Tag Archives: Grammar

Saturday Snickering: Kerning

by Richard

If it’s Saturday, dudes, that means it’s time to look for a good laugh. As I do so many times, when I’m jonesin’ for a laugh, I head over to read a little xkcd.

A stick-figure one-frame cartoon about romance, math, geeks and other stuff, xkcd is a very strange place, indeed. But it’s my kind of strangeness.

As a former reporter, current editor, and a current writer, I’m more than a bit familiar with some of the intricacies of typesetting; how the choice of font can change the perception of a piece of writing, how the words are laid out on a page can destroy a mood you’ve set up masterly with the writing.

All of which meant I was a sucker for the following cartoon.

Kerning is a relatively simple thing: all it means is adjusting the spacing between letters or characters. Bad kerning can take a good piece of writing and make it trash in my eyes. It can turn an informative sign into a red-hot poker swinging at my eyeballs.

And, for the most part, no one else gets it. Unless they’ve been similarly afflicted. Any time I start ranting about bad kerning or a sign having incorrect grammar or spelling, the folks I’m with will start edging slowly away until they get enough distance to feel safe when they turn around to run. That doesn’t bother me. I’m usually too busy ranting to notice I’ve been deserted.

The worst part of that? I’m not nearly as bad as some people I know.

It’s just once you know what to look for, bad kerning is everywhere. And the more you see it, the more it annoys. Well, I don’t know about you dudes, but it works that way with me.

Oh, geez. I just realized I might have infected you. Nah, I’m sure you dudes are made of sterner stuff and won’ t let that sort of thing start to bother you.

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Grandma Test

by Richard

I really hate hearing cute things from the mouths of babes. Unless, of course, they’re from my own little dude. Then they’re pearls of wisdom from young mouths, ready to be sent out into the wide world to reap their just benefits. Or something like that.

Still, sometimes I hear stuff that just makes me laugh. Which means I get to inflict them on you.

We’ve got friends from way back in the wilds of Allen, TX, who, it turns out, have a pretty nice family with loads of lovable grandkids and suchlike. And one of those grandkids has really learned how to butter up grandma. I’ll let the titular grandma take it from there.

I was out walking with my Grandson.  He picked up something off of the ground and started to put it in his mouth.  I took the item away from him and I asked him not to do that.

“Why,” my grandson asked.

“Because,” I said, “it’s been on the ground; you don’t know where it’s been. It’s dirty, and probably has germs.”

At this point, my grandson looked at me with total admiration and asked, “Grandma, how do you know all this stuff?  You are so smart.”

I was thinking quickly and said to him, “All Grandmas know stuff.  It’s on the Grandma Test.  You have to know it, or they don’t let you be a Grandma.”

We walked along in silence for two or three minutes, but he was evidently pondering this new information.

“Oh….I get it!” He beamed. “So, if you don’t pass the test, you have to be the Grandpa.”

“Exactly,” I replied, with a big smile on my face.

I edited the previous for grammar and punctuation, but mostly to make myself feel superior. Still, dudes, what do you think?

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Freaky Friday: You Smell Ugly*

by Richard

Humans (thankfully for those of us who live in a household full of teenaged boys) have a really lousy sense of smell. I mean, sharks can smell a drop of blood a mile away. Bloodhounds can track a days-old trail through swamps and over rivers. We can’t even tell who cut the cheese in a crowded room. Or whatever.

Turns out, that might be a bit of a blessing.

Especially if you’re not Brad Pitt. And, other than the Pitt-ster himself, who is?

What I’m talking about this is, of course, science! According to some relatively recent research, smelling bad makes you look ugly. Sort of.

“We report an experiment designed to investigate whether olfactory cues can influence people’s judgments of facial attractiveness. Sixteen female participants judged the attractiveness of a series of male faces presented briefly on a computer monitor using a 9-point visual rating scale. While viewing each face, the participants were simultaneously presented with either clean air or else with 1 of 4 odorants (the odor was varied on a trial-by-trial basis) from a custom-built olfactometer. We included 2 pleasant odors (geranium and a male fragrance) and 2 unpleasant odors (rubber and body odor) as confirmed by pilot testing.”

Firstly, rubber smells bad? News to me, I guess.

More importantly, though, what the researchers found was that, in the presence of the unpalatable odors, participants found the pictures of the various men to be significantly less attractive.

“The results showed that the participants rated the male faces as being significantly less attractive in the presence of an unpleasant odor than when the faces were presented together with a pleasant odor or with clean air (these conditions did not differ significantly). These results demonstrate the cross-modal influence that unpleasant odors can have on people’s judgments of facial attractiveness. Interestingly, this pattern of results was unaffected by whether the odors were body relevant (the body odor and the male fragrance) or not (the rubber and geranium odors).”

This has a lot of implications, especially for the aforementioned teenaged boys.

Sarcasmo is a young dude who is aggressively anti-popular. What I mean by that is that, rather than take a chance at rejection, he makes sure to indulge in activities or behavior that will make sure folks don’t think he’s trying to be popular. That way, if someone doesn’t like him, it’s not him they don’t like, but, rather, the behaviors in which he’s consciously engaging.

Which is my long-winded way of saying we have to make sure he wears deodorant. When we forget to remind him. . . Well, let’s just say even we, as parents, don’t want to hug the young dude.

Anyway, I think this might prove to be an actual incentive for him to wear the deodorant more often. And maybe even a touch of cologne. Smell better and folks think you’re better looking. A pretty easy bit of advice to follow.

The only question now is if it will actually penetrate that teenage force field of “I know everything and you’re an idiot” surrounding the young dude.

*Notice the difference if I’d put a comma between smell and ugly. Were it there, I’d be calling you (well, not you) ugly. No comma and I’m saying it’s an ugly smell. Okay, maybe I shouldn’t be reading grammar books for fun.

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