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Proper Speaking is Sometimes an Illusion

I find networkers by nature to be self-starters and very motivated, which you have to be if you want to make any money through networking. But I really wish people would come to me first and ask, “Does this sound right?”

Chances are, the answer would be yes, except in the following cases.

I will go to the ends of the Earth — Recently, I’ve been watching “The West Wing” on Netflix, and a character said something similar about “the corners of the globe.”

The problem is, there are no ends of the Earth and no corners of the globe.

All the wine you can drink. All the food you can drink, too — If I want a liquid diet, I’ll call the hospital.

Tom Hanks was the emcee in the beginning — And who took over for him at the end?

We raised over $4 million for breast cancer awareness — I’ve written about this before. I think people are really, really aware of breast cancer. But we need to raise more money to find a cure.

Also, and I’ve written about this, too: It’s more than, not over.

I want to thank Harold. I have pestilence bad — Harold runs a pest control company. I don’t think he has enough spray and traps and bait and whatever else he has to combat a worldwide epidemic, such as bubonic plague.

I want to thank Jason for helping my Millennium son — Wow. You son is a thousand years old? Impressive.

I asked my millennial daughter what would she say if someone called her a millennium, and she responded, “Time is an illusion.” Apparently, that is something millennials say.

Until next time! Use the right words!

September 21, 2017 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Medical Terms I’ve Come to Know Personally

To my followers: I’m sorry I’ve been gone for more than a month. It wasn’t because of my not having anything to write about. It’s because I’ve been ill, and as a result, there are medical terms I’ve now come to know personally. These are below in bold type.

On July 6, I awoke, turned over in bed and immediately felt like the room was spinning. It felt like being on a playground merry-go-round that never stopped. And because it never stopped, the nausea I felt — and the vomiting that went with it — was as terrible as any nausea and vomiting I’ve ever experienced. I couldn’t keep anything down, not that I was hungry. But anything I drank came up, and so did the bile.

The only time I didn’t feel sick was when I laid flat on my back, and that made any kind of moving nausea-inducing. I couldn’t get down the stairs to get to the car to go to the doctor without several times looking down into a bucket. I had to lay the passenger seat flat so I could lay flat while my wife drove me to the hospital.

At first, the general practitioner diagnosed my condition as benign paroxysmal positional vertigoa condition in which crystals (real name: calcified otoliths)  in the inner ear move, causing dizziness. These episodes typically last an hour, and since I was suffering for longer, the doctor put in for a CAT (computerized axial tomography) scan and a magnetic resonance imaging test.

The CAT scan revealed nothing, but the MRI revealed a two-centimeter lesion in my cerebellum, the part of the brain that deals with balance. I was admitted to the hospital and stayed there for four days. In that time, I slowly learned how to live with my head spinning, which I experienced because my left eye was jumping in my head. I learned how to eat, drink and go to the bathroom while spinning. I took meclizine, which helped with the nausea. I could hardly read or watch TV, and when I read, I needed my reading glasses at all times instead of just early in the morning or late at night. When I watched TV, I needed my head to be pinned against a pillow. I likened it to an infant who can’t keep his head up.

Doctors gave me prednisone, a steroid that could speed up the healing (blood tests showed an elevated white-blood-cell count, so I was trying to heal myself). It has a side effect of elevating one’s blood sugar, so several times I was given insulin. I now know what a diabetic experiences.

Also in that time, the neurologist recommended I meet with a more specialized neurologist, one whose expertise was in multiple sclerosis. This was set for July 20th.

I wanted to stay in the hospital until the spinning stopped, but on the 10th, I came home still spinning. When I was able to read, I looked up MS and found it was a  demyelinating disease in which the insulating covers of nerve cells in the brain (the myelin sheaths) and spinal cord are damaged, probably because of the failure of the myelin-producing cells.

I was weeks away from my 49th birthday. All I cared about was how to get the spinning to stop. I’d deal with the diagnosis later.

On the 17th, I met with my general practitioner who recommended I try scopolamine, the drug people take by putting a patch behind their ear before going on a cruise ship, to combat the spinning. All that did was make me spin faster, so the doctor suggested lorazepam (better known as Ativan). This did nothing.

On the 20th, I met with the neurologist and learned I had clinically isolated syndrome and not MS because I had only one lesion, so it isn’t multiple. I joked that I had S and not MS. The neurologist explained that only 15 percent of people with CIS ever get MS. I’ll take those odds. He also said there would always be scarred brain tissue. My wife said she didn’t care because she couldn’t see it.

Over time, the spinning got slower and slower until on Aug. 4, the day before I was to leave for a vacation in Lake Tahoe, it finally stopped. I posted on Facebook, “Today, for the first time in about a month, I got off the merry-go-round.” I’m not sure everybody who responded or liked the post knew what I meant.

But it doesn’t matter. I’m home, the spinning has stopped, and I’m ready to resume life. I have a follow-up MRI on Sept. 21 to make sure no other lesions have appeared. So far, it doesn’t seem so.

My wife and I started watching “The West Wing” on Netflix. How coincidental that President Josiah Bartlet has MS.

Until next time! Use the right words!

August 15, 2017 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

The One About the Word “Gleba”

I’ve taken to Twitter and seen there are some haters out there. Regarding this post, they might say, “What took you so long? This episode of Friends aired 12 years ago.”

My response: I didn’t watch the show. I thought it was dumb. I only came to the party because my teenage daughter watches it on Netflix.

The episode in question is “The One With The Lottery” (original air date, April 3, 2003). In one of secondary storylines, Rachel (Jennifer Aniston) hears her daughter Emma say on the phone, “gleba,” and announces that was her first word. Ross (David Schwimmer) claims that’s not a word, to which Rachel looks it up and declares gleba means “the fleshy, spore-bearing inner mass of a certain fungi.” To which Ross declares “She’s going to be a scientist.”


My dictionary doesn’t have gleba in it, so I looked online and found it to mean “the sporogenous tissue forming the central part of the sporophore in certain fungi, as in puffballs and stinkhorns.”

Complex. Too complex for those who watched Friends.

Until next time! Use the right words!

September 8, 2015 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Did Ducky Get it Right?

Last night, thanks to Netflix, I watched a season 4 episode of “NCIS” in which Dr. Mallard (David McCallum) is asked to describe, in his own words, the difference between ethics and morals.

His response: “The ethical man knows he shouldn’t cheat on his wife, whereas the moral man actually wouldn’t.”

First of all, I doubt those were his words. Rather, they were the words of the episode’s writers, Steven D. Binder (teleplay and story) and Christopher Silber (story).

But what I really wondered was whether ol’ Ducky was using the words right.

Ethic has four definitions, including “a set of moral principles or values” (don’t you just love when definitions show words to be synonymous?). But another definition is “the principles of conduct governing and individual or a group.”

Moral has six definitions (not including the four definitions relating to a story’s lesson), including “of or relating to principles of right and wrong in behavior; ethical” (another synonym?). But another similar definition is: “conforming to a standard of right behavior.”

The dictionary also has a usage note that says moral implies conformity to established sanctioned codes or accepted notions of right and wrong, such as not committing adultery. Ethic, meanwhile, suggests there is a more difficult or subtle question of right or wrong: You know you’re not supposed to commit adultery, but what if you’re tempted?

I would say the usage is correct. Score one for the vast wasteland of TV!

Until next time! Use the right words!

May 14, 2015 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

Half-Mast, Half-Staff, Half-Cocked

When I was younger, there was a place called the Museum of Television & Radio in which I could watch old TV shows. It was like an amusement park to me — but much less expensive. I wiled away hours watching cartoons, pilots and finales.

The place is now called the Paley Center for Media, but I don’t go anymore. I have Netflix.

Now, I can watch all the TV shows I want. The current one my wife and I are enjoying is “Criminal Minds.” We’re only in Season 2, so Mandy Patinkin hasn’t been replaced by Joe Mantegna yet. My wife’s favorite character is Dr. Spencer Reid, portrayed by Matthew Gray Gubler. He reminds me of Sheldon Cooper (Jim Parsons) from “The Big Bang Theory” but with less humor.

In one episode, characters are talking about flying a flag at half-mast to honor a dead officer, when Reid interrupts and corrects them, saying it’s half-staff. Half-mast is reserved for ships.

When I was a kid, flag were always flown at half-mast, so I wondered who was right.

My research concluded that a fictional character was correct. In this country, it’s half-staff when flying over non-nautical things. Many countries still use the term half-mast when we would use half-staff.

Let’s not go off half-cocked on this matter.

Until next time! Use the right words!

January 28, 2015 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Know Your Military Units

Thanks to Netflix, I have been enjoying Ken Burns’ documentary, “The Civil War.” I never saw it in its entirety when it first aired in September 1990. I did, however watch “Baseball” in its entirety in 1994 (and the two-part “Tenth Inning” in 2010), so I’m familiar with Burns’ style of having people read the words of long-dead people. I decided to give “The Civi War” a try.

I have enjoyed it immensely. But I kept hearing these military terms, such as battalion, regiment, brigade and division, and I realized I had no idea what they meant.

So, here they are:

Unit – most basic part of an army

Squad(ron) – 8-14 soldiers led by a sergeant or corporal; also a small unit sent out from the main group to do some particular task.

Group – 2-4 squadrons headed by a lieutenant colonel, commander or equivalent

Platoon – 15-30 soldiers, led by a lieutenant; also a subdivision of a company

Company – a military unit typically consisting of 80–250 soldiers and usually commanded by a captain or a major. Often made of two to three platoons

Battalion – a ground force unit composed of a headquarters and two or more companies or similar units. It consists of 300-800 soldiers commanded by a lieutenant colonel.

Brigade – three to six battalions, smaller than a division

Regiment – a unit of ground forces, consisting of two or more battalions or battle groups, Originally, 1,000 men headed by a colonel. Today, it just means a large military unit that is smaller than a division

Division – three or more brigades, 10,000-30,000 soldiers

Battery – a cluster of 6-12 cannon

Corps – 20,000-40,000 soldiers

Until next time! Use the right words!

January 21, 2015 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Set Up the Setup!

Because I don’t subscribe to pay TV channels, I am always behind on the HBO and Showtime shows. I have to wait for them to become available on Netflix. For example, I’m on the 10th episode of Season 4 of “Homeland” — just days before Season 5 premieres.

I bring this up because in a Season 4 episode, it is revealed that Carrie Mathison (Claire Danes) and Saul Berenson (Mandy Patinkin) have been working together all along. It was a setup.

This perfectly segues into my reminder that so many English words are different parts of speech when spelled differently. Setup is a noun; set up a verb (the definitions of each are too numerous to mention here. Check a dictionary and you’ll see what I mean).

OK? Got it? Good. Just don’t tell me what happens in Season 5.

Until next time! Use the right words!

October 2, 2014 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Why Invent a New Word? We’ve Got A Perfectly Good One

A new word recently added to the Oxford Dictionary is binge-watch, which we know means — thanks to Netflix and other streaming-video services — watching multiple episodes of a TV show, such as “Breaking Bad.”

I don’t have a problem with people doing this — heck, I’ve done it, not just with “Breaking Bad” but “Lost” and “Sherlock” and “Parks and Recreation” and “Mary Tyler Moore” and “Scooby-Doo” and “Laugh-in” and “24” and …

But I digress.

The problem I have is with the term binge-watch. It’s completely unnecessary. We already have a word to describe this behavior: binge, which means “an unrestrained indulgence.”

I can even use binge in a sentence: Last night, my wife and I went on a “Breaking Bad” binge: We watched the entire fifth season.

So, stop it, Oxford Dictionary. Stop adding unnecessary words — especially words that include the word we already have that perfectly describes what we’ re doing.

Until next time! Use the right words!

August 28, 2014 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Even Netflix Isn’t Immune to Caption Confusion

Despite the high price, I pay for Netflix’s streaming and DVD services. I recently finished watching “House of Cards,” and while Kevin Spacey always gives a good performance (he deserved his Emmy nomination), the caption writer(s) did not.

In the fifth episode, a character says that something “peaks my interest.” I naturally thought that was wrong, that what the caption should have read was “piques my interest.”

So I looked up the words.

My dictionary’s definition of the verb peak read in part, “to reach a maximum (as of capacity, value or activity).” This makes it sound like the caption writer(s) got it right.

But the definition continued: “often used with out.”

Peak out? I’ve never heard the word used that way.

Pique, meanwhile, means “to excite or arouse by a provocation, challenge or rebuff.” That sounded right to me, so I was ready to conclude Netflix got it wrong.

But that was the secondary definition. The primary one read: “to arouse anger or resentment; irritate.” That certainly did not fit in with the scene’s mood.

What I learned here was the usage’s context determines what word would be correct. I still think Netflix got it wrong, but I’m not definitive anymore.

Until next time! Use the right words!


August 16, 2013 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Netflix: A Case of Caption Writing Gone Wrong

In the using-the-real-words system, the people are represented by various important rules…

I usually don’t deal with grammar rules, but I saw something on Netflix the other night that shocked me.

I watch movies and TV shows with the captions on because 1) I can watch at a lower volume so as to not awaken anyone; and 2) I’m lazy.

So while viewing an episode of “Law and Order: Special Victims Unit,” I saw a name written in lower case.

Huh? WTF?

People, people, people! How can you miss this one? It’s one of the most basic rules of English. When using the right words, CAPITALIZE NAMES!!!

I really need to find a job writing captions.

Until next time! Use the right words (and capitalize them)!

March 6, 2013 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

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