Friday, November 27, 2009

Friday Fix: Adapting to Environment

Effective communicators always note their environment and adapt accordingly. That's why we whisper in church, yell at ballgames, and speak with our "goofy voices" only around those we know love us unconditionally (you know, like when you talk to your baby, your love, or your dog...Duzza wovey dovey wanna nice boney woney?).

So when certain communication behavior violates the accepted context of an environment, all KINDS of interesting things can happen. (Imagine if football players, for example, patted other men on the butt OFF the football field!) People around you become uncomfortable and their desire to communicate dwindles. If folks adapted in consideration of others, we wouldn't hear of such craziness as Toys R Us shutting down TWICE on Black Friday due to people fighting. Adapt, people!

Consider this scenario. It's 5:45 a.m. on Black Friday at the local Walmart. One check-out line has filled two perpendicular aisles and I take my place on the end not realizing that hubby found a much shorter line on the other side of the store.

As I whip out my phone to call and see where he is, the woman in front of me turns my direction, glares infrared to a male a few yards behind me and barks,"Just grab the f'ing thing!" (Expletive modified because, you know, I'm adapting to my environment and all and we don't use that language on here, now do we?)

Mr. Unfortunate did indeed grab the thing and took his place beside his lady in front of me. I stood there feeling a little emptier upon witnessing the whole scene. Along with at least 50 other people within earshot.

SHE, my friends, communicated in a way that did not fit the environment. If she talks to him that way at home and he takes it, I guess that's their business (but will you join me in praying for them?). But to taint the air of everyone else in the vicinity? Well, how many of us do you think wanted to engage in joyful chit-chat with her. Um, that would be none.

Glory be. My hubby picked up my call and rescued me by telling me to meet him at his prime check-out real estate location. And do you know there were ALL KINDS of friendly, environment-adapting people to chit-chat with when I got there?

Courteous environment-adapting folks in the short line, loud curse-word spewing non-environment-adapting folks (or at least one) in the looooong line.

NOT a coincidence, I'm sure! ;-)

Friday, November 20, 2009

Friday Fix: A Lot

"A lot" is two words.

It's not "alot" ever.

Even though you see it wrong a lot.

'Nuff said. (And herein lies another lesson: Brevity is a virtue.) ;-)

Friday, November 13, 2009

Friday Fix: Hypen or Dash?

Truth #1: A hyphen separates parts of words. You can even connect words with them to function adjectively. Teddy wants to re-think his career choice. He's in couldn't-care-less mode.

Truth #2: A dash separates parts of sentences, usually for emphasis. Baby, that chili is delicious--I'm talking, the best ever!

Truth #3: You usually have to key in two hyphens to make a dash. Most word processing programs then join them to make one longer line, but on blogger this is a hyphen -, and this is a dash --.

Truth #4: Yes, I'm being totally serious.

It can be kind of confusing for the reader if the wrong one is used-see what I mean? It may bamboozle the reader in a gee--that--doesn't--seem--right sort of way. Mm hmm...

So I hope my in-your-face approach makes sense and that you've come to appreciate the unique distinctions between the humble--yet powerful!--hyphen and dash.

Friday, November 6, 2009

Friday Fix: The Power of Parallelism

Today's Friday Fix is not so much a "fix" as it is a suggestion for improved writing. It also works great in verbal communication situations. And "it" is...


Oh yeah, baby, this little gem is used for emphasis, making your audience sit up and take notice. It provides sort of a cadence of familiarity while driving home a point.

So I'm sure you're saying to yourself by now oh, Friday Fix Lady, please share how to use parallelism so that I, too, can emphasize my insights and drive my points home to my readers and listeners.

But of course.

Parallelism is simply using parallel structure. It can occur within a single sentence, among several sentences, or even throughout paragraphs. "We came; we saw; we conquered" is more memorable than "We showed up and saw what was going on and then we kicked some butt." Martin Luther King, Jr.'s "I Have a Dream" speech makes beautiful use of parallelism throughout, giving each "I have a dream that one day..." segment progressively more power with each repetition as he builds momentum for new, vivid ideas.

Consider this excerpt from the most recent post on the Olive Branch:

If anger is our issue, I can assure you that God wants to help us deal with that because we’ll be a lot happier if we’re not honked off all the time.

If being offended is our issue, I can assure you that God wants to help us with that because we’ll be a lot happier if our feelings aren’t hurt all the time.

If fear is our issue, I can assure you that God wants to help us with that because we’ll have a happier life if we learn to trust God instead of living in a state of worry all the time. (Thanks for your permission to use this, Missy!)

See how each sentence is structured the same way? By the time we read the beginning of the second point, we sense the repeated cadence and tune in a little closer. By the end of the third sentence we feel a sense of completion as all the ideas are unified through parallelism.

Do ya get it? Don't ya love it? Won't ya use it?

A lot of great quotes ranging from historical to pop culture are memorable because of parallelism. I'd love to see you leave a comment of any that come to mind! Let's have a parallelism party; post below! Whoot Whoot!

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Halloween '09

Halloween '09 saw some pretty great characters!

Here's poodle skirt girl, otherwise known as Rizzo (cleaned up and innocent of course with nary a cigarette or Kenicki in sight).

And here's Indiana Jones. I know I'm a little biased but I think he could replace Harrison Ford.

And here's miss zombie cheerleader. If you remember last year's post, Mais has a knack for changing her mind at the last minute. And this is what she decided to be at the last minute using stuff we already had at home instead of the vampiress costume she BOUGHT a month and a half ago. Maybe she'll wear it next year? You know, when she plans to be Big Bird.

Indy crackin' his rad whip.

Lex, Mais, and Olivia, our trick-or-treating buddy and famous Wabash Valley's Got Talent top 12 finalist!

Here's my crew heading to the first house of the night. We always hit the neighbor's before heading into town. The kids passed out 100 Jesus Loves You slips with pixie stix. It was a great night!