Putting Lie and Lay to Bed

Aside from hate, grammar correction is the another thing that’s all the rage on internet forums. Read any story or blog post that allows reader responses, and you won’t get very far down the page before the grammar police show up.

“It’s its, not it’s” or “It’s you’re, not your”, the grammar police will post with a wry smile and a bit of hand-wringing, anonymous behind their computer screens (and most likely situated comfortably in their parents’ basement).

Two things are difficult to imagine here:

  • That people still make these grammar mistakes when posting to online forums (and a lot of times are reprimanding others for making similar mistakes).
  • That the grammar police are still trolling online forums to find others’ grammar mistakes.

I’m sure you can think of others.

We can all agree that – even with all of its (not “it’s”) rules – it’s (not “its”) often difficult to navigate the nuances of the English language. Take the verbs to lie and to lay, which trip up even the most persnickety linguists.

Due to the difficulty in choosing the right lie/lay verb for a particular situation, there really are not that many examples of them being used in popular culture. But let’s see if we can find a few examples to compare against our lie/lay infographic, which guides us on when to use one vs. the other.

First example? Lyrics from the song Lyin’ Eyes by the Eagles. “You can’t hide your lyin’ eyes.” This represents a completely different meaning of the verb “to lie”. This “lie” is the one that made Pinocchio’s nose grow longer with each lie he told in the fictional story.

Another example comes from Sam Smith, the singer, who has a song titled “Lay Me Down”, which doesn’t actually use these words in the song lyrics. Even so, “lay me down” in the title is the correct usage of “lay” because it has a direct object of “me”. Very well done, Sam Smith. Five gold stars for correct usage of the verb “to lay”!

Next up is the well-known holiday song “Away in a Manger”. This one is bit more tricky because it uses lie/lay more than once. The first one is fairly simple. “The little Lord Jesus laid down His sweet head”. It helps to refer to our “Lie/Lay” infographic (below) to see that “laid” is the correct past tense form of the verb “lay”.

“The stars in the bright sky looked down where He lay” is a little tricky because we use the past tense of the verb lie to get “He lay“. Confusing.

I used to be more rigid about proper use of the language, but over time have become more tolerant. One reason is that I recognize people are born with varying aptitudes for hard- and soft-skills. For instance, my friend John can solve almost any math problem, but really struggles to put his thoughts on paper.

Even more important to understand, in my opinion, is how language evolves over time.

Some recall the uproar that the word “ain’t” had back in the 1980’s when it was officially added to standard dictionaries. It took a long time for strict interpreters (now known as the grammar police!) of the language to accept this abomination as an official word and not just slang employed by the less educated.

However, nothing could prepare lexicon lovers with the hurricane of change that would bestow the language in the 90’s due to the Internet and related technology. Applet, emoticon, malware, and micro-lending are a few examples of completely new words added to the vocabulary.

Languages continue to evolve and many words we hope are temporary may very well end up as part of the lexicon. “OMG!”, you may (rightly) exclaim.

Perhaps with all of these new words entering the language, we should occasionally take a moment and think about putting to bed some of the old, stagnant words that don’t get used much due to the confusion they cause. Like the previously-discussed verbs lie and lay, which require a detailed infographic before one could hope to properly use them…







The Conference Call from Hell

Look, I hate to be pessimistic (not really), but has a single conference call in the history of time ever gone according to plan? I mean, have you once ever organized a call or participated in a call that involved more than just you and one other person and had it go smoothly from beginning to end? Of course you haven’t. And neither have I.

Today, though. I mean today I had a conference call that went really awry. I’m not really sure if there are varying degrees of awry, but if there are, mine went the most awry possible.

The sales person who works for my employer scheduled the call yesterday and couldn’t see my schedule online for some reason, and scheduled a call with her customer and me right over another important meeting that I had to attend. That was the least worst thing that happened.

Naturally I informed her that I couldn’t attend a meeting at that time on Thursday, so she called back her customer contacts and rescheduled the meeting for Friday at noon. Nobody likes to meet during their noon hour, but when a deal is going to close and a quota is on the line, you schedule meetings on Saturday if you have to!

The newly proposed time appeared to jibe with my Friday schedule so I accepted the meeting invite. Her invitation included all of the juicy meeting details, including a long distance number and an access code. Simple enough, right?

So I’m at my desk, involved in several different tasks, and at the last minute remember that a meeting reminder popped up fifteen minutes ago for this customer conference call, so I better jump on. I dial the provided number, enter the access code, and wait. Beep. Every few seconds – beep. Every once in a while an automated message plays just to let attendees know that they are on the call, but waiting for the organizer to join.

In today’s high tech environment, so many methods exist to communicate that it’s almost impossible to mess up something as simple as a 3-way conference call. Texting, instant messaging, mobile phones, landline phones, VoiP phones, walkie-talkies, sattelite, WiFi, LTE, 4G, Morse code, telegrams, smoke signals, email. It’s all there. If one thing doesn’t work, you switch to the other. And then the other. Unfortunately, sometimes too many options can lead to inefficiencies.

A few minutes pass while I’m waiting for the “conference organizer”, but still nothing. I notice an email pop up in my email inbox from the sales person: “I’m not in a location where I can access the conference call information. Could you please set up another conference call?” Sure, I think – no problem. I have a GoToMeeting acccount and can set up an instant meeting.

So I hang up on the current conference call that I’ve dialed into, load up my conference call application, start a new meeting, and invite attendees. It takes me a few minutes to access the necessary details, but I’m in a hurry and send my email with call-in information.

I wait a few seconds to see if anybody joins my meeting, and notice an email from the customer in my inbox. I take a quick peek. “I’m happy to set up a conference” says the message. Trying to be helpful, she includes new dial-in information for yet another conference call for attendees to dial into.

Meanwhile, the sales person has joined my ongoing conference call. We talk for a couple of minutes. Surely, the other parties will see my email and call into my updated conference call, won’t they? We wait. And wait. It’s 12:13 now, 13 minutes into a call that is supposed to take about 10 minutes.

The sales person decides we’ve waited long enough, puts me on hold, calls one of her customer contacts directly to see if they’re going to join our already-in-progress call. The answer to that question is no, as two of them have already joined the other call.

The sales person hangs up with her customer contact, gets back online with me, and informs me that we need to join the other call. By now it’s about 12:20pm, twenty minutes into our 30 minute call and we still do not have all parties on the same conference call.

So the sales person and I say goodbye for the second or third time now (I’ve lost track) and prepare to join the customer’s conference call. I look at the customer’s email with the call details and dial the number.

“Hi, this is Judy,” says a voice on the other line. “Hi Judy, I’m trying to dial into a conference call and was given this number. Is this 800-555-5555?”, I ask her. “Um, no, that’s not this number,” she replies. “OK, sorry for disturbing you.” I hang up.

I’m sure I dialed the right number, but it’s always possible that “fat fingers” got in the way. I hang up and try the provided number again.

“Hi, this is Judy.”

Not again.

I’m really confused now. “Sorry, Judy, but this is the number I was given. Do you ever get calls from people trying to connect to a conference call?”, I ask.

“Yes, I do,” she says. I ask her where she is located. “Arizona”.

We exchange our second set of pleasantries and hang up.

Ok, what now?, I think. I switch my attention to my email inbox.

A series of emails are flying back and forth between the customer, the sales person, and me.

Turns out my sales person is having the same challenges that I’m having with the dial-in number provided by the customer. Judy in Arizona is beginning to get perturbed about the quantity of wrong numbers she’s fielding.

The sales person calls me and tells me that she’s going to suggest we use the meeting I had previously organized. After 27 minutes into our 30 minute call, we finally get all parties connected on the same conference call.

One of our two customer contacts apologizes for providing incorrect conference call information. All parties discuss the issue at hand, get their questions answered, and we finish our intended business in about 15 minutes.

In retrospect, the irony about the conference call from hell is that the customer involved in this bridge call fiasco is a major telecom provider.

My Great Alaskan Bear Encounter

Let’s just get this out on the table now. I don’t like bears. I don’t see any benefit to having bears in the vicinity. Yes, bears are beautiful animals and they can look harmless in TV documentaries; however they’re also ruthless killers.

I recall reading one particularly horrific bear attack story in Reader’s Digest when I growing up. A man who encountered a bear while hiking through Alaska promptly had his scalp removed.

Of course it wouldn’t have qualified to be featured in Reader’s Digest unless he somehow managed to survive the ordeal. So something positive can come out of being attacked by a creature 5 times the weight of the average human.

Those of us from the Pacific Northwest have our own opportunities to interact with the bears, since they roam the expansive forests and mountains from Oregon to Alaska. On occasion bears like to visit us in the city, but for the most part, if we want to increase the remote possibility of encountering a bear, we can choose to trek into the nearby woods.

People say the best thing to do when a bear is about to have you for lunch is to play dead. I’m sure a bear would like nothing better than to have you give up the fight so that he doesn’t have to put as much effort into making you his next meal.

The guy from the movie “Grizzly Man”, based on a true story, had the right idea. Just go hang out with the bears and pretend you’re one of them. This tactic apparently worked fine for about three years – until the bears finally realized one of us is not like the others and chowed down on him and his girlfriend. So much for bear tomfoolery.

My dad worked for Alyeska Pipeline Co. in Alaska back in the 1970’s. During the summers, my brother and I used to hop on a plane from Seattle and fly to Alaska to stay with him and explore wild Alaska.

Dad’s approach to life was unorthodox at best. No one would ever have accused him of taking the road most traveled. The road less traveled seemed fine to him, and he always managed to come out no worse for the wear.

I had little appreciation for the effort required to put food on the table until fishing the beautiful Alaskan rivers became one of our favorite weekend activities.

Our weekend routine consisted of packing Dad’s Volare (a car glamorized in TV commercials by the popular entertainer, Ricardo Montalbán) with fishing gear, driving a couple of hours from Anchorage or Fairbanks to the Kenai Peninsula, finding a place to park near the Russian River, and then spending the entire weekend hauling in fish out of little pockets on the side of the river where the fish rested before continuing their journey upstream.

The road less traveled meant accommodations only a boy scout could appreciate. We never pitched a tent; we simply drove the Volare into the makeshift, backwoods “parking” lots and that was our mobile hotel. The minivan hadn’t been invented yet, so sleeping accommodations were simply dad and older brother reclining in the two front bucket seats, and me squeezing my skinny, pre-teen body into a horizontal position in any remaining space in the back seat.

The Alaskan wild obviously provided minimal creature comforts that we were accustomed to from living in the city.  I don’t recall now how we brushed our teeth, took “bio breaks”, or managed to eat regular meals, but the fishing was simply too good for us to worry about the details. I do remember that after waking up in the car and taking care of the morning logistics, we set out for the best fishing spot on the opposite side of the river.

Since we were young and lightweight, Dad used to take each of us boys individually via piggyback across the river. The river was shallow in spots; however, it also was like the name implies – a rushing river – in others. If bears weren’t enough of a concern, we also had to worry about Dad losing his footing on his way across, dropping one of us, and then being swept away by the river.

We successfully crossed that river many times, made our way to what became our regular fishing hole, caught as many fish as we could legally catch, packed them up in a cooler, and made our way back to the city in time for Dad to start another work week with Alyeska. Somehow we survived Dad’s mother-unapproved method for traveling to our prime fishing spot, avoiding danger on the road, or river, less traveled.

Oh, yeah. So isn’t this story supposed to be about a bear encounter? Yes, where there are fish, there are bears!

One weekend we headed toward the river to cross to the other side and hike up the river to our favorite fishing location. Another fisherman just on the other side had his pole extended over the water and appeared oblivious to a dark creature approaching him from his back.

My heart began beating rapidly, as my instincts told me that this fisherman was about to be in very big trouble. A few us on our side of the river tried to warn him, waving our arms and yelling that he was about to be face to face with a bear!

During those few seconds, I questioned why he wouldn’t turn around to face his soon-to-be nemesis, why he appeared so casual when he was in obvious danger. Furthermore, he was perched on a high bank that did not provide an easy escape route, other than jumping several feet down into the river, which I expected him to do.

We soon discovered this fisherman was a true Alaskan grizzly man, at one with nature, not panicking for even a brief moment. I’ll be darned if that bear didn’t just stroll up to the man, casually take in the aromas populating the area, and then proceed to saunter up the river bank in search of fish or scraps from people cleaning the fish they caught.

It was quite a rush to see a bear, but I was even more impressed at how the grizzly man remained perfectly cool in a precarious situation. Alaskans will probably tell you that you don’t need to fear the bear, just respect it. Perhaps my fear had been overstated and bears weren’t so bad after all?

Jimi Hendrix Is the Answer!

As we rapidly approach “that” time of year – yes, Jim Hendrix’ November 27th birthday – it might be time to relate a funny story about the master guitarist from Seattle born on Thanksgiving day (well, one of them)…

My good friend Calvin knows very little about popular music. He was raised on the Irish Rovers and Peter, Paul, & Mary. Music that any kid with hopes of being cool in school would not admit listening to.

When we were in high school during the 80’s, Cal somehow missed out on the rock music trend that swept like wildfire through the nation’s high schools. AC/DC, Tom Petty, Rush, Led Zeppelin, The Who. Instead he got mixed up with songs like Safety Dance and Puttin’ on the Ritz (by a band called Taco, no less. Wonder where they are today?!). Undoubtedly a result of his early (and apparently damaging) exposure to the Irish Rovers.

But Jimi Hendrix slipped through Cal’s pop-culture filter and in a big way. Not Cal’s music filter – because he didn’t know any Jimi Hendrix songs, unless “Purple Haze” had been covered by Peter, Paul, & Mary (It, of course, never was) – but the filter that lets certain words or phrases through without additional context. Maybe Jimi’s name just sounded cool, kind of like like “Starland Vocal Band” or “Rage Against the Machine”.

All of this might explain why Cal came to believe that Jimi Hendrix was not just a famous guitarist from the Rainier Valley in south Seattle, but the man who discovered America, the first astronaut to land on the moon, and the founder of Microsoft!

You see, whenever a question was raised in any situation during our years in high school, Cal’s answer was almost always “Jimi Hendrix”. According to Cal, the only subjects Jimi Hendrix wasn’t an expert in were math and physics. In just about every other setting when any other question was raised, an answer of Jimi Hendrix was appropriate – at least to Cal.

Things didn’t get any better when Trivial Pursuit became the most popular board game on the planet and the maker of this game issued a variation called “Rock and Roll Trivial Pursuit”. You can imagine there might be one or two cards in this edition of the game where an answer to a question could be “Jimi Hendrix”. But as I recall it, pretty much every answer Cal gave during the one time we played the game was “Jimi Hendrix”. Turns out that George Plimpton had nothing on Jimi Hendrix! (at least in Cal’s eyes).

It probably didn’t help matters that many rock lyrics at the time were unintelligible (ok, it’s still true today), with the “Jimi Hendrix Experience” being a great example of this. One of the universally least understood lyrics of all time comes from the Jimi Hendrix song Purple Haze when he says, “Excuse me while I kiss the sky“. This is news to a lot of people, as people who are familiar with this song regularly insist that this lyric is instead “Excuse me while I kiss this guy“. Just a slight shift in context!

This lack of clarity in lyrics certainly wasn’t going to help Cal any. He already thought that Credence Clearwater’s “Bad Moon Rising” contained the lyric “There’s a bathroom on the right” and the Fifth Dimension’s song “Aquarius” contained the words “This is the dawning of the age of Asparagus!”. Musical artists singing about veggies? Really?!

I do like to make fun of Cal’s lack of musical aptitude; however, it’s crazy to think that even though he was clearly born without the music gene, his academic skills were quite excellent in the areas of math and science, enabling him to eventually become quite literally a rocket scientist (but perhaps no better at understanding this classic Starland Vocal Band lyric: “Sky rockets in flight! Afternoon Delight!”).

Not all of us are born with the music gene, but at this time of year we should be thankful that we’re each born with a unique set of attributes that can be put to good use in any number of ways. Some are born to be artists, while others with hard skills can design and build great stuff, like skyscrapers, airplanes, rockets and even the equipment used to record awe-inspiring music from the great artists of our time.

Jimi Hendrix has been gone from us for 40 plus years now; however, Jimi (or his estate) is still releasing music, including some previously unreleased material recently in 2013, and he’s as popular as ever. With such great staying power, Cal was on to something about Jimi. After all these years, maybe Jimi is the answer!

Be prepared

Be prepared. It’s the Boy Scouts’ mantra.

Regardless of your political view about the Boy Scouts and their not-quite-as-popular-in-2014 policy of excommunicating gay scouts from their ranks, it’s difficult to argue against the benefits of being prepared.

Like a lot of American kids, I joined the Cub Scouts and participated in all of their life skills pack activities, like making crafts with leather and cheap bead jewelry and binding with Elmer’s glue, racing cars at the Pine Wood Derby, and eating cookies and milk during pack meetings.

That’s right. Mainly fun and games.

After Cub Scouts and Webelos (had to fit this quirky word into the story somewhere), it was time to graduate to the Boy Scouts.

Most of my friends’ parents were an outdoorsy bunch – campers, hikers, climbers. I loved the outdoors, but mainly for playing sports like soccer and football and games like Kick the Can and Hide & Seek. I never much considered sleeping outdoors unless it was the height of summer, much less in the middle of winter. In Washington, “height of summer” means a high of around 80 degrees, give or take.

Hence, I was a little “unprepared” for my first campout with the Boy Scouts that occurred in the middle of winter in the month of January in the beautiful setting of a place called Wiley Creek.

Mom and Dad had been divorced for a couple of years then, and my mom was therefore helping me prepare for my January night out with the boys from Troop 4xx. This should have been the first sign of trouble, but knowing virtually nothing myself about camping, I just went along with the plan (or lack thereof).

Naturally it was going to be cold, so Mom went to work putting together my “sleeping bag”. I quote the words sleeping bag because, while the intention was to serve as a sleeping bag, one could argue that a sleeping bag it was not.

Her idea of my “middle of winter” sleeping bag was to take an indoor sleeping bag that was barely qualified to keep one warm indoors and sew a standard bed blanket into it, stuff it into a black 32-gallon trash bag, and send me on my way.

For those of you who don’t know camping very well, compact, warm, and lightweight sleeping bags have existed for decades. And because scouts often hiked from campground parking lots to their camp sites (often a long distance), “true” scouts would load up a back pack with living essentials along with a lightweight (but warm) sleeping bag that could be conveniently attached to the bottom of their backpacks without sticking out. Easy peasy.

So there I was in the middle of January, mind you, hauling a grocery bag of living essentials and a very large 32-gallon trash bag with my “sleeping bag” to a 3-walled cabin in the middle of nowhere.

Shift your focus away from the word “cabin” above and refocus your eyes back to the term “3-walled”. Many people have never experienced a 3-walled cabin, but it’s just as you’d expect. A 3-walled cabin is 3 walls with an opening where a door would normally be. It also usually means plenty of “ventilation” to let the outside (cold) air circulate and ventilate the cabin.

When we finally reached our campsite after an exhausting hike from the parking lot – especially for those of us who were less than judicious in how we “prepared” for the campout – we set up our sleeping area in the cabins. Washington is not known for being as cold as Alaska or Montana, but I recall that night being one of the coldest I’d ever experienced – somewhere in the 20 degrees range.

I shivered my way through the night until morning came and somehow survived without losing any fingers or toes to frostbite. I’m sure it was close. As a newer scout, I and those newbies with me on this campout got to experience nature’s beauty, as well as her lack of mercy.

I now have my own kids learning life’s lessons through scouting, although they haven’t yet been sent out with jury-rigged camping equipment and unprepared for whatever nature might bring. We have different, perhaps more civilized ways of teaching them the power of being prepared for just about anything.

For the record, I don’t harbor any hard feelings toward my mom, who thought she was doing what was best for me in cobbling together a makeshift sleeping bag with little more than spit and baling wire. She never was much of an outdoors(wo)man.

One thing she did help teach me, though, through my cold experience was the mantra “be prepared”, which took on a whole new meaning for me after that campout.


Reconnecting with Fame

Hearing David Bowie’s song Fame recently reminded me how much I love music. I’ve been listening to music for a long time and certain songs can take me right back to what was going on at the time.

Fame brought me back to grade school, recess at my elementary school, and the good times friends had on the playground during that time. I’m not sure why it takes me right there to that time, but it does.

Sometimes, though, I forget how important music has been in my life since that first catchy pop song back in the late 60’s transformed my brain from living a life of text to experiencing a life of retina-display 3D graphics!

The cool thing is that my kids are old enough now such that I can expose them to decades of great music since the Beatles started it all, while at the same time avoiding the bad music they needn’t trouble themselves with.

My infatuation with music may have been a tweak beyond healthy, as I absolutely had to listen to Casey Kasem’s “American Top 40” every Sunday evening without fail – or else.

Music became so ingrained in my weekly life that I often prioritized listening to the Top 40 over sleep or some event a typical ten-year-old would prefer over listening for the latest hit song.

For example, one time the family was in Alaska during the summer while my dad worked on the pipeline. Aside from fishing and hunting bear, there wasn’t a lot to do in Alaska, so imagine how exciting it would be if the locals were having a parade for all to attend?

The weather was great and the parade had a lot of fun things going on – and there I was, walking down the sidewalk parallel to the parade, holding a transistor radio to my ear so I’d be sure not to miss important details about this week’s music movers and shakers. What were the songs that debuted in the Top 40 this week? Which song was the biggest mover on the charts? Did my favorite song make it to #1 or was it being held back by a mass of people who clearly didn’t appreciate the right music?

The current generation has no concept of life without the Internet. I can hear my kids now. “You wrote down the Top 40 every week on a piece of paper, Dad? Why didn’t you just look it up on the Internet after it got published?” Yes, time existed before there was an Internet!

I didn’t just write down the Top 40; my friends and I occasionally attempted to document words to a specific song. I recall the time when John Patricelli, another music lover, and I played a vinyl 45rpm record (a “single”) over and over and attempted to write down the lyrics. The problem? It’s extremely difficult to understand words when artists don’t annunciate or perhaps when singers’ voices are drowned out by screeching guitars and banging drums.

Incidentally, the referenced song here was “Sky High” by the English band, Jigsaw. Yes, one-hit wonders. “You, you’ve blown it all sky high, by telling me a lie without a reason why” and so on. Not sure why we had trouble with these simple lyrics!

Today you can find any lyric to any song ever written in seconds with a quick Google search, but you do have to be careful about malware – something I never faced in my Internet-less, pencil and paper world.

Few songs have what we call “staying power”. So many good and bad songs come and go. Only the really great ones stand the test of time. You know them because you still hear them all of the time today, 30+ years after they last showed up on a Billboard list. The Beatles, The Who, Led Zeppelin, Pink Floyd – and Bowie.

Which brings us to the subject at hand – Fame. Yes, fame is something many people achieve for accomplishing various feats, but it’s also the title of a David Bowie song from 1975 (and by the way, hit #1 in September of that year). Almost 40 years later and the song is featured in a 2014 commercial by Cadillac. Yes, it’s a brand new song to the current generation, but the beauty is that it could have been released today, but due to Bowie being ahead of his time, the song is absolutely timeless.

I suppose the real beauty of Fame is the anticipation it commands that starts with the very first note of the song. From then on, I find myself drawn in and have to listen to the whole song until the crescendo where Bowie leverages the best available technology at the time to distort his voice bellowing the word “fame” over and over from high to low, from soprano to baritone, until ultimate climax.

Just like the O’Jays so eloquently described in their (also released in) 1975 song “I Love Music”, I love a great song, a song that can stand the test of time. Certainly a song released in 1975 and relevant in 2014 has some staying power. I’m glad I’ve had the opportunity to know Fame through many generations and am ecstatic to have the opportunity to reconnect with Fame today.


Like Silver and Gold, Lather and Foam

I love lather! I love the sound of the spoken word, its physical qualities when it’s gently massaging its way through my hair during a morning shower, and I love the images that it conjures up when someone simply says the word “Lather”.

With all of lather’s great qualities, one would assume that it couldn’t possibly have any detractors. Well, it’s true. Some believe lather is the enemy. I’ve read several articles where “an expert” suggested consumers should not base their shampoo buying decision on how much lather it produces, but rather how well it cleans.

You know these shampoos that don’t lather. They are the ones where you have to use 2 or 3 times as much shampoo to feel like the clean is reaching all areas of your head and hair, including the outer limits. The non-lathering shampoos also cost more because they supposedly do what lathering shampoos do, but without having to lather(!).

Since the non-lathering shampoos don’t lather, you have to work harder to push the “liquid soap” to the outer reaches. And then when you rinse your hair of a “latherless” shampoo, you’re never really sure you got all of your hair clean. Perhaps just “spots”.

I do like to have clean hair, but I’d never invest in a latherless shampoo. My priority for shampoo features is 1) It must lather!; 2) It should clean.

If you’re currently a lather detractor, let’s consider other forms of lather, like lather’s close cousin, foam (another ridiculously apt word, by the way). How many people do you know that don’t like foam? I often visit the local coffee house with the rest of my weary early-rising tech folk and what do I see? Long lines of people waiting in line to get “coffee” with foam.

By the time these coffee houses get done putting various ingredients through their complex array of machines, these coffee beverages are more foam (and perhaps sugar) than anything else and hardly bear any resemblance to what we used to think of as traditional coffee (you know, pre-Starbucks).

And let’s not forget our friend beach foam. Beach foam reminds me of one of my favorite experiences when I was a young child on a trip with my family to Vancouver, Canada. We were taking in one of Vancouver’s many great natural parks. Walking along a grass path that paralleled a waterway, there were areas bordering the grass and water that looked like sand. My slightly older brother (but not wiser!) decided that he had to walk on this dirt area.

As he stepped onto the dirt area, his foot went right through this deceiving-sand and right into the water. He had been lured into the water by what appeared to be a hard dirt surface, but was actually beach foam! Despite my brother’s negative association to foam due to this experience, as the younger (and often maligned) brother, this experience had the opposite effect for me and much reinforced foam as a positive in my mind.

Yep, quite a bit to say about the awesome qualities of Lather and Foam. Take that Silver and Gold!