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Oxford Commas; TotFN; 12-Dog Nights; Zoomanne; StoweGood; Charm, Murder and Clamor

I have received many comments, a few supportive, but mostly not, regarding the previous post about excessive use of commas, often called the Oxford (or serial) comma. In her popularized style guide Eats, Shoots & Leaves, Lynne Truss writes: “There are people who embrace the Oxford comma, and people who don’t, and I’ll just say this: never get between these people when drink has been taken.”

Good News (we think)! We have received communications from Terri of the Frozen North (TotFN). Well, at least, we have heard from someone claiming to be Terri. The photo at left was attached to an email, supposedly from Terri, but our facial recognition software only came up with a 35% probability of match with our file photo. We then tried to use a beta version of background scene identification software to determine whether the tree and house in the photo matched any in the Greater Coon Rapids, Minnesnowta Metropolitan Area, but the software suggested that the photo was taken either in Nome, Alaska or Novosibirsk, Siberia. On the positive side, it may indeed have been Terri, because the author of the email gave me a real ration of (noun deleted) about the proper use of commas. She also declared the weather in her purported location (MN) as This Weather Can Kill You in Ten Minutes Wind Chill Blast”

Speaking of the cold, I did some more research on the use of canines as insulation in winter weather, as mentioned in the Three Dog Night entry in a previous blog. In Minnesota, it’s called a Twelve Dog Night, and that’s barely sufficient in June. Come December-February, the dogs (sensibly) all migrate south to Florida, leaving the humans to their own devices. Another Minnesota factoid: the snowmobile was invented in Roseau, Minnesota, to allow local residents to attend Independence Day celebrations.

Since we don’t have snow here in central Florida, we drive cars and golf carts, rather than snowmobiles. My Lovely Bride, AKA Corvette Chick, has acquired a new car-related nickname: Zoomanne. She received this name from Sharon and Joyce when departing their house in her “arrest me red” ‘Vette, spooling the V-8 up to about 5,000 rpm, breaking a county excessive noise ordinance and causing a raft of ducks to run for cover.

We had the pleasure of a visit from two beautiful migratory songbirds from Tennessee last night: Karen Taylor-Good and Stowe Dailey Shockey. These Nashville singer-songwriters (and authors), known as StoweGood, are on a Florida/Alabama tour, and have graced stages here in The Villages for the past several years. They gave an awesome performance at Unity of The Villages. If you missed their performance, you can order their music and books at But please plan on catching their performance when they return to The Villages.

You may have noticed “Charm, Murder and Clamor” in the heading of this post. You may be asking yourself, what the heck is all that about? Well, when I was looking up the correct name for a group (“raft” as mentioned above) of ducks on the ground (as opposed to swimming or flying), I found a list of proper bird group names. I was aware of many of them, but others astonished me. Here is a sample (the entire list can be found at (Personally, I think the last entry is an insult to the raven (Corvus corax), pictured here, but the group name is appropriate, since they are often considered pests, are omnivorous and opportunistic, and frequently feed on carrion.)

Bird Name         Group Name
bitterns                    siege
chickens                  peep
coots                       cover
crows                      murder
finches                    charm
hawks                     cast
larks                       exultation
nighthawks             kettle
peacocks                muster
rooks                      clamor
turtle doves            pitying
ravens                    congress

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