Archive for May, 2013

Slide Show Typos

May 25, 2013

At the SPE Gulf Coast Section Awards Banquet Thursday evening at the Rice Hotel in downtown Houston, I sat at the table with Clarence Cazalot, CEO of Marathon Oil, who was our guest speaker. Back in the 1980s, when he and I were both still at Texaco, we had played golf together at the annual Texaco Employees Club tournament. I can vouch that he is able to count honestly, and that’s a good quality to have in a CEO.

So after we had eaten dinner and reminisced, the Awards part of the evening was about to start, and the PowerPoint slide show was loaded up and – OMG!!  There on the first slide was a huge typo:

SPE Awards Banque

I was mortified!  Somebody had left off the T at the end of “Banquet.” And that slide remained on the screen for at least 15 minutes while our Section Chairman, Steve Baumgartner, also of Marathon Oil, gave his non-PowerPoint speech. It was everything I could do to keep myself from running up to that laptop and fixing it right then and there. It sure didn’t make us look very good in front of the CEO of Marathon Oil! (BTW, he didn’t use PowerPoint slides; he just read from a script, like many CEOs do.)

When you are giving a presentation, you are usually there to try to impress somebody, either your boss to the second power, or an audience of your peers, or schoolchildren or members of the concerned public. That last thing you want to do is have them gasp at a Big Boo-Boo on the screen. I wonder what all the scholarship winners – and their parents – thought about that typo and our professional society.

Apparently what happened last night is that someone cut some text from the Word document script that the presenters were supposed to read, and then pasted it into the PowerPoint slides. Well, when swiping the text, the T at the end of BANQUET was left behind, and nobody noticed it was gone after pasting it into the slide.

That is why you should always proofread your PowerPoint slides carefully. You want to impress people, not be totally embarrassed by having such a big error up on the screen. And it’s even better if you send your slide show to another person to read over. If two heads are better than one, then four eyes must be WAY better than two.

Profound Quotes of the Day:

“It is best to rise from life as from a banquet, neither thirsty nor drunken.”
– Aristotle, Greek philosopher, 384-322 BC

“A crust eaten in peace is better than a banquet partaken in anxiety.”
– Aesop, Greek author, 620-560 BC

“Sooner or later everyone sits down to a banquet of consequences.”
– Robert Louis Stevenson, Scottish writer, 1850-1894



Replace All

May 17, 2013

Sometimes you make a decision to change something in a document, and you want that same thing changed throughout, so you do a Find and Replace in Word, then hit Replace All, because, well, you want them all replaced.

Well, some very interesting things can happen when you do that. For instance, say you want to change all the company names from Oxy to Occidental, just to be more formal. Then later on you are reading through some technical mumbo-jumbo and you come across the term “Occidentalgenation.” What the heck? After reading the sentence a couple times, you figure out that the word should be “oxygenation” but it got changed during your Replace All function. Sure enough, a little further down, you find the word “Occidentalgen” where it should have been “oxygen.”

So, a word to the wise: Unless it’s a very short document and you know for a certainty that no other word in it has the three letters O-X-Y in a row, it’s generally best to choose Find Next and decide whether to Replace for each instance as you go through the document.

Otherwise, you might end up having to read the entire document to see what interesting changes you inadvertently made to other words containing those same letters when you hit Replace All.

Profound Quotes of the Day:

“The purpose of education is to replace an empty mind with an open one.”
– Malcolm Forbes, American publisher, 1917-1990

“Once you replace negative thoughts with positive ones, you’ll start having positive results.”
– Willie Nelson, American country singer, b. 1933

“We look forward to the time when the Power of Love will replace the Love of Power. Then
will our world know the blessings of peace.”
– William E. Gladstone, British Prime Minister (4 times), 1809-1898


It Figures

May 17, 2013

Sometimes we get so carried away proofreading the words that we forget to proofread the figures. I caught three boo-boos today.

The first one was a lovely diagram of five overlapping circles that made a lovely May flower, with each petal labeled something different: Health, Security, Environment, Social Responsibility, and Saftey. Yes, the word Safety was misspelled. We’ll have to totally redo that picture.

The second one was supposed to be one of those words-in-the-boxes diagrams, but when the picture was cut and pasted in, the words hung outside the boxes, low and to the right. We’ll have to redo that one, too.

The third one was certainly the wrong picture. The caption read “Central contract repository,” but the photo was a guy looking at the installation of a 30-in. pipeline. Surely they are not going to archive the contracts in that big old pipe!

The moral of this story is: make sure you scrutinize your pictures with as much care as you do your words.

Profound Quote of the Day:

“Be as you wish to seem.”
– Socrates, Greek philosopher, 469-399 BC

The Big Reveal

May 15, 2013

Here’s another case of “nouning a verb.”
Bad Example:
The amazing new fish tank was finally ready for the big reveal, so the owner was brought into the room.

To reveal means to make something that was previously hidden or secret now known or open to view. A second definition is to make known through divine inspiration. The corresponding noun for both uses is “revelation,” not “reveal.”

Corrected Example:
The amazing new fish tank was finally ready for the revelation, so the owner was brought into the room.

According to Merriam-Webster, the noun “reveal” means “the side of an opening (as for a window) between a frame and the outer surface of a wall,” or a door jamb. This is not what is meant today when someone mentions “the big reveal.”

The dictionary shows “revealment” as an acceptable noun meaning “the act of revealing.”
Corrected Example #2:
The amazing new fish tank was finally ready for the big revealment, so the owner was brought into the room.

Of course, the gerund “the revealing” could also be used as a noun.
Corrected Example #3:
The amazing new fish tank was finally ready for the big revealing, so the owner was brought into the room.

Using “reveal” as a noun causes Grammar Gurus like me to have “another small cow.”

Profound Quote of the Day:

“The greatest good you can do for another is not just to share your riches, but to reveal to him his own.”
– Benjamin Disraeli,  British Prime Minister (twice) and statesman,

Tiny Little

May 10, 2013

Another question from the Peanut Gallery:
Isn’t the expression “tiny little” redundant?

Rather than being repetitively redundant, the expressions “tiny little” and “little tiny” would be an intensive usage, equivalent in meaning to “very little” or “very tiny” and similar in rhythm to “itty-bitty,” “itsy-bitsy,” “teeny-weeny,” and “teensy-weensy,” which mean the same thing and are not considered redundant.

That’s my tiny little answer.

Tiny Little Quote of the Day:

“Babies have big heads and big eyes, and tiny little bodies with tiny little arms and legs. So did the aliens at Roswell! I rest my case.”

– William Shatner, Canadian actor in Star Trek, b. 1931

Off Of and Out Of

May 10, 2013

My Peanut Gallery buddy Ted wrote to me to express the following:

Another item that makes me grimace is the use of the word “of” after the word “off,” whereas it would be correct to use the word “of” after the word “out.”
Little Johnny hurt his leg when he jumped off of the bus. (should be “off the bus”)
Little Johnny hurt his leg when he jumped out of the tree. (correct)

According to the Motivated Grammar blog on WordPress, “off of” is both dialectal and informal.

The Oxford English Dictionary calls it “only colloq. (nonstandard) and regional” in current use. The Merriam-Webster Dictionary of English Usage says it’s “primarily a form used in speech.” The Columbia Guide to Standard American English says it’s avoided at “Planned and Oratorical levels and in Semiformal and Formal writing.” … And using the Corpus of Contemporary American English as a measuring stick of informality, “off of” occurs in speech twice as often as in written fiction, about four times as often as in newspapers/magazines, and almost ten times as often as in academic writing. The more formal the style, the less likely you’ll see “off of.” That same blog claims that some uses of “off of” sound better with the word “of” than without:
•       Rolling Stones Song: “Hey, you, get off of my cloud!”
•       It’s a way of profiting off of something you expect to drop in value.
•       My new invention will knock the socks off of the scientific community.
•       I broke your statue by knocking the top off of it.

And while “out of the tree” sounds good to me, I can think of a few uses where “out” sounds better without the word “of.”
•       She was out the door in a flash.
•       He was looking out the window.

So, Ted, the answer is the standard engineer’s answer: That depends. If using “of” sounds right, use it. But opt for the single preposition if you can. After all, less is more.

Profound Quote of the Day:

“The purpose of art is washing the dust of daily life off our souls.”

– Pablo Picasso, Spanish artist, 1881-1973

Anyway vs. Anyways

May 8, 2013

I got a question from Ted in the Peanut Gallery:
“Why do a lot of American people say the word “anyways,” whereas we Brits tend to say it in the singular form?
We are going ahead with the golf tournament anyways, despite the inclement weather
Which one is correct, singular form or plural? I normally use the singular form.”

Good question, Ted, and thanks for asking.
According to Webster’s dictionary, “anyway” is an adverb that means “anywise,” which goes
back to the 12th century. “Anyways” is perhaps a hybrid of those two words, and Webster says its use is either archaic (first definition) or colloquial dialect (second definition). American speech tends toward the latter, being more casual. In formal writing, “anyway” is preferred.

Google Hits:
Anyways > 119 million
Anyway > 327 million

The opposite situation exists with “toward” and “towards.” Neither is wrong, and Webster says they are interchangeable, but the Brits are more likely to say “towards” while the
Americans prefer to use “toward.” Apparently we put that extra “S” on “anyways” instead.

Google Hits:
Towards > 395 million
Toward > 380 million

Anyway(s), if you have trouble deciding, you can always use “in any case” and sound totally proper.

Humorous Quotes of the Day:

“Marriage is give and take. You’d better give it to her, or she’ll take it anyway.”

“Rockefeller once explained the secret of success: ‘Get up early, work late — and strike oil.’”

“The difference between playing the stock market and the horses is that one of the horses must win.”

– Joey Adams, American comedian, 1911-1999

Little, Tiny Things

May 8, 2013

I saw a few little, tiny things in a one-page document today, and since I didn’t have any topic in mind to share with the Peanut Gallery, I thought I would point them out so you can “keep your eyes peeled,” as my dad used to say when we went looking for golf balls in the rough
across the street after supper.

Tiny Thing #1:
Following last weeks’ meeting…
The meeting was last week, so it should be week’s, a singular possessive, not weeks’, a plural possessive.

Tiny Thing #2:
David Innes, VP of Community Relations, will now report to Ronald deVries
There is no period at the end of this sentence.

Tiny Thing #3:
There was a double space between two sentences, rather than a single space after the period, and because the paragraph was full justified (both right and left sides aligned), the space looked even larger.

Tiny Thing #4:
… to ensure that XYZ remains a company we can all be proud of.
This was the last sentence of the document, and it ended in a dangling preposition.
… to ensure that XYZ remains a company of which we can all be proud.

Jeanne’s Original Quote of the Day:

Nothing separates the men from the boys like seeing a train while in a car.
A boy will say: “Oh, boy! A train!”
A man will say: “Aw, man! A train!”


May 3, 2013

We do a lot of history matches and other comparisons of our oilfield data, so today we will discuss how to report these matches.

Bad Example:
The model porosity matches with the core data.

Here you do not need the word “with,” because the meaning of the transitive verb “to match”
is “to compare favorably with” or “to harmonize with” and a second “with” would be repetitively redundant.

Corrected Example:
The model porosity matches the core data.

While we are on the subject, “history matching” used as a noun phrase is not hyphenated, but if used as an adjective, it is hyphenated.

History matching of the Woolybutt field production data proved to be quite challenging. (noun phrase) (and yes, that is a real field name in Australia — funniest oilfield name ever!)
Current practice still involves a tedious history-matching process that is highly subjective. (adjective)

Similarly, the verb phrase “history matched” is not hyphenated, but the adjective is hyphenated.

We history matched the upper zone, but we were unable to get a decent match of the lower
zone. (verb phrase)
The history-matched polygon models were rolled up into a full field model for forecasting. (adjective)

Funny Quote of the Day:

“A computer once beat me at chess, but it was no match for me at kickboxing.”
– Emo Philips, American comedian, b. 1956