If you want to be understood better, write better. — Steve Edwards

UW-Madison Writer’s Handbook

Grammar Girl :: Quick and Dirty Tips ™➚

Common Errors by Prof. Paul Brians at WSU

Remember the FANBOYS Rule for Proper Comma Usage – Melanie Pinola

Commas handout – The Writing Center – UNC

Google Search Tips

2 minutes long

  • “Pancakes are amazing” – search for an exact match by using quotes
  • jaguar speed -car – exclude words by using a minus sign
  • “worst * ever” – asterisks can be placeholders for unknown words
  • @techinsider – an @ in front of a word will search social media
  • Alien OR Intel – use the word “OR” to combine searches
  • computer $400 – the dollar sign can search for prices
  • computer $400..$800 – combine with two periods to search a range of numbers
  • history – search a specific site by using “site:”
  • – or find related sites by using “related:”
  • many of these can be combined – giving you the exact results you want

Tech Insider [YouTube channel] – published on Jun 7, 2017

The 25 Horses Puzzle [YouTube / MindYourDecisions]


9 minutes long – pause at 1:35

It’s not too hard if you think about it. Supposedly, this is or was a question given during interviews at Google.



Don’t Compare Yourself to Others [YouTube / PragerU]

by Tom Shillue – 4½ minutes long

Have you ever envied someone else’s success? Do you sometimes wish you had another person’s life? Well, comedian Tom Shillue explains why comparing yourself to other people will put you on the fast track to an unhappy life.

Published: Feb 13, 2017 by Prager University (➚

Can you solve “The Bridge Riddle?” [YouTube / TED-Ed Riddle]

3⅚ minutes long – pause at 2:00

I gave up because it looked impossible. It is possible though.

This riddle’s solution is similar to the following one, the River Crossing Riddle. In both cases you seem to have to take back some of the progress you have made to finish the crossing task.

4⅓ minutes long – pause at 0:58

Maxine, Not Voting, and the Electoral College


Whether you vote or not, the government is going to tax and harass you until death (and even then they tax your estate) — I say go ahead and complain about it, no matter if you voted or not or even voted for third party candidate.

If you say you don’t vote (for president), because your vote doesn’t count – you know what? – your vote does count in the state you live in. In California, which for now consistently votes for Democrats, if enough Democrats in California don’t vote then the state will swing back to Republican. California has voted Republican as recently as 1988, actually from 1968 to 1988. Arizona and Colorado used to vote solidly Republican, now Colorado votes Democrat and Arizona is very close to voting Democrat. Your single vote does count in those states.

The candidates and everyone involved in the campaigns know the rules for winning when running for President of the United States. -Steve

Do You Understand the Electoral College?

5 minutes long

What is the Electoral College?➚  (

Can you solve “Einstein’s Riddle?” [YouTube / TED-Ed Riddle]

5⅕ minutes long – pause at 1:37

Not too hard, but it will take a while to solve.

Buttermilk Waffles – 3 ways (original and lowered cholesterol)

I use the MyFitnessPal app and➚ website to track caloric intake, weight, and exercise. On the website they have nice tool, a web page, where you can enter a recipe or the link (URL) to a recipe and it will figure out the calories and all sorts of other dietary information for that recipe. You do have to check its work – correct (edit) the ingredients and quantities, but once you have done that it is easy to add one serving to your diary. I was told to lower my cholesterol intake by my doctors and this tool really helped.

This is a recipe for buttermilk waffles made three ways; I think they all come out excellent. I lowered the cholesterol in the variations by using egg substitute and then by replacing half the butter with extra virgin olive oil. The nutritional information from the MyFitnessPal recipe calculator is shown below. They all have about the same calories for one waffle, around 370, but the cholesterol milligrams (mg) are 114, 41, and 25. I have read that normally you should have no more than 300 mg per day – 200 mg per day if you have an elevated cholesterol level. The main culprit that has high cholesterol content is egg yolk. Egg substitutes easily get rid of the yolk and are still good for scrambling or using in recipes. The Brummel & Brown➚ spread (tastes like real butter!) is also an excellent substitute for butter (which is somewhat high in cholesterol.) It’s great for buttering waffles, toast, bagels, rolls, etc. I would not recommend cooking or baking with it.– Steve

Buttermilk Waffles

with chopped pecans, Brummel & Brown spread in background

Yield: 5 seven-inch-round Belgian waffles

Mix dry ingredients in a large bowl:

  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 tbsp. sugar, granulated
  • 2 tsp. baking powder
  • 1 tsp. baking soda
  • ½ tsp. salt

Melt butter and mix wet ingredients in a medium bowl:

  • 2 cups buttermilk (2%)
  • 5 tbsp. melted butter, unsalted –OR– 2½ tbsp. extra virgin olive oil and 2½ tbsp. butter
  • 2 large (50 g each), eggs –OR– ½ cup egg substitute, e.g. Egg Beaters or Eggstirs (Publix)
  • 1 teas. vanilla extract

Mix wet ingredients into dry until fairly well blended, a few small lumps are okay – do not over mix.

Let stand 5 minutes. Heat waffle iron to medium-high. Do not spray the iron unless directed to by the manufacturer. Mine (pictured above) has a ceramic-teflon coating that does better without the spray.

Pour about 1½ ladles of the mixture into the iron, spread around a little, optionally top with chopped pecans. Close lid, press down a little and cook until steaming stops, about 4 to 5 minutes. Cook another minute for a browner, crispier waffle.

This is the nutritional info generated by➚ from plain waffles (no nuts, no spread) made three ways: 1) original recipe, all butter & real eggs; 2) egg substitute and all butter; 3) egg substitute and ½ butter and ½ olive oil.

1) real eggs and all butter

2) egg substitute & all butter

3) egg substitute, half butter & half olive oil

8 Tips to Cut Back on Soda – MyFitnessPal


gerald-g-fast-food-drinks-ff-menu-5-300pxCutting back on added sugar from soda can do wonders for your health. Here are 8 ways to make it happen.

Please read her article, I want her to get full credit, but here is a summary: scale back slowly with a schedule, find tasty alternatives, say “no soda” at certain events, break your soda routine, tell your friends and family so they can hold you accountable, and allow yourself to have a few sodas a month.

So You Want to Stop… Drinking Soda➚ (~1100 words)
from➚ by Elle Penner

Elle: Back in 2006 I decided I wanted to rid myself of a dependence on artificial sweeteners, so naturally I started with soda. Over the course of about a year I went from drinking 2-3 sodas per day to 2 to 3 per month. I still very much enjoy a cola with my cheeseburger and french fries, but now that I drink it so much less frequently, I have no problem treating myself to the real deal. – Elle Penner, M.P.H., R.D., is the Senior Registered Dietitian and Food & Nutrition Editor at MyFitnesssPal and Under Armour Connected Fitness.

I use the MyFitnessPal app and website to track caloric intake, weight, and exercise. When you sign up you can opt-in to receive health related emails such as this one about cutting back on soda. On the website they have nice area where you can enter a recipe or the link (URL) to a recipe and it will figure out the calories and all sorts of other dietary information for that recipe. Please see this post about how I used their tool to modify a recipe for Buttermilk Waffles to cut the cholesterol from 114 mg to 25 mg without losing any of the taste, texture or quality. – Steve

Is sugar the world’s most popular drug?➚

It eases pain, seems to be addictive and shows every sign of causing long-term health problems. Is it time to quit sugar for good? (~4600 words)

Gary Taubes – – 5 January 2017


Why working out is great for health, but not for weight loss, explained in five minutes. (Hint: Consume fewer calories.)



An excellent choice for replacing soda. YouTube / TED-Ed video (~5 minutes long)



November 8, 2016: Added YouTube TED-Ed video about “If You Didn’t Drink Water?”

January 22, 2017: Added link to article “Is sugar the world’s most popular drug?”

February 1, 2017: Added YouTube Vox video about working out and weight loss.

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