Wednesday, February 27, 2013

I’m Weird #2: Coffee? Beer? Soda Pop? No thanks

When you ask most adults to name their favorite beverages, most would certainly have one or more of the “Big Three” on their list: coffee, beer or soda pop. But not me. I can’t stand any of them.

Photo by Seemann
Coffee: What a bitter, horrible taste. I don’t even like the smell of coffee. I’ve heard you have to develop a taste for it—but why? Especially when tea is so much more delightful—and better for you. Tea gives just enough caffeine to give you a little boost—but not enough to make you jittery.

Photo by Seamann
Beer: Once in a while, I decide to try a sip of my husband’s beer, just to see what the hype is about. Every time it tastes like something spoiled, something I need to clean out of the refrigerator. I guess the time to develop a taste for beer is when you are young. When I was young, my church looked down on drinking, so I never tried it. But I had no desire to, because it smelled so vile. Now that I’m part of a church that often has get-togethers at a local brewery, beer is no longer taboo; but I still don’t get what the appeal is. I will drink those Seagram’s fruit-flavored “malt beverages,” but my cold alcoholic drink of choice is hard cider.

Photo by ronnieb from

Soda Pop: I used to drink cola, usually Pepsi One. I only had one a day—but I needed that one. A few years ago I read somewhere that carbonation robs your body of calcium. I wasn’t sure if it was true or not, but since my mom has osteoporosis, I figured I wasn’t going to take any chances. So I quit cold turkey. It was in a November, when I wasn’t as likely to crave a cold can of cola. I replaced it with lots of tea—both hot and cold—to replace the caffeine. (I learned that Pepsi One has twice as much caffeine as other colas. No wonder I was so addicted.) It’s been several years now. Occasionally I’ll have a specialty soda, such as a root beer float or a creme soda from the “Rocket Fizz” store, made with real cane sugar (no high fructose corn syrup or artificial sweeteners, thank you.) But usually when I try a sip of typical soda pop, I find it tastes like chemicals. It’s one of those things that once you give it up, it becomes distasteful to you. (I wish that worked with chocolate or ice cream.)

I don’t mind being weird, and I think it’s healthier too. I drink a lot of milk and tea, some water—though not enough—juice and the occasional alcoholic beverage.

Being weird can cause problems at certain social gatherings or public events. People bring out coolers of beer and pop, and I’m left searching for the water bottles at the bottom. Coffeepots are everywhere, but seldom hot water for tea. When I remember, I keep teabags in my purse, and I have been known to search out a microwave in the kitchen of a church or meeting place, so I can have a simple cup of tea. But that’s not enough to motivate me to develop a taste for one of the “Big Three.”

Sunday, February 17, 2013

Grammar Tip #6: Affect vs. Effect

This one seems to trip people up.  But it’s really very simple:

Affect is almost always a verb. Effect is almost always a noun.

To be more specific: Affect is almost always used as a verb (an action word) meaning “to act on” or “to produce a result.”  Effect is almost always used as a noun (a thing) meaning “a result,” “a consequence,” or “something produced by an outside cause.”

Now for some examples:

How will the hurricane affect the price of oranges?
What effect will the hurricane have on the price of oranges?

Note the difference?  In the first sentence, affect is used as a verb. In the second sentence, effect is used as a noun.  Let’s try another set:

I don’t like the way this medicine affects me.
This medicine has some bad side effects.

Now, you will note that I used the word “almost always” in both instances.  Like many rules of the English language, there are exceptions.  The good news is the exceptions are very rarely used.

Affect can be used as a noun meaning an emotional response (such as a facial expression or tone of voice).  Psychologists are about the only people who use affect as a noun, and the phrase is usually,  “He/she has a flat affect.

Effect can be used as a verb meaning “to bring about” (which is similar, but not exactly the same as the verb affect).  The phrase most commonly used is “to effect a change.” 

So unless you are using the phrases, "He/she has a flat affect" or "effect a change," you are probably correct in assuming that affect is a verb and effect is a noun.

How will that knowledge affect your writing? I believe it will have a great effect.

Saturday, February 16, 2013

I’m Weird #1: Shoe Shopping is NOT Fun

I’m starting a new “series” on my blog called “I’m Weird.”  I got the idea to write a blog post about some of the ways I’m different from most people—at least most Americans.  But the list got so long, and I knew I would always be thinking of more, so I decided to make a series.  So here goes:

I used to hear an ad on Pandora radio that started like this:
On a good day you go shopping
On a really good day you go shoe shopping with your best friend . . .

Really?  That’s a good day???  I hate shopping of all kinds.  It’s something I put off until the last minute.  I hate spending all that money, and often I can’t find what I’m looking for.  So it’s off to another store, and another store . . . until I finally give up and go home or just settle for something close to what I want.

Photo by Alvimann, from
And shoe shopping is the worst.  Who designs women's shoes, anyway? Yeah, high heels are supposed to make your legs more shapely, but in my case the shapely legs would be ruined by the wobbly walk (and probably the broken ankle I’ll get when I fall) and the grimace on my face from wearing the world’s most uncomfortable shoes.  Flats aren’t much better.  They’re always too tight in the ball of my foot and they slip in the back—if they even have a back at all. Why do shoe designers think women want to wear shoes that don’t stay on their feet?

I have a confession to make: I buy men’s shoes most of the time.  They are cheaper, fit better and feel MUCH more comfortable.  But I still don’t like shoe shopping.

And why would I go shopping with my best friend?  Why would I subject her to that torture?  That’s not what friends are for.  Occasionally we might stop in a gift shop or a museum store and prowl around a bit, but it’s always in conjunction with something more fun—like visiting a nearby town to have lunch, tour a museum and generally explore.  We would never go shopping just for the sake of shopping.

On a good day? I don’t go shopping.  I might go out for tea at a local coffeeshop, attend a concert or play, take a long walk with my camera, play board games with good friends, or jam Irish folk music in the basement of the music store.  Anything but shopping.