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July 26, 2007

Compliment or Complement?


"Compliment" is more commonly used. It means saying something nice about someone.

Examples: Mari Bontrager complimented Bob McElwain on his latest book...Jackie McCutcheon complimented Terence Kierans on his technical support tips...My compliments to the chef.

"Complement," much less common than "compliment," has a number of meanings associated with matching, completing, or perfecting. If you're not giving someone praise, the word is usually "complement."

Examples: My new yellow socks complement my orange shoes...His purple hair complements his green eyes...The Air Force base has a full complement of pilots.

July 25, 2007

Guest Article: Hypothyroidism

Recently my daughter was diagnosed with Hashimoto's - a commonly hereditary form of hypothyroidism, so I asked my doctor to check my thyroid. He said, "Your thyroid feels fine, but to satisfy you, I will do a TSH level." He did.

My level was 59. Normal is below 4.4.

For the past five years, I have had constant irregularity, I am always unreasonably cold, my cholesterol has been creeping up even though I have been on a low-fat diet, and I have been unable to lose weight.

These things are all common symptoms of hypothyroidism BUT my doctor told me to eat more fiber, get a colonoscopy (it was fine), be really honest with myself - I must be eating fat, and get more exercise to lose weight. In all fairness to him, I never grouped these symptoms together. I would complain about one or the other at various times during my annual physicals.

I am now on an inexpensive thyroid hormone replacement drug and I feel wonderful.

I am now on a crusade to tell all of my friends that if you are over 50, please get your TSH level checked. It is a simple blood test that can be done right along with a regular CBC. Thyroid disease occurs mainly in women over 50 and the risk increases with age.

I wouldn't want my doctor to ever think I was mad at him for not finding it earlier. I am more mad at myself for not demanding some kind of tests, because I knew that I wasn't eating much fat and my cholesterol still kept creeping up. And you know, when you only go for a physical once a year (thank goodness I was rarely sick), you don't have that constant communication that might make a difference.

Here's a link to the Mayo Clinic's website.

I also found a lot of information at About.com.

...Barbara A.

July 22, 2007

Plural & Possessives for Proper Nouns Ending in Sibilants

Let's tackle plurals and possessives for proper nouns ending in sibilants! Gulp! Recently, someone asked me, "Which is correct for the plural of my last name - Strauss's or Strausses or Strauss'???? And what about possessives?"

First, let's discuss sibilants. Merriam-Webster's defines a sibilant as having, containing, or producing the sound of or a sound resembling that of the s or the sh in sash. It says sibilant is a present participle of sibilare, which is to "hiss, whistle, of imitative origin."

Chicago Manual of Style says (6.7) The PLURALS of most nouns are formed by the addition of "s" or "es." When the noun ends in soft "ch" or in "s, sh, j,x, or z," the plural inflection is "es." So it appears the plural of your name is "Strausses." The Strausses live there. The Strusses are going to Rome. The Strausses have guests.

You'd only use an apostrophe if it were used in a possessive manner: The Strauss's landscaping...The Strauss's dog. Chicago Manual of Style says (6.24)The general rule for the POSSESSIVE of nouns covers most proper nouns, including most names ending in sibilants...

Examples: Kansas's, Burn's, Ross's.

Rice University Style Guide says: Form the possessive of singular nouns, including proper nouns and words ending in sibilants, with ’s (but heed exceptions noted in Chicago).

* Mrs. Davis’s house
* The boss’s office
* Octavio Paz’s work

Here's another excellent explanation: Making Words Possessive When They End in Sibilants

July 21, 2007

How to Begin: Advice for New Virtual Assistants

Have you ever considered becoming a Virtual Assistant? I did so in 1992, and have never looked back.

That said, starting and maintaining a healthy small business is convoluted, to say the least. But it is more than possible, especially with today's technology and the promise of better to come.

I belong to an organization called Remote Professionals, and want to encourage you to check out an article by Angela Parker on how to begin a VA business. She not only gives her own recommendations, but she interviewed those of us who are members.

Katie Baird, when asked who should begin this type of business, says, "I guess the first thing I'd ask is: 'How comfortable would you be with completely remodeling and building a house on your own? If you are able to juggle all those details, you would probably be a good candidate for this career path.'"

This isn't an article for the faint-hearted, but it is definitely for those willing to pay attention to some sound advice.

It's a good mix of information. If you know anyone considering starting an online support services business. by all means send them to this URL.

July 19, 2007

Take the Phishing Test! And watch out for PDF viruses!

Can you tell a fake Web site from a real one? Do you always know which e-mails are legitimate? Take the McAfee SiteAdvisor phishing quiz and get your safety grade!

I did pretty well, but not good enough. Here's a tip: when you're assessing the sites, be on the lookout for spelling, punctuation, and grammar usage errors.

And while you're at it, take a few minutes to read my Chain Letter Challenge article. I wrote it because I was sometimes sending letters on, and research proved that this is not usually a good thing.

One more thing to look out for: many spammers are now sending out PDF files that include a virus Yes, they can contain viruses.However, you have to own and have installed a version of Adobe Acrobat itself. It does not affect Adobe Reader. If you own Adobe Acrobat software, be sure you know the sender of each PDF, and even then, be careful.

July 04, 2007

Ethel Crook – My Wonderful Mother

This is a day to pay tribute to people past and present. In a way, it is both where my beautiful mother is concerned. Up until recently, she was living by herself, with a little help (she turned 96 last November).

Sure, her memory was fuzzy, but it was always energizing to be around her. Her life was sparked by her love of music, and in this picture I took in January of this year, she is discussing music with my son, Ron Simpson, who (among other things) is a gifted musician.

Not long ago, she was quite ill with the flu, and fell during the night. This was a catalyst for her, life is forever different. This beautiful, talented, feisty, spunky woman became shrouded in the horrible fog of dementia, and it appears family and friends have lost that part of her that made communication with her so vibrant...

One wonders if this type of a situation is more painful for the patient or for family and friends. It is different for each of us as we see her changing dramatically before our eyes. By the way, here's a picture of her and her dog, Toby, in November, 2006.

I wrote something to my siblings when we realized how final this change was, and I’ll share it with you, because surely it has to reflect the hearts of so many people dealing with such illnesses:

I can't help but feel that if she were in a rational state of mind, she's tell us that no matter how much we feel pain, we must make the best of things, and move on in the sense that we are all surrounded by so many loved ones, family and friends. We don't want to lose those relationships.

We are seeing a kind of illness that is so very cruel. For everyone concerned. And we must each face the gut-wrenching pain that grips us as we see Mom losing her sense of self. While it is terrible, we have the comfort of knowing that these days the right meds can make a great deal of difference for people with issues like Mom's.

At another level, I don't know about you, but I think of my own mortality. I pray, "God, please, let me die in my sleep. I don't want to be a burden to my loved ones. And please let it be when I choose, okay? Perhaps during a nap would work. I need to have all the laundry and dishes done, the cats fed, and all my work caught up, and I want to write to all my friends and family and tell them how much they mean to me. And I prefer to be wearing some make-up. You know how awful I look without a touch of foundation and blush.”

This truly a time when there is a tapestry of tears being created for our dear mother. Sometimes with just a few tears. Sometimes with many. But we're losing her. It's tangible now, and it isn't a good feeling. Knowing something isn't the same as experiencing something.

This morning, I picked up a book I’m almost ready to review, Not Bartlett’s, and read the following, which is so appropriate to certain life situations:

We cannot help the birds of sadness flying over our heads, but we need not let them build nests in our hair.

Jack Vorfeld - Happy Anniversary - July 3, 2004

Three years ago yesterday, my husband, Jack Vorfeld, asked my brother go to Safeway and buy some roses. He did so. Then the two of them came into my home office, where Jack presented me with the roses while David took a picture. It was our 33rd wedding anniversary.

A little over three months later, Jack was dead. What a swift and terrible downward path he took. He fought death with every ounce of his being. In August, he began losing weight and having digestive problems (we thought). Such weight loss, and no answers in spite of many tests. To make a long story short, a different type of symptom finally got us to the ER, where some tests revealed pancreatic cancer.

Much of the family came to say goodbye, but we had no way of knowing how quickly he would go, and it broke our hearts that his brother, Bob, didn’t get to see him to say goodbye.

Jack had so much presence. Wherever he was, his energy filled the room. I wanted to share the photo three years later and pay tribute to a very unusual guy. We were kind of a May-December marriage, but because he was always so interested in what might happen tomorrow and what he might do to make it better, we never had a dull moment.

I also wanted to share something his son, Ted, wrote when he discovered his dad was terminally ill. The following so truly reflects Jack’s character:

Things My Dad Taught Me

1. Don’t blow your own horn (brag)-someone else will do it if you really did well

2. If you steal, you better steal a lot so your stay in prison will seem worthwhile

3. It isn’t a bother when friends ask for help-that is what friends are for

4. When driving, you may be may be right, but you might be dead right

5. You can learn something from everyone, regardless of that person’s education or background

6. The most important things in life are to have a good family and friends

7. The best legacy you can leave is an honorable name

8. As long as you are ahead, you can’t lose

9. You can’t grow hair and brains at the same time

Thanks, Ted. And given the last item, it stands to reason that Jack spent a lot of his life growing brains.

July 03, 2007

Getting Lives in Order by Eva Rosenberg

An adventure in stereotyping

One summer, I took a biology class that was only supposed to meet every other night, so I could take volleyball on the alternate nights.

Naturally, it turned out to be a pre-med biology class, requiring a lab session every other night.

In that small class of about 25 students, there were two people I particularly thought were odd or annoying and hoped to avoid. He was loud, and pushy and seemed to know everyone and had to speak up about everything even though he was clearly a dumb jock. And she wore a striped engineer's hat with engineer's overalls every day - and just seemed to live in another dimension.

Naturally, when it came time to team up with lab partners, I ended up with them...

Karen and Bob became my very close friends that summer.

She was a talented and imaginative artist. I only lost touch when she moved away and I graduated college and had no real forwarding address.

And he fell so deeply in love with me that he moved into my apartment building to be near me (and within walking distance of our college) and proposed to me many times during the next two years. (No, I didn't fall in love with him. He really was a dumb jock, who was also a sloppy drunk.) But he and his friends did take care of me when I needed friends - and they taught me scuba diving and got me certified the following summer.

It was one of the most wonderful and compelling experiences of my life.

Eva Rosenberg (Tax Mama)