Tuesday, September 04, 2012

Cranial Casserole: It's What's For Dinner At The Dept.

This post will be sort of a Dept. of Nance mixtape (or mash-up, for my younger readers who are of A Generation who have no grasp of what "tapes" might be.)  It's like Leftover Night:  a dab of This-n-That, all odd assortments that don't really go together, but perhaps you might find something that you like.

Let's dish it up.

Once a week, I do floors in the house.  (I know:  how very June Cleaver of me.)  As I was Sharking the kitchen, I took a critical look at the front grill of the refrigerator and thought, I wonder if I should clean that someday.  In consulting the refrigerator's manual as to how to remove said grill in order to do so, I was shocked.  It told me not to clean it. There is no need for routine condenser cleaning in normal home operating environments, it said.  I was pretty excited.  There it was, in writing and everything.  I read further, however, because I know from experience that, if there is more writing, there is always a catch.  ...if there is significant pet traffic in the home, the condenser should be cleaned every 2 to 3 months....  What?  What does that mean--significant?  Of course my pets are significant!  My pets are extremely significant--to me!  Who in the hell has unimportant or insignificant pets?  ("Oh, my! What a nice dog. How long have you had him?"  "What dog?  Oh, that? That's just some animal that hangs around here to finish up our table scraps. It's a nothing. We haven't even named it.")  Needless to say, I cleaned that damn thing tout de suite

Speaking of language, we have a quick guest spot from the Defender of The Language.  A rather urgent missive arrived from California Math Teacher, and we wanted to address it right away.  He writes:

Dear Defender of The Language,  I'm a math teacher, and every time I teach my students the rules of solving equations, I have a question about grammar that I keep meaning to ask you. Two of the actions that are permissible when solving equations are adding the same quantity to both sides of an equation and subtracting the same quantity from both sides of an equation. These are generally presented as one rule and written as follows: "We can add or subtract the same quantity from both sides of an equation." This seems incorrect to me, as we subtract a quantity from an equation but we add a quantity to an equation, and this sentence uses the word "from" in both circumstances. On one hand I want to make this sentence more grammatically correct, but on the other hand I want to keep their notes as short and concise as possible. What should I do?

Oh, bless you, Math Teacher from California, for caring so deeply about grammar during a math lesson.  You are absolutely correct that the preposition "from" makes no sense after the verb "add" in that mathematical statement.  One way to test its grammatical logic is to remove the compound verb phrase, thusly:  We can add the same quantity from both sides of an equation simply does not pass the test of either English grammar or basic logic.  What to do for students who want to take short, efficient notes?  You can either heave a sigh of regret and press on, knowing that the basic understanding is still conveyed despite the grammatical misstep, or you can employ the slash in this manner:    "We can add or subtract the same quantity to/from both sides of an equation."  As a Defender of The Language, I naturally prefer the latter.

Thank you, Defender of The Language, for responding so quickly to this query.  As always, if you or anyone you know has a mechanics, usage, grammar, or spelling concern for the Defender, please send it to me here at the Dept.  My email link can be found in my sidebar.

Finally, the Cleveland Plain Dealer has again printed an intriguing obituary.  I must share it with you.  When I looked at the photo, I did a very cartoon-esque double-take.  I read the accompanying writeup with care, as I always do, and I smiled.  What a wonderful family this man must have.  What a great time he must have had with them all, and what memories they must have made together.  As I have often said when I share this sort of obituary picture, it would not be my style, but how I love that it was theirs.   
Legacy is a heady, serious thing to ponder.  Living one's Best Life each day...perhaps a little less so.  Tossing a little Fun in there obviously goes a long way.  I like that idea.  Always have.


  1. I love that obituary. My family can just direct people to my blog for similar types of merriment (why next week I'm posting a picture of myself looking like Cousin It!).

    I also enjoyed hanging out in your sidebar - it's always entertaining to me. That electoral map is fun - I sure hope there's lots of BLUE in November!

  2. Mikey G.2:30 AM

    I'm not good at cleaning. I can do dishes really well, and I can vacuum a floor, but that's about it. We hire a maid to do everything else. But still, I have a feeling we haven't cleaned out the refrigerator grill. And I don't want to think about what's in there.

  3. Mikey--Ask the maid to do it. (Oh, what a wonderful thing that would be! But how awful I would be should I hire a maid, esp. now that I am a Stay-At-Home.)

    Bug--Thanks for the compliment about my sidebar. I update it every time I write a new post. (Most of it, anyway.) Subscribers will never know what they're missing there, or here in Comments.

    I love the idea that the family wanted to post a picture of the gentleman wearing the wig and ladies' makeup. I went online to his obituary there, and the main photo was of him in a more traditional pose. I got the idea from reading some tributes left by others that he was a fun person who organized events and things, one of which may have been one for which he dressed up like the picture. What fun!

  4. Mikey G.1:51 AM

    You wouldn't be awful at all if you hired a maid. You'd be creating a job! Or at least a fraction thereof. And you could use your time to do something more worthwhile, like relaxing.

    I don't know how you feel about cleaning, but I absolutely loathe it. And so even if you have all the time in the world, sometimes it's just nice to pay somebody else to do something that you can't stand.

    Yes, I know you'll never hire a maid. But still, it wouldn't make you an awful person if you did.

  5. Your commentary about "significant pets" made me consider "significant others." Then I visualized a cartoon where a a sad looking man in a bar is telling his friend, "I knew it was over when we went to her college reunion and she introduced me as her insignificant other."

  6. V--I wonder if that cartoon is already out there. Sounds like New Yorker material.

    Mikey--I don't mind cleaning now that I do have all day/all week to do it. There are some chores that I still do not like, mainly cleaning the bathroom due to all the hair all over the place. Rick's hair is very long and mine is shoulder length. We both blow-dry, and it seems to be all over the place all the time. I also still have the same issues with cleaning my stainless (HA!) steel appliances in the kitchen that I shared in a previous post. Other than that, no big deal. Heavy cleaning, like washing walls and windows...well, no one likes that.

  7. Nance,

    How come you never take my advice?

    I have told you before...If you don't like to clean, buy a bunch of Get Well Cards and put them all over your living room. When you get visitors they will assume that you have been ill and,therefore, too sick to clean...

  8. Nancy--What visitors? Ha!

  9. I love a clean house, but I typically do it in segments. Still...it's a healing process when you have the time. I'm not sure I like the obituary photo. What exactly is going on there?

  10. RM--I referred to the possible scenario of the obit photo in my comment to Bug, above.

    I, too, clean in segments, as I alluded to in the post. Floors one day, laundry one day, etc. If I do it all at once, it's just awful.

  11. Dear Defender of The Language,

    As you may know I have always had a desire to be a synchronized swimmer.

    Do you remember directing me to spray my hair with epoxy and rhinestones in order to be accepted in their group?

    My only hesitation was that I wondered if one synchronized swimmer drowned,did they all have to drown? You assured me that if I signed the Esther Williams Oath of Allegiance I would not have to make that sacrifice.

    So,thanks to your good advice and consent, I have been accepted in the group and must use the words swim,swam and swum frequently. So, DOTL, please give me the rule regarding the proper usage of those words.

    Do I say "She hasn't swum that well in years" OR "She hasn't swam
    that well in years?"

    Even though I was jesting a bit above, I really am serious about wanting to know the proper way to use these words. Thank you!

  12. Looking at the bunnies enjoying their feast makes me think of a section from a book I just finished, "Bright's Passage", by Josh Ritter.

    "In the late summer the two of them would eat apples and then push the cores through the fencing and sit watching as the two species (chickens and rabbits) shared the remainders decorously with one another. In the mornings the hens liked to lay their eggs in the warmth where the rabbits had been sleeping, and they would squabble and squawk the rabbits out of their beds."

    I wonder if your bunnies would like to share with chickens? Hmmm.

    I love the obit. What a great testament to the person they lost, not just the words that make up his grieving family, but a glimpse into what they have lost.

  13. j@jj--In my youth, I had both a pet chicken and a pet bunny. They never had a chance to get together, though. Oddly enough, the bunny was the outdoor pet, the chicken, indoor.

    Nancy--The word "swum" is in what is called the Perfect Tense. It takes a form of the helping verb "have." If you use a form of have (have, has, had) with the verb, you use the form "swum." If you merely express the past tense without a form of "have," then use "swam." Present tense is just "swim." For example:

    Today, I will swim four laps.
    Yesterday, I swam two laps.
    Last week, due to my arthritis, I felt as if I had swum a hundred laps.

    See? Happy Swimming, and I'm sure you look lovely! DoL


  14. Thanks, Nance. I have never known how to say swim,swam,swum properly.

    You always have the right answer and explain it well.I appreciate it!


Oh, thank you for joining the fray!

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