Tuesday, September 18, 2012

What's the good word?

I come before you today as someone who enjoys full and (hopefully) appropriate use of the English language.  I enjoy a well-written book, article, or, given that I work in corporate America, even a well-written e-mail.  I catch myself thinking or occasionally even saying "good word use" in response to something that I might see in print or hear on television or among folks I encounter in my travels.

That said, something I don't especially enjoy is how certain words or phrases appear to be overused in our current cultural lexicon, whether by celebrities, reporters and commentators, sports broadcasters, or the general public.   I'm sure that I fall in love with a "new" catch word or phrase regularly, and substitute something new for that "new" word or phrase just as frequently.  Here, then, are some of my current pet peeves in the area of linguistics:

AMAZING

There must be something about a certain age range utilizing that word all too often, as it seems I hear that most frequently from my thirty-something kids and others around that age.  I hear of people, foods, cars, purses, movies, carpet, electronic devices and all manner of things.  I guess I'm just not that readily amazed, but I find the overfrequent use of that word to be a bit tiresome.

MEME

This appears to be a word that was almost invented, as I don't recall ever seeing it, until somewhere in the past few months, it sprang up all over the Internet.  In my experience it's mostly used by folks describing something akin to a storyline, or, as I found on Wikipedia, "an idea, behavior or style that spreads from person to person within a culture."  Don't feel bad, I had to look it up, too.

IRREGARDLESS

Actually, there's no such word that I can find.  I had the misfortune of working for a man many years ago who was not nearly as intelligent or cultured as he would have had you believe.  And the most telling thing was his use--no, EXTENSIVE use--of this "word."  Here's Webster's online dictionary's take on this:

Irregardless originated in dialectal American speech in the early 20th century. Its fairly widespread use in speech called it to the attention of usage commentators as early as 1927. The most frequently repeated remark about it is thatthere is no such word. There is such a word, however. It is still used primarily in speech, although it can be found from time to time in edited prose. Its reputation has not risen over the years, and it is still a long way from general acceptance. Use regardless instead.

For the last several years I worked under a person who used this word sometimes, alongside other classics such as "flustrated," "me and ____," "stay ahead of the curve ball" and many others.  Joy.

NOW, SOME BUSINESS TERMS

If you like "Dilbert," as I do, you see certain words and phrases run into the ground on a regular basis.  Ditto the corporate environment.  Here are some of my favorite words and phrases from corporate-speak:

Low hanging fruit
Full transparency
Actionable
Eat the frog (no, I'm not making that one up)
Circle back
Facilitate
Traction
Go-live

I could keep going, but I don't want to reinvent the wheel (sorry, couldn't resist adding one more).

So if you read my comments in this space now or in the future and feel I'm drifting into this overuse territory I decry so, please call me out on it.  Really.

Thursday, September 13, 2012

Duly noted

Here's a roundup of what's been floating through my brain for the last few hours/days/weeks.....

The Cincinnati Reds are 30 (THIRTY) games over .500 at this point in the season.  They enjoy their biggest lead in their division since 1995, and their "magic number" is eight.  This means that any combination of Reds wins and losses by the St. Louis Cardinals (their nearest competitor in the standings) will result in the Reds winnning the National League Central Division championship.  They may well have a Cy Young award winner among their pitching staff (Johnny Cueto) and the Rookie of the Year in the National League (Todd Frazier).  Good times, baby.

I recently considered adding a monitor to my home computer setup (I use a Macbook Air with a wireless external keyboard and mouse here at home and the Air alone when traveling), having played around with the same arrangement by temporarily setting up a small television as a monitor a while back.  I sold the TV but the monitor idea kind of stuck with me.  Then I read about laptop computer stands, which elevate the screen to eye level.  So I examined the possibilities and bought one, thinking that it would live up to its claim of reducing the strain on my neck and shoulders.  Turns out that the stand CAUSED more strain than it reduced, so that little guy (which was quite attractive and matched my Macbook Air) is heading back to Amazon today.

I was traveling by car back from Nashville late yesterday afternoon/early last evening, and stopped in a small town between Bowling Green and Elizabethtown for a quick bite at a McDonald's (stop it, I like McDonald's occasionally).  Noticed two things of interest:  1)  Some McDonald's units have now added calorie information to their menu boards.  Very helpful if you're conscious of same, but a little odd, when you consider that McDonald's wouldn't be your first choice when you're really watching those calories!  2)  It was a little unusual seeing an Amish family (at least I believe they were Amish) drive their horse-driven carriage into the parking lot, walk into the restaurant, order food and eat.  I'm not speaking negatively of the Amish, but since my understanding of their ways come largely from popular culture, I wasn't aware that they would frequent a fast-food establishment.

Who's running Mitt Romney's campaign, anyway, the Keystone Kops?  I know everyone isn't a supporter of President Obama, but whomever determined that Romney and his election efforts would benefit from his campaign's actions of the last 36 hours relative to the tragedy in Libya really didn't think things through.

I noticed online this morning that Jim Calhoun, the head basketball coach at Connecticut, is going to announce his retirement this morning.  It's my understanding that he's experienced multiple medical issues for the past few years, and he's probably reached an age where he just cannot keep up the pace necessary to be competitive.

And that brings me to one Billy Clyde Gillispie, former men's basketball coach at Kentucky and now (in name, anyway) the coach of same at Texas Tech.  Apparently scores of folks have complained about his treatment of players, coaches, adminstrative staff, media and probably the folks who sell the popcorn at the university's arena, too.  The guy had two very rough years at Kentucky and by all accounts here his problems were largely self-inflicted.  He's presently at the Mayo Clinic, allegedly, but it seems to me that he's hiding behind sick leave in order to avoid being fired.  Kind of like a kid claiming a stomachache to avoid taking a test for which he's unprepared.  Kind of sad, really.

During my trip to Nashville on Tuesday I happened to listen to a new channel's replay of the actual broadcasts of NBC's coverage of the events of September 11, 2001.  At first I was afraid I'd feel that I was being morbidly curious, but gradually was reminded of how well NBC (and all news outlets, really) gathered and disseminated information as they received it, working hard to separate fact from speculation, indicating what had been verified versus what was unconfirmed.  Impressive.






Wednesday, September 5, 2012

A whole bunch of nothing

Once again, no particular subject that I'm writing of today, just a variety of topics that have interested me lately.

I'm not watching every minute of the Republican and Democratic conventions, as I have a life and there's other stuff to do and watch and so forth.  But I have to say that the enthusiasm level appears to be higher at the Democratic function than at the Republican one, at least based on what I've seen.  I'm reminded of something John Lennon said at a Beatles performance for a royal charity many years ago (and I'm going to have to paraphrase this):  "For this next number, we ask for your help.  The folks in the cheaper seats, clap your hands.  And the rest of you, just rattle your jewelry."  Perhaps that's an apt analogy.

Kentucky's football season is off to a....well, it started on Sunday with a loss to in-state archrival Louisville.  I don't know that Louisville's team is that good or Kentucky's is that bad, but that was a pretty one-sided game in many respects.  Kentucky's defense would have difficulty stopping any team, as they are missing some talented defensive players from last year's team.  One game in a twelve-game campaign, it's early, so we'll see how this plays out.

This is not at all the case with my Cincinnati Reds, who continue to lead the National League Central Division by a healthy margin.  And the most astounding aspect of their lead is that they've built much of it without their best player, the extraordinarily talented Joey Votto, who just returned to the active roster yesterday following a knee injury, two surgical procedures and a cautious rehabilitation period.  But they roll on, continuing to win games at an impressive clip and having used the same five starting pitchers all season, something I never thought I'd see.  Crossing my fingers for a nice run in October for this outstanding team!

Made a kind of interesting change in my personal entertainment sources recently.....we have satellite radios in both of our cars and I have one that can be used in the car, house or elsewhere, too.  All of this was a happy accident that occurred when we bought my wife's car, and discovered that it came with a free trial of this service.  Trying and listening is believing, so here we were with three radios.  Decided to explore the possibility of decluttering my desktop and, lo and behold, the company offers an Internet-based option that I can also access from my iPad.  Both methods work like a charm, and it's cheaper by several dollars a month than the traditional route.  Made that transition a couple of weeks ago and am very pleased!

Since I still have over two gallons of high quality paint from my ambitious painting project (covered extensively in this space) I'm looking very carefully at some other small projects around the old homeplace.  The master bedroom closet looks like the next victim of my painting prowess, sometime this week, probably.  That's about the only space in our house (except for the other closets) that has not been painted at least once since we've lived here.

Enjoying a week without business travel, but that ends next week with a trip to Nashville.  Enjoy the rest of YOUR week!






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