pittsburgh pirates pep rally @market square


tomorrow, the pittsburgh pirates plays against the san francisco giants / a one-game series, the national league wild-card game \ the triumphant goes to the World Series playoffs

let’s go bucs!

a book about the english language

bad english

if you are the type who gets peeved by what you think is mangling usage of the english language, you will either enjoy or be annoyed with “bad english: a history of linguistic aggravation” (2014) by ammon shea / it is a catalog of what some people consider to be evidence of the decline of the english language \ shea, a dictionary professional, sets straight some of the criticisms about seemingly incorrect syntax or word usage <in some cases, derisively referred to as americanisms> by providing their history / semantic drift, common usage & regression to the original meaning are some of the paths that certain english words have taken \ evidence that the language is alive & well

having one’s own blog enables one to happily take a number of liberties \ choosing the language is first & foremost / i have written in english, tagalog & italian \ in terms of punctuation, i have forgone periods in favor of the virgule / no capital letters either \ it is one of my unconscious rules to purposefully, creatively or emphatically split infinitives as needed \  i have no qualms beginning a sentence with and & but / and no problem with ending a sentence with a preposition \  like i am literally adamant about relaxed writing / which hopefully will not be perceived as an enervated attitude towards this great means of expression

the previous paragraph covers some of the linguistic peeves discussed in the book / i think anyone should have their way with infinitives \ my rule is, if it sounds right, split the infinitive as much as you want <there is an emotive difference between:  “to go boldly where no man has gone before” &  “to boldly go where no man has gone before”> / i prefer not to use “literally” & it makes me cringe literally when i hear it being misused  \ i use “hopefully” a lot verbally & in emails but not in formal writing / it does sound grammatically wrong \ well, it’s been used since the middle of the 17th century / the suggested alternatives are “hopingly” & “hopeably” \ i will stick to “hopefully”

my favorite counter-example in the book, this time for the improperness of “different than” <the argument being that “than” is used for comparative adjectives & “different” is not> \ is a quote from hemingway “things in the night are different than they are in the day”  / purists & scolds would have it written these ways:  “things in the night are different from what they are in the day” or “things in the night are different from the way that they are in the day” \ if  the rule is: “different from” instead of “different than,” this heartfelt thought would suffer the same immense clumsiness: “my feelings about you are different than before

“verbing a noun” is another linguistic peeve discussed in the book \ in the business world, this is standard writing / i have seen <& written> many powerpoint presentations with “optimize the budget” / “impact the market” \ “leverage the brand” / “incentivize the sales force” \ name a useful noun & business people will wantonly verb it  / and it becomes business jargon \ but verbing a noun is quite common in the digital age:  who hasn’t googled something or friended someone?

who would have thought that using “fun” as an adjective is frowned upon?  \ who are these unfun people? / they must not have known a fun time in their lives / and they probably could not tell which is funner – kennywood or a steelers game \ then there are the absolute or non-gradable adjectives such as unique & perfect that are used in a comparative sense / but i think we perfectly understand what people mean when they say “more unique” or “less perfect” \ english is not the most perfect language but it is indeed very alive <tsk tsk> & well!

very fun & entertaining book! / found out about it from stan carey’s blog “sentence first”

illustration friday | wish

wish shooting star2

“somewhere there, a shooting star” | watercolor | 29 sep 2012


the queen’s gambit | since 1490

queen's gambit

chess has been on my mind since illustration friday’s novelty topic / it brought back youthful memories of board games we used to play: chess, scrabble, and chinese & regular checkers \ back then you played on a real board with wooden pieces & tiles / you also played with someone breathing the same air as you, i.e., a live person right in front of you \ back then too the chess players i knew were the american <fischer, who else?> and the russians <kasparov, karpov & spassky> / today’s top players have names like carlsen, anand & aronian

so i thought i’d research the most recent chess openings & get acquainted once again with the game / well, turns out there are 1,327 named openings & variants \ and there is an “encyclopedia of chess openings” / i settled instead on learning about one of the oldest known chess openings, the queen’s gambit \ it is mentioned in the gottingen manuscript <~ 1471 or 1500-1505> which is the earliest known work about modern chess / “modern” here pertains to modern rules of movement for the pawn, bishop and queen but no castling as we know it \ and opposite to “old” forms of chess such as shatranj <from which modern chess descended>

gambit’s early meaning in chess was “an opening move by white that sacrifices material” / its first recorded alternate meaning in 1855 was that of “an opening move meant to gain advantage” \ the queen’s gambit starts with the moves:  1. d4 d5,  2. c4  / and black’s succeeding play is either queen’s gambit accepted or queen’s gambit declined \ when accepted, the succeeding plays lead to alekhine’s defence, mannheim variation, fuhrman variation, steinitz variation, two knights variation, etc. / when declined, the choices of defense are slav, orthodox, semi-slav, chigorin, baltic, marshall, albin countergambit, etc.

i cannot play a decent game of chess / i’m sure i will be decimated after just 6 moves \ i do like re-playing well-known games, analyzing after-the-fact & admiring the players’ brilliance

here’s the queen’s gambit accepted: anand vs. ponomariov, 2002



and the queen’s gambit declined:  topalov vs. kramnik, 2006


october 4 | head of the ohio regatta!



The 28th Annual Head of the Ohio Regatta will take place on Saturday, October 4th, 2014 on the Allegheny River in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.  

The Head of the Ohio Regatta celebrates the beauty, majesty and energy of Pittsburgh’s rivers. This day-long festival is one of Pittsburgh’s premier outdoor events, featuring outdoor activities and entertainment for all ages.

One of the largest one-day regattas in the country, the Head of the Ohio attracts rowers of all abilities from juniors, to masters, to Olympians, as well as collegiate rowers from more than 75 colleges and universities. More than just a rowing race, the Head of the Ohio highlights all aspects of recreation along Pittsburgh’s riverfront – both on and off the water.

The Head of the Ohio Regatta is hosted by Three Rivers Rowing Association.


Event Schedule:


an evening of jamon iberico & other indulgences

iberico ham tasting

i did not have to go to spain to have a taste of iberico ham  / taking advantage of latienda.com’s 18th anniversary promo, i ordered this expensive epicurean delight:   These slices of Jamón Ibérico de Bellota come from the ham, or back leg, of an acorn fed Ibérico pig. Indigenous black Ibérico pigs roam the ancient woodlands of southwestern Spain feasting on the sweet ‘encina’ acorns, along with grasses and other herbs. This combination of special animals, exercise, diet and two years of curing in the mountain air all combine to make this the finest ham in the world.

i invited my favorite curmudgeon and his partner for an evening of ham indulgence \ as comparison to iberico ham, we had prosciutto – one made in pittsburgh & another imported from italy <iberico is the dark one in the pictures> / to round out the ham tasting experience, we had iberico cheese, ciabatta <from breadworks>, concord grapes from the curmudgeon’s farm coop, honeycrisp apples & caramel, fresh mangoes \ and of course, dogfish head beers:  black & blue, birra etrusca bronze & theobroma / there also was quail eggs, salted duck eggs & the notorious filipino balut <no takers>

the verdict was unanimous: we liked jamon iberico a lot! even love it if not for its price tag  ~$256/lb not including shipping <10-15 times more $$$ than prosciutto!> \ it tasted full & rich and had a very pleasant sweet-nutty-salty taste / the local & imported prosciuttos tasted very similar to each other & were decibels saltier than iberico

an equally special treat: our favorite young musicians played the violin <irish legend, theme from shindler’s list & accolay’s concerto #1 in a minor>, piano <a time for us> & ukulele <psycho killer> for us \ a very nice evening with good friends, a warm way to start the fall season