Revisiting Grammar 

Posted: October 13, 2016 in Writing

1.0 Subject

We’ll start with something basic. This is a biggie, because almost every sentence has one: the subject. It’s the word or phrase that performs the action in a sentence. (“Action” here is being used loosely; many sentences have nothing we’d typically call “action.” Another way of putting it is that the subject is the word or phrase that does the “doing” or “being” in a sentence, whatever that doing or being may be.) To get all grammar-splainy here, subjects are technically nouns, noun phrases, or pronouns. Here are some subjects being subjects, but in bold:

I hear yodeling.

The yodeling is coming from over there.

Information about grammar can apparently be yodeled.

Those grammarians are excellent yodelers.

There is another yodeling grammarian.

We are surrounded by yodeling grammarians.


Note that the subject usually comes first. In the fifth sentence, though, it comes after the verb is. This is because the there at the beginning of the sentence is really just a place holder.

Note too that not every sentence has a visible subject. In the last sentence, there is an understood (and, in this case, desperately hoped-for) subject that is “you” (or “someone” or “anyone”).

2.0 Predicate

The word predicate has two grammar-related meanings. One is simple, and that’s the one we’re treating here. Predicates are usually everything in a sentence or clause that’s not the subject. (A clause is a part of a sentence that has its own subject and verb.) They express what is said of the subject, and usually consist of a verb and other stuff that’s not the subject. Here are some predicates in bold:

I had a dream about those yodeling grammarians last night.

People who are not grammarians yodel too, but I don’t dream about them.

Here come yet more yodeling grammarians.

Please don’t yodel anymore, grammarians.

The predicate is often much bigger than the subject. As the second sentence shows, though, it can be smaller. If clauses are joined by a conjunction like but, or, and, or although, the conjunction isn’t part of the predicate.

3.0 Nouns and Verbs

If you’re interested enough in grammar to have made it this far, you likely feel pretty confident about your understanding of what nouns and verbs are. Both are super important, though, so we’ll review them here anyway.

Teachers often tell us that a noun is a person, place, or thing. That’s mostly right. A more nuanced definition is that a noun is a word that refers to a thing (book), a person (Betty Crocker), an animal (cat), a place (Springfield), a quality (softness), an idea (justice), or an action (yodeling).

You may think of verbs as “action words” but that too is a little oversimplified. Verbs can express an action (yodel), an occurrence (develop), or a state of being (exist). They’re often the grammatical center of the predicate and typically have full descriptive meaning and characterizing quality—except when they don’t; some verbs really only serve to connect, like the is in Grammar is complicated.

Verbs have multiple forms. The basic form is called the infinitive. It’s the stripped-down form like, yodel or flee.

Nouns and verbs often go about with other word-friends. Sometimes they form noun phrases or verb phrases. Such phrases can do a lot of the same things that nouns or verbs alone can do. To qualify as a noun or verb phrase, a group of words must: express a single idea; function as a single part of speech; not include both a subject and a predicate. Noun phrases refer to one of the things nouns refer to and answer the question “What?” or “Who?” Verb phrases express what verbs express: an action, occurrence, or state of being.

4.0 Pronoun
A pronoun is a word that is used instead of a noun or noun phrase. Pronouns refer to either a noun that has already been mentioned or to a noun that does not need to be named specifically.

The most common pronouns are the personal pronouns. These refer to the person or people speaking or writing (first person), the person or people being spoken to (second person), or other people or things (third person). Several of the personal pronouns have singular and plural forms. Like nouns, personal pronouns can function as either the subject of a verb or the object of a verb or preposition. Most of the personal pronouns have different subject and object forms.

Here are some personal pronouns in bold:

I hear the grammarians yodeling again.

They have been yodeling since noon.

Do you think he or she can make them stop?

We have had problems with yodeling grammarians before.

5.0 Object

While the subject performs the action (or does the doing or being) in a sentence, an object is on the receiving end. There are two main kinds of objects: direct and indirect. Direct objects are more common. They indicate the person or thing that receives the action of a verb:

The grammarians are yodeling a song about nouns.

In this sentence, the direct object is a song about nouns. It receives the action of are yodeling; it answers the question “What are the grammarians yodeling?”

An indirect object can only occur if there’s already a direct object, and it only occurs after some verbs. An indirect object indicates the person or thing that receives what is being done or given—that is, who or what is on the receiving end of the direct object. It comes between the verb and the direct object:

I gave the yodeling grammarians a dirty look, but they kept yodeling.

“A dirty look” is the direct object because it’s the thing that’s given. “The yodeling grammarians” is the indirect object because the yodeling grammarians are the ones who receive the dirty look that’s given.

Plenty of sentences don’t have either kind of object:

Yodeling grammarians are a dime a dozen these days.

Although the phrase “a dime a dozen” comes right after the verb—which is definitely direct and indirect object territory—the phrase does not receive the action of the verb are.

There’s a third kind of object we haven’t mentioned yet: the object of a preposition. More on those on the next page, in the part about prepositions.

6.0 Prepositions

Prepositions show direction, location, or time, or introduce an object. They are usually followed by an object—a noun, noun phrase, or a pronoun. The most common prepositions are little and very common:

at, by, for, from, in, of, on, to, with

Also common are:

about, above, across, after, against, along, among, around, because of, before, behind, below, beneath, beside, between, close to, down, during, except, inside, instead of, into, like, near, off, on top of, onto, out of, outside, over, past, since, through, toward, under, until, up, upon, within, without

Prepositions typically show how the noun, noun phrase, or pronoun is related to another word in the sentence.

a grammarian friend of mine

the grammarian with the fierce yodel

assaulted by someone who was sick of hearing yodeling

everyone except that yodeling grammarian

Prepositions with their objects form prepositional phrases.

7.0 Gerund

A gerund is a kind of noun that looks suspiciously like a verb. Gerunds end in -ing, just like the present participle of a verb (i.e., an -ing verb; don’t worry, we’ll get to that one). In fact, you can’t tell the difference between a gerund and an -ing verb until you see it in action. If it’s a gerund, it’ll be acting like a noun, as in these examples:

Yodeling is not all those grammarians can do. (Yodeling is the subject of the sentence.)

Don’t pretend you’re not impressed by their yodeling. (Yodeling is the object of the preposition by.)
8.0 Participles

Almost all verbs have two important forms called participles. Participles are forms that are used to create several verb tenses (tenses show when an action happened); they can also be used as adjectives.

The present participle always ends in -ing; it’s the form that looks just like a gerund: yodeling, remembering, going. The past participle usually ends in -ed (yodeled, remembered), but there are plenty of exceptions to that rule, such as forgotten and gone. (The past participle is usually the same at the plain old past tense (yodeled, remembered), but not always: forgot, went.)

As we said above, a participle can also be used as an adjective (that is, to describe a noun or pronoun). A present participle (an -ing word) describes the person or thing that causes something; for example, an invigorating yodel is one that invigorates. A past participle (usually an -ed word) describes the person or thing who has been affected by something; for example, an invigorated person is one who has been affected by invigoration. Or good yodeling.

Sometimes, when you’re feeling your lowest, the real you is summoned. And you understand, maybe for the first time ever, how grand you are, because you discover that vulnerable doesn’t mean powerless, scared doesn’t mean lacking in beauty, and uncertainty doesn’t mean that you’re lost. These realizations alone will set you on a journey to take you far beyond what you used to think of as extraordinary. 

There is always a bright side

The Universe

Let the fun begin. Solar install is underway. Broke ground yesterday.  I’ll provide more thoughts and details in future posts.

holes for patio cover which will have 14 Solar panels installed on its roof

boxed mini split HAC system, 22.3 SEER. old service panel will be replaced.

Steps to complete:

Utility application – Complete

Engineering – Complete 

Permit issued – Complete

Holes for solar rack completed. Hole size 2′ x 2′ x 3′ – pending inspection

Received Mini-split (added to project)

Electrical service panel install underway

Install mini-split – future

Finalize Solar System material list. Send to advisors for review. Underway.

Order solar system material – future

Schedule solar installers – future

Install solar system – future

Recieived permission to operate from utility – future

Packsaddle Cave Trail, Fairview, CA.

May 14, 2016

Rocket gives perpective to size of cave. It was surprisingly large.

Many beautiful flowers along the way. Trail has minimum switch backs so it is steep in places.

Watch your head!

looking out from cave entrance.


– This was a fair weather fun hike with great views of the north fork of the kern river, the greenhorn mountains, and the granite peaks of the dome wilderness area, and at the turn-around point, a cave to explore. This is the perfect time to hike this trail – flowers in bloom, water in the creek, moderate temperature, and blue sky.
– Physically, the trail challenges as desired – the hike can be done leisurely or you can run it, and the trail continues beyond the cave for those looking for more miles.

– This is a good hike to test your endurance and get a sense for what the Southern Sierra’s are about.

– As with any hike, be weather wise and be prepared.

– This area is beautiful and has recovered nicely from one of the largest forest fire in California, the McNally fire. Expect 3 to 4 hours of trail time (R/T) including frequent breaks to enjoy the vastness of the surrounding mountains, the golden chaparral, all the flowers and bush, and the ever present scent from the pine forests in the distance.


The Trail

– The trailhead is located 25km north of Kernville on mountain hwy. 99 just past McNally’s on the east side of the road. A large parking lot is located across the road from the trailhead. The trailhead is marked with a USFS brown painted wood sign.

– The trail begins as a service road before veering right (two rocks mark the trails path). If you miss the trail, you’ll end at a water tank where you can scramble up a short trail behind the tank up to join the trail above.

– The trail is well marked, maintained, and easy to follow. As are most trails in the Sierras, this trail is made of a mix of DG, small rocks, and mud at the water crossings. The trail has minimum switch-backs making the hike moderately steep in a few places.

– The trail ascends 270 meters in 1.5km, traverses a saddle and then drops 200 meters in 1km to the first creek crossing. The creek is shaded with trees and tall bush. There’s water in the creek and the first crossing is the perfect place to rest. The creek is easily crossed without getting wet. The trail continues up along the creek for another 1km to an obvious campsite. Looking north and up on side of the mountain, you can spot the cave entrance. Continue 0.5km on the steep trail from the campsite to the cave entrance. Please note trail distances and altitude numbers are rough estimates.

Packsaddle Cave

To begin, caves creep me out. OK, the cave has a large entrance and is walkable for first 50 meters, then requires the spelunker to crawl. Not sure of cave length (never made it to end). It’s a perfect 15c inside. The cave has many stacked conical calcium carbonate seeps. The cave looks like a good place for natives to sleep, or for a visiting Sadhu to contemplate life. At minimum, the cave is the perfect place to rest before returning.


– Flora. Flowers are in full bloom including lumpines, mustard, fiddle neck, cresol, poppy’s, and many others. Flower colors include yellows, reds, purples, whites.

– Fauna. Few birds and fewer squirrels. No snakes spotted but they’re certainly in the area (diamond back rattler, garter, gofers). No fish – the creek typically is dry by summer. Bugs – not many – a few nat’s and mosquitos. For the few bugs I encountered, repellent would have been overkill.

Other things to Consider

– Hike specific Hazards – Loose rocks under foot, bush sticking out into the trail. Bashing head on cave ceilings, getting lost in cave (if your light goes out, your screwed).

– Dogs. I brought mine. Rocket, a blue Queensland, loved the hike too! Dog has been given rattlesnake serum. I brought water for the dog, however, with the water in the creek, the water was not needed.

– Trekking Poles. I recommend using Trekking Poles on this hike. Because this trail is 99% up or down and rocky, the poles are very helpful. The poles transfer some of the load to the arms from the legs when climbing uphill and help keep the toes from getting crunched inside your shoes on the decent. I particularly enjoyed using the polls to steady myself to avoid slipping, tripping, and falling as I walked freely, and my eyes wondered the county side.

– Pack. I used a large black diamond fanny pack. I like keeping the pack weight on my hips if possible. I didn’t bring much – One liter of water, 2 bananas, 1 grapefruit. Oh yes, also brought moleskin and toilet paper in a Baggie.

– Other people – I saw 6 other hikers in 2 groups.

– Things that go on your feet. Sandals, Running Shoes or Hiking Boots? For this hike, boots are clearly the best choice. Boots are a much better for stability and comfort on the rocky, moderately steep in places, trail. That’s said, I hiked in running shoes (New Balance 997). With the assist from the trekking poles, the running shoes worked OK. Next time I would bring boots. Of course you’ll need excellent socks (so importanta!) and mole skin just in case of blisters. And sandals? Bad idea to hike in, however, excellent to have to change into after the hike.

– What else to wear in fair weather

Hat/visor – protection from sun.

Sweat Band – keeps the salty sweat out of my eyes

Sunglasses – it’s California!

Sunscreen – yep.

Light weight long or short sleeve shirt and shorts or pants. If you don’t mind a few nature scratches, there wasn’t much bush on the trail so shorts worked well for me.

– Places to spend money. Few. Nearby, there’s a small c-store and burgers spot (really good!) McNally’s restaurant is one of the best steak places in the county – a must try. And of course there’s one of the best breweries on the planet in Kernville 30km away.

– Other. Closest cell service is on the main road south 20km. Gas is 25km south.


All n all, we had a fine invigorating hike with plenty to see and the bonus of a real creepy cave to explore.


Have fun!

Trekking Poles

Posted: May 17, 2016 in Backpacking

I recommend using Trekking Poles when hiking in the Sierras.

The poles transfer some of the load to the arms from the legs when climbing uphill and help keep the toes from getting crunched inside your shoes on the decent. 

I particularly enjoy using the polls to steady myself to avoid slipping, tripping, and falling as I walk freely on the trail, and my eyes wonder the county side.

No man is an Iland

Posted: May 13, 2016 in Poems

No man is an Iland, intire of it selfe; every man is a piece of the Continent, a part of the maine; if a Clod bee washed aw
ay by the Sea, Europe is the lesse, as well as if a Promontorie were, as well as if a Mannor of thy friends or of thine owne were; any mans death diminishes me, because I am involved in Mankinde; And therefore never send to know for whom the bell tolls; It tolls for thee.— John Donne

The Utopia Myth India

Posted: May 13, 2016 in Book

Opulent and ornamentalist royal chic and utopian construction projects of future smart cities, point to the fundamentally aesthetic nature of utopias (Schulte-Sasse and Schulte-Sasse 1991). Aesthetics pro- vides the seductive form to mythical narratives, a concrete and yet fairy tale vision of the future. Such myths are not only able to move the affects of the members of the body politic, but also to push these affects in a desired direction (Citton 2010). It is no coincidence that the media was speaking of the ‘Modi
-wave’ of hope and joy; the slogan acche din aane wale hain spread like a contagion and, for a moment, even those who in reality are excluded from ‘brand India’ felt they could be a part of it, if only they cast the right vote. The mobilization of hope and joy is the most powerful tool available to populist politics and aesthetics plays an indispensable role here. This is how the elite manage to align the desire of the masses with their master-desire (Lordon 2014), and convince them to vote against their own interests, for a strong authoritarian leader and the extension of corporate interest. The problem with populist myths and the cultivation of certain illusions is not that they are myths; after all, we derive a great deal of pleasure and a sense of orientation from these myths. Revealing myths as simplistic or unrealistic does not help, since it does not rob them of their effectivity. Myths, ideologies and illusions are resistant to knowledge. We cultivate them even when we know better. The important question is here: towards what kind of future is this myth pushing us? The problem with the Indian utopian myth centred on the magical rate of growth, Hindu spirit and benevolent billionaires, is not that it is a myth, but that it is a bad myth (Citton 2010). It leads not only to environmental destruction but also, and more importantly, to the expulsion of millions of undesirables into further poverty, beyond the internal border of (good) ‘society’ itself, thus transforming them from citizens into an internal security threat.