Monday, April 14, 2014

Ag Zen--Rainbows, Poetry, and Springtime

Ag controversies, weather woes, and who knows--maybe your dog wet the carpet and chewed up your socks early this morning. So, with spring eventually arriving here in the Northern Hemisphere, maybe it's a good time to stop and smell the roses. 
                                  Blue-Butterfly Day

It is blue-butterfly day here in spring, and with these sky-flakes down in flurry on flurry, there is more unmixed color on the wing than flowers will show for days unless they hurry.

(excerpt from a Robert Frost poem--to access more beautiful rainbow photos, click here)

This excerpt from Seamus Heaney's "Digging" looks at ways of "planting and growing."

The cold smell of potato mould, the squelch and slap
Of soggy peat, the curt cuts of an edge
Through living roots awaken in my head.
But I've no spade to follow men like them.
Between my finger and my thumb
The squat pen rests.
Ill dig with it.

And, these ten photos of animals also remind us
 to stop and smell the flowers.

Of course, the flowers might be ones that just bloomed in your garden. And it could be that the animals will "stop and eat the flowers" rather than simply have a zen moment. As Kurt Vonnegot said, 
"So it goes."

photos from (rainbow) and (ground squirrel)

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Cyber Porch--Future Cow, Super Sandwich & Brain Freezes

Folks used to sit on the porch shootin’ the breeze. For many now, the porch is a cubicle and the breeze is digital. These are a few of the stories floating around our cyber porch today.

#1  Some are supposedly searching  for the “cow of the future,” a next-generation creature whose greenhouse gas emissions would be cut by anti-methane pills, burp scanners, and gas backpacks. Most of us just think the cows we know are going to continue chewing their cuds and reading old Far Side cartoons.

#2  A safety campaign called "Keep Kids Away from Tractors" will probably raise some controversy. Regardless of opinions, we hope all farmers and their kids stay safe as the growing season revs up this spring.

#3  Can you spell “silly”?  This “Alphabet Sandwich” has 26 different toppings, each one starting with a different letter of the alphabet.

#4  They stain tongues green, red, and blue—not to mention the sugar highs and self-induced brain freezes. But every year 7,290,000 gallons of Slurpee are consumed worldwide. This site examines the history of this icy treat.  
dan gogerty (photo from

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Grammar, Style, and Steak on the Grill

Doc Callahan—retired professor, part-time farmer, and full-time front-porch pontificator—occasionally helps us with our letters-to-the-editor. Today he focuses on questions of grammar, style, and meaning.

At this time of year, I don’t mind being called a “steakholder.” The polar vortex has crawled back north, farmers are sitting in their cabs making tractor noises as they anticipate planting season, and barbeques are sending off smoke signals in our midwestern town. I like holding a steak and watching the coals get just right.

On the other hand, a recent press release CAST sent out used the word “steakholder,” and the A-1 Sauce hit the fan. CAST’s announcement offers editing services for agricultural written material—but a few readers must have skipped straight to looking for typos rather than reading for content.They scolded us for our misuse of "steakholder."

If you examine the CAST announcement below, you will see that several words were misused on purpose—“overlook, choke, steakholder”—to emphasize the need for proofreading. If a company is communicating with stakeholders, it’s important to catch typos and misused homonyms. But reading for content is also important. Nowadays, many of us quickly read a large amount online—or we read other languages like Twitterese.

Whatever the occasion, proper grammar and style still loom large in the world of communication. Sew, if your like I and worried about missteaks, feel free to contact CAST Editing Services. It will impress your readers—and maybe your steakholders, too.   

Splitting Infinitives, Dangling Participles, and  
Dealing with the Elusive M-Dash  

CAST Offers New Editing Services 

We've all read about grammar or proofreading mistakes that communicate humor more than the message intended. It could be the job application that includes a line such as, "Here are my qualifications for you to overlook." Or a company might send out an offer that misses the mark: "We have put together a series of videos that are choke full of usable content that your steakholders can use immediately."

Grammar and style issues become even more important when executives are writing company documents or experts are composing scientific research papers. Typos and diction errors are one thing; syntax and proper citation are another. No matter how accomplished a writer might be, proofreading is a challenge, and proper formatting is a key to successful publications.

The Council for Agricultural Science and Technology would like to help you with your publications, websites, books, newsletters, and other printed forms of communication. Grammatical errors, confusing punctuation, and choppy syntax give your readers the wrong impressions--and in some cases, they can be "deal breakers." Any document you release must look its best in order to promote your organization and attest to its credibility. CAST editors will add that layer of polish that your piece deserves.

The editing staff at CAST has many years of experience, and they can put that expertise to work for you. Services include basic copyediting, website copyediting, proofreading, layout, indexing, and more.

Contact: Carol Gostele, Managing Scientific Editor, * 515-292-2125 ext. 226