December 12, 2016

More Car News

I don't want to go to the auto show this year. I have my own auto show in my bedroom.

_________________________  Jeff

September 22, 2016

Don't Sound (or Write) Stupid, Part 4

A new feature wherein I, Lydia, instruct you, the reader, not to make common, idiotic mistakes of grammar, syntax, or pronunciation of the English language, particularly errors that annoy me. As a review, the word "recognize" is pronounced rek-kog-nize, not reckin-nize.

In this installment, I take a moment's break from my usual role as silent grammar scold to address another issue . . . the misuse and overuse of three words. Aside from being trite and banal, these phrases have the undesired effect of making the speaker sound stupid. Currently, I am being aggravated by a tribe of college students (not stupid!) indulging in their use and overuse.

Excise "basically," which is a synomyn for "fundamentally," not a preamble meaning, "I am about to tell you some extraneous facts, not really related to the subject at hand": "literally," which (surprise) means "literal, in the strictest sense." A little hyberbole never hurts, but it has to be used judiciously. Kill me now, (not literally). And then there is "like." Once upon a time during public speaking class, we were warned not to use "uh" or "uhm" to fill pauses. Now it seems, the word "like" is used instead. Stop it.

July 28, 2016

Don't Sound (or Write) Stupid, Part 3

A new feature wherein I, Lydia, instruct you, the reader, not to make common, idiotic mistakes of grammar, syntax, or pronunciation of the English language, particularly errors that annoy me. As a review, the word "recognize" is pronounced rek-kog-nize, not reckin-nize.

Special request: I have been asked to explain the difference between its and it's. This is a difficult one and the bane of even educated writers. Somehow the mists of time or convoluted explanations have blurred our understanding, leaving everyone guessing (and often guessing wrong.) 

Actually, this is very easy. 

It's is always a contraction for "it is" or "it has." If you cannot substitute either one, use "its."

July 19, 2016

Don't Sound Stupid (or write stupid)! part 2

A new feature wherein I, Lydia, instruct you, the reader, not to make common, idiotic mistakes of grammar, syntax, or pronunciation of the English language, particularly errors that annoy me. As a review, the word "recognize" is pronounced rek-kog-nize, not reckin-nize.


Capitalization: One would think this is easy, but apparently not, since I get tons of correspondence littered with capital letters all over. Why? Does it look fun? Aside from being distracting and oh-so-wrong, I like to try to figure out if there is any method. For example, if the writer is a native German speaker, I understand, since in German all nouns are capitalized. Perhaps the writer thinks it looks whimsical. Alas, I will never know because any email that blatantly WRONG goes directly in the trash, unread. If you aren't sure, best to keep your finger off the shift key altogether. The computer will do the work for you.


Capitalization is the writing of a word with its first letter in uppercase and the remaining letters in lowercase. Experienced writers are stingy with capitals. It is best not to use them if there is any doubt.

Rule 1. Capitalize the first word of a document and the first word after a period.

Rule 2. Capitalize proper nouns.


July 8, 2016

Don't Sound Stupid, part I

A new feature wherein I, Lydia, instruct you, the reader, not to make common, idiotic mistakes of grammar, syntax, or pronunciation of the English language, particularly errors that annoy me. As a review, the word "recognize" is pronounced rek-kog-nize, not reckin-nize.


This week, Primer:

A basic instruction text, pronounced "Prim-mer," with a short i.

The initial coat of paint, or pre-treatment, pronounced "Pri-mer," with a long i.

July 7, 2016

The World According to Jeff . . .

Found: the beginning or end of a high school essay . . .

"All in all, being a twin is very fun."

July 2, 2016

Spoiled?

"They are acting like spoiled, entitled brats," my former husband emailed. Yes, by normal standards, our children certainly are. Hart almost sabotaged his new job when he pretended he couldn't hear his supervisor talking during a fire drill. Jeff has recently lost a number of jobs because he simply can't or won't follow a schedule.

I survived yet another of Jeff's pillaging raids on my house. The scam is like this: Jeff and I make plans, such as a dinner date. A few hours before I am to pick him up, Jeff calls to say that he prefers to come to my house, which he does. Then he disappears in the house, opening every cupboard and drawer and filling up bags, like Santa Claus in reverse. After I tell him that I am ready to go or that it is impolite to ransack a house that isn't yours, he gets mad and leaves abruptly with his booty.

It is unpleasant behavior, to be sure. The essence of autism is that an autistic person doesn't have "theory of mind," which is why I have said, "I can see that you don't want to spend time with me. You want to take stuff from my house. That is rude and hurts my feelings." To no avail.

This is the delicate dance. How much accommodation can we make for disabled people? It isn't a catch-all excuse for bad behavior. After two decades, I am still confounded by the task of extracting appropriate pro-social behavior. Now there are bosses, supervisors and housemates in the mix. Hart and Jeff are adults now. My influence is limited. In truth, it always was.

Spoiled?

"They are acting like spoiled, entitled brats," my former husband emailed. Yes, by normal standards, our children certainly are. Hart almost sabotaged his new job when he pretended he couldn't hear his supervisor talking during a fire drill. Jeff has recently lost a number of jobs because he simply can't or won't follow a schedule.

I survived yet another of Jeff's pillaging raids on my house. The scam is like this: Jeff and I make plans, such as a dinner date. A few hours before I am to pick him up, Jeff calls to say that he prefers to come to my house, which he does. Then he disappears in the house, opening every cupboard and drawer and filling up bags, like Santa Claus in reverse. After I tell him that I am ready to go or that it is impolite to ransack a house that isn't yours, he gets mad and leaves abruptly with his booty.

It is unpleasant behavior, to be sure. The essence of autism is that an autistic person doesn't have "theory of mind," which is why I have said, "I can see that you don't want to spend time with me. You want to take stuff from my house. That is rude and hurts my feelings." To no avail.

This is the delicate dance. How much accommodation can we make for disabled people? It isn't a catch-all excuse for bad behavior. After two decades, I am still confounded by the task of extracting appropriate pro-social behavior. Now there are bosses, supervisors and housemates in the mix. Hart and Jeff are adults now. My influence is limited. In truth, it always was.

February 14, 2016

Status report


L: How was your weekend at dad's?

Jeff: Like a volcano of rhinos!

January 14, 2016

Favorite London quotes, Dec 27, 2015 to Jan 2, 2016


Train conductor: You Americans are so friendly. Why are you always shooting each other?

Child looking a painting of nymphs in Kensington Palace: Mummy, is that the queen naked?

Passerby: My car broke down and I need seven pounds for petrol. Can you help?*

*I thought that scam was native to our fair land. Apparently, it is universal.

Trivia team


January 13, 2016

Online, lovelorn?

"In the mid-1980s, a now infamous Newsweek article declared that a single, college-educated 40-year-old woman was more likely to die in a terrorist attack than ever walk down the aisle. The claim, repeated in movies and sitcoms, convinced generations of women that if they weren’t married by 40, it probably wasn’t going to happen."

Yes, I remember the article from 1985. It has since been debunked but there is a new study that claims that single men over 45 are unlikely to marry . . . ever.

There has been immediate reaction, of course, from smug women and lovelorn men. One woman commented that if a man isn't unemployed or morbidly obese, he should consult a therapist immediately to find out what is wrong. That seems harsh but it holds a grain of truth.

A whole industry of experts is willing to advise on online profiles and photos, and there is lots of free dating advice online. As a veteran online dater, allow me to save you men money and time* with two simple, fail-safe bits of advice regarding online dating.
YOU MUST BE WILLING TO LEAVE YOUR HOUSE. To people who are married or in a relationship, this must sound ridiculous but it isn't. I can only say that if you, a single man, contact a potential match, no matter how attractive, how charming, kind or smart you are, at some point you both have to be in the same room. 
I have gotten better at sniffing out married men who are having a bit of fun late at night trawling around dating websites, but you, single eligible guy, what is your excuse? Pen-palling, catfishing and online flirting are not routes to a real relationship. Newsflash: neither are long daily phone conversations or endless texting.

SAY SOMETHING. Hello! is not an opening line. It is a non-starter. Not wishing to be rude, I can always say hello back, but that isn't a conversation. So generally I will tolerate a few days of daily hellos, with an occasional "good morning" before I get bored and stop answering. True, Tinder doesn't offer a profile to comment on, but you can offer a whole sentence about yourself and see if that illicits a response. Go ahead, try it.
* You are going to keep posting bathroom selfies and photos of yourself behind the wheel of your car, no matter what anyone advises, right?