Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Say what?

It must be difficult for advertising agencies to come up with new ideas that will get people to pay attention to the products or companies they are working for. But from my own, admittedly critical, view, some of them are just too.....annoying. I've heard it said that hating a commercial is as good as liking it. Just as long as you pay attention. I don't think that is true for contrary folk like me. I've been known to boycott businesses whose commercials I hated. Here are some recent commercials you've probably heard:
"Do you dream in chocolate?" What does that mean? Everything is sepia-toned? It doesn't even make sense. Come to think about it, I don't ever remember any food in any of my dreams. So I suppose I don't dream in chocolate, about chocolate, with chocolate or looking at chocolate.

Makeup "feels invisible." Isn't the definition of invisible that something can't be seen? I've blogged, or Facebooked, before about feeling like I was invisible when people ignored me. (Oh no, I've just verbed another noun. It's getting to me.) Anyway, I'm not sure how makeup can feel invisible. If it is invisible, why would anyone wear it? If it has terrific qualities why not sell those points. Am I the only one who doesn't feel makeup once it's on? Do others go through their days conscious of the stuff on their faces? Maybe it's me.

A store has "more fashion, less price." This is so grammatically screwed up it doesn't even make sense. One has to assume that a person can own more fashion. Is that like more shoes? Less price is senseless (pun intended).

How about a credit card that gives you "50% more cash?" Just having the card gives one more cash? Cool, I didn't know one got cash by getting a credit card. Using my cards eventually costs me, but maybe I don't have the right one. If it's 50% more, would Oprah get multiple times what I would get because she already has way more money than I do?

I've got to stop paying attention to commercials, but then what would I have to blog about except my fabulous grandchildren? I'll keep thinking.

Sunday, October 2, 2011

Gifted students need gifted teachers

Normally I defend teachers. I know that it is a tough job--way harder than an average outsider thinks it is. I've written opinion pieces for newspapers, debated with people (and parents) critical of teachers, and served as guest speaker in a few education courses in a local college.

It is also a career that I truly loved. I miss working with kids. There is nothing quite like watching a young person catch on to a difficult concept, or seeing the love of reading and books develop, or hearing someone say that you helped them understand something they never thought they could. Letters from former students thanking you for making a difference for them are worth more than gold for your heart.

However, it is much harder than it used to be. Teachers are constantly berated and criticized, blamed for things over which they had no control. Parents can be demanding and unreasonable. Government requirements and intrusion are squeezing out creativity and fun.

That said, all teachers are not good ones--especially for all students. It is unrealistic to expect a teacher with 30 students to individualize lessons in 30 different ways. Given. But, when a teacher has a class filled with mostly gifted students (tested and put there on purpose), I think the teacher should also be gifted. They know the frustrations.

Can anyone tell me the value of having a student write each of the spelling words in 8 different colors, if said student got 100% on the pretest?

Can anyone explain the value of having a parent of a second grade student (who reads comfortably at a 6th grade level) counting the number of words read in 20 minutes?

What does it benefit a talented student to spend time doing a math worksheet that contains problems he/she could do easily two years ago?

Some teachers, schools, and even school districts do a very real injustice to the capable students. They drown them with unnecessary busy work, require them to do nothing while reiterating material over and over for the struggling students, and ignore their needs for new and expanded learning.

No Child Left Behind has caused such concern about the students who need the most help, schools are seriously short-changing the gifted and talented.

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Not a good trade.

I shouldn't reprint comics, I know. But sometimes they are just sooo good. Not many people are interested in reading my blog, so I think I can get away with it again.

I loved this one because it is so true. So many children now have grown up with electronic devices (my hubby calls these "glowing boxes") and they have missed the story-telling and talking that families used to do. I just heard about another study detailing how watching the fast-paced cartoons shows (they specifically mentioned Sponge Bob) have shortened toddlers' attention spans. I have noticed the difference.

I remember another comic where a smart-aleck student was relating asking his teacher what happened to Clark Kent's clothes when he left the phone booth as Superman. He said that before the teacher could formulate an answer, several students raised their hands to ask what a phone booth was. Oh, I'm getting old.

I have also watched the dip in vocabularies and reading levels. Kids today are learning too much too early about sexual things and not enough about patience, listening, and using their imaginations. I don't think it's a good trade off.

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Right and wrong order.

I'm going back to my posts about the right and wrong way to do things having to do with marriage and sex. I just read an article with some real study results. The piece was written by a couple who speak about marriage and families, and just had their book published about how parents can avoid getting their children caught in the entitlement trap.

The article explains the research methods to study which relationships last the longest and are the happiest. The early sex, later marriage lost out to the marriage, then sex.

Of course there are exceptions; we all know some. The article went on to say that real life doesn't happen like it does in movies and TV programs. People don't generally end up in bed on a first date. But, we need to be careful making sure our children, and grandchildren, understand the reality and the pitfalls in believing the fantasy.

Thursday, September 8, 2011

Perceived Intelligence

I was waiting somewhere and browsing through a Reader's Digest. There was an article about the importance of a good interview when applying for a job. It mentioned there were four common grammar errors that would raise or lower your perceived intelligence.

One was the correct use of good and well: knowing when to use an adjective or an adverb.

Another was knowing the difference between less and fewer (one of my own pet peeves): fewer gallons, less fuel.

A real tricky one for most people is the pronoun agreement: "I saw him and her," "He and I went to the game," etc.

The last one was a bit of a surprise because I can think of other errors that could have made the list (incorrect use of reflexive pronouns like myself and yourself, lay and lie, sit and set), but it was the sounding of the "t" in often. The article said that some thought pronouncing the "t" made them sound knowledgeable, but the effect was just the opposite.

I think sometimes it is just laziness or carelessness, but it does give others an impression that one might want to consider.

Thursday, September 1, 2011


I like this Luann comic because it hits a problem I've posted about before. Lots of young people have come to believe that much is given but not much is required. Commercials are always telling people about the things they "deserve." Does everyone deserve a nice car, a comfortable house, a pocket full of credit cards? Why?

Hard work is for fools and those who don't know better. Work is to be avoided, gratification cannot be delayed. Parents reward their children for small tasks, until they won't perform the tasks without a reward. Why should they?

The newspaper also had a good article a few days ago titled The Entitlement Trap. Lots of today's young people are caught in it.

Monday, August 29, 2011

Really good bread

I've been thinking about bread. No, not the money, the food. In my quest to stay healthy, I'm trying to eat fewer added chemicals. What has surprised me is the stuff that is in some bread.

I took these pictures today at the grocery store. The loaves carried labels trying to appeal to people who want healthy complex carbohydrates. They were some of the most expensive on the shelves; the cheap white bread has a much longer list of ingredients with lots of words I probably can't pronounce. I don't eat a lot of bread, but when I have a piece of toast I'm picky.

I could do a commercial for Prairie Grain bread. The company is in Salt Lake City and they make several varieties that I love. Look at the ingredient list on one of my favorites.
Isn't that simple? I even understand what everything is. Besides, it's delicious--heavy, moist, with a little crunch, and not too sweet. Now the problem. I can't buy any here. I've only found it in the Salt Lake City area. So, when I go I stock up and freeze it. If I run out, I'll have to calculate the cost of driving the 300 mile round trip to buy a dozen loaves versus paying the shipping to buy it online in smaller batches. Of course I'll have to factor in the other things I could do while I'm in the city. But I've got enough for a while.

Read the label on your favorite bread. It could be enlightening.

Thursday, August 18, 2011

The way it shouldn't be.

I'm not sure what to do now. We just received a wedding invitation for a nephew, complete with a note on the announcement that they are registered at Target. It also said "There will be a Card Box." I guess that means there will be a place to put congratulatory cards, especially those containing money. I've never seen a note like that on an announcement before; there are usually places at a reception to put cards. This felt like avarice.

The wedding ceremony will be at "their house" where they have been living for more than a year. I guess I am hopelessly old fashioned, but if they already have a functioning home, why do they need a reception and gifts? Greed.

I think a standard white wedding and reception is stupid and selfish. They should get married in a simple family ceremony and then, if they want, have a party and invite friends and family to celebrate with them. Doing things this way is all wrong and I am really worried about the mind-set of so many. It's so much me, me, me, what I want, what you need to give me, what I deserve.

Mom told me she had caught some new reality show about a man, with his teenage children, looking for an engagement ring for their mother. Really? After being together long enough to have teenagers, getting all old-fashioned about proposing with a diamond? Then I imagine they'll plan a lovely traditional wedding. The media puts it on air and young people watch and learn.

I'm stopping now, so much is being lost and I feel a bit....sad.

Saturday, August 6, 2011

The way it should be

I just attended a niece's wedding reception. She was beautiful, the weather was lovely, the groom was handsome, the parents were proud, and friends and family were everywhere. I have no doubt that this marriage will be successful; they did everything right. They have known each other for years, they are best friends, their families know and like each other, and they made a very serious faith-based commitment to each other.

As odd as it is nowadays, they fell in love without falling into bed. They did things in the order than was expected of young people 50 years ago. It seems pretty rare today, and I have to say it does irritate me to get a wedding reception invitation for a couple who has been living together for several years or already has a child together. If you are going to do things that way, don't expect a new toaster from me, that just seems greedy.

Most of my family members are still married to their original spouses, but there are several who have been through divorces or had children without being married. Sometimes it takes a mistake or two before you get it right, but it is sure harder that way.

Congratulations to this new couple, and best wishes for a long and happy life together.

Thursday, July 7, 2011

More tales about the underchlorinated gene pool

I found myself in a position to overhear conversations between some of the very parents I am concerned about. These people hadn't met before the situation that brought them together, but they must have sensed a kinship because they talked freely for quite a while: One spent 3 1/2 years in jail, losing custody of a child born when she was 16; both had been in drug rehab--more than once--both had experience with spouses in jail and divorce. It seemed like they were trying to get their lives together, but I wondered how successful they would be. On the edge of the conversation was a teenager who, although not involved in drugs, had divorced parents she traveled between and a mom who got her boyfriend's name as a tattoo. Then, surprise, they broke up. She had a couple of stories to add.

It was all extremely sad. How do people get so messed up, and what is it doing to the children?

Monday, June 13, 2011

Shallow gene pools

I am really worried about the general intelligence of many of the people in this country. It sounds condescending, but think about this: how many really smart, accomplished people do you know who have more than one or two children (if any)? I don't know many. On the other hand, think about those who are having more than two. Utah is a bit of an anomaly, but in general the undereducated, economically depressed in this country are having the most children. That may be okay except that these same parents are often unmarried, transient, and ill-equipped to help children succeed. Many of them struggle with substance abuse, and pass that to innocent children.

There are horrendous articles in the media about abused and neglected children--and so many of those parents have several others. About a week ago there was a 3-year old girl found wandering along a street. It took police 6 hours to find out who she belonged to, then only because a "relative" recognized her picture on television. Apparently her mother dropped her off at a home with several "adults" who didn't even notice she wasn't there until contacted by police. The article mentioned that the girl had very limited verbal skills. Obviously. No one bothered to wonder about her, much less talk to her.

My friend and colleague used to say she had a sign (she'll recognize herself) that said, "The Gene Pool Needs Some Chlorine" or something to that effect. Oh, if it were that simple.

Friday, June 10, 2011

Continuing commercial grammar irritants

I mentioned ages ago about how phrases like, "How do you Kohl's?" drive me nuts. It makes no sense. That's like asking, "How do you Chevrolet?" or "How do you Utah?"

There are a couple of new ones: "When you Orbitz, you know" is an annoying new one. So then, "When you Travelocity you also know?" Geez.

I've also expounded on the loss of adverbs. We are asked to Drive Safe, Shop Local, and Eat Healthy. Now Lipton wants us to Drink Positive. Really? Then they were additionally clever by saying "You are what you tea." It is a rearrangement of what you eat, and I imagine the marketing team that thought that up is very proud. I hope someone there thought it was as stupid I think it is.

Post Script. I just barely heard that Just For Men (covers gray) wants us to "Live Forward."
These are the reasons I love my DVR, and hardly watch anything where I have to sit through commercials.

Sunday, May 22, 2011

Toe socks

I have strange feet. Maybe everyone has something unique about their feet, but I know my genetics give me certain toe characteristics. Most of the time my feet don't cause me any trouble. I'm too old and fond of comfort to ever wear the high-fashion footwear that some young women like. I'm not sure I would ever have worn such shoes.

I do like to walk and soon after I began this blog I posted about the MBTs I found and loved. They stopped the burning pain I would have in the balls of my feet after about 2 miles.

However, after a long walk, especially on a warm day, the configuration of my toes caused pinch blisters. My third and fourth toes were too cozy and when they were pushed together a little by my shoes, blisters blossomed. What I didn't know was that my oldest son has the same problem. I did know that he is very resourceful. He introduced me to toe socks--but not the multi-colored novelties for winter. These come in a variety of weights and styles, some to wear under regular socks, some heavier.

I bought some. They are a bit tricky to put on my "cozy" toes, but once on they don't feel much different than ordinary socks. So far, no blisters for me!

My son just showed me his new toe shoes. Probably not something for me; I'll just wear my comfy MBT sandals when my toes need their space.

Monday, March 28, 2011

Hearing aids continued

I was talking about my hearing loss theories with another family member, and she had some good insights. As mentioned in my last post, I think people don't get hearing aids as often as they buy glasses because:
1) it's way more expensive,
2) the loss is gradual and they adapt to a quieter world, or
3) they don't know what they can't hear.

She thought the big reason might be #3. She knows her hearing isn't good (too many childhood infections in one ear), and she related a recent experience. She went to a movie and sat with her husband in the back of the theater because that's where he likes to sit. Then, she went to the same movie with someone else and sat in the middle. She was amazed at the things she could hear that she had missed the first time. Nothing like good anecdotal evidence to validate my theory.

On a new, but somewhat related subject. Is anyone else bothered by television shows where the dialog is difficult to hear, but the commercials blast you out of your chair?

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Glasses or hearing aids?

I have a question. Maybe others can help me understand.

When someone's eyesight changes, especially because of age, people are quick to seek help. They buy glasses, or contacts, or have surgery to restore their vision.

When someone's hearing changes, they are much more hesitant to do anything about it. I have a couple of theories. Hearing aids are much more expensive than glasses, so cost is definitely a factor. But my best theory is that people don't notice their loss at first and gradually adjust to a quieter world. Then, when they finally decide that they need help, the hearing aids restore the noise and it seems too loud. It's uncomfortable. Maybe another consideration is that we know when we can't see something, but we don't know about the things we can't hear.

When a family member and I were talking about vision and hearing loss one day, we pondered which was worse. Her pragmatic choice was hearing loss was worse, because if someone couldn't see, others would be quick to help. If someone couldn't hear, others would just find it annoying. Think about it.

I remember hearing that Helen Keller was asked a similar question. Her response was that being blind separated people from things; being deaf separated people from people.

I've been near-sighted almost forever, but I have contacts and glasses. If I should begin to lose my hearing (which is still excellent--bionic according to my hubby), I'm heading right for a hearing aid. I don't want to miss a thing.

Friday, February 25, 2011


I love this comic. It reminds me of when I had a teenage boy around the house. I particularly enjoyed it today because I've noticed the same thing Jeremy (the teenager) did: many people misuse the word literal. It's used by "celebrities," talk-show hosts, radio commentators, and lots of others who do not truly mean "literal." I guess they are trying to make the point that what they say is important or worth remembering, but that's not the meaning of the word. English has so many words, it shouldn't be that difficult to use one that makes sense,

Monday, February 21, 2011

Let us count the ways...

"A rough-coated, dough-faced ploughman strode through the streets of Scarborough, coughing and hiccoughing thoughtfully."

Notice anything? Some of the words are a bit old-fashioned, with alternate spelling choices, but this sentence has the syllable "ough" pronounced in 8 different ways. It is no wonder that English is such a beast to learn as a second language. Add that to the fact that English has more words than pretty much any other language and be glad you learned it as a child.

Monday, February 14, 2011

Valentine Day question

This may be an odd Valentine post, but I've been wondering something.

Is it Valentines Day (a day of many valentines),

Valentine's Day (a day belonging to a specific valentine), or

Valentines' Day (a day belonging to many valentines)?

It is the same conundrum as Mothers Day....Mother's Day, or Mothers' Day (Fathers Day too). Most often the apostrophes are just ignored or forgotten. Maybe it's just as well since we have a difficult time deciding where they go anyway.

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

I'm not kidding

Just wanted to reinforce that I'm not just making this stuff up. Yesterday I had a mail request from the Alzheimers Association--light day.

Today I have mailers from: Feed the Children
March of Dimes (I've gotten quite a few from them)
National Cancer Research Center
and St. Labre Indian School (never had one from them before).

I have the feeling that the more different charities I support, the greater the exponential growth of the requests I receive. It's pretty depressing.

Sunday, January 23, 2011

Bugged by charity mailers

I know there are many worthy charities out there, but I have a bone to pick. Apparently, once a person donates to one, their name and address are shared with all. That bothers me. I send donations to several charities I know and care about. Suddenly I have multiple daily requests for money, from places I have never received requests from before.

I've been away from home for a few days and my mailbox contained requests from:
Habitat for Humanity
Children's Cancer Research Fund
Arthritis Foundation
Mothers Against Drunk Driving
Cystic Fibrosis Foundation
Susan G. Komen for the Cure
Easter Seals

Others I hear from regularly are:
March of Dimes
American Heart Association
Alzheimers Association
VFW Nation Veterans Service
Arthritis Foundation
American Cancer Society
National Foundation for Cancer Research

Those are just the ones I can think of right now. Many of these requests for money are using guilt as a persuasive technique. I have two nickels today, along with more sheets of personalized stickers, note pads, book marks, cards, and 2011 calendars. If they give me something, surely I'll feel the need to send money. I don't like it. I can tell the information came from one place because of the way my name is spelled. Getting one plea from each organization might be okay, being deluged is quite another.

The charities would have more money for their causes if they spent less on postage and personalized sticker sheets.

Sunday, January 16, 2011

Just sharing

Sometimes I wonder if Hagar isn't right, but just on those discouraging days.

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Oh those mysterious apostrophes.

I so wish that more people had paid attention in English classes. The apostrophe seems to be so confusing for so many.

I saw a big, new, temporary sign outside a restaurant exclaiming they had "twenty-five new omelet's."

I am acquainted, through my Home Owner Association, with a nice gentlemen who sends up updates on the work the landscaping company is doing. In mid-December they "blew out the walks and patio's....and will clean up the next few visit's." I have noticed the apostrophes occurring less and less in his reports. Don't know if he is realizing they are not needed, or just getting tired of putting them in.

Signs in stores are notorious for misplaced apostrophes: "employee's only," "please don't open box's," and "10 item's or less" (and, yes, it should be "fewer" too).

There is a service station that made me feel all warm when I first noticed its name. I thought "Hooray, someone cares." The marquee says it is "Russ's." So few actually know what to do when a word ends in s, and because of that the rules will change to account for those who didn't know what was actually correct. Right or wrong, that's the way it is.

Saturday, January 8, 2011

Favorite book?

I've been asked a few times--recently too--what was my favorite book. I've found it impossible to answer. I can't think of a book that I loved more than any other. I can give a list of authors whose novels I have consistently enjoyed, but books? Impossible.

I was working on a list of possible books for my 9-year-old granddaughter who just got a Kindle for Christmas. It was fun to remember some of the good books for her age, but I realized that I'm out of the loop now. I used to read lots of the new books written for kids so I would know what was available and what my students were reading. I hate to recommend books I haven't read because sometimes books are published for young readers that I think are awful. Anyone have any new, wonderful books for young girls?