Monday, March 31, 2008

New Gig

Here's a shout out to Brad, who begins a new job today! He finished a near four-year stint on Capitol Hill last Friday and is now a lobbyist for a nonprofit organization that he worked with during his years as a hill staffer. Best of luck, Sweetheart!

(As I've mentioned before, marriage vows ≠ guaranteed readership, and I think that he's a bit behind on reading my blog, so I can't wait to see how long it takes him to realize that he's received special recognition on my blog today!)

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Pet Peeve #17: Plural or Possessive?

Like my friend, I love grammar. Similar to her recent lesson regarding the use of "me vs. I", this post also begins with the caveat that I in no way claim that my grammar (either written or spoken) is perfect at all times. I strive to use proper grammar, but I also believe that this goal involves lifelong learning (for me, at least). Luckily, Brad might as well be the grammar police because he seems to know and understand every grammar-related rule. And, he's not afraid to correct me when I make mistakes, which is a good thing and something I appreciate more than he knows because my rural upbringing occasionally trumps my level of education. "You can take a gal outta the country, but you can't take the country outta the gal." Enough said.

There is one common mistake I encounter so often that I believe it worthy of my time today: plural vs. possessive forms of words, especially regarding formal names. Something about last names leads some people to automatically add an apostrophe, whether or not the context requires it. I often see this mistake made on Christmas or holiday cards, which always makes me cringe, especially when the cards are professionally printed with the prominent mistake in the name. I can tell that some people either don't know or simply ignore the rule because they are repeat offenders year after year! (By the way, as far as I know, none of these repeat offenders read this blog...but maybe word will get out some day.)

Let me give you an example of this mistake. Let's use a very common last name, such as "Green". Assume that this family consists of a mom, a dad, and at least one child.

Example #1 - INCORRECT
Happy holidays!
The Green's (or The Greens')

The Green's what? Which Green (as the 's implies one person, not more than one)?

Example #1 - CORRECT
Happy holidays!
The Greens ("The Green Family" would also be appropriate.)

We assume that Mom, Dad, and Baby Green are all sending their holidays greetings and because there is more than one "Green" family member, it's correct to list the plural form of the last name.

Let's take a more complicated example, such as a name that ends in "s". (Side note: since acquiring a last name that ends in "s", I've learned that the "s" tends to freak people out as in terms of grammar. And I completely agree that the "s" can be a bit intimidating. I felt that way too at first.)

I'll use a common last name ending in "s", such as "Davis". Let's assume that the Davis family consists of Bob, Betty, and Bernie.

Example #2 - INCORRECT
Happy holidays!
The Davis' (this is almost ALWAYS what I see....the Davis' what?)

Example #2 - CORRECT
Happy holidays!
The Davises ("The Davis Family" would also work.)

To make a name ending in "s" plural, you need to add "es". With some names, it looks a little funny at first, but you get used to it. I promise.

Because names ending in "s" can be tricky, let's carry this one step further:
  • "I read Bob Davis's blog" or "I read Bob Davis' blog" - which format is correct? Grammar Girl reports that this is a style issue and that either way is technically acceptable. Unless the name is Jesus or Moses, I always err on the side of adding 's.
  • I'm traveling to the Davises' house. (In this case you should make the last name plural because you are referring to more than one resident, and then you would add an apostrophe because the house belongs to all of the Davis family members.)
Scrutinize those Christmas cards before sending them to the printer!

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Almost Cherry Blossom Time!

On my run this morning, I noticed that the cherry trees down by the Jefferson Memorial tidal basin look faintly purple. Peak bloom, right around the corner, is one of my favorite seasons in DC! Words cannot adequately describe the beauty of the cherry trees in full bloom. You simply have to see them. This is my eighth spring in DC and I haven't missed the blooms yet. I plan trips and other commitments around cherry blossom season so that I don't miss out on one of the most beautiful weeks of the year here. The blossoms fade quickly and because the trees are slightly fickle, peak bloom can be difficult to predict. But I highly recommend visiting the National Mall and the Jefferson Memorial during cherry blossom season. You'll have to fight hordes of tourists taking pictures and dodge a million baby strollers, but it's soooooooo worth it. Cherry blossom season truly represents the quintessential DC experience.

The weeping willow trees by the Potomac River were showing off tiny little leaves and a beautiful, light green sheen. My heart felt light. Spring is right around the corner. I'm ready!

Monday, March 17, 2008

Travel Agent Update #1

I'm happy to report that I've been fairly successful thus far playing travel agent. As of this morning, all transportation and hotels are confirmed, and we've already plunked down a good bit of change for the flights and several of the hotels. But my itinerary costs nothing close to the travel agent's initial demand of $18K-$20K. I've come in at just over $9K for all transportation and hotels, which actually falls below what I originally budgeted. And we're staying at all 4 star hotels that are well located in each destination (from what I can tell), which is our number one criterion. No suburbs for us!

I've spent days and days poring over hotel reviews and other travel-related web sites, looking for tips and deals. I'm exhausted, but it's actually been fun to choose our own hotels and locations. Here is a sneak peek of our itinerary (I think that I could recite this itinerary in my sleep):

Day 1: fly to Europe overnight
Day 2: arrive in Capri, Italy
Day 3: Capri
Day 4: Capri
Day 5: Leave Capri and travel to Rome
Day 6: Rome
Day 7: Rome
Day 8: Depart Rome for Florence
Day 9: Florence and small towns in Tuscany
Day 10: Florence/Tuscany
Day 11: Florence/Tuscany
Day 12: Depart Florence for Venice
Day 13: Venice (and maybe Verona)
Day 14: Depart Venice for the South of France (Nice, Monaco)
Day 15: South of France
Day 16: South of France
Day 17: Depart the South of France for Bayeux (Normandy)
Day 18: Beaches of Normandy
Day 19: Depart Bayeux for Paris
Day 20: Paris
Day 21: Paris
Day 22: Depart Paris for home!

I am available for hire at any time to fulfill your travel-planning needs. I think that I wasted too much time in grad school when I could have been traveling the world and sampling top-notch hotels and restaurants. I could get used to that.

Friday, March 14, 2008

Scarred for Life

I came to work earlier than normal this morning to clear my desk of a number of items before leaving for spring break (which begins TODAY, YAY!). En route to the kitchen to put my lunch in the fridge, I noticed through the glass window that separates my office suite from the rest of the building that a kid came out of the laundry room (this building IS a residence hall on a college campus, keep in mind) clad only in his boxers!!!! I only saw the back of him, but I am 99.9% certain that his flimsy little "shorts" were nothing but boxers and he was definitely bare on top. Scrawny and a bit prepubescent-looking (from my very brief glance), I have no idea if he is actually a current student or if he's someone's little brother. I actually looked away immediately and ran to the kitchen. Even though I was one of the few adults in the building at that hour and I probably should have stepped into an authority role, I felt horrified at the possibility of discovering that the student was actually someone that I know! I seriously cannot deal with the humiliation of confronting one of my students in his boxer shorts.... and then have to endure the embellished versions of the story that I know would race like wildfire through the halls of the building. And based on his underdeveloped appearance, this kid was only a freshman at most, so if I did bend his ear about walking through public spaces of the building nearly naked, there's a chance that I have him in class right now (eek!) and I could never look him in the eye again. I could give you a million excuses...I'm a coward, I admit. I just couldn't do it. So I quickly ran away.

I've seen plenty of students wearing pajamas in public over the years, but never just their underwear. Maybe this kid was getting a jump start on his spring break debauchery.

Friday, March 7, 2008

The Doctor is OUT

I'm taking today off from my budding psychiatry career because I am faced with a much more pleasurable task: planning my graduation-present trip to Europe!!!!!

Brad and I have been completely intimidated and overwhelmed by planning this three-week jaunt, so much so that we've been procrastinating (which I especially, NEVER do) since my dissertation defense last Halloween. I called a travel agent recently for help and I felt hopeful that he would meet all of our 1,563 special requests and that the entire trip would be planned without us doing anything besides forking over the dough. No such luck. The travel agent called me yesterday and said that transportation, hotels, and a bit of sightseeing alone would cost us between $18K-$20K! This quote didn't even include food or all of the sights! When I told him that he was ridiculous, he then tried to sell me on some nine-day river cruise between Paris and Normandy with a bunch of old people! I realize that we are traveling for three weeks to multiple cities, we are kind of picky about the quality of the experience, and we did make myriad special requests, but I'm convinced that I can plan our trip for less than the cost of a second car (We're a one-car family, so Brad is quickly seeing his dream of a second car disappearing because we're paying for this vacation. Sorry Honey!).

Using the advice of my friend to get organized, I am taking the rest of the day off from my real job to play travel agent. This beats my budding psychiatry practice any day.

Monday, March 3, 2008

Blog Distractor

Work has really one-upped my blog lately. Pesky job!

Stay tuned, Gentle Readers*. I'll be back!

*My friend actually uses this term, but I love it so much that I had to steal it!