Brevity Is Not My Middle Name

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(Sometimes the pump just needs priming. After writing about having nothing to say, it turns out I actually did have something to say today. It was just hiding. Here’s a second post for the day.)

A few weeks ago, we had a manager’s meeting here at work. This is a once a quarter affair where we meet, eat pastry, and talk about our plans for the department over the next three months.

Part of these meetings is also a discussion about how we, the management team, can improve ourselves and be better leaders for our team.

This quarter’s growth topic in support of that goal was about our use of words.

A senior member of our staff held aloft the cap from a water bottle, and told us the goal was to “use a capful, don’t pour out the whole bottle.”

He told us to shorten the bullets on our PowerPoint presentations.

He told us to “speak in conclusions” in our emails.

He told us to always be aware of how many words we’re using and then trim it back.

Ironically, it took him over half an hour to pass along this message.

I deeply considered throwing the cap from my own water bottle at him.

But I didn’t.

Ahem.

Look, dear readers, you’ve been with me for over three years, and 1,000 posts which amounts to approximately half a million words.

Do you *really* think I can “use a capful” when I write?

People, please.

To paraphrase The Dude, I’m not really into that whole brevity thing.

I’m a writer! I’m a creative! I pass words like currency through my life. My husband and my best friend, the closest people to me, both have kick ass vocabularies! If you’re gonna run with me, you gotta love the use of words and language and be willing to endure my penchant for storytelling the whole damn six pack, not just the capful.

No, I say! No! I reject the capful and dive headfirst into the ocean of words, swim around nekkid, get the words all soaked into my skin and then I’ll use a few more adverbs just to make it more, erm, wordly!

Damnit! Asking me to ratchet back the words is like tying Rodin‘s hands behind his back and asking him to craft a masterpiece with his toes.*

Ain’t gonna happen.**

* Look who is comparing herself to Rodin. That’s a bit audacious, innit?

** That said…I’m trying. Well, trying at work anyway. Be warned, all the words I have to cut out of my days at work are so totally going to show up here.

Cartoon from Toothpaste for Dinner

Expanding My Mind

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When I was in graduate school at NMSU, I was required to take an International Management class.

This was the early 90’s in Las Cruces. “International Management” meant discussing NAFTA and the Maquiladoras on the border.

Don’t get me wrong, that was very valuable learning, especially when NAFTA was in its infancy and no one was certain the impact it would create.

In the final analysis, I find that no matter how wonderful the professor or how much I enjoyed the class, the “international” portion of my education class was seriously lacking.

We might have discussed Japan but only very briefly, and mainly it was topic of fear as Japan was kicking our butt in manufacturing (they still are).

But that was it. Conversations about EMEA (and the Euro), the technology boom in India and vast low cost production from China were all still a long way off.

So they taught what they knew at the time and the rest I’ve had to figure out for myself.

Over the past two days, I’ve had telephone meetings with my employees located in Sydney, Sao Paulo and London.

These are three very different countries and cultures. How I speak with and manage my team varies widely. The concerns, the attention to detail, the speed of work is all over the board. I have to figure it out for each person individually so I can be the best and most effective manager possible.

Today after chatting with London, then Sao Paulo, I needed to speak with a supplier representative. I thought he was in the US until I looked at his business card. Nope, Hong Kong.

“What the hell time is it in Hong Kong?!” I wailed aloud as I’d already calculated too many time zones for the day.

For the record, 10:15am is 1:15 tomorrow morning in Hong Kong. So glad I didn’t just ring up his cell phone.

But that one moment of frustration aside, I honestly love it. Every minute of these calls and building the relationships with my team is a learning experience. I’ve worked for companies that touted themselves to be a global company. My current employer truly is.

The other day I walked to the cafeteria and as people walked past me, I heard Italian, Spanish, what I believe was Cantonese (my ear for the various Asian languages is not strong) and many, many central Asia languages spoken amongst my coworkers.

We are truly a multicultural company filled with profoundly intelligent people. I know there are many people who fear the vast influx of people from other countries of the world to the US.

Me, I love it. I feel more a part of the world than I ever did before (heck, my own brother lives in Kuala Lumpur!).

Each day my mind expands and I grow and I love every minute of that.

Last week, when I was in New Mexico, a buddy of mine from back in the day asked me what my job was these days.

I told him about the job and he’d heard of my employer (it’s a biggie).

He shook his head, spit out some Copenhagen, looked me square in the eye and said, “That’s pretty good for a little girl from New Mexico.”

Yeah. Not too bad.

(My phone lines are, indeed, humming)

Stumbling in there at the last moment

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Several months ago, I participated in a fiction project for the Brooklyn-based Art House Co-Op. I was given a theme and a Moleskine notebook and then asked to fill it with stories and images.

And I did! So much fun.

Based on that success, I decided to take on another Art House Co-Op challenge.

This one is called “The Canvas Project.”

They sent me three 4×4 inch canvases and a card with three words on it.

My job? To interpret the three words visually, one per canvas.

The words I got? Not easy.

Here they are:

1. Flatuence (because the universe is laughing at me… And yes, it can be spelled without that second L)

2. Training (really? Visually?)

3. Glassy (Oh, hey, sure. Easy peasy. I can visually display an adjective. NOT! I must have looked at the card twenty times to be sure it didn’t say “gassy”)

I’ve had the canvases since July. They were required to be postmarked today.

So of course last night I was madly painting and gluing and fretting! I had two done well ahead of time but the third one, glassy, eluded me.

But I got them done. The Good Man promised to mail them out today.

Whew.

Anyhow, I took some semi-decent photos with my iPhone last night.

Herewith, my entries to The Canvas Project exhibition:

Flatuence:

Yes. That’s pinto beans. Yes, that’s dried roses. And in case you can’t tell from the photograph, that white spot in the center? That’s a tablet of Beano.

heh.

Training:

When taking beginning painting (or drawing) classes, they tell you to draw a grid on the canvas and work square by square. So I used a very simple image and incorporated a grid as my own personal training.

All four sides carry the warning “Artist in Training.”

And finally…this is the last canvas I finished. The glue might even still be setting up while the canvas sits in a box ready to ship….

Glassy:

By the by…broken glass is a LOT harder to work with than I’d expected. Though I worked out much pent up anxiety by smashing all that glass with a hammer. One clear glass pane from a picture frame, a mirror, and a glass candle holder from the Dollar Store, a San Pellegrino green bottle and a cobalt blue tincture bottle gave their all for art.

Big fun! I’m excited to see if any of my pieces are picked for the gallery show in December.

Yay! Thanks Art House Co-Op!!!

That Pesky Spell Check

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I was rereading a few of my text messages the other day on my iPhone. I was looking for a bit of information a friend had given me, so I had the chance to read what I’d written.

I was a little bit embarrassed. Oh the violations of Funk and Wagnalls I’ve committed and sent out to the universe.

Since I have a full keyboard to use for texting, I tend to shy away from the internet approved shortened word uses. It’s a point of pride to write in full sentence form.

I don’t know why, it just is.

However…that very aggressive auto correct on the phone does tend to trip me up.

That got me to thinking about how much I rely on spell check and auto correct these days, which is bad. Spell check isn’t perfect. A 100% spell checked document could still have mistakes.

Gah!

There are a LOT of words that when spelled wrong, are actually still a word. But ya still look kinda silly using the wrong word.

Also, plenty of times, spell check suggests the wrong word entirely.

I see these misused but correctly spelled quite a bit online, in email and of course, on places like Facebook and Twitter.

You can find a few examples here:

10 Common Errors “Spell Check” Won’t Catch

(I’ll ignore the blatant use of unnecessary quotes in that headline)

Yeah, I’ve either seen or made (or both) all of the errors in the article.

There’s a few that get me that aren’t on that list…like:

Rein, meaning how you steer a horse and;

Reign, meaning how you rule a kingdom.

Right, as in I get to have it, and;

Rite, as in I get to dance under the moon about it.

Also troublsome…

To, too and two. I tend to put too many o’s in there at the wrong time. It’s hard to tell the two apart.

And one that makes me bonkers is lose and loose. I see a LOT of posts on support boards about “if I could only loose ten pounds.” It’s a pet peeve.

The article lists through versus threw. However…that’s not where my language and typing skills break down. Nope, I struggle with

Through, as in, I’m past it and;

Thorough, as in I did a complete job.

I even struggled typing that sentence. Gah!

I’ve noticed lately that even publishing houses, once the very model of correct spelling and grammar, are also slacking off in this department. The last four books I’ve read, all recent publications, have had typos, as many as six in one case.

And internet news articles! Ugh!

It seems no one is watching the chicken coop any more on spelling and grammar. Despite trying really hard not to slip, even I’m guilty as charged.

I fret that as our language continues to evolve, misspelling and bad grammar will become appropriate. English teachers of the world, unite!