Avocados – the spelling

My inclination when preparing my earlier post on “avocados” was to spell the plural as “avocadoes”.  After all, it’s “tomatoes” and “potatoes”, and, just like avocados, they get eaten.   But the spell-check insisted – no “e”.

But why is this so?  I consulted my Fowler’s Modern English Usage (my copy is 2nd ed, for those who need to know).   Needless to say, there’s no entry under “avocado”.  However, there’s an entry for “-o(e)s”.   As is usual with Fowler, the commentary was fascinating!  But shortly stated, it seems that although there are a lot of nouns ending in “o”, in fact only a minority have “oes” in the plural form.   But many of the familiar words with this ending do go this way in the plural firm, such as “potato”, “cargo”, “hero” and so on.

Hence “oes” at first sight often seems “right” to us.  But in fact it’s quite correct for other words to be just “os”, such as “infernos”, flamingos” and “embryos”.    Fowler suggests that in some cases, words that aren’t often used in the plural form tend to use “os”.

In the case of “avocado” (which is used a lot as a plural!), there’s also an explanation  here  along the lines that the founders of the California Avocado Association actually told the dictionary publishers that the plural didn’t have an “e”.   I guess that’s your right, when you’re promoting a name for a something (as the article claims the Californians did).  However, Wikipedia doesn’t give all the credit for the word itself to the Californians, saying that it’s derived from the Spanish. which is also stated in the Macquarie Dictionary.


Rail projects

The State Government is spending big money on its rail projects, including the “skyrail” along the Dandenong line.  And things are happening elsewhere, too, judging from the road and rail disruptions during the so-called “Autumn Construction Blitz“.

And closer to home, work is happening on the railway line along the street from us.   There was a lot of activity last weekend, apparently pouring concrete for the foundations of new structures.   I’m sure that it’s tricky work, but there did seem a lot of people involved, not all of whom appeared to be doing very much at the time I glanced over the fence!   Because there are two pairs of tracks, trains were able to operate seemingly satisfactorily on the tracks not occupied by the works.

Lots of equipment
Buckets to carry concrete from mixer trucks in the street above to location of new structure
One of several new structures (?) after all the work was done.

St Patrick’s Day

I’m not from the Irish tradition, so St Patrick’s day isn’t really a natural event for me to celebrate.   But, there was a St Patrick’s Day lunch happening so …  well, I found I had a greenish tie, and I headed off.

I see from Wikipedia that even though the day falls in Lent, you’re allowed to break your Lenten fast on this day!

I’m not sure whether many of those attending were actually fasting, and in fact there weren’t any references to the saint himself.   But  there was lots of wine, jokes, singing and even a little speechifying.  The food was good and the company entertaining, so it was all very pleasant, even if it did degenerate into a bit of rowdiness as it wound up (yes, there was some whiskey there, too).

Banking – and the future

The banks seem to be copping it at the Royal Commission, and there have certainly been some fascinating revelations.   I wonder where this is going to lead in terms of recommendations?

The Royal Commission forms an interesting backdrop to the magazine that fell out of the Australian newspaper a few days ago.  It was supposedly all about “The Future of Banking”.  The articles were all to the effect that the banking scene will inevitably “change” over the next few years.

Admittedly, my interest in the banking system these days is in relation to making payments (not so much borrowing).    Perhaps it is on the lending side of their business that banks are most likely to have to change.  Hopefully, this will enable their staff to go to being bankers (who assess risks) instead of “product salesmen” (and “dumbed-down” at that), as it is said they have become.

And, yes, maybe things on the payments side will be delivered differently:  the advent of “paywave” seems to have been popular.   But is cash really going to disappear?   While the local coffee shop has a surcharge of nearly 2% for any electronic payment, and I was quoted a surcharge of 1.5% if I chose to use a credit card for a recent transaction, it seems to me that we have some way to go before we reach a cashless society.  Perhaps the “New Payments Platform” will reduce these types of costs?

But to get to the point:   the articles in the magazine contained a lot of statements along the lines of the need for financial institutions to be “responsive” to the needs of customers.   But, hey, let’s not get carried away here.   For the vast majority of us, it’s not rocket science.   Our basic everyday need is to have somewhere to keep our money and the ability to make payments with a minimum of fuss without (at least in my case) incurring a transaction cost.   And, yes, “Paywave” is the sort of thing that appeals to me – except when there’s a surcharge involved.   But I get irritated when I have to monitor my “everyday” account to make sure that there are adequate funds in it, because the account in which I keep my modest surplus funds (to obtain a token rate of interest) isn’t the one from which payments are made.

For a short time, I had an account with U-Bank, which offered a sweep facility between the transaction account and the interest-bearing account, but after working out what was going on (maybe I’m just slow?) there were still “strings” attached:   the interest bearing account only paid interest if a minimum monthly amount was paid into it, which of course called for anther layer of complexity to set up arrangements to ensure that this happened (and then to monitor them).

I could go on, but let’s leave it at this:   financial institutions (and perhaps the commentariat?) need to distinguish between technological change and “mindset” change.  Just because their customers appear to be using the shiny new things provided to them, such as “Smart ATMs” or apps on their phones or whatever, doesn’t mean that the institutions are meeting the “needs” of those customers.

Shooting ranges

I thought I detected a slight note of, well, self-righteousness in the ABC News report that a couple of Australians had met a sticky end at a shooting range in Cambodia.   The combination of guns + money + “cover-up” seemed to  “challenge” the ABC.

Well, as the on-line report states (but I don’t think it was mentioned on the live-to-air report), this isn’t the only shooting range around where tourists can pay cash to fire military-grade toys.  We were taken to one in Vietnam.  Although others in our party paid to participate, we just observed, no action for us!

DVD Player

The DVD player was playing up.    It wouldn’t play the last part of some movies.     The older the movie, the more likely it was that the issue would arise.    I googled for a solution, but in vain, apart from vague suggestions to get a DVD lens-cleaner disk (I have no idea how that might have worked).    Meanwhile, it had become very frustrating not to see the endings of random movies.

I then took a different approach to my googling;  how much would a new DVD player cost?  Would you believe, you can get them for about $25!     Well, what did it matter for $25?   If it didn’t work, maybe we could keep it as a spare.

So I duly made the investment.  S had misgivings as to whether such a cheap machine, and from Big W at that (and much smaller than the old one) would work, but first reports are that it does everything required of it.  The old one has been put aside to await the next hard waste/electronics collection.

Storing Bread

My mother always used to keep the bread in a bread crock. Seems she knew what she was doing,  The latest issue of Choice magazine considers whether bread keeps better in the refrigerator,.   It seems that it doesn’t:   apparently bread goes stale  as the starch re-forms into crystals, which happens faster in cold temperatures.   So bread is best kept at room temperature, unless it’s frozen.

Freezing it is fine, because this slows the process.