TDZ Retrospective: Commas, Diagramming and Other Rants About English

Silly pencil dude

Originally posted December 15, 2007.  After eight years look for another English rant coming soon.

The other day The Big Guy was reading my blog and informed me that I needed a comma for some reason or another. This lead to lively and humorous dialogue about my not needing commas and semi-colons. TBG that it would be a great topic for a blog. Of course, he thinks everything makes a great blog topic.

If you read much of my writing you will probably realize that I have little need for commas. Unless you are like me and then you will think everything is just fine. A friend that used to proofread my papers in grad school was always telling me I really needed to learn to use commas. Okay, I know commas are used in dates, addresses, series and after a clause but after that it gets fuzzy. It’s not that I’m anti-comma, I just don’t see the need for them. At least a comma is a little more useful than a semi-colon. You are probably thinking: didn’t I learn that stuff back in high school English. I’m sure my English teachers taught about commas and semi-colons but I was probably not listening, bothering someone or reading a book. If my teacher didn’t tell me, I’m sure my English teacher mom did. Somehow along the way I just didn’t pick up on all of the rules of grammar and was able to sort of fake my way through class. My vocabulary and oral language skills have always been advanced, thanks to my mom. I learned grammar orally based on what sounded correct and not written.

A related topic is sentence diagramming. That is one activity that I just hated. In theory, the practice of breaking a sentence apart and drawing a bunch of silly lines is supposed to teach the parts of speech. Of course in my dyslexic brain that is not what happened. I had to focus on drawing the lines and where things went. Gee, I’m doing good some days just to remember right and left and then you want me to draw a bunch of silly lines. I never understood the purpose. Why would I want to make a silly illustration with a sentence? If you want me to identify the parts of speech then just ask. In college, I learned that diagramming has no educational benefits because it takes the parts of speech out of context. Labeling the parts of speech in context is more effective. I think it is just a form of torture invented by English teachers.

Another form of torture is spelling test. I’m dyslexic and dysgraphic and spelling just isn’t my thing. I have always been a poor speller. Yes, I’ve been told many times that unless I learned to spell correctly I would never be successful in school. OK, I have a masters degree and I still can’t spell well. However, I have learned that spell check is my friend. I actually know what the little red and green squiggly lines are and how to use them. In college, I remember one of my professors saying that spelling as a subject matter above 4th grade was pointless. Either you could spell or you couldn’t. Above 4th grade spelling tests would just torture bad spellers. Did my teachers really think making me write all of the words I missed on a spelling test 10 times each would teach me how to spell? I had already written each word 5 times each, in a sentence and the definition earlier in the week. Gee, it didn’t help much.

Well, this brings me to my last rant. Do you ever remember asking a teacher or parent how to spell a word and being told to look it up in the dictionary? This always left me wondering how to look up something I had no idea how to spell. Another reply that I found equally frustrating was being told to sound out the word. That may sound like an easy enough task for most people. Until you throw in the added challenge of being dyslexic. Apparently, my brain doesn’t necessarily connect letter with sounds.

After all of my rants about English you may think I did poorly and just didn’t like the class. English was usually one of my favorite classes especially literature. My grades were usually B’s because I didn’t really apply myself.

After reading this you have probably realized that I don’t use commas much. The Big Guy just informed me that I am missing a lot of commas. Here are some extra commas , , , , , , just insert where needed.

TDZ Retrospective: What is Barbecue?

Barbecue Grill

Originally posted February 24, 2008.

Sunday I wrote about my Top 10: Favorite Foods. Number #5 barbecue has created a little bit of discussion. So, I have decided to devote an entire post to it. While I do not claim to be a barbecue expert I am from Texas and that is about the same thing. In Texas we are serious about are beef especially barbecue.

That is right I said beef. Barbecue is beef! It is not chicken or pork. Turkey, ham and German or Czech sausage are also acceptable. I prefer brisket although I do like a good Czech or German sausage.

Now that we have established what type of meat to use let’s discuss how to cook. First, dry rub and then marinate it for a long time. Yes, I did say marinate and dry rub, it is not either/or it is both. The meat should be slow cooked in either a pit or a big smoker rig. The trick to making a nice tender brisket is to dry rub it & marinate then, cook slow cook it over heat. If you can get mesquite wood for cooking it is even better and it smells great.

Ok, we have the meat cooked lets talk about how to serve it. The meat should be served hot with a warm sauce. There is no need for 400 gazillion sauces all you need is one or two good sauces. If you want variety make a mild one and a spicy one. It is however important that the sauce is warm. Also, mustard is for hot dogs not barbecue do not add it to the sauce. You may however add jalapenos, honey, molasses, beer or Dublin Dr Pepper (Don’t know what Dublin Dr Pepper is then read this.) Barbecue is about the meat not the sauce. If you cook it right, you don’t have to hide it under the sauce. Brisket should be served in thick slices for a plate dinner. In a sandwich it can be either sliced or chopped. Brisket is never to be served thin sliced or pulled. Keep your hands out of my meat! A barbecue sandwich contains bread, meat, pickles, onions and maybe a few jalapenos. Keep your slaw and other frilly vegetables away from my meat. After all this is barbecue not a salad bar.

One last thing about barbecue. When you have people over for burgers and hot dogs break out the grill that isn’t a barbecue. That is grilling or cooking out. It isn’t the same thing. Barbecue involves the use of smoke.

Of course that is just my humble opinion about real Texas style barbecue.

TDZ Retrospective: Itchy Tags

Itchy tagsAnother of my favorites originally posted December 19, 2007.  Oh, yeah I’m still battling those itchy tags.

I’m trying to work  but unfortunately I’m distracted by an itchy tag. There is nothing worse than creating the optimal work environment only to be distracted by something as trivial as an itchy tag. I just hate the little tags in the back of shirt collars. So, if one tag isn’t bad enough some shirts have a tag on the side as well.

Recently, I found some shirts that were advertised as being “tag-less”. Sounded like a great solution to the itchy tag dilemma. Well, I bought a couple of tag-less shirts and took them home. The shirt had a tag stamped on the inside of the shirt.

The day came when I decided to try out one of my new miracle tag-less shirts. Imagine a day of no distractions due to itchy tags. Well, I put on my miracle shirt and begin my day. I’m deep in concentration about something and all of sudden I feel an itchy tag. Oh no, how can that be, I’m wearing my miracle tag-less shirt. After some serious investigating I discover that my “miracle tag-less shirt” has a tag located on the side. The tag on the side of the shirt is much worse than the back of the shirt. If a shirt has a tag on the side how can it be considered tag-less? Tag-less means zero, nada no stinking tags on the shirt!

Please Put On More Clothes

Or my fashion advice

A few weeks ago the Big Guy and I were at the mall for some reason, on a Saturday. I know absolutely crazy and I’m not much of a shopper.  I have a 5 store shopping limit. Oh, well that is a post for another day back to my original rant. We had stopped at one of those over priced chain coffee type places. The Big Guy was enjoying chai tea, I’m sure I had something with coffee in it. So we were sitting in the “outside” seating area by the coffee shop watching a live music group, that too is for another post, I’ll try to post some pictures of the group. Anyway we had great seats until others decided to stand in front of us. That is mildly annoying but fair because of the location, except for the one young lady (either a teen or 20 something) who decided to stand right in front of The Big Guy. I think she must have been wearing her little sisters shorts, because these shorts were way too short. Good grief butt cheeks where hanging out. Of course this was not a sight either one of us wanted to  see.

So for the past couple of weeks a few thoughts have been bouncing through my head.  I have a couple of decades experience working with teens and young adults as an educator, church and on the job. One issue that often has to be dealt with is what is acceptable dress.  Even when I was younger I never really got into wearing skimpy clothes. Shorts, t-shirts and flip-flops are more my style.  When I wear shorts I prefer cargo pockets because of all the pockets.

It makes me cringe when I see a teen or young woman dressed like that. I think  the message that media and our society sends is that to get a guy you have to dress in a provocative manner. I just want to scream have a little respect for yourself. It is okay to dress attractively but you don’t need to provide a full show for everyone. One of my high school teachers used to say be careful about the bait you use, because you might not like what you catch. Don’t allow yourself to be defined by a single aspect.

So here is my fashion advice: Seriously, people watch what you wear.  It just is not attractive if you have body parts hanging out of your clothes. Oh, yeah and look in a mirror before you leave home.

 

 

Repost: What is Barbecue?

Barbecue Grill

My failed trip to a new restaurant claiming to be a barbecue joint inspired me to repost this. It seems this so-called BBQ place only served ribs, pulled pork and ham. It is appalling and should be illegal to call one’s-self a barbecue restaurant and not even attempt to serve real BBQ. Originally posted  February 12, 2008.

 

Sunday I wrote about my Top 10: Favorite Foods. Number #5 barbecue has created a little bit of discussion. So, I have decided to devote an entire post to it. While I do not claim to be a barbecue expert I am from Texas and that is about the same thing. In Texas we are serious about are beef especially barbecue.

That is right I said beef. Barbecue is beef! It is not chicken or pork. Turkey, ham and German or Czech sausage are also acceptable. I prefer brisket although I do like a good Czech or German sausage.

Now that we have established what type of meat to use let’s discuss how to cook it. First, dry rub and then marinate it for a long time. Yes, I did say marinate and dry rub, it is not either/or it is both. The meat should be slow cooked in either a pit or a big smoker rig. The trick to making a nice tender brisket is to dry rub it & marinate then, cook slow cook it over heat. If you can get mesquite wood for cooking it is even better and it smells great.

Ok, we have the meat cooked lets talk about how to serve it. The meat should be served hot with a warm sauce. There is no need for 400 gazillion sauces all you need is one or two good sauces. If you want variety make a mild one and a spicy one. It is however important that the sauce is warm. Also, mustard is for hot dogs not barbecue do not add it to the sauce. You may however add jalapeno, honey, molasses, beer or Dublin Dr Pepper (Don’t know what Dublin Dr Pepper is then read this.) Barbecue is about the meat not the sauce. If you cook it right, you don’t have to hide it under the sauce. Brisket should be served in thick slices for a plate dinner. In a sandwich it can be either sliced or chopped. Brisket is never to be served thin sliced or pulled. Keep your hands out of my meat! A barbecue sandwich contains bread, meat, pickles, onions and maybe a few jalapenos. Keep your slaw and other frilly vegetables away from my meat. After all this is barbecue not a salad bar.

One last thing about barbecue. When you have people over for burgers and hot dogs break out the grill that isn’t a barbecue. That is grilling or cooking out. It isn’t the same thing. Barbecue involves the use of smoke.

Of course that is just my humble opinion about real Texas style barbecue.

Because it is the right thing to do

AKA another rant.

I had an interesting experience last week.  I was called to testify as a witness for a traffic accident.  When I was notified about the hearing I was shocked that the kid was fighting the ticket. He failed to yield to an oncoming vehicle and was clearly at fault. There were numerous witnesses besides he had to know it was his fault.  As I sat in the courtroom I was amazed at how many people got off simply because either the other party or the officer didn’t show up.  The kid got off not because he was innocent but because one of the key parties failed to show up. The kid was smiling as he looked at his dad after the judge dismissed the case. I walked out of the courtroom disgusted at the entire process .

I was appalled that the dad didn’t use this opportunity to teach his son a valuable lesson about responsibility. Instead his son learned to fight responsibility. There seems to be a big problem in our society today with responsibility.  When faced with responsibility for one’s own actions many would rather blame someone. It is easier to sue, blame others or run from our responsibilities rather that be held accountable.

Yes, the kid had a right to fight and waste taxpayers money. It wasn’t a case of being wrongly accused it was a case of a failure to own up to it.  It might have had somewhat harsh consequences for the kid but sometimes it is necessary to do something because it is the right thing to do.

Year 2: July 2008-June 2009

This month begins the 5th year of the current version of The Dee Zone.

16 July 2008: Just Move Over

Today as I was on my way to work I observed one of my pet peeves. (Yes, I know you are probably wondering which one since I have so many.) Well, today’s rant is about knuckleheads who refuse to move over for emergency vehicles. More …

06 Aug 2008: C is for Cades Cove

Cades Cove is a part of the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. It is full of a variety of wildlife but also includes an 11-mile loop that features historic buildings from the late 1800′s and early 1900′s. The abundance of wildlife made a popular Cherokee hunting ground. Learn more …

05 Oct 2008: Thoughts on Church

Recently, I have been reconsidering church and what church is or should be.I have read several things that indicate many today see the church as irrelevant to their lives. One quote that really struck me was that many were not opposed to Christianity but just the organized church. The message of the Gospel is timeless and as relevant today as it was in the 1st century. Maybe it is our concept of church or the way we do church that is irrelevant. I have been analyzing my own experiences and thoughts about church. More…

23 Nov 2008: Real Housewives and Real Children (or Another One of My Rants)

Last night I couldn’t sleep as I was channel surfing I ran across The Real Housewives of Atlanta. I had never seen the show before but I read something this past week that Elf Nino’s Mom wrote about the antics of the Real Housewives of Atlanta. I am really not into reality shows, because most of them seem to feature a lot privileged people whining or type A personalities trying to outdo each other. The reality shows I watch are shows like Food Network Challenge or Trading Spaces. Continue Reading…

05 Dec 2008: Sky Watch Friday – Sailing Away

Taken near Bocca Grande, FLSee more

16 Jan 2009: Sky Watch Friday — Wind Turbines

Time Machine Effect: Crosshatch Process

 More Wind Turbines

06 Feb 2009: Sky Watch Friday: Church of the Heavenly Rest

See More

23 April 2009: Dual Citizenship

am proud to announce that this weekend I was bestowed with a very special honor.  The Big Guy and I became honorary citizens of Walt Disney World. Yes, that’s right I am now have Walt Disney World Citizenship. You may be wondering how this rare award was bestowed. Well, the Big Guy and I were given the pins below when we entered Disney’s Hollywood Studio this past weekend.

Pin we recieved at Walt Disney World.

More…

02 May 2009: What Makes a Good Pastor?

Our church is in a period of transition. As a part of the process we were asked to complete a survey. Most of the survey focused on the type of pastor desired for the church. While pondering my responses I began thinking about the survey, vision for our church, and qualities I want in a pastor.

One of the first things that struck me was maybe I/we are asking the wrong questions. Instead making a list of qualities I/we want in a pastor shouldn’t I focus on what God wants.  It is possible that the leader God has chosen for our church is very different from the one I would pick out. Of course, it is also possible that I am actually being open to God’s leading and not influenced by my own personal biases.  Read the entire post.