December 15, 2008

Creatures of the Night

Which creature of the night are you?
Your Result: Sorceror

Control is the name of your game. You are a studied tactician and scientist and you seek a kingdom where things make sense, damn the morals, even if you have to create it. You are cold, calm and calculating.

Cthulu Spawn
Which creature of the night are you?
Quiz Created on GoToQuiz

April 30, 2008

We can't spell because we don't read

There is a notorious website out there where angry and naive college students can post and find information about their professors. I'll link to it, but it does not really deserve to be named expressly; I'm sure we all understand the difficulties college students face in giving professors honest, helpful, and meaningful feedback.

In response to said website, a very popular blog has sprung up for professor types to comment on their college students. Those of us in the biz, so to speak, find relief in knowing that we are not alone, horror in the prospect that there seems to be a plague that runs through colleges on a regular basis, and humor in watching someone else deliver the smackdown we so long to make ourselves.

So I was relieved, horrified, and amused to read the following entry (I've linked to the whole entry, but have only quoted the relevant part here):

I teach classes online. So I have my students reading an article about how text messaging and IMming are ruining our children's ability to spell. Here is one of my best responses to date! However the week is still young!

"i don't think that text messaging and iming is messing up our spelling and grammer at all I do it all the time and i can still spell the words out its just that when you are text messaging you are trying to do it fast its just a fast way to communicate not a replacement for spelling plaus every1 knows whut i am typing when i type b4 everyone needs spelling if no one could spell how would anyone have a job? i am not the best speller in the world but i dont think that any thing is running our spelling or young kids i think that they just have to step up the spelling with the math and reading you can read a word all day but u should be able to spell it like its nothing."

Isn't it wonderful when they prove our point while trying to argue against us? I wonder about the author of the article, though. S/he seems a little behind the times, because I was bemoaning spelling habits before texting and IMing were really out there. My position is that we've become such an aural and visual society that we're hearing things and seeing ads and commercials, and not really reading and learning the language. I'm not good at spelling and grammar because I'm an English major. My major did not teach me spelling and grammar (my foreign language studies taught me a LOT about grammar). I'm good at spelling and grammar because I read.

My two favorite examples of this are "should of" and "chip and dale". Okay, the first one is fairly obvious. When you hear someone say "should've," which is the contraction of the words "should" and "have," "should of" seems like a logical conclusion for the word(s) spoken. Incorrect, but somewhat understandable (I cringe when I see it in print when that should have been caught by and editor).

So what about "chip and dale?" Here's a screenshot of when I googled (note the new-ish verb there!) the term:

(click for a larger image)

This was the actual phrase someone used in an essay they turned in to me when discussing the Chippendale dancers (don't ask, I don't remember the details). You know, those two little chipmunks who take off all their clothes at women's only parties? No? You don't know them? Hunh. Again, I believe this is a student who doesn't read (apparently doesn't even read magazines or advertisements), and rather than look something up in a *gasp* book (because the internet had barely even been invented way back in the 90s), the student just relied on his/her auditory capacity.

April 20, 2008

Someone Melted

I saw this scene in a bus shelter near the U campus on the West Bank. The quality isn't the greatest, because the pictures were taken with my phone camera, but you get the idea.

Random clothes 01.jpg Random clothes 02.jpg

It's a suit, complete with jacket, pants, shirt, and you might be able to barely see the one woman's shoe that is there. Granted, the day was sunny and warm, and we haven't had one of those days for a while, but I'd sure like to know the real story. Until then, I'm just going to assume that someone melted and all we have left is a random pile of clothing.

April 15, 2008

Um, am I reading this right? ;-)

Please tell me it's not just me!


And if it is just me, well, I guess I'll have to accept that. Hmph.

April 11, 2008


humorous pictures
see more crazy cat pics

I even like the song...

Continue reading "lolcatted" »

April 10, 2008

Let's make a contest out of it

ORIGINAL ENTRY I know I don't have a lot of regular readers, so everyone has a good chance of winning. I'm interested to see how much I can raise for the MS Society and the Animal Humane Society through posting on my blog. I'm going to try following the same contest rules I'm seeing on other sites. I will leave the contest open through midnight on May 9, though the Walk for Animals is actually on May 3. Click on the "original entry" link above to find the donation website.

If you submit a donation, you will receive one ticket for a random drawing. If you have a blog, please be sure to leave the address in comments, so I can spend some time there and personalize your gift. If you are blog-less/free, please tell me something about yourself and/or your interests.

I will give you two tickets for posting about my contest on your blog (if you are blogless, CC me on an email to at least one other person, and I will consider that as "advertising" also); be sure to leave me that comment also so that I can get those two more tickets.

I will give you three tickets for every person who donates who reaches me through your blog/email; be sure to leave directions that people reference you so I can add you up appropriately.

So, one donation, one blog mention, and one referral can earn you 6 tickets. Given that I have about 5 regular readers, chances of getting your name drawn are pretty dang good. :-)

Finally, I will send a special little something for the person who donates the most (I'll combine totals if you donate to both causes). And anyone who would like to help sponsor me with possible awards is more than welcome to send me an email at dtisinger [at] gmail [dot] com. Thanks for any help you can give.

April 1, 2008

Get back lost time*

I love GMail. Now they even allow you to backdate emails so that email will have arrived on time no matter when you sent it. Check it out!


* Yes, I know what day it is.

December 6, 2007

Woefulfrown Crankyham

That's my Grinch Name. I kind of like it. :-)

Here is the link and URL to find your own Grinch Name for the holiday season:

December 1, 2007

This guy's a genius

I just saw a bit on Boing Boing about a collector who is asking for 1968 pennies. He wants to create the largest collection of 1968 pennies. According to the BB clip, he promises never to cash in the collection because it's worth more as a collector's item: "Of the 4,858,503,583 pennies minted in 1968, an untold number have been forever lost to history, which is why it is important to save the remaining 1968 pennies NOW while they are still relatively easy to find. If every American donated just one 1968 penny, the collection would number in the hundreds of millions."

When I checked his website (, the current total was 9,887. If he gets even 100 million pennies (possible? maybe. probable? maybe not. But worth considering...), he would be at 1 million dollars. Give him 2-10 years to be out of the spotlight, and he'd be able to cash that in for a very nice retirement package.

Tell you what. I want to collect every possible 1973 penny because that is my special year. Send me your 1973 penny(ies) and I will post your name on a website as a contributor. Because this is a collector's item, I won't cash in the pennies. until I'm well enough out of the public's mind and everyone's forgotten about it. Besides, how would you know if I do or not?.

To "use" or "utilize" / That is the question

My professor in my sophomore Intro to Lit course was a great believer in cutting out wordiness and over-blown language. While I am still prone to wordiness and abuses of language, one lesson rooted itself so firmly in my brain that it has become a personal foible: I cringe in near-pain when I hear people use (!) longer words when a shorter, plainer word would do. Don't get me wrong; I love language. There are people who can use long, possibly pretentious language, and make it beautiful. But I really don't like the word "utilize" in place of "use." There are appropriate times for "utilize;" I really like this summary from in it's definition of "utilize":

Usage Note: A number of critics have remarked that utilize is an unnecessary substitute for use. It is true that many occurrences of utilize could be replaced by use with no loss to anything but pretentiousness, for example, in sentences such as 'They utilized questionable methods in their analysis' or 'We hope that many commuters will continue to utilize mass transit after the bridge has reopened.' But utilize can mean 'to find a profitable or practical use for.' Thus the sentence 'The teachers were unable to use the new computers' might mean only that the teachers were unable to operate the computers, whereas 'The teachers were unable to utilize the new computers' suggests that the teachers could not find ways to employ the computers in instruction.

I have similar objections to the word "colorway," as I have mentioned before. A friend refered me to a definition from wikipedia (I don't know exactly where):

"In visual arts, colorway or colourway is the scheme of two or more colors in which a design is available.

Colorway is describing the set of colors. A tweed that is basically blue with flecks of green and purple is a different colorway than a tweed that is basically blue with flecks of gold and orange. But they are both generally the same color."

The word does show up in this discussion of color in the "Yarn" entry:

"Yarn may be used undyed, or may be colored with natural or artificial dyes. Most yarns have a single uniform hue, but there is also a wide selection of variegated yarns:

  • heathered or tweed: yarn with flecks of different colored fiber
  • ombre: variegated yarn with light and dark shades of a single hue
  • multi-colored: variegated yarn with two or more distinct hues (a "parrot colorway" might have green, yellow and red)
  • self-striping: yarn dyed with lengths of color that will automatically create stripes in a knitted or crocheted object
  • marled: yarn made from strands of different-colored yarn twisted together, sometimes in closely-related hues"

but I still don't like it, I still think it's pretentious, and I still think using existing words like "multi-colored" or even just "color" works just fine.

September 27, 2007

New Grammatical Term!!!

And yes, I really am that excited about a new grammatical term. But when you read this, you will see why.

Enter "The Term": VIZZINIS

Click on the term above to see the Society for the Promotion of Good Grammar's definition. I nearly spit my diet Coke on my computer when I read this post because I've already told one of my co-workers that she reminds me of Vizzini every time I hear "unbelievable" coming from her office. With our program, "unbelievable" usually falls into the same category as Vizzini's "inconceivable."

August 28, 2007



Tonight is the a Welcome reception for our students. This kitteh seems to have the right attitude...

July 16, 2007

the caffeinated one [in which she reveals she is still alive...]

Just so's ya'll don't forget about me completely, here's a version of my husband on caffeine. The fun part is that he would only need one.... (click for a larger image)


April 19, 2007

Foob central

I've enjoyed the long run of For Better or For Worse as a comic strip. I frequently give the Remembering Farley to people who have lost a dog because of the wonderful way Johnston developed Farley's storyline. [I really resented April for a long time after that incident. I've only come to appreciate her character in recent years, especially since she befriended Shannon and made significant headway toward becoming a kind, caring human being.]

I've also gotten caught up in the whole speculation around Liz and her future mate. Consensus online seems to be that she has no choice but to end up with Anthony (AKA, The Mustache), possibly the blandest character in the history of the strip.

But I've never quite been happy with the Michael-Deanna-too-many-children-to-take-care-of story arc. They seem to pop out a new kid just because that's the thing to do. And now that Michael has an advance on his book, it should be high time for them to move on with their lives and actually settle down.

In this strip from April 7, 2007, we see that Michael is not really ready to make a committment:

(click for full size)

What the heck is he talking about? He HAS made the committment to getting married, and having two kids (for now) on top of that. He's been skeptical about the prospect of buying a house for a while now, and this strip really brings his maturity level down in my estimation. (See the Comics Curmudgeon's take on this strip for a similar opinion

But then, look at the strip four days later on April 11, 2007:


We have almost a complete reversal. The only thing that makes the position switch incomplete is the house in question: if he can buy the house he grew up in (which is definitely worth more than the smaller house that seems like too much of a committment), then he's suddenly in favor of the idea. What gives?

And despite all of Michael's wishy-washiness, April is kind of right in her complaints that no one is really consulting her. She will have the choice (presumably) of staying in her childhood home, but with her brother, sister-in-law, and their screaming children (hey, built-in babysitter!), or moving out of that home with her parents into something that is admittedly just right for two. Awkward.

February 23, 2007

I think I'm going to be ill

I just read this article in the MN Daily. I already can't stand the music I hear from inside many cars. Why would I want to hear their music being played outside the car?

February 22, 2007

Completely Random

There's a neighborhood (area?) in San Francisco called Dogpatch. If I lived in San Fran, I'd have to live there. Even if it's not related to dogs.

It's all about the senses...
More "Get Fuzzy" Foodar fun; this one just made me laugh out loud.

And if this isn't the truest statement I've ever sure to check out all of the gadgets these kids have:

More Truth
Just saw this excerpt from Neal Boortz's book Somebody's Gotta Say It on a Borders email:
"I've come to the conclusion that roughly 50 percent of the adults in this country are simply too ignorant and functionally incompetent to be living in a free society."

And from last Saturday's Margaret Cho performance:
[Paraphrased, since I don't remember her exact words]: Speaking of right-wing-fundamentalist-homophobic-[non]Christians: "waiting for the second coming when Jesus tells them, 'That's not what I meant!'" or "they clearly haven't read their bibles: Matthew chapter 25 verse 23, 'shut the f*** up.'" or "yes, everyone has a right to their own opinion, but in your case, 'shut the f*** up.'" Why is it that so many people feel they need to meddle in other people's lives? As Cho also said, "Don't you have to be somewhere? Don't you have to prepare for the rapture or something?"

Lovely Curtains
I just saw these curtains for the first time today. I simply love them. By Nienke Sybrandy:

And these ones from Plow and Hearth:

February 21, 2007

Comic Self-Referentiality

Two comics recently that refer to the funny pages, both of which also comment on the doom and gloom that permeates so much of what passes for news these days. "Red and Rover" was actually from Saturday, and "Lio" is today's strip.



February 20, 2007

Perverse pleasure

I've been enjoying the comic strip "Lio" recently. It's highly reminiscent of "Calvin and Hobbes" and "The Far Side," but Mark Tatulli brings his own humor to the perverse. I had a particularly evil grin when I saw today's strip:


"Lio" is available at If you have some time to spend, I recommend checking out some of the archives.

November 14, 2006

Think you're good at observation?

Here's a lovely (said sarcastically with a little snicker) game wherein you attempt to find the "change" or error in picture in a certain amount of time. People are added or they disappear, shadows are added, words may change, birds and clouds come and go. The changes can be incredibly subtle, and many take several attempts to find the change. It's particularly addiciting, I'm noticing, because there aren't any clues. You either find the change and move on or you keep replaying the same picture. The only hint provided is in the error message, but because it's a translated from Japanese site, sometimes the message only obfuscates the change even more. Yet I can't stay away.


The green bar on the right shows the time you have to beat. And it goes very quickly.

November 3, 2006

A Very Gorey Death

Just found this little quiz to see how we'll die ala Edward Gorey:

What horrible Edward Gorey Death will you die?

You will be smothered under a rug. You're a little anti-social, and may want to start gaining new social skills by making prank phone calls.

Good Grief, Charlie Brown!

How could Charlie Brown do this to Linus, of all people?

November 1, 2006

November 2, 2006

Two days in a row, Charlie Brown ruthlessly mocks Linus for the latter's belief in the Great Pumpkin. As one who has also been frequently mocked, shouldn't CB be a little more empathetic? Look at the particular glee in the second strip, and the horribly sarcastic smile in the first.

August 16, 2006

I Say "Planet," You Say "Pluton"

Pluto's whole sense of self-identity is apparently going through the wringer again. For billions of years, it's orbited happily around the sun, defying puny little earthlings to properly categorize it. Today on BoingBoing, I saw an article that says it may still get to be considered a planet (along with at least two other undefinable objects, increasing the number to 12--or even up to 53....), but that it is part of a new category called "Plutons." Apparently, the International Astronomic Union will be proposing a modified description of "planet."

This is all well and good. Sure, go ahead and make grade-school kiddies memorize potentially up to 50 planets in our solar system; it's good for them. But what I find most amusing about the whole situation is the scientist quoted in the BB excerpt:

"Astrophysicist Alan Boss of the Carnegie Institution in Washington, D.C., is... critical of the proposed definition.

'It doesn't have the elegance I was hoping for," Boss said. "It looks like it was written by a committee of lawyers rather than scientists.'"

Ummmmm, because scientists are known for the elegance of their writing?

June 28, 2006

Fairy Doors

Don't have time now to go into detail, but found the neatest site about fairy doors on BoingBoing this morning....

June 21, 2006

Blog as Graph

Here is a pretty picture of my blog as a graph:


You can create your own pretty pictures with any website. (found on Mason-Dixon Knitting) It could be a pretty embroidery with the picture then the URL if one wanted.

Color legend:

blue: for links (the A tag)
red: for tables (TABLE, TR and TD tags)
green: for the DIV tag
violet: for images (the IMG tag)
yellow: for forms (FORM, INPUT, TEXTAREA, SELECT and OPTION tags)
orange: for linebreaks and blockquotes (BR, P, and BLOCKQUOTE tags)
black: the HTML tag, the root node
gray: all other tags

April 9, 2006

Wikipedia Meme

From Bertha's journal:

Go to Wikipedia and look up your birth day (excluding the year). List three neat facts, two births, and one death in your journal, including the year.

May 22

1455 - Wars of the Roses: At the First Battle of St Albans, Richard, Duke of York, defeats and captures King Henry VI of England.
1964 - U.S. President Lyndon B. Johnson announces the goals of his Great Society social reforms to bring an "end to poverty and racial injustice" in America. [commentary: Huh? obviously hasn't gone too far...]
1967 - Mister Rogers' Neighborhood, the longest-running children's series on U.S. television, airs its first episode.

1844 - Mary Cassatt, American artist (d. 1926)
1859 - Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, British physician and writer (d. 1930) [commentary: I always liked this one]

1885 - Victor Hugo, French author (b. 1802)

February 1, 2006

Can't Stand the Cuteness

Check out Cute Overload for a daily dose of cuteness. Some of the pictures are just too darling for words.

August 4, 2005

I want this!


Yes, it's a swiss army knife with a light, a pen, scissors, file, knife, etc. and a flash drive!

March 25, 2005

Books and books and books, oh my!

This is the kind of "do this and pass it on" game that I enjoy playing. It has no purpose, but is literary natured.

Courtesy of Shades of Mediocrity:

1. Grab the nearest book.
2. Open the book to page 123.
3. Find the fifth sentence.
4. Post the text of the next 3 sentences on your blog along with these instructions.
5. Don’t you dare dig for that “cool” or “intellectual” book in your closet! I know you were thinking about it! Just pick up whatever is closest.

from The Beggar Queen (Westmark Trilogy) by Lloyd Alexander:

"The former queen. The consul chappie she's engaged to. Those most of all."

Since the nearest books to me are the undergraduate catalog and the university phonebook, I thought it would be permissible to dig in my back for the book I actually read on my lunch hour.

August 18, 2004

Almost as fun as the OED

Someone on one of my listserves just suggested that the term "gook" applied to people of Asian descent was shortened from Chingachgook, Natty Bumpo's legendary sidekick in James Fenimore Cooper's The Last of the Mohicans and others in his "Leatherstocking" series. Never having heard this (and frankly doubting its veracity), I of course turned to the Oxford English Dictionary online through the U of M Libraries (if anyone reading this is in the position to buy me prezzies, an edition of the OED would be a lovely addition to my collection.....). Chingachgook is nowhere in that definition. So, I turned to my next favorite source, Google.

All of this is merely background fodder for introducing one of my new favorite sites: Etymology Online.

But of course, my friends and I who consider reading dictionaries to be a fun activitie, have been called geeks/nerds at one point or another, so I guess this just adds to the evidence there.

(And no, I still haven't found a reference to "Chingachgook" as the origin of the term "gook.")

August 10, 2004

Reason #8053 I don't live in New York City

My friend Dan found an article about a rather curious form of entertainment for New Yorkers these days: Cuddle Parties.

Now I enjoy physical contact as much as the next person, and more than some, but cuddling for $30 with strangers? I also worry about the 14-year-old masseus who supposedly started the whole thing. Do you want to be getting your massage from a 14 year old? "Not I," said the little red hen.

August 6, 2004

There's always a catch

frog prince.gif

August 4, 2004

Another take on the 3 am brainstorm

3am question.gif

So that we have to spend more money to replace said cheap item....

But perhaps the real question should be, why do we want to live so long? Are we so scared of what may or may not happen to us after death that we feel we must preternaturally preserve ourselves in the here and now? Unless you believe in some form of reincarnation and then have a really, really good memory of past lives, once this life is done, that's it. It's over. Finito. And that scares a lot of people, I think.

But fear of the unknown is just as scary; what will happen to us after death? For many, this is a reason for having children--in theory, they will follow your wishes and see that you are "disposed" of appropriately. Or, maybe they'll just put you in a shoebox on the mantle....


August 2, 2004

Why I don't babysit

I never did babysit much as a teenager. Never did like it very much, more because I'm not creative when it comes to amusing others (it takes a lot to keep myself amused...), but also because I have no disciplinary abilities. I'm teenager Andy in this Stone Soup comic:


My friend Lori, however, is the master of "behave of die" rhetoric. She has some of the best stories about telling children they can't do something "because I'm mean," as she commented to one of the seven year olds in South Dakota.

the English language

This morning my friend Jon and I were discussing the use of the word "cleave" in wedding ceremonies (he attended such a wedding this weekend). We were fascinated by the dual meanings--to split apart and to bind together. So of course I turn to my lovely OED online resource (through the UMN libraries--gotta love it). Yep. Turns out that those two meanings are the two verb forms. Interesting how one word can mean two completely different things.

Which reminded me of this fun little quote I found somewhere (of course I forgot to cite the reference, so I have no idea from where it comes...)

"English doesn't borrow from other languages. English follows other languages down dark alleys, knocks them over, and goes through their pockets for loose grammar."

July 30, 2004

Computers and marriage

Oh so many layers of fun in this strip. Delving into the depths of a computer manual or a spouse's mind can take you to very scary places.


Stop to smell the roses?

The adage says we should take time to smell the roses. In other words, pay attention to the little things. So here's a little thing I paid attention to today: the signatures of the Treasurer of the United States and the Secretary of the Treasury on American paper currency. On any given 5 bills, you could have 10 different signatures. These are positions that don't usually get much attention, but the signatures are on every piece of paper currency that is produced. There probably aren't many people in mass society who would know any Treasurers or Secretaries of the Treasury; just imagine looking at a bill, then at the person who handed it to you, and asking, "Is that your signature?"