Tag Archives: ABC Wednesday

E is for Eleanor Roosevelt

EleanorRooseveltI watched the excellent The Roosevelts: An Intimate History, Ken Burns’s seven-part series on PBS this past fall and became even more impressed with Eleanor Roosevelt than I had been before. She was the niece of Theodore Roosevelt, the daughter of his brother Elliot.

She married her fifth cousin Franklin Roosevelt on St. Patrick’s Day 1905 in New York City, “given away” by her uncle Teddy, who was by then President.

In spite of Franklin’s marital betrayal, which wounded Eleanor greatly, they were a dynamic political couple. She could sometimes say or do things that he, a more pragmatic state legislator, governor and eventually President, could not.

In the summer of 2013, my family visited Val-Kill, her place on the Hudson River not far from the home in Hyde Park that was her mother-in-law’s and where she seldom felt comfortable and welcomed. There is a kiosk there where one could read her My Day columns, which she wrote from 1936 to 1962, the year that she passed away.

After FDR died in 1945, she was appointed by President Truman to be a delegate to the group that would create the United Nations. She became a primary author of The Universal Declaration of Human Rights, which was adopted by the UN General Assembly on 10 December 1948.

Check out these Eleanor-centered clips from Ken Burns’ The Roosevelts:
ER Is Born & Elliot Dies
ER and the Red Cross
Her First Step into Politics
ER vs. Sara Delano Roosevelt
ER on Troubled World
ER’s South Pacific Visit
ER Leaves White House

B is for Bullying

bullying cloudThe Daughter brought home a bunch of anti-bullying material from school one day this past semester. Much of it came from StopBullying.gov, which defines the behavior as “unwanted, aggressive behavior among school aged children that involves a real or perceived power imbalance. The behavior is repeated, or has the potential to be repeated, over time. Both kids who are bullied and who bully others may have serious, lasting problems.”

At around the same time, I attended a symposium sponsored by some library students that featured Continue reading B is for Bullying

A is for Apostrophes

greedy3-330I was watching this news show on ABC-TV (US) featuring a bunch of talking heads. A feature has a couple Picks of the Week from each participant, a noteworthy story. That week included Democratic strategist James Carville; the overlay showed JAME’S PICK.

I wanted to scream. The one thing you NEVER do with an apostrophe is break up someone’s name ending in S just before that letter. One doesn’t visit the JONE’S house, one visits the JONES’ house, or the JONES’S house, depending on your school of thought on this. If you’re unclear, you visit the JONES family and avoid the apostrophe altogether.

I’m convinced that it is the use of the apostrophe that creates the bulk of spelling errors in the United States. There are road signs with ONION’S FOR SALE, when the plural doesn’t need an apostrophe at all.

Here’s an interesting bit from WikiHow:

Know how to use apostrophes for acronyms and years. Say you use an acronym for a noun, like CD. To make CD plural, use “CDs,” not CD’s.” The same logic goes for years — instead of writing “Spandex was popular in the 1980’s,” use “1980s.”

I totally agree, but my spellcheck doesn’t like CDs or 1980s, it prefers CD’s and 1980’s! Oy.

Moreover, I DO use the apostrophe when it would be otherwise confusing, such as with plural letters: “I got 4 A’s and two B’s on my report card.” Sans apostrophe, A’s looks like As.

A lot of confusion comes from the recognition of a possessive. There are lots of websites that explain this better than I, such as The Oatmeal and Scribendi.

THE most common error, of course, involves it’s and its, and it’s somewhat understandable. Possessive nouns take an apostrophe: THE GOAT’S FUR; possessive pronouns do not: ITS FUR. The word IT’S is a contraction, meaning IT IS. I see this particular error SO often, even in newspapers and magazines, that I despair of it ever being truly understood.

And I know why, per Henry Hitchings, though disputed by HistoriAnn:

[H]ere’s the rub: say any of these names aloud and you’ll be struck by the fact that the apostrophe works on the eye rather than the ear. Simply put, we don’t hear apostrophes, and this is a significant factor accounting for the inconsistency with which they are used.

You grammar buffs, and I count myself in your number: IS it a lost cause?

Z is for the Rosamond Gifford Zoo

zoo_SYRThis is probably the third time I used zoo, but at least it’s different one.

This past Veterans Day, the family visited the Rosamond Gifford Zoo at Burnet Park in Syracuse, NY. We were in the city for a conference my wife attended, and just before we left town, we followed the most convoluted Mapquest directions to get to this site that provided a great view of the city.
Continue reading Z is for the Rosamond Gifford Zoo

Y is Year 2015

2015.blocksOf course, no one knows what will happen in the year 2015 except that we’ll celebrate anniversaries of past events.

Back in 1965, fifty years ago, the brilliant music satirist Tom Lehrer, in the introduction to So Long Mom, a song of World War III, said this: “This year we’ve been celebrating the hundredth anniversary of the Civil War and the fiftieth anniversary of the beginning of World War I and the twentieth anniversary of the end of World War II. All in all it’s been a good year for the war buffs.” (With a different intro, LISTEN to So Long Mom.)

This being a half century later, we just “celebrated” the beginning of World War I. 2015 will be the sesquicentennial of the end of the American Civil War in 1865 Continue reading Y is Year 2015

C is for Candles

candleWhen you are not very good at crafts, it’s nice to actually find a small niche in which in which you are not horrible. What I liked about candle making, which I did a few times when I was eight to ten years old, is that it was so relatively easy, even I couldn’t screw it up. Thank you, paraffin.

When I was briefly attended a Unitarian church in a city near Albany, I left in part because they actually had a meeting/debate about whether or not to use candles. The argument against was Continue reading C is for Candles