Monthly Archives: October 2011

Dear Vending Machine in the Math and Science Building

Dear Vending Machine in the Math and Science Building,

You fiend.

After months of hard, back-breaking, tongue-searing work, I have finally instilled a Pavlovian response in myself that causes me to crave sour candy every time I begin my trek from the Modern Languages building to the Math and Science building.  This has been difficult, as I have had to eat Sour Patch Kids or Sour Jacks in nearly every Statistics class period in order to achieve this outcome.  Had I not been so dedicated to this cause, I certainly wouldn’t have had a true Pavlovian response (minus the drooling).  My dedication has truly been inspiring to my peers and sour candy eaters everywhere.

But you, you conniving, horrible villain…You have ruined me.  Basically, as soon as I had developed this response, you stopped carrying sour candy.  Gone are your plastic-encased, citric-acid-coated wonders.  Gone are my dreams of  a headshot in the Pavlovian Hall of Fame.  My hopes and cravings for delicious, chewy Sour Patch Kids (and delicious, chewy success) are disappointed day after day.  My Pavlovian response weakens every time you fail to have the proper candy, keeping me from reaching my goals.

I just hope you realize the magnitude of what you have done.  I will not be speaking with you until you rectify the situation.



P.S. No, Swedish Fish are not an acceptable replacement.

Dear Fellow Students

Dear Fellow Students,

I understand your confusion.  Truly, I do.  I, too, am also plagued by the misunderstandings that accompany the misuse or nonuse of hyphens.

As your apparent puzzlement indicates, you are well aware of the purpose of the hyphen.  You know that when two words which modify one another are used to modify a third word, the initial two words should be hyphenated.  For instance, let’s take the completely arbitrary words “Tobacco”, “Free” and “Campus” to make the phrase “Tobacco Free Campus”. Without a hyphen, this phrase is much like the Wonder Twins without their rings of power: kind of confusing, a little awkward, and possibly useless.  The phrase could be taken to mean that you are currently standing on a campus that is made entirely of tobacco and to which entrance is free of charge.  You could also interpret the phrase to mean that tobacco products are hurled at students on this campus with no expectation of compensation (albeit, that requires a slight stretch of the imagination).

However, insert the ring of power (the hyphen, in this case) into the equation, and, as surely as those Twins of Wonder will transform into a puddle of water and a walrus, the vague phrase is changed to one that makes perfect sense: a “Tobacco-Free Campus” is clearly a campus on which tobacco products are prohibited.

Now, the school which we attend does not appear to understand how confounding some phrases can be without hyphens.  They have placed signs throughout the buildings which could be interpreted in any of the ways listed above.  Yes, they should have had the signs checked by a copy editor.  Yes, you are evidently baffled by their meaning.  Never fear.  I am here to clear things up once and for all.

I feel confident in saying that, despite the lack of hyphens, the signs posted on every entrance and exit door on campus do have one correct interpretation, which is as follows:

Stop filling the balconies where I study with your disgusting cigarette smoke.

Glad I could help you out in your quest for truth.