Writing * Editing * Publishing

Author: Mary Baker (Page 1 of 3)

Book Review: You’re Saying It Wrong


Geez, as a word nerd, I thought I had it all right. Wrong! Acai (as in the berry) is pronounced ah-SIGH-ee. I also was certain I had moussaka right, but apparently true foodies and chefs know it’s pronounced moos-ah-KAH.  Who knew. Uranus, I was assured, is NOT pronounced yer-AY-nus. And I finally learned how to pronounce the surname Nguyen correctly.

Ross and Kathryn Petras, the authors of You’re Saying It Wrong, have rounded up some of the most misunderstood words and phrases in the English language.

But even though I encountered my own comeuppance more than once, many of my favorite faux pas are in here, like:

  • for all intents and purposes (do NOT say for all intensive purposes!)
  • albeit (hint, it’s not pronounced all-bite)
  • nip it in the bud (not butt!)
  • would have (it makes me cray-cray when people write would of)

And, thank the Lord, the book also includes Oregon, the most abused and mispronounced state name in politics and newscasting.


Each page gives a quick definition and pronunciation  plus a few paragraphs explaining the source of the word, the pronunciation, or the confusion. So you’ll learn why we say woulduv, but should write would have, and why the Samoan island of Pago Pago is pronounced pongo pongo.

Throughout the book there are little blue pages called “How to sound like …” with a quick list of words that help you sound like a wine connoisseur, a patron of fine arts, a fashionista, or a dozen other groovy things.

The authors don’t take themselves (or anyone else) too seriously though—it’s a fun little book to browse through and keep handy for reference.

10 Joys of Working From Home – What are Yours?


  1. You can work at 1 am, as I am now.
  2. Take a break to play with your dog.
  3. Put a roast in the oven or bake some bread and enjoy the aroma while you work.
  4. Take a power nap on the couch.
  5. Raid the refrigerator whenever you like.
  6. Have a dance party to celebrate a new achievement.
  7. Take frequent 15 minute breaks to clean house or get in a quick workout.
  8. You can still work when you’re sick because the bathroom is nearby and nobody cares how you look.
  9. You can have casual Fridays all week.
  10. Talk to yourself without anyone thinking you’re weird.

What are your favorite work-at-home joys?



San Luis Obispo County, CA Non-Profits in Need of Fresh Produce

Are you a San Luis Obispo County gardener with an overabundance of fresh fruit or vegetables? These food banks and shelters are in desperate need of assistance. Please take some of your backyard bounty to these locations.

Bryan Brown at the Maxine Lewis Memorial Shelter says, “We could definitely use help as we have a very thin budget for our food. We will gladly accept food from gardeners if allowed an opportunity to visit the garden site. Meat has become very limited for us so this is an item we are interested in (assuming it goes through a local butcher).”


Maxine Lewis Memorial Shelter

Kitchen Address:  230 Leeward Avenue, Pismo Beach (volunteers cook out of the Veterans Hall kitchen)

Please call or email at least one day in advance to arrange drop off. Best time to receive is between 11 am and 1 pm, but other arrangements can be made.  bbrown@capslo.org

Gardeners should make arrangements to let managers visit and assess the gardens or orchards first.

Items they would love to receive: ALL vegetables, especially potatoes, winter squash, corn, and all salad fixin’s.  Fruit–oranges, blueberries, melon, plums.

Lewis County, WA Non-Profits in Need of Fresh Produce

Are you a Lewis County gardener with an overabundance of fresh fruit or vegetables? These food banks and shelters are in desperate need of assistance. Please take some of your backyard bounty to these locations.

Fay Teman, executive director of Lewis County Gospel Mission, says, “As our table ministry serves two meals a day, Monday through Friday, and a brunch on both Saturday and Sunday, we are quite happy to accept donations of fresh produce and eggs!” Fay says the mission has a need for fresh produce for salads, fresh fruit, potatoes and onions.




Lewis County Gospel Mission

Kitchen Address:  72 SW Chehalis Ave., Chehalis

Please call or email to arrange drop off between 7 am and 3 pm.  lighthouselcgm@gmail.com


The Mission is in particular need of produce for salads, fresh fruit, potatoes and onions.

Tenino Food Bank




Heritage House Food Bank

Kitchen address:  Heritage Baptist Church, 1315 Sussex Avenue East, Tenino Wa, 89589 Contact Food Bank Coordinator Kathy Lester at kelester@scattercreek.com.

Our Food Bank is open to recipients every Saturday from 2:00pm to 5:00pm.   Therefore, we generally coordinate to receive our food bank items on Fridays in the afternoon. This way we can ensure that the items we receive remain as fresh as we can get for Saturday.

Pastor Scott Peace says the food bank would love to receive any fresh fruits and vegetables. But he adds that the bank has special needs for Thanksgiving and Christmas. “Financially for families, this is the hardest time of the year; we try to offset that by providing additional grocery needs.”

Report of Glyphosate in Wine Not Transparent or Plausible

This photo of a man in hazmat spraying a vineyard has occasionally been used in articles about glyphosate. The chemical in the photo is NOT glyphosate. Read on to find out why.

On March 24th, Moms Across America posted study results commissioned by an unidentified fan, claiming that 10 California wines all tested positive for glyphosate, including organic wines. Aside from being implausible from a scientific standpoint, there are also certain impracticalities involved, which I’ll discuss in a moment. The published material does not identify the wines, or address the chain of custody. Also, MAA claims all the wines are from northern CA (Napa, Sonoma, Mendocino), yet the wine featured prominently in a video produced by RT America Firestoneis from Santa Barbara.

Moms Across America

Moms Across America is an organization devoted to inspiring moms to feed their families healthy, pesticide-free and GMO-free food. 

I wrote to Moms Across America, requesting a copy of the full report. I received a response a little over a day later, from Natalie, promising that founder Zen Honeycutt would contact me when she returns from traveling next week. Apparently the ladies, other than Honeycutt, do not use last names on the website.

(Update: No response received from MAA as of April 21, two weeks after contact.)

I noted, while surfing their list of links to source materials, that their list references several heavily contested studies, some of which may even be fraudulent, like material from Dr. Huber and the Seralini study. Continue reading

Coming Soon
National Foodcycle Week April 2016!

Garden vegNational Foodcycle Week is an awareness program that encourages home gardeners and orchard owners to plant a row for the hungry, or dedicate space in their garden or orchard for growing fresh produce for local food banks. Our spring 2016 event will span the dates of April 20-26 and will focus on garden planning, planting, and hosting awareness events. We also encourage spring harvesters—lambs, anyone?—to donate to their local shelters.

The fall event, held on October 20-26 every year, has a harvest theme.

We’ll be inviting and thanking participants on our new Facebook group page. Come join our group discussion and tell us how you plan to donate this year!

There are several ways that you can participate.

  • commit to “grow a row” for the hungry
  • commit a berry patch, tree or orchard
  • offer to print and distribute awareness flyers
  • host an awareness event in your town or neighborhood

Find out how to host an event.

Please let us know how you plan to support hunger outreach this spring!

Anatomy of a Catfish

If you don’t know what a ‘catfish’ scam is, visit my earlier blog article, How to Spot a Catfish.

In this article, I’m going to lay out for you how a catfishing conversation usually goes, and I am going to show you actual screenshots of someone trying to catfish me on Facebook.  I’m blurring out the name and photo so as not to run afoul of Facebook’s Terms of Service.

Here’s how these conversations start.


First, a new “friend” on your Facebook page sends you a private message. Hi, they say. Or hello, beautiful.  Nothing substantive.

When you respond, they flirt and compliment you a little. Then they move directly to taking you to a phone conversation.  This real conversation with a catfish lasted two hours, from 9.40 pm Pacific time to 11.40 pm.

I didn’t think he was very good at catfishing–he started off the conversation by complaining of a stomach ache, which of course is not exactly romantic and not at all alluring. But I figured if he wasn’t very good, maybe he wouldn’t sniff out that I’m a fake, too!


Within 20 minutes, he asked if I was single, and in 28 minutes, he asked for my phone number—and he was persistent throughout the rest of the call, even when I said I was uncomfortable about that. He also supplied his own number and wanted me to call.

I refused of course, but I was coy about it. I had every intention of uncovering his fishiness, but drew the line at giving him access to my phone. Indeed, about halfway through I had to take a break because the whole situation was making me nauseous. However, if I’d had a burner phone available, I probably would have gone for it.  Maybe next time, so stay tuned!

If you do speak on the phone, you’ll notice he has a foreign accent. He will tell you that he is an American citizen, but was born in another country and got his accent from his parents and childhood.

Next, any specific questions you ask will go unanswered. He saw on my page that I like wine, so he said he liked wine too. I asked his favorite. The response was, “I like the red wine.” He said he liked fishing. I asked what kind and what’s his favorite lure. He didn’t answer. I asked what he thought about that night’s presidential debate. No answer. Where does he hike? No answer. What’s the origin of his name? No answer. (It’s Polish, how could he not know that?)

That’s because these people are not in the United States. Even though the number he supplied is an Illinois phone number (he claims to live in Schaumburg) I guarantee these people are not in the U.S.  Anyone can get a free or cheap U.S. phone number through online services and applications.

So we chatted and flirted for awhile, and he began clearly trying to move me to a phone, where he can compliment my voice and cultivate a more personal connection.

And of course, the issue of age will come up. He seems forthcoming here, but what he really wants is for me to reveal my age so he knows how to position himself, demographically speaking. Older women are perfect targets because they’re generally financially secure, yet digitally naive.


In an ordinary catfish scam, he’ll woo you for awhile, calling often, and let you think you’re extending the first invitation for a meet. He will enthusiastically agree to meet with you. By that time, he’s calling you honey and sweetheart and sending you love letters that he stole off the web.

But whenever you try to meet, he will be experiencing some disaster that requires him to ask you for a loan or advance to get him out of his pickle and into your loving arms. After you send the money, there will be yet another crisis that prevents him from actually coming. And this cycle will perpetuate for as long as you  keep sending money.

Anyway, I didn’t want to have a cozy voice conversation with this creep, so instead the catfisher went for a visual. He asked for a photo and when I refused he says …



Here’s an interesting side note: there actually is a 35-year-old man in Schaumburg, IL with this name. He’s a good-looking boxing coach. But the photo they’re using for this fake account is a pale, anemic guy with long limp hair who looks like a gamer that’s been living in his mother’s basement for 17 years.

Double ew.

The next morning I decided to ramp up the conversation. I picked a city 2 hours away from him and said I would be there in 2 weeks for a writers’ convention. I figured that would give him an opportunity to say, oh I can’t my car broke down I need money to fix it.  But he didn’t. All he said was, “oh”.

And I haven’t heard from him again.

Like I said, he’s not a very good catfish. He clearly needs more practice. Just make sure he doesn’t practice his new skill set on you!

How to Spot a Catfish

What is a Catfish?

Catfish are scammers who troll dating sites and Facebook looking for “love”. Once they’ve hooked someone, they proclaim their fascination and devotion, then propose a meeting. Unfortunately there will be some financial obstacle that they will need help with in order to reach your loving arms. Once you have sent them money, there will be an unexpected illness, accident, or arrest that temporarily delays the consummation of your caresses. And the whole cycle repeats …

I think the term started as a verb, as in “hooking a catfish” but it’s now applied to the scammers as a noun — the scammers are now referred to as “catfish”.

These scammers troll the internet like fishermen with big nets, looking for lonely  hearts willing to pay out big bucks to finally meet their true love.  Men and women have been known to send hundreds of thousands of dollars, even millions, to catfish.

There was a reality TV show about catfishing, and a 2010 B-roll film. But for the shortest, most to-the-point tutorials, just Google “Dr. Phil catfish”.  The Dr. Phil show has featured multiple victims of both sexes, including one woman who paid $1.4 million to her online lover.

How to Report a Catfish on Facebook

If a stranger sends you a PM (personal message) complimenting you on your smile, your hair, your beauty, yada yada, please for the sake of all the kind, generous people out there who are targeted by these predators, report them. Don’t just block them — report them! It takes less than 10 seconds to scan a profile and spot a catfish.  And only a few more seconds to report it.

How can you tell if someone is catfishing?

  1. The account page will be relatively new.
  2. There will be little information and few photos.
  3. The photos that are there will have no commentary.
  4. There will be few or no posts in the status feed. What posts are there are usually bait copied from other sites.
  5. Usually missing a banner photo.
  6. The poster has really poor and awkward English.
  7. If they’re posing as men, the account will claim to be either in the US military stationed overseas, an engineer or ‘self-employed’ in Europe. Job descriptions may vary, but not by much.
  8. If the account is posing as a woman, she will be svelte, lovely, and lonely.
  9. These people never take the time to post on your status feed and engage in real conversation with you and your followers.
  10. They want to take you directly to private flirting.

How to Report Catfishing on Facebook

On Facebook, When you REPORT an account, it will be automatically BLOCKED for you. Unfortunately, Facebook only allows you to report them for “being spammy.”

When the happy face window pops up, please select UNHAPPY. Facebook will ask you how your experience could be improved. Please say “I want to be able to report catfishing!”

Facebook’s reporting structure for this kind of trolling, baiting and scamming is minimal at best. The site is attracting this kind of activity because there are no limits and no consequences.  Please do what you can to make Facebook more aware of the problem and to help Facebook become a site that we can all enjoy safely.


10 Disgusting Things in Wine

One of the reasons that winemaking is referred to as an art as well as a commerce is that so many things can go wrong during the life span of a wine in production. Aside from mechanical problems like leaking barrels or cellarmen running into tanks with forklifts, wine is chemically delicate and must be supervised and nurtured, like a child, in order to avoid the various infections and diseases to which it might be prone. On top of that, winemakers use some pretty unusual ingredients to get the wine ‘just so’. Continue reading

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