Friday, 10 August 2012

A Rambling Mélange of Miscellanies

I’m on holiday so I decided yesterday to take a morning off from the things that I ought to be doing and have a few hours wandering around people’s blogs and following links all over the place to see where they led me.  I ended up adding quite a few notes on things to blog about myself.  For example there was…

The Oxford Comma

In the past I have debated with Daughter-who-takes-photos the merits and demerits of the Oxford comma.  I being in favour of it have always looked for good examples.  This is as good as they come.

I know there are ways around the above problem but every way around it causes other issues to arise.  Indeed the fandango* on which I found it was very long indeed.   *I muttered aloud “What do you call it?”  GB’s response from across the breakfast bar was “A fandango” so that’s what I typed.  I was really asking what do you call one of those long-on-line debates that anyone can enter?  I think the word is Forum!

Some people have been taught to use the Oxford comma whenever they make a list of the sort that doesn’t require semi-colons.  That is what I was taught so it is second-nature and it is quite acceptable to me to put a comma before the word ‘and’.  So, if I were required to list who came to dinner it might be Fred, George, Gloria, Albert, Victoria, and Henry.  Because I use it a lot of the time such potential confusion as that shown in the picture above is always avoided. But some folk have been taught the opposite; that it was some antiquated grammatical style and that using it was just wasting a keystroke. They would therefore write “Fred, George, Gloria, Albert, Victoria and Henry” and even if there was potential confusion would not insert a comma.  Hence “I'd like to dedicate this award to my parents, Ayn Rand and God”.  I doubt one side will ever convince the other of its merits but I shall continue using the Oxford comma and encourage anyone who might ask me about it to do the same.

I think I’m going to create a new motto on every Rambling post. I guess you could almost call them affirmations at this rate.  So far we’ve had:
“Fake It until you Make It! Right!”
Then came:
“I shall not be distracted”.
And today’s (thanks to Mrs E. at Easy Street) is one for those folk who find themselves overwhelmed by so many jobs that they don’t know where to start and find themselves not wanting to do any:-
“Baby step.  Breathe.  Baby step.  Breathe”.
It beats my usual one of Make a list; Revise List; Make a New List; Revise List…

Don’t you just want to tickle that foot!!

Labyrinths and Mazes

This is a postcard that Danielle received.  I’ve followed Danielle’s book blog for a long time and it was she who introduced me to postcrossing.   Quote from her blog – “This is Chartres Cathedral in France where there is a labyrinth that fills the nave.  It dates from the early 13th century and is beautifully preserved.  By the way, did you know that mazes and labyrinths aren't the same thing?  They are used almost interchangeably, but labyrinths have only one path (usually quite circuitous) whereas in a maze there is a choice of paths.”  I didn’t know the difference.   LindaY in a comment on Danielle's blog also pointed out that mazes have walls, whereas labyrinths do not, and that you are supposed to follow the single path in the labyrinth while meditating.  Amazing what you learn on the Internet.

Made Maze in England - a hedge maze at Longleat House, England.

Baked Felafel
I’ve never really known what falafel was – other than a frequent answer in crosswords – but I found out the other day when Daughter-who-takes-photos posted a recipe for them on her recipe blog.

This is, most assuredly, something for me to try when I get home.

The Ooooolympics

Britain got its 25th Gold Medal yesterday.  An amazing total.  I doubt we’ll equal it at Rio de Janeiro but it will certainly give us a target.

Have a good weekend, folk.


  1. Funny how what are taught as a kid will stay with you. I always thought not putting a comma was stupid and confusing, but I have religiously avoided it nonetheless. I'm going to follow your example now, and put it in when I make a list.

  2. What a wonderfully eclectic blog. Am no clearer on the comma, but loved the trip on Harris, reminding me of the biking round Arran, and yes, that was a brave thing to do at the time :-). I thought the midges were earlier? But this is a strange year for natural phenomena.

    1. Normally the midges are here whenever I am - any time from May to September. This year has been amazing.

  3. BTW, we have a MAIZE MAZE in Oxon, which is extremely depressing somehow, dry and dusty. Meditatingly going round would be one way of making it palatable i suppose :-)
    Love those gold medal stamps and would like to see that gold painted mail pillar in honour of Laura Trott. Somewhere in your neck of the woods I believe.

    1. The Royal Mail painted one for her in Harlow, Essex but her home town is Cheshunt in Hertfordshire so she wasn't overly amused. The Royal Mail is now busy painting another one. But, unfortunately, neither is anywhere near me.

  4. Falafel is one of the few "fast food" dishes I eat, mostly when I am travelling and visiting some large city or other.
    The hedge maze makes me want to go there instantly! I love mazes!

  5. I'm a no comma man but don't find the comma abrasive. But I do find starting sentences with a conjunction annoying. And another thing, I was taught that it was wrong.

  6. I didn't know it was the "Oxford comma", I thought it was just the right way to use a comma. (Which it is.) I'm now on the alert for the "Eton parenthesis" and the "Yale exclamation point".

    Hysterical illustration, btw!

  7. Melange of Miscellanies -- I like it! Sometimes my entire life feels like a melange of miscellanies.

    By the way, CJ, if you would like to have a peek at Seattle at its best, check out the link on my facebook page. A friend of a friend put together a slide show for the dinner cruise we took in celebration of our friends John and Joan Watkins last weekend. The weather was perfect and Seattle has never looked better!

    Hugs, Carol

    1. I forget how many of my friends use Facebook as their way of communicating with the world. I must check in more often, thanks Carol.

      P.S. I have to say I was rather proud of the Melange of Miscellanies. It would make a good blog title. I must use it again some time!

    2. What a great video it was, Carol. And I'm glad I checked in with Facebook. I just found out my neice went to Egypt a few weeks ago and had a super time!

  8. I am an Oxford comma gal. I never knew there was a name for it though.
    Yummy falafels! In pita pockets with tahini sauce.

    1. Good, another supporter of the Oxford comma! It doesn't matter if you know what it's called (the the title Oxford Comma is wonderfully memorasble) so long as you use it.

  9. punctuation can be very confusing. I was always taught that you use the comma if there are three or more subjects but if only three you don't need the comma before the and. I don't know, maybe I'm remembering it incorrectly, however, I do like the oxford comma way. It makes more sense to me.

    1. I suspect there are as many ways of using punctuation as there are teachers of English, JarieLyn. Anyone for whom English is a second language has my utmost admiration.

  10. CJ, I think we've talked before about the book "Eats, shoots, and leaves" -- to show what a difference a misplaced comma can make.

  11. Oddly I don't recall seeing labyrinths in the UK (although there are some) but I've walked one (and photographed it) in France or Italy where they seem fairly common. I think the photos are pre-digital though so I can't recall where they were. I've been to Chartres many times though so I've probably seen that one. Apart from a maize maze (common in New Zealand) near Sarnia in Canada the only maze I've tried was at Chatsworth House. We got to the centre so presumably we found our way out!

    This has been really useful exercise for me because in looking for the information leaflet I know I had on the labyrinth I have discovered all the information and books on the places I shall soon be visiting in Italy.

    I've never made my own Falafel from scratch but eat lots of it so it's a sin of omission that I've never fed it to you when you've been staying.

    I support the Oxford comma. I see absolutely no point in being slavish about not using something which can easily avoid misunderstanding. After all no one takes any notice of my (former) detestation of split infinitives. Now, like Rhett, frankly, my dear, I don't give a damn.

  12. Whenever I visit any of these great mazes I wonder just how long it takes to trim them!


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