Grammar mistakes that smart people make

22 Jan

Image Credits: "Business" by oki975

The English language is complex and mysterious, even for those who have never learned any other language. Word choice is the nugget of grammar that trips people up the most. Even refined writers sometimes find themselves reaching for a dictionary when it comes to certain rhetorical devices. Here is a list from Grammar Girl that may surprise you as much as it did me.

1. Blond vs Blonde 

The word can be used as a noun or adjective,  but how do we know when to put the “e” at the end? According to Mignon Fogarty, the woman behind Grammar Girl, the “e” is only used when using the word to describe a female. So, “the blond over there” would indicate a male, but “the blonde” would indicate a female.

“It looks as if the marketing people believe we will love their new roast if we think of it as a woman,” said Fogarty of the Blonde Roast.

2. Flout vs Flaunt

The words may sound the same, but their meanings are not. To flaunt means to parade or show off. You can flaunt your possessionsm your looks, or your new promotion.

To flout is to scoff or mock. You can flout or aunt’s weird hat, someone’s idea, or rules and laws.

“Remember that you flout laws by linking the “out” in “flout” with the idea of being outside society,” said Fogarty.

3. Backward vs Backwards 

As in the towards and toward conundrum, “backwards” is the British standard and “backward” is the American standard. However, there is one exception. When using backward as an adjective instead of an adverb, you never use the “s.”

For residents of the U.S., just remember that it is always without the “s.”

“We like shortcuts here, such as eating dinner in our cars, so you can remember that we’ve lopped off the ‘s,'” said Fogarty.


Blog Comments 2

21 Jan

Comment #1- Commentary. On “Comments Everywhere” by Elizabeth Telg 

I found your sources for this post to be incredibly helpful, and interesting! Writing comments can seem daunting to those who are just starting out in the blogosphere. I liked what you said about not trying to change the writer’s view and pointing out the difference in being assertive and being just offensive.

Comment #2- The Cure of the Common Creative Writer. On “Top 5 Ways to Get Over Writer’s Block” by Peri Kinder 

This was both entertaining and enlightening.  I have found both the pity party and the artistic creations to be particularly helpful. It is nice to take a break from writing, plop down somewhere else, and say “You know what, I am not the greatest at this! I need a holiday! *Scream*” instead of usual positive and perky affirmations. Yoga, which I guess would fall under the exercise category, and playing the piano are also great help. I enjoyed your mix of truth and humor.

Comment #3- File Under “Chic Geek.” On “Top 10 Things I’ve Leanred from Living with a Nerd” by Pam.

These seem so simple, even for a low tech, roommate reliant, last decade girl like me. But aha, light bulb! I have never thought of some of these simple and painless solutions to everyday life at a job that has me typing at a compute all day. Your findings mean less calling IT, more superhero moments for everyone! Thank you, fashion trends and shows like Big Bang Theory and Chuck for making nerds mainstream to inform the rest of us, and thank God and online tools that learning the tricks of the trade to become a nerd yourself can be simple.

Comment #4- “My Fair Ladies.” On Vanity Fair…Not so Fair… by Molly Dodd 

The magazine should have the right to place their models however and wherever they want. To be included in the cover should be considered an honor, and there appears to be no segregation or racism on Vanity Fair’s behalf. The cover represents a wide variety of talent. It seems like they are going for a diversity in the type of actresses (action to teen drama) more so than a diversity in literal skin color.

Comment #5- “You got the look” in response to “Appearances can be…scary” by Melanie Shoults

I think this was definitely worth pointing out. Women can have some flexibility when it comes to make-up in the workplace, but it should always be fairly minimal. I have seen both co-workers and costumers at my job at the beauty department of a store come in way too overdone, and it is hard to notice anything else! The same applies for an overly done fake tan. I think that makeup should be kept simple because too much makeup demands too much attention, and no one wants to be perceived that way. Whether true or not, too much makeup can send signals that a person spends too much time promoting themselves. It also shows poor judgment, as heavy makeup is also associated with nightwear.

Comment #6- “The Light. the Sound ” in response to SEU Public Relations Alumni Making a Big Impact in Little Haiti by Daniel Barcelo.

This was incredibly moving. It shows how when one of our senses is gone, the others are there to compensate and lift us up. It shows that sometimes those who are impaired are not as “handicapped” as we may think. This was the story of a strong family, and a very brave young lady o uproot and move to a third world country. It shows just how powerful the human spirit can be.

Comment #7- “Good points to shoot” in response to Work What You Have: Finding New Perspective on the Usual by Jillian Reid

I have taken several courses of photography and am the proud owner of a digital slr myself, but as you pointed out, you do not need to drop loads of money on a camera or corresponding lenses to get a few nice shots. Your advice, such as shooting a portrait from a ladder and not not shooting a subject from a straight angle, is simple, yet not obvious for most beginner photographers. This concise piece is a perfect summary of a first photography lesson for someone looking to go out and capture some good, higher-grade shots.

Comment #8: “No Time to be Brief” on “Slowing Down to Save Time” by Andreas Kluth

I agree that it takes so much more time and thought to write something concise than it does something that drones on with no real flow. It is such a common problem, yet I have never heard anyone describe it so ironically before! I love the quote at the beginning; i fell that way all the time.

Comment #9: “To pin or not to pin” on “Pinterest is killing you softly with its song” by never contrary 

Pinterest is definitely addicting! While I do not have an account, I use Pinterest to save pictures that I find either pretty or inspiring, with the realization that many things are unattainable. I found your comment about dessert humorous; it definitely puts pressure on everyone to make a Martha Stewart level treat at their next party. With everyone surfing Pinterest, a plain jane cake might fall flat. As for those houses, everyone dreams of being a millionaire, Pinterest or no Pinterest. The health and fitness pages also provide unrealistic ideals, but so do most weight loss blogs and magazines. I have thought about the copyright as well, but I believe all things pinned link back to the original website. This post was clever because it points out the futility in something that we can’t help but carry on with anyway!

Comment #10- “Jugding a book by its author,” in response to “The Gun Seller by Hugh Laurie” by the biblio files.

I am a fan of House, but I did not realize that Laurie was an author. I agree that the author’s name alone can sell a book, especially because of Laurie’s fandom from House. Like you said, many might not even pick it off the shelf if not for the authors name. This book was average, yet you, and thousands of other fans, including myself, would be willing to read another book penned by the actor in addition to books by other actors that you like.Many celebrities write books not only to dapple in a new art form but also because they know their name will sell more than the story. In other words, there is judging a book by its cover, and then there is judging a book by its author, and it works in the publishing world.

Comment #11- “Piecing with Pics” on “Infographics…I dig it” by Jillian J Reid

Infographics are in themselves and art form. From mastering the complex yoga and Pilates moves above to properly using a hair styling product to understanding the evolution of a new media group a la photographs, charts, and ye olde pie chart, they are not just for business meetings or sporting statistics anymore. And I definitely dig them, too!

Comment #12- Video killed the radio star on “Cancelled TV Shows That Broke my Heart” by Sara, Sories and Sweet Potatoes

This post shows how much shows inspire us. There is noothing like settling in front of one of your favorite programs after a rough day. So when a show gets cancelled, and can definitely throw off your schedule. It is a bit like finishing a great book, and a little bit like losing touch with a friend. They were faithfully there for you for so many nights, and now they are gone. And their diappearance leaves you wondering what could have been.

Comment #13- “They clicked” on “The Ten Commandments of Online Dating” by Sorry I Am not Sorry.

Your advice is smart, nd it shows the risks we take living in a digital age, such as easily offering up too much personal information. Liteally anyone can make online portfilios and dating profiles, and it is very true that many do not post clear photos. In many cases of photo alterations, innocents participatants of online dating feel they are being lied to. And even more dangerous, many may have a secret agenda. Your advicce for being able to duck out of certain situations is clever and very helpful to young online dating users as well as older users not as familiar with the tecnology. Your aticle was very important since so many people have profiles for online dating now.

Comment #14- “Petroleum Pain” on “LA Gasoline Anxiety” by Cathy Flynn

Very interesting, entertaining, and informative piece. I am in Israel currently, which has some of the highest gas prices in the world, so I am defintely feeling your petroleum pain. I don’t have kids to worry about yet, but I know that when that comes I will definitely need to be more purposeful in my driving, like you are. I am from Florida, where you pretty much have to drive everywhere because of the generally lack of public transportation and because everything is so spread out. It is interesting to hear a story about the effects of gas prices from a telecommuter. It shows how it impacts even those who do not have to drive to work and puts the issue in a new perspective. Thanks for the read!

Comment #15- “Travelling minimally” on “The art of the overnight backpacking trip” by nzthroughphotos.

I really enjoyed reading this as I just returned from a trip to Israel which involved an overnight trip to a Bedouin camp (camels included). It is really great that you not only had the opportunity to travel to New Zealand, but to also do so minimally. I think the backpack experience makes any trip that much better. Thanks for the read.

How REMARKable

20 Jan

Go ahead! Let your voice be heard! Image credits: Mouth by juliaf

Comments are an important part of blogging because they allow conversations to take place between readers and writers. Readers can offer suggestions and opinions in a blog comment. However, blog comments also have a reputation of being somewhat useless tidbits. In the Julia Roberts and Tom Hanks comedy Larry Crowne, an exasperated Roberts said to her blogger husband, “You did not post a new story today! It was a comment! You posted a comment! As in, ‘you’re lame!'” Although just part of the whole blogging picture, commenting can be very important, but it must also be well executed.

“[Efficient] means working smart (rather than hard), getting more done in less in less time, and making things easy to handle,” said Jane Sheeba, author of Problogger Success and guest writer for So, much to the relief of many tentative bloggers, a good comment does not necessarily mean it is of novel proportions. Plus, too large of a comment may seem spammy. On the flip side of the coin, make sure your comment is long enough to properly contribute to the conversation. Unfortunately, “totally!” and “you rule!” do not make the grade.

Before you can even post a comment, you of course have to find a blog to comment on. Sounds time consuming? Sheeba has a method to save time.

“Reading a blog through[RSS] feeds is less distracting, even if I have email notifiers turned on,”said Sheeba.  I read the post in my RSS reader, and click through to the article online only if I want to leave a comment. That saves me loads of time!”

Sheeba also recommends promoting your own content via Twitter.

“Number one, you have to read the post,” said Chris Pirillo of in his youtube video how to leave good blog comments. It may seem obvious, but if you think back to high school, we all turned in book reports that were products of skimming over the material, but because of the concies nature of blogs, this method will not produce a firm enough understanding of the post you are commenting on.

“Also, add something new to the post. Don’t just say ‘I agree,'” says Pirillo. Ask yourself “Why do I agree?” Extend on a certain point in the blog you found especially enlightening. Pirillo mentioned in satire that adding personal commentary or anecdotes with your critiques to put a personality and character behind yourself as a random commentor.

Also, don’t forget to spell check and proofread! Nothing destroys your credibility as a blogger than a simple grammatical error. It also distracts from the points you are trying to make when you leave a glaring error. No one will notice if you spell a tricky word like “accommodations” or “colloquialism” or embarrassed” correctly, but they certainly will notice when you spell something incorrectly.

The last piece of advice is to browse through other comments before leaving your original.  This makes sure that you do not repeat a point that has already been said.

“The first commenter who makes the Lady Gaga comparison is savvy. The tenth person who does it is annoying,” said author Nathan Bransford in his blog.

Reviewing what other people have said for ideas and inspirations will actually help you cultivate a comment that is more fresh.

The Birds and the FBs

16 Jan

Well hello there! Image Credits: Morning Stretch by merlin1075

At the start of another semester of university, I am realizing again just how much of a role social media play in the lives of students. I once heard someone describe their view of social media as their “happy playground,” to escape. But for most, social media sites, with Twitter and Facebook taking the lead, are more than mindless status updates or photos from last weekend. They are methods  of conducting business, advertising, arranging and holding conferences, sharing ideas, testing new markets, and development. For students, it is less of a “happy playground” and more of a “starting ground,” for professionalism in new media.

Every week, I use Facebook, update my blogs, e-mail and skype my sisters, log on to Groupon, download an app, and watch a Youtube video. I have a Twitter account, though I am not as frequent of a tweeter as I used to be, and every once in a while I listen to a podcast. I use social media for just keeping in touch and sharing inside jokes with friends, find deals, discover new places, get my news, and to have a little fun and share quirky, creative ideas on sites such as Pinterest. I started blogging for a class and ended up falling in love with it. I keep four blogs for my own entertainment as well as practice for journalism.

In a speed-of-light society, the social media has made it so simple to share information quickly, efficiently, and easily. My generation will be the last to remember a time before social media took off (floppy disk, anyone?) Social media interaction has its own code of etiquette and “way of life,” so to speak. It is multi-faceted with different “beats,” and character online should be conducted accordingly. And hey, maybe this site will help us improve our tact at a face-to-face dinner interaction after a social media meeting. Mrs. Manners once said, “If you can’t thing of anything polite to say, be vague.” But now she might say, “If you can’t say anything nice, don’t Tweet it!”

Image from













PS- while the social media are swift, often business appropriate, and easy to personalize, it is still nice to send a hand-written note every once in a while, too. Another benefit of the social media? The written word has become more rare, therefore increasing its value.


How Couponing Became Cool (again)

12 Jan

Just as the housewife of the American dream home donned her pearls and her apron to bake a pie, she also took a pair of scissors to the coupon book before heading to the market. But coupons are not just for moms anymore. In fact, they are becoming more and more synonymous with the young, trendy, and social-networking crowd, and much to the benefit of rising businesses, restaurants, and boutiques.

Image Credit: "Nest Egg 11" by tanyah

Thanks to sites such as Living Social and Groupon, couponing is not a lonesome activity but an activity that involves networking with friends. For example, if three of your friends also buy into a coupon that you bought and then suggested, you receive your coupon free. And coupons are no longer for the grocery. Sites offer savings for everything from French Bistros to massages to Barre lesseons. These sites are also a great opportunity for new business owners to get their name out there and attract potential clients.

“Living Soical and Groupon have enabled me to continue having an active lifestyle and do entertaining things with my friends and family in this economy,” said Michele Bowermaster, a faithful user of both sites.

” I have found many new places and services I did not know about.”

So what do you think about Living Social and Groupon? Love it? Already think it’s old news? Leave a comment below to weigh in.


The Underground

3 Dec

Heidi Niemen enters a Bradenton, Florida, strip club in a white button down, Levi’s, and ballet flats. She and four other women proceed to the dressing room with mild trepidation. In the reflection of the bulb-lined mirror they catch a glimpse of a dark-haired woman in her twenties fastening her brassier.  Her lashes and liner are thick so that you are can see the vibrant green color of her eyes, but not her emotions. A second woman leans over her to touch up her lipstick, a third straps on her stilettos from her perch on a barstool in the corner. Niemen has only been at this club for a few days, but she is still an outsider to its culture and its unique beat. She says that every club has its own vibe and its own way of receiving her.  Niemen is not a dancer; she is one of the leaders of The Underground, an outreach for women in the strip club industry affiliated with Bayside Community Church.

When the women are either on break, in between shifts in the dressing room, or without a client, Niemen uses that as an opportunity to share God’s Word with them. “The most important thing is just to let them know they are truly loved and valued,” she said. Usually, Niemen’s team just talks to the girls about their lives outside of the club, which can usually lead to much deeper conversation, which many of the girls have come to embrace.

“The girls are very open. We never try to force our beliefs onto them, but many have ended up asking for us to pray with them,” said Niemen.

The Underground was originally the idea of a male pastor at Bayside who thought this could work well in Bradenton as a women’s outreach. Niemen said that he had a heavy burden in his heart for women to band together and help girls who worked in clubs realize their self-worth. After much prayer, he was approached by Niemen. She has been leading the group for two years now.

“I started by bringing in some of the women from the 6:30 p.m. services and it grew from there. I was honestly not anticipating to be so well received,” she said.

When they first started, Niemen had to contact club managers far in advance and was limited on the time she could spend talking with the dancers. However, as the club owners and managers developed a relationship with Niemen, they gave her more flexibility and have even thanked her for all her time and effort she has spent being involved in the lives of their employees. She started by “adopting” one club, but she has added an additional three to her regular circuit.

“We bring food and cards to the girls, leave little gifts, and one time we even re-painted their dressing room, so that when they came back they would be able to see something new and would have something to look forward to besides their shift,” said Niemen.

On Valentine’s Day, Niemen has made it a tradition to bring roses and cards to each of the girls.

“It is a very special day, and it warms my heart to see a genuine smile on their faces. For some of them, it is the first time they had ever received flowers,” she said. “Most of the clubs love how we hand-deliver them to the girls when they are in between shifts, but one club still only allows us to leave our gifts with the bouncer.”

Niemen always has her arms open to women and young adults who are interested in becoming involved in The Underground. However, there are some requirements. Participants must be female, over 18, attend Bayside on a regular basis, and go to a weekend woman’s retreat.

“The retreat is a small cottage where women break into small groups and spend some time learning more about themselves as well as deepening their own relationship with God. It is ver important for a woman to be strong in her own faith and esteem before going into a ministry such as this,” said Niemen. “In the meantime, we have a prayer group for The Underground that anyone can be a part of, and we greatly appreciate it when people participate.”

Niemen and her team leave a business card for Bayside Community Church and tell the girls about services available online while they are ministering in the clubs. Since beginning her work with The Underground, Niemen has gotten the opportunity to see positive changes within the club employees’ lives. A handful of girls have given over their lives to Christ and attend churches in Bradenton, and one attends Bayside. Two girls have volunteered their time to work the church’s annual Easter egg hunt for children.

“While it is such a blessing to see positive changes in the lives of the girls I get to know, I also enjoy working with newcomers,” said Niemen. “They are a bit leery of me and my team at first, but when they see we are not out for anything but to share love with them, be a shoulder to lean on, and to be their friend, it is an incredible feeling to see them relax and put their guard down and to see the other girls encourage them to speak with us.”


Carri Dials: An Officer and a Lady

14 Nov

Photo Credits: Heather Rathbun

Carri Dials walks into her Parisian themed apartment and puts a new bowl of milk out for her kitten. She selects a dress from her wardrobe that she will wear on a date the next day. Then she washes the blood out of her uniform. Dials is a police officer with the New Orleans Police Department who prides herself in being a female in the field.

Although judged by her long blonde hair and fashionable dress, Dials braves night shifts in one of the most dangerous and violent cities to work as an officer. New Orleans is not only a precarious place for a woman to be working at dark, but it has become one of the murder capitals in the nation.

“Halloween weekend we had 15 murders alone,” said Dials. “We also deal with everything from simple intoxication charges all the way up to murder and aggravated rape on a daily basis.”

The French Quarter has always been a center for heavy partying, but lately it has become a higher center for crime. While crime in New Orleans is nearly year-round, there are seasonal spikes. According to Dials, murder and rape happen most in the winter time. Then there is Mardi Gras, which, as can be anticipated, is a high time for arrests.

There are some cases that can be frightening. Last July, Dials and her team received a 9-1-1 call for back-up. A woman had been pulled over by a man with red flashing lights affixed to his car claiming that he was an officer pulling her over for drunk driving. He then frisked her, and when Dials arrived he had a gun pulled on her. Although he had a shiny badge displayed on his hip, he was actually a professor from Kentucky. When Dials’ team searched the vehicle, they found a bundle of military weapons in his car, including a 308 caliber Remington Rifle with a 10×40 scope, a 12 gage Mossberg shotgun with laser light and flashlight attachments, four knives, and a total of 446 live rounds.

“Police [work] has always been second nature for me. I am still girly in my own time, but it has always been in my nature. I have always loved protecting people,” said Dials. She is not sure whether or not police work in a violent city can desensitize people, but some cases shake her emotions more than others.

“The fact is I don’t show any reaction at all to an adult that overdoses on drugs or one that commits suicide, or even an old person that dies in their home. However, I always cry after work when something happens to a child,” said Dials.

One call was for a two-year old girl who had been put into the hospital after being violently beaten and raped. Almost every bone in her body was broken and she was placed in a full body cast. Her father’s DNA was removed inside her vagina.

“We arrested him, and the officer I was with and I went to the chapel in the hospital. We cried together, and we prayed for the little girl. These are the type of stories that most people don’t know about the police,” said Dials.

At times, Dial’s self proclaimed girly-girl side works for her benefit.

“My bubbly girly girl works best with my blonde hair and big boobs; criminals assume I’m stupid. So, when I’m interrogating a criminal I raise my voice to that similar of a little girl, and I play stupid. Then when they get comfortable I flip the switch on them.

Also, women try to get away with things with the males.  As a female officer I know the tricks of the trade when it comes to being a female. Female criminals hate it when I show up on scene,” said Dials.

Dials’ personality changes on and off duty.

“On the job, I am an aggressive take-no-crap cop. I will fight, use my tools on my belt (taser/spray/baton/gun) with the best of them,” said Dials. “In fact, the citizens in my beat, which is high drug and high crime, call me, ‘The Country Bitch.’ I take pride in the name, because it means I am doing my job right.”

However, one would never guess this by visiting Dials in her home and watching her straighten her hair, apply her mascara, and sort through her jewelry collection. She is a sweetheart who loves shoes, shopping, and vacations.

“I actually cook and clean for my lovely man, and I am very much a domesticated lady. I also love to wear dresses and skirts and dress nice, instead of my made-for- a- man uniform.”

One thing that Dials finds unfortunate is the stigma surrounding female offers, and the fact many female cops live up to those expectations.

One common stigma is that female officers are lesbians.

“ About 92% of them are,” said Dials  “Many people also say that  female officers can’t handle themselves, amd unfortunately that is true as well, not all of us, but most cannot,” said Dials.

One of the most common stigmas that Dials hears is that female officers have something to prove

“That is true, because we do. We are not taken seriously, and criminals always test female officers,” said Dials.

Dials admits that at times she finds herself in situations  in which she is trying to prove herself as an officer and can be unduly aggressive.

“I am a sweet lady, but when I say ‘excuse me sir/ma’am, can you stop what you are doing?’ it does not work as well as ‘knock your f****** s*** off!”

At the end of her shift, she returns to her pink bedroom and retires from her uniform and slides into her dress and heels. Lipsticked and handcuff free, she blends in with the other girls in the Big Easy, but she is not afraid to fight.