Archive | May, 2011

Words are hard

29 May

I read an article the other day about words people should use to sound more intelligent.  I couldn’t help but wonder if anyone actually took the article seriously.  It included words such as: red herring, idiosyncratic, tête-à-tête, etc.  I’m all for expanding your vocabulary and learning new words, but I feel there are much more productive ways of increasing the amount of words  you know and incorporating them into daily use other than memorizing  a list of random  words and hoping to slip them into conversations.

Read.  A lot.

Growing up, my parents owned a restaurant and didn’t always have the time to find  productive activities for my sister and I, so in order to get me to turn off Barney my mother would walk us over to the library and leave us there for hours.  Not the most responsible thing as I could have been kidnapped (have I mentioned I’m extremely paranoid?) , but I loved it.  I absolutely loved reading and I still do. I remember checking out the maximum amount of books they allowed every trip.  I know I sound like the kind of child that got beat up on the playground, but reading has always been and always will be a major facet of my life.  It’s the single most effective way I believe for someone to increase their vocabulary.  The vast amount of words you take in from a single book (not picture book) is incredible and even if you know all of the words on every page, you’re bound to come across some that you haven’t used in a while.

Write often

Writing is like talking, except planned.  When you write, there are do-overs.  Nothing is set in stone until you’re ready for it to be.  Writing often gives you a great chance to exercise words you might have forgotten about.  It’s an incredible way to familiarize yourself with the English language and use words you might not use in real life.  I mean seriously, who really ever says, “tête-à-tête”?


Get acquainted with a thesaurus

To me, a thesaurus is more valuable and more often used than a dictionary.  Using a thesaurus is such an easy way to say things in a more intelligent way.  Of course, make sure that what you’re saying is what you mean or you’ll end up sounding the opposite of how you want, kind of dumb and “special”. However, when used correctly a thesaurus opens up a huge pool of vernacular that may not often be used and it’s a great way to discover words that you’ve never read or heard of. So, please don’t pull a “Joey” as demonstrated in the video below.

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Racist or just really not a fan of miscommunication?

24 May

I received a link to this story in my e-mail the other day and I’m slightly perturbed by it.  Short story even shorter: Reedy Creek Diner chef Greg Simons in Lexington, North Carolina displays the above sign in his restaurant.  He then claims that, “Everybody’s money is green as far as I’m concerned. It’s a communication thing.”

On one hand I would like to think that it really is “a communication thing”,  yet somehow I can’t seem to shake the possibility that he’s slightly racist.  Does anyone else get that vibe?  I hate miscommunication as much as the next person.  Actually, I’m pretty sure I hate it much more since Mr. Kelley and I spend a lot of the time on the phone together and half the time he’s speaking at a decibel only dolphins (they apparently have incredible hearing) can hear.  So yes, I understand that in our day-to-day lives miscommunication is a major inconvenience, however, we don’t purposely avoid talking to people with whom we may not understand. 

I comprehend that it’s Mr. Simmons’ prerogative if he wants to not serve certain people, but it’s everyone else’s prerogative to have a problem with it and label him a racist.  Surely someone is going to see a parallel between his restaurant excluding non-English speakers and other businesses excluding people who don’t wear shirts or shoes.  Yet there is a major difference: those who choose not to wear shirts or shoes when walking into an establishment can simply go home and find the appropriate articles of clothing to wear, but people who don’t speak English can’t easily pop in their Rosetta Stone and learn another language in time for the next time they crave diner food. 

I’ve thought about this for a bit because being called a racist is a pretty hefty accusation and perhaps he might just really have a vexation with not understanding what people are saying, but if that’s the case why doesn’t he also exclude people who speak English as a second language or those with accents? I know from experience that it’s pretty darn difficult to understand them (my parents are a great example).  Perhaps then he’d need a better excuse aside from “Everybody’s money is green…”

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Optimism Found in a Letter

20 May

I received a letter earlier this week from a professor I had last semester.  He had missed the last two classes and wrote a letter to each of his students explaining why.  He recently discovered he had cancer  and is currently undergoing chemotherapy.  After three sessions of chemo, he says things are looking up.  Along with the letter was my final paper I had to write with his handwritten notes in red.  He apologized for not being able to grade the rest of our homework.  Before I saw the graded paper I was surprised that while ill, he still took the time to type up and individually address and sign each letter.  Yet when I saw that he had attached my paper with handwritten comments I was amazed.  It really meant something to me that he not only read each one of his students’ papers, but he also took the time to write back.  Neither his letter nor the comments he wrote were very long, but they were both filled with gratitude and optimism.  Simple words filled with an abundance of meaning that made his love for teaching and appreciation for his students apparent.

The class topic wasn’t necessarily beneficial or valuable, but it was a privilege and a pleasure to have been able to meet the sweet man who taught it. He definitely had a glass-half-full kind of outlook. His sanguinity is apparent through and through as demonstrated in his letter (he includes that he “intends to stay active and will continue to do [his] best”).  If there is one thing I learned from spending my Saturdays with him it’s nothing from the syllabus, but directly from the professor who taught it: optimism is contagious.

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Delta did not provide friendly skies

17 May

I was flying back to Reno a couple nights ago thinking about what I could blog about next.  Luckily there was a nasty Delta flight attendant that helped me solve that problem.   He was an older, rotund man who clearly was not having the best day.  He made it a point to rudely stare at people trying to turn their cell phones off and huff and puff loudly as he walked down the walkway.   All of this was fine because, well because it didn’t really involve me.  I had anything with an on/off switch turned off and my carry-ons were safely stowed beneath the seat in front of me, so the angry man didn’t bother me too much.  It wasn’t until he handed me my drink and I asked if he could throw away the coffee cup I had (he was pushing a drink cart with an attached garbage can) did he really irk me.  After I asked him he didn’t respond.  He continued taking the drink orders of the passengers behind me, so I figured he just didn’t hear me.  As I’m waiting for him to finish getting everyone’s drinks, I’m staring at him with my empty coffee cup, he rudely (and grumpily) says, “You can wait and throw it away later!” and walks away.   Yes, that grumpy man pushing a drink cart with a garbage can attached refused to throw away my empty cup.  Yet, the next attendant that passed me with a cart gladly tossed my cup for me. 

I understand that everyone has bad days.  I understand that not everyone loves their job.  I even understand that perhaps his garbage can could have been full, but could he not have said it when I first asked him to throw it away and more specifically said it nicer?  In an industry heavily focused on customer service there really is no room for assholes. Especially in an economic climate like the one we’re in where people have many other alternatives to turn to. I’m not saying companies need to bend over backwards, but I feel that going the extra mile and offering more than what’s asked (or even what is explicitly asked, “can you throw away my coffee cup?”) should be the norm.  As unpleasant of a day that flight attendant was having he’s still getting paid to be there, the least he could do was make the best of it. 

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Lessons in Blogging: Part 2

11 May

Yesterday’s post was about my terrible assumptions I made about blogging, but I think in the last three months I’ve learned a lot.  Aside from the simple, “the longer you do it, the better you’ll become” , I’ve become accustomed to waking up and having the thought, “What can I blog about today?” consistently running through my head.  I don’t always have an answer to that question, although I wish I did (that would make my life a lot easier).   Some of the things I’ve learned recently may not be helpful to everyone, but I’ll gladly share them in hopes of inspiring someone.

Blog about the familiar

When I started this blog I wanted to write about something profound.  I wanted to write about things that blew people’s minds.  Well I’m not sure I’ve accomplished that, but I can honestly say I’m completely satisfied with everything I’ve written and posted.  They may not be the most eloquently written and the topics may not be spectacular, but everything I write about are things I know.  I would feel like an A-hole offering insight on topics I have no clue about because I am confident readers would be able to tell.  I write about communicating and effectively saying what you mean because it’s what I do frequently.  I know that I don’t know it all, but I am confident that I know some and I want to share that with you.

Do it because you want to

Sometimes it’s just not a blogger’s day.  There are days when no matter hard I try, words just aren’t there and that’s ok.  Posts should never be forced to meet a deadline or contrived as a result of desperation.  They should be enjoyable to write and enjoyable to read.  I purposely chose a pretty broad category to write about because I wanted options and I wanted variety.  Communication and words are the meat and potatoes of my blog, but who wants to eat meat and potatoes every day?

Share your experiences

People may not like talking about themselves, but it’s always enjoyable to hear stories.  So many things happen in a day that if I didn’t write them down, it would be a waste.  I love sharing stories, not just about myself but others as well.  Stories engage, connect and intrigue people.  They make you human and relatable.  I always find it easier to write about topics that somehow relate to me because I can’t tell what to do, but I can tell you how I failed, succeeded or learned and hope that you’ll take that into account the next time you have a conversation with a 4-year-old or consider joining Twitter.

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Lessons in Blogging: Part 1

10 May

As mentioned in my last post, I started this blog as an assignment never thinking it was going to be as cathartic or enjoyable as it is, but turns out I actually really like it.  Not the easiest hobby or even relaxing, but what I’ve been able to gain from doing this for the past three months has been irreplaceable.  Before I started blogging I had some assumptions going in that proved, once again, how I don’t know everything (funny how that happens).

Blogging isn’t easy

My thought process going into this was, “I like writing and I like words. I’ll write about words.”  Well, this idea didn’t exactly stick around very long. Turns out, as fascinating as I find words others probably beg to differ.  Having an educational background in PR and marketing means I always have to have an angle.  I always have to have a reason for writing about what I choose to write about and finding a reason to write about words… not the easiest task.

Being unique is harder than it seems

Growing up we all learn that we’re unique or special in our own way.  As adults, we get lost in the clutter. It becomes exponentially more difficult to feel special when we get older and almost impossible to stand out online.  Finding something, anything, that’s uniquely yours is a challenging and daunting task.  Whether it’s drawing disturbing additions on celebrity pictures (similar to the always classy Perez Hilton) or showing people how to cook through pictures (as The Pioneer Woman does has made my time in the kitchen much easier), find what makes your site yours and stick to it.

Get over yourself

Just because you’re posting doesn’t mean it’s being read.  I was completely over thinking my first couple of posts when -5 people were reading them.  Not every post needs to be award-winning literature because chances are that the actual amount of people reading your writing is usually less than you want. Write about what you enjoy and don’t over think it because no one is ever as critical of you as you are of you.

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Without struggle, there is no progress

7 May

I first started this blog as a class assignment and I honestly didn’t know how it was going to turn out.  I was worried no one was going to read it, concerned that I would come off dumb and scared of what people would think.  But three months later and I’ve realized that this blog is more for me than anyone else.  I don’t think there’s any ounce of information that I could share with you that you probably don’t know.  Communicating is pretty simple; we’ve all been doing it for a very long time now.  All I can offer are my experiences, my outcomes, and what I’ve gained.  I appreciate all of the input I’ve received so far and all of the comments that have come.  It means a lot to me that people invest time to read my posts and energy to write back.

This blog provides me with a means of communication to those who I may not be able to reach had it not been through WordPress and I’m thankful.   My professor ended our class on Tuesday night by saying, “The only way you’ll fail (blogging) is if you stop.”  This holds true for anything you do.  Fredrick Douglass said, “Without struggle there is no progress.”  This has always resonated with me because I’m not the kind that doesn’t like failure.  I more than hate it; I’m afraid of it, but I’m going to keep on writing and keep on posting because I think communication is important and it’s vital and it’s the one thing that connects us all.

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