Monday, January 29, 2007

The war of the virgule

My boss is, shall I say, particular about the use of grammar and punctuation in written documents. Perhaps it comes from his military background, perhaps his years in procurement with the US Navy, perhaps he is just a grammar and/or punctuation fanatic. The result, nonetheless, is the same - we feel like we are turning in a paper to our English teacher in high school and expect to get things back marked up with the horrid red pen (in reality he doesn't use a red pen).

Back in October he asked me if I knew what a comma was and when it should be used. I said, "I don't pause in my life so no, I don't know...". Kidding, of course. Correct punctuation is not the first thing on my mind when I am attempting to create a workbook on a topic for which I have knowledge. I blew it off and trudged along in my workbook.

He also has a tendency to use words and phrases that aren't typically used in our day to day conversations. Case in point - the use of the word virgule.

Early this month he shot me an email asking me if I thought it would be a good idea to put together a "style guide" for our department (there are SIX of us btw). A procedure had come across his desk, written by a team member that contained several slashes. My first step upon reviewing the email was to search Wikipedia for the word virgule. My naive Minnesota born brain had not heard of this word before. Upon review I learned that it is commonly referred to as a diagonal, slash, or slash mark and is used to between two words to suggest they are alternatives. It is also used in fractions, for typographical purposes and in poetry. His case is it cannot be used as a replacement for the phrase "and/or". My first question ~ why in the hell didn't he just use the word slash? Second question ~ why do we need a frickin' style guide for SIX people? Third question ~ how were we using it incorrectly?

This debate has spawned quite the war. Three members of the team are hotly contesting that we are using it appropriately when we refer to our company's customers as retailers/distributors/wholesalers/commercial customers. All of the terms are used interchangeably depending upon the business unit. We view this listing as alternatives that may be used within the company. He does not agree. This spiraled into a debate on whether one uses one space after a period before beginning the next sentence or two. My boss contends two, the rest of us content one. Any thoughts from the peanut gallery?

I doubt this will go away quietly. My coworker drafted an email last week that our boss basically rewrote and in which he used the word "promulgated". Promulgated, really? Can't we just use the word enacted? Or in this case, more appropriately published? Don't get me wrong, as a voracious reader and crossword fanatic I find it fun to learn new words. However, I don't expect others to share that same fascination and know when communicating with people at varying levels in an organization that I am better received if I don't treat them like idiots.

We're getting to the point where we don't put a lot of effort into writing anything anymore because we expect it to be ripped apart and changed. It's frustrating and somewhat demeaning. I imagine we are being overly sensitive about the whole thing and it has more to do with other issues which I cannot get into at this time but it interesting to me that the simple use of a slash has blossomed into this war.

Makes me think about the wars we've had in the world and what really spawned them. Perhaps someone got pissed off about the use of a virgule.

Monday, January 22, 2007


I blew the picks on this weekends games but I am glad that I did.

Colts vs. Pats
I was glued to the TV last night watching the Colts/Pats game (what a game, eh?). I met Tony Dungy in the Tampa Bay airport many years ago. He was sitting in coach in the same row as me on the other side of the plane. I started chatting with him as we were exiting the plane ~ he is a very approachable man and was very, very, very nice. He had been up in northern Minnesota that week fishing with some old friends from his Coordinator days with the Vikes. Ever since then I have been a Dungy fan. I respect his style and his quiet manner when dealing with all the madness of coaching in the NFL.

I am also a Manning fan (jumped on that band-wagon long ago). He strikes me as a down to earth player and I respect his ability to read the field and drive the team. And he's good at making fun of himself.

I had a bit of a push-pull yesterday as I was cheering for the Colts. On one side of the field was Maroney. I watched him develop and grow over the last two years while he played for Minnesota. On the other, is Ben Utecht who was a great TE with Minnesota. Maroney had a crap game and Utecht was hurt in the 3rd (?) with a hyper-extended knee. It was a tough one for me.

Bears vs. Saints
I didn't watch this game but listed on the radio. Was the entire first half just a whole mess of turnovers? Couldn't anyone hang onto the ball? It's hard when you are listening to the radio to get a sense of what is happening on the field so I have to cut both sides some slack. I didn't get to see what happened in the last quarter but heard that it began to get pretty touch and go with the weather. Was that what saved the Bears? (Another reason why MN needs to have an outdoor stadium damnit)

I know I should be cheering for the Bears come Superbowl Sunday as they are from our division and my dad always taught me to cheer for teams from our division if we are knocked out (does not apply to Green Bay however ~ that's a whole other story). But I can't do it. My second favorite team is Indy.



Official due date: August 5, 2007.

We heard the heartbeat today. Kind of a whoosing sound and all of a sudden the thump-thump-thump comes through and moves off. Apparently my little babe has plenty of room so she/he is swimming all around. It's hard for me to imagine that something 2 inches long has that much room to swim around in there...but what do I know? Heartbeat is around 170 beats/minute. That's my heart rate when I typically do cardio~my babe is working out!

All checks out with the doctor and things are progressing as they should. I asked about weight gain and she said I should expect to come in around 25 lbs. That makes me feel better, after having read I was supposed to gain only 15 lbs. Like hell.

We talked about doing a test to determine if the babe has Downs Syndrome and/or other issues. It's a new test, not an amnio, that has significantly less risk of miscarriage. I'm somewhat ambivelant. I wouldn't abort the child even if I knew she/he was diagnosed with Downs Syndrome so I'm debating on whether or not this is something I should consider. Pete is in the same boat.

I freaked a bit when we got home. I picked up Tabitha and all of a sudden I was hit with the overwhelmingness of it all. Man alive. Life will never, ever, ever be the same. What the hell are we doing? Am I up for this? I have enough trouble being a step mom how in the world am I going to handle this 24/7???

Wednesday, January 17, 2007

Wait on the weight

I am dreading gaining weight with the pregnancy. I have always paid attention to (read have been obsessed) by my weight. Up until the last five years I have had a pretty easy time keeping weight off. The combination of my metabolism slowing down and my lack of exercise (which I know impacts my metabolism) has caused me some angst the last couple of years.

I stepped on the scale last week and it showed that I have already gained five pounds. Shit. That is what I was trying to lose before getting pregnant. How large am I going to get? I did a survey online entering my height and it calculated that I should only gain about 15 lbs. Double shit. I am 1/3 of the way to that mark and I'm still in the first trimester. how the hell large am I going to get?

I am hesitating on buying new clothing because I want to have the motivation to lose weight after having the baby. I'm at the in-between stage where maternity clothing doesn't fit yet but I can't fit into my non-preggers clothing. Instead I can just buy pants/skirts that are 1-2 sizes larger than normal. Yeah...that's motivating. I went to Hot Mama on Grand last week and picked up a Bella Band which I hope will help me hold on for a few more weeks. Last night I got back onto the elliptical and did a quick workout. And - I didn't have any ice cream. Maybe if I just don't act like a glutton I will gain only the weight needed.

When I look at myself I don't feel like I look big. It isn't until I put on my pants or step onto the scale. I know that I will have to gain weight to have a healthy baby but I am dreadfully afraid of not being able to lose it. I will be going back to work after my leave expires so there isn't the option of staying at home and carrying the baby to-and-fro to help with the weight loss. I know many working mom's have lost their baby weight but were they 34 when they had their child? I'm seriously thinking about asking for a membership to a weight loss program for my birthday next year as a way to get me motivated.


Thursday, January 11, 2007

Observe the ticker

As some insightful blog reader has already noted, I have posted a ticker at the top of the page. Yes, it is true, the Whitcomb brood is expanding. This will be grandchild number 9 on the Whitcomb side and grandchild number 4 (including Jordan) on the Pichner side. Estimated due date is the beginning of August. I head to my first OB exam in a couple of weeks so I hope to have more concrete information. Thus far it has consisted of my reading books, articles and websites. I have been really blessed with NO morning sickness or any other adverse reactions (not even a weird craviing to speak of - unless you count wanting to eat all the time), other than wanting to sleep all the time and not sleeping well at night. All very normal I hear.

So far I can still fit into most of my clothing, although I have to admit I was pushing the limit on some prior to having this excuse! We've already picked out paint colors for the baby's room (I have to tell you - that whole phrase kinda freaks me out) and Pete started sanding down the walls yesterday. We're going with green/yellow, sky blue and lucky clover. Since I am not a fan of pink I know that even if we are having a girl I was not going to princess out the room.

I vow to share as much as I can about this experience while keeping some of the more 'intimate' or 'sensitive' things to myself. As my friend J has already commented, good friends and all, she does not want to hear everything just yet. More news and pictures to come!

At one with the Universe

I started my new yoga class last night. I switched to a different studio because of the type of a specific type of yoga I wanted to partake in for a while. Previously I have taken a class through a local community college which is taught by a woman who also does cranio-sacral therapy. It's Iyengar which I really dig because it really makes you listen to your body and focus on the balance of your breath with your pose. I also liked this class as our instructor holds a relaxation session for 10-15 minutes at the end of each session and works with us to move into a meditative state.

The class I am taking now is Hatha based and taught by a woman who I learned is a breast cancer survivor. She, like most yoga instructors I know, seems to be so balanced emotionally and even physically (they flow when they move).

It was great energy last night. The room was super cold when we came in last night so we started doing some chi-kong to bring us into center with the universe and help warm ourselves up. It was really cool, we did a move where we were standing with feet hip width apart and moving our arms back and forth from the shoulder sockets with fingers splayed, palms facing the chest. We brought our hands close together but did not touch fingers and then moved them apart, back and forth 9 times. And you could fell the energy between your hands as they moved back and forth - amazing to me what we can sense if we let our minds go from the other crap that follows us around during the day and just let it check in with our bodies.

I need to find a way to do this everyday. Whenever I leave class I always feel more refreshed and peaceful. Something I need more and more of as life gets more complicated.

Tuesday, January 09, 2007


I couldn't resist them. I saw them as I was warming up my lunch. I initially resisted and walked away with my healthy cod and long grain rice. However, they hauntingly called my name from upstairs, through the glass with the floresent lights shinning so brightly on their case. I tried in vain to think about other options, but to no avail. All I could think of was their salty, cheesy goodness.

Damn Cheez-it's got me again.

What happened to Big 10 football?

I didn't even go downstairs to watch the game last night. On my way home from yoga I heard Florida score and had a bad feeling about the game (plus after four games this past weekend I am a bit fatigued). Flipped on the mac when I got home and couldn't believe my eyes. Just before the half and the score was 34-14. Something isn't right, I thought. Who is injured? What in the world is happening? Opened up YahooSports this morning and the headline reads: "Buckeyes fail to bring the passion". I ask, did THE Ohio State players even show up on the field? They were held to 82 yards and Smith was 4-14. What the...???

As a Gopher football season ticket holder I am accustomed to losses, but I never expected to see Ohio State fall this badly. Coupled with Michigan's loss to USC and the fact that out of the 6 teams from the Big Ten to head to bowl games only Wisconsin won. Crazy. Is our division really what it used to be? I think not. We have four programs in the division with fairly reputable records in the last 15 years (OSU, Michigan, Iowa and Wisconsin). After that it's a toss up from year to year.

I knew that our division was a bit cushy this year but I would have thought the BSC masters would have determined the same things and given Ohio and Michigan the credit, only if they thought they could beat the USC's and Florida's of the world. Hmm... that idea of divisional playoffs does sound appealing.

On a selfish note, does this have any impact on recruiting for MN? Can we get a head coach who wants to not only come to a school with a poor record and slow moving program but also a division that captures only one bowl game? I was hoping that some of the appeal of coaching at MN would be the chance to go up against the Michigan and OSU's of the world, but I fear that carrot has gone by the wayside.

Oh well, as my boss, the Notre Dame fan says: There is always next year. Or the year after.

Tuesday, January 02, 2007


I have been so lame the last several days. I'm not sure if all the holiday hula-ba-loo wore me out or what but I have been lazy. Of course, I am starting my third book in the last four days so I have been somewhat productive in that respect.

I was supposed to head to First Ave with the kids on Friday night for the Tapes 'N Tapes show but since it didn't start until 9pm I flaked. I haven't been to a show in a couple of months so one would think I would be itching to head out for some excitement but no... I was reading and sleeping on the couch by 7pm. How lame.

To cap things off I didn't even leave the house on NYE. Jordan had a pal over for a few hours, Pete's only excursion out of the house that eve was to run Jordan's pal home. At least I made it to midnight (due in large part to the 5 cat naps I took that evening). Pete however, did not make it. He crashed about 11:30pm and struggled to make it upstairs! I heard the fireworks and was in bed reading again at midnight. What a way to bring in the New Year!!

I know why I am so tired these days (explanation to come later) but it is so amazing how uninterested I am in doing things. January is not my favorite time of the year, I don't dig the cold weather and being outside just doesn't get me moving. We did go for an hour long walk yesterday to take in some of the snow sights. It's like I just want to hibernate until spring. So much for being the hearty Minnesotan!