Tuesday, March 18, 2014

dentists, math, and the butchering of the english language

I survived the dentist yesterday.

But I didn't like it. Don't get me wrong.

Luckily, there were no cavities to report. And the hygienist (a male, I might point out. My dentist office is so progressive- a male hygienist and a female dentist! What glass ceiling, Athens?? Haha) even complimented my 'big ol' horse teeth,' as Matt so graciously puts it. He said he would have expected them to be worse after two years away. So I feel like that was a compliment? Maybe I have low standards. Anyway, he did give me the requisite 30-minute long lecture about flossing as he stabbed away with his silver stabby thing. At least he didn't ask questions, though. This guy must have been top in his class- he realized that people can't respond when their mouths are full of hands and stabby things! Genius.

It did give me time to meditate and think about the topic at hand, though. Flossing. Like...eww. I know I should do it more often. Daily, even, as ol' Mr. Hygienist would say. I just don't. Then I was like 'maybe I should try for 30 days! If I do it every day for 30 days, won't it be a habit? I can do 30 days. A 30 Day Floss Challenge!!' And then I had this great idea to make it a social media 'thing,' like every other 'challenge' or daily thing that everyone reports in on and hashtags and what not? I mean, that's great accountability, right? And wouldn't you just love for your Instagram feed to be full of used dental floss??? HAHAHA. Lucky for you I nixed the idea pretty fast. If I do the 30 Day Floss Challenge, I'll keep it to myself. Well, myself and my dentist. I feel like this is the kind of thing dentists would get really excited about, so I'll be sure to share the news with them.

Alright...anyone else finding that their calendar for the next few weeks is dictated by Ulta's amazing '21 Days of Beauty Steals'?? No, just me?

Every day there's a 'daily steal' that is (generally) AWESOME and a truly good deal. They change every day. This means that if you want to capitalize on the three weeks...you find yourself needing to go to Ulta a lot of days. I'm sure this was the point of the whole thing, but like...sheesh. Twist my arm. What a tragedy to have to go to Ulta so many days. Matt has taken to asking "do we need to go to Ulta today?" every morning in the car. That there's a good man.

I'm also spending time trying to project my Ulta spending for the year to best capitalize on the new reward points system. Brightest Bulb in the Box (re)posted a really interesting article over the weekend that analyzes the new system. I generally avoid things that reek of math, but since this math actually applies to my life, I bravely read the whole thing and think that I mostly comprehend it. This is why I took calculus in college...so that when I was 31, I could get the most out of makeup reward programs. WOO! (PS. No actual calculus is involved in that article, but there is a graph.) Anyway, if you anticipate shopping at Ulta during the next year, you should check out Ulta Points: Spend or Save? A Mathematical Analysis.  

Finally, a brief rant. It's almost a grammar rant, but not technically grammar. In the past few weeks, I've found my eyes and ears repeatedly assaulted by people misusing a common phrase (conjunction). I've seen it on blogs, semi-legit news articles, and then the final straw-- ON the NEWS on TV last night. It's bothering me to the point that I can't stay quiet anymore...and also, there's a tiny part of me that thinks what if I am the one who's wrong? What if I am misusing and misunderstanding the way to use this phrase? But then...naaaah. So I'll rant away.

It's the use of the words "much less" when comparing two things. 

For example (correct examples, I believe), I might say "I can't run a mile, much less a marathon" or "I can't afford a McDonald's hamburger, much less a five-star dinner at Bacchanalia."

In my opinion, you're supposed to say the lesser/more generic of the two things you're comparing first. Then after the 'much less,' you say the more extreme or dramatic item. Right??

But lately I've been noticing people doing it backwards. Like "I can't read my Bible every day, much less twice a week." Huh? 

Last night on the news, the police officer they were interviewing did it. He was talking about a heinous double-murder in Atlanta allegedly committed by a 14-year-old (yikes...welcome to Atlanta??). He said "I can't believe a 14-year-old would be committing such a gory murder, much less any crime."

I mean, I almost fell off my treadmill. IT DOESN'T MAKE SENSE LIKE THAT!!! Does it?? Is this one of those things where now everyone agrees that using a word/phrase the completely opposite way is okay, like with 'literally'?? Because I'm not okay with that. This is the kind of thing that needs to go to a vote. Do you support using literally to also mean 'figuratively'? No, no I do not. Do you support using 'much less' to not mean 'much less' and make no sense at all? No. Not that, either. I can be open-minded about a lot of things, but NOT THIS.

Please tell me I'm not the only one.


  1. If you're taking about "much less" then the "much less" should come first. Otherwise it makes no sense. Right?!
    I challenge you to floss daily, please! #erikaflossesdaily Pretty please!

  2. Yeah, that makes zero sense. Absolutely zero.

    Flossing... umm, my dad is a dentist... I don't floss every day... Imagine my childhood.

  3. Once you floss regularly, going to bed without flossing feels like going to bed without brushing your teeth. It becomes a habit pretty quickly!

  4. So I went to Mirriam-Webster online (http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/much%20less) and they are really confusing. I feel like they use it both ways. Here are their two examples, discuss amongst yourselves.

    example after definition: "had trouble paying for a car, much less a high-definition TV"

    example of usage: "After spraining his ankle, the gymnast hadn't been expected to appear in today's event, much less win it."

    PS. The phrase "much less" has now lost all meaning to me.

    PPS. After your very enlightening post I now ALWAYS use the Oxford Comma, even though I don't technically have to (being Canadian and all that), and I ALWAYS think of you when I do it :)

    PPSS. If you held a 30 Day Floss Challenge I bet a ton of people would participate and dentists everywhere would be happy!

    1. Um, weird. Their second example seems correct to me, but the first one is just weird. Maybe it makes sense if you're thinking that a car is more of a necessity and something that NEEDS to be owned (and paid for) before a 'luxury' like a TV? But in terms of cost, it seems like they're using it backwards. Bad example, M-W. Try again. In regards to your final PS...that brings up a good point- maybe we could get some dentists to sponsor the 30 day floss challenge??! FREE FLOSS FOR ALL!! Oh wait, that's still not actually exciting. Boo.

    2. To me, the "high-definition" part of the first example indicates that the M-W people meant to use it as a luxury item, as opposed to a "must-have" car. Also, maybe the assumption is that the car would be paid off in smaller monthly payments, while the TV would be a single big-ticket item, and thus harder to pay for? Anyway, I agree that the way the cop used the phrase makes no sense at all. :)

      Also, I have a dentist appointment next week that I am *not* looking forward to, despite a desperate month-before-the-appointment flossing regimen -- congrats on surviving your encounter!

  5. You will be shocked to know that I agree with you on all grammar fronts. In fact, the last few times I heard "much less" misused, I kept thinking that I needed to ask someone to clarify if maybe I was actually the one who's wrong. But now I'm sticking to my guns. Our way must be right!

    Also, I think it's unlike you to not floss every day. You're a responsible person. You have a get-ready-for-bed routine. Flossing only adds like 30 seconds to it, and could save you tons of money in potential future dental bills. Do it for 30 days to make the habit...and then just don't stop. You can do it!

  6. Wow! your face looks flawless!! Go Tarte!!

  7. The only rewards card I can manage to keep up with is the coffee card I have at work--buy 9, get the 10th free. That's the kind of math I can do ;) This probably also explains why most (re: all) of my makeup comes from Target.

    Your grammar observations continue to be spot on. Well done! You do not stand alone!

  8. OOKKKK Erika since we are obvi gym BFFs (AEAEAE) and this 21 days of beauty triggered my memory to let you in on the best news ever- did you hear about March Madness at the gym?

    It really should be called Bingo craziness because you have to fill out all 30 squares of classes by attending them. if you do you get a month FREE of a team training class (aka basically free monies).

    Plus you get to take things like yoga classes and fight club and things you have to pay for normally! No pressure, just opportunity ;) I'm just sharing the wealth of knowledge ya know?

  9. I do not understand how people can NOT floss daily! It takes so little time! And you feel better afterwards! I am passionate about this subject, as you might be able to tell...

  10. Ugh flossing- I try to include that as a new year resolution each year. Never works. I fall off the flossing wagon by the 3rd.... Every year!

  11. I've drank the Ulta koolaid. I need a copy of that sales paper ASAP please. And to know how to receive their invitations to financial ruin, I mean, how to have the sales papers sent to my house.

  12. I hate flossing. There. I said it. I will however attempt to do better. I also don't always brush before bed. I'm disgusting. I also now want to go to that fancy Atlanta restaurant you mentioned. I probably wouldn't even floss before I went.

  13. I'm with you on the "much less" topic. But people also use "Reiterate" all the time, when "iterate" means to repeat. So by "re-iterating" you are re-repeating something? I know it's an accepted term (even in the dictionary!) but it irks me all the time. I had a professor in University who would make you walk laps around the classroom if you used "reiterate" rather than iterate...so I guess it's ingrained in me. It's even worse because when I use "iterate", people are like "Don't you mean reiterate?" Blargh. Also, I use a waterpik for flossing...super easy and then you don't have to deal with floss!

  14. I hate flossing! I always get lectured too! Whoops!! And i have veneers so she always tell me how important it is for me because you can get an infection if you don't floss where the veneers are! So i know it's horrible & I always floss the first week or so after a dentist appointment, but then i stop. Ain't nobody got time for that! (Except apparently they do, judging by these comments.) I personally might sign up for 30-day floss challenge. Clearly i need some accountability in this area!

    P.S. I have veneers because i had 2 permanent teeth missing. They were never there. So i got veneers. (The things you learn about people!)

    P.S. again. I totally agree with you about "much less". I say it your way & have wondered why people say it the other way! But now that i think about the ACTUAL phrase "much less" i am confusing myself. I don't even know what it is supposed to mean anymore!

  15. The more I think about "much less," the more confused I get. But since I agree with you on every grammar rule you've posted, its only logical that you're right on this one too! You're kinda like the Emily Post of grammar, except way more fun and with a better sense of humor.

  16. I hate the dentist so very much. I love your Ulta obsession it makes me giggle :)

  17. I literally can't go to the dentist twice a year without getting stressed out, much less once a year.

    Also, I am a big fan of flossing and that's a legacy I hope to leave with my children... high hopes and dreams I have for them, right?

  18. you are right - the police man makes no sense. I have when people misuse these types of phrases!

    also, i had to smile at the Bachanalia reference - that is where we got engaged :-)

  19. Flossing is just one of those activities that makes dentists' lives a bit easier. It helps clean out the spaces between your teeth that your toothbrush can't reach. That part's important because it's where your teeth are most vulnerable to decay.
    Stephen Malfair @ DentistKelowna.ca


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