Wednesday, April 25, 2018
10:33 am pdt
Many Stops Do Not Follow
Punctuation matters. While
waiting on a bus the other day, I saw one of those three-wheeled traffic enforcement vehicles putter by me. On the back
of that vehicle was the following notice: "Many Stops Do Not Follow." Perhaps it's because I teach English,
but I couldn't help but think that, perhaps, just maybe, that notice could've used some clarifying punctuation. If they
are wanting to let me know that the vehicle makes a lot of stops, and that following too closely might be a problem, then
they needed something after the word "Stops." A period, a dash, even a comma would've worked.
As it is, they are telling me that while that vehicle might be making a few stops, it will not be making many:
These (many stops) do not follow.
Friday, April 20, 2018
9:05 am pdt
can often be very difficult to pinpoint the origin of a word or a phrase. For instance, who said, “Groovy!”
for the first time? What deprived mind conceived such a combination of letters? Sure,
you can trace its use back in documents, but that can take you only so far. You may find that its first
recorded use was in episode 62 of “Gilligan’s Island” (or not), but that doesn’t tell you that a writer
for that show created the term, although I wouldn’t doubt if one did. The word could’ve been
in use in limited circles for years before then.
When trying to decide on the origin of the term 4:20, it’s even
harder. Those in the best position to know probably can’t remember. 4:20, for
those of you who don’t know or can’t remember, has come to represent the entire marijuana smoking, weed toking,
pot ingesting, and cannabis molesting sub-culture. Just as every good beer drinker dutifully recognizes
beer-thirty, every die-hard stoner recognizes bong-twenty. 4:20 – the time of the afternoon to get
high. And thus, the twentieth of April, the twentieth day of the fourth month, 4/20, has become the most
sacred of all days for every red-eyed, munchie-craving stoner everywhere, who will all be happy to show you how they put the
high in high holy days.
But why 4:20? Why not 2:15? 9:37? Noon?
All the above?
When trying to figure something such as where the term 4:20 originated, perhaps one of
the best places to start is by eliminating the possibilities. One rumor of where the term comes from is
that there are 420 chemicals in pot. Not true, says Americans for Safe Access, a marijuana advocacy group.
According to them there are “...483 different identifiable chemical constituents known to exist in cannabis.”
(Medical Marijuana) And then they go on to list them, but you’ll just have to take my word
Another possibility was that 420 was the police code... somewhere... for weed
addicts. “We’ve got a 420 in Progress at the Disc Golf Course.” Never
mind that that’s redundant. There’s one way to find out if that’s true. In
the terms of modern parlance, google it! I simply put in: “Is 420 a police code?”
It’s a well asked question, according to Google. And the answer I found at an entire site
devoted to squashing rumors was, “No.” There are no police departments in the country that
use 420 as a code for a couple of brothers passing a spliff. (Mikkelson)
On the other hand, Senate
Bill 420, which became law in California in 2003 made it legal to use medicinal marijuana. (Senate Bill)
However, the term 420 was around long before 2003. And I know that because while searching for the
police codes, I stumbled across a site where somebody else had already done the work for me. Aside from
having found what they claimed was the right answer, they also debunked many others that I hadn’t even thought of, such
as that the 20th of April is the best time to plant marijuana (as if a weed needs a best time!), or that when the
Grateful Dead toured they always stayed in room 420. (Mikkelson) Wow. Some
people have really put a lot of effort in this.
According to a quasi-reliable source, 420 is believed to have come
into existence in 1971 at San Rafael High School in San Rafael, California. There were these twelve dudes,
you see, and they all got into the habit of getting high every day at pretty much the same time after school... by the statue...
at 4:20. And that became their code. You’re sitting in second hour algebra...
or is it French... hard to tell, you can’t speak it... and your buddy nods and says, “420.”
Enough said. And from there, quite naturally, it spread. (Mikkelson)
All the cool stuff starts in California.
But is that true? I mean, it’s not that I
don’t trust Ms. Mikkelson, or Ms. Witmer, or Mr. Grimm, or any of the other numerous sources on the Internet that all
confirm Mikkelson’s story. But it’s just what my mama always told me: Trust,
but verify. So I did. I looked it up on Wikipedia. And,
by golly, there is a San Rafael High School. And the High School has a statue of Louis Pasteur on its campus...
the same statue where those darned stoners used to hang out each day at 4:20. And get this!
Louis Pasteur has nothing to do with marijuana! And if that’s not enough, it’s
a high school. And, really, if it’s on Wikipedia, then you know it must be true.
Grimm, Ryan. “What 420 Means: The True
Story Behind Stoners' Favorite Number.” 25 May 2011. The Huffington Post.
19 Apr. 2012. http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2009/04/20/what-420-means-the-true-s_n_188320.html
“Medical Marijuana.” 7
Dec. 2006. Pro/Con.org. 19 Apr. 2012. http://medicalmarijuana.procon.org/view.answers.php?questionID=000636
Mikkelson, Barbara. “Claim: The
Term ‘420’ entered drug parlance as a term signifying the time to light up a joint.” 13
June 2008. Snopes.com. 19 Apr. 2012. http://www.snopes.com/language/stories/420.asp
“San Rafael High School.” 2 Dec. 2011.
Wikipedia. 19 Apr. 2012. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/San_Rafael_High_School
“Senate Bill: SB 420 Chaptered Bill Text.”
12 Oct. 2003. California State Government. 19 Apr. 2012. http://info.sen.ca.gov/pub/03-04/bill/sen/sb_0401-0450/sb_420_bill_20031012_chaptered.html
Witmer, Denise. “What Does ‘420’
Mean?” 2012. About.com: Teens. 19
Apr. 2012. http://parentingteens.about.com/cs/marijuana/a/420meaning.htm
Wednesday, April 18, 2018
11:26 am pdt
Figuring Out Titles
Titles for an Internet site can
often be confusing, to say the least. It's not like any site is going to come right out and tell you that
this is the article title, that one's the website title, and the one over there is the institutional title. That
would be too easy. But your instructor wants you to find them just the same. Luckily,
there are some tricks to help you figure out which is which. Let's use the following site as an example.
First, remember that the author's name (last name first) will always be first in your work cited... assuming that
there is an author. The author will be followed by the three required titles, and they will always be in
this order: "Article Title" (in quotes), Website Title (in italics), and Institutional
Title (plain). Remember: If there is no author, then the article title will come first.
the easiest way to sort out which title is what is to go to the site's home page. Try it with the URL above.
Click on it, and when you get to the site, click on the tab in the upper left hand corner for "Home."
The title at the very top of the home page is, generally speaking, going to be the website title, which will go in
Finding the institutional title can be a bit more challenging. The
institutional title is often embedded in the URL (but it will not be the URL). For instance, for
this site, the institutional title is The Holy Grail Press (not in italics or quotes). Another place to
look for an institutional title is at the very bottom of the home page. Here, you will see that the site
is hosted by Web.com. Truly, that's not the institutional title. It's advertisement
from the company that "rents" the space to me. However, had you used that for the institutional
title... who's going to know the difference? Well, I would, but I wouldn't call you on it.
you truly don't know what the institutional title is – if there is no additional information at the bottom of the home
page, or you're not sure if the information there is truly the institutional title, and if there is nothing in the URL that
looks like a possibility – then you will repeat the webpage title as the institutional title (only this time not in
And that leaves the article title. Now that you have the other titles
eliminated, go back to the page you are citing. In this case, it's the only title on that page.
However, on some sites the website title is also on each page. Therefore, the article title, once
again generally speaking, is going to be the biggest title (often in bold) closest to the article that you are citing.
article title that you put in your work cited will also be the entire title that is given at the site.
For instance, if you follow that URL, "Today in Grammar" or "The Semi-Colon" will not
be the entire title. Either of those, by itself, is only a part of the title. You must
have them both. And that title will be in quotes. Stick it in front of the other two
titles, and you should be OK. But it's always a good idea to check your titles to be sure.
you are checking your titles, the article title, generally speaking, will not be the same as any of the other titles.
However, the home page title may be the same as the institutional title. No title should
be a complete URL, but a webpage or institutional title may be part of a URL.
Finally, keep in mind that this is the Internet. There is no
standard way to put titles on a website. There is no title page, for instance, that one can easily find in a print source
where the publication date and the publisher are all neatly grouped together. Therefore, if it's really not that clear
which title is which, nobody (which includes me) is going to question that her or his guess is better than yours.
Tuesday, March 27, 2018
9:17 am pdt
Literally v. Figuratively
"Literally" has literally
become a cliché, in that people are literally overusing this word, and often in situations where it literally means
the opposite of what they are literally wanting to say (if anything at all). To review, "literally" means
that it really happened. No "sorts of's." "No kinda's." It really happened, exactly
as you say. So if you say, for instance, that you "literally died laughing," then you really died, which makes
it a bit of a mystery how you could be saying such a thing, but I digress. "Figurative," on the other hand,
means it's a figure of speech, and it didn't actually happen that way. Here, it really is "sort of."
So, for instance, if it's really important that you let somebody know that you really didn't die, you can say you "figuratively
died laughing." Of course, to say you "died laughing" is a cliché, too, whether it's literal or
figurative. But, once again, I digress. The easiest way to keep these two words straight is to stop saying you
"literally" did anything. Come up with something new. Your readers will appreciate it.
Wednesday, March 21, 2018
The worst anybody can do to you is to make you worse than they are. Earl Eldridge
7:46 am pdt