Thursday, August 30, 2012

More is Less? No, more is just somewhere else.

I don't know if you've noticed, but I've noticed, I blog less and less these days. My last three blog posts were food reviews, which are just not the same off-the-cuff thrilling content that I used to churn out like ice cream... Mmm, maybe I should start doing ice cream reviews!

I think I know the reason for my silence. It's that the short thinking points I used to have to invent a whole blog entry around, I can now say in just a few sentences on Facebook or Twitter! As I just said to a friend today, if you can learn whatever you need to learn in 5 seconds, why do it in 10?

The result of this is, when I have the chance to say it short and sweet, I probably won't bother saying it again long and syrupy. The more places I have in which to say things, the less I say in any single place—and my blog seems to be the place that always gets cut. Now don't get me wrong; I love blogging. Get me started and I'll be just as long-winded as I ever was!

That's why I'm thinking – just pondering, mind you – of taking all the things that I currently tweet about (for example, spinning in office chairs, or the joys of eating chocolate), and putting them back on my blog instead. Then I shall convert my Twitter into an exclusively work-related update mechanism–something that I can use to communicate with my clients and maybe occasionally say something profound and follow-worthy regarding Web design.

My Facebook is full of even more interesting story fodder—for example, my encounter with the shark in Ocean City, the tale of all the stuff I won within one lucky week in July, and the marvelously productive things I do on my Me-Time days!

I could, of course, post stuff in both places, or even use cross-posts to hype my blog to my Facebook friends (who, for the most part, probably don't know it exists), but at the same time, I kind of like knowing my blog is only ready by people who really care—and of course, the occasional random stranger. I also tend to find it annoying when I read the same thing from the same source in two or three different communication channels, and I prefer not to do the same. But maybe it's time to change my policy.

It's just something I've been thinking about. I probably won't take action for a while—at least until I roll out my website redesign, which is going slower than moles in cryo-freeze....but mainly I wanted to apologize to all my loyal readers who might not find endless cookie reviews as delectable as I do, and offer the glimmer of a brighter future.

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Tortoise & Hare Macaroni

I like going to bars for lunch because they are so often so quiet at that time of day. At Tortoise & Hare in Arlington, my boyfriend and I had the entire restaurant to ourselves, but for a few hardcore patrons sitting at the bar. The ambience of the restaurant, however, is neither here nor there, as I am here to write about the macaroni.

I ordered a sandwich with a side of macaroni and saved my side of macaroni for another day.

I did try a few bites while at the restaurant to ensure an accurate review, and my impression was, "pretty but bland." The plate was sprinkled with parsley, which I loved, and the pasta with shredded cheese, which I loved even more, but the flavor was less up my alley. It was sort of mild but slightly tangy, and, as is a frequent complaint of mine, not quite salty enough. The shredded cheese on top was, however, and you can always add salt, which is probably a better way to do things than put in too much salt from the get-go.

I guess my least favorite thing about this macaroni was the texture. I found the noodles a tad too soft, and with no breadcrumbs or anything to perk it up, it proved to be a pretty unexciting eat.

One happy noodle for not making me sad, One sad noodle for not making me happy.

1 happy noodle  1sad noodle

Friday, August 24, 2012

Best Maid Chocolate Chip Cookie

I bought this cookie at a local establishment (Tryst, to be exact), thinking it was house-made. Then, when I got home, I turned it over, and discovered it was Best Maid. That is, a prepackaged deal made in Wisconsin. I ate it anyway.

I've been having a hard time getting up the motivation to review this cookie because it was so mediocre.

Mediocre in flavor, uninspiring in texture, and average in cost (1.47¢ per gram), I think I'll just leave it at that.

Add this cookie to the "buy one if you're hungry" category, cause it's just food, not a treat.

The bottom line
Taste: 3 stars
Texture: 3 stars
Price: 3 stars

Sunday, August 12, 2012

Safeway Chocolate Candy Cookies

Some of my favorite cookies come, surprisingly, not from any boutique bakery or fancy candy shop, but from the bakery department at supermarket chains. Take the white chocolate macadamia nut cookies from Giant.They are not big enough to warrant a Giant Cookie Review, but they are delicious beyond measure.

Recently, I discovered to my delight, that Safeway produces another of these delectable gems, at an even better price and a size (just barely) worthy of being called giant!

They are, as Safeway's label so eloquently describes them, "Cookies jumbo sugar," but they actually have a secret ingredient—M&M's! (or at least, the generic equivalent.)

Now, M&M's alone are not enough to make a cookie good, but combined with a decadent chewy texture and an almost unbelievable price, they are the glorious ingredient that makes good into amazing!

If you can't tell, I love these cookies! They might only be improved if they were a tad less sweet.

The price I mentioned is 5 dollars for a dozen, a dozen being 850 grams, and that means .59¢ per gram. Point five nine! By far the cheapest Giant Cookie around, and for their level of yumminess, definitely worth every .1 penny! I understand that the 5 dollar package was a special price, but even if the original price was double that, it would still be reasonable, for a giant cookie.

Win, win, win!

The Bottom Line:
Taste: 4 stars
Texture: 5 stars
Price: 5 stars

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

A look inside the tortured soul of a grammarian

My heart weeps. The bitterness of betrayal sits acrid in my throat. I have begun to suspect one of my favorite phrases to be...grammatically incorrect!

Just because ... doesn't mean....
I say this all the time. "Just because I'm beautiful doesn't mean I'm stupid," (one phrase I've sadly never had the opportunity to use) is one example of how a logical argument can be completely derailed by this construction. In this sentence (ignoring the "just" because it's unnecessary to the basic meaning), "because I'm beautiful" is a clause, meaning it contains a subject and verb that could stand alone as a sentence: "I'm beautiful." However, because the clause also contains a conjunction ("because"), it cannot stand on its own—it is a dependent clause, meaning it must be attached to another clause.

"Doesn't mean I'm stupid" is not a clause, though. It's a compound predicate, lacking only a subject. The solution to this limitation seems simple enough: add an "it" to the beginning, and voila! You have a sentence - "It doesn't mean I'm stupid" - usable in this case as the independent clause to which our dependent clause must adhere.

"Just because I'm beautiful, it doesn't mean I'm stupid" becomes our finished product. But wait. There's still something wrong with that!

As we all know, "it" is a pronoun, and all pronouns must refer back to a noun (or phrase that acts as a noun). So what is "it" referring to in this sentence? Well, "it" could be just a general catch-all for "the general state of things," but that's really just a cop-out. Typically when you say "It doesn't mean..." you are referring directly back to a stated fact—e.g. "I am beautiful. It doesn't mean I'm stupid." Or, to put it all in one sentence, "I am beautiful, but it doesn't mean I'm stupid."

That sentence works, but that "because" in the first clause of our original example sure messes things up! While "I am beautiful" is an independent clause, "because I am beautiful" is a dependent one. It's an incomplete idea and can't be considered a stated fact. It is more a fact in progress.

So how can we use it and still have a coherent sentence? We can't. The best compromise I can come up with is "Just being beautiful doesn't mean I'm stupid," but that leaves out our beloved "just because." Or then there's "Just because I'm beautiful, I don't have to be stupid," but that leaves out the "doesn't mean." And without one or the other of those phrases, the sentence loses a good bit of its punch.

What a dilemma! What's a grammarian to do?

Apparently, I'm not alone in my pain, judging from the several discussions that turn up in a Google search for 'language "just because" "doesn't mean."' Unfortunately, no one seems to have a definitive answer for me. Ergo, I've decided the only recourse is to lock myself in the basement and write gothic poetry. Without any punctuation.

On the plus side, I've said "I'm beautiful" enough times in this post to make up for never being able to say it in real life!

Thursday, August 2, 2012

Search and Self

One day at work, I happened to notice that the Google search box in my browser had stored a list of all my recent searches, and I could actually pull it down and see them all at once! I realized my Google search history gives a pretty accurate view into what I value and what I think about, since whenever a thought pops into my head, my first response is usually to search on it. I thought it would be kind of fun to document, officially, all the very eclectic things I think about on the job. Being the dedicated worker that I am, I laboriously typed out the entire 95-item list (if any of you know where to access your Firefox search history in readable format, now's no longer the time to speak up!) and set about bringing it to order.

In case you were wondering what I do at the office all day (or at least the parts of it when I'm Googling), read on!

Of my last 95 searches at work, I am proud to say that most of them (er, 52) were work-related—and therefore mostly boring. Eighteen of them were related to troubleshooting our website (and therefore extremely boring), but among the work-related searches, a few of them stood out as slightly amusing.
  • Doctorate vs. Doctoral - Yes, even as a Web developer, I'm still fixated on the intricacies of English. I was trying to find out which word I should use to categorize the degree programs offered by my college. Turns out the two words are basically synonyms, and either one is acceptable.
  • Windows Desktop Folder Gone - I highlight this query in particular, although there were several similar ones, just to illustrate that, no matter where I go or what computer I use, there are always 101 things wrong with my computer. Since starting my job, I've dealt with the user desktop folder disappearing (and a whole barrage of error messages related to that), being unable to install an antivirus program, having Windows Task Scheduler repeatedly conk out and have to be recreated, and, well, if there were other problems, I'd rather not think about them. Sigh. I spend far too much of my working time trying to get my computer working.
  • And now for my personal favorite: Platypus - This search occurred when I was seized with the sudden need to identify this strange-looking creature, which was one of many photos in the "Animals Pack" I was using as filler fluff for our demo website.
    After searching for "platypus," I realized that's definitely what it was not, but I still am not sure what it is! (I think it's a penguin.)
My non-work-related searches are much more diverse.
  •  At least a few of them could be classified as work-related as well, such as altitude sickness (which I was investigating as a possible cause of my illness while in Denver for work) and great web design, which I have to do both at home and at work (although I think this search was inspired by a personal project). 
  • Several of them were for the greater cause of blogging, especially clause vs phrase (for a grammar post that is so convoluted I'm not sure I'm ever going to publish it) horseshoe crabs and wall (a simile to be used in an allusion that was, as the search revealed, too obscure to publish) "Painter pants," an apparent misnomer I'd been using for wide-leg pants, and standing side crunch, which is the only searched term that actually made it into a post. 
  • A few searches were for the greater cause of fashion, such as convert 84 cm to inches, which I had to do when determining whether a certain article of clothing I wanted to buy would fit me. I concluded it would, and consequently, you will probably see it on The Unfashionista sooner or later.
  • The last are a few single-word searches, most of which were simply to verify a definition:
    • geometrician - Yes, it is a real word (even though my spell check says otherwise), and some day I will use it in a really brilliant joke. (You know you're never going to make it as a comedian when you have to plan your jokes months or years in advance.)
    • petulant and vagary - Don't know why I was looking up these words, and I still don't remember what vagary means! I guessed it might be some sort of synonym for "vagueness," but I don't think it was. My memory on this matter in general is a little vague.
    • Once upon a time, I knew my heart couldn't rest unless it could find out why people sometimes call Buffalo Wild Wings "BW3's," even though there are only two W's in Buffalo Wild Wings. Turns out, according to their corporate website, that they used to be called Buffalo Wild Wings and Weck—and a Google search for "weck" naturally ensued. It's some kind of roll with seeds on it. Like a kaiser roll, but with a funnier name.
    • "The -  Another classic case of typing in the wrong text box. Enough said.
    • Tucks - I brought sewing supplies into work one day, to hang up my giant stuffed giraffe (because naturally no office is complete without a giant stuffed giraffe), and while looking at the little round green case that holds my needles, which I inherited from my mom and probably her mom before her, I began to wonder what the "Tucks® carrying case" label on it represented. By searching Google, I learned I'm carrying around my needles in a hemorrhoid wipes package! I turned it face down on my desk after that.
This concludes my Google Search History lesson. I hope it has given you great insight into my life, and life of mind. What does your search history say about you?