December 21st, 2005


Gang agley

They say that plans do not survive first contact with the enemy. Apparently this is even true when there is no enemy. So the revised list for before I leave is:

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The Pedant Strikes

I don't like correcting people's usage in realtime. It's annoying. It's obnoxious. It's just not fun. But I think it's been long enough since any of you made these usage errors that I don't feel like I'm talking to any of you in specific -- I'm certainly not thinking of any of you in specific -- and I just have to get it off my chest.

1. No one asks you to tow the line unless you are fishing. If you are being asked to behave strictly correctly, you are being asked to toe the line. That is, you are not stepping over the line; you are precisely where you ought to be for the start of a race or a piece of drill or other physical exercise.

In reverse, there are lots of little kids around here who are towheads but almost none who are toeheads, as that condition would likely suggest a surgical treatment.

2. It is not a right of passage. It is a rite of passage. A right of passage would be, say, that you are allowed to drive past your neighbor's house on the public street. A rite of passage is something one goes through as a transition between different stages of life.

3. If you are balling your eyes out, I'm happy for you, but please keep it to yourself or at least put it behind a cut tag. If, on the other hand, you are bawling your eyes out, I'm very sorry to hear it, and I hope there's something I can do or say to make you feel better.