Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Top 10 Commonly Confused Words

#6: It's/Its


The car won't start because its battery, or it's battery, is dead?

Answer: its

How to Remember It:

The word it's means "it is" or "it has," while its means "belonging to it."
In the sentence above, "it is battery" or "it has battery" doesn't work – so the correct version has to be its.
Similarly, in the sign shown here, "it is/has accessories" and "it is/has enclosure" don't make sense, so it's wasn't the right choice.

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Top 10 Commonly Confused Words

#5: Flak/Flack


If you're getting shot at by antiaircraft guns, or receiving unfriendly criticism, are you taking flak or flack?

Answer: flak

How to Remember It:

Although flack is an established variant, the more foreign-looking flak is the original spelling and the better choice. Flak was originally a German acronym for fliegerabwehrkanonen – from FLieger ("flyer") + Abwehr ("defense") + Kanonen ("cannons") – which basically means "antiaircraft gun."
That use of flak in English dates back to 1938. In the decades after the war it took on its civilian meaning of "criticism."
(A flack, meanwhile, is a PR agent or someone who provides publicity.)

Monday, June 28, 2010

Top 10 Commonly Confused Words

#4: Stationary/Stationery


Do you buy your writing paper in a store that sells stationary or stationery?

Answer: stationery

How to Remember It:

For one, consider the histories of these words.
Stationery comes from stationer, a word that in the 14th century referred to someone who sold books and papers. What the stationer sold eventually came to be referred to by the noun stationery ("materials for writing or typing" and "letter paper usually accompanied with matching envelopes").
Meanwhile, the adjective stationary has always been used to describe what is fixed, immobile, or static.
Here's another way to remember it: stationery is spelled with an "e," like the envelopes that often come with it.

Sunday, June 27, 2010

Top 10 Commonly Confused Words

#3: Desert/Dessert


If you receive an appropriate punishment, did you get your just deserts or just desserts?

Answer: just deserts

How to Remember It:

This word is unrelated to deserts of the sand and cactus kind, and it isn't about the desserts that provide a sweet finish to a meal.
Instead, this deserts comes from the same word that gave us deserve. (Oddly, it's pronounced like desserts.)

Saturday, June 26, 2010

Top 10 Commonly Confused Words

#2: Affect/Effect


Does the weather affect or effect your mood?

Answer: affect

How to Remember It:

The simplest distinction is that affect is almost always a verb, and effect is usually a noun.
It may help to remember that the verb – the "action word" – starts with "a": affect is an action.
These words are frequently confused, partly because their meanings are related.

Friday, June 25, 2010

Top 10 Commonly Confused Words

#1: Flaunt/Flout


If you treat convention with disdain, are you flouting or flaunting the rules?

Answer: flouting

How to Remember It:

Think of whistling – or actually playing the flute – instead of doing what's expected.

Why? Because flout probably originates in the Middle English word flouten, "to play the flute." It's not clear how a word for playing the flute evolved into a synonym of mock and insult (the original meaning of flout), but here's a guess: in the hands of some entertainers, the flute can project a teasing, even mocking, carefree air.

Top 10 Words of Summer

#10: Vacation

Inside one cherished word, we find another: vacation's roots include the Latin vacatio, which means freedom.

Originally, vacation simply meant "a respite from something."
In the late 1800s, however, American English gave it the sense it enjoys today – "a break from regular work."

Before that, Americans used holiday (from holy day), as the British still do.

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Top 10 Words of Summer

#9: Perspiration

Do you perspire, or do you sweat?

Perspire derives from the Latin spirare, "to blow" – suggesting vapors released by the body. It emerged in the 1600s as a gentler alternative to the much older word sweat.

To some, perspire sounds more refined; to others, it seems a bit precious. As one London magazine reported in 1791,

"It is well known that, for some time past, neither man, woman, nor child, in Great Britain or Ireland, of any rank or fashion, has been subject to that gross kind of exsudation which was formerly known by the name of sweat; and that now every mortal, except carters [and] coal-heavers... merely perspires." (The Gentleman's Magazine, Volume 70)

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Top 10 Words of Summer

#8: Picnic

When we dig into picnic, we find the word pick.

Picnic comes from the French pique-nique, which probably came from piquer, meaning "to pick or peck."

The original picnic, in 18th-century England, was more like what we'd call a potluck: all the attendees would bring a dish.

And the big difference? That shared meal wasn't necessarily eaten outdoors.

Monday, June 21, 2010

Top 10 Words of Summer

#7: Solstice

Imagine an object, tossed in the air. When it reaches its peak, before coming down, it appears for an instant to stand still.

Now imagine the sun, rising in the sky over the course of the year, reaching its peak around June 22 (in the Northern hemisphere).

That day is the summer solstice, the longest day of the year. It gets its name from the ancient observation that the sun – like the tossed object – has reached the peak of its arc.

Solstice comes from a Latin word that means "sun standing still."

Sunday, June 20, 2010

Top 10 Words of Summer

#6: Ketchup

This all-American condiment started out as a spicy, fermented fish sauce in Malaysia.

That version, known as kěchap, made its way first to Europe and then to the New World, where tomatoes eventually became the defining ingredient.

Elsewhere, ketchup retains an earlier identity. Traditional English ketchup, for example, is a pureed seasoning based on mushrooms, unripe walnuts, or oysters.

Saturday, June 19, 2010

Top 10 Words of Summer

#5: Dog Days

This term means "sultry, summer weather" and also "a period of stagnation or inactivity."
But it has nothing to do with pets.

Sirius (known as the Dog Star) seems to reappear in the skies in early July. Its rising coincides with the warmest time of the year in the northern hemisphere – thus, the dog days.

Friday, June 18, 2010

Top 10 Words of Summer

#4: Barbecue

What exactly does barbecue mean?

In some parts of the country, such as Texas and Tennessee, your answer probably involves a method of slow-cooking with indirect heat. If you're a Northerner, you might just point to your backyard grill.

The word has different meanings, but a single origin.

When 17th-century Spanish explorers landed in the West Indies, they saw native people – the Arawakan – drying meat over a frame. The Arawakan called the wooden rack a barbacoa. The explorers borrowed the term.

Barbacoa soon came to name not only the frame but the process of cooking (not drying) meat. Now, of course, barbecue can name the cooking structure, the food, the cooking method, or the social occasion.

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Top 10 Words of Summer

#3: Dandelion

Behold the dandelion, a lowly plant with a kingly name.

Does the yellow flower resemble a handsome mane? Do the sharply indented leaves suggest an accompanying bite?

For the French, they did.

Dandelion comes from dent de lion, which literally means "lion's tooth."

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Top Ten Words of Summer

# 2 Marshmellow

A confection with an exotic past.

The marshmallow gets its name from the mallow plant that grows in marshes.

In ancient times, sap from the root of that plant was used to make medicinal syrup and ointment. Eventually, that same sap became a source of candy.

Today's supermarket marshmallow is untouched by root sap. It's made from corn syrup, gelatin, egg whites, and sugar.

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Top Ten Words of Summer

# 1. Frisbee

Where did that Frisbee come from?

The story involves 1950s college students playing catch with cake tins and pie pans – sometimes from the Frisbie Pie Company of New England.

There was already a plastic flying disk on the market called the Pluto Platter, and the students nicknamed it Frisbie. When Wham-O bought the rights to that plastic disk in 1957, they respelled the nickname and made it official.

Because Frisbee remains a trademark, the more earthbound generic term is flying disk.

Friday, June 4, 2010

Don't look now...

It is no mystery that I am not a Kobe Bryant fan. There are some that still believe that he is the best player to play the game, yes better than Lebron and even better than Michael Jordan. After watching him play against the Suns in the playoffs, that is an argument that can be made. I have always thought he is a great player. It is the little stuff on the court he does, or the stuff off the court he does that bothered me. like the teeth mashing thing he does a lot lately when he is playing well. Or when he grabs his jersey and pulls it out to show you that he is the best. In the last game, as the Suns were losing and the clock was winding down, Kobe ran around the court, arms out like a bird, acting like he was flying. Those are the things on the court. The whole incident off the court when he was accused of raping the young lady in Colorado. that bothers me. The charges were dropped and she settled out of court. I wasn't there, nobody knows the situation except the two of them. Could he be innocent? Sure. It's possible. What bothered me even more was his wife. She was made a fool. What did she do? Did she leave him? Nope. Kobe made up by giving here a multi-million dollar diamond ring.

Anyway, the point of this post is not to bash Kobe, it is to share a video of Kobe that was on It is an interview he gave recently where he talks about how he mirrored his moves and his game from other great players. He actually seems humble and gives credit to the other greats that played before him and players he played with.

Watch it and share with me what you think. I am still not a Kobe fan, but....