Order Of Operators And The Dinner Menu

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When people write dinner menus, they need to be more exact. For instance, a dish might have the following name:

Fresh Northwest Dungeness Crab And Shrimp Cakes

English, like mathematics has a certain set of operators and operands. For instance, when presented with some adjectives, you know they end up adjusting a noun. When given a word like “and,” you know that it is a connective. In math, though, unlike English, you know exactly what order in which to carry out your operations. When presented with a long string of math, you know that multiplication always comes before addition. In this way, you know that 3+3*5 is going to be 18. If you wanted it to be 35, you would have to use parentheses like so: (3+3)*5. This ensures you know the two 3’s need to be grouped together first before applying the five. With the above English text, you have no way of knowing which of the following it is:

  1. (Dungeness crab and shrimp) cakes
  2. (Dungeness crab) and (shrimp cakes)

In fact, because of all of the adjectives, I assumed the crab would be separate and special. I was expecting crab legs with some shrimp cakes on the side. I was mistaken. The crab, which got all sorts of special adjectives, was mashed up with the shrimp and pressed into small cakes. Had I know, I would have just ordered crab and vegetables, and hoped they were not similarly mashed together.


The whole concept of having a big giant furnace strikes a cord in my that is slightly romantic for the days of yore. Today, it belched and sputtered for the first time since I have moved in. The reality of the situation is slightly less than romantic. Being oil powered, a little motor pumps in fuel oil from the 275 gallon tank. This motor is less than quiet.

Right now, I feel like I have a maid in the basement with a vacuum cleaner. Of course, I cannot afford a maid, and have no idea what he or she may be doing with a vacuum cleaner in the concrete basement. Hopefully, I will learn to tune out the whine of the electric motor.

Also: fuel oil is expensive. I have not yet calculated how much I am spending for every second that I hear “the vacuum cleaner,” but it adds up.


I want. My current Treo is about 5 years old and is seriously cracking (and scratching) at the edges. Finally, they offer a Treo that is an upgrade and not simply a “cross-grade.” As soon as T-Mobile starts offering these babies, I will kill off Cingular (whose contract has expired and whose service, since obtaining AT&T, has been verily filled with much suck) and get a new (area code 503) number.

Posted in: Dear Diary

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