1,000 Words X: Yarn

Homespun yarn from Williamsburg, Va.

Homespun yarn from Williamsburg, Va.

I love this picture for no other reason than the color and texture. But, lately, I haven’t been writing much or paying attention to submitting completed projects and this picture reminds me of my kid’s fairy tale manuscript. It’s working title is WORDPSINNER WORDSPINNER. It’s full of color and whimsy, like this picture. It reminds me of happy things.

Do you have nay pictures that remind you of happy things, that aren’t necessarily related to those things?

Literacy: Let’s talk about text

The past few years have seen unprecedented technological leaps. We put a fully functioning robot on Mars.  There now exists a photographic technology that with focus the picture after you take it. We’re well on out way to neural controlled prosthetics, aka, Luke Skywalker’s robot hand.

Mobile technology has evolved so far as to have annoying predictive text, and it’s very own shorthand language.

All this was achievable through science. And math. Everything I just listed relies on precise algorithms, programs, coding—mathematical equations. If you get one number off, you’re screwed. Robots explode against asteroids instead of landing on the Red Planet. Cameras start shooting x-rays. Whatever.

Math is a universal language. It is the same in any country. It’s great. I mean, I hate it because I’m not good at it, but it makes the scientific world go ‘round, and I love my gadgets.  There’s a whole educational campaign about getting school kids more involved with math and science.

But, misread a number, or transpose a sequence, and everything goes to hell in a hand basket (I know from experience). It’s not nuanced so much as precise.  Excruciatingly precise. It’s a big deal if you screw it up. Teachers say so, parents say so, and professionals say so. Banks. They say it loudest. Money talks, right? Heaven forbid you read $15.21 in your bank account when it’s actually $15.12 and overdraw by nine cents. BAM. Twenty-five dollar fee for that.

But for some reason, precision in language is not touted as such a big deal. Yes, there are many advocates for proper grammar and punctuation. And yes, there is some ambiguity inherent in grammatical rules. Cross-cultures, things literally get lost in translation.

And yet, there’s no extreme emphasis on literacy. There’s no national campaign for the nuance of words.

Our language, the primary way we communicate, is being eaten alive by shorthand perpetuated through text messaging. It’s being undermined by a flippant society that states no one reads nowadays anyway. What does it matter?

It matters quite a bit. I’m not just talking about the trite grammatical comparison:

“‘Let’s eat Grandma!’ VS ‘Let’s eat, Grandma!’ Punctuation saves lives.”

While grammar and punctuation are extremely important for clear written communication, so is the meaning of words. What I’m saying, my doves—my darling, dearest readers—is that language is every bit as exacting as math.

Anyone who’s ever texted someone and been “corrected” with the phone’s predictive text or autocorrect knows the embarrassment one letter can cause. Typos are just as dangerous.

Don’t get me wrong. I like texting shorthand sometimes as it saves time and energy. But, most of the time, it just becomes confusing to me. There has been more than one occasion when I’ve misunderstood the acronym because I was thinking that it represented a different phrase than the person sending the message. Disaster ensued.

We treat language so harshly, using it like a blunt object to hammer home a point, when it could be used as a high-precision tool. A laser.

So, while your encouraging your daughter (or son) to pursue a career in the sciences, also teach them the importance of language and grammar.

Advocate for literacy.

Be the laser.

Hey my doves, I’m sorry for the intermittent transmissions of late. The holidays effed my chi and I’m having some trouble getting back into the swing of things. I promise, it won’t be long now before I start swinging again.

That came out wrong.

In the meantime, check out this blog from Kristen Lamb–she as some excellent advice on not being a slave to the approval of others. It’s something that I still struggle with, and I hope to overcome.

Kristen Lamb's Blog

This is the first month of a new year and we all have our resolutions in place. But in order to succeed, we need to understand the terrain, the challenges we face. That’s what this series is going to address—Enemies of the Art. And yes, I am blogging five days a week now. My goal for this year is to master brevity.

Today’s enemy is Approval Addiction.

We all want approval. We long for admiration, a pat on the back, a nudge or a wink that tells us we have done something right. Yet, the dark side of this is that approval can be a drug. It lures us in with a rush that is fleeting. We start chasing the rush and can lose our art and ourselves if we aren’t careful.

My grandfather started out life on a cotton farm, reading books as he walked behind a plow, his…

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Sober Dinner Planning

Me: What are we having for dinner?

Roomie: I dunno. What do you want?

Me: *shrug* Well, there are leftovers. Or salads. Ooh, or we could have panquakes.

Roomie: *arches eyebrow* Panquakes?

Me: Yes. *snicker* Pan–panQUAKES! Bwhahahaha. Hush. Seriously. Pancakes. We do have Biscake.

Roomie: Biscake?

(fits of laughter)

Roomie: Yes, we can make panquakes with the Biscake that we have.

Me: Ooh! *crying through the laughter* CHOWATE CHWIP PANQUAKES!

Roomie: This is so going on Facebook.

(Then, later:)

Roomie: What are you texting?

Me: Facebooking. “We call them panquakes because they’ll rock. Your. World.”

2012 in review

This is pretty interesting information, just because I like to see what was popular and what wasn’t, who talks to me the most, etc. and so forth. Special thanks to my top five commenters! You’ve made me feel far less lonely out here in the infinite, wild expanse of “The Net.”

The WordPress.com stats helper monkeys prepared a 2012 annual report for this blog.

Here’s an excerpt:

600 people reached the top of Mt. Everest in 2012. This blog got about 2,300 views in 2012. If every person who reached the top of Mt. Everest viewed this blog, it would have taken 4 years to get that many views.

Click here to see the complete report.