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About me and terrycolon.com

Interview of me at Existable

Interview of me at The Setup

Notes for Young Illustrators  Learn from My Experience, or Get Your Own

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American History 101 2.0  The Fake But Accurate Story

Chartology Made Stupid  Connecting the Dots

Cosmology-Wiz  A Shorter History of Everything and Nothing

Dangerous Hot Air  The Truth About Inconvenient Global Warming

The Disunited States of America  A Preview of Coming Attractions?

Don’t Look Down  Everthing You Never Wanted to Know About Air Travel

E-Z P-Z House Selling  Redirect, Repackage, Relabel

Government Machinery at Work  How the Wheels of the Bureaucracy Grind

Happy New Year  2007 in Review

How ESP Works  Mind Reading Diagramed and Explained

Lights, Camera, Reaction!  The Periodic Table of Hollywood Plot Elements

Mysteries of UFOs Revealed  They’re Here, They Are, They Are, They Are

Money Blather  Your Guide to Economic Jargon, Lingo, and Gobbledegook

Not-so-Special Winter Olympics  Olympic Events You’ll Never See

Quick and Easy Housekeeping  Or Sisyphus Unbound and Unkempt

A Short Long Good-bye  It's the End of the Year as We Know It

Space Warps and Wefts  What Fabric Is The Fabric of Space Made Of?

Star Dreck  Musings of a Semi Hemi Demi Trekker

Those Darn Cats  Our Deal With the Devils

Unnatural Empty Junkfood Words  Half-Baked Buzz Phrases and Overcooked Terms

Uranimals  Beastly Beasts

Welcome to the Burbs  Whatever it Is

Win Any Argument  Using Paralogic and Surreason

Winless Wear  2008 Detroit Lions Merchandise

Reader's Digest

The B-B-Q Pyramid  For the Cooking Unimpaired

Mythic Snowmen  And More Snowmen

Quick and Easy Meals  For the Cooking Impaired

Venn Again, Again  More of the Same, But Different

Venn Again, Maybe Not  Another Last Laugh


Crash Course  Cartoon Motorcycle Accidents Versus Cartoonist Motorcycle Accidents

Suck School of Comic Art  How to Draw Funny

Suck School of Comic Art - Graduate Course  How to Draw Funnier

Bernoulli, Coanda & Lift  What Is What and What Is and Isn’t Doing What

Better Than Sliced Bread  Uncelebrated Inventions Great and Small

Bikes Don’t Turn By Leaning  Proving Cones and Gyroscopes Are Futile

Billiards Bits for Beginners  The Shape of Cheating the Pocket With Throw

Changes that Changed Everything  The 10 Greatest Inventions of All Time?

Folk Etymology  From the Greek Meaning “Fake it”

The Futility of Fashionable Foods and Fitness Fads  Is It a Paradox or Not?

Flying Made Simple  Understanding How Planes Can Fly Without all the Messy Details

How Planes Can Fly  The Correct Explanation of Lift For Non-Engineers

Moving Goalposts  It's Harder to Make Ends Meet Because We Keep Moving Them Apart

My First Car  How I Almost Ran Myself Over With a Jerry-rigged Jalopy

Notes for Young Illustrators  Learn from My Experience, or Get Your Own

Optical Illusions You Often Run Into  Don’t Worry, They Don’t Hurt

“Pass the Honey, Sugar”  The Processed Food Processed Food Haters Love

A Powerplant in Your Garage?  Dense Plasma Focus Fusion

Science Legends
Things People Know to Be True That Aren’t

There’s More Than One Way to Skin a Cat  Three Card Monte Math Which May Surprise You

Unsurprising Yet remarkable  One Step at a Time to One Step Beyond

Works for Me  Prosperity Is As Energy Does

Bizarro.TerryColon.www  Goodbye, Earthlings

Elusiver, Mysteriouser Creatures  Another Search Game

Find the Secret Message  A different Kind of Word Search

Hollywhat?  A Movie Trivia Quiz of the Funny, the Obscure, and the Strange

Internetelepathy  I Will Read Your Mind

Mystic 8 Ball  Ultimate Mystic Service Answers Any Yes-or-No Question

99 & 44/100 % Pure Amusement  A Pop Quiz About Percentages and Probabilities

Superest Super Bowl League  What Is the Best Pre-Merger League at Winning the Big Game?

Terra Incognita  A Trick Tricky Geography Quiz

Unanimated Gif Monte  A Little Optical Illusion Fun

What Was That Nym Again?  Some Fun With Words

Webio-Bot Video Games and Animation

Whack-a-Bot  Quick, Get 'Em!

Webio-Bot Illusion  A Little Fun With Optical Illusions

Webio-Bot Invaders  Save the Planet

Webio-Bot Rerun  Getting Into the Net With the Web-a-Tron 9000

Webio-Bot Rescue  A Game Where You're the Hero

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A Game Where You're the Hero

A Neo-Retro Video Game

Using Paralogic and Surreason

From the Greek Meaning "Fake It"


Is It a Paradox or Not?

How the Wheels of the Bureaucracy Grind

I Will Read Your Mind

A Re-updated Search Game

Lift Explained


Remembering WWI As It Really Wasn't

Proving Cones and Gyroscopes Are Futile


Hover cursor over column to scroll with mouse wheel. Click on column to scroll with page up/down function.


Learn from My Experience, or Get Your Own

There comes a time in life when one feels duty bound to pass on the benefit of one's experience to the younger generation whether they like it or not. Then one can retire and collect Social Security so the younger generation can pass on part of their income in return. Whether this is an equitable trade is debatable. After reading said benefit of one's experience and realizing how paltry one's contribution is, one might conclude there's no debate about it.

One might also realize calling oneself one or oneself sounds pretty stilted and stupid and one should cut it out forthwith. And never again say forthwith, either.

I was going to call this article, "Advice for…" but thought that might be doing the young illustrator a disservice. Truth be told, I don't know that I have any great pearls of wisdom to pass on. Or nuggets either as wisdom comes packaged that way, too. Experience is the name we give to all the dumb things we've done. Wisdom is realizing afterward just how dumb they really were…

Read it all


Come enjoy Whack-a-Bot, the video game that's endless fun for the whole family. Though you'll have to take turns unless watching someone else play if fun to you. Then again, the fun might not be endless, but the game can be. That's because, well, try it and see.

Play Whack-a-Bot


We've assembled only the very finest mystic forces, spirits, voices from beyond, signs and omens in the ultimate mystic service to answer all your yes-or-no questions. Sorry, oracles not included.

Mystic 8 Ball

waldo lynx scene4 eyes

If you though Bigfoot and the Loch Ness Monster were elusive, you ain't seen nothing yet. Nor are you likely to see them anywhere besides Terry Colon dot com. There are a dozen elusiver, mysteriouser creatures to be found hiding in the picture. Not the picture here, on the feature itself. For that you'll have to click on the link.

Elusiver Mysteriouser Creatures


You might go to the page and wonder, how did they do that? Though maybe the better question is, why did they do that? The how is pretty simple, it's just that most folks don't bother doing such things.


tron lights black

The Web-a-Tron 9000 returns, just like we said it would. Webio-Bot's trials and tribulations with technology have all come back. Only rejiggered into a single adventure. Yeah, a bot that can't work a machine. Go figure.

Here's how you get there: Go to the Web-a-Tron picture, the mouse becomes a bot. Move the bot to press one of the buttons. When its hand turns white, click. See, you're now part of the story. Woo-hoo!


Two minutes of animated fun with optical illusions just a click away. That's the top link below, if you haven't figured it out. As before, there's three other optical illusion bits in case too much is not enough.

Webio-Bot Illusion

Optical Illusions You Often Run Into

Unanimated Gif Monte

Accidoptal Illusion


More More Fun All Over

device greenspot zapper spiral squiggle bot flyerbot mexican redgreen twins doctor catbot

Half a Dozen Side Trips Through the Web Portal

  1. Need a joke flyer, take a joke flyer
  2. Don't cross this Mexican pedestrian at the pedestrian crossing
  3. Do-it-yourself you never thought to do yourself
  4. One is not like the other — Oh wait, it is
  5. Don't tell Elaine Benis what doctors write on medical charts
  6. If you don't like cute cats catnapping cutely the link is optional

Try as you might you'll be hard pressed to find a link between the links. They're just various collections of various things, and one video, that made me smile. Though these days I guess you're supposed to say diverse instead of various.

Filed under Top Tens & Other Lists 3/28/15

England, Where No Legal Activity Goes Uninvestigated


You can tell I'm busy doing other things when I trot out a rerun of an old illo spot from days gone by. This one's an early Brickbat from Reason magazine. You're not surprised, right?

"In Wales the Gwynedd County Council has informed Jeanette Gordon-Crawley and her husband, Gordon, that they are under investigation for smoking in their own home. A council official says a neighbor complained she could smell the smoke. 'We can't see how smoke from our house could possibly get into the house next door,' Gordon-Crawley said. A council spokesperson told a local newspaper, 'We are duty-bound to investigate.'"

Filed under Snippets 3/27/15

Is It “Toward” or ‘Towards’?


Here's another question, should you move toward the light, or towards the light? While both mean the same thing and are OK in casual use, for writing in America use toward, no S; in Britain, towards. I don't know how they move in other English speaking countries. Though wherever you might be, if you're not ready to meet your maker, move away from the light.

The same rule of whether or not to tack an S on the end applies to other directions: forward, backward, upward, and downward. For any British readers that's forwards, backwards, upwards, and downwards. The same goes for afterward/afterwards. This hasn't always been the case. In The Canterbury Tales Chaucer used toward. Americans mostly used towards up until 1900.

Another difference that really makes no difference between American and British English is quote marks. Americans use double quote marks for a quotation or dialog where the British use single quote marks. For a quote within a quote Americans use single quote marks and the British use double quote marks. From a logical point of view the British use makes sense. After all, a quote within a quote is a double quote, thus it gets double quote marks.

This different quote mark usage makes me wonder, are air quotes in Britain done with one finger per hand?

Filed under Word Meanings & Origins 3/25/15

Qu'est-ce Que C-est?


Here's a spot I did for Fortean Times a while back. Don't have the text to go with it. Must have something to do with mastodon bones found under Paris or something. Or is it a wooly mammoth? What's the difference? I don't know. This is Snippets not Fun Facts and Trivia. In any case I liked the pic, so here it is for all those who missed it in the magazine.

If you really want a story to go with it, here's one for you. A Borg Jean-Paul Sartre and a mammoth are in a café on the Left Bank in Paris. The mammoth says, "I think I'm going extinct." Sartre says, "It doesn't matter, existence is futile."

Filed under Snippets 3/23/15

Cheesy Computer Terry Tip


I use a Mac with one of those low profile keyboards with white keys which are easy to see in poor lighting conditions. Not an issue if you're a touch-typist. I'm not. The downside, white keys get dirty pretty quickly. Not any sooner than my old black keys really, but it shows more so it seems quicker.

I can tell which keys I use most by dirtiness. The letter S mostly. Which seems likely what with how often it appears in English plus command-S, save. Next dirtiest are D, E, command, and spacebar. Shift gets a lot of use, but it's pretty clean. I guess my pinkie finger just stays cleaner than my other digits. Must be the dainty way I keep my pinky raised while drinking tea or something.

Another smudgy key is Z. There aren't that many Zs in English so you can guess why that Z key gets a workout. Command-Z, undo, anyone? Man, I must make a lot of mistakes I've had to command-undo. Though if you've looked at the site closely you may have noticed some things I should have command-Zed but didn't.

Anyway, the propensity for white keys to look dirty induced me to clean my keyboard more often than before. With bad results. Three keys stopped working, U, J, M. Three keys grouped together. I think I shorted them out with cleaning fluid that seeped through the crevices.

So I bought a new keyboard. To prevent the cleaning/shorting-out problem noted above I keep it in a plastic sleeve. Which is actually a plastic bag English muffins come in turned inside out and slipped over the keyboard. When it gets worn out I simply slip on a new one. Maybe that's kind-a cheesy, but it beats a dirty keyboard where some keys don't work.

Filed under Odds & Ends 3/18/15

We've Never Felt Better about Tajikistan


One from the second batch of "Brickbats" spots I did for Reason magazine back in March, 2007.

"Tajikistan President Emomali Rakhmonov has banned state employees from having gold teeth. Gold and silver crowns are considered a sign of affluence in Central Asia, and some reports indicate up to half of all current government workers will have to resign or have their gold teeth replaced. Rakhmonov says the move will improve the country's image abroad."

Filed under Snippets 3/16/15

About Time, Too

X-Y Axis Plot Flow Diagram Chart #7Timing Is Everything


Been too long since I added one of these chart bits. Which would put this chart on the righthand side of itself. How it fits top to bottom is for the reader to decide. It might be too much of too little.

Filed under Chartology Made Stupid 3/14/15

Your Commute May Be Costing You a Quarter of a Million Dollars


I decided to split off part of a previous post and develop it a bit because it's one of the most economically nutty things people do every day for their entire working life: Over-commuting. This has two parts, too far to go and too much vehicle.

The average commute is about 25 miles. But it's a round trip, so 50 miles a day. 250 miles a week. Times 48 weeks is 12,000 miles a year. The IRS allows 51 cents a mile for driving costs. Let's say 40 cents a mile. That's $400 an month, $4,800 a year to commute. If you pay $1,200 a month rent, that's four months worth. At $800 a month rent it's half a year's worth. If you moved to walking distance to work you could pay $200 more rent per month and still save money. Maybe eat lunch at home instead of at McDonald's and save another $100 a month.

Plus it takes time to commute, so you're spending both money and time. If you really enjoy that daily hour of alone time in the car, you can still do that sitting in the driveway. Save some money and pollute less. It's a good thing.

Of course, the cost per mile depends on what you drive and what it cost. A $30k car kept for ten years will cost you $3k per year. That's just the purchase cost. A $10k used car bought once every five years costs $2k per year, you'd save $10,000 in that ten years. Two $5k used cars saves you $20,000 over the same timeframe. Plus you could get cheaper insurance and save a bit there, too.

If you bought a car with a loan add the interest. A $30k car bought with a 5% loan adds to the sticker price. That's 5% per year, so more like 15% over the loan term, or another $5,000. This makes the purchase cost $3,500 per year. Is that new car smell really worth an extra $250 a month? You can get a can of Febreeze for 5 bucks.

I can understand why a contractor needs a pickup truck, but why do so many people drive SUVs? For the off-road capacity they use never? For the hauling capacity they use twice a year? Groceries don't weight so much you need a pickup. Just why are these gas-guzzling behemoths so popular?

Americans average 15,000 miles driving a year. At 25mpg that's 600 gallons of gas. At $3.50 a gallon that's $2,100 a year. You can easily find a car that gets 40mpg which would use 375 gallons of gas a year. At $3.50 a gallon that's $1,312.50 a year, $785.50 less. That's $7,855 in ten years. For hauling you could rent a trailer a couple times a year for less than that.

Then again, if you walked to work you'd drive only 3,000 miles a year, use 75 gallons of gas costing $262.50 a year saving you $1,837.50 a year in gas alone. You might get ten years out of that $5k used car and save another $3,000 a year on the purchase price. Can't use an extra $4,837.50 a year? How about $48,375 every ten years? How about $193,500 by the time you retire? Invested in a well-managed portfolio, it could easily top 250 grand. Can't use $250,000 for retirement? Then keep on truckin'.

Filed under Talkin' Bout Money 3/12/15

Rat Race Against Time

timebank1 timebank2 timebank3 timebank4 timebank4

Time is money.

Or so the man said. This is obvious to any wage-earner being paid by the hour. And when paying a repairman by the hour, painfully obvious. Though we always say time is money, being equal means we could put it the other way round, money is time. (You don't need to be a math major to see if a=b then b=a.) So, what's the difference, you ask? Think of it like this, you work to get money, but if had money you wouldn't need to work. Money buys you leisure time, or retirement.

We tend to think about what something costs in dollars and not in time. People don't like wasting time, but they don't mind wasting money even though the saying says wasting money is wasting time. Every dollar wasted today is a dollar less for retirement.

Think we aren't wasting buttloads of money every day? A 16oz bottle of drinking water for a buck equates to eight dollars a gallon. For water, for crying out loud. A daily four dollar fancy coffee costs almost a thousand dollars a year. Fast food lunch, $6; home-made lunch, $1. Hey, they don't call us consumers for nothing.

When you stop and think about it, there are likely dozens of things we could change or cut back on saving thousands of dollars a year and still live quite comfortably. Mr. Money Mustache says we could all retire in our thirties. (Though with ZIRP, maybe later.) Instead we're living a Will Rogers gag line…

"Too many people spend money they haven't earned to buy things they don't want to impress people they don't like."

Let me add one more tidbit, according to MIT, "an average worker needs to work a mere 11 hours per week to produce as much as one working 40 hours per week in 1950." The middle-class life of 1950 could be supported by working two days a week now-a-days. Middle-class folks in the 50s weren't exactly living in shacks and eating gruel. We could easily be saving half our income, $25,000 a year on average. $250,000 in ten years. Half a million by age forty-five. Where does the money go?

Filed under Quotes & Sayings 3/10/15

Daylight Savings Time Time


It's that time of year when the time of day changes. Spring ahead, even though it's not spring yet. DST is supposed to save energy. Nice thought, but some studies show the opposite. What we do get is a lot of sleep-deprived folks on Monday following the change with an uptick in driving and work accidents. Hope you haven't scheduled surgery for tomorrow.

At least they haven't tried anything more radical, like switching to a decimal clock. Ten hours, 100 minutes per hour and 100 seconds per minute. Afterward, when computers take over and go all binary on our butts there will be 1010 hours, 1100100 minutes per hour and 1100100 seconds per minute. And just what time will we have to wake up each morning during Binary Daylight Savings Time to serve our computer masters? Whatever the time might be by the clock, it'll be too late.

Filed under Odds & Ends 3/8/15

Meat and Potatoes, the Healthy Choice


Now that they're backtracking on cholesterol and fat, what other "unhealthy" food will they finally admit isn't killing us? Salt seems a likely candidate. The case for low-sodium diets is as equally bad as that for low fat. Though you wouldn't know it from reading the papers. See here and here.

Since they haven't got eggs and bacon to kick around any more they seem to be doubling down against demon sugar. Funny thing about sugar, every part of every plant you eat is loaded with sugar in some form. Carbohydrates, starches and every other complex sugar is broken down by digestion to enter your system as sugar, glucose and fructose. Wonder if vegetarians realize they're on a high fructose diet?

If you like eating plants, I suggest making it potatoes, the closest thing to a miracle food there is. Potatoes are packed with such a wide variety of nutritional essentials humans could practically subsist on potatoes alone. Though they are short on proteine and fat. So augment your taters with some meat. Meat and potatoes. Yep, the supposed worst diet could be the best.

The "eat healthy" crowd hates that. The health scold's approach to food is almost puritanical. If it's yummy and you enjoy it, it just has to be bad. You must perform a health penance and eat only unappetizing food. It's the health food fanatic's version of a hair shirt, only you don't wear it, you eat it. Reminds me of an old H.L. Mencken quote…

"[Puritanism is] the haunting fear that someone, some­where, may be happy."

Filed under Quotes & Sayings 3/5/15

Living In an Ice Age


The moon is about as far from the sun as the Earth and gets the same intensity of sunlight energy. Yet, the moon is some 50 degrees colder on average. It's like the moon is in a permanent ice age. Except, it gets hotter in the sunlight than the Earth does. The reason, the moon has no atmosphere.

Here's how it works, more or less. The sunlight side heats up, as it rotates into shadow it cools by radiating heat into space. Because there's no atmosphere the heat doesn't move around very much. After all, the hard surface of the moon doesn't flow from place to place carrying heat with it, does it?

A fluid on the surface can move heat to the side in shadow by convection and conduction. Earth has two giant fluids covering the unmoving solid surface, the oceans and the air. So, heat moves from the sunlit side to the shadow side keeping the sunlit side cooler and the shadow side warmer.

The Earth also loses heat at night by radiating it into space. But the two giant fluids delay the suface heat escaping and so the average temperature remains higher than the moon's. This is not due to any green­house effect, but because of the nature of the fluids. It would happen even if the atmosphere were entirely inert nitrogen.

If the amount of heat energy coming in during the day is constant, the average temperature can vary by how much heat energy is lost from the unlit side. Global warming means warmer nights. Global cooling means colder nights. But in both cases the daytime high temperatures are not much different.

The term 'ice age' sounds like it would be winter everywhere all the time. OK, maybe when you first hear it as a kid. If the sun delivers the same energy, if the rate of heat loss (mostly at night) increases you get an ice age. There's less melt-off, glaciers and snowpacks grow very large and remain all year.

The problem in living during an ice age is not so much the temperature, it still gets warm, it's all that snow and ice in the way. Life beyond the icebound areas would be pretty much as it is today. If you lived in the Bahamas, you mightn't notice much difference. After all, winter in the Bahamas is pretty warm.

Filed under Fun Facts & Trivia 3/4/15

OK Is Okay, All Right Already?


Here's a question, should you write OK or okay? Either is all right. Though neither is alright. That's because alright, though widely used, is not quite accepted usage in written English. Now we have two things to follow up on.

OK versus okay is one of those things some folks like to argue over. Some like to think one or the other is correct, but most style manuals say both are good to go. What you don't want to write is 'ok' all lowercase. Most accept O.K. as well.

People also like to argue about where OK comes from. Some claim it comes from illiterates or jokes about illiterates spelling all correct as 'oll korrect' or some such nonsense. There's no evidence for this derivation. A second hypothesis is it comes from Greek signal flags. The flag for 'all's well' is Ola Kala in Greek. Yet, OK is an Americanism, not a Greekism.

Then there's the Old Kinderhook origin we won't develop because it's also unsupported by evidence. A more plausible theory is okay is an African Wolof word that entered the language during the slavery period. But then, why spell it with initials, OK? What's the truth? I don't know.

Alright is a one-word spelling of 'all right' which has a number of meanings we won't go into. Perhaps folks use alright because they figure it's like 'already' which seems to come from all ready. "Alright already, Keep your shirt on." Anyway, that's not right. All ready and already are both acceptable, but mean different things.

All ready means 'prepared.' Already means 'pre­viously' or 'so soon?' For instance, "I'm all ready to go. I was already packed. Is the boat here already?"

OK, back to alright. The 60s tune "The Kids Are Alright" by The Who shows the informal alright is gaining traction. Still, the creators of the 2010 film of the same title couldn't bring themselves to use the word. So the film was released as The Kids Are All Right. Given some more time, alright might become OK, in meaning and in useage.

Filed under Word Meanings & Origins 3/3/15

The Greenspan-Bernanke-Yellen Tax


Before Alan Greenspan took the helm of the Federal Reserve Board savers could earn about 5% interest on their bank savings. Since then, and for many years now, the Federal Reserve has instituted Zero Interest Rate Policy, ZIRP. Now bank savings pay around 0.2% interest, next to nothing. Considering inflation, less than nothing. Because of Fed interest rate suppression savers have lost nearly all their bank savings interest income. Other means of saving, bonds and CDs, have suffered a similar fate.

Meantime ZIRP lowers the rate government pays to borrow. The saver's loss is the government's gain. This wealth transfer from savers to government amounts to multiple billions of dollars. In effect, savers are paying a hidden tax, compounded because savers don't earn interest on the interest income they lose via ZIRP.

At least Fed policy lets you keep the principle, right? Well, with 2% inflation targeting you get to keep 98% of your savings. Per year. That gets compounded away, too. It's the same number of dollars, they're just worth less and less year after year. This benefits borrowers who pay off debts with cheaper money. Who's a big borrower? Government. Another secret tax. Thank you, Fed.

They say ZIRP will get people to dis-save and juice the economy. The thinking goes because savings pay so little folks will spend the money instead. This begs the question of why people save, suggesting if the interest earned is paltry people don't bother. "Rates are too low to build a nest egg, let's spend it and retire on nothing." Who thinks like that?

Folks save so they'll have money for later, like to retire on. Retirement plans are based on expected rates of return. You need two million dollars to earn $40k a year at 2%. You only need 800 grand to earn $40k at 5%. ZIRP means folks must save more, not less. I guess the Fed understands fancy formulas but not simple math.

Filed under Talkin' Bout Money 3/2/15

Coldest February in 140 Years


Glad that's over. Good thing February is only 28 days this year. Who needs one more day of below zero temperatures? Like we need the first R in February. At least the sunlight is on schedule. A little more day and a little less night every 24 hours.

This changing sunlight comes from living in the north. At the equator the sun rises at 6am and sets at 6pm every day. Twelve hours of sunlight day after day, year after year. The seasons would still change, but in a whole different way. Winter, hot becoming very hot; spring, very hot becoming hot; summer, hot becoming very hot; autumn, very hot becoming hot.

Monotonous? If you grew up there you might not think so. That's just the way it always is and you mightn't pay particular notice. Anyway, there's still weather. Rain or shine, windy or calm. It never snows or gets below zero, but I doubt folks there miss it. It gets snowy and frigid here and when it's gone I don't miss it. And we're back to where we started.

Filed under Odds & Ends 3/1/15

Romeo and Juliet, or Fools in Love


Were Romeo and Juliet victims of cruel fate, or maybe some­thing else? Greek dramatists would say character is destiny. Shakespeare had it…

"The fault lies not in our stars, but in ourselves."

In Act I Romeo first appears mooning over… Diana. Who? She never appears, yet Romeo is ga-ga over her. Until he crashes a masquerade party, meets Juliet and, bingo-bango, he's in love. Again. Last we hear of what's-her-name, Romeo drops her like yesterday's news. Shows you what kind of a guy he is.

So he hangs around Juliet's courtyard peering in her window. Rather stalker-ish, actually. After a bit of sneaky hooking up the pair run off and get secretly married. What was the long-term plan there, having secret children and living in a secret house or what? Teenagers, sheesh.

Then Romeo butts into a fight between Tybalt and Mercutio, in so doing his cousin is accidentally run through and dies. So Romeo runs down Tybalt and kills him, not accidentally. The guy is never at a loss for rash acts. Now he's a wanted fugitive. And who's to blame? Oh yeah, Romeo.

Now, Juliet isn't faultless as she undertakes a half-baked plot of her own: faking her own death. You'd think you'd make darn sure your co-conspirator would know the plan before proceeding, but no, not Juliet. Anyway, Romeo finds her "dead," isn't wise to the scam, and kills himself. Impetuous and clueless to the end, this Romeo fellow. Juliet awakens from her "death," sees Romeo has gone to meet his maker and offs herself with a dagger.

Whenever the shite hits the fan we find Romeo and Juliet at center stage, literally and figuratively. Who killed them in the end? They did it them­selves. A pair of adolescent nitwits if you ask me.

One might say if not for the feud it all would have been hunky-dorie. Well, if a window were four feet up instead of forty you could jump out safely. But knowing it's forty feet, do you jump out, break your neck, and then blame the window? Which brings us to something Shakespeare didn't write…

"Look before you leap."

Filed under Quotes & Sayings 2/27/15

Whether Children Upset Pet Owners Is Unknown


One of the first four "Brickbats" spots I did for Reason magazine back in February, 2007.

"In Saudi Arabia, the provincial government of Makkah has banned the sale of cats and dogs. According to the Commission for the Promotion of Virtue and the Prevention of Vice, people were taking their pets out into public and upsetting families with small children."

Filed under Snippets 2/25/15

Bad Grammar On Display All Over America


There's an example of bad grammer you often run across that nobody seems to notice very much, if at all. Okay, maybe English teachers, writers, librarians and such notice, but they're a buch of fusspots about grammar. Now that I'm mentioning it, I guess I'm a fusspot, too. Anyway, this common grammatical error is the sign at the market reading, "Express Checkout – Ten Items or Less."

The basic rule: if you can count it in numbers use 'fewer'; if it's an uncountable quantity use 'less.' The small bushel has fewer apples in it. Check. The small cup has less water in it. Check.

Using 'fewer' in the wrong spot is obvious. You certainly wouldn't say, "The small cup has fewer water in it." That's just wrong. Yet using 'less' the wrong way doesn't instantly send up a red flag, "The small bushel has less apples in it." Wrong, but not obviously so as many people say things like that.

Then again, sometimes the rule doesn't work. How about, "Used CDs – $5.00 or Less"? Here we have numbers of dollars, yet "Used CDs – $5.00 or Fewer" sounds flat out stupid. There must be some rule that explains it, but I don't know what it is.

On the other hand, for a larger amount we use 'more' in both cases. The small bushel has more apples in it. The small cup has more water in it. Check and check.

Back to the sign in question. Because items can be counted, up to ten as the sign suggests, it should read, "Express Checkout – Ten Items or Fewer." Still, we're used to the sign with 'less' and not 'fewer' so it doesn't bother us. Besides, products all over the store play fast and loose with grammar and spelling, so I suppose by the time you get to the checkout you're numbed to dubious language usage. E-Z Open Krispy Kreme Donutz Lite, anyone?

Filed under Word Meanings & Origins 2/23/15