Oklahoma, Alabama, Mississippi, Loo-si-ana and yours truly, Tennessee. Raise your hand if you are surprised.

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The Journey of a Thousand Calories Begins with a Single Dip

Written by AJ on October 9, 2009 – 12:02 pm

At this point, none of us should be surprised that a Caesar salad has a thousand calories. We should also be well aware that the bulk of those calories is in the dressing. Even if you didn’t see the movie “Supersize Me” you felt its ramifications and learned a little. We all know that the chicken fingers will stiffen your arteries until they resemble corroded lead pipes and we all know that as bad as that is, it’s really the sauce that will kill you.

That having been said, we all know it’s the sauce that makes the food. Even KFC is hawking grilled chicken these days and even they are recommending that you drown your heart-conscious fare with a side of high-fructose-based sauce – just choose your flavor.

I – for one – am in favor of sauce. Like every other human, I want dressing on my salad. And I know that there’s not much we can do about it. Liking dressings and dips is/was an evolutionary advantage. (This is where I have to say that Darwin’s Theory of Evolution wins my vote. I can’t get behind a God that would build us to crave something so bad for us. I can’t get behind the other option there either: That God built us in his image. Because this makes God a mildly obese man, chowing on burgers slathered with mayo.)

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Football Equals Oppression

Written by AJ on October 6, 2009 – 12:02 pm

It’s fall. And fall means football. For a lot of upset people it’s a good time to start up the old ‘that’s not right’ argument. But what is it that isn’t right??

First the complaint: many teams (elementary schools all the way up to the NFL) have Native Americans as their mascots. Many feel that this is a huge insult to the Native American population – that it’s racist or painting the Native Americans as animals (the standard for mascots).

This is a coin with so many sides that it really comes in as a dodecahedron.

We have to start with the term ‘Native American’. It’s all wrong. It’s a group collective term for a group that isn’t a group. Let’s face it, had all the Native Americans (for lack of a better term) been a real group, the Americans never would have defeated them. Then take the fact that the people we are referring to aren’t ‘native’ ‘Americans’ – I’m a native American. I was born and raised here and so were my parents. The Cherokee and Lakota are native whatever-it-was-before-it-was-America-ans.

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Not easy bein’ green – part 3

Written by AJ on October 2, 2009 – 12:02 pm

(If you missed parts 1 & 2, they are in the archives!)

Going green is one of those things that can be small or big. Small works for most of us. We can recycle more, unplug more, conserve just a little more – and anything that we can add to what we are already doing is a big boon for the environment. If each of us did a little, we’d see huge results. But personally, I like going big.

In the spirit of going big – and in the spirit of eating tomatoes that taste like some thing other than wet sand – I decided to grow my own garden.

Why not? I have everything I need. I have children to help with the manual labor. I have a climate with a natural, almost year-round rainfall. And I have a Home Depot nearby with a seasonal vegetables seed rack – complete with pretty pictures of the foodstuffs that will soon be sprouting in Technicolor in my own little patch of culinary heaven. Easy as pumpkin pie!

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