Among my favorite things? Hanging out with my beagle at a coffee shop. Today we are at Starbucks. It's about 70 degrees with blue skies and a light breeze. I'm doing a bit of writing, or more accurately, I am procrastinating on legitimate writing projects so I can take pics of my sweet boy enjoying the day. Life is good.
I’ve been procrastinating brilliantly (it’s a gift) for the last several weeks on some paperwork that I really must do. Today I was determined to complete it. It is a lovely day here, so I fixed a tall glass of ice water, took my computer outside on the deck, and settled down to work.
Before I actually started though, I thought I should record this moment of spring beauty and uncharacteristic productivity in some meaningful way. A picture on Instagram™! Just the thing.
After taking the picture, I cropped and edited it, and posted it on Twitter™. When I checked Twitter™ to see if my picture had been retweeted, I saw a video link whose title was something like, “If You Only Watch One Video Today, Watch This One.” After watching the video, I read the comments below it and was reminded of comments on my own blog.
Finding no new comments on my blog, I thought, Well no surprise there. I’ve not posted anything lately. I opened a new word document to begin a new piece: perhaps a humorous post about procrastination. Just then, my computer made that tell-tale noise it makes when new emails arrive in my inbox. Guess what? Amazon™ has a new site now—woot.com. Who knew?
An hour later, we ended our call and I sat back down to work. I hunkered down and finished one of the documents, printed it out, and celebrated heartily. When I started the second one though, I saw that I needed some information I didn’t yet have. Well it’s just silly to start when you know you won’t finish. That’s a total waste of time.
I’ll get it done tomorrow. Or Monday. Tuesday at the latest.
July 13, 2013
There are few things I find as satisfying as sitting outside a coffee shop writing. The only thing that makes it better? Having company.
Today, my daughter Margaret and I are at Starbucks™ in Asheville. She is doing summer homework and I am doing a bit of writing. We have a lot to do. Luckily, we have some help.
One of the first punctuation rules we learn is that to form the possessive form of a singular noun, you add an apostrophe ‘s’ to the end of the word. Here are some examples.
If the noun ends in ‘s,’ you just add an apostrophe. Like this:
And that all works great, as long as the noun is not a pronoun (You, me, us, and so on). It won’t work there. See?
Nope. Won’t work. Instead, those possessives look like this: “your smile,” “my face,” and “our meeting.” There’s no rule for these; you just have to learn them. There’s a bunch of them too. Take a look.
|Me, I||Mine or My|
|He, She, It||His, Hers, Its|
|They, Them||Their or Theirs|
These are all pretty easy—we learned them as we were learning language. There’s only one that’s tricky: “its.” We often want to include the apostrophe. But it doesn’t belong there. This chart will show why.
|Pronoun||Pronoun Contraction = meaning|
|He||He’s = He is|
|She||She’s = She is|
|Who||Who’s = Who is|
|It||It’s = It is|
So don’t be tempted to add an apostrophe to the possessives of pronouns. It’s just not necessary.
I typically answer this question by saying, “Is this a question or a greeting? If it’s a greeting, I’m fine. If it’s a question, let’s go get a cup of coffee and I'll tell you.” This way, I avoid the grammatical mess altogether. Otherwise, the whole thing really is kind of sticky.
It all comes down to adverbs versus adjectives. Know what those are? No? Okay, let's start there. It's simple. Adverbs add information to the verb (action word); adjectives add information to the object (or noun).
“I threw the red ball.” Here, “red” is an adjective; it tells you more about the ball--the noun. I didn’t just throw any ball. I threw the red one.
“I threw the ball quickly.” In this sentence, we learn more about how the ball was thrown—it was thrown quickly. We can't picture this ball, because we aren't sure what kind of ball it is, but we know it was not tossed or lobbed. It was sent on its way quickly. By the way, most good writers use adverbs sparingly (see what I did there) because they are . . . well . . . wimpy. "Pitch" the ball. Or "spike" it. Or "hurl" it. Don't throw it quickly. Get yourself a real verb and get rid of that ball. But I digress.
So, if adjectives tell you more about objects and adverbs tell you more about verbs, then when someone asks you how you are, should you answer with an adjective or an adverb?
Wait. You should know something before continuing. The word, “good,” is an adjective. “Well” is an adverb. Well, except when it’s not. "Well" can also be an expression (see previous sentence) and it can be an adjective. As an adjective, "well" is the opposite of "sick," or "ill."
Back to the question.
Your answer depends on whether you want to speak to your general character, your well-being, or the way in which you are doing something. So let's practice.
Example 1: You’ve been really sick. Flu sick. Nasty sick. But you took a day off, you drank lots of fluids, got vitamin C coursing through your veins. You return to work feeling much better whereupon you encounter a co-worker.
“How are you,” she asks, knowing you have been sick.
“I am well, thanks,” you respond, indicating that you are no longer a walking contagion.
Example 2: You just aced an exam and are about take another in your best subject—you are so ready for this. A friend sees you looking over your notes and greets you.
“Hi there! How are you doing?”
“I am doing so well,” you respond, because you so are.
That is, you are doing a task well. (“Well”—an adverb—tells more about the action of “doing.”) You can't do good any more than you can behave good because “good” is an adjective, not an adverb. It can’t say more about a verb because it just isn't made that way. It would be like saying “I’m feeling penguin today.” You just can’t feel penguin; you just can't. (You could, however, feel penguin-like, penguin-ish, or penguiny and really, who among us hasn't at one time or another?)
Example 3: You put your purchases on the counter and the courteous cashier speaks to you.
“Hello. How are you today?”
Chances are pretty good that she has no interest in your medical history; we can assume she’s not asking if you are healthy or not. Instead she’s saying something like, “Tell me about you. Are you happy? Sad? Frustrated? Angry? Tired? Excited? What?” And all of those words are adjectives, not adverbs, so the correct response would also be an adjective. You could respond in a variety of ways. Here are just a few.
“I’m good. You?”
“Great! Hope you are.”
Or you could say, “Good, how are you doing?”
At this point, the cashier will have a choice to make. “Good?” Or “well?” And it all begins again.
Yay! A grammar series! OMG what could be more fun than that? Well, yeah, diagramming sentences, but I mean other than that? Here's what I'm thinking:
What else? Do you have grammar questions that you want answered here? Leave your ideas in the comment box, okay?
I learned to type on my mother's Royal upright: a typewriter that doubled as a mechanical personal trainer: strength training and cardio-workouts with every use. No doubt it was one of Royal's best at the time she bought it; but when I was using it 15-20 years later, it was not what you'd call cutting edge.
Do you remember how they worked? You punched (literally) the letters on the keyboard which caused a chain reaction to occur. The key was attached to a little rod which ended with a metal letter stamp that corresponded to the letter on the key. When you punched the key, the stamp arose just as the ink ribbon did. The stamp collided with the ribbon on the paper before slapping back down into the machine to make room for the next letter's approach. If you got going too fast, the rods would crisscross and you'd have to stop and untangle them before proceeding. Now before you could do any of this, you had to load paper into the machine's carriage--a roller that moved the paper along at your keystroke pace. As you typed, the carriage would move the paper forward letter by letter. Once you reached the end of a line, you reached up and activated a lever on the roller which advanced the paper, released the tension, and allowed you to push the whole mechanism back to the beginning of the next line of text. (An activity which was, at least in my mother's advanced machine, accompanied by the sound of a bell--an encouraging little ring that I miss in the typing options of this millennium.)
It would take another whole blog post to recall for you how we corrected errors, made carbon copies, or--what a horror!--changed the tab stops. But suffice to say, that my computer is considerably more efficient. Plus it weighs a lot less, takes up less room, and the keys almost never get tangled.
So today, I'm thankful for my computer. And my ipad. Even though I don't work up a healthy sweat using them, I also don't have to replace their ribbons, so it's kind of an even exchange.
But you know what? I'm also thankful for that Royal upright. And for my mother who taught me how to use it (so what if she threatened bodily harm if I ever changed the tab stops).