John McIntyre, whom James Wolcott calls "the Dave Brubeck of the art and craft of copy editing," writes on language, editing, journalism, and other manifestations of human frailty. Comments welcome. Identifying his errors relieves him of the burden of omniscience. Write to firstname.lastname@example.org, befriend at Facebook, or follow at Twitter: @johnemcintyre. Back 2009-2012 at the original site, http://weblogs.baltimoresun.com/news/mcintyre/blog/ and now at www.baltimoresun.com/news/language-blog/.
Monday, February 15, 2010
Happy birthday, Mr. President
George Washington’s birthday is actually February 22, but federal law makes the holiday the third Monday in February. For the first few years of his life, Washington marked birthday was February 11, because in 1732 Britain had not yet adopted the popish Gregorian calendar.
Since the intention of the holiday is to honor the presidency and all presidents, President’s Day looks like a bad choice. You can choose between Presidents Day, which the Associated Press Stylebook prefers, for what that’s worth, or Presidents’ Day.
Today is also Snow day 11 in my reckoning of the Baltimore Nopocalypse, and I can report with pleasure that mobility has been restored at 5516 Plymouth.
Yesterday Kathleen recruited three teenage youths from Trinity Church to help clear Roselawn from our garage to the intersection with Plymouth Road.
J.P. had been out in the morning, making calculations. He measured the distance from the garage to Plymouth Road, the width of our Malibu, and the depth of the snow. He filled a cardboard box with a cubic foot of snow and weighed it — eleven pounds. His determination was that we would have to shift 18,000 pounds of snow, nine tons, to clear the street, and I am in no position to challenge the mathematics of a St. John’s College graduate.
Fortunately, no one had told the three teenagers that the task was impossible, and they went to work with a will. Kathleen, J.P. and I picked up our shovels and were joined by two neighbors, Robin and Harry. In a little over two hours, the eight of us had cleared one lane of the street down to pavement.
Maneuvering the Malibu out of the garage for the first time in nine days, I drove Kathleen and J.P. to the Hamilton Tavern for a celebratory dinner. Try the jalapeno-cheese fritters.