Recipe: Elephant Stew

As I said in my post about serial/cereal commas, I love puns. My aunt Mary gave me this recipe 35 or so years ago, and though of course I have never actually made it, I’ve always loved it. She was very artistic and funny, and every time I read this, it brings a smile to my face. I remember how much fun we had together, creating puppets out of pizza boxes, making beaded earrings, weaving stories about forest animals, and learning about Mae West’s bust while rowboating on Oregon lakes…

Elephant Stew

1 elephant, medium size
2 rabbits, optional
Brown gravy, lots
Salt and pepper to taste

  1. Cut elephant into bite-size pieces. This will take about two months. Reserve the trunk; you will need something to store the pieces in.
  2. Add enough brown gravy to cover.
  3. Add salt and pepper.
  4. Cook over kerosene fire for about four weeks at 465° F.
  5. Serves 3,800. If more are expected, two rabbits may be added, but do this only as necessary, as most people do not like to find hare in their stew.

Actually, I might try a version of this someday, with hare as the main ingredient, and skipping the pachyderm.

Bon appétit!

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Best Word Ever: Defenestrate

I love the word defenestrate. It means, “to throw someone or something out a window.” Now, I ask you, how awesome is it that there is a word specifically for that action? Extremely, I say!

Last week I got to use the word when I told my friend Lisa, “If I get tired of you, I’ll just defenestrate you.” And my friend JD told me, “Don’t ever try to correct my bad grammar or punctuation … you will surely be defenestrated!”

There is no shortage of people I’d like to defenestrate, if only in my dreams. However, one of my pet peeves is when drivers defenestrate cigarettes or other garbage. In this case, their defenestration demonstrates a callous disregard for the environment.

If you’d like a visual, check this out – there happens to be a sculptural mural here in San Francisco called Defenestration (Brian Goggin, 1997, at 6th and Howard Streets).

I’m also reminded of two jokes I used to teach my ESL students (although I used the definition, not the actual word defenestrate):

  • What do you get when you defenestrate butter? A butterfly!
  • What do you get when you defenestrate water? A waterfall!

So, who or what would you like to defenestrate? Do you know any good defenestration jokes? 🙂

Optician vs. Optometrist vs. Ophthalmologist

I’m always immersed in ophthalmology, but I was particularly immersed last week, attending an ophthalmology conference in Brazil. So it seems appropriate to focus today’s post on some eye-related professions. In particular, what’s the difference between an optician, an optometrist, and an ophthalmologist?

I got my first pair of oh-so-fashionable “pop-bottle” glasses when I was about 10 years old. It was the first time I realized that “normal”-eyed people could see individual leaves on trees, as opposed to just big blobs of green. Amazing!

The optician helped me choose the frames that would support the thick glass and look good on me. (Which is a lot, for a dorky fourth-grader.) Being 1976-ish, they were rounded-square, silver wire frames. So perfect with my Dorothy Hamill haircut and embroidered wide-leg jeans.

But first, in order to get a prescription for lenses, I went to see the optometrist. He did all kinds of tests, having me follow his pen, shining a light in my eyes, and asking me, “Which is better, one or two? Three or four?” He then decided how strong my glamorous new lenses should be.

I didn’t see an ophthalmologist at that time, but I knew other people who did. My mom had some weird things called floaters and flashers, and some more serious stuff like scratches on one of her corneas. My grandmother had to have cataracts removed, and a friend had a detached retina that required surgery.

My dilemma was, how do you remember which of these O’s is which?

It’s actually really easy! The longer the job title, the more training the person has, and the greater their scope of practice is*:

  • OPTICIAN – 8 letters/3 syllables, 1–2 years of training
    • 1- or 2-year degree, certificate or diploma.
    • Fill prescriptions for glasses and contact lenses; fit frames.
  • OPTOMETRIST – 11 letters/4 syllables, 8+ years of training
    • 4 years undergrad + 4 years optometric school. Some optometrists will do residencies in optometry subspecialties.
    • Degree: OD (oculus doctor). Like the JD (juris doctor) and PhD (philosophiae doctor), the OD is not a medical degree.
    • Provide eye exams; diagnose and treat some eye conditions; prescribe some medications.
  • OPHTHALMOLOGIST – 15 letters/5 syllables, 12+ years of training
    • 4 years undergrad + 4 years medical school + 1 year internship + 3 years residency. Many ophthalmologists also obtain fellowships in ophthalmological subspecialties.
    • Degree: MD (medicinae doctor) or DO (doctor of osteopathic medicine). Both of these are medical degrees.
    • Provide eye exams; diagnose and treat all eye conditions; prescribe medications; perform surgery.

* According to US standards. Other countries may require different qualifications or have different scopes of practice.

Tasty Serial Commas

I am a huge fan of the serial (also known as Oxford) comma. I’m also a huge fan of puns. When I hear of a serial murderer, for example, I wonder why anyone would want to kill cereal? (Ha ha!) Or serial dramas – how boring to watch a TV show about cereal! (Ha ha ha!)

OK, OK, I never said I didn’t have a dorky sense of humor.

But imagine my glee when I discovered that other people make jokes about cereal commas, too! I’m not the only serial weirdo! And check this out – you can buy pastry cutters in the shape of (backwards) commas! But wait, there’s more – you can stuff them with Rice Krispies and make cereal commas! For real!

How awesome is that?! Tell me if you are as excited as I am. Someday I’ll make these and will post a photo.

Rant: Work Hard, Play Hard

I wish everyone would stop saying “work hard, play hard.”  I’ve seen it a million times in job postings and Internet dating profiles. What does it really mean?

If I see “work hard, play hard” in a job posting, I think, great, they’re going to make me work 12 hours a day and then at the end of the day we’ll all go out and get shit-faced. Or maybe they’ll make me work 60 hours a week and then will expect us all to partake in extreme sports on the weekend. If the company is trying to say they have high work expectations but then respect the employees’ time off, why not just say so? After all, how many applicants will be excited about the prospect of giving their valuable “play” time to the company? I don’t know about you, but I’m fine with working hard – but I also want my “play” time to be my own.

And what the heck does “work hard, play hard” mean in a dating profile? Will I never see the guy because he’s working late every night and partying hard with his friends on the weekends? Or is the phrase supposed to be cool? How? Is it supposed to make me think he has brains, beauty and popularity, all in one package? Well, the brains part isn’t believable if he has to resort to clichés like this.

The solution is simple: stop saying “work hard, play hard” and just say what you really mean. And for that matter, be a good friend and don’t let your friends say it, either.