because life doesn’t fit in a file folder

L'il Miss Attitude

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Every year, I study my new class rosters and practice saying the names aloud so I don’t sound like a total dork on the first day.

One year, I was feeling pretty good until I came to one particular name.

T-a.

I didn’t know what to do with it.

I mean, I wasn’t sure how to pronounce it. I tried a lot of different combinations.

Tee-ah? Tee-ay? Tah? Tay?

I had no idea. I figured the best thing to do would be to just admit defeat and ask the student to pronounce his or her name in class.

The first day of class came.

New students filed in and gravitated to the seats they liked the best. Some near the front, others farther back.

I introduced myself and began taking attendance, reading down the list, changing “James” to “Jim” and “Richard” to “Rick.” I even had the foresight to ask the student whose last name was Montague what he liked to be called. A good-looking chap in a baseball cap smiled at me and said, “Adam.” His name had appeared as “Bartholomew” on the roster. I didn’t want to embarrass him because his parents had made a bad choice 19 years earlier. Turns out, he went by his middle name.

Finally, I hit the dreaded name.

“Okay,” I said, “I am not sure how to properly pronounce this name, so I’m wondering if there is a person with the last name of Dinkens here today.”

The room was silent.

“Nobody here with the last name of Dinkens?” I repeated.

Someone clucked her tongue. “That’s me,” said a girl with her chin tilted up at a hard angle.

“I wasn’t sure how to pronounce your name, so I thought you could help me out,” I said.

“Why don’tchu try it?” L’il Miss Attitude asked, crossing her arms across her black and white striped tee shirt.

“Okay,” I said, “Is it Tee-ah?”

The girl made a sound like she had been annoyed with me since the moment I was born.

“Lord,” she said, “Don’t you know the dash ain’t silent? It’s TaDASHa.”

Silence swirled around me noisily. It was the first day of class. I had to set the tone, properly. I wasn’t mad at this girl, but I could not allow her to disrespect me, not right out of the gate. Seventeen billion thoughts on how to handle the situation occurred to me simultaneously ranging in severity.

While I was leaning toward a good old-fashioned paddling, I chose a stern voice.

“Are you a first year student here, Tadasha?” I asked.

“Yeah,” Tadasha said, chewing on her thumbnail.

“And is this your very first class on campus today?”

“Yeah.”

“And do you have a full-time schedule?”

“Yeah.”

“And how many other classes do you have today?”

“Three,” Tadasha snipped.

“And you are telling me no one has ever mispronounced or struggled with the pronunciation of your name in your entire life?”

“Bitch, where I live people know me.”

I thought my head was going to blow off my shoulders. Did I hear wrong or did a student in my classroom just call me a bitch? I felt like I was on some kind of bad reality TV show, you know the type where someone eventually jumps out as things escalate and tells the unsuspecting victim that he’s been punked? Except the clock kept ticking and no one seemed to be coming to my rescue, and I didn’t see any cameras. I had to do something.

Everyone was staring at me.

“Okay Tadasha,” I started, while moving to sit on top of my large iron desk. “Here are a few things for you to consider as you move through the rest of your day. First, I predict that this exact interaction is going to happen to you three more times today. And when you address the person who mispronounces your name — because it will be mispronounced — it would be wise for you to not address that person with profanity.” I looked my student in the eye: “Calling someone a ‘bitch’ is rarely the appropriate way to address another person whether in a classroom on a college campus or in life.”

Tadasha was silent.

Everyone turned to look at her.

Suddenly I realized I was playing a weird verbal tennis match, and I had obviously smacked the ball over to her side of the net.

Everyone was waiting to see if she was going to make a mad dash to return it.

She didn’t, so I kept going.

Full. Court. Press.

“Also, just so you know, you have an unusual name. The hyphen — or dash — as you called it, is generally silent. We don’t usually pronounce it. People may know you in the part of the world where you have lived for the last 18 or so years, but no one knows you on this campus, so if you want to have positive interactions today I recommend that you be kind. Try to have a sense of humor. No one wants to hurt you. On the first day, your teachers are just trying to figure out who is who. That’s all I was trying to do.”

Tadasha was glaring at me.

“Last, we have not started off well today, so I would suggest that you head down to the Registrar right now and get yourself enrolled in another section of Comp-101.”

Tadasha gathered her purse and her books and walked out of the class with her head held high.

She never came back, and I never saw her again.

I often wonder if Tadasha made it through the day. The week. The semester. If she graduated at all. I wonder about her hard edges. About how she had made it so far yet knew so little about how to interact with other people. Was she just scared? Did I blow it? Did I do her a favor? Or did I ruin her?

Who do you wonder about from your past? What do you imagine that person is doing now?

*names have been changed for obvious reasons

Roots & Wings

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The Golisano College of Computing and Informat...
Image via Wikipedia

Way back in December, a brochure made its way into my house advertising a summer kids’ camp at the Rochester Institute of Technology. Monkey read it hungrily and announced that he really wanted to take a computer programming class.

I heard him but I left the information on the back burner.

On a very low simmer.

Because I didn’t want Monkey to spend two weeks inside with eleventy-zillion computer screens. Lord knows our summers in New York State are short enough as it is. So I didn’t really jump on it.

But Monkey was relentless.

(I don’t know where he gets it.)

After weeks of daily questioning, he wore me down and I signed him up so for the desired two-week session. For two weeks, five hours a day, my child sat in a college classroom learning how to use Adobe Flash to create a computer video game.

And he loved every minute of it.

In the car on the way home each afternoon, he talked (mostly to himself) about “code” and “servers” and “syntax errors” and “unnecessary right braces before end of program” and other things I did not understand.

On the first day of the second week Monkey said: “You don’t have to walk me in.”

I looked at my 11-year-old son. He assured me I could just drop him off at the curb, that he knew just where to go “on-campus.” He unbuckled his seatbelt and kissed me on my nose, an old ritual since his pre-school days.

I let him go.

I wasn’t worried about him, but I didn’t drive away so quickly. For some reason, the moment felt kind of monumental. I watched my son’s slim body move further and further away from me until he was so far up the path that I almost couldn’t differentiate him from another student. Eventually, Monkey (or maybe it was the other kid) opened one of the two heavy doors to the brick and glass Tom Golisano Building for Computing and Information Science and disappeared without even looking back.

I imagined my son graduating from high school and heading off to college in five years time. And never looking back.

Later that week Monkey asked me if he had to finish middle and high school or if he could just skip ahead to college.

(This from a child who still doesn’t know how to properly use a comma.)

I, of course popped into teacher mode. I explained to him that, while he might excel in computer technology, he still needs to learn about literature and history, to continue to work on his writing and language skills – because otherwise there would be holes in his educational fabric.

“Right now, school is helping to weave a tapestry in your brain,” I said. “But that tapestry is only partially created. If you stop going to school or skip the subjects that don’t appeal to you, it would be like enormous moths attacked the tapestry and chewed giant holes into it.”

Monkey was quiet so I kept going. “You need a know a lot of different types of knowledge before you go to college. And you are going to need to understand how those types of knowledge are interconnected…”

Monkey interrupted. “Mom, I’m kidding!” He patted my hand in mock reassurance. “Don’t be so serious.”

Oy.

I know it’s a parent’s job to give a child roots and wings. And Monkey has got ’em.

I just didn’t think he would want to fly off so fast.

If your child wanted to pursue year-round school academics, would you encourage him/her to do so? Or do you feel taking time off to relax during the summer is important?

My Celebrity Doppelgangers

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This is me on any given day.

From the second the movie came out, people have told me that I look Jennifer Grey from Dirty Dancing. You know, “Baby.” It happens all the time. In reality, my cousin Michelle is the one who really looks like Jennifer Grey. Like exactly.

Jennifer Grey

But I can see why people think I look like this incarnation of Jennifer Grey. We’ve both got the mouse blonde-brown hair and the curls that were hot in the 1980s — and if mousse hadn’t been invented, I would still be stuck with all that frizz. Mousse has been very, very good to me. When it gets humid enough, I probably do look like the 1980s Jennifer Grey, but I don’t want to have to keep doing this.

The other person people tell me I look like is Sarah Jessica Parker (after her mole was removed). I don’t mind having people tell me I look like SJP because I think she is stunning. In fact, most women I know think SJP is stunning. It’s men who complain that SJP is decidedly un-hot. I once heard someone say SJP’s face looks like a horse’s. Well, I love horses, and if my features are equine, I’m good with it.

Sarah Jessica Parker

To be true, I don’t really think I look so much like SJP in real life as I behave like her character, Carrie Bradshaw, in Sex in the City. You know, I dress really funky; I collect fabulously expensive shoes, and let’s not forget, I live alone in my tiny, expensive New York apartment without a husband or son.

Except that I live in the suburbs in Western, New York. You know, with my husband and son. Oh, and I hate to shop and I have maybe seven pairs of shoes.

Still, I get the SJP thing a lot.

I recently saw Ironic Mom (aka: Leanne Shirtliffe) was playing around with a fun app that shows you your celebrity doppelgangers, and I decided to try it.

Here are the results:

Astoundingly, SJP did come up. Along with a lot of other very attractive women, so I am not complaining. But apparently, I look much more like The United States Secretary of State, Hilary Rodham Clinton than anyone else (74% match) — a woman who is 20 years older than I am.

That said, I think Hil looks smokin’ in that picture.

I was surprised, however, to see that I also came up looking like Howard Dean and composer Phillip Glass (look at that man’s nose, people!).

Wow.

Those kind of hurt a little.

So, like Leanne, I decided to try the experiment again using a different picture. This time, I selected a photo of my curly haired self, since I am usually a curly girly and because I am that vain.

Here are the results:

I would call this my “I wish” list. Omigosh! I wish I looked like Penelope Cruz. If I did, I’m thinking I would be much more famous. And Nicky Hilton? I don’t think I have one character trait in common with Nicky Hilton, so that one leaves me with a big question mark over my head.

Holly Hunter is probably a pretty good doppelganger on the day-to-day. In this picture anyway. She looks like she just finished walking with a friend on a really humid morning or, perhaps, went swimming and let her hair air dry. Yeah, that sounds like me.

And, I suppose, if I have to be a guy, Howie Dorough (eldest singer of the Backstreet Boys) or pop singer Zac Hanson aren’t the worst boys to look like. I mean, at least they’re kinda pretty.

I wanted to run this app all day long using different pictures of myself, but I had other stuff to do. And, of course, what is the point? No one will ever tell me I look like Katie Couric, and I don’t think anyone under 35 even knows the name Samantha Fox! Oh and as far as Amy Weber goes, yeah right!

Yeah, this is definitely what I look like in my bikini.

My identity was confirmed at the grocery store last night, when a stranger stopped me in the frozen food section and said, “Wow, you look just like the girl from Dirty Dancing! You know, Jennifer Grey. Before she got her nose job!”

And — as Homer Simpson might say — that brings us back to doh!

What celebrity do people claim you look like? Do you think they are right? Or do you think they are crazy?

Back in 1985

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Me & my BFF's circa 1985. I'm the one in blue with the green lei.

In my last post, I wrote about my nephew Alec’s recent high school graduation.

As I sat waiting inside the local college field house, miles away from the actual school my nephew attended, I couldn’t help but think about my own graduation in 1985.

First, I have to admit that I have absolutely no recollection of who spoke at my high school graduation. (My sincere apologies, Mr. or Ms. Graduation Speaker. I am sure you were very good.)

I do remember sitting in my white cap and gown. (The boys wore red.)

I remember looking at my fabulous white high-heeled pumps and thinking about my tan. My tan was very important to me, as tans were to many of us back in the mid-1980s. We were not a very serious bunch. I mean, we were serious but in an 1980s kind of way. Which was not very serious. Yeah, we were going to college – but we didn’t know what the hell we were doing. At all. Maybe that was just me. But seriously, I don’t think so.

Where my nephew’s graduating class was focused, we were distinctly goofy. Of course some of us were more self-propelled than others, but as a class, we were more about fun. I may be making this up but I kind of remember someone pretending to trip and possibly even staging a fall as he walked to get his diploma. I wore a green lei around my neck during the graduation ceremony. On two separate occasions, the vice principal told me to remove it (and I did), but I slipped it back on before I walked across the stage for hand-shaking and hugs.

In 1985, I was more interested in the social interactions that high school had to offer than its academic challenges. I joined the “fun” clubs. I was a cheerleader. I danced and rode horses. I also got a lot of detentions; I even managed to earn myself a 3-day in-school suspension. Hell, I wore blue to graduation when we were clearly instructed to wear white or light colors. As a group, we did a lot of pushing the proverbial envelope.

In contrast, my nephew and his peers seemed pretty serious.

Maybe they have to be.

Given the current economic prognosis, they can’t afford to mess around the way we did in the decadent 80s.

I mean, it’s good to be thinking of more than just developing “a great base tan.”

The night of Alec’s graduation, as we celebrated his accomplishments with pizza and watermelon, I was surprised by how content Alec was to just hang out with his family. He played his ukulele, chatted with his grandparents, sat outside on a chunky patio chair with the men, their voices blending together in a low hum.

He seemed unfazed that he was leaving for camp the next day. He said he wasn’t too worried because he knew he would be able to keep in touch with his closest friends.

Immediately after my high school graduation, my clan of Best Friends Forever (The “BFF’s”) gathered in a parking lot to sip champagne from plastic glasses, and I remember feeling a tremendous sense of relief and freedom.

Along with a side order of sadness.

Because I really didn’t think I was going to see any of my them ever again.

Let’s forget for a moment that the 1980s featured a lot of apocalyptic songs which suggested that we were all going to die in a nuclear war. (Think of Prince’s “Let’s Go Crazy,” “I Would Die 4 U” or Rush’s “Distant Early Warning”; Genesis’ “Domino” of  Modern English’s romantic ballad “I’ll Stop The World and Melt with You.” Oh and Nena, the chick who brought us “99 Red Balloons.”)

Seriously. I didn’t think we were going to make it to our 10 year reunion.

But on a less morbid level, there were no cellphones back in 1985. No Facebook or Twitter. No texting.

I remember smiling big but feeling internally frantic. I could feel change on my skin as sure as I had felt the sun baking my shoulders for all those weeks leading up to graduation. Just like my nephew, I packed my duffel bag and trunk and headed off to (same) summer camp where I planned to work for 8 weeks as a counselor. Unlike my nephew, I felt loss in my bones.

I imagined myself standing in line waiting to use a dormitory payphone. But I knew I would never have enough quarters to call my friends as much as I would like. I also knew that even if I called, the odds were, they would not be around.

I knew I would have to find new people, and that I would have to work to make new friends. But I also accepted this as the natural order of things: growing up meant breaking bonds to form new ones.

After speaking with several graduates of the class of 2011, I realized that they are less sad than we were. With the advent of social media, friends need never disconnect from one another. Unless a person wants to become invisible, it is absolutely possible to remain in touch with one’s friends from high school. On a daily basis.

It remains to be seen if all this connection will be a blessing or a curse. I wonder if today’s students will remain perpetual teenagers, clinging to their childhood friendships, finding it difficult to move on and forge fresh bonds with new people, or if they will plunge into adulthood, embracing new opportunities while maintaining constant contact with old friends from back in the day.

As I watched graduates from the class of 2011 pose for photographs, then stop to text someone, thumbs a-blazing, I thought about what graduation really meant for me.

I was able to go to college and start fresh.

I made a conscious choice to stop being “the flirty girl” and reinvent myself as “the studious girl.” Would such a transformation have been possible if I had people from high school constantly reminding me of my flakiness? About how dumb I was in math? About the time I spilled the bong water? Or the time I started cheering “Block That Kick” when our team had possession of the football?

Is it possible to move forward and evolve when people are urging you to look back and stay the same?

What do you remember about your high school graduation? How do you think social media will impact future generations?



What The Huh?

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This one comes to me from a College-Instructor-Who-Shall-Not-Be-Named, for reasons that shall become obvious. It is hilarious and awful all at the same time.

To: My Professor
Subject: Droped

Dear Professor:

I appologiz for not being in class the last and past week. But there is alot of stress put on me by other classes i can’t find myself a way to get to school on time for ur class. I know the matirial and everything is starting to let up. So i ask u to plez let me bake into the class. i promis to show up for the rest of the classes 🙁

Sincerely,
Goin’ Nowhere Fast

Nice, huh.

In this horrendous wonderful day and age, where we can reach out and touch someone via text or email, college educators receive hellish quality correspondence like this all of the time.

All. Of. The. Time.

The lucky recipient of this email told me that this piece of correspondence – which arrived via email – was the first time he’d had contact with the student, and it came after his student had missed 12 out of 19 classes, two unit tests, and one quiz. 

So think about it? How would you respond to an email like this?

Is this what we have come to with all of our short-cuts and abbreviations? Do teachers at the college level have to respond to emails and texts filled with errors like this?

Do you feel sorry for the kid? I mean, he just wants “bake into the class.”

Or would you just say nothing? Because the student has already been withdrawn and, clearly, he is already fried.

I sometimes wonder if parents know that their kids are communicating with their college professors like this.  Seems we have to teach our children about how – sometimes – it is necessary to use different language to communicate to different audiences. About when it is appropriate to abbreviate and when it is necessary to use a more formal tone, proper grammar, and a spell checker. About when to use and refrain from using emoticons. According to Tim Elmore, today’s “screenagers” don’t get it. Or they get something else than us “old folks.”

Crosby, Stills and Nash sang: “Teach your children well.” Are we confusing our kids with all this “texting”? Or do teachers just need to loosen up and accept that the times  (and the language) are a-changing?

Well, We Almost Made It Through Without Incident

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Photograph from Google Images

On the last afternoon of my son’s spring vacation, right when his annoyance with me had reached its apex and his blood sugar had bottomed out, I suggested that it might be a good time for him to get a jump-start on his next book report. The one that isn’t due until mid-May.

“Only 18 days to work on it!” I joked.

Except I wasn’t really joking.

Monkey agreed, if reluctantly, to work on his first paragraph. He disappeared for twenty minutes and then returned. I asked him if he would read his paper. He groaned, but he obliged. I suggested that his thesis could use a little tweaking and asked him to go and work on the paragraph a little bit more. He declined. Adamantly. I persevered. We locked horns.

I should have predicted what was going to happen next, but I didn’t.

He shouted.

I shouted louder.

Eventually, he screamed, got a little teary-eyed, and stomped off to his bedroom – ostensibly to revise.

After fifteen minutes, when he did not materialize, I decided I would check on his progress. That’s when I found Monkey. Under his bed. He had gone there to hide.

From the world.

From the work.

But, mostly, from me.

The next thing I knew, I was lying on my son’s rug. My cheek brushing against the carpet, I remembered how – as a child – I tried to cajole an escaped gerbil into coming out from its hiding place.

At first he wouldn’t even talk to me. After a while, though, he let me have it.

“I just don’t understand why it had to be perfect!” Monkey sniffed. “It’s just a friggin’ first draft! I have over two weeks to work on it.”

It was my “Oh shit!” moment.

And he was 100% right.

Which meant I had to apologize.

And so I apologized to Monkey for getting all up in his grill about his school work. Truth is, he is about the most organized person I know when it comes to time management. And I told him so. I also told him that sometimes it’s hard for me – especially when it comes to writing – to just let things be. I told him how “imperfect” is hard for me when it comes to English.

“Also,” I confessed, “I didn’t know that you actually revise.”

“Of course I do,” he said. “Geez! Give me some credit!”

I felt I had to offer Monkey something more than an apology. (More than the snack that he, also, clearly needed.) After all, I felt I had really underestimated him.

And then I got an idea.

“I would like to extend an offer to you,” I said. “Are you interested?”

“Maybe,” said Monkey, still facing the wall.

“The next time I say, ‘You just lost your iPod Touch,’ you have a free ‘Gimmee-Back-My-Touch’ card,” I said. “You know like those ‘Get Out of Jail Free’ cards in Monopoly? Like that.”

Monkey rolled over to face me. The slats of his bed hovered a half an inch above his ear.

“Make me a card!” he demanded. “And decorate it insanely with icons from all the apps I like. And add lots of stickers and stuff. And put it in a cool font.”

Suddenly, I felt that I’d been duped. Somehow I went from apologizing to my son to negotiating with a terrorist.

“And no expiration date!” he said smugly. “That’s your homework,” said Monkey, smiling, letting me know everything was okay with us.

He grunted as he slithered out from under his bed.

He isn’t going to be able to fit under there much longer.

“Also, there’s a friggin’ huge, hairy-dust ball under there,” said Monkey, trying to see if I’d let him get away with his second friggin’ of the day.

I did.

“Yeah,” I said. “I kind of noticed it rolling around while I was talking to the back of your head.”

We both burst out laughing.

Thank goodness for hairy-dust balls.

“May I please go and ride my bike before vacation ends?” Monkey asked.

“Dismissed,” I said.

“Thanks,” yelled Monkey and, as he ran out the door he added, “I’ll expect your homework by dinner!”

Anybody have any good stories about apologizing to your kids? 

I'm With Andy Rooney

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Andy Rooney
Image by billypalooza via Flickr

Remember when I wrote about e-Books? How I asked everyone which e-book I should get? How you told me what to get? (The Kindle) And how I ignored you? How I tried the Nook, and I hated it?

Well, check out this link that shows Andy Rooney on 60 Minutes. It’s just over a minute.

Turns out, I have something in common with the ole codger.

Who knew?

So what do you think? Could Rooney be reading my blog?

As you get older, what are you starting to get cranky and rigid about?

To Kindle or Nook? That Was The Question.

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Benjamin Franklin.
Image via Wikipedia

So you remember how I blogged about how I couldn’t decide which e-device to go with.

Well, I decided.

I went against the trend.

Nearly everyone said to go with the Kindle, except for the few diehards who said to stay with books.

(These were the same people who, when polled, said they preferred using an abacus to a calculator.)

But I went out on my own and conducted my own research and came to the conclusion that this was the right decision for me:

I decided to go with the Nook.

And I tried it. I really did.

But after a week, I returned it.

(*insert gasps*)

I know, you are all horrified.

The reality is I’m a Book Girl.

Although it is possible to make notes on the device, I found it incredibly arduous. Plus, there was no way to make smiley faces or stars! 😉 I didn’t like that I couldn’t refer to the back of the book. (You know, to remind me what the hell I was heading with my reading because, frankly, I need to be reminded). I didn’t like not being able to physically see how far along I was in my reading. I missed using a real bookmark – especially when the “save your page” feature didn’t really seem to work reliably. Despite all the reports from friends telling me that they are reading “so much more” with e-Readers, I found I was falling asleep almost immediately after starting to read! I guess I need to take notes when I read, or it’s lights out. Who knew? Even after just one week, I missed the idea of not going to the library. Benjamin Franklin was so friggin’ brilliant when he came up with that invention. When I finished my first book and I wasn’t dying to download another, I suddenly realized I do not want (or need) to own every book I read.

So I’m back on library books because I truly believe borrowing books is the most earth-friendly decision a person can make. And if I love the book enough after reading it, then I’ll buy it.

As for my decades of accumulated book clutter (as seen on the floor in the photo above), those are going to the library for the annual book sale. (I just haven’t said goodbye to them properly yet.)

And when I drop them off, I’m going to pick up a bunch of other books to borrow.

For free.

And then I’ll going home to listen to my transistor radio… and play with my abacus.

So… um… what have you been reading that you have loved?

Lessons on E-readers

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A Picture of a eBook
Image via Wikipedia

I’ve been considering getting an e-reader for a long time because I read a lot of books, but I hate the clutter that they leave behind. In fact, a Facebook friend recently commented on my sloppy bookshelves which were in the backdrop of a photo. Can you imagine? (Thanks a lot, Todd!)

Anyway, I have been holding out on getting an e-reader for three reasons:

1) Sheer laziness: For a long time, I just couldn’t justify moving up “Research e-readers” in the queue ahead of “Buy new bra.” Guess what? Went to Victoria’s Secret yesterday! 😉

2) Fear. I am definitely afraid that the e-reader could become a chore, another gadget that I have to charge and worry about losing. I worry that I won’t like the experience of an e-reader because I like to write in my books. Back in 1940, Mortimer Adler told his readers in his article “How to Mark Up a Book” that:

The physical act of writing, with your own hand, brings words and sentences more sharply before your mind and preserves them better in your memory.

As a teacher, I could not agree with him more. And yeah, I know you can highlight and leave notes with these gadgets, but there is nothing like flipping through an old book and finding my old handwritten scribble to remind me where I was at a particular point in time. I pick up favorite old books all the time and giggle when I find: “This is sooo mom!” or “Make husband read this whole paragraph!” I’m not sure I’ll have that same experience with the e-reader.

3) There is something creepy about e-readers. I don’t know. I’m not anti-technology or anything, but it’s like when I found out one publisher of the latest version of The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn had taker out the “n-word” and replaced it with the word “slave,” I got a little bent out of shape. Things felt all Big Brothery to me. I worry that libraries are going to start closing, and I love libraries – even though, these days, they seem to have become places where the mentally unstable like to hang out to avoid the inclement weather. I don’t know, for me, books are as much a part of my head as they are my heart. I’m not so sure I’ll feel that in an e-reader.

Still, Valentine’s Day is coming up, and all the stores seem to be insinuating that the best lovers buy their significant others e-readers, so yesterday, I drove around town trying out various e-devices. I needed to feel them in my own hands, see what they could and could not do.

And so I am definitely leaning in one direction, and I must admit, it is not the direction in which I thought I would be going.

Without dragging things out (you know, the way I usually do), I figured I’d ask you, my beloved readers, for your opinions.

 

Note: iPads are not in the running. (I don’t need all those bells and whistles. Plus I need to be able to read outside, and the iPad has too much glare.)

For those of you who have e-readers, can you tell me which one you have, what you love most about the one you have, and if you had a chance to do it all over again, if you would make the same purchase. If not, what would you choose now?

Functional Illiteracy: The Repost

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People who know me know I’m struggling this semester. I try to explain how a larger number of my college students seem to have weaker skills this year; how I can’t get them to use capital letters (or, in some cases, how I can’t get them to stop randomly capitalizing words that don’t need to be capitalized); how they won’t stop writing “im” instead of “I’m”; how I can’t get them to stop using the letter “u” when they mean the word “you.”

“They don’t know how to outline!” I exclaim. “Or write in five paragraph essay format!”

People think I’m exaggerating. “Things can’t be that bad,” folks say.

Finally, here is a perfect example of why my panties are in a bunch this year.

This post called “Functional Illiteracy” from Just Sayin’ addresses some of the very real struggles that educators are facing today, even at the college level.

Do you have discussions with your kids regarding their use of language? Are they writing as well as you would like? Do error-filled papers (with high marks) come home from your children’s schools? Do you think their grades are inflated? Because, I am here to tell you, graduating high school students are not using capitalization or punctuation.  Many high school graduates have not figured out basic written communication skills which my peers and I had mastered in the 6th grade and spent the following years perfecting.

Many of this generation’s students are essentially unemployable, and if you don’t believe me, read this post from my friend, Michael Hess, of Skooba Design. Because as a business owner, he cares about the way people write.

Do you care about how you write?

Or r u 2 busy txtin 2 care?