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.