Thursday, September 29, 2011

Questioning my Intelligence Is Not Responsible for Silliness

This morning, I printed off a coupon from Barnes & Noble for a free beverage at their wonderful café. How exciting to open my email so very early in the morning and see the title “Enjoy a free beverage at our café!” Isn’t that thoughtful of Barnes & Noble?

Of course, it’s really a buy one, get one free deal, so there’s something a tad misleading about the email title. No matter. BOGO simply means I need to share with a friend because no one wants to see what two mochas with whipped cream and caramel drizzle will do to me since one tends to leave me feeling just short of a manically perky, homicidal speed freak. Especially on an empty stomach.

My plan is to call Angela L. and invite her to meet me for a free mocha. Who knows? I may even splurge on a medium mocha this time. Angela and I can turn into a happily caffeinated team named Thelma and Louise.

I refuse to call a medium drink a grande, as Starbucks and Barnes & Noble Cafés do, because it’s not. The venti is the large, not the grande. And the tall, which I normally order, is really the small so I call it small. The barista inevitably repeats my order back to me: “That’s a tall mocha with skim milk, whipped cream, and caramel drizzle. Is that for here or to go?” It’s ridiculous. Call them what they are.

At least venti is Italian for 20, as in 20 ounces, which is just too much caffeine and sugar for a normal human to consume anyway. If they had had venti mochas back in the day, I’m sure Charles Manson could have used it as a defense.

How many people have ventied about the blatantly misleading marketing tricks employed by the most powerful drug coffee cartel ever? Perhaps it’s a cliché to do so, but I can’t help myself this morning.

I haven’t had enough good black Maululani coffee yet.

By the way, I’m composing this post in Microsoft Word, which is telling me that one of my sentences above needs to be corrected for grammar. I checked to see what Word advises. “That’s a tall mocha…” should be changed, according to the grammar wizards at Microsoft, to “That’s tall mocha….” Please, Microsoft, stop giving bad grammar advice. Just please.

Back to the Barnes & Noble coupon. My computer informed me that it needed to update my Adobe Acrobat program, so as I’m rather fond of reading Adobe files, I let it. As my computer restarted, I had nothing better to do than read the fine print on my Café coupon.

This isn’t as strange as you might think. You see, I used to write, edit, and proofread fine print, along with regular print and large print, or as Starbucks might say, tall print, grande print, and venti print. In one of my first proofreading jobs, at the prestigious literary journal South Atlantic Quarterly, I caught a major error in the fine print of the copyright page. The word would was missing its l. What sort of street cred can a literary journal have if it drops a letter and misspells would as woud?

I visited the SAQ office a few years later, and the staff were still talking about my brilliant save. Which goes to show that publishing folks have some really bizarre priorities.

Word is telling me that I misspelled woud and that the last sentence of my previous paragraph is a fragment. Duh. Sometimes we writers do things like that on purpose for rhetorical effect. This is why students who rely too much on MS Word for their style will never be successful bloggers. I pity them.

Am I venti-ing again? Sorry about that.

Back to Barnes & Noble’s fine print. Most of it reads as fairly standard disclaimers about the coupon not being redeemable for cash value, yadda, yadda, yadda. The last line, however, struck me as odd: “Barnes & Noble is not responsible for typographical or pictorial errors.”

Say what?

As the dedicated and conscientious publishing staff at South Atlantic Quarterly demonstrate, organizations and people that produce print material are, in fact, responsible for their typographical or pictorial errors, or at the very least, they should feel responsible. What kind of sloppy marketing department do they have at Barnes & Noble?

Given the clean, balanced layout and general grammatical correctness of the fine print on the coupon, I deduce that the desire to abstain from responsibility for typographical or pictorial errors must be the fault of the legal department.

That's right. Blame the lawyers.

I’m full of clichés this morning.

You’d never guess, but what I really want to talk about this morning is an article George found at Reuters with this extremely appealing headline:

"Coffee linked with lower depression risk in women."

I’m not sure why Reuters' style manual doesn’t call for initial caps throughout its headlines. I give them an A for consistency, though.

Reuters reports that researchers found a correlation between women who drink at least four cups of coffee a day and lower risk of depression. “The team focused specifically on coffee, but they had similar findings when they looked at overall caffeine consumption, including caffeinated soft drinks and chocolate. They found that women who were in the top fifth of caffeine consumption had a 20 percent lower risk of depression than women in the bottom fifth.”

Does Gretchen Reubin at The Happiness Project know about this? Probably.

If you are a chocolate-eating, coffee-drinking woman, you already know what it took countless research dollars for a bunch of MDs and PhDs to figure out. Caffeine (especially when combined with copious amounts of sugar) makes you happy.

Given this expert testimony from Harvard's School of Public Health, Charles Manson would never have walked free on a venti defense. Angela and I will not turn into Thelma and Louise if we drink a couple of medium mochas. No, we will turn into really hyper happy people who annoy other people to death with our over-flowing abundance of caffeinated joy.

The Reuters’ article goes on to say, “Animal studies have shown that caffeine protects against certain neurotoxins. And brain receptors that respond to caffeine are concentrated in the basal ganglia, an area that is important for both depression and Parkinson's disease. Ascherio [the lead researcher] said low-dose, chronic stimulation of these receptors may make them more efficient.”

Translation: your daily cups of coffee are really, really good for you.

Ascherio “stressed that the study does not prove that coffee lowers depression risk -- only that it might be protective against depression in some way. And many more studies will be needed to show whether coffee can be used to prevent depression….”

Dr. Ascherio, please sign me up for those studies.

Pretty please with caramel drizzle on top?


  1. I, honestly, laughed out loud! Brilliant, so true.....yet so brilliant. Excellent way to start my day. Grande thanks.

  2. LOL... what a brilliant post!

    I'm not a coffee drinker, but I do drink my fair share of Coke Zero (and I counter the low calories of my "diet" drink with copious amounts of chocolate...).

    It scares me to think how much worse I could have been with depression if I hadn't been guzzling the stuff! And it fills me with joy that the next time my mother comments disdainfully about the amount of weight I've gained (thanks to meds... and chocolate...) I can retort with "I need this Mum, it's for my health and mental wellbeing..."


  3. Oh, Susan, I am starting to worry. You are streaming MY consciousness, LOL!
    When I order a "regular skinny flat white", they say "So, that's a medium/large/grande skinny flat white?". I have to take a look at the cups on display to confirm what I really want. Yep, it's a regular, but named something different.
    And, as for Word "suggesting" changes... it irritates me no end. I usually look at it and think, "What??". I regularly tell my work colleagues AND my young (Word spell-check-dependent) friends/family that they need to get someone else to read their written communications to proof read, as spell-check does not work when you spell a word wrong that is actually a real word and correct in another context. And then I receive the usual rolled-eyes response as they hand over their work.
    I saw that caffeine and depression study the other day. It made me feel better that my one cup a day habit has ballooned to around two or three cups a day lately. :-)
    Thanks for giving me a laugh, I truly appreciate your conversations with us.

  4. I am seriously laughing out loud. I live in a very rural area. My experiences with places like Starbuck's and Barnes and Noble are quite few. I'm in no way an expert on coffee-talk, so it's frustrating to try to order. My poor DH always wants a regular, black coffee. He won't even try to order anymore. Great post today, Susan. I know now that the reason I am happy all the time is due to the large amount of coffee that I drink. Thanks for the info and the chuckle!

  5. While I've adjusted completely to Starbucks-speak when it comes to coffee-ordering, your comments on editing gave me a good chuckle! Rules I break frequently: Don't start sentences with conjunctions. Don't end them with prepositions. Don't split infinitives. Use real, dictionary-approved words. Ha.

    I'm also tired of reading "defiantly" when students meant "definitely" but didn't spend enough time spell-checking to tell the computer which word to choose. What makes me sad is when I ask students to write about a personal experience and the one guy in the back always asks, "Can we use first person?" Poor kids.

    Speaking of fine print and legal departments: have you noticed that some (all of?) the legal warnings at the beginning of DVDs prohibit showing said DVDs on oil rigs? That's awfully specific, if you ask me.

    Thanks for the chuckles, as always :)

  6. Well, I don't drink coffee... really can't stand it so depression here I come!

  7. Make mine a soy mocha latte with whip and I'm in!!!! Love it and I can prove, without a study, it works... after all, I am a teacher!!!!

    We always drink coffee. You should see the looks the 'pot' gets when it sits empty or idle. lol

    Wished I lived closer and I would join Angela and you for coffee induced feelings of abundant joy, but many here think I can do without any further joy ... I am naturally 'high' as it is... oh, well... what's a little MORE joy!

    Have fun and be joyful,
    Marilyn in Magnolia, Texas

  8. I thoroughly enjoyed your post today!

  9. Loved this post, Susan! Unfortunately, our Barnes and Noble that is within walking distance of our house has SHUT DOWN the Starbuck's that it housed...not as much fun to go to the bookstore anymore!! Now I just run in to pick up my craft mags and go home, where I can get that lovely caffeine and browse my magazines. Kind of defeats the purpose of walking to the store to get that Pumpkin Spice Latte or Cafe Mocha and "working" off the calories...that's my excuse for not exercising, and I'm sticking to it!! Have a great day!

  10. You do remember I WORK for Starbucks right??? -- LOL --
    If you wanna call the sizes small, medium or large -- makes no nevermind to me! I'll just say it back to you correctly!! :0

    Love your writing!

  11. What a great post! I am sipping my home-brew and giggling all the way through this - I love the factoids about coffee (chocolate) as much as your digressions into editing! (I, too, get annoyed with MS)

    Thanks for the fun!

  12. Hey Susan - you are so brilliant with word!! Love reading your work. You should write a book ... about a girl who made cards ... LOL!!!


Thanks so much for taking time to comment!