G'day folks,

Well, here we go again. I make heaps of mistakes with grammar. What about you? Here are some classics, courtesy of  Jon Gingerich. I hope they help some of you.

Since and Because 

“Since” refers to time. “Because” refers to causation. e.g., Since I quit drinking I’ve married and had two children. e.g., Because I quit drinking I no longer wake up in my own vomit.
Disinterested and Uninterested 

Contrary to popular usage, these words aren’t synonymous. A “disinterested” person is someone who’s impartial. For example, a hedge fund manager might take interest in a headline regarding the performance of a popular stock, even if he's never invested in it. He’s “disinterested,” i.e., he doesn’t seek to gain financially from the transaction he’s witnessed. Judges and referees are supposed to be "disinterested." If the sentence you’re using implies someone who couldn't care less, chances are you’ll want to use “uninterested.” 



Unless you’re frightened of them, you shouldn’t say you’re “anxious to see your friends.” You’re actually “eager,” or "excited." To be “anxious” implies a looming fear, dread or anxiety. It doesn’t mean you’re looking forward to something. 

Different Than and Different From 

This is a tough one. Words like “rather” and “faster” are comparative adjectives, and are used to show comparison with the preposition “than,” (e.g., greater than, less than, faster than, rather than). The adjective “different” is used to draw distinction. So, when “different” is followed by a  preposition, it should be “from,” similar to “separate from,” “distinct from,” or “away from.” e.g., My living situation in New York was different from home. There are rare cases where “different than” is appropriate, if “than” operates as a conjunction. e.g., Development is different in New York than in Los Angeles. When in doubt, use “different from.” 

Bring and Take 

In order to employ proper usage of “bring” or “take,” the writer must know whether the object is being moved toward or away from the subject. If it is toward, use “bring.” If it is away, use “take.” Your spouse may tell you to “take your clothes to the cleaners.” The owner of the dry cleaners would say “bring your clothes to the cleaners.” 



It isn't a word. "Impact" can be used as a noun (e.g., The impact of the crash was severe) or a transitive verb (e.g., The crash impacted my ability to walk or hold a job). "Impactful" is a made-up buzzword, colligated by the modern marketing industry in their endless attempts to decode the innumerable nuances of human behavior into a string of mindless metrics. Seriously, stop saying this. 

Affect and Effect 

Here’s a trick to help you remember: “Affect” is almost always a verb (e.g., Facebook affects people’s attention spans), and “effect” is almost always a noun (e.g., Facebook's effects can also be positive). “Affect” means to influence or produce an impression — to cause hence, an effect. “Effect” is the thing produced by the affecting agent; it describes the result or outcome. There are some exceptions. “Effect” may be used as a transitive verb, which means to bring about or make happen. e.g., My new computer effected a much-needed transition from magazines to Web porn. There are similarly rare examples where “affect” can be a noun. e.g., His lack of affect made him seem like a shallow person.

 Irony and Coincidence

Too many people claim something is the former when they actually mean the latter. For example, it’s not “ironic” that “Barbara moved from California to New York, where she ended up meeting and falling in love with a fellow Californian.” The fact that they’re both from California is a "coincidence." "Irony" is the incongruity in a series of events between the expected results and the actual results. "Coincidence" is a series of events that appear planned when they’re actually accidental. So, it would be "ironic" if “Barbara moved from California to New York to escape California men, but the first man she ended up meeting and falling in love with was a fellow Californian.” 


Undoubtedly the most common mistake I encounter. Contrary to almost ubiquitous misuse, to be “nauseous” doesn’t mean you’ve been sickened: it actually means you possess the ability to produce nausea in others. e.g., That week-old hot dog is nauseous. When you find yourself disgusted or made ill by a nauseating agent, you are actually “nauseated.” e.g., I was nauseated after falling into that dumpster behind the Planned Parenthood. Stop embarrassing yourself.

Clancy's comment: Mm ... When I first learnt the Thai language, several words kept popping up that caused me grief. It's a tonal language so you have to do your best to get it right. One such word was khao, which can have up to nine different meanings from glass and rice; even mountain. However, over time I quickly learnt to restructure what I was about to say very quickly to avoid any embarrassment on my part, or confusion on the part of my listener. Hence, when I'm writing, if I come across some confusing grammars such as above, I quickly learn an easier way to say it. Makes for a better book, and your reader unknowingly appreciates it. I hope!

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G'day folks,

Welcome to another interesting member of our wildlife. Black-footed ferrets have a variety of vocalizations, including chatters, chuckles, barks, and hisses.

Facts About the Black-Footed Ferret
    • The endangered black-footed ferret is a member of the weasil family. It is the only ferret native to North America.
    • It is roughly the size of a mink, and differs from the European polecat by the greater contrast between its dark limbs and pale body and the shorter length of its black tail-tip.
    • These solitary animals live alone, and in May and June females give birth to litters of one to six kits that they raise alone.
    • Kits are born blind and helpless and stay below ground until they are about 2 months old. At this age, the female begins to take her young on hunting forays and separates the kits into different burrows.
    • Black-footed ferrets are nocturnal and primarily hunt for sleeping prairie dogs in their burrows.
  •  They are most active above ground from dusk to midnight and 4 a.m. to mid-morning. Above ground activity is greatest during late summer and early autumn when juveniles become independent.
  • Climate generally does not limit black-footed ferret activity, but it may remain inactive inside burrows for up to 6 days at a time during winter.
  • Up to 91% of the ferret’s diet is composed of prairie dogs which are essential to their survival, though they will sometimes eat squirrels, mice and other rodents.
  • A ferret may eat more than 100 prairie dogs in one year.
  • Black-footed ferrets once numbered in the tens of thousands, but widespread destruction of their habitat and exotic diseases in the 1900s brought them to the brink of extinction. Only 18 remained in 1986.
  • The animals were once found on black-tailed prairie dog colonies across the Great Plains from southern Canada to northern Mexico, and on white-tailed and Gunnison’s prairie dog colonies across the intermountain west. By 1986, they were completely gone from the wild.
  • Today, they have been reintroduced to 15 locations within their former range in Wyoming, South Dakota, Montana, Arizona, Colorado, Utah, Kansas and Chihuahua, Mexico.
  • Ferret reintroduction efforts have been mixed. Populations need viable prairie dog towns to survive, but they also face threats from predators such as golden eagles, owls, and coyotes. Reintroduced animals lack survival skills so their mortality rate is high.

 Quick Facts

  • Type: Mammal
  • Diet: Carnivore
  • Lifespan: 3-4 years
  • Size: Head and body 30-50cm, tail 11-13cm
  • Habitat: Short grass and mixed grass prairie.
  • Range: Wyoming, South Dakota, Montana, Arizona, Colorado, Utah, Kansas and Chihuahua, Mexico.
  • Scientific name: Mustela nigripes

Clancy's comment: Wow, this character can eat up to 100 prairie dogs in one year!

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G'day folks,

Now, here could be a great opportunity for some of you.

No amount of air miles will get you seat aboard “Janet”– the US government’s top secret airline that runs a daily service ferrying secret government workers to and from their jobs at the National Security Site also known as Area 51. The secret passenger fleet operates out of Las Vegas from a restricted terminal and consists of 18 planes, including six Boeing 737s, all painted white with a thin red stripe down the fuselage and no other markings. The “Janet” call sign is thought to stand for “Just Another Non-Existent Terminal” or “Joint Air Network for Employee Transportation”– nobody knows, and the organisation has been shrouded in mystery ever since the service began in 1972. But every once in a while, just like any other airline, Area 51 Airways is looking for a new flight attendant.

I found the unusual job offer on the official careers website AECOM, a private defence contractor that operates the highly classified government shuttle service for the US Air Force. Flight attendants must have top secret security clearance, which is clearly stated in the posting, alongside the standard duties you would expect for a flight attendant position. The job would require flying in and out of Las Vegas’ McCarran Airport (picture a secret door at the end of the luggage belt to access the secret terminal). 

Here are a few highlights from the job posting:

 Position Title: Flight Attendant

Business Line: Government
United States of America – Nevada, Las Vegas

Job Summary:

Performs Flight Attendant duties aboard Company operated aircraft. Reports to Operations one (1) hour before scheduled flight or as otherwise assigned by supervisor.

Briefs passengers on aircraft emergency equipment and procedures and ensures passenger compliance with all safety regulations.

Manifests flights as necessary and ensures security practices and procedures are followed.

Must be willing and able to provide leadership, direction, and assistance during an emergency, including aircraft evacuation.

Must be level-headed and clear thinking while handling unusual incidents and situations.

Perform light cleaning of aircraft interiors.

May perform additional duties as directed within the terminal area, or at other company office locations.

Minimum Requirements:

Possess basic math knowledge and basic computer skills. Must qualify for and maintain a top secret government security clearance and associated work location access. Possess a current State issued driver’s license.

Preferred Qualifications:

Local Candidates Preferred

Prior Flight Attendant Experience Preferred

Active Top Secret Clearance Highly Desired

 Other fun facts (of the very few we know) about Janet: all the 737-600 aircraft are ex-Air China and the now defunct China Southwest Airlines before being acquired for US Air Force Operations. The highly classified airline has only had one crash on record in 2004, when an aircraft crashed upon landing at the Tonopah Test Range Airport (Area 51) after the pilot suffered sudden cardiac arrest, killing five people, including the pilot.  

Clancy's comment: Well, get cracking. You can do it.

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