Diversions, Language


Driving on I-90 from Boston towards the Berkshires yesterday, I spied a curious road sign gleaming in the summer haze:


My mind skipped over three possible interpretations of this grammatically ambiguous statement and landed on a fourth. I didn’t read it as an assertion of the tenet that plows are cautious; I didn’t read it as an admonition to plows to be cautious; and I didn’t take it as a directive to non-plows to avoid plows. Channeling my inner copy editor (always the pessimist), I assumed it must be a simple misspelling of:


It’s not easy making signs (as evidenced by the preponderance of wretched signage in our world), and so I can easily imagine an incautious sign-maker trying to write PLEASE and having it come out as PLOWS.

Unfortunately, the very thought of this has put me in a state where I can no longer see the word please without mentally substituting it with plows (and the result turns out to be grammatical with surprising frequency). And so I invite you, dear reader, to join me in this affliction by listing some of your favorite please/plows substitutions. I will start off with one of my favorites:

Always say plows.


Whatever Mark

Introducing a new punctuation mark, the Whatever Mark, here rendered in Times New Roman.  Suitable for use wherever punctuation is appropriate.  Recommended specifically for situations in which you cannot decide between existing punctuation options, or don’t care.



Dating NDA


I, the undersigned, agree to receive in confidence full details about the personal life, history, and prospects for continued interaction with the individual known as “[XYZ]”.

It is further understood that I assume no responsibility whatever with respect to features and defects of “[XYZ]” which can be demonstrated to have been known to me prior to this interaction. I also agree not to divulge any details of said interaction without permission of “[XYZ]” or to make use of any information of which the said “[XYZ]” is the originator, without payment or compensation to be fixed by negotiation with the said “[XYZ]” or its lawful representative.

It is specifically understood that, in receiving the information concerning “[XYZ]”, the information is being received and will be reviewed in confidence and that, within a period of [15] days, I will report to “[XYZ]” the results of my findings and will advise whether or not I am interested in participating in the development of said relationship.  I understand that the idea of the relationship is the copyright property of “[XYZ]”.

Signature_______________________ Date ________________

Accepted Date _______________________________
(per) [“XYZ”]
Name: ____________________________
Title: ___________________________

[Ed. Note:  The idea for NDA and Non-Compete agreements for dating came up tonight during a dinner conversation.  I was surprised that Google didn’t have anything for “Dating NDA” so I put together the document above, based on existing boilerplate, in hopes that it might be useful in the launching of new romantic ventures.]