Friday, April 19, 2013

Reading Between and the Lines

It has been a long time since I ranted about some grammatical thing that irks me, so I hope you can finally cease your waiting and rest easy with this new post on prepositions and their symbolic stand-ins.

What is a preposition, you're asking? Well, if you're asking, you've probably come to the wrong place, but all you really need to know is that the following words are prepositions: "from," "between," and "to."

You probably know already that these particular prepositions travel in predictable pairs—from Point A to Point B, or between Point A and Point C.

You don't need Li'l Language Lady to tell you which word to pair with another.

But when you start using symbols instead of words, all your sense  seems to vanish (excuse me; when I say "you," I am referring not actually to you, but a hypothetical person who is certainly not you!)

It is generally accepted that the en dash ( – ) is the character of choice when separating two numbers to indicate a range, and that the en dash used in this context reads aloud as "to." So when you put "March 3 – March 8" on your calendar, you know you really mean "March 3 to March 8." Easy peasy, right?

Then why, pray tell, do people write things like, "Registration will be open between March 3 – March 8." ? Why, when it clearly would be read as the nonsensical "between March 3 to March 8."

Am I being too harsh? Does the en dash have an alternate meaning as the word "and"?

And did you understand the clever jumble of wordplay I did in the title of this post, which makes slightly more sense if you think of en dashes as "the lines?"

Thursday, April 11, 2013

Falling in Love the Natural Way

Well, I've been single (more or less, but we won't go into that) for about 3 months now, and that means I've had plenty of time to think about falling in love.

I frequently list falling in love as one of my favorite pastimes, being one of the few benefits of being single. You are free to fall in love as often as you want, with no consequences except maybe some lack of sleep and/or productivity.

I'll admit I haven't been doing nearly as much falling in love as I would like, but that doesn't mean I can't pretend to be an expert on it! And what I am going to posit, with my superior knowledge backing me, is there are good ways of falling in love, and there are bad ways.

The bad way goes something like this. You meet online, already hoping you might have found your perfect match. You make a few snap judgments of each other, mostly based on photos, statistics, and writing style. If you haven't rejected each other within the first 10 seconds, you may exchange messages, wherein you try to wheedle facts and dealbreakers out of the other party. If you haven't yet found fault with each other, you meet in person. At this point, you may conclude that the other party is uglier than his/her pictures indicated, or that you can't stand the other's voice, or that his/her B.O. is just too overwhelming. If by some miracle, you still haven't been frightened off, you have the go-ahead to fall in love.

The bad way of approaching romance is a subtractive process, in which you start with lofty ideals and whittle them down to the point where you've either given up entirely or done the dreaded "settling."

The good way, on the other hand, starts with no expectations. You meet in a neutral environment, without even giving a thought to the notion that you may one day be in love. You don't have any romantic interest in each other. You may even find the other a little intimidating, or annoying, or unattractive. You go about your daily business, getting to know each other slowly over a period of weeks or months. You gradually learn each other's good traits and bad traits. You become friends. You learn even more of each other's good traits. At some point, you realize you have a genuine crush on the other, and the things you originally found intimidating, annoying, or unattractive, have transformed in your mind to – yes! – more good traits. But you don't let on. You continue going about your daily business, savoring every tiny interaction to your secret delight. You may continue like this for more weeks or more months, until, perhaps, the other disappears from your life, no harm, no foul. But perhaps, instead, one of you will one day make a move. And then, well, you've already fallen in love! After all that waiting, it's like Christmas!

The good way of falling in love is additive (addictive, too), starting with almost nothing and building up, good thing on top of good thing. It's not contrived, like online dating. It just sort of happens. And things that just sort of happen always feel more right, to me, than things I've struggled to achieve.

It may be counterproductive to set accidental love-falling as an goal, but I sincerely hope I'll keep it in mind the next time I'm tempted to rush things in my desperation to no longer be single.

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Classic Mac from CapMac

City dwellers the country over seem to be in a happy frenzy over food trucks. They seem to think the food that comes out of these vehicles (also known as roach wagons, anyone ever heard that appetizing name?) is better than manna from heaven. Having never tasted manna, I'm not qualified to judge, but I'll take my meals out of a restaurant any day.

No standing out in line in the hot sun or freezing rain, and you get to eat off of reusable diningware instead of landfill-clogging disposables.

Nonetheless, while at the Cherry Blossom Festival on Saturday, I was obliged to taste the macaroni and cheese offerings of Cap Mac, a food truck that specializes in macaroni and cheese.

The only item on the menu that suited my meat-free diet was Classic Mac, so I got that. And within the first bite, I'd realized something sad. They had attempted to make their macaroni and cheese "fancy" by infusing it with spices or something, and I have to assume that they felt the spices were sufficient flavoring that they could forgo the world's best seasoning: good old fashioned salt.

As you can guess, I was not impressed. I checked their menu before posting this entry, and verified that indeed, they had put "pimento" into what might have been an otherwise good macaroni and cheese.

They had, however, topped it with broken Cheez-Its, which I thought was a nice touch.

Therefore, I rate this macaroni as follows:
One sad noodle for putting peppers in my go-to bland food.
Another sad noodle for not enough salt
One happy noodle for Cheez-Its!

 1sad noodle  1sad noodle 1 happy noodle

Thursday, April 4, 2013

White Chocolate Chunk Cookie from 4th Street Deli

The 4th Street Deli in Fernandina Beach was where my mom and I stopped for lunch on our shopping trip the second day of our vacation. While there, I had a very good sandwich and picked up a very good looking Giant Cookie for later.

Well, it might have looked good, but its taste was another matter!

It was probably one of the airiest, crispiest, crumbliest giant cookies I have ever had the misfortune of buying. And to top that off, it didn’t really have any flavor.

I’m so disappointed, I can’t talk about it, so this will be a brief review.

The white chocolate chunks were its one saving grace, providing the same chewy, creamy sugar rush I’ve come to expect from white chocolate chunks.

It cost 1.67¢ a gram, which isn’t that great, either.

The Bottom Line:
Taste: 2 stars
Texture: 2 stars
Price: 3 stars

Wednesday, April 3, 2013

Chocolate Chip Cookie from Marché Burette

Within a few hours of arriving on Amelia Island, I had already discovered my first Giant Cookie.

It was hiding within the glass deli case at Marché Burette, the cafe and general store on Omni Amelia Island Plantation Resort. Marché Burette, in addition to having some of the giantest cookies I'd ever laid eyes on, also had an excess of customers.

Our attempt to eat lunch there was solidly foiled, and so we vowed to come back later—perhaps to dine and most definitely to partake of a Giant Cookie. Maybe they would be less overcooked (as they appeared to be) the second time around.

Alas, they were not, and neither were they the third time, when we finally succeeded in having our lunch. They had just gotten over their lunch rush at 3 pm.

But this isn't a story of my dining adventures—no, it is a story of a Giant Cookie, and what a fine Giant Cookie it was!

As I mentioned before, it was big. Not content to be flat like normal Giant Cookies, this behemoth of a baked good rose proud like a mountain! Or at least a low hill.

Usually a Giant Cookie of such stocky proportions is rather on the tough side, and this one was no exception. Near its middle, it had a hint of chewy, but for the most part, I found it to be a hearty hunk of sweetness.

Not, mind you, that it was too crispy—most of the crunch came from the oats, which are a rarity in Giant Cookies that don't have raisins, so they were a welcome addition. But no, it didn't quite pass the Crumble Test.

The flavor — well, I don't remember the flavor, so it must have been unremarkable, but I did make note that the chocolate parts were yummalicious.

The price, though, that was a bit more memorable. Memorably good! Although I had to pay a whopping three dollars for a single cookie, I received 280 grams of the same, meaning it cost 1.07¢ a gram. Not too shabby.

The Bottom Line:
Taste: 3 stars
Texture: 3 stars
Price: 4 stars

Monday, April 1, 2013

A Travel Tale

Last week, I took my first ever solo drive to Florida, and I lived to tell about it. This is not a story about all the fun times I had in Florida (because it was a pretty uneventful trip) but rather, the ways that it was different from vacations past.

I'm no stranger to long drives. I make the 8-hour trek from College Park to Toledo Ohio 2 or 3 times a year. The Florida trip (to Jacksonville) increased my total time to 12 hours, but it used fewer roads and had no tolls, so overall, it was less stressful.

Arriving in Jacksonville at 7 pm, I was 1) starving and 2) ready to explore the city, get my vacation started with a bang! Unfortunately, it was a Sunday, so all the shops closed right before I got there. Kind of reminds me of my disappointing trip to Denver last year. I was forced to settle for carrying frozen yogurt back to my room and watching TV in bed.

The next day, in the few hours before I had to pick up my mom and her husband at the airport, I decided to really live it up and buy my breakfast at Walmart. On the way there, I achieved another first: I ran (that is, jogged slowly) all the way, which turned out to be a mile. I ran a mile! Marathons, here I come! My trip to Walmart involved crossing 3 freeway exits and a busy road, so I can also claim the distinction of having cheated death.

By that time, I was fairly certain I was getting another head cold (the third one since mid-February!). My nose was getting stuffier by the minute and my bones ached (some of that may have been from running in my less-than ergonomic shoes), and the first thing that I did upon arriving at our villa on the beach was burrow into a bed and nap for an hour and a half.

My memories of the next two days consist mostly of battling fatigue and struggling to breathe. Tragically, the only day during my vacation which I spent any significant amount of time on a beach, I was forced to bundle up in jeans and 3 layers of shirts. I did not so much as touch a wave the entire holiday.

By Thursday, I was pretty much back to my usual health, which means I have no more drama to add to this tale! I must report, however, that, as on most vacations, I found a great number of new Giant Cookies to add to my roster, so look forward to those reviews shortly!