Conjunction Junction

5F2D15C6-E9F3-4F05-A089-7609F647F04CEarlier today I wrote a post in which I commented on a blogger who confused the words “than” and “then.” I got some interesting feedback on my post, including one commenter who pointed out that “starting a sentence with ‘but’ (a preposition) is generally frowned upon.”

I admit that I do start a lot of my sentence in my posts with “but” and “and,” both of which are conjunctions. And not to be a stickler, but “but” is very seldom a preposition. When it is used as a preposition, “but” means the same as “except”: “Everyone ate frog legs but Jim. But “but” usually functions as a coordinating conjunction.

Okay, back to the topic at hand. Is the use of a conjunction really frowned upon? Well, I suppose it depends on who you believe. R.W. Burchfield, lexicographer, scholar, and writer, who also edit the Oxford English Dictionary, writes:

“On starting sentences with a conjunction, there is a persistent belief that it is improper to begin a sentence with ‘and,’ but this prohibition has been cheerfully ignored by standard authors from Anglo-Saxon times onwards. An initial ‘and’ is a useful aid to writers as the narrative continues. The same is true with the conjunction ‘but.’ A sentence beginning with ‘and’ or ‘but’ will tend to draw attention to itself and its transitional function.”

Even the venerable Chicago Manual of Style writes:

“There is a widespread belief — one with no historical or grammatical foundation — that it is an error to begin a sentence with a conjunction such as ‘and,’ ‘but,’ or ‘so’. In fact, a substantial percentage of the sentences in first-rate writing begin with conjunctions. It has been so for centuries, and even the most conservative grammarians have followed this practice.”

So is the use of a conjunction to start a sentence an erosion of rules of usage? Well, I’m not an expert, but I think that the “rule” about not starting a sentence with “but” or “and” doesn’t represent contemporary thinking on English grammar.

But hey, if you, as a writer or a blogger, don’t want to start your sentences with a conjunction — or a preposition — that’s your right. Whatever floats you boat.

Petticoats and Junctions

My wife and I were walking our dog in the park yesterday and we passed a woman wearing a skirt that flared out from her waist down to just below her knees. “That’s weird,” I said to my wife. “How does she get her skirt to stand out like that?”

“She probably has a petticoat on underneath her skirt,” my wife said.

“What’s a petticoat?” I asked, at which point my wife explained that a petticoat is a slip-like undergarment that women used to wear under their skirts to give them shape and fluff.

And then I had a flashback to the 1950s when I was a very young lad with two older sisters, one of whom used to dress like this for school.6A4A4AE0-54F4-4072-8CE0-72FF7283CA35 Yes, she would often wear a cashmere sweater or a cotton blouse, a poodle skirt, along with bobby socks and saddle shoes. And, in order for her poodle skirt to have just the right amount of flare, she no doubt wore a petticoat beneath her poodle skirt. Yikes!

Junction Function

On an entirely different topic, the city in which I live is installing a number of small traffic circles — or as we used to call them in the northeast, “roundabouts” — at a handful of smaller intersections in our area.7612AA75-73AE-41BA-8B50-A2B94BE90F21I’m not sure there’s a pressing need for these traffic circles, but that isn’t stopping my city tax dollars from funding them. The real problem with these traffic circles, however, is that they are a rarity in Northern California and no one has bothered to explain to the locals how traffic circles are supposed to work.

If you’re from back east — or anywhere where traffic circles are common — then you know the rules. When entering a traffic circle, you’re supposed to yield the right of way to vehicles that are already in the traffic circle. But California drivers don’t know that rule. Sadly, that puts the lives of those of us who do know that rule at serious risk.

So, my friends, if you’re driving in California and you happen upon a traffic circle, stop your car, turn around, and go back the way you came. Otherwise, you’re bound to get broadsided by a California driver who considers a traffic circle to be a bumper car ride.

Blogger Award Q&A

Blackboard with chalkCheryl, over at The Bag Lady, was nominated for the Mystery Blogger Award. This award is for “amazing bloggers with ingenious posts,” and Cheryl definitely qualifies. She was also thoughtful enough, when following one of the instructions calling for her to nominate 10-20 other bloggers for this award, to include my blog on her list.

I have designated my blog to be an award-free blog, so while I appreciate having Cheryl “pay it forward” to me, I won’t be following the blog nomination rules.

Well, most of them, anyway. One of the rules is to ask each nominee five questions, which Cheryl did. And I am answering each of those five questions below.

1. If you have an award free blog, why? Yes, I have declared my blog to be award free because, while I appreciate the recognition, blog award nominations are, to me, more like chain letters than awards. Having readers who like and comment on my posts is all the recognition I need. That said, I’m happy to, as I am in this post, answer any questions asked of me by a blogger who was kind enough to give me a shoutout when nominated for a blog award.

2. Who influenced you most in your life so far? I am going to have to go with Mrs. Fandango, my wife of nearly forty years. It’s not that she’s a perfect woman, but she’s a very good woman who has always been there for me, through thick and thin and good times and bad times. She puts up with me, takes care of me, and makes me a better person than I’d be without her.

3. Do you cook or bake? What’s your specialty? My specialty is making reservations. My wife’s specialty is cooking/baking healthy foods.

4. What is your favorite movie ever? So many to choose from, but I’m going with Mel Brooks’ “Young Frankenstein.”

5. Do you floss? Not regularly, but I will floss if there’s something caught between my teeth after a meal, like after eating a whole rack of baby back ribs.

So thank you, again, Cheryl, for including me in you list of nominees.

It’s an Honor to be Nominated


Cheryl over at The Bag Lady decided to include me in her list of recipients she chose to pass on the Sunshine Blogger Award. I’m honored, of course, although given the political nature of many of my posts lately, I’m not sure I’ve offered much in the way of sunshine into anyone’s life.

As with most things in life, there are rules. For this “award,” they are:

  1. Thank the blogger who nominated you in a blog post and link back to their blog.
  2. Answer the questions the blogger asked you.
  3. Nominate new bloggers to receive the award and compose new questions for them to answer.
  4. List the rules and display the Sunshine Blogger Award logo in your post or on your blog.

Here are the questions Cheryl asked:

Why did you start blogging?

One of the reasons I started this blog is because I’m retired, which affords me the discretionary time to write that I didn’t have when I was working full time. I now have time on my hands to exercise my writing skills, such as they are. I have opinions and I like to express myself. And I tend to be able to do so better in writing than verbally. So blogging is the perfect medium for me to use to share my observations, express my opinions, exercise my mind, and demonstrate my creativity.

What’s your favorite type of blog to read?

I enjoy reading posts that demonstrate wit, imagination, and intelligence. I also like reading posts from bloggers who know how to tell compelling stories.

What did you first expect from starting a blog and is it any different at the present time?

My initial expectations for this blog were to post, as my tag line says, “random musings on life, society, and politics.” I didn’t expect that I’d be posting as much flash fiction in response to prompts as I have been. But I really enjoy using my imagination to come up with stories triggered from pictures and words. That’s been a lot of fun.

Okay, I’ve now complied with rules 1, 2, and 4. But when it comes to rule #3, I have a problem. There are simply too many worthy bloggers who bring a little bit of sunshine into my life each day to come up with a select few to nominate for this award. So, I am officially declaring each and every one of you who is reading this post — and you know who you are — to be a nominee for the Sunshine Blogger Award.

Should you choose to accept this nomination, be sure to follow the rules, including, if you wish to, answering the same three questions I was asked by Cheryl:

  1. Why did you start blogging?
  2. What’s your favorite type of blog to read?
  3. What did you first expect from starting a blog and is it any different at the present time?

Seven Facts

A few weeks ago, Suze over at Obsolete Childhood nominated me for something called the “One Lovely Blog Award.”

To be honest, I have mixed feelings about blog awards. It’s always an honor to be nominated by a peer. I appreciate that someone would think enough of my posts to make such a nomination. But there are a lot of blog awards out there and there are many bloggers who are as deserving — or more deserving — than me to receive recognition for their consistently entertaining, informative, funny, and provocative work.

But thank you, Suze, for the mention.

In the meantime, there are rules for those so honored with this nomination. They are:

  • Mention and thank the blogger who nominated you and link their blog. Check
  • Add the One Lovely Blog Award to your post. Check
  • Share seven facts about yourself. Check
  • Pass this on to as many people as you can (max 15).
  • Include this set of rules. Check
  • Inform your nominees. Check

You may have noticed that I didn’t check “pass this on to as many people as you can.” I’m going to bend this rule and declare that anyone who reads this post should consider himself or herself to be nominated for the One Lovely Blog Award. That probably won’t be more than 15 anyway.

So seven facts about me:

  1. I’m a septuagenarian.
  2. I’m retired.
  3. I’ve been married for 40 years.
  4. I have two adult kids.
  5. I have a dog and a cat.
  6. I live in a large city. I know that to be true because it has professional football, baseball, and basketball teams.
  7. I’m a liberal but I’m registered as an independent.

Okay. Now, readers, it’s your turn. Each of you should post seven facts about yourselves. Don’t be shy!