Tabs on Writing

The Business of Business Writing by John Tabellione, Principal at

Record Rain Delays

Posted by John on 19 July 2017 | No responses

So our granddaughters are visiting this week from Chicago and we’re treating them to everything from a trip to see the pandas at Zoo Atlanta to a Braves/Cubs game at SunTrust Park to one of their favorite fruit snacks: cored pineapple. Last night, we waited out not one, not two, but three rain delays–the longest ever for our family–as a storm cloud hung over the stadium as a bad omen for the home team. Despite the ground crew’s efforts, the Braves skidded backward to a losing record from their recently achieved .500 perch.

The girls, however, are big-time, loyal Cubbies and they struck a chord with the thousands of other Cub fans who had infiltrated the park. We survived 6 innings that began after a two-and-a-half hour rain delay and headed home close to 1:00 a.m. where we and they watch the final few outs.

Each one then proceeded to plug in her power cord to their respective electronic device for the night and then headed off to sleep.

Today the Cubs completed the three game sweep of the Braves according to the script that the “Chicago Tabbies” predicted.

No joy in “mudville” tonight…


The Great Debate

Posted by John on 9 July 2017 | No responses

I received an urgent email this week from an organization stating, “I’m sitting here with baited (sic) breath” for a monetary donation. I didn’t take the bait, however.

Obviously, what they should have written was “with bated breath,” meaning with reduced force or intensity.

Too often people receive and fall for enticing, too-good-to-be-true offers, only to discover too late that the perpetrator had baited and switched them.

When will those spam emails ever abate?


Facebook and Google Found Guilty by EU

Posted by John on 28 June 2017 | No responses

Apparently, if the European Union (EU) does find that the you’re breaking their anti-trust laws, they’re serious about prosecuting, even if you’re a behemoth social media company.

In May, the EU fined Facebook 110 million euros ($122 million) for misleading regulators during a 2014 review of the WhatsApp messaging-service takeover.

And, then just yesterday, Google got hammered when EU regulators fined them a record-breaking €2.42 billion ($2.73 billion with a “b”) for antitrust violations pertaining to its Google’s Shopping search comparison service.

As draconian as these measures may seem, if you read the fine print, the penalties are but a minute percentage of the two companies’ annual sales volumes. Google had revenues last year of $90 billion; Facebook: $27 billion.



A Better Means to An End

Posted by John on 23 June 2017 | No responses

Did you happen to read the news released by the Census Bureau this week that indicates the median age of the U.S. population as  of the most recent figures has grown to 37.9 years old versus 35.3 years old back on April 1, 2000 (no fooling). The median age occurs where half of the population is younger and the other half older. Simply put, we’re all getting a little long in the tooth.

If you’re having trouble making sense of the difference between the median and the mean, statistically speaking, here’s a primer:

The median is the middle point of a number set in which half the numbers are above the median and half are below

The mean, sometimes called the arithmetic mean, is the sum of all the numbers in a set divided by the amount of numbers in the set. Expressed in another way, the average of a set of numbers is the same as its mean; they’re synonymous. For example, the mean or average of 4, 5, 9, 14, and 18 is  50 divided by 5, or 10, whereas the median, or mid-point of these five numbers is 9.

For demographic reasons vis-a-vis statistical reasons, median is more resistant to weighting errors than the mean. “The baby-boom generation is largely responsible for this trend,” said Peter Borsella, a demographer for the Census Bureau. In other words, that large segment would outweigh other age groups if calculated as a straight average, causing an imbalanced result.

You know what I mean?

Do Not Delete the Cookies on This Page

Posted by John on 6 June 2017 | No responses

About five years ago I wrote a post here on Tabs on Writing, comparing the difference in form, substance and spelling about the sweet delicacy known as the macaroon“a small cookie composed chiefly of egg whites, sugar, and ground almonds or coconut,” and macaroni, i.e., pasta made from semolina and shaped in the form of slender tubes.

I was recently reminded by my son that I had inadvertently omitted another, similar-sounding-but-different-spelling gourmet cookie known as a macaron.

All three words are not only derived from the Italian words, maccarone or maccherone; the provenance of each of these foods is also Italy-related.

According to the Food Network,  the flourless and unleavened macaroons were originally made in Italy with egg whites, sugar, and almond paste. Over time some bakers swapped in shredded coconut for the almond paste; others tried using finely ground almonds. The chewy coconut cookies became very popular with the European Jewish community as a perfect treat, being unleavened, for Passover. The meringue-like macaron was developed in the French court by Catherine de Medici’s chefs who brought them from Italy.

Click the following link for a great graphic to help differentiate between the cookies.

Cheeseheads in England Smile for the Camera

Posted by John on 31 May 2017 | No responses

Imagine a sport where thousands of spectators gather to watch and encourage the competitors to slip and slide way down a muddy, 200-yard embankment chasing the prize, which turns out to be a large wheel of double Gloucester (Listeni/ˈɡlɒstər/) cheese? Where else, but in Gloucestershire (pronounced: GLOSS-tər-shər).

The contest: Cooper’s Hill Cheese Rolling challenge, which dates way back to 1826. Double Gloucester Cheese, by the way, is allowed to age for longer periods than single, and it has a stronger and more savory flavor and is slightly firmer than single.

How much does the target weigh, you may ask? Nine pounds, or 126 stones in English units of mass, but as the cheese whizzes by at speeds up to 70 miles per hour, Newton’s second law of motion–Force=Mass x Acceleration (or F=ma)–applies and that impact would be hundreds of times greater.

When the race ended, what’s left to say to the big cheeses who won as they carted off their prized cakes, but “Whey to go!”



You Know What Happens When You Assume…

Posted by John on 4 May 2017 | No responses

Apparently, final exam time is so stressful at Montana State College, the students have taken to petting a donkey for therapy. They probably assume that some good fortune will result, at least the ones who major in animal husbandry.

FYI, “Burro” is the Spanish word for donkey, borrowed and used in English to differentiate between domesticated and wild donkeys. A mule, on the other hand, is the offspring of a horse and a donkey

Donkeys, when bored or just because they are donkeys, can burrow, or dig, big holes looking for roots and creating a nice soft dirt place to lay and roll.

Meanwhile, back in Bozeman, no news yet as to how the students who petted the animal fared in their exams. They most likely are intelligent students, certainly not jackasses.

Somehow, though, I can’t imagine this asinine trick of dragging a stubborn animal playing very well in any college library in a New York City borough, such as NYU, Columbia, City University of New York, or Fordham.

Mets Knuckle Under to Former Team Member

Posted by John on 27 April 2017 | No responses

With the Atlanta Braves having been in the throes of a 6-game losing streak prior to arriving in rainy New York Tuesday, and the New York Mets in the midst of their own 4-game downward spiral at the time, something had to give.

Wednesday, Braves ace, Julio Tehran, was in the forefront: allowed only four hits: walked four and struck out foot four; and he improved his record to 4-0 with a 0.91 Earned Run Average in the last seven starts he’s thrown against New York, dating to June 21, 2015.

Today, Braves pitcher, R.A. Dickey, who throws a nasty knuckleball, turned the tables on his former Met teammates. Dickey only gave up two earned runs and struck out three batters, but, unfortunately, threw out his back running to first base in the fourth, thus he was only able to last through five innings.

Dickey, an avid reader who’s written an autobiography, said he would have been an English professor had he not become a baseball player. Perhaps that is why his theme song when he comes to home plate to hit is the music from “Game of Thrones.”


Sergio Garcia Earns His Master’s Degree at Augusta

Posted by John on 14 April 2017 | No responses

Sergio Garcia and Justin Rose put on a masterful performance last weekend in the 81st Masters Tournament at Augusta National Golf Club.

The tide turned for Garcia on the 17th hole when Rose made a bogey. Both players then proceeded to par No. 18, so at the end of regulation they were tied at nine under par.

A sudden death playoff began on the 18th tee, and Garcia did a tidy job like a master mechanic, keeping his drive right in the center of the fairway, while Rose got into the trees on his tee shot and was forced to chip out. García’s approach shot was 12 feet from the hole, while Rose landed 14 feet from the pin. After Rose missed his putt and made a bogey 5, García made a master stroke for his birdie 3 to win his first career major championship in his 19th Masters appearance and 74th major championship, the most by any player before their first win.

Master of Ceremonies, Billy Payne, proclaimed Garcia the champion for his weekend masterpiece of golf.


That’s Why They Put Erasers on Tops of Pencils

Posted by John on 20 March 2017 | No responses

Whether or not anyone ever uses pencils in this digital age, grammar and spelling can sometimes be complicated, but with a few memory tricks, anyone who writes–including professionals–can erase and correct embarrassing pitfalls, which we all do make. Just don’t always rely solely on “Spellcheck.”

For example, in a recent on-line article about landscaping trends, which included properly spelled tricky words such ambience, pollinators, al fresco, and croquet, the author tripped over a proverbial garden hose when it came to the second last paragraph.  With regard to the critical, long-awaited, Pantone 2017 “Color-of-the-year,” she typed the following: “…expect to see a greater emphasis placed on this yellowish-green and other shades that compliment (sic) it.”

Whereas “complement” means to complete, or to provide something felt to be lacking–in this case, the proper hues–it has to be one of the most misspelled/misused words by business people and professional writers alike. So, think of the “e” in “complete” when using complement.

On the other hand, “compliment” means to congratulate. Therefore, try to remember the “i” in the word “like” for compliment, such as: I consider the rest of the informative content of this gardening article very interesting.