Posts Tagged ‘Definitions’

Dear Brits,

I love you. You know I do. As I recently found out thanks to the results from the Ancestry DNA kit, I have at least 18 percent of you in my system (the geography nerd in me is a little confused by how Scotland and Wales are somehow marked separately from Great Britain, though). Look here:Anyway, I’ve always been an anglophile, thanks to my burning desire for Adam Ant.

So when I needed time away to complete a project I’ve been procrastinating on for a year and a half, I chose your chilly, tea-soaked environs. Thankfully, I had a Delta voucher, vacation time available, and two long-time friends who live within 20 minutes of each other.

These are a few of my favorite things:

1. The pubs. Within a one-block radius in Uttoxeter, for example, I worked on my project at The Black Swan, The Old Swan, The Old Star, Ye Olde Talbot and The Vault. The Guinness was spectacular at all.

2. Coffee. I have no shits to give about tea (sorry), but you have proper coffee. I love that you feel free to order cappuccino at all times of the day.

3. Friendliness. You love Americans like mothers love their weird, wayward sons. I was a source of curiosity in every pub I visited to write. Many of you wanted to know what I thought about Donald Trump. (I try not to think about him.) Many of you were pleased at my beer of choice. Every pub played American music, which amused the crap out of me as I am the biggest fan of the Second British Invasion.

4. The TV. No one does television better than you. There is no way anyone else (except maybe the Dutch) would have given the world “Naked Attraction.” The promo line? “A daring dating series that starts where some good dates might end — naked.”

It’s not pixelated at 10 p.m. on a weeknight. I’m shocked. And hooked.

5. The language. I’m tickled at your phrases. The terms of endearment alone sold me (“Duck,” “Shug,” “Love”). I’m definitely “sorted” at the moment. I’m using “straightaway” instead of “now.” I’m in love with “posh” (the word, not the Spice Girl).

I could listen to you all day. And did:

“She wants a wee!” — said by Man One to Man Two as I was trying to slide past Man Two to get to the ladies room.

“We’ve replaced you with someone far more attractive. You weren’t doing your job, so we’ve sacked you.” — Man Three to Man Four as I was sitting in his seat at the pub.

6. Your bluntness. Take this sign, for example.

Harsh. I feel sorry for the Simon Howie haggis. They can dream, I guess.

Anyway, thank you for being you. I hope to see you again soon.



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Dear Mr. Trump,

Good evening! I know you are gearing up for the third (and final, thankfully) presidential debate, so please read this later — like at 3:20 a.m. when you are up tweeting.

When I first wrote you back in July, I said, “I’m sure you are quite lovely in person.” As it turns out, you aren’t. And you have the dubious honor of bringing the P word into the mainstream. Imagine the fun conversations I’ve had with my kids!

1b5cb62ae34b24690eef2b82723f3999And speaking of mainstream and conversations with kids, I do have to thank you. We regular humans are having some interesting conversations that apparently should have happened long before now.

We are talking about rape culture. We are talking about saying to men, “Don’t rape,” instead of telling women, “Don’t look like you are asking for it.” We are talking about the thousands of indignities women face on a regular basis.

On Facebook today, I posted a link to a blog post titled, “It’s Not Okay,” by a writer named Molly.


In response, a man who was a good friend of mine in high school wrote this:


While I certainly appreciate his note, that episode was not on my list of stories. I was thinking more about that time when a guy at a bar grabbed my P word just like you like to do, Mr. Trump. Or when a guy I had just started dating let himself into my apartment and replaced my sheets and shower curtain with ones on which he had drawn himself. Or when a guy assaulted me at gunpoint in college.

Yeah, those are the ones that stick out.

Every woman I know has stories like mine.

And I want to be clear for the purposes of educating you and your defender Rush Limbaugh, I did not want, ask for or agree to any of the above.

If there is consent on both or all three or all four, however many are involved in the sex act, it’s perfectly fine, whatever it is. But if the left ever senses and smells that there’s no consent in part of the equation then here come the rape police. But consent is the magic key to the left. — Rush Limbaugh on his show Oct. 12

Yes, Rush, consent is the “magic key.” Without consent, a sex act is indeed rape. Even the U.S. Department of Justice says so.

So thank you, I guess, for bringing this topic more into the light than it ever has been. It gives me an extra reason to talk to my boys about how to be respectful men and not someone like you.

Sincerely (but not respectfully),

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Dear Job Seeker:

I’ve written posts about the job search in general, job fairs, Skype interviews and in-person interviews. I have not addressed email correspondence specifically, because I thought your mama taught you well.

I was wrong.

Maybe I shouldn’t blame mothers. Maybe it’s our digital culture that makes people lazy and rude.

When looking for a job, however, you should be on your best behavior.

  1. Ensure your emails are professional. Often, an email is the hiring manager’s first impression of you. Make it count. A candidate recently copied me on an email to an HR recruiter. It was the first email I received from the candidate. It began with this sentence: It does not appear that my candidacy for the [REDACTED] opening has thus far been accorded the proper level of respect and professionalism. I had been on the fence about the candidate. That certainly helped me make a decision.
  2. Watch your tone. Remember that positive emails tend to come across as neutral; neutral emails read negative. Perhaps the candidate was simply neutral. (Yeah, right.)
  3. Use proper grammar and mechanics. Do not use textspeak. SYK.
  4. Don’t write a book. People often read emails on their phones. Don’t make them scroll and scroll and scroll. Get to the point.
  5. Proofread. Then get someone else to proofread the email also.
  6. Don’t be a pest. Say everything you need to say in one short email. If the person writes you back, then you can write again. Send one email to follow up on an interview. If you haven’t heard anything in two weeks after that email, send a final email. Then let it go. If the listing says “no calls or emails” then you have to respect that or risk pissing off the hiring manager.
  7. Always send a hand-written “thank you” note after an interview. It’s just good manners. Sadly,  few people have good manners nowadays. That means you will stand out in a good way.


Happy writing!

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Dear People Wound Up About Halloween:

You’ve made your outrage about celebrating the “Devil’s holiday” quite clear. Fine. I hear you.

It’s true that many scholars believe that Halloween, or All Hallows’ Eve, has its roots in the ancient Celtic festival known as Samhain — the end of harvest season and the time for pagans to stock up for the winter. The Gaels believed Oct. 31 offered a window between the living and the dead, and they wore costumes to attempt to mimic or appease evil spirits.


Other scholars disagree and state that it originated independently of Samhain.

Regardless of that controversy, let me ask you this: Do you get similarly up in arms about Santa Claus? You should. He is a modern interpretation of the pagan belief that spirits traveled the sky in midwinter.


Do you always have a Christmas tree? Well, that’s based on a pagan tradition of bringing in greenery in winter.

Do you celebrate Thanksgiving? The origins of that holiday are not happy, happy, joy, joy — Pilgrims and Indians loving each other. Don’t forget that white folks killed the natives and took over their land and crops. In fact, in 1643, Gov. Williem Kieft launched a surprise attack on the Native Americans living on Manhattan Island. This joyful little event ended with people kicking severed heads through the streets. Lovely!

4269105692_2d20bdb940My point? You are a hypocrite. Many of our holidays have not-so-sacred beginnings.
My recommendation? Get a life! Relax and just enjoy our modern celebrations for what they are: a chance to do something different and have fun with your family!

Now if you’ll excuse me, I’m off to find my kids’ trick-or-treat bags.

Happy Halloween!

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Disorderly conduct

Warning: This post contains graphic images of medical conditions.

Dear Donald G. McNeil Jr.:

Thank you for speaking to students in my class yesterday, and for speaking to a larger group of students later. I enjoyed meeting you and hearing your tales about covering “germs and worms.”

I too have a fascination with disease. Though I do not write about it for The New York Times, I do write. Readers of this blog are forced to go with me occasionally down the rabbit hole of information about horrible things.

I learned about two new disorders this week: Cancrum Oris and Buruli Ulcer.

Cancrum Oris is straight out of a horror movie. Otherwise known as “Noma,” Cancrum Oris is a type of gangrene that only affects the face, and only appears in children. It is caused by two different bacteria and usually shows up after another serious disease such as measles or scarlet fever.

Look away now if you don’t want to see.

Cancrum Oris

Antibiotics and improved nutrition can help this disorder from getting worse. And then there’s plastic surgery, which is sadly out of the realm of the possible for many of these poor children. (There is a reason they are malnourished.)

Buruli Ulcer is a tropical disease caused by a bacteria in the leprosy and tuberculosis family. It starts innocently with a simple nodule. It affects skin and can get into the bone. Fun!

Warning: All kinds of terrible up ahead!

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAThe good news is that a vaccine is in development.

But you, as the Germ Guru, must know all this already.

I just wanted you to know that I share your fascination.

Thanks again for visiting and I hope to see you again soon.

Yours in pestilence,

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Dear Certain Conservative White Male Politicians:

I know you are not in favor of sex ed in schools. It is clear you need some kind of education, though.

Let me explain reproduction to you in the terms similar to those I used for my son when he was four:

Boys and girls have different parts between their legs. When these parts come together, sometimes they can make a baby.

It doesn’t matter if these parts belong to people in the same family (incest), of different ages (statutory rape), or if the girl was not willing (rape).

And unlike EL James’ book, there aren’t 50 shades of grey when it comes to rape. Rape is rape. If one person doesn’t want to participate, it’s rape. There is no qualifier (like “legitimate”) before that word.

I cannot believe I have to explain this.

You sound like Johnny Nogerelli, Adrian Zmed’s character in “Grease 2“:

‎Can’t a girl just do that thing in a book where she adds up the dates of her uh — whaddayacallit — mentalstration?

No one likes to look like a complete idiot, so I’m going to help you out. Here is a link to a “How Stuff Works” exploration of reproduction. It even talks about contraception, so maybe you can share that with your buddy Rush. Please read at your leisure. You don’t even have to admit you read it. But if you do, it will save you future embarrassment.

Supporting the understanding and protection of lady bits,

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Warning: This post contains graphic images of medical conditions.

Dear Larry Page, Eric Schmidt and Sergey Brin and all Google employees who have anything to do with Google Images:

Thank you for creating this service. Without you, I would not have such easy access to the shocking, disturbing images I crave to fuel my ability to procrastinate. (It’s what I do when I am stalling on a project.)

Today, I have selected skin disorders as the topic of interest. I started with Stevens-Johnson Syndrome, which is a particularly nasty skin disorder resulting from an allergic reaction or infection. The person who introduced me to this disorder aptly described it as “Cronenberg-levels of horrifying.” Thanks to Google Images, I was able to find the following example. (Don’t say I didn’t warn you.)

As another form of the disease is called Toxic Epidermal Necrolysis (Lyell’s Syndrome), I naturally moved on to Necrotizing Fasciitis. Otherwise known as the “flesh-eating disease,” it is all kinds of horrible. You had plenty of images to prove that point, including this one:

And that led to Fournier’s gangrene, which is also quite dreadful. Again, Google Images did not disappoint. (But there will be no sample images posted here. Even I have limits, and the results of “penile debridement” cross the line.)

I got back on the non-genital track with a search for just “gangrene.” Once again, you had plenty to share. I wonder about the following photo, though. The person clearly has a big problem, but the photo does not look like it was taken in a hospital. It’s shot like some kind of nail treatment “before” picture.

I worry about all the people in these pictures. Are they OK? Did they get reconstructive surgery? Are they alive at least? Unfortunately, even when I follow the photo to the original link, there’s rarely any “where are they now?” follow-up.

Can’t you make that happen? Isn’t Google the Information Sharing Overlord?

Anyway, thanks for providing this service. I managed to waste about an hour of my life. (And yes, I did finish the project I was putting off.)

Feeling lucky,

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