Not Just Another Grouchy Grammarian

Musings about language, books, grammar, and writing in general

Archive for the category “Life happens”

Quick Note

Your grammarian is still here, and still grouchy. She has, however, been recovering from open heart surgery, specifically a septal myectomy, on March 26th.

She apologizes for the delay, and for any inconvenience, and hopes to be grousing regularly again in the near future.

The Dying Art of Conversation

Picture of three friends conversing by Mickalene Thomas. Photo ©2012 Deborah J. Wunder

Picture of three friends conversing by Mickalene Thomas. Photo ©2012 Deborah J. Wunder

Barrie Davenport, of Live Bold and Bloom, has an excellent article on the art of conversation. What caught my attention wasn’t so much the tips on conversation, but the assertion that we are increasingly becoming convinced that conversation doesn’t matter:

“We’ve forgotten the power the spoken word has both for good and ill. And we’ve been duped into believing it doesn’t matter that much.

But it does matter. It matters because in spite of the accessibility of cyber-communication and our reliance upon it, we still need real interaction. We crave it — it’s genetically coded in our DNA. Humans are social beings who want to connect and engage with others.”

I think she is correct on several levels. First, I do think that many of us are relying more and more on our electronic devices to do our communicating. Heck, I note that I am a phone freak – mostly because it’s often just easier to reach out to someone by phone than for both me and the person I want to talk with to find time in our schedules to actually – you know – get together, especially since doing so often involves an hour or mor each way on public transit for us to be able to do so.

But, yeah, no matter how well I know my friends it is often harder to pick up conversational nuances over the phone. The body language just isn’t visible to me.

Mind, I have no problem with using texts and email to get information to someone quickly. I just used it yesterday, in fact, to get information about software for converting 78 rpm records into files that can be put on a cd or a computer, and then to let a different friend know that I had that information, and have someone who can walk me through the process if/when he wants to leave the old 78s he found at my house for a few weeks. In this case, email was the optimal solution — I was able to get the information to my friend without a long, drawn-out conversation about his current situation. (It’s not that I’m not sympathetic to his predicament, but I had a lot of work to accomplish, and couldn’t really spare the time to hear the whole story rehashed.) On the whole, though, I enjoy a good phone chat.

However, I do prefer getting together with someone for a number of reasons, not the least of which is that it gets me away from my computer and phone for a bit. Besides, I never know what interesting things will occur when I am hanging out with friends, and that’s generally fun to discover.  An acquaintance of mine mentioned liking tea of Facebook recently, and I messaged him back that we should have lunch at my favorite tea shop. We set up the lunch, and it turns out that he is inviting a third person — the owner of the shop, who is a friend of his! So my world will get a little bigger because my acquaintance and I decided that some real life conversation over a cup of tea (and one of their excellent salads, maybe) was a good idea.

And that’s what conversation is really about — reinforcing the connection between us. And no matter how good our webcams are, no matter how personal our blog posts, there are few things better than a long, thoughtful conversation between friends (with all the body language, facial expressions, vocal cues, and – if we are lucky – hugs and physical contact) for reaffirming our humanity, and our joy in connecting with another person.

Sometimes, I Don’t Understand People.

Your grammarian was asked this evening to plug a site collecting funds for victims of the West Texas thing.

I looked at the website, and — if this guy is honest — it’s nowhere near ready to be plugged. It has a couple of articles, but no information on who the fund it, what its mission is, who the principals are, etc.

Given all the scammers who arise after these sort of catastrophic things, you’d think he’d know better.  Especially after complaining to me that he suspects another site to be that of a scammer because it only has one page.

I offered him feedback instead, and offered to look at the site again when it was complete, and he got kind of huffy about it.

The thing is, while I’m sure he’s sincere I cannot in good conscience plug something asking people for money unless I know exactly who is collecting that money, where and how it will be disbursed, who is behind the collection, and all the other stuff you want to know before giving to charity. It would be irresponsible of me to to do so.

If I ask my readers to click on something, it is something I can totally endorse. And, if I try to ascertain that your site is something on the up and up, I don’t expect huffiness as a response.

The guy tried to backtrack and say that the site was not complete, but he wants linkbacks to start coming in now. He may want that, and he may find others who will do that, but I won’t. He claims to be working with the mayor of the town affected. Why not have the mayor write a testimonial for him, then? All I see on the site are some uncredited articles about the incident.

To me, that’s a warning that this guy is not going to be doing what he says he is. Especially since his response to being asked to provide more information to his visitors is to get huffy.

Anyway, you guys can rest assured that I will never steer you towards something that I do not believe to be totally on the up and up.

Your Grammarian is Feeling Much Better Today

I did start this post on Saturday, but I ended up taking a short nap — that lasted five hours!

Got paid for the first manuscript, and even got a second — which is much better in so many ways. Good, strong story and characters; good, transparent writing that doesn’t get in the way of the story; and an author who clearly did his homework, but doesn’t have to dump his erudition on the reader. I’m really enjoying working on this one.

The new computer is working smoothly which is a godsend, especially after having to do my last month or so’s work by borrowing the roomie’s computer in order to have workable internet service.

One of the problems with recovering from congestive heart failure, with fluid in the lungs, is that I need a lot more sleep than I used to. And I need to remember to be kind to myself. My energy now crashes out fairly suddenly, and when it does I need to stop, quite literally. I’ve had to go home in the middle of get-togethers with friends, and I’ve had to stop mid-writing to go and take a nap. It’s annoying but — at least for now — it’s my reality, and I need to take care of it.

I’m working my way through the pile of library books slowly. Finished Fr. Andrew Greeley’s The Making of the Pope 2005, and am now reading John Shelby Spong’s Jesus for the Non-Religious and Jonathan Safran Foer’s Eating Animals. Both are interesting, so far. Will talk about them when I am through.  I also have Seanan McGuire’s A Local Habitation on my iPhone, as well as Thomas Hobbes’ Leviathan. I’m also working my way through Dr. Phil McGraw’s Life Strategies, which is very interesting. I should note that I am disposed to like Dr. Phil — he calls for action instead of whinging, which is refreshing int his world where so many people feel that endlessly complaining about a problem is the same as doing something about it.

Anyway, that’s it for this week, I think. See everyone next time!


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