Tabs on Writing

The Business of Business Writing by John Tabellione, Principal at

Tonight’s Forecast Calls for (Meteor) Showers

Posted by John on 13 December 2018 | No responses

The Geminid meteor shower tonight (December 13th) should be spectacular: experts estimate up to 120 meteors an hour at its peak. By the way, a meteor expert is called a meteorist, not a meteorologist, or weather forecaster. Also, be careful to not confuse a meteorologist with a metrologist,  a person who studies weights and measures.

The asteroid “3200 Phaethon” is responsible for this meteor shower, orbiting the sun closer than any other asteroid. This asteroid heats up to about 1,300 degrees Fahrenheit on its closest approach to the sun. It is while it is at that point near the sun that causes it to shed dusty debris. The net result of these particles causes meteor showers as they plunge into the Earth’s atmosphere at 22 miles per second, and then vaporize in the streaks we call “shooting stars.”
Before you decide to stay up until the wee hours of the morning to look for these shooting stars, however, note that the local Atlanta meteorologists are calling for cloudy weather with rain showers tonight, which would put a damper on the showers occurring above the clouds.

PBS “Snow Bears” Complements “Coca-Cola Polar Bears”‘ 25th Anniversary

Posted by John on 2 December 2018 | No responses

In what could almost pass as an hour-long tribute or infomercial for the Coca-Cola Polar Bears’ 25th Anniversary, an Atlanta PBS television station recently broadcast the Nature series real-life, wildlife documentary, “Snow Bears.” The program features the adventures of a mother polar bear and her two offspring trying to survive the physical elements and the dangers of their arctic world. Describing this dramatized story in terms of vintage Coke themes, “It’s the real thing,” so to speak.

Nature’s weekly documentaries about various animals and ecosystems began in 1982. They’ve received 22 Emmy Award nominations, and have won eight of them.

As the snow bear family leaves the safety of their den for the first time, the mother bravely leads the cubs on a perilous 400-mile trek to the sea to find food. The flow of the story traces encounters with marauding male bears, extreme climactic conditions, foxes, walruses, narwhals, and the calving of an iceberg. Miraculously, as the nearby berg breaks, they scramble to safety from time to time on one passing ice floe to another, each one then becoming a haven, or a kind of local burg where they temporarily reside.

In case you missed it, the program will be streamed Thursday, December 6th at

Archeological Talk of the Town: Mosaics Discovery in Israel

Posted by John on 19 November 2018 | No responses

University of North Carolina archaeologists have just released detailed images of phenomenal Biblical mosaics discovered at the site of an ancient synagogue in Huqoq, Israel. Other collaborators include researchers from Baylor University, Brigham Young University and the University of Toronto, as well as the Israel Antiquities Authority and Tel Aviv University

The depictions include Noah’s Ark; the parting of the Red Sea; Jonah and the fish; and, the infamous Tower of Babel in Babylon. The latter features different construction techniques, and more pertinently, workmen with different hairstyles, clothing, and skin colors, to represent the various peoples who participated in the construction of this self-aggrandizing stairway to heaven.

While the word “babel” is derived from this eponymous tower, today it denotes “a confusion of sounds or voices, or a scene of noise and confusion” such as occurred some six or seven centuries B.C. Once the Lord had chastened these multi-national developers, these various peoples were scattered and became confounded, not being able to understand one other.

It was as if they had become born-again babies who could only babble an utterly meaningless confusion of words or sounds. The origin of “to babble,” however, is not related to babel, but rather is derived from either Middle Low German ‘babbelen,’ to prattle, or was formed independently in English as a frequentative (i.e. a verb of repeated action). Babble, then, is based on the repeated ‘ba-ba-ba’ made by a young baby or child practicing speech sounds.

OK, that’s enough babbling for now…





“Georgia, Georgia” No.1

Posted by John on 14 November 2018 | No responses

On this date (November 14th) in 1960–“Georgia on My Mind”–by Ray Charles Robinson, aka, Ray Charles, climbed to No. 1 on the Billboard magazine Hot 100. No one minded that he also won his first Grammy Award for the song that year.

Originally written and performed by Hoagy Carmichael and Stuart Gorrell in 1930, Charles’ rendition of “Georgia on My Mind” earned even more renown as the 44th greatest song of all time by Rolling Stone magazine in 2003.

Coincidentally, Ray Charles was born in Albany, Georgia the same year the hit song was composed, and he grew to be\ esteemed by his contemporaries to be “The Genius.”

He mined a wide variety of several music genres to earn his fame and popularity: the breadth of his musical successes ranged  from gospel to country, to blues, as well as R&B, pop and country. Mind you, while practically everyone knows he played the piano, Charles also had the mind-set and enough talent left over to play the organ, sax, clarinet and trumpet.

“Georgia On My Mind” became Georgia’s official state song on April 24, 1979 when then Governor, George Busbee, signed it into law.


As the (eSports) World Turns

Posted by John on 3 November 2018 | No responses

Everyone knows the world turns on its own axis.

Historically speaking, most readers are familiar with the following two axes (plural of axis): the Axis powers  known as the Rome–Berlin–Tokyo Axis (nations that opposed the Allies in World War II); and President George W. Bush’s term in 2002 to describe North Korea, Iran, and Iraq as “an axis of evil.” In each case, you might say even say there was likely a political axe to grind.

Have you ever heard, however, of Axis Replay, a unique, 12,000 square foot entertainment and event facility designed for video games and “eSports” opening this fall across from the Krog Street Market in Atlanta? You know, “eSports.,” a form of organized, multi-player video game competition played by professional gamers that has a global audience of 380 million people. It’s all happening right here in Atlanta, one of the nation’s top three best cities for gamers, and home to one of only two U.S. stops for the global, digital gaming lifestyle festival called DreamHack.

The “eSports” industry is growing rapidly locally and worldwide and is expected to top $1 billion globally by 2020. Brands are realizing the opportunity to be a part of the “eSports” wave and their contribution to the global esports economy has increased 48 percent since 2017. Axis Replay will host the kickoff of the Atlanta’s first-ever Esports Week Atlanta (EWA) on November 14th during which companies will be able to learn about the emerging “eSports” industry.

It may prove interesting to see if any company axes other media spending in order to sponsor “eSports” events.

Gigantic Captains of Industries

Posted by John on 29 October 2018 | No responses

It has been over a hundred years (April 15, 1912) since the HMS Titanic set sail from Southampton, England for its maiden and fateful voyage that ended in tragedy after striking an iceberg in the Atlantic and killing over 1,500 people. Built in Belfast, Northern Ireland by an English shipbuilding firm, the controlling trust and ownership of that White Star Line belonged to a titan* of American industry and finance, John Pierpont (J.P.) Morgan. Did you know that at one point the ship was going to be named the Gigantic instead of the Titanic?

While other American business tycoons, such as Isidor Straus, owner of Macy’s Department Store, and John Jacob Astor, of the Waldorf Astoria Hotel, unfortunately perished, Morgan himself did not sail that occasion due to illness.

As one of the most famous ships in history, numerous works of popular culture, including books, folk songs, films, exhibits, and memorials, keep her memory alive. The blockbuster movie Titanic, a remake of A Night to Remember, featured three Academy Award winners who are titans of the film industry: Director James Cameron and actors, Leonardo DiCaprio and Kate Winslet.

When visiting Belfast last year, we were able to visit one for the world’s most famous tourist attractions: Titanic Belfast.  This  phenomenal, interactive museum includes a special effects ride inside nine multi-dimensional galleries, replicating how the Harland & Wolff shipyard constructed the ill-fated ship, right down to the full-scale methods they used to tighten the rivets.

In case you’re interested and not superstitious, the Titanic II, a true replica of the original “ship of dreams,” will be setting sail in 2022, again from Southampton, England, on the originally intended route to New York City attempted in 1912.

*Incidentally, the word “titan” comes from the Titans of Greek mythology, a family of giants believed to have once ruled the world. They were subsequently overpowered and replaced by the younger Olympian gods under the leadership of Zeus. Their Titans’ powers included super strength and prophecy,  and also some control over water and even enhanced memory  (not to be confused with the Tennessee Titans football team, which sports a not so powerful, not so memorable 3-4 won-lost record so far this season).

“Time and Tide Wait for No Man” (Geoffrey Chaucer)

Posted by John on 25 October 2018 | No responses

It’s that time of year, again: no, not the World Series, nor the leaves changing colors; not about Election Day, and it’s not Halloween.

We’re talking…wait for it…here it comes: Wait a second! Wait just a minute! No, wait just an hour!

Come the weekend of November 3rd and 4th, the country (at least most of it) gains an hour of sleep and returns to Standard Time. This year represents the 100th anniversary of Daylight Savings Time (DST)! It was instituted on March 19, 1918 during World War I to conserve fuel needed for war industries and for the purpose of extending the work day. A year later, it was repealed when the war ended. However, during the World War II, our Congress passed legislation in 1942 reinstating it temporarily.

President Johnson signed the Uniform Time Act in 1966, declaring DST a national policy with uniform start and end dates within standard time zones. Twenty years later Congress extended DST from a six to seven-month period, and then again in 2005 to eight months — mid-March to mid-November.

Today, however, Hawaii, most of Arizona, and a handful of U.S. territories do not observe it. On the other hand of the clock, Florida’s legislature has passed a law establishing year-round DST, but Congress has to amend the federal law for it to actually go into effect.

You’re going to need that extra hour next month just to sit down and figure out all these exceptions in our country.

“Shave-and-a-Haircut…Two Bits!”

Posted by John on 14 October 2018 | No responses

“Shave-and-a-Haircut…Two Bits!” are the lyrics to that familiar, seven-note musical call and response couplet/refrain:


                    BUMP, BUMP!

The catchy, hare-brained* melody dates back to 1899, while the origin of the words is somewhat sketchy, but traces back to around 1933.

A barber in upstate New York, Anthony Mancinelli, can actually remember those days when he gave a haircut that cost two bits ($.25), and he is still cutting hair as he’s done for 96 years! The 107 year-old works five eight-hour days each week standing on his feet from noon until 8:00 p.m.

The rest of his bio is also unbelievable:

He has all his teeth and takes no daily medication; he’s never worn glasses; and, his hands are still steady. “No aches, no pains, no nothing. Nothing hurts me,” says Mancinelli.

He visits his wife’s grave daily, then drives to work, services his customers, sweeps up his hair clippings, cooks his own meals, and is totally self-sufficient. He still trims the bushes in his yard, and even gives haircuts to himself.

*derived from perceived qualities of the hare, usually meaning flighty, reckless

“Eat Mor Chikin” Takes a Turn for the Worse

Posted by John on 4 October 2018 | No responses

In what sounds like a Chick-Fil-A television commercial run amok, a truck transporting 89 cows crashed on an interstate highway in Atlanta in the middle of the night earlier this week. Unfortunately, 11 of the farm animals died in the accident, the driver suffered injuries, and the event caused a few other fender benders.

Meanwhile, traffic was an utter disaster, as it took until late the following afternoon before all of the calves were rounded up. The use of portable corrals, help from nearby civilians on horseback, and police from two different county forces were required before the cows finally came home.

Incidentally, that expression–“until the cows come home”–comes from the fact that a cow is a notoriously languid creature that comes in from pasture at her own unhurried pace in time for the milking of its udder.

P.S. Wouldn’t you know it, though? The scene of the crime occurred where I-285 and I-75 connect, and that overpass intersection is appropriately designated as a…clover leaf.


Buzz Word Bingo

Posted by John on 19 September 2018 | No responses

A Texas man mowing his lawn last Wednesday was stung 600 times by a swarm of a certain species of an Africanized bee. Fortunately, he is recovering after he landed up in intensive care for three days. According to, the best way to be careful during such an attack is to run away in a straight line (a bee line?) while covering the person’s face because that type of insect is slow-flying (hard to be-lieve).

The innocent homeowner had been minding his own business, unlike an 11-year old Phoenix area boy last year who intentionally antagonized a hive of Africanized bees by shooting a BB gun at it, resulting in several hundred stings for him. For that unfortunate “good” aim he probably would have earned a grade of a “B” or better from a firearms instructor. Not sure, however, how the young boy might have done in a school spelling bee,* or in a Shakespeare class, i.e., Hamlet’s soliloquy, “…to be, or not to be….”

*According to Merriam-Webster, the ‘bee’ in ‘spelling bee’ is an alteration of a word that meant “voluntary help given by neighbors toward the accomplishment of a particular task,” and descends from the Middle English word ‘bene’. Bene also gave us the word boon, understood today to mean “blessing,” but which also has the meaning of “benefit” or “favor.” The word has historically been used to describe group activities (a “quilting bee”) or occasions when farmers or neighbors would help each other, such as a “husking bee,” “apple bee,” or “raising bee.”