*grammar posts

Effective Practices For Getting Readers To Return To Your Blog

The best way to get your visitors to return to your blog is to reward them with your writing.

All the available social networks and blog marketing tools will do little to increase return visits to your blogs unless you first polish your posts. Follow these suggestions to improve your posts, and readers will come back for more.

Keep in mind that you are competing with thousands of people for your readers’ attention. You’ll need to reward your visitors by giving them well written posts. (The blue italicized terms in this article link to my earlier posts and are not necessary to understand this post; they serve only to provide a greater depth of information on the various topics)

Online writing is a unique, hybrid form of communication because it combines the benefits and challenges of mass communication and interpersonal communication (see Communicating Online: Opportunities and Obstacles). Understanding this uniqueness will help you tailor your writing to your target audience.

Here are some helpful tools to polish your post successfully.

1. Most importantly, make sure you have something to say. All the writing tips in the world can’t help the writer without an interesting or provocative topic. Posting writing without a clear purpose may cause readers not to return. It’s difficult to get new readers, but it’s even more of a challenge getting disappointed readers to return. (If your well of inspiration is running dry check out: Overcoming Writer’s Block).

2. In the first sentence or two of your post, tell your readers what’s in it for them – explain how your post will make a difference in their lives.If your readers can’t find anything that impacts them right away, many will leave after the first paragraph. Consider How to use News Values such as impact, timeliness, prominence, and novelty when determining your posts potential value for your readers.

For those who stay past the first paragraph, remember: you’ve made your promise; now it’s time to deliver.

3. Write to express, not impress. Put the thesaurus away. If you’re writing to inform or to entertain, prefer the simple to the complex. Write like you talk. (say “use”, not “utilize”; write: “I was aware of”, instead of “I was cognizant of”).

4. Brevity is an important goal because readers prefer conciseness. The average sentence should be about 15 words. Avoid wordiness (instead of writing members of the group, write group members). Also avoid redundancies (instead of writing the children completely surrounded me, just write the children surrounded me).

Unnecessary words can detract from your meaning. If you have difficulty with this, try pretending you had to pay for each word that you included.  

5. Avoid terms that can cause confusion. (i.e. “She was young;” young is too vague – it means different things to different people). Remember words have denotations and connotations, so avoid ambiguous terms. Instead of saying that she was young, say: she was nearly 8 years old. There are also many commonly confused words in the English language. Be aware of the meaning of all your words. Further and farther, fewer and less, and accept and except are just a few of the common errors found in careless writing. (See Commonly Misused Words).

6. Say what you mean. If your purpose is to convey information, eliminate euphemisms. Euphemisms are meant to soften the blow of a potentially offensive or blunt idea, such as “collateral damage” for unintended civilian deaths. Euphemisms can cause loss ofclarity. (Read about editing out euphemisms in Layers of Revision). If your post lacks clarity, it’s doomed. Readers won’t spend time on posts they can’t understand.

7. Use examples and anecdotes. When explaining something complicated or something your readers might not have experienced, give an example. For example, explain that learning to use CSS to design a webpage is like learning how to play a sport or a musical instrument; first you must learn the rules, then you must practice to improve. Similarly, an anecdote is a very short story included to elaborate on and emphasize the facts. Instead of saying the girls were mischievous, consider using an anecdote to show us. Limit anecdotes to one (or two at most) per post. (See: Writing is like Baking a Cake)

8. Punctuation matters; people do judge a book by its cover (See: If Punctuation Marks were People). If you have spelling and grammar mistakes in your writing, people will lose confidence in you. They will question your facts and assumptions if they catch that you were careless with your pronouns and commas (See: The Problem with Pronouns)

9. Use vivid description. Keep in mind the maxim: Show, don’t tell. Don’t tell us that Billy was happy with his new puppy; show us. Readers appreciate it when you use your senses to describe details. They want to hear, see, feel, smell, touch and taste what you’re describing. (See: Think visually). 

10. Proofread: take the time to polish your post. We often find errors when it’s too late. Edit your posts prior to publication. You don’t have to be a walking, talking grammar book, you just need to know when to turn to one. (Check out: English Handbook for the Game of your Life)

The best way to get visitors to return to your blog is to make them happy. While social networks and search engines are useful as treasure maps, your posts are the treasures –the pot of gold at the end of the rainbow. Follow these tips to polish them, and let them shine.

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Words: mixed up meanings

English has got to be one of the toughest languages to learn. Even our exceptions to the rules have exceptions.

Here are some of my recent mental meanderings on mixed up meanings.

Confusing homophones
1.                  This bimonthly publication comes out every other month, and that bimonthly publication comes out twice a month. Both sentences are correct.
2.                  Loan (verb) me the money, or I’ll need to get a loan (noun)
Homophones that are antonyms 
3.                  I buckle (bind) my seatbelt so I won’t buckle (fall apart) under pressure
4.                  This Christmas, we will have to trim (reduce) the decorations when we trim (add to) the tree.
5.                  It was an unbelievable (very accurate) documentary on extraterrestrials, but the unbelievable (not credible) accounts of UFO sightings detracted from the real evidence. 
Same phrase that means the opposite thing
6.                  Watch out for (look forward to) opportunities to volunteer, but watch out for (avoid) over committing.
7.                  Person 1: Did you see all the fuss about the new employee.   
            Person 2: Tell me about it?
            Person 2 could be saying “I already know” or “I want to know more”
Opposite phrase that means the same thing
8.                  The two houses met the same fate. This house burned up, and that house burned down.
Not true homophones, but stated orally, these sentences could be confusing.
9.                  I was thinking of moving a broad
10.              It is apparent that you are a parent
If you liked this you might also be interested in 
1. Word Power
2. English is Nutty 5
3.Evolving Language

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Eight Interesting Words

interesting words
interesting words

 How many words are in your vocabulary? The average high school graduate is said to know about 10,000 words. The average 4-year college graduate is said to know about 20,000 words. Do you have room for any more words in your vocabulary?





Here are some interesting words, which you may not know.

Upon learning an interesting word, if you’re like me, you’ll be tempted to work it into a conversation to improve your vocabulary or just to see the expression on your friends’ faces. Since this is an online conversation, maybe you’re feeling a little motivated now.

If after reviewing this list of eight, you feel up for a challenge, please read through to the Word Power Exercise.


Eight Interesting Words

Zymurgy:  The art or practice of fermentation


Accismus: When you pretend not to be interested in something – when you really are


Snollygoster – A shrewd, unprincipled person, especially a politician


Josser – One not born to circus life


Tyrotoxism: To be poisoned by cheese


Winklepicker  a style of shoe worn by British rock and roll fans


Defenestrate: To throw out a window


Unobtanium: A material that is unobtainable, often because it doesn’t exist



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Word Power Exercise:

See how many of these Eight Interesting Words you can include in a 50 word (or less) comment. The only two rules are: 1. Your comment must make sense, and 2. You may not use any of the words directly beside another one, such as in a list. Have fun, and add your blog address, so visitors can stop by and say Hi. For more word fun, check out my Eleven Interesting Words post here.




 Waiting my next batch to zymurgy, I was talking with a friend about a snollygoster, I find that accisumus.  This snollygoster was a josser.  They told me this snollygoster suffered from tyrotoxism.  My friend was dressed in an unobtanium winklepicker which made me feel like I wanted to defenestrate him.

Sensfaction: http://262291.blogspot.com


 Son, the worst form of josser is a snollygoster, from whom integrity is unobtanium, and who is more interested in zymurgy than even the trapeze. Their disinterest isn’t accismus; like those winklepickered punks in Clockwork Orange, they could defenestrate August Ringling and still have the appetite to dine unto tyrotoxism.

Drew  http://www.reddit.com/user/drewcamealong/


Politics are the pits these days. All the candidates are a bunch of snollygosters. I am sure some wish they got a case of tyrotoxism. They act so accismus in their speeches. They also try to look cool by wearing winklepickers.

 Mike  http://geography-trivia.blogspot.com


Recovering from a nasty case of tyrotoxism, I put on my winklepickers and set out to hoodwink a couple of jossers into divulging their zymurgy secrets. Then I ran into Colonel Fraudy, a local snollygoster usually out for cash. Sensing accismus on his part, I defenestrated the unobtanium. Close call.

Angry Max pterodactylpuke.com

Twelve Interesting Words

Twelve Interesting Words

 How many words are in your vocabulary? The average high school graduate is said to know about 10,000 words. The average 4-year college graduate is said to know about 20,000 words. Do you have room for any more words in your vocabulary?
Here are some interesting words, which you may not know.
Upon learning an interesting word, if you’re like me, you’ll be tempted to work it into a conversation to improve your vocabulary or just to see the expression on your friends’ faces. Since this is an online conversation, maybe you’re feeling a little motivated now.
If after reviewing this list of twelve, you feel up for a challenge, please read through to the Word Power Exercise.


Twelve Interesting Words
1. Nudiustertian  – The day before yesterday
2. Pronk  – A weak or foolish person
3. Pettifogging – Something petty or trivial
4. Inaniloquent – Pertaining to idle talk
5. Mesonoxian – Pertaining to midnight
6. Tyrotoxism – To be poisoned by cheese
7. Nihilarian  A person who deals with things lacking importance.
8. Scopperloit – Rude or rough play
9. Gargalesis – Forceful tickling
10. Dumbledore – A type of bee
11. Humdudgeon – An imaginary illness
12.  Mungo – A dumpster diver – one who extracts valuable things from trash


Word Power Exercise:

See how many of these Twelve Interesting Words (EIW) you can include in a 75 word (or less) comment. The only two rules are: 1. Your comment must make sense, and 2. You may not use any of the EIWs directly beside another one, such as in a list. Have fun, and add your blog address, so visitors can stop by and say Hi. For more word fun, check out my Eight Interesting Words post here.



Nudiustertian I met a Pronk who was talking about a pettifogging subject. Inaniloquent, he went on and on about Dumbledores and mungo. Then he proceeded to Gargalesis of me. Since it was around Mesonoxian and I was coming down with Humdudgeon and he was a Nihilarian prone to scopperloit and I had to perform Tyrotoxism on him.
Nudiustertian just about mesonoxian walking down the street to my home I saw a mungo collecting cans which I found to be pettifogging. This mungo stopped what he was doing, and decided to inaniloquent with me about his humdudgeon. This nihilarian was telling me that while he was digging, he found some food and ate it, and then got Tyrotoxism. He also told me that a Dumbledore stung him and he had a allergic reaction. This guy was a real pronk!


Nudusterian a pronk was inaniloquently pettifogging aboud the mesonoxian.
The Nihilarian dumbledore scopperloit the pronk with gargalesis.
That’s about the best I could do;p The first one I think has them in too much of a consecutive order… Violates rule 2.. Anyway.. There’s my attempt at it;p
It was no humdudgeon that hit me the other day, in fact, it was a case of tyrotoxism!! I felt like such a pronk. I should have known that my mungo brother would have brought me a snack of cheese that he found in the nudiustertian trash.
Not wanting to make him feel like a Nihilarian, I broke down and ate it.
After our snack we started engaging in gargalesis, like we did as children, but when it turned into a scopperloit brawl, I started to feel sick and called it quits.
Now, I am stuck in bed pettifogging through inaniloquent magazines, and reading about the mesonoxian habits of the Dumbledore to stay busy while trying to recover.
Being an avid nihilarian and a young pronk, I’m inclined to attempt the activity of pettifogging, which is better than the follies of scopperloit and safer than gargalesis, a symptom of humdudgeon (a disorder some claim is acquired when dumbledores, who live in dumpsters, attack mungos).
Of course, this monologue is rather inaniloquent; provoked by an onset of tyrotoxism I caught at a filthy diner nudiustertium. I’ll go to bed, as it’s nearly mesonoxian. 
Shadow Crystal


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Overcome the comma!

Puny but powerful, the itsy bitsy comma remains a foe to many folks striving to use good grammar. The comma is among the most confusing and misused punctuation marks in English grammar. Some people place a comma whenever they pause in their proofreading. While this strategy is a good guide, it is not foolproof. Some guys have a vague recollection of grade-school grammar and guess at the comma’s proper placement. The problem here is that the rules get muddled over time. We see commas used incorrectly in print everyday, and for most of us, grammar school was a long time ago. Many folks seem to add commas whenever the mood strikes them, while others avoid commas entirely. For everyone who wants to overcome the comma, here are my 10 comma rules to remember.
1. Use commas to separate independent clauses when they are joined by one of the following words (known as coordinating conjunctions): and, but, for, or, nor, so, yet. For example: “She likes to read, and I like to write.” However, in the example “I like to run and swim,” no comma is needed because there is only one independent clause.
2. Use commas after introductory clauses, phrases, or words that come before the main clause. Don’t put a comma after the main clause when a dependent clause follows it (except for cases of extreme contrast, for example: They said they were not sleepy, although they fell asleep immediately).
3. Use commas to set off nonessential clauses, phrases, and words that occur in the middle of a sentence. Use one comma before the nonessential information to indicate the beginning of the pause and one at the end to indicate the end of the pause. To determine if the sentence element is essential, leave out the clause, phrase, or word, to see if the sentence still makes sense. If it does, then the element in question is nonessential and should be set off with commas. Here is an example of a nonessential clause: The girl, who happened to be a member of the club, was late for dinner.
4. Use commas to separate two or more coordinate adjectives that describe the same noun. Coordinate adjectives are adjectives with equal status in describing the noun. You can decide if two adjectives in a row are coordinate by asking the following questions: Does the sentence make sense if the adjectives are written in reverse order? Does the sentence make sense if the adjectives are written with and between them? If you answer “yes” to these questions, then the adjectives are coordinate and should be separated by a comma. Here are some examples of coordinate and non-coordinate adjectives: She was a difficult, stubborn child (coordinate). They lived in a white frame house (non-coordinate).
5. Use commas to separate three or more words, phrases, or clauses written in a series. For example: The child enjoys playing baseball, reading comic books, and watching television.
6. Use a comma prior to adding a quotation. The coach instructed his team, “You have the ability to win if you maintain your focus.”
7. Use a comma near the end of a sentence to separate contrasted coordinate (equal status) elements. For example: The girl said her favorite subject was history, not science.
8. Use commas to set off items in dates March 13, 1992, was the day we became best friends. (When using only the month and the year in a sentence, no comma is necessary. For example:  My first trip to Florida in March 1992 is still vivid in my mind.)
9. Use commas to set off geographical names. For example: Charleston, South Carolina, is a city rich in history.
10. Use commas to avoid confusion. For example: Tell the doctor, pepper is one of your asthma triggers. Or better yet: Tell Christopher, Columbus discovered America.
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Eleven Interesting Words

 How many words are in your vocabulary? The average high school graduate is said to know about 10,000 words. The average 4-year college graduate is said to know about 20,000 words. Do you have room for any more words in your vocabulary?
Here are some interesting words, which you may not know.
Upon learning an interesting word, if you’re like me, you’ll be tempted to work it into a conversation to improve your vocabulary or just to see the expression on your friends’ faces. Since this is an online conversation, maybe you’re feeling a little motivated now.
If after reviewing this list of eleven, you feel up for a challenge, please read through to the Word Power Exercise.


Eleven Interesting Words


Lamprophony  Loudness and clarity of voice
Floccinaucinihilipilification   Estimation that something is valueless.
Rhinotillexomania  Habitual or obsessive nose-picking  
Honorificabilitudinitatibus  In honor
Deipnosophist   One who excels at conversations at the dinner table 
Sesquipedalian   Using long words 
Farctate  Full (as from eating) to the point of bursting; completely satiated
Onychophagist  Person who bites his fingernails 
Bloviate  To Speak or Discourse at Length in a Pompous or Boastful Manner 
Dextrorotatory Turning Clockwise or to the Right 
Eleemosynary Relating to Charity, Alms, or Almsgiving 


Word Power Exercise:

See how many of these Eleven Interesting Words (EIW) you can include in a 50 word (or less) comment. The only two rules are: 1. Your comment must make sense, and 2. You may not use any of the EIWs directly beside another one, such as in a list. Have fun, and add your blog address, so visitors can stop by and say Hi.

We all know they exist, but we do not speak their names

We all know they exist, but we don’t speak of them. They are used everyday, but we dare not say them aloud. Their very existence requires us to be silent. And we comply without question. Most of them have no reason to be. They serve no useful purpose, but we accept that they are part of our lives. We write their names, but we don’t say them to anyone. If we ever slip up, do the unspeakable, and actually say their names aloud, we will be mocked and surely corrected. We expect everyone to conform; there are no exceptions. Efforts have been made to systematically eradicate them, but to no avail. They are still with us in our schools, work, and even our homes.


We could all get along just fine without them, although without them we would have no roads or signs. Buildings with columns would no longer exist. Wednesday would no longer be the middle of our work week. And nobody would be able to walk a straight line.


On the other hand, there would be no more pneumonia, no more dumb people. Children would never again stretch the truth.


What forces us into this superfluous silence?


It is the silent letter. And while some silent letters help us to pronounce a word correctly, most do nothing more than take up space. As far as I can tell, every letter in the English language is used as a silent letter – every letter that is except for the mighty “V”. V stands alone in victory against this unspoken foe.  I compiled the list below of the rest of the letters of the English alphabet along with one corresponding word with a silent letter.


a          road

b          dumb

c          scene

d          Wednesday

e          rake

f           staff

g          sign

h          whistle

I           straight

j           marijuana

k          know

l           tall

m         mnemonic

n          column

o          oedipus

p          pneumonia

q          racquetball

r           sarsaparilla

s           pass

t           stretch

u          placque


w         answer

x          faux pas

y          way

z           buzz




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English is nutty 5

A bicycle can’t stand alone; it is two tired.                                                                        

A will is a dead giveaway.

Time flies like an arrow; fruit flies like a banana.

A backward poet writes inverse.

In a democracy it’s your vote that counts; in feudalism, it’s your Count that votes.

A chicken crossing the road: poultry in motion.

If you don’t pay your exorcist you can get repossessed.

With her marriage she got a new name and a dress.

Show me a piano falling down a mine shaft and I’ll show you A-flat miner.

The guy who fell onto an upholstery machine was fully recovered.

A grenade fell onto a kitchen floor in France resulted in Linoleum Blownapart.

You are stuck with your debt if you can’t budge it.

Local Area Network in Australia : The LAN down under.

A calendar’s days are numbered.

A boiled egg is hard to beat.

He had a photographic memory which was never developed.

A plateau is a high form of flattery.

The short fortuneteller who escaped from prison: a small medium at large.

Those who get too big for their britches will be exposed in the end.

When you’ve seen one shopping center you’ve seen a mall.

When she saw her first strands of gray hair, she thought she’d dye.

Bakers trade bread recipes on a knead to know basis.

Santa’s helpers are subordinate clauses.

Orignally posted by Tunnelblick

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English is Nutty 4

Most of us use Nutty English expression to mean something entirely different than what we are actually saying. 

What is said-What is meantWhy it’s nutty

I could care less – I couldn’t care less – think about it. 


I miss not seeing youI miss seeing you – unless you’re breaking up. 


A non-stop flight – A flight with no intermediate stops – all flights stop


My idea fell between the cracksfell into the cracks – between cracks is good 


A hot water heatera water heater – Who heats hot water?


a hot cup of coffeea cup of hot coffee – enough said.


It was said by a nameless officialunnamed officialmost folks have names


Put your best foot forwardWRONG – one foot is good, second foot is better. 


Keep a stiff upper lipWRONG – the lower lip is the one that quivers


 The movie kept me literally glued to my seat

The move kept me figuratively glued to my seat – Get out the glue-b-gone.


Got any nutty favorites, leave me a comment.

English is a nutty language (part three) guest writer

I thought this guy wrote well enough to be included in my English is a nutty language series . . .

A plan for the improvement of spelling in the English language

For example, in Year 1 that useless letter “c” would be dropped to be replased either by “k” or “s”, and likewise “x” would no longer be part of the alphabet. The only kase in which “c” would be retained would be the “ch” formation, which will be dealt with later.

Year 2 might reform “w” spelling, so that “which” and “one” would take the same konsonant, wile

Year 3 might well abolish “y” replasing it with “i” and iear 4 might fiks the “g/j” anomali wonse and for all.

Generally, then, the improvement would kontinue iear bai iear with iear 5 doing awai with useless double konsonants, and iears 6-12 or so modifaiing vowlz and the rimeiniing voist and unvoist konsonants. Bai iear 15 or sou, it wud fainali bi posibl tu meik ius ov thi ridandant letez “c”, “y” and “x”— bai now jast a memori in the maindz ov ould doderez —tu riplais “ch”, “sh”, and “th” rispektivili.

Fainali, xen, aafte sam 20 iers ov orxogrefkl riform, wi wud hev alojikl, kohirnt speling in ius xrewawt xe Ingliy-spiking werld.

_ Mark Twain

English is nutty 2

If uplift is the same as lift up, why are upset and set up opposite in meaning?


Why are pertinent and impertinent, canny and uncanny, and famous and infamous neither opposites nor the same?


How can raise and raze and reckless and wreckless be opposites when each pair contains the same sound?


Why does six, seven, eight, and nine change to sixty, seventy, eighty, and ninety, but two, three, four, and five does not become twoty, threety, fourty, and fivety?


Why is first degree murder more serious than third degree murder but a third degree burn is more serious than a first degree burn?


How can a house simultaneously burn up and burn down?


How can you fill in a form by filling out a form?


How can overlook and oversee be opposites, while “quite a lot” and “quite a few” are alike?


Where are all those people who are spring chickens or who would actually hurt a fly?



English is nutty.

What’s so hard about learning English? 

Nothing compared to teaching English as a Second Language to really

smart students who love to ask “Why?”


Day 1 lesson plan — Explain why:

quicksand is slow

A guinea pig is not a pig, and it is not from Guinea.

A boxing ring is square

the blackbird hen is brown,

blackboards can be green or blue


Day 2 lesson plans — Explain why:

There’s no butter in buttermilk,

no egg in eggplant,

no grape in grapefruit,

no bread in shortbread,

neither pine nor apple in pineapple,

neither peas nor nuts in peanuts,

and no ham in a hamburger.


Day 3 lesson plans — Explain why:

English muffins were not  invented in England,

French fries are not from France,

Danish pastries are not from Denmark

sweetmeat is made from fruit,

while sweetbread, which isn’t sweet, is made from meat.


Day 4 lesson plans — Explain why:

panda bears and koala bears aren’t bears (they’re marsupials);

a woodchuck is a groundhog, which is not a hog;

a horned toad is a lizard;

glowworms are fireflies,

but fireflies are not flies (they’re beetles)


Day 5 lesson plans — Explain why:

the sun shone yesterday while I shined my shoes,

I treaded water and then trod on the beach,

I flew out to see a World Series game in which my favorite player flied out?

If pro and con are opposites, is congress the opposite of progress?

People drive in a parkway and park in a driveway?


Day 6 lesson plans — Explain why:

In what other language do people recite at a play and play at a recital? 

In what other language can your nose run and your feet smell?     

How can a slim chance and a fat chance be the same

while a wise man and a wise guy are opposites?

If button and unbutton and tie and untie are opposites,

why are loosen and unloosen and ravel and unravel he same?             


Day 7 —  Rest. . . but first, make a sign that reads,  “That is another exception to the rule!”



Random Facts 7

Honey is the only food that does not spoil. Honey found in the tombs of Egyptian pharaohs has been tasted by archaeologists and found edible.

Months that begin on a Sunday will always have a “Friday the 13th.”

Coca-Cola would be green if coloring weren’t added to it.

On average a hedgehog’s heart beats 300 times a minute.

More people are killed each year from bees than from snakes.

The average lead pencil will draw a line 35 miles long or write approximately 50,000 English words.

More people are allergic to cow’s milk than any other food. (Me included)

Camels have three eyelids to protect themselves from blowing sand.

The placement of a donkey’s eyes enables it to see all four feet at all times!

The six official languages of the United Nations are: English, French, Arabic, Chinese, Russian and Spanish.

Earth is the only planet not named after a god.

It’s against the law to burp, or sneeze in a church in Nebraska, USA.

You’re born with 300 bones, but by the time you become an adult, you only have 206.

Some worms will eat themselves if they can’t find any food!

Dolphins sleep with one eye open!

It is impossible to sneeze with your eyes open

The worlds oldest piece of chewing gum is 9000 years old!

The longest recorded flight of a chicken is 13 seconds

Slugs have 4 noses.

Owls are the only birds that can see the colour blue.

A man named Charles Osborne had the hiccups for 69 years!

A giraffe can clean its ears with its 21-inch tongue!

The average person laughs 10 times a day!

Write good 5

1.   A writer must not shift your point of view.

2.   Don’t overuse exclamation marks!!

3.   Place pronouns as close as possible, especially in long sentences, as of 10 or more words, to their antecedents.

3.   Writing carefully, dangling participles must be avoided.

4.   If any word is improper at the end of a sentence, a linking verb is.

5.   Avoid trendy locutions that sound flaky.

6.   Everyone should be careful to use a singular pronoun with singular nouns in their writing.

7.   Always pick on the correct idiom.

8.   The adverb always follows the verb.

9.   Take the bull by the hand and avoid mixing metaphors.

10.  Take the bull by the hand and avoid mixing metaphors.

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Welcome Lander University

To members of the Lander University Community:

Welcome to Rob’s Megaphone

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Rob’s Library: (top left): My posts are classified by categories. Below that (Where on Earth are you) shows my visitors’ location. There are quizes,  blog friends’ sites, and recent posts.

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Thanks    : )

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Blog writing presents opportunities, obstacles

   Communicating online presents unique opportunities and obstacles. When people communicate face to face, they have the opportunity for immediate feedback. For example, if I said, “The movie, Leatherheads was good,” you could reply: “In what way was it good?” Because of the opportunity to clarify our meaning through follow-up questions, many of us have become accustomed to not striving for clarity in our casual conversations. A typical conversation might go something like this:
  • Mr. Jones: “I had a bad day today.”
  • Ms. Smith: “What happened?”
  • Mr. Jones: “We missed a deadline.”
  • Ms. Smith: “Why.”
  • Mr. Jones: “Jimmy was just off.”
  • Ms. Smith: “Do you mean off work, or he was not very productive?”
This conversation is an example of interpersonal communication. The process works something like this: Mr. Jones starts with an idea that he wants to communicate to Ms. Smith. He goes through a process called encoding. That’s the process of changing ideas to symbols (symbols can be spoken words, written words, body language, etc.) Ms. Smith heard the words or symbols and decoded them into meaning for her. Because Mr. Jones’ symbols were ambiguous or vague, Ms. Smith provided necessary feedback. Mr. Jones continued encoding symbols until he and Ms. Smith achieved effective communication.
In mass communication such as with newspapers and radio, the sender of information and the receiver of information usually lack the opportunity for immediate feedback. If receivers don’t understand what they read in the newspaper or heard on TV, they often just put down the paper or change the channel. The lesson here is that in mass communication, the sender must chose the best symbols to be clear the first time or risk losing the attention of the receiver.
Blogs are unique. Communicating through blogs is similar to interpersonal conversation in terms of the casualness of the conversation and the opportunity for comments. Communicating through blogs is also similar to mass communications in that there is one sender and numerous receivers, and while the feedback opportunities exists, relatively few bother to take advantage of the opportunity. Even when receivers leave remarks seeking clarification from the blog writer, it is often too late to benefit everyone involved because bloggers participate in online conversations sporadically.
That said there is ample opportunity for miscommunication through blogging, especially as it relates to the writers’ tone, inflection, and connotation. Emotion is difficult to convey online. Bloggers may choose to use emoticons such as smiley faces to indicate emphasis and emotion. However, careful attention should be used for noobs or new bloggers,  who may be unfamiliar with the less common emoticons. Some emoticons are easy to misinterpret.
Then there’s the abbreviated, text-message carry over to blogs. I remember years ago when I received a message with “lol” included. I wondered why my student was responding with “lots of love.” Fortunately before responding I discovered “lol” stood for “laugh out loud.”  Another potential for miscommunication for writers and readers of blogs is a word in ALL CAPS. To some a word in all caps means an important term, to others it connotes shouting.
Because of the numerous opportunities for misunderstanding, those who write for blogs might consider how each word could be received by the reader. If, for example, sarcasm is intended, the blog writer might consider a parenthetical expression, ie (sarcasm). While this may seem cumbersome, the alternative is the potential for misunderstanding. If the goal is effective communication, blog writers should be careful to avoid vague, ambiguous terms or terms that may have unintended consequences. With all the online competition, attracting readers to your blog or website is difficult. But getting frustrated readers to return is a steeper hill to climb.  
Feel free to share your thoughts on this.

Leading by example: Write good

1.  Always avoid alliteration.

2.  Prepositions are not words to end sentences with.

3.  Avoid cliches like the plague—they’re old hat.

4.  Employ the vernacular.

5.  Eschew ampersands & abbreviations, etc.

6.  Parenthetical remarks (however relevant) are unnecessary.

7.  Parenthetical words however must be enclosed in commas.

8.  It is wrong to ever split an infinitive.

9.  Contractions aren’t necessary.

10.  Do not use a foreign word when there is an adequate English quid pro quo.


Grammar problems

By Dr. Robert F. Stevenson
A few days ago, a friend of mine struck up a conversation with me concerning the pervasive problem of poor grammar. The discussion centered on the fact that one of the biggest complaints employers across the country have concerning those applying for entry-level jobs is the potential employees’ poor grasp of English grammar. I contributed my observation that in the not-too-distant past a good test for writers frustrated over a grammar conundrum included the simple question: “Does it sound right?” Unfortunately, a problem facing today’s youth is that poor grammar has seeped so deeply into daily conversation that, “Does it sound right?” just doesn’t work anymore. A little research confirmed the existence of that problem.
In an article entitled Poll finds grammar not prized by high school teachers, published in Education Daily, April 21, 2003, author Michael Cardman reported, “Among six general writing skills, high school teachers in a recent poll rated grammar and usage as the least important.” Cardman went on to say, “Of seniors who graduated in 2002 and took the ACT (standardized test), 46 percent scored at or below a level of marginal preparedness for college coursework, meaning they may struggle with such tasks as using punctuation to clarify meaning, making subjects and verbs agree, or linking clauses clearly and logically.”

In a separate article by United Press International, March 18, 2003 entitled, Top 20 mistakes in writing resumes, Mike Worthington, the so-called “Resume Doctor,” discussed recruiters’ top 20 complaints. Recently, Worthington’s firm interviewed hundreds of recruiters and headhunters in the United States and Canada to find out what turns them off. The report, available at ResumeDoctor.com, found that, “The No. 1 thing recruiters hate is bad writing: spelling errors, typos and poor grammar.”

Are you one of the countless hordes of seemingly normal people with a “closet” grammar problem? Maybe you were absent (in mind if not in body) when your fifth grade English teacher discussed pronoun-antecedent agreement. Or, maybe the pluperfect tense makes you perfectly tense. Or, maybe you are one of the lucky ones — who invariably “gets it right,” without a clue as to why. Whatever the reason, if you have concealing a grammar phobia, it’s not too late to conquer the comma!
Why not make this the day that you begin to liberate yourself from that cloud of confusion surrounding English grammar? It can be done. When I taught English as a Second Language to international students at a community college north of Seattle, one of my most common replies to my students was, “That’s another exception to the rule.” I sometimes felt a little guilty that I was fortunate enough to grow up speaking English because English seemed to me a relatively difficult language for a non-English speaking adult to master.

Shown below is a quick test of common grammar and spelling problems. Why not take a minute to see how you fare? Just circle the correct responses.
a. The dog lost (its or it’s) collar.
b. Give the money to (whoever or whomever) you like.
c. Exercise may be difficult (comma, semicolon, or no punctuation) but it can be very rewarding.
d. The (effect or affect) of the experiment would negatively (effect or \ affect) the group.
e. Our garden has (a lot or alot) of weeds this year.
f. The team comprised entirely of girls made (their or its) debut last Saturday.
g. It is (all right or alright) that you are finished (all ready or already).
h. You (two, too, to) have (two, too, to) much time (two, too, to)!
i. She made this gift for you and (I or me).
j. The committee discussed the issue amongst (themselves or itself) before rendering (their or its) decision.
The answers are:
a. its (“it’s” only means “it is”);
b. whomever (we need an object to fit with the preposition “to” in this sentence – “whoever” is nominative case or a subject; whomever is the objective case pronoun);
c. comma (there are two independent clauses [phrases with a subject and a verb] combined by the coordinating conjunction “but.” The rule is to “always precede a coordinating conjunction with a comma.” )
d. effect (“effect” with an “e” means result); affect (“affect” with an “a” means change). e. a lot (“a lot” is always two words);
f. its (in this sentence, we’re dealing with a pronoun/antecedent agreement. “Their” is plural and therefore incorrect because the antecedent “team” is singular).
g. all right (alright is non-standard English); already (already means “by now”).
h. two (always a number); too (excessively); and too (as well).
i. me (the pronoun “I” is always a subject, and “me” is always an object. In this sentence we need an object).    
j. themselves (“committee” is a collective noun; it can either be singular or plural depending on its usage. [In the first reference, “committee” is plural, so we need a plural pronoun) its (committee is acting as a singular noun in the second reference.] “Its” is therefore the correct pronoun).

If you missed 0-2, go back to your reading; you’re doing fine.
3-5, maybe a little brush up wouldn’t hurt.
6-8, time to get a library card and enhance your writing through reading
9-10, time to get a grammar book.
If you felt a little rusty with this English grammar challenge, I recommend acquainting yourself with either of these two books: THE LITTLE BROWN HANDBOOK or STRUNK
Don’t let a comma come between you and your next job.