Constance M. Steen - Office/HR Manager and Safety Officer

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Constance M. Steen - Office/HR Manager and Safety Officer

Ms. Steen has been working in the field of environmental consulting since 1977. She specializes in client services, office management and administration, project assistance, editing, document production, human resources, and safety.

Is “Data” a Singular or a Plural Noun?



In modern writing and speech (e.g., newspapers, magazines), the word data is often used with a singular verb.  However, datum is the singular form of this noun and needs a singular verb (e.g., is, was) and data is the plural form, which requires a plural verb (e.g., are, were).  Although this topic has been debated at length, the scientific community tends to prefer the stricter interpretation that data is always to be treated as a plural noun.

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GRAMMAR: Me, Myself, and I

monkey typing

Good grammar is important in business dealings, whether spoken or written.  Here are a couple of guidelines to help you communicate effectively.


Reflexive Pronouns:  Me, Myself, and I

When you’re unsure of whether to use me or I in a sentence that includes you and at least one other person, just think of how you would use it if you were talking about only yourself. 

          Incorrect:      Will you please make hotel reservations for John and I?

          Correct:         Will you please make hotel reservations for [John and] me?

          Correct:         John and I need you to make hotel reservations for us.

Myself is correct only when you are the subject and the object of the sentence and you are emphasizing the action.  The sentence below is correct, but would be fine without myself.

Correct:         I made the reservations myself.


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Sediment Sampling: What Is a PONAR Grab Sampler?


The PONAR grab sampler is the main bottom sampling device used on vessels to study the composition of the bottom sediments of a lake or river.  The grab sampler provides a means to obtain a somewhat quantitative and undisturbed sample of the bottom material. It takes a bite of known surface area and penetration depth, provided that the bottom material is neither too hard or nor too soft. It is called a grab sampler because of the manner in which it obtains samples.

Early studies on Lake Michigan used oceanographic and freshwater grab samplers that were not satisfactory. Research scientists from the Great Lakes Research Division of the University of Michigan devised a new sampler, the PONAR grab sampler, that was first available for sale in 1966. The sampler is named after Great Lakes scientists, Charles E. Powers, Robert A. Ogle, Jr., Vincent E. Noble, John C. Ayers, and Andrew Robertson.

The PONAR grab sampler consists of two opposing semi-circular jaws that are normally held open by a trigger mechanism. The sampler is lowered to the bottom where contact with the bottom sets off the trigger and a strong spring snaps the jaws shut trapping a sample of the bottom inside. Fine copper screen covers the top of the jaws so that the trapped material will not wash out as the sampler is retrieved.

For the full article, including a description of how the bottom material is studied, go to  

Source:  Excerpted from the Instructor’s Manual on Bottom Sampling and used with permission from Annis Water Resources Institute (AWRI).

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Word of the Day: Etymology

Word of the Day:  Etymology

According to Wikipedia, etymology is the study of the history of words, their origins, and how their form and meaning have changed over time. By extension, the term "the etymology of [a word]" means the origin of the particular word.

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Word of the Day: Pejorative

I was reading an article and came across the word pejorative, which, to my knowledge, I had never seen.  A Google search ( came up with the definition below.  I don’t think it’s a word I’ll use often, if ever.pejorative

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YOLO…You Only Live Once

YOLO…You Only Live Once

 Article used with permission from EHS Today.  Copyright 2015 by Penton.

 About the author: Brent Senette has worked in the oil and gas industry in a variety of engineering and management positions for the past 35 years. He is an engineer, a certified project manager and a relentless advocate for and practitioner of the principles of process and personal safety leadership. 


Short article…

Short acronym…YOLO…

Short for…You Only Live Once…

I only recently was introduced to the acronym/phrase and its conventional meaning, that being a “live life to its fullest,” “go for the gusto” approach to life and living – and there’s nothing wrong with fully enjoying our short time on this earth.

The acronym/phrase immediately struck me, however, with its potential as a powerful reminder to all of us why it’s important to live and work safely…YOLO…You Only Live Once.

Nobody cranks up the circular saw out in the garage or climbs into a scissor lift on the job site intending to get hurt, yet it happens hundreds and hundreds of times every day in this country.  It doesn’t matter if you or someone else is hurt (or worse) due to distraction, haste, lack of training, complacency, failure to identify a hazard, no job procedure, pressure to get the job done or any other reason. The resulting physical and emotional pain and suffering can have lasting and life altering impact on the person injured, his/her spouse, children, siblings, uncles, aunts, godparents, cousins, coworkers and friends…YOLO…You Only Live Once.

So, think YOLO…You Only Live Once before you act if:

You are asked to perform a task for which you aren’t trained and where you might hurt yourself or others.

You are about to overextend from near the top of a 16’ extension ladder to reach that last pesky bunch of soggy leaves in the gutter.




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Picking Nits, Not Nicks

Picking Nits, Not Nicks

Picking Nits, Not Nicks

Excerpted with permission from,
posted: 24 Mar 2015 09:08 PM PDT

Apparently some modern speakers are happily unacquainted with head lice. This lack of knowledge may explain the confusion illustrated by the following examples:

  • If you want to lose a friend, all you have to do is to continue to nick pick and find fault with everything that they do or everything that they say.
  • My husband and I nick pick at everything at each other. How can I stop this?
  • Gamers are great at nickpicking while avoiding actual analysis.
  • Not sure if I’m only seeing negative stuff or I’m just nickpicking.
  • What should I do? I feel the Teacher is nickpicking on my son.

The verb forms for the actions being described in these examples are nitpick and nitpicking.

Read the full article at

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Email Matters

Email Matters

Excerpted with permission from  

Read the full article here:

Emails are not as public as a Twitter tweet, but can lead to grief for the unwary. We’ve all heard the horror stories of the jokester who says something outrageous intended for the eyes of a friend, and then hits the “Reply All” button by mistake.  Because there’s always the chance that an email might go astray, don’t say anything in an email that you don’t want a third party to read.

One way to avoid embarrassing situations with clients or employers is to make a habit of treating every email with care, even the ones you dash off to your friends. Human frailty being what it is, there’s probably no way to avoid saying or typing something stupid at some time or another, but a few tips can save some embarrassment.

Common courtesy is the key to writing an email that won’t come back to bite you.  Courtesy when writing an email means considering such things as the fact that not everyone can read tiny type or understand texting abbreviations. Depending upon the recipient, sloppy English or attempts at humor can prove deal breakers. In these tippy-toe times of political correctness, it doesn’t take much to offend some people. No one, however, is likely to take offence at standard usage and conventional formatting.

Subject Line

Put something meaningful in the subject line. Be as specific as possible, even for your friends. Instead of “Hi” or “Hello,” type something that refers to the message. No one enjoys having to sort through hundreds of emails in order to double check one of them.


Leave the fancy script and colored text for homemade greeting cards. Choose an easy-to-read font and a dark font color. Dark blue is all right, but black is better. Red is the hardest color to read. Big is better than small. Use a minimum of 12-point.

Upper- and Lower-case

Use lowercase type with capitals where capitals are called for. Lowercase is easier to read than all caps, but don’t go to extremes and omit capitals altogether. Friends may not mind, but a business colleague may interpret lack of capitalization as evidence of lack of education or energy.


Spell correctly. Use conventional abbreviations. Save texting code for texting.


It’s easy enough to misinterpret a written message. Reread what you have written before hitting Send. See if the addition of a comma or other punctuation might make your meaning clearer.


Begin your email with the recipient’s name. For a friend or associate, the first name is the obvious salutation. Otherwise, use the full name [or a title such as Mr., Ms., Dr., etc., and the last name].


The way you end your email will depend upon your relationship with the recipient and the nature of the email. If you are reporting bad news or responding to it, you’re not going to close by writing “Cheers” or “Have a nice day.”


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GRAMMAR LESSON: Dispose of vs. Dispose

GRAMMAR LESSON:  Dispose of vs. Dispose


Always use "of" with the verb “dispose” when the intention is to discard or get rid of something.  (The contractor disposed of the sediment in the Jacksonville ODMDS.)  Other meanings of dispose do not require the "of":  a general can dispose his troops (meaning to arrange them), a matter can be disposed in a legal sense (meaning to settle finally), and we can be disposed to illness (meaning to be inclined). 

Authority: Merriam-Webster's Collegiate Dictionary, Electronic Edition, 1996.  See

Washington State University ( offers this explanation:

If you want to get rid of your stuff you may dispose of it on Freecyle or Craigslist.  A great many people mistakenly dispose of the "of" in this phrase, writing sentences like "Dispose your unwanted mail in the recycling bin." You can also use "dispose of" to mean "deal with" ("You can dispose of your royalties as you see fit") or "demolish an opposing argument" ("The defense attorney disposed of the prosecutor's case in less than five minutes"). 

“Dispose" without "of" works differently, depending on the meaning. Whereas to dispose of your toy soldiers you might take them to a pawnshop, to dispose your toy soldiers you would arrange them for battle. Most politicians are disposed to talk at length.


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Grammar 101: May Have vs. Might Have

The terms “may have” and “might have” are often used incorrectly in spoken and written English.  Might is the past tense of may.  Ideally, may is the form to use when talking about a current situation, and might is the form to use in referring to an event from the past.  In practice, the two forms are used interchangeably.  Read the full article at




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Grammar: Kudo vs. Kudos

Used with permission and excerpted from

Some English speakers use the word kudo as the singular of kudos. What makes this usage problematic is the fact that kudos is already singular.

Kudos is a Greek word meaning “glory, fame, renown.” It entered the language as student slang back when undergraduates were still required to study Greek at the university. Presumably the early users knew that it was a singular noun.

The earliest OED* citation for the use of the back-formation kudo is dated 1941. The OED marks the use of singular kudo as “erroneous,” but Merriam-Webster provides kudo with its own entry, taking care to defend its position in doing so:

Some commentators hold that since kudos is a singular word it cannot be used as a plural and that the word kudo is impossible. But kudo does exist…

M-W’s assertion that kudo “does exist” makes me think of the comment made by Florence Foster Jenkins (1868-1944) about her excruciating efforts at singing opera: “People may say I can’t sing, but no one can ever say I didn’t sing.”

Inarguably, kudo is a word.

Modern English is filled with words that began as errors only to become perfectly acceptable standard words.

For example, our words newt and apron are the result of confusion over the indefinite article. What we now call “a newt” used to be “an ewt,” but the n of the article became attached to the noun. Conversely, what we call “an apron” started out as “a napron.”

In Chaucer’s day, what we call a pea was called a pease. The plural was pesen. By the 1600s, pease was viewed as a word that, like sheep, could be either singular or plural. Before the end of the 17th century, pease had become pea in the singular and peas in the plural. That the older form persisted for a time is indicated by the nursery song “Pease Porridge Hot,” which dates from about 1765. M-W cites pea in its defense of singular kudo.

Here are some examples of singular kudo on the web:

That deserves a big KUDO! (agricultural site)
Riverfront venue kudo deserved (Mankato Free Press)
That deserves an even bigger KUDO. (product testimonial)
How can I give a kudo to a great comment? (Myspace FAQ)

In a way, kudo is like pea; both are back-formations. But the changes in pease and pesen occurred at a time when other number changes were taking place. English speakers once formed the plural of hose as hosen and tree as treen. I can think of only two nouns that have kept the -en plural: child/children, ox/oxen. We still use the plural brethren in a spiritual sense, but the regular plural of brother is brothers.

It seems to me that kudo belongs with jocular back-formations like kempt from unkempt and gruntled from disgruntled. In these days of universal education and easy access to reference materials, using kudo seriously doesn’t seem any more acceptable than rendering the word as these writers have:

Jane Hamsher deserves Kudo’s. (political blogger)
Director Brown reported the F&B Dept. deserves a BIG KUDO’s. (minutes of a public meeting)
Kudo’s from clients (category on a technology site).

*OED = Oxford English Dictionary

Connie’s note: “Kudo” isn’t recognized by the MS Word spell-checker.


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GRAMMAR LESSON: Avoid Gratuitous Capitalization*


Here it is—“permission” to quit unnecessarily capitalizing common words and terms. Let’s face it, when a document has too many capitalized words, the true proper nouns no longer “stick out” and thus seem to lose significance. Today’s posting discussed the topic.

“Long after the Roman alphabet was developed, only one form existed: the capital form. Along the way, a parallel form, known as lowercase developed. (The term lowercase derives from the fact that stamps for printing letters using this style were kept in rows of cases located below those housing the uppercase, or capital, letters.) Now, capital letters are used in a limited number of functions: primarily, for the first letter of the first word in a sentence or of a proper noun, and for denoting acronyms and initialisms.

Unfortunately, many amateur writers, and a number of professionals, clutter their writing with gratuitous capitalization because of a misunderstanding of — or a disregard for — orthographic conventions. For example, many people do not realize that when the name of an entity such as an organization is reduced to one word, that word is generally treated without initial capitalization, as in “the association” (not “the Association”) as shorthand for “the American Automobile Association.”

One complication is something that can be blamed on institutional pride, as when a university’s literature describes how “the University’s student-life environment is very rich” or on corporate branding efforts, as in “the Company is here to serve your needs.” Such gratuitous capitalization is entrenched in traditional legal writing (for example, “the Plaintiff’s claim is upheld”), but both in that context and in general prose it is distracting.

Whenever you’re tempted to capitalize a word, specific to your field of interest or endeavor, that is not a proper noun, check its treatment in the lay literature — books, nonscholarly periodicals, newspapers, and websites. Often, you’ll find that the word is treated generically, and I hope that you’ll realize that unless the word is strictly a proper noun, there’s no justification for aggrandizing it with an initial capital letter.”

*Excerpted and posted with permission from Find the full article here:


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From Our Accountant, To Your Accountant… Part III

Part III – “But, I have no clue what this report is telling me.”

Based upon my experience, I can attest that what gets accounting excited about a report is not necessarily what gets a project manager excited. “What’s the solution?” you may ask. We give our project managers the power to customize their own project information. Okay, so I am aware that accountants are pretty scared about giving much access to non-accounting people; however, if done properly, giving that access can save time, can make accounting’s job a little bit easier, and can help project managers feel empowered! It is a win–win! For example, almost all accounting and project management software has the capability to customize security on reports.   Providing views of various project-specific reports to project managers will allow them access to the administrative aspects of their projects and help them succeed in the technical aspects.

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From Our Accountant, To Your Accountant… Part II

Part II – “I don’t know how to use the system.”

Gear yourself up with intuitive technology that is both accounting- and project management-friendly. Yes, you might have to spend some money for a piece of software but it is so worth it! Having the right resources that translate all of those numbers into tangible results is what engages a project manager. Acquiring engaging technology is useless without the proper training, which is key! Brown bag lunches are part of ANAMAR’s continuing-education program. From how to enter expenses correctly to more elaborate topics, brown bag lunches provide good training opportunities in administrative tasks in small and easier-to-digest doses for those who appear to have an adverse reaction to accounting and general administrative tasks.

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From Our Accountant, To Your Accountant… Part I

There is something to be said about the relationship between the accounting department and the technical staff (project managers, project coordinators, etc). So many times I hear accountants complain about what project managers will and will not do and how it does not meet the expectations of the accounting department. It is like hearing two siblings bickering at each other. If I had to guess, I would say that this is because we, accountants, do not take the time to share information and welcome technical staff into our world of bean counting. Am I right? We make the mistake of assuming that it is better for us and more cost-effective to do the work ourselves as opposed to sharing knowledge with project staff. Makes sense, right? WRONG. For the past 3 years, ANAMAR has worked on minimizing that gap between administrative and technical departments by promoting inter-departmental in-house training, and pleasant surprises have taken place. There are many ways to achieve successful communication and promote a good workflow between departments within your organization. That is why we want to invite you to what we call our “Three-Part Accounting Series.”

Part I ­– “I’ll submit my timesheet tomorrow, I promise.”

ANAMAR’s success in minimizing the gap between accounting and technical staff has been based on explaining the consequences of not following proper accounting procedures. Communicating with technical staff about what happens when project-related administrative tasks are delayed has resulted in project managers respecting accounting deadlines. Let’s not just nag for the sake of nagging – let’s provide reasonable arguments to support our nagging! Timely timesheet submittal, for example, is an ongoing problem for most project-based businesses. ANAMAR has gotten over that hurdle by sharing with project managers the list of tasks that get put on hold when timesheets are not properly submitted. (Okay, so maybe I did say a time or two that I wouldn’t pay them.)

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Grammar: Your vs. You’re

Do you know the difference between you’re and your? Just the fact that you’re reading this article could be your salvation and ensure you will never confuse the two words again.

Your shows possession, meaning it is used to present that something belongs to you. Because this four-letter word is an adjective, it is usually followed by a noun, but not always. 

          Your name is Tommy.

          Red is your favorite color. 

You're, on the other hand, is a contraction meaning "you are." It is often followed by a verb ending in “ing.” 

          You're moving too slowly and you’re going to be late for school.

          When you’re older, you’ll understand why your parents wanted you to be on time. 

To determine which version of the word is correct, try replacing it with “you are.” If the sentence still makes sense, then you’re is the form you want. If it doesn’t read properly, then you need to show possession and should use your.



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Keyboard Shortcuts

With all the down-sizing and funding cutbacks these days, many people have been forced to do their own typing and have no one to turn to for help with formatting issues.  If you’re in that position and are struggling with MS Word, you might appreciate knowing some of these basic keyboard shortcuts.  (You can get the full list of keyboard shortcuts by going to the Word help menu (F1) and searching for “keyboard shortcuts.”)






Repeats your very last keystroke or command (works in other MS Office programs too).  You can use it multiple times in a row if you don’t press any other keys!  You must have your function keys locked on for this to work.



Spell check



Copy selection



Cut selection



Paste selection



Align center



 Align left



Aligh right






Go to (page number)



Search and replace



Creates a new blank page



Brings up the "Print" menu



Save (file update without exiting)







ALT + O, E


Brings up the "Change Case" menu

ALT + A, R


Brings up the "Table Properties" menu

ALT + O, P


Brings up the "Paragraph" menu

ALT + I, B


Brings up the insert "Break" menu (page break, section break, etc.)

Did you know?


When viewing a drop-down menu, you can execute a command without using the mouse.  Just hold the ALT key while pressing the key coinciding with the underlined letter in the command you want to use. 

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Recent comment in this post
Blu Dove Support
Thanks for the tips!
Wednesday, 06 March 2013 18:05
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