Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Word to the Wise

This is a blog that is a long time in the making.

I'm a Word Snob. Maybe it's because I work with words for a living, perhaps it's because I was forced to study phonics -- and not just spelling -- in school. It drives my children and friends crazy.

When you speak or write please, please, please do it right. There is precious little in this world that will make me cringe more than the irresponsible use of the English language.

Don't get me wrong, I don't expect everyone to be an ace when it comes to language and grammar -- Lord knows I'm not -- but there are two simple rules I think everyone should follow:
* Know the basics. There are some rules that unless you're still in elementary school and learning, you should just know. When someone says that you "could've had a V8" please know that "could've" is a contraction for "could have." It is NOT "could of." Same with "would've" and "should've."
* If you don't know the word, don't use the word. Words may sound differently than they appear to sound in print, so if you're not familiar, don't take the chance. I went out with a guy -- only once, and you'll soon know why -- who, on a telephone conversation after our date started telling me he was an aficionado of certain things, except what he said was that he was an "Aff-i-KON-di-o" of those things, and he said it three times in two sentences. First, who really uses that word? And second, if you're going to use it, know how to pronounce it. Otherwise you just look silly. And undatable. (Yes, that is the reason I didn't go out with him again. I told you, I'm a word snob.)

More examples of word abuse that have put me on edge:
* "I suspicion that the reason he did that ..."
* "These candies are so addicting ..."
* "Can you even phantom winning that much money?"
* "Your a good friend." (This one REALLY gets me going -- using the wrong "your" or "you're." Ugh)

Monday, April 20, 2009

The honor is already there

I'm sitting at my desk at 1:30 p.m. central time, a short 30 minutes before this year's Pulitzer Prize winners are announced.

While it's always interesting to see who wins, this year is different: The Gazette, the paper I work for, is one of the contenders.

We are up against some pretty tough competition, for sure. How will the Great Flood of 2008, which wiped out homes for thousands of people, rate against President Obama's race relations speech and the presidential campaign, or the financial meltdown, or the ongoing stories on the war in Iraq?

I don't know.

And the truth is, it doesn't matter. Sure, working for a Pulitzer Prize-winning newspaper would be an enormous honor. But so is working for a team of editors who believe that our stuff -- what we as a collective unit did during the flood and in the many months after -- is Pulitzer worthy.

Now we just wait. Nineteen minutes and counting.

Thursday, March 26, 2009

A ton of help

Ever wondered what a ton of food would look like? While it hadn't been on the top of my curiosity list, I did find it kind of interesting when the members at the Curves for Women center where I work part time managed to donate that much for the Marion Food Bank. This shows 2,044.8 pounds of food collected over three weeks.

Every March Curves holds a food drive to benefit a local food bank where each club is located. The four Cedar Rapids/Marion clubs have always had a fun "competition" of sorts, challenging each other to gather the most. Our initial goal for this year -- a year following a devastating flood and in the midst of a recession -- was 2,000 pounds, or one ton, of food. We hit that goal yesterday with nearly a week left in the month.

As an added incentive, new members who may have been thinking of joining Curves but weren't sure about the joining fees can donate a bag of non-perishable food in exchange for the joining fee. Just one bag of groceries and the first month's dues and they're in! We've had many people take advantage of that offer this year.

Lisa Ogle, the club's owner, raised the goal to 2,200. I have no doubts we'll get there.