Posts tagged: Writing

Writing competition

Yoshi and I have started a friendly little writing competition over at amifamousyet.com.  This is an invitation only event that starts on October 1st and ends on October 31st.  Sound similar to NaNoWriMo?  Well it should because it’s a blatant rip-off for the most part except there are almost no rules and it’s for short stories between 5,000 and 10,000 words and we will be reading the stories to judge them.  And judge them we shall.  We are quite judgmental.

Interested in joining this elite group of writers?  Send me or Yoshi an e-mail.  If you don’t know our e-mail addresses then you probably aren’t someone we would let in anyway.  Unless you are like some people we know who can’t keep track of contact information to save their lives.  You know who you are.  Comments here will also be considered.  Mostly.

Note: There are no prizes.  If you are only in it for the prizes you will be sorely disappointed.

The importance of good grammar

In an age when even Ameren UE is using TXT speak in it’s new energy efficiency billboards, it’s hard sometimes to even remember what grammar is much less what good grammar would look like.  People spend a lot of time “typing” on their phones and unless you keep up with such things, that TXT you just received from your son or daughter may look like another language or a system error instead of a message.

But grammar – and good grammar – are still important.  That’s something that I hope the kids today will still understand when they grow up texting their term papers into their robotic professors.  Writing is something that can make or break you in certain situations.  I dread the day I see a resume come across my desk written in a hybrid of 1337 and TXT.

Here’s a perfect example I just saw on Facebook.  I notice more and more often that people are skipping capitalization and punctuation in their posts.  I see the number 4 replacing “for” and the number 2 replacing “to” all the time.  But sometimes, you really have to go back and make sure what you wrote is actually what you meant.

Here’s a post from a Facebook friend taken word for word:

My good friend dave brockett was killed lastnight in a motrcycle accident. Please pray 4 his family. Ill let everyone that knew him know when the funeral is gonna be.

This is tragic, of course.  I don’t know him personally but I feel sorry for those that did.  I would have capitalized his name… but maybe I’m just being picky.  Good grammar and writing – no, but it gets the idea across properly.

Now here’s one of the comments to this same post:

let me know when he was a good friend

Where to start?  Ignore the lack of a beginning capital letter and let us jump straight to the punctuation.  Go ahead and read that again and think about what that says.  Now I am assuming that this person was not trying to be an insensitive jerk by asking “When was he a good friend?”  That would just be rude no matter how you feel about someone.

What this commenter must have meant was exactly what he wrote but without punctuation.  Here’s what it should have said:

Let me know when. He was a good friend.

Big difference, right?  That one period between when and he make all the difference in the world.  All of the sudden you go from being a well meaning sympathetic friend to a hateful asshole when that one character is left out.  Keep that in mind next time you decide to write something in a hurry.

Then just like that…

Strange things happen.  My family has always been blessed/cursed with that sort of history.  I’ve lived with that all my life.  Today was just another one of those days.

Many people claim that writing is therapeutic and I am definitely one of those people.  I have a hard time expressing my thoughts and feelings on a regular basis but I can pour my heart out with writing.  However, I never thought that my writing about depression and the loss of my USB drive would have the effect that it did.

I was in a two hour meeting this morning where my boss and I were trying to figure out the extrordinarily poorly documented process of getting SSL setup with Windows 2008, IIS7 and Exchange 2007.  I did a lot of pacing and leaning on the desk as we worked through things as there isn’t room for two people to sit at his desk.  Inevitably at one point I started fidgeting and put my hand in my pants pocket and started fiddling with my key ring.  I do that sometimes.  Just a nervous habit I suppose.

It was then, while I was in mid-sentence, that I realize that I had something small and plastic in my hand and I was spinning it around on a pivot over and over.  Another nervous habit but one that was lost when my USB drive disappeared.  I kept turning it a few more times in my pocket while my brain started putting two and two together in a fairly efficient manner that was thoroughly clouded in a haze of WTF.

Then just like that I pulled my hand from my pocket and looked and sure enough – there was my little black and blue USB drive completely intact.  Of course my boss had turned to look at me since I had stopped talking mid-sentence and I had to explain.

Of course the funny thing is that there is no way that the drive should have been in my pants pocket.  It’s been over a month… maybe a month and a half since I actually lost the drive.  I’ve worn these pants since then and the pocket it was in is the right front that I use most often.  And these are not the pants that I wore the day I lost the drive or on the day before which was the last time I had used the drive.  I had searched both those pairs of pants.  And of course I had put my keys and pocketknife in that same pocket this morning like I do every morning and didn’t notice it then or even when I was putting the pants on.

But strange things happen.  We were also missing a portable hard drive that we had backed up data to for the trip from Hong Kong.  It showed up two days ago in a bag that we had both searched previously.  Muse had lost her Nikon flash for her camera after just having it in Chicago.  It showed up buried in a box of stuff in the office that had yet to be unpacked.  Yeah.  Strange things.  It’s what we live with every day.

Of course this USB drive doesn’t show up until I write about losing it.  It’s not until I tell the world that it went missing and how it made me felt and how its loss was a focus for so many things.  It wasn’t until I opened up after a long break that it came back in the most impossible of places.  So you see, writing is therapeutic for me.  Just maybe not in the way I would have expected this time.

Friday is messy

Well it’s Friday and the work day is almost done.  I may get to the weekend faster than my friends in the States but I also get Monday faster too.  It’s a win-lose situation.

I’ve spent part of the day packing up my personal items from my office to be shipped back to the St. Louis office.  My technical books and toys and decorations and paperwork and toys.  I have lots of toys.  It’s been kind of a sad day.

Which led to my activities at lunch time.  I skipped lunch to stay in my office like I often do and I drug out some writing.  I opened up a story that I had started back in February and edited/added about 500 words during my break.  Oddly enough, even though I went from 1,040 words to almost 1,500 words… the story didn’t get progressed at all.  I have an idea of where I think I want to go with it now.  Before I had just written the setup and had no idea what was going on or where it would end.  Now I think I’ve gotten that part ready.  I just have to remember it long enough to get it written.

But my point was that I was kind of sad about packing and that sparked me into writing.  I’m wondering if I only write when I’m sad?  I don’t think so though.  I blazed through the first four days of zombie stories and I don’t remember being sad then.  So I’m probably just jumping to conclusions.  Which, for those of you who know me, is very unlike me.  Yeah.

Anyway, hopefully I will get Chapter One of that story finished up pretty soon and unleash it on everyone here.  Or I may wait till I get a few chapters written so I don’t leave everyone hanging like I did with the zombie stories.  I will finish those zombie stories some day.  At least the ones I have outlined already.  I just haven’t been inspired on those like I was before.  Not sure what was different then but I wish I could duplicate it.  That was awesome.

For those of you interested in my previous writings, click on the Writing category on the right side of the page.

Someone is watching me

I have a lot of big projects going on this week and next before we head home for the Christmas holidays. So I was able to get a guy from our home office to come help me out for two weeks before he went to visit family and friends here in Hong Kong. Which is awesome because I’ve needed help for a while and especially during the upcoming office move next week.

The other side of this situation is that because we are out of space, he’s sitting at my little work bench/desk behind my desk so it’s kind of crammed. And worse yet, he can see everything I do. Now don’t get me wrong, I don’t have a ton of time to goof off or anything so it’s not that. However, when I do catch a break I tend to browse the news and write my posts for this website. But with someone else there I can’t do write. He could care less what I do I’m sure but it’s not that.

I hate it when people watch what I type while I’m typing. There I said it.

I have no idea why. It’s completely irrational. But it just irritates the piss out of me if someone starts reading my screen while I’m typing. So much so that I usually just have to stop typing altogether for a bit. Even my wife has experienced this whether she was consciously aware of it or not. Even now, I’ve been at my computer for the past hour or two with her sitting next to me at hers and it wasn’t until just a few minutes ago when she left the room that I brought up my web site and started typing this post. All while she’s off somewhere else.

Shh… here she comes. Make like you’re doing something else.

OK she didn’t come in. I feel like I’m hiding something from her by not typing around her but it’s nothing like that at all. I have no idea why I feel that way and no idea how not to feel that way. This is why most of my blog posts and my writing on my stories gets done while I’m in the privacy of my office at work. During my breaks of course.

Anybody else have this problem? Or something like it that you’d like to share?

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