Thursday, October 31, 2013


My friend Patty and I are addicted to The Good Wife. Here's my e-mail to Patty about the latest episode:

I must admit I was glad to see Alicia receive her comeuppance, (a bit of SCHADENFREUDE on my part) after how good Diane and Will had been to her, the ungrateful wretch! I understand it's a good plot twist to have Alicia break away from the firm, BUT...

Christine Baranski can do ANYTHING--comedy, drama, music--what a talent. I just love it that she has a Mary Matalin/James Carville ass-backwards type affair with Gary Cole (OMG! they gave that right-winger Timothy McVeigh's name to him--Kurt McVeigh)! She was extraordinary in the scene where she had to decide whether to vote against Alicia, knowing full-well the judgeship hung in the balance. Just that ONE look and hesitation--now, that's acting, my friend!

I've been a Josh Charles fan ever since Sports Night, and he's also good at comedy and drama! The ensemble cast: Alan Cumming, Chris Noth, etc.--all excellent! I love the character David Lee and oh, how I adore Kalinda!

My favorite non-regular is ELSBETH TASCIONI. What a delightful, kooky character! Her name is Carrie Preston. I also love Michael J. Fox's appearances and Mamie Gummer was in a few episodes.

You know, I sound just like my mother--exclaiming about The Young And The Restless!

Wednesday, October 30, 2013


In my article A CURSE AND A BLESSING, I mentioned my favorite teacher Miss Digman. (R.I.P., B Cleo Digman, 1895-1983) I looked back on my articles and I have written about her numerous times. I had a special relationship with Miss Digman (CLICK HERE to see BLOG article SEMINAL INFLUENCES). Miss Digman came to teach in Ohio at age 75 because West Virginia had a mandatory retirement age! She insisted that "Cleopatra" be pronounced as "Cleo-pate-ra", with a long "a"!. Beauragard was her mother's maiden name.

Miss Digman was very influential to me and each time I hear T. S. Eliot's name I always recall her saying "Thomas STEARNS Eliot"; she was an admirer of his; I detested him because of his being an anti-Semite; Miss Digman said that didn't diminish his "greatness"; I countered with, "And Mussolini made the trains run on time!" Once, with a very patronizing tone, she said, "My dear, MISTER Eliot was the recipient of the Nobel Prize." I said, equally condescendingly, "AS was MISS Pearl S. Buck!" Miss Digman said, "TOUCHE!" She would preface nearly all of her private remarks to me with: "My dear..."

Miss Digman subscribed to The New Yorker and I felt honored that she would entrust me to devour them after she'd finished! [When I went to work, the first luxury I afforded myself were subscriptions to The New Yorker and The New Republic and I am still a subscriber.] Murial Spark's The Prime Of Miss Jean Brodie was excerpted in the magazine; when I read it, I told Miss Digman that she was as "autocratic" as Miss Brodie. Miss Digman told me, "Oh, my dear, but I am neither charismatic nor a Fascist!" It was the first time I'd ever heard the word "charismatic" used, although it became commonplace the following year in describing President Kennedy. Miss Digman was nothing like Miss Brodie other than her total assuredness about her subjects and opinions. Years later, seeing the movie, I told Gerald, "Miss Brodie would never have allowed me to hate Thomas STEARNS Eliot as Miss Digman did!"

Last night, watching Jeopardy!, I thought of Miss Digman and it prompted this reminiscence. One of the correct questions was: "Who was Adlai Stevenson?" When I said, "Adlai EWING Stevenson the Second", Gerald gave me a look and I shrugged and said, "Miss Digman lives." Les asked, "The Second?" I answered, "He was named after his grandfather!" I don't understand the predilection of our saying the three names; Les says it's showing-off, but I know that it isn't; it's just MY THING! I always have to say "GAMALIEL" when referring to Harding, "BIRCHARD" with Hayes, and "ABRAM" with Garfield!

I worked with a man named Jeff Davis, who claimed to be a descendant of Jefferson Davis, and he fancied himself an expert on the "War Of Northern Aggression". He was a walking compendium of knowledge of his ancestor and his hero Stonewall Jackson. In our numerous discussions he would always refer to "Jefferson FINIS Davis" and "THOMAS JONATHAN Jackson" to which I would always counter with "Ulysses SIMPSON Grant". [I guess I will admit to a little showing-off that I know that Grant's original name was HIRAM Ulysses Grant but he was embarrassed by the HUG initials, and he changed it.]

BEAUREGARD CLEOPATRA DIGMAN would have appreciated the colloquy!

Tuesday, October 29, 2013


Having a good memory is both a curse and a blessing. My sister-in-law Sheila told me that since I seldom forgot anything, I was like Anne, a Fair Witness, a character in the book Stranger In A Strange Land. Before she told me about the book, I had never read any science fiction, but it was irresistible not to read about the character whom I was supposed to be like. In the book, the Fair Witnesses were individuals who were designated to observe events and report exactly what occurred; having eidetic memory was a prerequisite for the position and they could not be disputed in court. The novel, set in the distant future, is, to me, a commentary on the religious fanaticist, consumerist, media-crazy society we live in; the author Heinlein was very prophetic since the book was released in 1961 and seems very relevant today. The U.S. Library Of Congress named it among the 88 books which shaped America. Seeing evil people promulgate their lies, especially about our President, makes me wish that there were Fair Witnesses available today. Recently, I heard a young person use the word "grok" and I said, "Valentine Michael Smith, I presume!" Smith is the main character in the book.

I admit that my certitude has sometimes caused uncomfortable moments in discussions. The only people I might defer to, when in a discussion requiring recollection, would be my brothers who also inherited the blessing/curse from my mother! Of course, my brothers will insist that I have never deferred to anyone! When I am too full of myself, Les will put me in my place by saying, "O. K., Ms. Proust!" Gerald says that he never lies to me because I remember everything. Of course, I do not remember everything and I wish my mind were not cluttered with trivia. I often say that I know that I learned about the Theory of Relativity, but I can't explain it! I have long been fascinated by WHAT people (including myself) do recall and WHY.

One of my husband's classmates is married to one of my former classmates. The last time we were together, we talked about school and I asked what books she'd been reading lately and I commented that the reading requirements were much different today than when we went to school. I said, "Miss Digman would turn over in her grave." She said how much she had disliked Miss Digman. I laughed and told her that was no surprise because Miss Digman had corrected her term paper; she had written about the Church Of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, and she had the word Mormon written as "Morman" throughout the text and Miss Digman had encircled the word each time with red ink! Although I thought it was an amusing anecdote, she was obviously irritated that I had said it, because she asked, "How the Hell do you remember all that shit?" I said, "I also remember what she did to my report on Lady Chatterley's Lover!" (CLICK HERE to see BLOG article)

Another time, at a class reunion we were discussing President Kennedy and one of my classmates said that he had been "for him". I said, "No you weren't; you were for Nixon in the mock election." He looked shocked. I said, "There were only FOUR of us who voted for Kennedy; all the rest of you voted for Nixon; isn't that right, Mike?" Mike had been one of the four who had voted with me for Senator Kennedy. Mike laughed and said, "I know who I was FOR back then and I would never doubt Phyllis!"

At the same reunion a woman who'd been a "Mean Girl" in high school was telling how fond she was of one our classmates who had died. I told her that she had NOT been fond of her in school because she had refused to share a room with her during our Senior Trip. She protested, "Oh, that's not true!" Obviously, those were fighting words, and as much as I hated the need for "back-up", I said, seething with anger at having been disputed, "Let's just call Joan; she's STILL alive and she's also still mad at you for doing that because she was among the three with whom you refused to share!"

Yesterday, an acquaintance told me about a problem she was having but she obviously had forgotten that she had told me about it previously. As she was distraught, I didn't tell her that her story had changed somewhat in the intervening months.

Les says that I am "self-righteous". Guilty as charged!

Monday, October 28, 2013


My friend Patty wrote to tell me she was glad that my brother Bode's "hair whorls" were on his chest and not his back. (CLICK HERE to see DOUBLE CROWN) I remember seeing a survey which showed that most women do not find back hair appealing.

I hope that Bode will forgive me for telling THAT about his chest hair whorls and for also telling THIS: at age 18--before Bode went into the service--he had only ONE hair on his chest. After he'd been out all night and did not want to get up in the morning to go to work, Mother would threaten to pull that ONE hair from his chest! After returning home from the service, Bode was indeed proud to show off the hair on his chest.

I can remember my brothers--as little boys and their seeming rite of passage--trying out my father's Gillette Safety Razor, shaving brush and Williams Shaving Soap in the shaving cup, and of course, the much-needed STYPTIC pencil for the predictable cuts! I still remember the scents of the shaving soap and styptic pencil! I remember the "Look sharp, be sharp" Gillette commercials on the Friday night fights!

Recently, Charles, the older friend for whom I have Power Of Attorney, told me that he wanted a safety razor and blades instead of the electric razor. It was the second electric razor he had dropped and broken. I went to several places to try to buy a safety razor and the clerk at CVS told me the safety razors were no longer available although they still carried the blades. Gerald said he would go online to find one but I knew that my father's razor was in the upstairs bathroom medicine cabinet. Les cleaned it up, and I bought the blades at CVS, and took them to the nursing home, but the nursing home would not allow the razor and blades; the reason: with Charles' condition, he cannot shave himself, and the the aides do not know how to use the safety razor! I realize it's a highly technical process to open and close the razor and install the blades; thus, I was relieved when Charles announced he wants a beard and an Afro hairdo!

Sunday, October 27, 2013


Watching Modern Family, the character Cameron was busy choosing businesses for the upcoming wedding and mentioned that he preferred businesses with punny-names such as FLORIST GUMP and FLORAL & HARDY!

I have also always liked the use of clever punning for businesses, as long as one is able to "get" it! I've written before about business names which one couldn't tell what the business is! (CLICK HERE to see article)

My favorite local cute pun is BACK-EN-THYME which is a floral shop.

I also like the following ones from other areas:

THE LONE HYDRANGEA (floral shop)
CURL AND DYE (beauty salon)
AL'S CLIP JOINT (barber shop)
ROCK AND SOLE PLACE (fish and chips restaurant)
AWARD WEINERS (hot dog stand at Disneyland)
THAI ME UP (Thai food restaurant)
PANE IN THE GLASS (glass repair)

The article by Richard Nordquist here shows 200 punny-named businesses which he states are STILL in business because of (OR despite the fact) the names!

Saturday, October 26, 2013


In discussing old political races last night, a friend asked, "Remember Bill Brown?" I screaked with delight, "Without a doubt the most gorgeous politician I ever met!"

William J. Brown was elected Attorney General of Ohio in 1970 and served until 1983. During his tenure he created the first Consumer Protection Agency and he sued General Motors because that company had installed Chevrolet engines in higher-priced Oldsmobiles. That suit resulted in a large settlement for consumers.

When Brown ran in the Primary for Governor in 1982, I was a Brown supporter but he was defeated by Richard Celeste. He retired from politics and became associated with the law firm of Kegler & Brown in Columbus. He died in 1999 at the age of 59. The William J. Brown scholarship is endowed at Ohio Northern University, Brown's alma mater.

Bill Brown was the world's biggest M.A.S.H. fan. When he learned that Jamie Farr was scheduled to be in Columbus to perform, Brown invited Farr to visit his office. When Farr went in, Bill Brown got up from his desk wearing a black taffeta dress, in honor of Corporal Klinger! This was especially amusing because Brown was a conservative, though quite a dapper dresser!

See an article from The Deseret detailing Farr's version of the encounter (CLICK HERE).

Friday, October 25, 2013


Whenever she comes across an unusual word, Mona Lisa is fond of saying to me, "I looked in the dictionary for the word and there was your picture!" She just sent the message: "I looked in the dictionary for PARONOMASIA and there was your picture!" Paronomasia means the love of puns.

I do love puns and my all-time favorite is about Mr. Opporknockity, the piano tuner:

Mr. Opporknockity was the world's greatest piano tuner and was justifiably proud of his work; he always guaranteed that he only needed to make one service call. Once, a dissatisfied customer called and told Mr. Opporknockity that his piano needed to be tuned again. Mr. Opporknockity answered, "That's impossible, I can't do it, because OPPORKNOCKITY ONLY TUNES ONCE!"

My second is about Roy Rogers: CLICK HERE to see my BLOG article.

Thursday, October 24, 2013


My friend Patty put me in touch with a new word: GURNING! No definition is necessary: just look at the the accompanying picture! There is a "World Gurning Championship" (CLICK HERE to see article); the video from YouTube is extraordinary, especially the part showing the World Champion demonstrating "gurning" for Queen Elizabeth II!

Wednesday, October 23, 2013



People, contrary to belief, Elvis has NOT left the building! He still lives in the heart of my grandson, Casey, who turned 9 yesterday.

This is the same boy who just this year fell in love with “everything Titanic” and Abraham Lincoln. His love for Lincoln was so strong, that because of his many requests, we all visited “everything Lincoln” in Illinois this spring.

He had never heard of Elvis until his momma played an Elvis song on the radio. He immediately wanted to know who that singer was. His momma told him, and mentioned there was an Elvis station on the radio that played ALL Elvis songs. He wanted her to turn it to that station. That did it. Casey fell in love with Elvis. All of a sudden he wanted an Elvis white jumpsuit with a red scarf for Halloween, an Elvis hairpiece, and a guitar. His momma ordered the jumpsuit about a week ago, and he didn't wait for Halloween; he has almost worn it out, wearing it for anyone as he mimics his beloved Elvis. Since his grandma and his grandpa are big Elvis fans, this has all been music (in the true sense) to our ears. I have lost track of how many times he has sung “Suspicious Minds” for us. He walks in our front door and says, “I just wanna be your teddy bear”, complete with Elvis’s best moves. He has played two CD’s over and over again while acting out his Elvis character. If anyone ever wondered what Elvis might have looked like as a blonde, they can see by looking at Casey.

He had a sleep-over birthday party with five of his friends yesterday. He greeted them in his Elvis suit with a new guitar, and thanked them “very much” (Elvis style) for coming to his party. Wait a minute, did I fail to mention that his grandpa bought him a guitar and gave it to him Friday before his party? Well, that sealed the deal. His family woke up the last two mornings to “Teddy Bear” accompanied by an “original” tune played on his new guitar.

Last Saturday night our little Elvis spent the night with us. Grandpa had brought up two old albums for him to see. One was 50,000,000 Elvis Fans Can't be Wrong, complete with Elvis in his gold jumpsuit on the cover. Casey picked it up, and stared at it for a few minutes and with the most compassion and awe ever heard in a little boy said “Dis is my favorite picture of Him.”

I have a feeling we will all be heading for Memphis very soon!

Tuesday, October 22, 2013


My friend Dr. Hannah KAY Case and her sister Dr. Nelly Maude Case, invited Gerald and me to attend the induction ceremony of their grandfather Karl J. Kay, into the Washington High School Academic Hall Of Fame. In her presentation, Nelly Maude described her grandfather as a "Renaissance Man"; among Mr. Kay's achievements were: a career in education of more than 60 years where he taught subjects as diverse as Latin, math, science, Manual Arts, and coaching. As well as being a teacher, he was also a Principal and School Administrator. Mr. Kay held the distinction of being awarded a Universal Teaching Certificate from the State of Ohio which meant that he was qualified to teach any subject, although his main subjects were math and science. He had received his Master's Degree with a major in Music Education and a minor in Chemistry. In addition to his academic responsibilities, at different times Mr. Kay held the positions of Orchestra Conductor, Vocal Director, Theater Director, and he created the high school Marching Band as well as starting a chapter of Future Teachers Association. After retiring, Mr. Kay was a substitute teacher for many years at numerous schools, including teaching math and science at Bloomingburg High School.

His outside activities were as remarkable as his school teaching career. He was responsible for the installation of the pipe organ in the WHS auditorium. Mr. Kay was also the author of the words to the Alma Mater for WHS. He served regularly as a church organist and choir director, securing pipe organs and church bells for St. Andrew's Episcopal Church at two separate locations. He was also known for maintaining beehives, building furniture, farming, directing plays, and conducting a community orchestra.

My brother Bode was one of Mr. Kay's students at Bloomingburg High School; Bode was the kind of student who would skip school to go to Vic Donohoe's to play pool and then return and be able to ace any test. That behavior did not find favor with Mr. Kay. Mr. Kay, who had also taught my mother at WHS in the 1920s, spoke to my mother about the "problem"! He actually remembered my mother as a student and told her that Bode should be a "good student" as she was. Mother said she asked him, "How much smarter do you want him to be?"

Mr. Kay was known as "Cueball" because of his pilgarlic pate.

Although Bode was blind in one eye, he was still required to register for the Selective Service at age eighteen. Mr. Kay was the head of the local Selective Service Board. One day Bode was involved in a fender-bender with the 70-something Mr. Kay and Mr. Kay was at fault. The following week Bode received his "Greetings" that he was drafted into the Army! Bode always laughed about it and asserted that it was because of Mr. Kay's punishing his skipping school more than the accident! Bode considered "Cueball" Kay and "Ma" Elliott to be his best teachers. Mrs. Elliott told me that Vic Emory and Bode were the two smartest pupils she ever had. I laughed and asked, "What about my mother?" Mrs. Elliott had also taught my mother, but she did not remember her; we always suspected that Mrs. Elliott had a preference for boys! Mother said, "At least Mr. Kay remembered me!"

Monday, October 21, 2013


Mona Lisa called and asked, "Have you heard people say 'I' when it should be 'my' or 'mine'?" I told her I didn't think so and I asked for an example. She said she had recently heard someone say, "We had a lot of people come to Bill and I's party." I screaked in horror. She said she had received a thank you card which read: "Thank you so much for Joe and I's gift."

Fortunately, I haven't heard these screamers but on today's Grammarphobia it identifies the same problem. In the article it suggests Googling "John and I's", which I did. The problem must be widespread!


“I” strain

Q: I hear more and more people substitute “I’s” for “my” or “mine.” For example, “My friends had a wonderful time at Jason and I’s party.” Ouch! That hurts my ears! Is this something that will fade away, or will it eventually become accepted?

A: You’re right. A lot of people are using “I’s” as a possessive of “I,” though mostly in place of “my,” not “mine.”

We got millions of hits when we Googled “John and I’s,” “Bob and I’s,” and so on. Here are a few examples:

● “You really captured the spirit of John and I’s relationship and I absolutely cannot wait to see more of the shots!”

● “Thank you for supporting Jason and I’s celebration.”

● “Bob and I’s story is short, pathetic and kind of sweet!”

● “Tomorrow is Sam and I’s 2nd wedding anniversary.”

This usage seems to be relatively new. The earliest examples we could find were from 2004. Here’s an early one from the film producer Harvey Weinstein about the Weinstein brothers’ rocky relationship with Disney.

“They get to see my books all the time, so there’s no hiding what we do. On the flip side, Bob and I’s pay is determined by accounting from Disney. I don’t get to see everything unless I ask for an audit.”

Getting back to your question, what should be used in place of “Jason and I’s party”?

Well, “Jason’s and my party” would be correct, but that’s not the most felicitous phrasing. We’d prefer something like “our party” or, if you need to mention Jason, “our party, Jason’s and mine.”

Is this “I’s” business something that will fade away? Probably, but only time will tell.

In looking into your question, we came across a paper by Karen Milligan, a linguist at Wayne State University, about the grammar of joint possession.

In “Expressing Joint Possession: Or, Why me and Mary’s paper wasn’t accepted (but Bob and I’s was),” she suggests that the natural way of expressing joint possession (she calls it “the default construction”), is “me and Sean’s.”

She says this is “syntactically the most economical choice and the one utilized by children first. It is also the one adults revert to subconsciously—when under stress or in unguarded speech.”

Ms. Milligan writes that the early usage “declines with age, leading to eventual abandonment” as the “over-extension or misappropriation of prescriptive rules results in constructions that are semantically altered and/or unpredicted by the grammar of English.”

In other words, she seems to be arguing, we got it right as toddlers and we can blame English teachers for our difficulties in expressing joint possession as adults.

Sunday, October 20, 2013


Yesterday a customer said, "Oh, look, there's a YMCA charm." Of course, I had to start singing the song! Then I couldn't get it out of my mind! When I got home I was still singing it! My brother said, "So, you have a brain-itch." I said, "I've never heard that." He said he'd read about it recently (CLICK HERE for 5 BRAIN-ITCH SONGS YOU'LL NEVER FORGET). I said, I wrote an article about the malady a long time ago; it's called an EARWORM." (CLICK HERE to see BLOG article here)

He responded, "Well, earworm does sound like a communicable disease!"

Definition of EARWORM: "a catchy song or tune that runs continually through a person's mind." I would add: "an irritating tune or song."

Saturday, October 19, 2013


As I'm getting ready for a yard sale, I was going through the overflowing toy box to declutter! When I opened the lid, I noticed HANNAH SHIRKEY printed in black letters on the inside top of the box. I hearkened back to the evening when my grand-niece Hannah was a little girl, and all of her cousins were boys. During a family get-together, the boys dumped nearly all of the contents of the toy box out of the toy box onto the family room floor. The boys started to play a bowling game with a plastic bowling ball with pins lined up against the hearth. They did not want Hannah to play; one of the ornery boys told Hannah to get INSIDE the toy box to get some things and when she did, he obviously thought it would be funny to close the lid. However, when Hannah tried to get out of the box, none of the boys could release the latch and had to call for help!

When I learned that Hannah was in the toy box, someone actually said, "Boys will be boys", as if that were a valid excuse for such behavior. I was more than irate, and I know that I projected my own anger of feeling slights as a little girl who'd been surrounded by powerful boys all of her life.

Of course, I expected Hannah to be hysterical, but when I opened the lid, there she was, bent over, COLORING! I was obviously more upset than she was! She said she thought she might as well do something while she was in there! How cool; what composure!

Although there was no way she could have suffocated because the box is wicker, I still lectured the boys about safety and reminded them about the precaution taken with removing doors from abandoned refrigerators. I said, wearily, "I guess I'll have to rip off the lid!" Instead, Gerald was summoned from his poker game to disable the latch on the box.

President Kennedy was fond of quoting Hemingway's saying that courage was grace under pressure. Hannah is in college now; I hope she always maintains the same grace under pressure which she did while trapped in a toy box!

Friday, October 18, 2013


A friend sent this graphic to me because she knows that I invite proselytizers to come in to talk. I am always respectful of their beliefs and I admit I like to see them try to learn about mine. Just last week two young women from the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints came to visit. (Remember how there were always two nuns together? Now there are always two Mormon women together!)

My opening gambit: "We have lots in common: I like Mary Jane shoes too!" At the Fayette County Fair this year, the LDS booth was "manned" mostly with young women and I noticed they all wore Mary Jane-style shoes! I was glad there were young women there because the young men would never divulge their given names and insisted on being called "elder"! (CLICK HERE to see BLOG article IS "YOUNG ELDER" AN OXYMORON?)

When I showed them I have books by George Givens, who is a well-known author of books relating to the history of LDS, they also noticed that I have a Book Of Mormon. I pointed out the tombstone rubbing (see picture) on my library wall, which is of the grave marker of my 4-great grandfather George Givens. One asked, obviously impressed, "So you're related to the writer George Givens?" I said, "Oh, no, I haven't been able to find a link." I knew that they were assuming that because of the writer George Givens having the same name as my ancestor, that I must be an LDS member! I commented that LDS was founded in 1830 (as Gerald said later, "Now that was just showing off!") As MY George Givens, who was born in 1743, died in 1846, at the age of 103, they should have surmised that my ancestor was probably not a Mormon convert at age 87, but Joseph Smith had brought his followers to Ohio!

Fortunately, I had someone else come to visit; the SISTERS had to leave and thus did find out that I am not a member of their faith!

Les said, "You know they'll be back!"

Thursday, October 17, 2013



Patty sent the BLOG article "IF YOU WILL" (CLICK HERE to read) to her friend John Clem. He responded:


Here are a couple of new-ish clich├ęs that often infiltrate conversations with younger folks these days. I cringe when I hear them.

These two are at the top of my verbal refuse pile

"Going forward" when they mean the future.

"Reach out" when they mean talk to


Les contributed: "How about GIVE A SHOUT OUT!" and "THAT'S WHAT I'M TALKIN' 'BOUT!"

Wednesday, October 16, 2013


I am known as "Quote Girl" (see article HERE) because I am forever quoting! Although I am usually correct in attributing my quotes, I made a mistake this past weekend: I said, in lecturing a person, "Einstein said that the definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting a different result."

OOPS! Nope, it's not Einstein (see GRAMMARPHOBIA below) who is quite a "quote magnet", like Twain, Franklin, Shaw, Lincoln, Churchill, Wilde and Dorothy Parker. The first known written example comes from the novelist Rita Mae Brown in her book Sudden Death, and possibly from a draft of a book for Narcotics Anonymous.

Einstein? It’s all relative

Q: I used to work in management training, where this saying was cited in arguing for innovation — “Insanity: doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.” BrainyQuote attributes it to Einstein, but gives no evidence. Is this one of those “quotes” that float around until someone decides to give a brainy person credit for it?

A: The words are correct—more or less—but the attribution is wrong.

The Yale Book of Quotations says the American novelist Rita Mae Brown, not Albert Einstein, is the source of the earliest known appearance of the quotation in print.

However, a similar quotation appeared around the same time in a book published by Narcotics Anonymous and two years earlier in an unpublished draft of the NA book.

There are also tantalizing suggestions that the quote may have been floating around in the addiction-recovery movement even earlier than that.

The quotation can be found in chapter four of Brown’s novel Sudden Death (1983). We’ll quote a couple of relevant paragraphs to provide some context:

“The trouble with Susan was that she made the same mistakes repeatedly. She’d fall in love with a woman and consume her. Susan thought that her mere presence was enough. What more was there to give? When she tired, usually after a year or so, she’d find another woman.

“Unfortunately, Susan didn’t remember what Jane Fulton once said. ‘Insanity is doing the same thing over and over again, but expecting different results.’ ”

(The “Jane Fulton” referred to is another character in the novel.)

A similar quote—“Insanity is repeating the same mistakes and expecting different results”—appeared on page 11 of an unpublished 1981 draft of a book on recovery prepared by Narcotics Anonymous.

But that was a working draft. The approved version wasn’t published until 1983, when it appeared in the book Narcotics Anonymous. That was the same year Brown’s novel appeared.

Another version of the quotation appeared in a pamphlet, Step 2: Coming to Believe (Rev. ed.), published in 1992 by the Hazelden Foundation, an addiction-treatment organization.

In the pamphlet, a recovering addict is quoted as saying, “When I came into the program, I heard that insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results.”

We’ve seen suggestions that a 1980 version of the Step 2 pamphlet might have contained that quotation. But we’ve read the 1980 pamphlet, which is very different, and the quote isn’t there.

We wouldn’t be surprised, though, if an earlier source shows up, perhaps in the addiction-treatment movement, as more published works become digitized.

However, it’s not likely to be Einstein, whose writings are well known. Nor Mark Twain or Benjamin Franklin, as some Internet sites have claimed.

We’ve written before on our blog about “quote magnets,” famous people who get credited for every catchy quote that comes down the pike.

Perhaps the most popular quote magnets of all time are Twain and Winston Churchill. Runners-up include Franklin, George Bernard Shaw, Oscar Wilde, Abraham Lincoln, and Dorothy Parker.

They all said and wrote many quotable things—but not all the quotable things they’re credited with.

Tuesday, October 15, 2013


Gerald says I don't have any guts unless I tell on myself about wearing SPANX: we went to his 50th class reunion several weeks ago and I had bought a new 2-piece outfit to wear. As I do not "try on" items at stores, I was sad to realize that when I got dressed, I had a problem with "gaposis" on the top of the outfit. I remembered that I had bought SPANX shapewear last year and had never worn it. After struggling to get into the THING, it was very uncomfortable, but I had no back fat showing and no "gaposis" in the front! I was thrilled.

Earlier in the day, a classmate of Gerald's had called and wanted to know if we would come to South Charleston to pick her up and take her to the party. I told her that Gerald was on the Committee and had to be at the Country Club at 4:00 PM, but I would come to get her in time for the social hour at 6:00. It was stupid for me to agree to do that favor because I was stuck with having her as a companion all night. Her ex-husband (who is actually a friend) was there; the discomfort of trying to be a diplomat in that situation was no comparison to the discomfort of wearing SPANX. It was okay as long as I was standing, but sitting was uncomfortable. The choice had to be made--the discomfort of standing with my feet in uncomfortable shoes OR the discomfort of sitting wearing a SPANX onesie! The wise decision was to go home and put on my robe!

After the dinner, I told Gerald I was going home, but he and his classmate could stay as long as they wished and he could take the classmate home. When he got home he asked why I had been so cranky! I said, "If you had been wearing SPANX and HEELS, you would have been cranky too!"

Ever since then--and as recently as yesterday--whenever I'm cranky, either Les or Gerald will ask me "Are you wearing your SPANX?"

Sunday, October 13, 2013


A friend sent this graphic to me because she's been with me when I have made corrections in public places. Of course, it should have "TEACHERS OF ENGLISH", but who am I to quibble? Oh, I almost forgot, the reason she sent it to me is because I am the QUIBBLER (sounds like a Batman antagonist, doesn't it?).

Family and friends know that I do not hesitate to make corrections in public places. Why else would I carry a red pen with me at all times? Gerald says this is the reason people will not be seen in public with me.

If I see "CONGRADULATIONS" one more time, I'm going to scream!

In a local restaurant which has a chalk board for the daily specials, the word "potato" was spelled "potatoe". Instead of ordering, I asked, "May I have a piece of chalk?" "WHUT?" was the reply from the order-taker. I said, "I want to correct the misspelling on your bill-of-fare." "Isn't that how it's spelled?", was the answer. I said, "No, you and Dan Quayle should know it's spelled p-o-t-a-t-o!"

At a store, I went to "will call" to pick up a large item, and I noticed "DO NOT BRAKE" hand-printed on a package. I asked the attendant, whom I gauged to be in her fifties, "Shouldn't that be
B-R-E-A-K?" She laughed and said, "Yeah, and the guy who wrote it went to college!" I asked, "Does it mean the package shouldn't be broken open?" She said, "I don't know; I'll have to ask him." She and I commiserated about the lack of basic education among younger people.

I love the restaurant that has a chalk board in the restroom. It cuts down on graffiti, I'm sure.

Someone had written "Jesus Saves"; I couldn't help myself: below it I wrote "Moses Invests" (a little Jewish humor!).

Saturday, October 12, 2013


A friend called and asked, "Doesn't it just drive you crazy when you hear the newscasters say 'the White House said' or 'the office said'?"

I answered, "I know, I hate that!"

She asked, "What do you call it, personification?"

I answered, "No, I think personification is when inanimate objects or events are given human characteristics, such as saying time is a great healer."

She said, "I thought that was pathetic fallacy."

I said, "I think pathetic fallacy is giving things in nature human traits such as babbling brook or moaning wind."

She said, "I thought THAT was personification!"

I said, "Maybe it's metonymy; that's when we say Hollywood when we mean the whole film industry or The Pentagon when we mean all of the military. I know it's not synecedoche, because that's when one says ABCs instead of saying the alphabet."

She said, "I thought I was smart; I don't even know those two words!"

I guess "THE WHITE HOUSE SAID" is a combination of personification and metonymy!

Oh, Miss Digman, I wish I could call you!

OK: here are the definitions from Merriam Webster:

PERSONIFICATION: giving human qualities to non-human things; can be objects, events, ideas or even living, non-human things, such as saying: "hunger was left standing by the road."

PATHETIC FALLACY: attribution of human feelings and responses to inanimate things or animals, such as saying, "angry clouds, cruel wind, or smiling skies."

METONYMY: something is referred to not by its own name but the name of something closely related, such as saying The Pentagon instead of saying all branches of the service.

SYNECEDOCHE: a figure of speech in which a part is made to represent the whole or vice versa, such as saying "the law" when meaning a police officer.

Friday, October 11, 2013


After the article about my mother's song game, the word "midnight" came up in competition from a player who was singing Eric Clapton's After Midnight; he ended with the word "midnight" and I immediately thought of Maria Muldaur's Midnight At The Oasis, but I was in a quandary because I couldn't think of the words in the song after oasis and I knew I wasn't going to use easy words such as "at", and "the" or the difficult "oasis"! I didn't answer; thus I lost a point! Another player jumped in with Leadbelly's Midnight Special!

Oh, how I wished I could have thrown "oasis" into the game!

Later, I asked Les if he knew any other songs with "oasis" in the lyrics and he said he only knew one--the same as mine!

I called the BEST living player of the game and was once again impressed when she began singing from Roberta Flack's Oasis!

I thought I was the reigning expert on Roberta, but I was whupped by The Champ tonight!

Thursday, October 10, 2013


The State Board Of Education for Ohio has voted to BAN Toni Morrison's The Bluest Eye and called for its removal from state teaching guidelines for Ohio's high school students. State Board President Debe Terhar called the book "pornographic". Mark Smith, a Board member, was quoted as saying that the book was part of "an underlying socialist-communist agenda."

Have they actually read the book? I have, and I find it to be an uncompromising condemnation of racism and violence in America. It is neither pornographic nor political.

Toni Morrison, a native of Ohio, won the Pulitzer Prize, was awarded the Nobel Prize For Literature, and was presented with the Presidential Medal of Freedom, our nation's highest civilian honor.

Professor Morrison was quoted as saying, "I resent it; I mean if it's Texas or North Carolina, as it has been in all sorts of states, but to be a girl from Ohio, writing about Ohio, having been born in Lorain, Ohio, and actually relating as an Ohio person, this is ironic at best!"

I hope you will join with me and write, call, and e-mail Debe Terhar and Mark Smith and let them know that they should be encouraging Ohio's students to think for themselves, rather than censoring their opportunity. The Law Of Unintended Consequences: I predict there will be quite a rush from high school students to libraries and book stores to obtain the book.

Contact information:

Debe Terhar and Mark Smith
25 South Front Street
Columbus, OH 43215--4183


Wednesday, October 9, 2013


Yesterday, at a gathering, there were several young men standing together, and I asked a young woman, "Is the young man across the lawn with the hirsute adornment your guy?" She smiled and said yes. I told her that I liked a nice beard. When he sat down, she told him what I'd said, and although she obviously knew the word "hirsute", he did not, but we had an enjoyable conversation discussing the word and also "hirsuitism". I also noticed her bare, unshaven legs and the hair on her legs was curly. I thought to myself, "That's something one doesn't see very often, especially since her hair on her head is straight." NO, I did not broach THAT subject, although I haven't seen unshaven legs since the Woodstock era, except on women of fundamentalist faiths.

I noticed that he was wearing cuff links and I said how difficult it had been finding a shirt with French cuffs for my husband. He asked, "Really?" (they live in a cosmopolitan area) I said, "Remember, we're in Washington Court House; I had to go to Columbus to find one."

She told him, "Sue is the one who asked me about pernambuco wood." He nodded, knowingly, about THAT word!

A friend who was listening to the exchange, commented, "I'm not good at small talk--how do you do it?" I said, "You don't think the topics of hirsute adornment, French cuffs, and pernambuco are BIG talk?"

Tuesday, October 8, 2013


During a recent visit with a nephew, he said, "Well, my dad could never deny me", because he looks so much like his dad. I knew that he meant it figuratively and not literally, but I said, "With your double-crown, he couldn't." Of eight siblings, four of us have that particularly defining genetic characteristic inherited from our father. Every time I look at a baby, I can't help but look at his head to see if the baby has that feature of "double hair whorls".

Mother said that an old wives' tale was that having a double-crown indicated intelligence but Mother said, "All it indicates is that you have a big-headed baby."

An amusing thing about "hair whorls": my brother Bode had the double hair whorls on his CHEST as well as his head! Now that couldn't be from my father as he didn't have hair on his chest until he was an older man!

Monday, October 7, 2013


We received a graduation announcement and it had "THE RAYPOLE'S" on the envelope. Les handed it to me and said, "Perhaps it's a kindergarten graduation." Putting aside the lack of etiquette, I said, "She probably didn't know how to spell Gerald!"

I see the misuse of apostrophes every day! My favorite local one: "Jone's Auto Repair".

The one that perturbs me the most is the misuse of ITS and IT'S. Why is this so difficult?
"ITS or IT IS"! I see this mistake made repeatedly by another blogger.

Les said, "What if you really confused people by throwing in the literary term APOSTROPHE which always confused me?"

APOSTROPHE: "A variety of personification in which the dead, absent, or inanimate are addressed as if present."


"Twinkle, twinkle, little star, how I wonder what you are." (Talking to a star being an imaginary idea)

"Blue moon, you saw me standing alone." (Of course the moon can't see me)

IT'S fun, isn't IT, just for ITS own sake?

Sunday, October 6, 2013


Just tell me--maybe I'm the strange one--but I just met another person who told me she uses the same bath towel all week long.

My brother Kenny said he used his bath towel all week long. He said, "You're clean after you take a bath, aren't you?" I asked, "But when is the moment in time when you decide that the towel is no longer clean? Why not use it FOREVER?"

Years ago I was talking to female employee and we were commiserating about all of the housework we had to do in addition to our regular work. I said, "Well, I have to do laundry every day" and she asked why and I said, "Well, there are three of us in the house so that's 3 towels, 3 washcloths, and 3 hand towels every day; there's almost a load right there." She asked, "Why do you wash the towels? You're clean after you take a shower." I asked her the same thing as I had my brother but she had no answer other than she was clean after bathing. Then she asked why we used hand towels. I asked, "What do you use to clean the sink and counter?" She said she used her washcloth. EWWWWW!

Being clean after bathing is everyone's rationale. After using a towel there are dead skin cells and other bacteria and a damp towel is a breeding ground for germs. Hanging a towel to dry in a humid bathroom is not a good idea.

After checking on Google at numerous sites, I find that I am in the minority. Here's the result of one survey:

People who use their bath towel once 47.0%
People who use their bath towel once or more every three days 24.8%
People who use their bath towel once or more a week 16.3%
People who use their bath towel once or more every two weeks 3.5%
People who use their bath towel once or more a month 1.7%
People who use their bath towel once or more every three months 0.5% .
People who use their bath towel once or more every six months 0.2%
People who use their bath towel once or more every year 0.6%
People who don't know 5.4%

How could they NOT know?

Saturday, October 5, 2013


As is our wont, Gerald and I made our yearly trek to the Health Department to get our flu shots. When I presented our Aetna/Medicare cards the gal said we would have to go to CVS because CVS is in charge of handling our flu shots. I said, "But we always come here." She asked, "Didn't you receive a blue card in the mail to tell you about the arrangement?" I said, sheepishly, "Yes, but I tossed it in the trash because we always come here." She told us, sweetly, that we would have to go to CVS. I said, "Well, fortunately, we haven't thrown out the trash yet"

I was cranky! Hey, I'd gotten dressed for the day--no mean feat--right? and we were already "out and about" and we're old, and everyone knows old people don't like change!

We had to go home, sort through the trash, and then GO CLEAR ACROSS TOWN (and you already know I feel about that!) to the damned CVS store! Gerald went to the "Consultation" window. He was told that the blue card from Aetna covered ONLY him! Gerald said, "But she's on my coverage." Gerald had already handed our Aetna/Medicare cards to the intake clerk, along with the blue card! The clerk said, "She can go to her own doctor." I said, "That's absurd!" and pointed to the sign about Medicare covering the shots! She said she would check. She returned and said, "I need your Aetna card." I said, testily, "He already gave it to you." She returned and said, "Do you have your red, white, and blue Medicare card?" I handed that to her.

After 45 MINUTES, the clerk at the pick-up desk said, "Your prescription is ready." Gerald and I just sat there--obviously, I thought, she couldn't be talking to us--but we were the only ones sitting there. I turned, looking all around, in an exaggerated manner, and asked, in my best Robert de Niro impression, "Are you talking to ME?" Gerald had to sign the forms and she handed him the bags with the prescription forms and receipts and said, "It'll be a few minutes." I asked, "Do we stay here?" I assumed we would be escorted to a private area. The pharmacist came out--and I swear--right there, in front of God and everybody, she said to roll up our sleeves. Can you believe--getting a shot in PUBLIC? I know that it's unbelievable, but I was so stunned I didn't say a word. I was wearing a twin set; I pulled down one sleeve of the outer sweater and allowed the pharmacist to give me a shot! I later said, "Now I know how sheep feel!"

I left the store in a high dudgeon; when I went home I telephoned the corporate office ombudsman and lodged a complaint about the CVS pharmacist giving me a shot in public!

At least we received a 20% OFF SHOPPING PASS!

Friday, October 4, 2013


Whenever people ask my sign, I know they mean my "astrological sign" but I always say "YIELD", for my own amusement, because I think it's ridiculous that people actually believe in astrology. Gerald suggested I might say "DANGEROUS CURVES AHEAD", "SOFT SHOULDERS", or "SLIPPERY WHEN WET" instead, and Les added "MERGE LEFT" (he can't resist a little political humor at my expense!).

It disturbed me when I learned that Nancy and Ronnie were running our country based on their astrological readings, charts, and horoscopes!

I wondered if I were able to gather other people born on the same day of the month as my astrological sign if I would actually have anything in common with them?

EDGAR DEGAS? I am certain I share no traits with him because he was opposed to Dreyfus and I have no artistic ability!
LIZZIE BORDEN? To quote the Chad Mitchell Trio: "Oh, you can't chop your mother up in Massachusetts; Massachusetts is a far cry from New York!" Never wanted to chop up my parents!
SAMUEL COLT? Oh, I can't hit the broad side of a barn when I shoot. Besides, I like my GLOCK!
GEORGE DZUNDZA? I did enjoy him on Law And Order but I never did know how to pronounce his name.
CAMPBELL SCOTT? I really liked his mama Colleen Dewhurst and I enjoyed his portrayal of Robert Benchley in the movie Mrs. Parker And The Vicious Circle and his daddy George was really powerful as Patton, but I only watched Dying Young because Vincent D'Onfrio was featured.
ABEL FERRARA? I liked Bad Lieutenant but can't remember anything else he directed.
VIKKI CARR? I liked her version of It Must Be Him and Cuando Caliente Del Sol.
RACHEL ROBINSON? I'm a pretty good wife, but not that good! How about that 42?


GEORGE MCGOVERN? Yes, I certainly have a lot in common with him! I still treasure my MILLION MEMBER CLUB card from the 1972 election. Senator McGovern's stated in his acceptance speech at the Democratic National Convention on July 14, 1972: "Let the opposition collect their $10 million in secret money from the privileged few and let us find one million ordinary Americans who will contribute $25 each to this campaign, a Million Member Club with members who will not expect special favors for themselves but a better land for us all."

As my membership card shows, I was recognized as "ONE IN A MILLION"!

Thursday, October 3, 2013


Mona Lisa said I should start an ongoing BLOG feature called "WHENEVER". When I asked her why, she said, "Because you are always telling me, "Whenever....."

She gave me these examples:

Whenever I am asked "race" on a questionnaire, I always answer "HUMAN"!

Whenever I am speaking to a "Customer Service" person and I can tell that the person is from India/Pakistan, etc., I always ask, "How's the weather in Calcutta today?" Les said I should switch to "Mumbai"!

Whenever I'm alone and going into a restaurant and the hostess asks, "Just one?", I immediately look around stealthily, and ask, "Is there some rule that I can't be alone?"

Whenever a clerk at the store asks, "Did you find everything today?", I always answer, "No, do you mind waiting while I go back and get the other 10 things on my list?"

What did Cleopatra say to the snake? "Nobody likes a smart ASP." So, being a smart ASP gives me a little relief in my day from dumb-ASP people!!

Wednesday, October 2, 2013


Last week I heard a young mother tell someone that her child was "29 months old". I thought, "WTH?" I actually responded, "Since calculators, I can no longer do math in my head; how old IS that?" I figure if a kid is walking, he must be more than a year old!

When did this trend start? I know I've been hearing it for years. I Googled and found only one site addressing this momentous issue and some of the answers were:

1. They don't want the baby to sound younger.
2. They don't want the baby to sound older.
3. Because babies change so much.
4. Clothing sizes go to 24-months.

I believe in the TWELVE-MONTH RULE (see the below article from THE URBAN DICTIONARY).

Les just came by and saw what I was writing and said, "Hey, you're 842 months old!"

12 month rule

The 12 month rule is when parents have to stop saying how many months old their baby is after they reach 1 year old. Some parents say their baby is 34 months old. They make you do extra math when they could easily say 2 years and 10 months old.

Woman 1: "Aww how old is he?"

Woman 2: "26 months old"

Woman 1: "Don't say 26 months old it's breaking the 12 month rule."

Tuesday, October 1, 2013


I invited a member of Gerald's family to bring her family to Thanksgiving dinner. She asked what she could bring and I mentioned that she could "make cranberry something". She asked, "How about deviled eggs instead? I make good deviled eggs." [WHAT? for Thanksgiving?]

So, how did I handle THAT diplomatically? I answered, "Oh, I have everything assigned except for the cranberries." I told her that I always palm off the cranberry dish to others. Then I related what I consider is my humorous history of what I call "the cranberry disasters". I am the only person in my family who likes cranberries--and I MUST have cranberries for Thanksgiving--right? For many years I would try a new cranberry recipe and my brothers called the resulting dishes "cranberry disasters" even if they weren't bad!

She brought a can of cranberry sauce! Les quipped, "At least it was top-shelf--Ocean Spray!"

She invited us to join them for Christmas dinner; I naturally asked what I could bring and she said that I make good salad. I made a spinach/strawberry/clementine/grape salad with raspberry vinaigrette dressing, which I thought looked quite festive. She said, "Oh, I thought you would bring potato salad; yours is so good." [WHAT? For Christmas?] I was surprised to see deviled eggs and macaroni and cheese, along with mashed potatoes. She obviously thought those were good accompaniment with the ham. Afterwards, I said to Gerald, "They like to combine holidays with picnics."

We entertain with dinners quite often, but I haven't had Christmas dinner at our house since my mother died. Gerald and I have been going to a Chinese restaurant for Christmas dinner for several years. I really like Peking Duck!