The world is flat.
Applying leeches will get rid of a patient’s illness.
If someone takes your picture, they’ll steal your soul.
At one time, each of these statements was believed by groups of people. Today, we scoff at these theories because we know them to be untrue.
But the people who believed these things were not stupid.
The world’s best scientists believed the world was flat. Experienced, caring doctors believed leeches got rid of “bad” blood. Wise community leaders believed that spirits could be captured by cameras.
So what changed? How did people come to accept a different reality…
The ’70s was the era of canned tuna and cottage cheese and peach slices for the calorie-conscious woman. My mom was a fan. When I was growing up, she served cottage cheese with supper, maybe five or six times a month.
I liked it fine, but once I moved out, I don’t remember ever buying curds OR whey for my tuffet. It seemed like old-people food. And my meager food budget was allocated to only the basic necessities: pasta, chicken, bagels, frozen veggies, cereal, milk, chocolate, and Diet Coke. Mostly pasta and Diet Coke, to be honest.
A few years…
The pool in our back yard is exactly the length of the house I grew up in: 40 feet. In fact, its overall dimensions are almost the size of my childhood home, which housed a family of five. Is our pool big or was our house small? Yes.
My partner and I never wanted a pool when we were house hunting, but this house was perfect for other reasons, and it costs a lot more to remove a pool than to maintain it for 10 years or more, so there it is. A huge, concrete-lined hole in ground.
Watching the Olympics has been a highlight of every two years for most of my life. For those 17 days (or however long they last), there’s no decision-making for TV. I just keep one of the Olympic channels on. I’m inspired by amazing athletes and awed by their performances. What’s not to like?
I particularly enjoy becoming an expert on even the most obscure aspect of the most obscure sport in a matter of minutes. “Well, that biathalon performance wasn’t terrible, but she needs to hold that rifle with more palm,” I find myself saying — five minutes after tuning…
We got a visit from the township compliance officer yesterday. That’s never a good thing. He knocked at the door in his proper brown uniform, introduced himself, and asked if he could tell me about a complaint he’d received. Why, of course.
I stepped outside with him, and we walked across the yard to the deep ditch on the east side of our property.
“See these cattails?” he asked, pointing to the six-foot high reeds. “They need to be cut down because they’re obstructing sight lines to the main road,” he said.
I thanked him for letting us know. This…
In 1999, I was married to a man who fell under the influence of a radio personality preaching Y2K fear. Many believed that Y2K would cause widespread utility outages, mass hysteria, traffic light malfunctions, computer shutdowns, and general mayhem. Some media figures stoked fears, warning of imminent doom and catastrophe. My ex, who was given to conspiracy theories and susceptible to fear, bit — hook, line, and sinker.
When I mentioned this article idea to a cat-loving friend, she joked, “Are you going to publish a blank page?” We both snickered. While we are fond of our cats, we know how stand-offish, independent, and, well, asocial they can be.
I recently looked into what happens when people smile at their dogs after realizing my dogs respond to smiles with tail wagging and other gestures of happiness. Fascinated at the discovery, I wanted to find out what objective evidence from research proved. …
Punctuation rules can elicit emotional responses. Take the serial comma, for example. People are passionate about it. I’ve seen grown professionals on an editorial staff nearly come to blows over that topic. (I’m pro-serial, for what it’s worth, and pretty impassioned about it.) Commas sit close to our emotional center, apparently.
Likewise, people are wary of semi-colons. Semi-colons make them uncomfortable because they just can’t remember how to use them. (Watch for an upcoming article on this topic!) So they tend to avoid them altogether OR pepper their writing with semi-colons with utter abandon. …
Writer, humorist, animal lover, lifelong language geek (er, I proofread for fun). I write on diverse topics that catch my fancy. Everything but haiku(tm).