Monthly Archives: November 2011

Your slip is showing

For years, Readers Digest carried a feature called “Pardon, Your Slip is Showing,” highlighting journalistic “slips” that appeared in the American press.

When Las Vegas attempted a commercial airline and offered rides to families at a penny a pound, there were quite a few takers. But as interest dropped off, apparently the airline sponsored a promotion, which provided breakfast before each flight.

The Optic carried a small item on Page 1, announcing a “fly breakfast.” Some typographical gremlin must have clipped a few letters from “Fly-Out Breakfast,” leaving an unsanitary and unappetizing alternative. Readers Digest, however, gobbled it up. Continue reading

Ready for some tofurkey?

Ah! We’re going to have some tofurkey in a few days. We’d better cleanse our palates in preparation for gormandizing.

Tofurkey? It sounds almost like an obscenity, and in a family newspaper! Tofurkey, as you may have conjectured, is a vegetarian alternative to turkey.

I got the word from the vocabulary website “Wordnik.” But that’s as close as I intend to get to it. Learning a new word is not the same as eating what it represents.

And that brings up a slew of Thanksgiving recollections from my youth. Here are some:

One of the most effective ways of getting people to do something they usually oppose is to make them think it was their idea. In the recent past, our city council had the habit of opposing whatever one of their colleagues proposed. Continue reading

An internal optometrist

Is there a chance Americans just don’t read as much as they used to? And if they do, have their reading habits and choice of material changed significantly? And can we count the texting-pecking exchanges on iPhone keyboards as reading?

I ask this question earnestly. At the moment I don’t have access to data to verify or contradict what I believe. In this case, I’m just asking.

A Highlands professor I really respect, back in the days when we used to eat dinosaurs, Elmer Schooley, made a believer of me.

Carelessly, I made my orthographic “v” look like an “r,” and the professor wrote a note on my exam paper, with the grade lowered one full letter, “When people misspell words that appear in their textbooks, that tells me they’re not reading the assignments.”

He had a point. An excellent point. Of course I’d read the required chapters, and my lowered grade came courtesy of careless penmanship. Yet, given the way people write and speak today, we wonder: Do people read as much as they used to? And is the quality of the reading material worthy of praise? Continue reading

Little has changed

Several years ago, in the pre-911 era, before we needed to open up our world to the TSA, in the name of Homeland Security, we almost missed our flight to Orlando, Fla.

Back then, there were none of those interminable lines of people ordered to remove their shoes or subject themselves to touchy-feelie pinching, patting, probing, poking and prodding. So, though my crew arrived too late to check our bags — we needed to tote them all the way to our destination — we were allowed on the plane, even with our bazookas, pipe bombs and jumbo bottles of lotion.

Here’s what happened:

An East Las Vegas Schools group, on the way to a convention in Florida, received a memo from the transportation office with instructions to meet at 6:30 at a certain address on Church Street.

Fair enough. I dutifully drove to a tiny, curvy, narrow lane on the town’s west side and promptly got lost. Now, I know the town as well as the next person, but the address I had received just wasn’t there. I drove for several minutes before locating a school van in the neighborhood of the Allsup’s at Mills and Hot Springs. Continue reading

7 billion? On second thought . . .

One of the greatest features of my new toy, my iPad, is the ability to add “apps,” that is, applications that do different things. The one I like but can’t control is named, simply, “Population.”

It resembles a car odometer. It’s digital, and the columns showing units and tens run fast. Last Friday, the last time I checked before now, the count was 6,9099,587,471. The time was 5:33 p.m. Watching the counter moving, I timed it for exactly one minute, during which the estimated population climbed by 148 people.

It became addictive, and in just a few minutes, when I noticed the Earth’s number of humans had increased by 808, I stopped counting and watching, naively believing that if I turned off the iPad, Mother Earth wouldn’t grow so fast.

That was Friday.

Monday I heard on radio that we’d reached 7 billion people. Seven billion — that’s a 7 followed by nine zeroes. If Bill Gates’ fortune were to be divided equitably, we’d all get less than 10 dollars. Some military toys that fly the skies in search of targets might cost around a billion. Those are huge numbers. Continue reading