Wednesday, January 27, 2010

r u aware what all the texting will do 2 u l8r kids?

Turn on, tune in, drop out. Timothy Leary would be proud. The kids gather in groups most afternoons outside Starbucks. Their heads are bowed to their phones, furiously text messaging and they barely speak to each other. One day I just may do it. Walk up to them, take their phones out of their busy hands and make them talk to each other. Is your BFF here? Then have a conversation with her in person.
An entirely different language structure has emerged in this rushed world.
There have been many articles about texting slowly eroding children's vocabulary and linguistic abilities but now there is an actual estimate given. According to Jean Gross, England's first children's communication czar, (how's that for a title?) children are communicating in abbreviated text speak and only utilize a vocabulary of 800 words on a daily basis. With fewer words at their disposal it is going to have far reaching repercussions later in life. Nothing to LOL at. Perhaps it was inevitable that people would start to communicate in acronyms. The internet itself spawned 'www' which is the only acronym that takes more time to articulate than the words the letters stand for.
A friend of mine lamented that children aren't focusing on penmanship in school. Who is writing letters anymore that penmanship needs to be mastered? It's not just children though. An e mail I received from another adult's phone was littered with so many shortened words and acronyms that it actually took me longer to read because I am not proficient in the new text speak that is masquerading as language. "R u going 2 b thr? C u l8r!" What? I eventually figured it out but in this multi tasking world does it really save people that much precious time to not spell out an entire word? Are you so pressed to shave seconds off your day that the word 'to' needs to be abbreviated? The old PBS show Zoom had a made up language that we all tried to master when we were kids. "Hub I frub ends. Dub oo yub oo knub oo whub ut thub is ub is?" The idea was to insert 'ub' in front of vowels to 'Zoom speak.' The previous statement would be "Hi friends. Do you know what this is?" At least Zoom's tongue twisters required some creative thinking.
The young adults who are only using their arsenal of 800 words are supposedly doomed when they enter the workforce according to these studies that have estimated young people can't string an acceptable sentence together with adjectives and adverbs. But if their parents are adopting the same clipped communication won't everyone meet somewhere in the middle eventually?
Years ago Kentucky Fried Chicken came up with their 'new and improved' KFC Express. Faster fast food. Is it more important to do something quickly or do something well?

Sunday, January 17, 2010

out with the old and in with the new

The Christmas tree stands illuminated in the same corner location in the living room year after year. That's right. Not the politically correct 'holiday tree.' That's what it was called in our house when I grew up and that is what I continue to call it. If there is some gnarly branch or bare spot that I didn't notice when we purchased the tree I can just turn the unsightly side to the corner. Problem solved. The tree's corner location also affords me the opportunity to end the season with a ceremonial shove out the window. It has an extremely cathartic effect.

January brings some dreary days with the first month of the calendar year. Sorry to anyone who has a January 24 birthday since a British survey deemed it the 'most depressing day of the year.' The argument is that it coincides with when all the holiday bills fill the mailbox to capacity. It is the equivalent of a financial holiday hangover.

The turn of events of last January has changed the way that I will forever look at Canadian geese. The birds have always been the pesky nuisance of many a park keeper and they occasionally fly in a squawking triangle over the house. But last January 15 they were enough of a force to accidentally fly into the motor of an airliner and take it out of the skies with an emergency landing in the icy waters of the Hudson river. It was immediately dubbed the 'miracle on the Hudson' but after word of the quick thinking pilot and his calm instructions and maneuvers were revealed it seemed as if we should give more credit to Captain Chesley B. Sullenberger III for pulling off a miracle. His response to the situation meant that Flight 1549 became many stories to many people but they all had the same happy ending. It was a miracle that the plane floated but it was the quick thinking and response of Captain Sullenberger that had the plane come to its safe resting spot in the river. 'Mastery of the Hudson' perhaps.

On January 15 of this year the passengers gathered on the anniversary to reconnect and share stories. They sailed out to the very spot where that plane became the common thread in their lives and they toasted each other with champagne and the intentionally ironic choice of Grey Goose. After the events in the Hudson last year the jokes sprouted about ordering 'two shots of Grey Goose and a splash of water.' Now the King of Cocktails, Don DeGroff, has delivered 'The Sully' in a recipe in The New York Times which is essentially a Manhattan with a float of champagne on top. Someone chartered a small plane to fly over the Hudson to mark the anniversary as the passengers celebrated on their boat. Early into the flight though the plane was forced to, wait for it, make an emergency landing in the nearby Staten Island landfill. The banner the plane intended to display read "If you died today would you go to heaven or hell? John 14:16.' Pull out your best shaker and stirrer, mix your self a 'Sully' and ponder that thought.

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Should old acquaintance be forgot?

Here it comes. 'Start your diet.' 'Drop the holiday pounds in the new year.' Does everyone really lose all sense of control at the end of the year when it comes to indulgences? Or does it happen all year with many things? A new year and a time to reflect. There is debate as to whether this year, 2010, is the first year of a new decade or the last year of a decade gone by. Either way, time is moving forward but pause a moment to look back and take stock of lessons learned. Did you discover a new author, find a great vacation destination or master a new recipe? What will you remember about '09? Let's review all that was surprising, not so surprising, ridiculous and creepy about the last calendar year.

10. Ex senator John Edwards taught us that if your wife is terminally ill and there is a woman that you supposedly had an affair with who has a child who looks exactly like you it is probably best to admit paternity sooner rather than later. The pro bono lawyer turned out to be a snake oil salesman in disguise. Maybe his scorned wife could heal the family and move on by practicing 'resilience' instead of making it the title of her new book and hitting the talk show circuit.

9. Thank you to former governor Eliot Spitzer for introducing the world to Ashley Dupre. Those of us who don't know how to keep our husbands happy now have her 'advice' column in The New York Post to turn to for guidance. We finally have all the answers to our burning questions on relationship bliss, from the always helpful call girl perspective, now that Robert Murdoch's newest employee is on the beat.

8. Ex Governor Rob Blagojevich showed us that if you keep stating something as a belief long enough you may be able to make it become true. Or not. And if your credibility is still on shaky ground it is a good idea to try and get on a reality television show like 'I am a celebrity.....get me out of here.' When a federal judge informs you that you can't leave the country to participate it's always handy to have one of those supportive political spouses to take your place.

7. Senator John Ensign of Nevada demonstrated that if you have an affair with your best friend's wife, both of whom work for you, it is perfectly acceptable to continue to pursue her after the friend confronts you. And confronts you again. No, really you have to stop now.

6. South Carolina Governor Mark Sanford's 'soul mate' was in a more geographically desirable locale in order to hide all the way in Argentina. When the relationship was exposed he apologized in a speech where he states "I am sorry for hurting her, my children and my wife." The mistress should never have top billing in the heartfelt statement to your constituents. Did he run that past anybody before making a public apology?

5. Bernie Madoff showed us what a human being looks like who has no moral compass whatsoever. When he wasn't cheating little old ladies and entire families out of their life savings he was cheating in the old fashioned sense of the word on his wife.

4. David Letterman found out what it was like to become the one on the receiving end of late night jokes in regard to your personal life. What could it have been like to be a woman in that working environment if you weren't one of the many women involved with him? How was it that he was praised for having 'class' for addressing the issue so quickly?

3. Michael Jackson's sad, strange life came to an end at the hands of a doctor who administered powerful narcotics for the star to get some sleep. A stunning example of having enough money and no one to say no to you, ever.

2. We learned a new term this year. 'Octomom.' All the people out there who are struggling to finance the birth of one child, whose insurance doesn't cover the costly procedures, collectively thank this delusional woman and reckless doctor. Do the math. 1 seemingly unstable, unemployed, single mother + 1 irresponsible 'doctor' + 6 children + eight babies = millions of people who may never have insurance companies start to defray the cost of the dream of having a child.

1. You can hear the sponsors closing their doors and pulling the plugs all around us. 2010 is the year that we found out that Mrs. Tiger Woods wields a mean golf club herself. Be careful who your kids' role models are. Did you think that the name Tiger Woods would be synonymous with a bevy of porn stars at the start of 2009? Well, it sure is now.

Drink a cup of kindness to days of auld lang syne!