English Grammar Rule - BROOCH or BROACH?

Today's English grammar rule reviews BROOCH and BROACH. Although the two words sound the same, they are very different. Unfortunately, many people who do not know the correct meaning of BROACH often accept it to mean BROOCH.

BROOCH is a clip-on or pin-on piece of jewelry or ornamentation.

BROACH is both a noun and a verb. In its noun form, BROACH is a tool used to cut, puncture, or pierce. In its verb form, BROACH means to open or break into.

English Grammar Rule - DIVED or DOVE?

Today's English grammar rule reviews DOVE and DIVED. Although DOVE is commonly used as a past-tense form of the word DIVE, it is still considered non-standard English by many. The more commonly accepted DIVED should be used in academic writing.

Today's recommended book: Lonesome Dove: A Novel (Simon & Schuster Classics) (Hardcover).

English Grammar Rule - BROUGHT, BRUNG, BRANG

Today’s English Grammar rule reviews the words BROUGHT, BRUNG, and BRANG.

Of course, BRUNG and BRANG are non-standard past-tense forms of BRING. Do NOT use BRUNG or BRANG; always use BROUGHT as the past-tense form of BRING, which means TO TAKE SOMETHING ALONG.

Today’s recommended book is The Tale of Three Trees: A Traditional Folktale (Hardcover) - and you can get the leather-bound edition for less than $11.

English Grammar Rule - Bust or Burst?

Today's English Grammar rule looks at BUST and BURST.

BUST is a sculptured, painted, drawn, or engraved representation of the upper part of the human figure, esp. a portrait sculpture showing only the head and shoulders of the subject. It is also the chest or breast, esp. a woman's bosom.

BUST is NOT correct usage to describe an item that has shattered or broken, such as a balloon that has burst; nor is it correct usage to describe a person who has been caught doing something illegal or unacceptable.

BURST is the word that should be used to describe an item that shatters or breaks, such as a balloon bursting.

Today's recommended book is The Universe in Gamma Rays

English Grammar Rule - Cement or Concrete?

Today's English Grammar rule reviews the difference between cement and concrete.

CEMENT is the raw product, the powder that normally comes in bags, also called sacrete, which further confuses the terms CEMENT and CONCRETE.

CONCRETE is the hardened, finished product, such as a concrete sideway or concrete driveway.

Today's recommended book is Concrete at Home: Innovative Forms and Finishes: Countertops, Floors, Walls, and Fireplaces

English Grammar Rule - Peak, Pique, or Peek?

Today’s English Grammar Rule defines peak, pique, and peek. Most people do not realize that they are using peak when they should be using pique. Pique means to stimulate or start, as in “The book piqued my interest in politics.” Peak is a pinnacle or highest point, such as the peak of a mountain. Peek means to take a quick look at something.

Today’s Recommended book is A Guide to Misused, Misunderstood and Confusing Words

English Grammar Rule - Democrat or Democratic?

Today’s English Grammar rule discusses the terms Democrat and Democratic. There are two major political parties in the United States: Democrats and Republicans. Both parties are democratic, which means adhering to the belief that all people are socially equal and that their government exists to support that premise and empower its people.
When people refer to the Democrat party as the democratic party, they are not incorrect; but it should also be stated that the republican party is a democratic party.

Today’s Recommended book is Grammatically Correct: The Writer's Essential Guide to Punctuation, Spelling, Style, Usage and Grammar

English Grammar Rule - A LOT or ALOT?

Today’s English Grammar Rule reviews A LOT and ALOT.

Some believe that the phrase A LOT was put together because the English language also has the word ALLOT, which is a verb that means to grant something or apportion. There is no word in our language that is spelled ALOT. If you cannot remember whether to use A LOT or ALOT, just remember that you would never use this spelling ALITTLE to mean a small quantity. So, if that seemed complicated, what I’m trying to say is that you should NOT use ALOT, spelled without a space; always use A LOT, spelled with a space.

Today's Recommended Book

English Grammar Rule - Regardless or Irregardless?

Today’s English Grammar rule discusses the words REGARDLESS and IRREGARDLESS.

REGARDLESS mean NOT to regard or consider something, the meaning given by the suffix LESS, so this term is considered a negative. The prefix IR also causes a word to become a negative, so when combined with the suffix LESS, one creates a double negative in one word. In other words, IRREGARDLESS makes no sense and is improper.

Do not use the term IRREGARDLESS; instead, use REGARDLESS.

English Grammar Rule - Assure, Ensure, Insure

Today's English Grammar Rule discusses the three similar words assure, ensure, and insure.

ASSURE means to give confidence; ENSURE means to confirm something; and INSURE means to obtain an insurance policy. See the sentences below that exemplify the proper usage of each word.


ASSURE: The student assured me that he would not be late for his tutoring session.

ENSURE: I called to ensure that the caterers would arrive by noon.

INSURE: Both automobiles are insured for liability only.

English Grammar Rule - Sneaked or Snuck?

Today's English grammar rule is SNEAKED OR SNUCK.

SNUCK is NOT the past tense for SNEAK, although I hear it and I read it in students' papers. If you have an occassion for using the past tense of SNEAK, it's safer to use SNEAKED, rather than SNUCK.

Tune in tomorrow for another English grammar rule.

English Grammar Rule - Who's or Whose?

Today's English Grammar Rule reviews when to use WHO'S and WHOSE.

WHO’S and WHOSE is very similar to IT’S and ITS. Just like IT’S always means IT IS, WHO’S always means WHO IS. And just like ITS shows possession without an apostrophe, so does WHOSE. Below are examples that illustrate the correct usage of both:

WHO’S – Who’s (who is) going to host Thanksgiving this year?
WHOSE – Whose essay won the Chancellor prize?


English Grammar Rule - Composed of or Comprises

The most common misuse of COMPRISE is that people substitute it for IS COMPOSED OF, which is incorrect. COMPRISE means CONSITUTES. The key to using COMPRISE correctly is to test the sentence by substituting the word CONSTITUES for COMPRISE. If that word sound correct, then you've used COMPRISE correctly. Typically, a sentence that uses IS COMPOSED OF will be the reverse of a sentence that uses COMPRISE. Below are sentences to illustrate correct usage for each word.

COMPRISE: Research, MLA guidelines, and structure comprise first-year college writing.
COMPOSE: First-year college writing is composed of research, MLA guidelines, and structure.

English Grammar Rule - Medium and Median

Today's English Grammar Rule defines the often misused terms median and medium:

Median in the barrier (usually grassy or concrete) between lanes of traffic on a roadway; the midpoint in a series of numbers--but not necessarily the average, a term used in statistics that indicates the midpoint of distribution.

Medium has several definitions: average quantity or quality, someone who serves as an liaison between the living and the dead, a means for storing or communicating information (plural is media), and there are several other widely accepted definitions for this word.

Come back tomorrow for another English Grammar Rule.

English Grammar Rule - Cut the Muster or Mustard?

The saying (idiom) goes like this: Cut the Muster, not Cut the Mustard. The modern sense of the idiom is to succeed; to have the ability to do something; to come up to expectations.

Etymology or history: Its proponents often trace it to the American Civil War. We do have the analogous expression To pass muster, which probably first suggested this alternative; but although the origins of cut the mustard are somewhat obscure, the latter is definitely the form used in various sources of writing throughout the twentieth century. Common sense would suggest that a person cutting a muster is not someone being selected as fit, but someone eliminating the unfit.

Anecdote or Antidote?

Anecdote is a stort story, often humorous or relating events.
Antidote is a medicine, often counteracting poison.

Examples:
Anecdote - The mothers all told similar anecdotes about their children's reaction to liver.
Antidote - Doctor Morrison immediately prescribed an antidote for snake bite.

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Corp, Core, or Corpse?

A CORPS is an organization, like the Marine Corps. A CORE is the inside or guts, such as an apple core. A CORPSE is a dead body.

Allude and Elude

Allude means to refer to something. Elude means to escape.

Examples:
Allude: The book constantly alludes to Marine corp values.
Elude: The thief eluded the police for only a day.

English Grammar Rule: Pronunciation of Illinois

The final S in the state of Illinois is silent. The ending sound should rhyme with boy, toy, soy. The state’s final syllable should NOT rhyme with noise. And for those trivia buffs out there: Illinois was a tribe of Native American Indians. They were known as Illinois or Illiniwek Indians who occupied a large portion of the Mississippi River valley. They were indispensable allies of French fur traders and colonists who came to live in the area now known as the Midwestern United States.

English Grammar Rule - Its or It's

IT'S = IT IS, always. When you use IT'S - with an apostrophe, it means IT IS. ALWAYS, NO MATTER WHAT.

Examples (the first two are incorrect; the last three are correct):

The dog lost it's (it is) bone.
The site is notable for it's (it is) collection.
It's (it is) a story of two cities.
We think it's (it is) easy.
It's (it is) only a dream.

I do understand why people do this: that fuzzy rule about possession, i.e., use an apostrophe to show ownership.

Its = possessive pronoun, that means it was created specifically so that you wouldn't have to use an apostrophe to show ownership.

Examples:
The dog lost its bone.
The site is notable for its extensive collection of links to resources.

It's not so difficult, is it?

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English Grammar Rule - Broke and Broken

If you break something, it’s broken, not broke.

When you spend all your money, you're broke, not broken.

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English Grammar Rule - All together or Altogether?

The word “altogether” means “completely” or “entirely.”

For example: When I first started teaching, I was altogether baffled.

The words “all together” mean “in a group.”

For example: The students were all together in the hall.

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Grammar Rules: That versus Which

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"That" is used when essential information follows.

"Which" is used when non-essential information.

The rules are a little more complicated, but those are the basics.

Examples:

THAT

  • Funding is used to help companies that have been approved by the government.
  • The file cabinets hold IRS returns that have been filed.

WHICH

  • Non-fiction books are on the back shelf, which is a bit of a walk from here.
  • Retrievers are touted as being the best dogs around children, which is better for your needs.

By the way, "Who" refers to people. "That" and "which" refer to things, so don't use "that" when referring to people.
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English Grammar Rules: Good or Well?

I’ll never forget my 7th-grade Language Arts teacher telling us that we “could never do anything good.”

Yes, it seems a bit harsh, but it’s true, and it’s the method she used to help us understand when to use WELL and when to use GOOD.

WELL – an adverb, which describes HOW something is done.

  • Shelley rides really well. (Describes how she rides.)
  • Chad paints so well that his teacher is recommending him for the scholarship. (Describes how he paints.)
  • Would you say she writes well? (Describes how she writes.)

GOOD – an adjective, which describes a NOUN (person, place, thing, idea, or concept).

  • The lasagna is so good. (Describes the lasagna.)
  • The writer is better than good; he’s fabulous! (Describes the writer.)
  • It was a good website that had up-to-date information. (Describes the website.)

GOOD and WELL:

  • It was good plan, and it was carried out well. (Good describes the plan, and well describes how it was carried out.)
  • She’s a good architect, and her work is well received. (Good describes the architect, and well describes how her work is received.)

Confusing Words...

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There are several words that seem to perplex many, much of the time…

  • Traveling or Travelling
  • Canceled or Cancelled
  • Adviser or Advisor
  • All ready or Already
  • I.E. or E.G.
  • Awhile or A While

Let’s take a look at each set of words:grammar, grammar rule, english grammar, grammar check, grammar help
Traveling or Travelling? Seems that using one L is more acceptable in the US, but using two Ls is common abroad.

Canceled or Cancelled? Again, it seems we Americans are the efficient ones, using only one L. Oxord Concise Dictionary says cancelled, but Merriam-Webster says either way. MS Word didn’t squiggle either spelling!
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Adviser or Advisor? The Columbia Guide to Standard English says BOTH are correct noun forms of the word Advise.grammar, grammar rule, english grammar, grammar check, grammar help
All ready or Already? These are different words that are sometimes misused. Already is an adverb used to describe something that has happened before a certain time, as in “Are you coming? I’ve already got my jacket.” All ready is a phrase meaning completely prepared, as in “As soon as I put on my jacket, I’ll be all ready.”grammar, grammar rule, english grammar, grammar check, grammar help
I.Ee., or E.G., ? Again two separate meanings.

"I.e." means "that is," which is short for a Latin phrase. "I.e." is used in place of "in other words," or "it/that is."

"E.g." means "for example" and also comes from a Latin expression. "E.g." is normally used before an example.

Awhile or A While? Awhile is an adverb, which means "for a while," for example, “I walked awhile before I became tired.” A while is two words: the article “a” plus a noun, used primarily after the word “for,” for example, “I thought for a while before I answered.”



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BAD or BADLY?

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Have you ever wondered if “I feel badly” is correct or incorrect? Okay, most people don’t wonder, but maybe, just maybe, you are wondering. So, which is correct, “I feel badly,” or “I feel bad,” when describing one’s physical state? Most people aren’t confused when they hear either of these sentences: they just know that you don’t feel well.grammar, grammar rule, english grammar, grammar check, grammar help
Let’s take a look at the rules:

  1. LY is added to the end of an adjective to create an adverb. Wait! Don’t go. Just take it one step at a time, and it’ll make sense.
  2. An adjective describes something. An adverb describes something too: a verb*
  3. Okay, so LY added to a word means that it describes a VERB. A verb shows ACTION.
  4. SO…words that end in LY can only describe HOW or the METHOD of performing an ACTION.

BADLY, can ONLY show HOW something is DONE. Here are some sentences to exemplify all this gibberish:
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Correct:

  • He writes badly. (Tells how he writes.)
  • She sings badly. (Tells how she sings.)

Incorrect:

  • She feels badly. (Tells how she touches something…not her physical state but her tactile ability.)
  • I felt badly about his death. (Again, incorrect.)

“I feel bad.” Is the only correct way to express your state of health.grammar, grammar rule, english grammar, grammar check, grammar help
(*and other adjectives, but let’s not get in over our heads just yet.)

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Sexist Language

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This week, I’ve noticed an alarming number of offenses in sexist language. Sexist language isn’t limited to using the generic HE; it goes far beyond this, but I’ll cover this for now.

It is no longer acceptable to use HE to represent the human (or any) population—unless the entire population is male and that fact is verifiable. It is acceptable, however, to alternate between HE and SHE (or him and her) throughout a text, to represent an unknown gender; at first this may seem confusing so it is advisable to use neutral words that do not indicate gender. Here’s are three paragraphs that exemplify this rule; the first is sexist, the second uses alternating pronouns, and the third substitutes pronouns with other nouns that do not indicate gender:

  1. Just before the birth, help your child select his own special gift to give to the baby at the hospital. Gently help him choose an infant-appropriate toy. Help him wrap it and place it in your hospital bag. When he comes to visit the new baby at the hospital, have the gift available so he can present it to Baby.
  2. Just before the birth, help your child select his own special gift to give to the baby at the hospital. Gently help her choose an infant-appropriate toy. Help him wrap it and place it in your hospital bag. When she comes to visit the new baby at the hospital, have the gift available so he can present it to Baby.
  3. Just before the birth, help your child select a special gift to give to the baby at the hospital. Gently help the child choose an infant-appropriate toy. Help the soon-to-be sibling wrap it and place it in your hospital bag. When it comes to visit the new baby at the hospital, have the gift available so the older child can present it to Baby.

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Advise or Advice?

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Seems lately I’ve been fixated on words that are commonly confused, so why stop now? The two words I’ve noticed recently that people seem to interchanged incorrectly are ADVICE and ADVISE.

Definitions:
  • ADVISE – (S=Z sound): It’s a VERB, which means it shows ACTION. To ADVISE someone is to give them ADVICE or a recommendation.
  • ADVICE – (C=S sound): It’s a NOUN, which means it’s a person, place, thing, idea, or concept. It’s a recommendation or a suggestion.

I think it’s the consonant sounds that trip up speakers and writers. Let’s take a look at a few examples:

ADVISE:

  • The teacher will advise you to take notes.
  • The counselor advised us to select fewer courses.

ADVICE:

  • The teacher’s advice was helpful.
  • The counselor’s advice was not applicable to us.
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WHO or WHOM?

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We just don't hear WHOM as much in recent years because it sounds so formal, but there are situations where formality rules, so let's take a look at an easy way to remember which is correct, WHO or WHOM.

The method I teach my students is substitution. If you’re unsure when speaking or writing, if you can substitute as follows:

HE or SHE = WHO
HIM or HER = WHOM

If it sounds correct using HE or SHE, the correct word is WHO.

If it sounds correct using HIM or HER, the correct word is WHOM.

Hint: If the sentence asks a question, just answer it using this replacement to find the proper usage.

EXAMPLES:

WHO/WHOM took the photograph? He or Him took the photograph. He took the photograph. WHO is correct here: Who took the photograph?

The gifts were an incentive for WHO/WHOM? The gifts were an incentive for her. WHOM is correct: The gifts were an incentive for whom?

The essay was written for WHO/WHOM? The essay was written for HIM. WHOM is correct here. The essay was written for WHOM?

If you have a sentence that you can’t solve, put it in a comment here.

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Definitely or Definately?

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The most recent, flagrant misspelling I've seen is the word DEFINITELY, spell incorrectly as DEFINATELY.

We’ll start with a definition because I think that will help you remember how to spell it correctly:

DEFINITE or DEFINITELY = limits, such as finite <Merriam-webster online>.

The etymology (history of a word) shows that it comes from the word FINITE, which will also help you remember how to spell it.

Since you know that FINITE is spelled with an I and not an A, you should have no problems remembering, now, that DEFINTELY is definitely not spelled DEFINATELY.

Using AdWords to drive Competitors’ Traffic to Your Site

Are you an established, well-known sales person or service provider who relies on the Internet for a good deal of your inquiries? If you are, your client base could be in jeopardy. If you’re an up and coming sales person, you’ll want to read this article as much as your well-known competitor.

Recently, I received a call from a local real estate professional; we’ll call her Mary. She’s done business in the area for over 30 years. Mary was concerned because her web hits had dropped substantially in the last couple of months, and she asked me if I could review her website to see if there was a problem. I’m not a web developer, but I’ve written keyword content for Mary’s site, and I’ve known her for years.

After realizing that I didn’t have her URL, I did a Google search for her name, and to my surprise, a different salesperson’s website appeared; we’ll call her Jane. I reviewed Jane’s keywords to see if my client’s name was being used there. No. Then I remembered using Google’s Adwords last year for my own promotion.

AdWords are one of Google’s Internet advertising programs. In this program, you can be in the top list of results when people are actively looking for information about your—-or your competitors’--products and services online. By creating a list of search terms, such as “Mary Smith,” Google’s AdWords will direct traffic to you every time that phrase is searched and clicked on Google. With AdWords' “cost-per-click” pricing, you pay only when people click your ad.

It was immediately clear that Jane was using Mary’s name in her AdWords list. Because Jane’s site appeared at the top, as a paid advertiser, my suspicions were nearly confirmed. A pleasant call to Jane’s webmaster sealed the deal.

If you’re an established salesperson or service provider who is known by name, do yourself a favor and search for your name on Google and Yahoo. If you’re a member of a local board, such as a Board of Realtors, you can report using this type of AdWords advertising as unethical, not that it necessarily is. What do you think? I invite comments.


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What Animal Would You Be?

Lately, I’ve really been feeling like a territorial cat, so I’m certain, if I were an animal in another life, that’s what I would have been.

Not just a house cat, mind you. I would have been a Puma, also known as a mountain lion, sneak cat, deer tiger, Mexican lion, purple feather, mountain screamer, brown tiger, catamount, king cat, silver lion, cougar, mountain demon, Indian devil, and a panther.

Have you ever, just on a whim, decided you didn’t like your name? Well, no problem as a puma; you can pick from a variety of names—today, I feel like an Indian Devil!

My home would span from the tips of Canada to the depths of South America, and what girl doesn’t like a big house—a mansion even?

And what self-respecting woman doesn’t want to change her look occasionally? Hmmm? Tell me you’ve never wanted to color your hair! As a Mountain Screamer, I could be spotted, light gray, various shades of cinnamon to rust-red, light tan or red-brown, or possibly silver-gray. And for an even more sophisticated look, I may have black, mysterious markings around my face and white splatters under my neck. You girls tell me you wouldn’t want that kind of variety.

Now, I don’t know about you, but this girl can get moody, and when I’m feeling mean, nothing could be better than stalking and attacking my prey. Okay, that sounds a bit neurotic, I’ll admit; but as a cat, it’s totally normal, right? As a Sneak Cat, when someone takes my parking place, I’ll have the ability to leap on him from 45-feet away, and don’t even get me started if it’s mating season!

Having twins in this life certainly makes me understand the demands I would have as a Panther. With up to three cubs, I’d have my hands (or paws) full, not to mention I’d be the one hunting for food, while my no-good husband lies around in the shade. Oh, did I mention that I’d be pregnant for only THREE months? What busy woman today wouldn’t love that?

Yes, I’m certain that if I were an animal in another life, I would have been a Purple Feather. What about you? What animal would you be?

This post is dedicated to a Blog Carnival, "What Animal Would You Be." I'll provide a link to all the other animals once the roundup is done.

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Lose and Loose

Writers continue to confuse the words LOSE and LOOSE. How many times have you read this in someone’s blog, forum post, or email: “How can I loose 10 pounds? Am I the only one who needs to talk about this?
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Okay, I don’t know any other way to explain this except to pull out the boring stuff…

  • LOOSE
    is an adjective (it describes nouns—people, places, things, ideas); examples: I have baggy, loose pants. Need some loose pocket change?

  • LOSE
    is a verb (it shows action or a state of being); examples: I need to lose weight. I think I’ll lose my mind.

Look, I don’t sit on the toilet and read the dictionary (okay, I do), but that’s neither here nor there (a future topic)…my point is that I’m not obsessed with grammar, but sometimes I see the same mistake over and over, and I feel it’s a cosmic calling, of sorts, telling me that it’s time
to mention it, somewhere.

For a lighter take on this topic, visit the Queen of Wands.


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Style and Arrangement

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Sample Excerpt: Audience: Academic, Length: 5000 words.
Please contact me for the entire essay.

The author of "Rhetorica ad Herennium" and "Aristotle in Rhetoric" share an interest in teaching rhetoric and those aspects of oratory most congruous during the periods in which they wrote. Though they both approach rhetoric with instructional intent, they handle several aspects of rhetoric differently. Aristotle appears less concerned with style or form than with proof, which makes him less authoritative or knowledgeable in the area of style if compared to the author of Rhetorica ad Herennium--who achieves a more systematic approach at defining style. The apparent opposition in the handling of style may come from the natural development of rhetoric based on the knowledge gained during the period that elapsed between the development of the two texts--the latter text gleaning and extrapolating, building on the relevant theories of the former. Additionally, Aristotle and the author of Rhetorica ad Herennium contrast with regard to their ideas on the arrangement of a speech.

Aristotle appears less authoritative or knowledgeable in the area of style, which appears to be the result of his greater concern with proof than style or form if compared to the author of Rhetorica ad Herennium--who achieves a more systematic approach at defining style. Aristotle begins his discussion of style unexpectedly vague: "let the virtue of style be defined as 'to be clear'…and neither flat nor above the dignity of the subject, but appropriate" (On Rhetoric 221). He stresses appropriateness, or clarity, but fails to match the prescriptive tone in Rhetorica ad Herennium, except in Chapter 6. Aristotle's handling of style is divided into roughly two areas: diction and composition. His discussion on diction focuses on word choice, yet he lacks the systematic approach of presenting the material as achieved in Books 1 and 2: "authors should compose without being noticed and should seem to speak not artificially but naturally" (On Rhetoric 222); "There is a fault in the syllables if the indications of sound are unpleasant" (224); "And the source of the metaphor should be something beautiful" (225). These statements lack the detail and exactness we read earlier in Rhetoric; therefore, he loses some credibility on the issue of style when compared to the author of Rhetorica ad Herennium.

The Smaller Side of Agriculture and Its Importance

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Sample Excerpt: Audience: Political, Length: 2000 words.
Please contact me for the entire essay.


[Synopsis: This article looks at the influence and power of small farmers and the role they play in globalization. It is the goal of this article to prove the need and importance of keeping smaller agricultural operations alive around the world.]


When looking at the relationship between small farmers in the developing world and international agricultural trade, two main questions arise. First, how can small-scale agriculture compete more effectively with imported products, and what degree of trade protection is appropriate? Second, can small-scale farmers take greater advantage of export opportunities, and what are the supply-side and market-access constraints that need to be lifted? This paper attempts to provide some answers, focusing initially on the role of developing-country governments in making small-scale agriculture and related rural industries more productive, sustainable and able to compete in open markets, and then considering the ways in which Northern governments can provide a fairer international marketplace. (Butcher, 2000)

The livelihoods of 2.6 billion people depend on agriculture. Most of them are poor farming families in the developing world. The absolute number is increasing, though they comprise a declining share of the total population. In the least-developed countries in 1996, 73% of the workforce was engaged in agricultural activities, the great majority of them poor smallholders and laborers. For developing countries as a whole, the figure was 59%. Small-scale agriculture is not small in aggregate terms, accounting for much more employment and staple food production than larger commercial concerns, though the latter are dominant in food and other commodity trade. It is inconceivable, for the foreseeable future, that the cities, or commercial agriculture, could offer employment to the vast numbers of poor people in the countryside. For this reason alone, due attention to small-scale agriculture is essential for progress towards the OECD development targets for poverty reduction and sustainability. (Butcher, 2000)

How important is grammar, anyway?

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My students frequently ask me about the importance of grammar, but my friends do as well--my college-educated friends, so I think I need to set the record straight. So, how important is grammar, anyway? Well, in a word, VERY!

Grammar (spoken and written) is very important in some situations:

-Jobs interviews and resumes

-Professional meetings, telephone conversations, memos, etc.

-Emails generated as an employee or representative of any professional organization

-Website content

-Academic essays

-Published articles (in print and online)



And there are situations where grammar is not as important:


-Dialog from a character who should be perceived as less educated or from a different region or part of the world (Some blogs fall into this category.)

-Emails or letters to family and friends (See my caveat below.)

Caveat: Remember that everyone you know is part of your network, and that network will, most likely, contribute to future business opportunities, personal references, potential employment, and so on; therefore, it’s just a good habit to use proper grammar, if you have those skills.

Now, don't let your lack of grammatical skills (or just the fear) keep you from contributing. We all have something important to say (and write), but sure, we can all improve.

If you’re feeling particularly vulnerable about your grammar skills, there is something you can do about it, short of putting yourself to sleep each night reading a handbook. If you slip during a conversation and use the word “irregardless,” for example, don’t panic. Conversations flow, and listeners tend to move with them, BUT written mistakes stop readers in their tracks--and you have the opportunity to minimize written mistakes, so take note of my top five tricks for looking and sounding smarter:

  1. If there’s a rule you’ve never quite understood, reword to avoid it!
  2. Use a spellchecker at ALL times (Spellcheckers are not 100% effective, but they’re better than a stick in the eye.)
  3. Proofread your writing, and the best way to proofread is to read aloud. If it sounds wrong, it probably is.
  4. Know the most common mistakes (next entry in my blog, I promise).
  5. Avoid using regional language or colloquialisms (expressions not used in formal speech or writing), such as the colloquialism I used in item #1 above.

So, to all my future friends out there, and those of you who were just wondering: Yes, grammar IS important, but it's not important enough to stop you, so get going!

Reason Why is Because

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Lately, I’ve noticed more and more that people are using the phrase “reason why,” for example, The reason why I called is to tell you I’ll be there shortly. I won’t even get into “reason why is because,” since this seems an obvious slip-up to most people, but I do want to discuss the logic—or illogic—of the phrase “reason why.”

Let’s look at the terms’ definitions individually, and for ease, I’ll include the word “because” (just in case you don’t see the problem with using all three of these words together):

REASON: “an explanation of the CAUSE of some phenomenon”

WHY: “the CAUSE or intention underlying an action or situation”

BECAUSE: “expresses various concepts of obligation and CAUSE”

Okay, so we’ve established that each of these words means the same thing, CAUSE.

If these words have the same meaning, why do we continue to put them together? It’s just illogical, and it sounds redundant. Let’s take the example sentence from the first paragraph and reword it, to see if we lose any meaning: The reason I called is to tell you I’ll be there shortly. No meaning lost, and the writer/speaker actually sounds more intelligent.

The short and dirty of this lesson: never use REASON, WHY, and BECAUSE in the same sentence.

ITS or IT'S?

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When you use IT'S - with an apostrophe, it means IT IS. ALWAYS, NO MATTER WHAT.


Examples (the first two are incorrect; the last two are correct):

The dog lost it's (it is) bone.
The site is notable for it's (it is) collection.
It's (it is) a story of two cities.
We think it's (it is) easy. It's (it is) only a dream.

I do understand why people do this: that fuzzy rule about possession, i.e., use an apostrophe to show ownership or possession.

Its = possessive pronoun, that means it was created specifically so that you wouldn't have to use an apostrophe to show ownership. Examples: The dog lost its bone. The site is notable for its extensive collection of links to resources.

Does this make sense? Send me a comment.

Affect and Effect

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It’s time to talk about AFFECT and EFFECT. Yes, yes, I know it’s easy to confuse a verb and noun—if you’re learning the language, but this offense occurs regularly by native English speakers and writers, so I must intervene.

Here’s the boring—but necessary—stuff:

AFFECT: it’s a VERB, which means it shows ACTION; for example, “I know this will AFFECT your image in a positive way.”

EFFECT: it’s a NOUN, which means it MUST be a person, place, thing, idea, or concept; for example, “The greenhouse EFFECT is overblown, according to some.”

The quick and dirty of this lesson: if you can’t remember the difference between a noun and a verb, just use association: Action=Affect.

Now, go write.

Their, Someone, Everyone, Everything

Did you ever write a sentence like the following, where you just knew something was wrong, but you couldn’t put your finger on it? For example, “Someone forgot their ticket.”

Most people know that the word THEIR refers back to a plural subject, such as in this sentence, “They forgot THEIR tickets.” THEIR refers to THEY, both being plural. So what do we do about the sentence, “Someone forgot their ticket.”?


(If you're getting ready to lie down in bed, then this is perfect timing, because this next paragraph will put you to sleep.)

The obvious is to use SHE or HE instead of THEIR, but what if you don’t know the gender? And please, please, please, do NOT use HIS without knowing. That’s gender bias and with over 60% of merchandise purchased by females, you do not want to alienate your buyers. The English language lacks of a neutral, singular personal pronoun; the only singular personal pronouns are SHE, HE, and IT. It does seem to be more acceptable these days to use THEIR in this situation; but be cautious! If you do this in academic writing, you’ll be treated like a criminal. If you use this in a professional report, you may get away with it, but not without jeopardizing your reputation. Most people just use my #1 trick for looking and sounding smart: rewarding to avoid the problem.

I don’t want to make this more complicated, but I’m going to. The same problem arises when you use the following words: EVERYONE, EVERYTHING, SOMEBODY. Yes, I know two of these words sound plural, but they’re not. Do I LOOK like I’m joking? Here are some perplexing examples:

“Everyone wants their paycheck.” (Yeah, it sounds okay because everyone sounds plural—but it’s not.) Just avoid this mistake by writing, “Everyone wants a paycheck.”

I've come upon an alternative, and I cannot take credit for this pure genius, but I can, at the very least, pass it along to others, who need a nuetral personal pronoun. This word can be broken down like this: she/he/it, hence s/h/it, shorter even, shit. Okay, I realize it's known as a profanity in our language, but let's get past that.

A Case of Meningococcal Disease in Healthcare Workers

Sample: Audience: Internet, Healthcare; Length: 1700 words.
Please contact me for the entire article.

Background
An infectious disease is one that is triggered by various pathogens that can be transmitted by means of either a biological or physical agent to a host. Some of the common infectious diseases are as follows: influenza, mononucleosis, chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS), hepatitis, and tuberculosis, and meningococcal disease. Having an infectious disease management program in place can cut down considerably on the possibility of spreading the infection and thus putting more people, including both hospital staff and patients at risk.


In the journal Lancet, of November 11, 2000, researchers Anna Gilmore, James Stuart, and Nick Andrews, describe the risk to health-care workers who are exposed to meningococcal disease. In the particular situation discussed by these researchers, modes of contact for the primary infection included while doctor was performing a full clinical admission when patient coughed in doctor's face, daily contact with infected patients, during the process of airway insertion of a patient on an ambulance, during delivery and fitting of oxygen while patient was restless, and close contact with coughing, crying child over a prolonged period of time.

Organizational Management Behavior
Awareness: The first step in dealing with the potential threat for infections is awareness. Health care workers are, or should be aware of the potential for infection in the hospital setting but this should not be taken for granted. A good program that will cut down on the potential for infections should start with ascertaining that these health care workers do have the necessary knowledge. While the most effective way might be to test the knowledge of these workers with respect to modes of transmission of various infectious diseases, a more effective method might be a regular program of discussions among health care workers regarding how they could avoid being the victims of such infections. Probably quarterly meetings of health care staff where issues of this nature are discussed are likely to keep the issue on the forefront for all health care workers, at least, until the next meeting. At such meetings, staff may focus both on the possibility of avoiding such infections in their particular setting and also discuss what might have occurred in other settings. The citing of current or past journal articles should be encouraged. Since it might appear unnecessary to focus on only one topic every three months, staff may focus on different particular issues regarding the health care setting but with the view to protecting both staff and patients foremost on everyone's mind.

Hygiene regime:
Nurses and health care staff, as part of their routine operations, often have to touch patients or articles that are infected. A regular program of hand hygiene, through either washing or hand disinfections, can cut down on the rate of cross-infection in hospitals (Pittet 2). Though this seems to be an elementary item in the health care setting it appears that in many cases there is poor compliance among health care workers, with doctors being the worst offenders (Pittet 2). To increase compliance, it is important to raise what seems to be a minor matter to one of giant proportions. By dramatizing the situation and showing what some of the negative outcomes might be for neglecting hand washing, it might be possible to increase compliance. A Hand Washing campaign that enlists the help of patients is likely to be the most effective. This might meet with initial resistance from health care workers, but plastering the hospital with posters that empower patients to ask health care workers if they have washed their hands prior to dealing with them could be very useful. Since health care workers would want to say yes rather than go and wash their hands to show that they have not already done so, it appears that such a campaign would promote hand-washing frequency among health care workers. But it should not be limited to health care workers.

Consciousness

Sample Excerpt: Audience: Internet, Healthcare; Length: 1650 words.
Please contact me for the entire article.



In the mid 1970s psychologist Charles Tart (1975, 1972) showed that consciousness can be usefully understood from a systems perspective. He argued that ordinary waking consciousness, or ordinary reality, can be seen as a state of consciousness surrounded by a large number of alternative or “altered” states. Dream sleep is another system, although several states may be accessible in dreams (Krippner, 1994). Others include an unknown number of ecstatic states that can erupt spontaneously into ordinary consciousness, plus states that are accessible through meditation, the shamanic trance, hypnosis, and drug induced states, as well as ordinary non- dream sleep. Tart states that consciousness is composed of a harmonious set of psychological functions, which include memory, cognition, sense of humor, sense of self, external perception (exteroception), and perception of internal body states (interoception). Together they form a gestalt- like whole, or a working system.

According to William James, “Our normal waking consciousness…is but one special type of consciousness, whilst all about it, parted from it by the filmiest of screens, there lie potential forms of consciousness entirely different. We may go through life without suspecting their existence; but apply the requisite stimulus, and at a touch they are all there in all their completeness” (James,1929, 378).

Allan Combs’ Theory of Consciousness

According to Combs, transitions between states of consciousness can be brought about by disrupting the stabilizing processes and the positive patterning of forces in the direction of the new desired state. For example the technologies of consciousness, found in yoga or shamanism, involve many patterning techniques designed both to disrupt ordinary consciousness and to move the practitioner toward extraordinary states (Combs, 1993, 1995).

Cicero’s Philosophy of Style

Sample Excerpt: Audience: Academic; Length: 1770 words.
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Through the voice of Crassus in Book III of De Oratore, Cicero discusses embellishing style by making language correct, brilliant, ornamental, and appropriate; additionally, the orator must be suitably knowledgeable, cultured, and gifted in delivery. However complex this style, the key component—to this reader—is knowledge, reflected through Cicero’s desire to see the reuniting of the schools of philosophy and speaking. Throughout Book III of De Oratore, philosophy of style is developed through the principles of knowledge.

The subject of the orator’s level of knowledge is given great attention by Crassus, making this a significant component of Cicero’s philosophy of style. Crassus begins his exposition by asserting that philosophy and oratory are inseparable (De Oratore 17); this is a strong indication that knowledge is a key component of his style. Cicero appears to value Socrates’ notion that knowledge is most important, but he does not agree with the subsequent separation of knowledge and oratory: “This is the source from which has sprung the undoubtedly absurd and unprofitable and reprehensible severance between the tongue and the brain…” (De Oratore 49).

Socrates and Plato would have commended Cicero on his defense for knowledge as the foundation for any speaker. First in Plato’s Gorgias, and again his sentiments are echoed in Phaedrus when Socrates states an important method for obtaining knowledge—the definition: “In every discussion, my dear boy, there is one and only one way of beginning…that is to know what it is that one is discussing” (Phaedrus 46).

The Role of Grandiloquence in Advancing Humor

Sample: Audience: Academic, Length: 500 words.
Please contact me for the entire essay.

In the Old Southwestern story, “Parson John Bullen’s Lizards,” written by George Washington Harris, is humor found in the juxtaposition of the narrator’s grandiloquence to the speaker’s orality or in the union of the speaker’s somewhat advanced vocabulary and sentence structure to his obvious level of education and speech patterns?

For this text, it would be difficult to successfully argue that the humor is derived from the juxtaposition of the narrator’s grandiloquence to the speaker’s orality because there is little presence of the narrator—in terms of dialog. But, the text is humorous, and it is not because of the irony in the “hell-sarpint aplicashun.”

The text is humorous because, Sut Lovingood, the main character, has an above-expected level vocabulary, detail, and sentence structure nestled in the middle a down-home dialog. The grandiloquence shines even brighter through the sentence structure and spelling. The reader expects to see, after five or six words of dialog, short, simple sentences and little detail, but Sut’s long, drawn-out sentences, sentence structure, and attention to detail pull the reader into a text made up of social irony. The bigger the words he uses, the funnier it is, the misspelling adding a good deal of the humor. The misspelling and truncated words are important to the style because they confirm the reader’s belief that the character is uneducated. This excerpt exemplifies the detail, structure, vocabulary, and spelling that combine in a synergic mix to make the story laugh-out-loud-funny.

“He tole ‘em how the ole Hell-sarpints wud sarve em if they didn’t repent; how cold they’d crawl over thar nakid bodys, an’ how like ontu pitch they’d stick tu ‘em es they crawled; how they’d rap thar tails roun’ thar naiks chokin clost, poke thar tungs up thar noses, an’ hiss intu thar years.”

Print Remediation: Expanding our Boundaries

Sample: Audience: Academic, Length: 1360 words.
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The printed text is finite in content, allowing the reader to blind herself to all other texts while she pages through the contained subject. The very nature of this printed text limits its reader, during the reading of the text, to the information captured on the pages. These borders may, for some readers, proffer a devaluation of the printed text.

Devaluation of the printed text, with regard to its limitations, may be acerbated by the increasingly accessible Internet, which presents to its readers an encyclopedic selection of related material from which to browse. The advent of the World Wide Web offers an alternative, or supplement, to the printed text: hypertext.

Most Web pages contain hypertext, displayed images and/or text that are linked to other information--most often related or supportive. In some ways, these hypertextual links are the "electronic equivalent of the footnote" found in the printed text, offering a network of related information and immediacy not available through the purely textual state of the footnote (Bolter 27). The Internet's boundless reservoir of information, immediacy, and ease of accessibility entice many writers to deliver their texts, or alternative versions of them, via the World Wide Web.

Cultural Pluralism

Cultural Pluralism and Ethnic Violence in America


Since early in the 20th century, the dominant goal of American liberalism, in relation to minorities, has been that of assimilation into the mainstream of American life. “Cultural pluralism” is a term sometimes used to describe a society in which various cultures co-exist in a state of mutual tolerance and respect. Cultural tolerance is usually equated with democracy and progress. The liberal claim that all human beings are essentially equal, and so deserve fair and equal treatment and protection under the law, is now so generally accepted that even the most conservative politicians pay lip service to it. Liberalism could be considered the dominant ideological “discourse” of modern industrial (and post-industrial) society, although it has certainly been threatened by other ideologies – for example, by Fascism and Communism.
According to the liberal ideal, different communities, with different beliefs and traditions, ought to be able to co-exist peacefully within a democratic framework. To their credit, liberals have always recognized that the presence of many different cultures within American life is not only a necessity for the functioning of an industrial system, but also, ultimately, beneficial to the political order. Yet, throughout American history, the co-existence of different cultures has often been a locus of intense conflict. The liberal ideology of cultural pluralism within a democratic framework has not always been able to contain or to resolve these conflicts. Why?
The mass immigrations in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries created enormous tensions in American society and political culture. Yet, one might argue, it was this very immigration that fueled rapid industrial progress, and with it the creation of fortunes like that of the Mellons and the Carnegies. Here is a perfect example of what the Marxists called “the contradictions of capitalism.” Capitalism, in its dynamic, unrestrained phase, transformed American life from top to bottom. But it did not transform every part of American life in the same way, or at the same rate of speed. Nor did it make every American financially secure. As American transformed itself into the world’s greatest industrial power, it was also drawn into an international monetary and trade system. The current fashionable word for this process, still going on at more rarified levels, is “globalization.” On the plus side, globalization increased American wealth through trade relationships. On the minus side, it drew the country into brutal international conflicts such as the First World War.

These developments were threatening to many Americans, particularly to those who did not benefit in any obvious way from industrial capitalism. Instead of sharing exuberantly in the liberal vision of universal equality and social progress, such Americans longed for the hierarchical, pre-industrial past. This was particularly true in the American South, where entire communities of white Anglo-Saxon Americans fastened onto romantic myths about the Old South of the type generated by films like The Birth of a Nation.

So, even as the United States emerged from World War I as the most powerful industrial nation in the world and the major champion of liberal democracy, many American citizens – and not only in the backwoods – were clamoring for isolationism, segregation, and the closing of America’s borders to new immigration. Capitalism’s discontents, one might call them – although they did not see themselves in this way. Quite often, they seem to have seen themselves as heroic defenders of cherished moral values. Racist and anti-ethnic attitudes are, more than likely, part of our anthropological nature as human beings, yet such attitudes normally exist in an inchoate form. Something happened to American political culture during this period to focus the energies of racism into specific kinds of deadly action.

The authors of “The Rosewood Report” -- one of the detailed sources John Singleton used for his film, Rosewood – describe a dramatic rise in intolerance for racial and ethnic diversity in American society after World War I:

"In his study of the race riot in Chicago in 1919, William Tuttle noted that whites believed that blacks "were mentally inferior, immoral, emotional, and criminal. Some secondary beliefs were that they were innately lazy, shiftless, boisterous, bumptious, and lacking in civic consciousness." Many whites accepted these racial rationalizations because they wanted to, and their newspapers reinforced such attitudes by publishing stories that highlighted black crimes and immoral behavior and by seldom reporting positively about the daily lives of black citizens. Many whites had such a low opinion of blacks that they were prepared to treat them in the most inhumane fashion whenever they felt themselves threatened by the minority." (Jones, et al 4)

Perhaps whites were confused to see African-Americans benefiting more dramatically than they themselves from modernization. Not only had African Americans served in the military in World War I, they were also receiving the same wages as whites for industrial work. Capitalism challenged the racist attitude in an unforeseen manner – not from the angle of religious values or higher moral standards, but in pragmatic terms. In a capitalist society, one’s value is defined by money. As soon as some African-Americans began to make as much (or, in some cases, more) money than whites, it was no longer necessary for them to argue with racists. (Similarly, the African-Americans who served in World War I found themselves on equal footing with white men in the South, where manhood had traditionally been associated with the ability to handle weapons. Maybe this is the real explanation for why whites, during the post-war decades, became obsessed with the idea of African-Americans having sex with white women. Inter-racial sex represented the last border to be crossed before the dawn of a terrifying equality.)
The authors of “The Rosewood Report” are careful to note the influence of newspapers on white communities’ perceptions of African-Americans. Yellow journalism, during the early ‘20’s, tended not only to legitimize racism on a daily basis, but also played a large part in provoking acts of savage violence against minorities. Moreover, secret organizations such as The Knights of Liberty and the Ku Klux Klan evolved a rigid but internally consistent ideological world-view justifying cynical acts of brutality as the necessary means of preserving the white race.

As in the Fascist movements that swept Europe during this same period, the beatings, lynchings, and pogroms of the American 1920’s were not isolated outbursts of rage, but deliberate, theatrical, highly propagandistic events designed to at once frighten minorities into submission and to create a sense of solidarity among the perpetrators. They were also, it seems, the result of an ingrown, parochial, paranoid world view. As Scott Ellsworth noted, in an article on the 1921, Tulsa race riot,

"The vast majority of white Tulsans possessed almost no direct knowledge of the African American community whatsoever. . . most Tulsans had never set foot in the African American district, and never would. Living in all-white neighborhoods, attending all-white schools and churches, and working for the most part in all-white work environments, the majority of white Tulsans in 1921 had little more than fleeting contact with the city’s black population. What little they knew, or thought they knew, about the African-American community was susceptible not only to racial stereotypes and deeply-ingrained prejudices, but also to rumor, innuendo, and, as events would soon prove, what was printed in the newspaper." (49)

It would be pleasant to be able to conclude that it was only poor and ignorant white people, whipped into frenzy by yellow journalists, who committed brutal acts of racial and ethnic intolerance. But the truth is more disturbing. In both Tulsa and Rosewood, local law enforcement officials up to the very highest levels joined both in the violence and in the subsequent cover up.

Moreover, the brutal strikebreaking tactics used against unionized minors, factory workers and coal miners during this same period show that race-prejudice was not limited to the South. The captains of industry used race and ethnic prejudice to serve their own ends, whenever and wherever the profit motive came into conflict with the dangerous temptation of human empathy. A note in the “Afterword” to Thomas Bell’s working class novel, Out of This Furnace, quotes the following passage from a biography of Andrew Carnegie:

The Hungarians, Slavs and Southern Europeans. . . were a savage and undisciplined horde, with whom strong-arm methods seemed at times indispensable, and when strikes broke out murder and arson became their favorite persuasions. (Henrick, quoted in Demarest, 419).

Union-breaking violence, sometimes turning into all out war between National Guard units and coal miners, was a common feature of industrial capitalism in the 1920’s and 1930’s. Once again, the victims of such brutality were portrayed in the press as subhuman. In these instances, liberals themselves suspended the proud ideology of human equality to speak the language of ethnic hatred.

Bibliography


Bell, Thomas. Out of This Furnace: A Novel of Immigrant Labor in America. Pittsburgh: University of Pittsburgh Press, 1976.

Scott Ellsworth. Death in a Promised Land: The Tulsa Race Riot of 1921. Foreword by John Hope Franklin. New Orleans: Louisiana State University Press, 1982.

Scott Ellsworth, “The Tulsa Race Riot.” In The Final Report of the Oklahoma Commission to Study the Tulsa Race Riot of 1921 (http://www.ok-history.mus.ok.us/trrc)

Jones, et al. The Rosewood Report: A Documented History of the Incident Which Occurred At Rosewood, Florida, in January, 1923, Submitted to the Florida Board of Regents December 22, 1993 (http://www.tfn.net/doc/rosewood.txt)

Twins are Home


Kealy came home after 6 days in the NICU, and Luke came home after 11 days. Fortunately, the hospital is only 8 minutes from our house, so coming and going was relatively easy. I say "relatively" because I'm not allowed to drive, so I must be driven everywhere. This dependence on other people is driving me nuts.

Oh, I got my staples out on day 4, just before being released. This nurse tells me that she's going to remove them and shows me something that resemebles tweezers. Um, No, I'd like to see the doctor. Dr. SheIsVeryYoung (neither Dr. Good nor Moron) finally arrives, and with some trepidation, I decide to let her play school on my staples. She removes them all, and to my astonishment, my abdomen does not split open; in fact, it stays put quite well.

Okay, so we're all here at home, and my in-laws are staying with us to help. Can you believe my FIL asks me, "What's for breakfast?" I'm almost sh!t a brick right there in the kitchen. I'm so dumbfounded that I actually cook breakfast for the two of them. WTF is wrong with me? Okay, I'm feeling very appreciative for their help. Is that so bad?

Twins Arrive!


January 26 – Had to go to the ER because of severe kidney pain, and Dr. Moron tells me the pain in my kidneys is babies pushing on my ribs. I argue. He sends me home with a prescription for T3 after our visit to the ER.

Okay, another day of constant purging. Can't keep anything down. Getting very weak. Wondering if the T3 is making it worse. Rob gives me a bath (he knows I wouldn't possibly go to the hospital after two days of no bathing and puking all over myself); he's a fabulous husband. We go to the scheduled ob visit. Dr. Moron finally agrees that I have elevated protein in urine. He sends me to the hospital to have monitoring and IVs to replenish fluids.

Puking on nurse who's having a heck of a time inserting IV. OMG, can I say THREE effin times she tries to put this 2-gage needle into my normally protruding veins? Finally, I've had it; everything comes up again. Poor, wonderful husband is the receiver of this. I hate myself now.

Dr. Moron returns after hours of more puking. Says tests look suspicious but wants to send me home. Hello?

Dr. Moron finally finds out that my BIL is a surgeon with privs there and decides to keep me for the night. I'm 35 weeks 2 days pregnant.

OMG, they finally give me stadol (sp?), and I'm going to get a decent night's sleep. No, I'm not. Water breaks at midnight. I call Rob. Poor guy's finally gotten into bed after a cocktail or four and has to drive back to the hospital.

2am. I beg for epi since I know I'm going to go fast (since I did with ds). They give it since I've gone from 1cm to 4 in 40 minutes. Much easier than I thought it would be. Dr. Moron says he's leaving because it's going take me hours to progress. Um, hello? Did I just dialate 3 cms in 40 minutes? Okay, now I'm 8cm, so he's gonna stay...

It's 4:02am...

Kealy was so excited to see the world that she came out with her eyes open! It was the most fantastic sight to look down and see her big eyes looking back up at me. Oh, she was face up, as you've probably figured out. They had to use suction.

I want to tell you that I'm so doped up at this point that the nurse has to tell me when I'm contracting. PUSH. Okay, I'm doing that. Evidently, I didn't know quite how hard I am pushing because some of my other body parts decide to bloom down there as well. More about that later.

Luke did not want to leave the comfort of his world! After his sister arrived with her eyes wide open, the doctors had to perform an emergency c-section to deliver him. His cord had descended first (called a prolapsed cord in case you're wondering), so it was impossible to meet him any other way. His dad saw him even before I did. He is such a miracle, and he just doesn’t know how thrilled his dad and I are to finally have him here with us.

Okay, I know I'm shifting tenses. Leave me alone. I'm having babies here.

Back to the other uninvited body parts. OMG, no one ever told me hemis were going to be like this. Not only do I have 4th degree tears in my hooha, and staples across my stretchmark-free belly, I've got hemis growing out my nether region. I can't even begin to tell you how humiliating (and, um, painful) this is as I need help doing anything and every technician (nurse's assistants, I think) has now seen every inch (several times) of what I've been covering up since adolescence!

I never thought I'd be thankful for a catheter. But as I walk around, I have to carry my peebag. How humiliating does this get, anyway? I can't do a number 2 because everything down there hurts. I haven't had the courage to look, but Dr. Wonderful (the ob from the practice that I actually selected) is supposed to visit my staples today. I'm also going to beg him to do the circ as to avoid any problems for poor Luke, seeing's as Dr. Moron cut me crooked, um, crookedly, I mean, I think.

Oh, the picture is at 28 weeks, not 35.

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