Monday, July 11, 2016

Mourning the Death of has come to the end of it's road, though the links don't appear to have died yet by July 10th as indicated by several sources.

I've been writing for as the Minneapolis Pet News Examiner since January 2011. Though I haven't been as active in recent years as I'd like to be, it was always there as a writing outlet for me and on a topic that is very near and dear to my heart. Since I found out it will be shutting down, every time I've thought about Examiner or had an idea for an article, my heart has broken a little bit more to think it won't be there anymore.

Beyond the writing, it was a great place to read stories about what was going on, that might not get covered by traditional news stories.  For my pet niche in particular, it was a great resource for helping pets in high-kill shelters make it out alive and for drawing attention to animal abuse cases that might otherwise have been neglected. It really makes me wonder how will ever be replaced in the rescue world.

I'm holding out a tiny sliver of hope that maybe could be purchased by some other entity more interested in keeping it alive. But now it's July 11th and there have been no updates, so I'm fairly certain it's not going to happen. Fingers crossed!

In the meantime, I've downloaded all of my content and will be republishing it elsewhere when I have a little bit of time. For now, I'm hoping the links to my previous articles don't turn into 404 errors until I've had the chance to make the switch.

Additionally, my Minneapolis Pet News Examiner Facebook Page will always be around - there will always be pet news to share in my neck of the woods, even if I'm not the one writing the article. 

Goodbye, It's been a fun ride!

Thursday, May 12, 2016

10 Essential Music Albums

For the last week or so, one of my favorite radio stations - 89.3 FM The Current - has been counting down the top 893 essential albums, according to a survey of its listeners. Even though the music on The Current is generally good, it's been especially great during this project - I've had my radio glued to 89.3 for days!

And it got me to thinking: What are my top 10 most essential or influential albums?
These are the 10 albums that I remember the most and had the greatest hand in influencing my musical tastes. They're mostly in order of when I discovered them, not necessarily when they were released.
  1. Ricky Nelson - All My Best
  2. Michael Jackson - Thriller
  3. U2 - The Joshua Tree
  4. Garth Brooks - No Fences
  5. Metallica - (The Black Album)
  6. Tool - Aenima
  7. Offspring - Smash
  8. Dave Matthews Band - Before These Crowded Streets
  9. Florence and the Machine - Lungs
  10. Dessa - A Badly Broken Code
 And once I have it all written out, that's quite a hodge-podge of music. That's OK, because I listen to many types of tunes, and many of my favorite bands couldn't fit on this list. I thought it would be hard to narrow down my top 10, but I was really going for the albums I put on repeat and listened to for hours.

What are your top 10 most influential and/or essential albums?

Sara Duane is a freelance writer in the Twin Cities area of the great state of Minnesota.   

Thursday, March 31, 2016

The Word: Retronym

I found a new word! I love new words. And what's great about this word is it describes making new words out of old words. The word? Retronym.

retronym: \ˈretrōnim\

Date: 1980

Function: noun

: a new term for something that differentiates the original from a more recent form or version

Giving something old a new name. It happens often due to progress or the advancement of technology. For example, the term "acoustic guitar" was sparked after the arrival of electric guitars - before then, it was just a guitar. Anything with "old fashioned" or "classic" included in the name is a retorynm, such as "Coca Cola Classic" or "old fashioned ice cream." Retronyms are also created in other ways, though, such as the initiation of the phrases "Contiguous United States" or "Lower 48" after Alaska and Hawaii became states.

Retronyms can also be applied to people. When a ruler has or adopts the same name as a predecessor, the Roman numeral I is added to the original's name retroactively (if he hadn't already used one during his lifetime). In the United States, when a son is named after the father (Jr.), the elder may be given the suffix Senior (Sr.).

Now that you've had a crash course on what they are, you've probably realized you use retronyms all the time. There's a nice list here, but I've included 10 of my favorite retronyms below:
  1. Analog clock: Before the invention of digital clocks, most clocks had faces and hands. Related: Analog watch.
  2. Bar soap: This term arose with the advent of shower and bath soaps in liquid and gel form. Mmmm, bubbly loofas.
  3. Corn on the cob: This Minnesota favorite used to be called simply "corn" before canned corn became widely available.
  4. Landline phone service: Before cellphones and smartphones, this term was generally only used by military personnel and amateur radio operators.
  5. Real numbers: This phrase was coined after the invention of the imaginary numbers, which are a very real thing.
  6. Black-and-white television or movie:  It was just "the movies" or "television" until color television came along. Furthermore, the retronym "Standard Definition Television" has become necessary to differentiate it from HDTV (high definition). Related: Silent film.
  7. Snail mail or postal mail: Before email and voice mail, all mail was simply mail. Obviously much slower by comparison – thus, the "snail" addition.
  8. Star Trek: The Original Series: It used to be just Star Trek, but this retronym became a necessity after a multitude of movies and spinoffs.
  9. Offline: Also known as "face to face," or "in real life" (IRL). Before computer and smartphones came around, the ways to communicate were landline phone, snail mail, or face to face. Now there's so many ways people can interact online, we had to coin a new term to describe reality and daily life. Think on that for a moment.
  10. Regular coffee: Personally I think it should be "real coffee," but whatever it's called, I just need to be able to tell it apart from the decaffeinated stuff.
  • Bonus: Star Wars Episode IV: A New Hope. When it was released in 1977, it was just Star Wars. The new title was applied after the first sequel was introduced. Now Star Wars refers to the entire series. 
Strange things happen to language over the course of time: Sometimes retronyms flip around. When razors with encased blades were introduced, they were called "safety razors" to distinguish them from what at the time was just simply "razors". Now, we would never call those plastic things a safety razor, we tend to just call it a razor, and we refer to the original style of razors generally as "straight razors" or "cut-throat razors".

Retronyms. New words to describe old things. The process of applying these labels obviously has been happening for a long time as new things are invented. It's interesting that we didn't have a word to describe this process until a relative short while ago. As technology speeds along, we're sure to see more of them pop up in the future.

Sara Duane is a freelance writer in the Twin Cities area of the great state of Minnesota.   

Wednesday, March 2, 2016

History of Business Cards, Greeting Cards & RSVPs

For as long as I can remember, I've always had a fondness for history. When I was young, I was constantly digging through history books. When the History Channel first came to be, it was my favorite TV station (though it's gone downhill considerably since then). Most recently, I was a trustee on the board for the Rockford Area Historical Society.

So of course when I have the opportunity to combine history with writing, I run with it. While at, I wrote a few blog posts about the history of some common printed items.

History of Greeting Cards. Though it might seem like holiday cards and greeting cards have only been around as long as Hallmark has been in existence, the first examples of what has evolved into today’s greeting card can be traced back to the ancient China and Egypt.

History of Valentine's Day Cards. Though Valentine messages haven't been around for quite as long, the oldest ones still in existence are almost 600 years old. They didn't really catch on until the late 1700s, and it wasn't until the 1800s that they started to resemble what we see today. 

History of the RSVP. RSVP is short for “répondez s’il vous plaît,” and translates into “reply if you please” or “please reply”. In that sense, the concept of an RSVP hasn't changed much since the 19th century, but how you respond to it (or don't respond) has. Let's just say the Francophones of the past may not be pleased if you didn't respond at all - yay or nay.

History of the Business Card. Ah, yes, the most ubiquitous piece of print in a professional's marketing arsenal. Seems like a modern invention that some Madison Avenue big shot created as way to advertise his expertise. But business cards roots extend back to Imperial China. That makes sense, when you consider that the Chinese are believed to have invented paper in the first place.

Yup, I love history. And etymology, which is basically the history of words and language. I also love science and politics, too. But before you get to thinking that everything around here is scholarly, I also love profanity. I'm excited to get back to writing about the things that I really enjoy exploring.

Sara Duane is a freelance writer in the Twin Cities area of the great state of Minnesota.  

Friday, February 26, 2016

Minneapolis Pet News - Since I've Been Gone...

The last time I re-blogged my Minneapolis Pet News Examiner stories was more than 2 years ago. I've covered a lot of topics in that time, and I'd like to share them below. There's been a little bit of advice about dogs, cats and birds - three types of pets that I happen to know a lot about, because I share my home with one of each!


Help pets cope with Minnesota's long, rough winter.
Though this winter is almost over, some dogs
(including mine!) are probably going a bit stir crazy right about now. These are some tips for keeping your dogs safe and satisfied in the cold season.

Keep Minnesota dogs safe from ticks this summer. On the flip side, the weather is warming up and sooner than you think, it will be time for bugs to emerge. Learn about tick prevention and treatment with these tips.

Dogs should never eat these fruits and vegetables. Summer is when consumption of fruits and veggies increase among humans. You may be tempted to share your food with your dog, but there are some they should never, ever eat.

Lost Dogs-MN helps reunite people with lost pets. The Facebook page Lost Dogs Minnesota, otherwise known as Lost Dogs-MN, has become a vital place for helping dogs get back home.


Pancreatitis symptoms and treatment for cats. My cat Krillin has had repeated bouts with pancreatitis.
Here, I pass on a bit of my own knowledge, as well as information researched through trusted veterinary sources.

At-home pet euthanasia in the Twin Cities Metro. Sadly, I had to use these services last year. My beloved Tweak, who lived to be at least 17 (it's hard to know, since he was first adopted as a stray), went to sleep on October 15, 2015.


Giardia infection and feather plucking in parrots. Feather plucking is a psychological issue of
boredom in parrots. Giardia is a parasitic infection that can occur in many animals. Sometimes, though, giardia is the reason a bird plucks and mutilates.

Giardia infection & feather plucking: A first-hand account. Unfortunately, I have experience this, too. Have pets long enough, you eventually have to deal with their illnesses. Read about my account of giardia with my parrot. I'm still dealing with feather plucking issues!

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