much ado about nothing

I spent the greater part of a recent morning getting my knickers in a knot over nothing.

I had just started a new course from The Great Courses entitled English Grammar Boot Camp. The instructor displayed a sentence which the editors of the American Heritage Dictionary sent to their usage panel to get panel member views as to whether the construction was acceptable. The sentence read:

Aptitude is essential; but equally as important is the desire to learn.

The question revolved around the use of “equally as important” in the sentence, the idea being that it might be better to streamline the sentence by writing “equally important.” However, I fixated on the words after the semicolon, thinking that they did not constitute an independent clause. I composed a rant for the blog on my business web site, describing how that bothered me, and citing the Chicago Manual of Style chapter and verse. Chicago takes the position that the phrase to the right of a semicolon must be an independent clause.

But wait. There’s a problem here. “equally as important is the desire to learn” is an independent clause. It is a sort of backwards Yoda English (“Much to learn you still have.”) that does not stand well on its own, but it is an independent clause nonetheless. Remove the “as.” “Equally important is the desire to learn.”

Subject the desire to learn
Verb is
Predicate equally important

Now there is a comparative (“equally important”) that does not have a referent, which is not good syntax, but grammatically this is an independent clause.

I wasted a morning on a rant I was wrong about.

In the words of Miss Emily Latella, “Oh, that’s very different. Never mind.”

Save

Save


what readers are looking for

I enjoy looking at the statistics on my blog. Not that I have a lot of readers, but I enjoy doing so nonetheless. I seem to have two kinds of readers. The first type is made up of my regular readers. They read my current posts, either on my home page or by going to that specific entry. If you are reading this you probably fall into this category. Please know that I’m humbled and delighted that you read my blog and that I don’t take you for granted.

The second type of reader gets to my blog via Google or another search engine. What is interesting here is that there are a few recurring search results that keep popping up. My remembrance of jazz radio announcer Bob Parlocha is one of those, as is my blog entry that more generally appreciates the announcers at late great jazz station KJAZ. Another entry that comes up regurlarly is my discussion of Eucharistic Prayer C1 in the Episcopal Book of Common Prayer. I went back and looked at that entry and it’s not terribly good. It’s one of those entries that I simply seem to have dashed off. I owe that prayer more than that, and I’ll take care of that tomorrow.

Another blog entry that comes up with some regularity is my discussion of “imaginary” as a noun. This relates to a Great Courses series I listened to on Heroes and Legends. As the lecturer states, “the word ‘imaginary’ is used as a noun to mean a collective picture of an era derived from books, films, television, and so on.” The primary example he gives is the American wild west. I suspect there’s not a lot online about that so my blog comes up.

It’s interesting to see which searches find my blog.

1You can find Eucharistic Prayer C in the The (Online) Book of Common Prayer. Navigate: The Holy Eucharist > The Holy Eucharist: Rite II > Eucharistic Prayer C.


another year of blogging

So, here it is, the first Monday of the new year 2016 and I begin another week and another year of blogging. I’m not exactly sure how long I have been writing my blog. That is lost in the mists of time, as I am now on my third blogging platform. But I would have to say that my blog must go back to 2002 or 2003.

There was a time when I was not diligent about updating my blog, but for the last blogheaderseveral years I have made a point of publishing five entries a week. Interestingly, I originally conceived of my blog as a forum to reflect on religion and spirituality, and my blog’s title was “Thoughts on Spirituality, Liturgy, & Religion.” I found that eventually, though, I was writing on a much wider range of topics, and dropped that in favor of simply “Csquared Thoughts.” More recently, I changed the title to “My Point Being,” which I rather like. I now even have a domain name to match.

One of the nice things about being on the WordPress platform is that other WordPress bloggers can Like my posts. What I find is that when I write about food, the food bloggers like my posts. When I write about books, the book bloggers like my posts. When I write about language, the language bloggers like my posts. That’s really nice, and it’s flattering. But then they follow my blog, and I get concerned that I will disappoint them, as I do write about those topics, but not every day. I may go several weeks without blogging on one of those subjects.

I blog about what is on my mind. I can only write about what is of interest to me. I can’t please everyone, so I have to please myself.

In any case, here’s to another year of blogging. I hope you’ll come along with me, and with any luck some of what pleases me will please you too.


New York Times Manual of Style and Usage

I have been trying to be more diligent about giving myself ready access to resources for grammar, usage, and style. I recently bookmarked several, most of which I mentioned in my blog entry about spaces after periods. Last week I added to my reference library. I downloaded the Kindle version of the newly updated New York Times Manual of Style and Usage.

I was disappointed to see that “website” is now listed as the preferred term for a presence on the World Wide Web, and while that phrase is capitalized as I have it here, “web” by itself is lowercase. Sigh. I have long held out for “Web site,” but I guess that battle is lost. On the positive side, Internet is still capitalized.

I appreciate that the guide wants to err on the side of clarity. For example: “web address is preferred in most references to a URL…” Likewise the manual tells us: “semimonthly means twice a month. Every two months is bimonthly. To minimize confusion, avoid the prefix forms whenever possible and use twice a month or every two months.” Sound advice.

Then there is this: “saga. It is a long story of adventure or heroism, not just any story.” If I have not violated that rule here in this blog in references to my own life, I very easily could have done so.

Finally, I absolutely love this one: “wake-up call, except in an instruction to a hotel front desk, is a cliché.” Thank you for that!

This is a great resource. I’m going to get my money’s worth out of this purchase.


on punctuation

I pay careful attention to my grammar and punctuation here. I know that my blog is not error-free, but as my friend Tahoe Mom says, everyone needs an editor. Unfortunately, this individual blogger doesn’t have access to an editor. Still, I do my best.

Lately I have been thinking more than usual about punctuation. In particular there are three punctuation marks to which I pay particular attention: commas, explanation points, and semicolons.

  • Commas — There was a time when I overused commas. I don’t believe I do so as much anymore. I do take care to remove commas that on second reading seem unnecessary.
  • Exclamation Points — I am strict in limiting my use of exclamation points. I never allow more than one exclamation point in a paragraph, and for the most part, only one exclamation point per blog entry.
  • Semicolons — Semicolons are tough. I rarely use them. American grammar dictates that semicolons link two independent clauses. (So the section on semicolons in Eats, Shoots and Leaves really grated on me, because British grammar allows a semicolon to separate a dependent clause and a related dependent clause.) It’s very rare in my writing that I find two independent clauses that are so closely related that they merit a semicolon. My rule is: when in doubt create two separate sentences. Which is almost always.

Those are my personal random thoughts on punctuation. That and $3.25 will get you a personal grande decaf cappuccino, dry. (I miss you Boston Pobble!)


changing priorities, priorities unchanged

In the process of digging up an electronic copy of our household philosophy for yesterday’s blog entry I came across a page I did for my Pitzer College reunion in 2000. The class of 1975 was asked to do a page that reflected our current thoughts and values. That was because in 1975 we had a yearbook in which each senior was given a page to express themself however they chose. I was struck by what has changed for me and what has not changed.

PitzerPageI included this picture of me. Terry and I were on a hike, and the t-shirt I wore while holding my camera said, “Baseball is life. The rest is details.” The caption beneath the picture read, “Important things in life: baseball, hiking, and photography” I’m sure Terry and I staged that specifically for the page. Today we don’t hike much because of Terry’s knees, I don’t do anywhere near as much photography as I used to, and I follow baseball, but not with an intense interest. Beyond our household philosophy (which also appeared on the page) and time spent with Terry and Tasha, these days I’d probably list my three important things as writing this blog, cooking, and reading books on my Kindle iPad app.

But one thing is unchanged. On the page I also quoted the now Emeritus Dean Alan Jones of Grace Cathedral on the importance of the Eucharist:

quoteEvery day and every Sunday we celebrate the politics of God in the Eucharist—one table where everyone is welcome and there’s food for everyone: a subversive table, stirring up our longing for liberty.

Today the Eucharist is as central in my life as it ever was, as is the importance of being inclusive at that Table.

Many things change. Some don’t.


this blog’s direction

I have been very consistent for several years now, publishing blog posts at the same time each evening, five days a week. But life is changing. We are getting ready to sell our house, and a huge amount of work and effort has gone into that. We have been to Southern California to get the lay of the land with respect to what is available there and have found a community we like. Our realtors here will be taking over management of our house as staging happens on Monday and listing on Wednesday.

So here’s the thing: I can’t commit to that schedule, at least for a while. I plan to blog regularly, but my daily at-the-same-time-each-day cadence may or may not continue. I will keep up Sacred Music Friday as best I can, keep you current in what is happening in our lives, and hope to have some time for reflection as well.

I hope you understand, and I hope you’ll keep dropping by to see what I have to say.

As Bartles and Jaymes  used to say back in the 1980’s, thank you for your support.