The Port Authority of New York and New Jersey Appreciates Your Comments

This week, i tried to get some info on Stewart Airport, which is a few miles up the street from my house. My husband had to catch a 6:15 a.m. flight today to California via Atlanta, and he wanted to know what ungodly time he had to be at the airport to get his plane. The Delta Airlines site had no answer and no number for anyone you can call for an answer, so i googled “Stewart Airport.” Up popped the Web site of its operator, the Port Authority. From there, you can click on “Stewart Airport.”

And yet, you’re still not where you want to be.  You’re in, like, the right airport, but the wrong terminal. You’re still in the clutches of the Port Authority. They list no phone number for Stewart and no phone numbers for any of the airlines that fly into and out of it. They list no number for Lost and Found, Security, Parking, Customer Service, Sanitation … nothin’. But i did finally stumble upon a “frequently asked questions” feature. If you believe the Port Authority, their most frequently-asked questions all seem to be along the lines of, “How can you guys be so great?” But apparently, no one ever asks about the hours of operation of Stewart Airport, nor about when you should arrive to catch a 6:15 a.m. flight. I continued clicking on icons that brought me back to the ultra-unhelpful Port Authority home page. Finally, i thought i’d struck gold: There in teensy letters at the bottom of one screen were the underlined (always good) words, “Customer service.” So i clicked on those words and typed, “What time should I arrive for a 6:15 a.m. flight out of Stewart to Atlanta on Friday, Feb. 20th?”

i got a reply just two days later (one day before Tim’s flight). How’s THAT for Customer Service?! i have copy-and-pasted this long-awaited response below.

Thank you for your ideas on how we can improve our airports. We at the Port Authority of NY and NJ pride ourselves on our commitment to our customers. We appreciate your comments and look forward to serving you in the future.


That’s right: nosocomial. Accent on the third “o.”

It means, “acquired in the hospital,” and in the early 21st-century U.S., unfortunately, it is almost always followed by the word, “infection.” No one seems to come down with “nosocomial wisdom,” or “nosocomial joy.” 

Believe it or not, we used to use “nosocomial” rather often when i wrote for “Report,” the monthly newsletter of the New York State Nurses Association. Nurses are always trying to reduce the rates of nosocomial infections by adopting various strategies that we would write about. It’s a big issue for them.

In a newspaper, of course, you would never see the word. But the other day i was editing a story with the lead, “The rate of infections picked up in hospitals seems to be going down, according to a study …”

We used the story as a “brief” — only about an inch and a half wide and 2 inches deep — and of course the headline space for it had no room for “nosocomial,” even if my judgment were bad enough to try it. Besides, i’d already written “exacerbated” in a jump-head that same night, on a story having to do, i think, with three Trump casinos filing for bankruptcy. Ten syllables is about eight more than papers usually allow, for two words.


The other night i had a chance to write an “ear” — that is, a little blurb at the top of a page meant to entice our Times Herald-Record readers to go to a certain page to read the story that the “ear” referred to. The story was about how some pro-marijuana organizations are trying to start a boycott of Kellogg’s because that cereal company had dropped its contract with Michael Phelps after he was caught on tape smoking pot. An “ear” can be only about 10 words long.

i wrote, “After cutting ties with Phelps, Kellogg’s takes a hit.”


Thoughts on the word, “Grapefruit”

The word “grapefruit” is odd, isn’t it? It begins with the name of a completely different fruit, and appends a suffix/flourish: the name of its general category. Weird, man.

I mean, we don’t call an apple a “pearfruit,” do we?

Calling a grapefruit a “grapefruit” is exactly like calling a goldfinch a “robinbird.”

Or a wrench, a “hammertool.”

Or a rose, an “irisplant.”

Or referring to blue as “redcolor.”

It’s giving something the name of something else, with the name of its general category at the end.

And yet, I eat my grapefruit and enjoy it.

Go on with your life, Safflower Oil.

A “My Sweet Lord” Moment

 Today while listening to an Oldies station on my car’s AM radio, it occurred to me that the writer of the sweet 1962 Jimmy Clanton hit, “Venus in Blue Jeans” (it might have been Clanton himself; he wrote a lot of his own material) could easily sue Gerry Marsden, the writer and lead singer of the sappy 1964 Gerry and the Pacemakers hit, “Ferry Cross the Mersey.”

Just sing the four words, “Venus in blue jeans,” and then the four words, “Ferry Cross the Mersey.” I bet ol’ Gerry “unconsciously plagiarized” Clanton’s tune.

I know it’s only four words, but that’s one more than “My Sweet Lord,” and look how much George Harrison had to come up with to pay off the writer of “He’s So Fine.”

P.S. If any lawyers are reading this, and you get in touch with Jimmy Clanton and win a huge lawsuit against Gerry Marsden, be sure and remember where you got the idea, OK?

Or I’ll sue your ass off.