Auto-Correct Isn"™t So Correct After All

celll phoneAs most of you know I"™m an editor/writer and words are my forte"¦ or so I thought until I got a supposedly SmartPhone and found out I"™ve been outsourced to a battery the size of a gnat.

I do use spell-check while writing and editing simply because it came with the software on my computer, and it does pick up on misspelled words. (By the way, according to Wikipedia, spell-check first became available on mainframe computers in the late 1970s. A group of six linguists from Georgetown University developed the first spell-check system for the IBM corporation at that time.) Even though it can"™t distinguish between homophones (they"™re, their, and there, for example), and doesn"™t recognize common grammatical spelling errors, at least it provides a slight improvement in ones written word when used judiciously.

But this auto-correct thing has me baffled.

Where does it come up with these often hilarious substitutions of what "˜it"™ thinks you want to type? Is there a mini-me in that electronic box who can mysteriously read my mind, knowing what I want to say almost before I do?

Here"™s an example of a text I sent the other day to a friend of mine. Keep in mind that I have rather long fingernails (my one area of vanity) and the touch screen on my phone is definitely not conducive to spelling properly at the best of times.

After I hit "œsend" here"™s what showed up on my screen:

"œSorry I couldn"™t join I guys but my accountant I"™d fur here around one"¦ bummer."

Why in heaven"™s name would I"™d be "œfurring" anyone let alone my wonderful accountant is anybody"™s guess. (And yes, furring is an actual word. One definition is "œfurring strips are long thin strips of wood or metal used to make backing surfaces to support the finished surfaces in a room", and another one involves an <ahem> sexual practice which I"™m not going to go into here at all!) I"™m guessing that "œI guys" is the new pluralized version of "œus" or perhaps a new urban rap phrase, as in "œI guys be wise downtown and round da block"¦ we rock" but hey, it"™s a SmartPhone, so it obviously knows the English language better than I do.

Sigh"¦ I guess I truly am now a part of a generation where communication with others involved talking to someone via that black rotary-dial phone which was wall-mounted in the kitchen of my family homestead, sitting down on a sofa and having an honest to God conversation with the person next to you, face to face, or putting pen to paper and <gasp> writing a letter that you actually had to put in an envelope, lick and place a stamp on the upper right-hand corner, then walk to the local post office to have it sent out to the intended recipient.

By the way, what I REALLY typed in (honestly) was:

"œSorry I couldn"™t join you guys but my accountant is to be here around one"¦ bummer."

It"™s official. My phone is now smarter than I am.

One Size Does NOT Fit All!

photo of me - cold Jan 24 13 adjWarning: Before reading today"™s blog post, be aware that I"™m on a rant as I"™m tired of spending the past 6 days in deep freezer mode here on the East Coast. I most likely am vitamin D, C, A, Z deprived and any other compound in between that I"™m lacking from not feeling the sun"™s warmth!

So"¦ as I mentioned above, my neck of the woods has been experiencing colder than normal winter temperatures for the past 6 days due to a low pressure of Artic air that"™s stuck over the region. For example, when I dragged my sorry butt out of bed this morning, it was -34C with wind chill factored in (around -29F for those of you who don"™t use the Celsius system). Now that"™s a tad chilly by anyone"™s thermometer and since I don"™t own a fur coat (don"™t believe in them) by choice I"™ve stayed indoors, gazing at the bright sunshine that isn"™t providing a smidgen of warmth through the windows of my home. (I should add that my poor electric furnace is also getting a work-out and I"™m afraid that the wheel on the meter is spinning so fast that it"™s going to pop off its axis and slice through the glass casing!)

Anyhow, I digress from the point of this rant.

To try and combat the cold, 4 days ago I dug through my dresser drawers in search of some heavyweight winter tights that I have for just these occasions. In my childhood days, these were referred to as leotards, but in today"™s advanced fashion terms, tights seem to be the more acceptable term. However, there"™s one slight problem "“ I only have a couple of pairs of these winter wonders and this morning after my shower I discovered both were in the dirty clothes hamper. Uh oh"¦

But wait! After a little digging through aforementioned dresser drawer, I found a brand spanking new pair of "˜patterned"™ tights just waiting to be unwrapped from their hermitically sealed plastic covering. I vaguely remember buying them last spring at an end of winter clearance event and had never put them to use, but today was going to be the day they saw the light. (Or darkness under my jeans to be more precise.)

Now the following description may be too vivid for some people to handle, so if you"™ve no sense of humour, stop reading here.

I unfolded the beautiful jacquard patterned black tights, easing them lovingly over my toes and then rolling them up my thighs"¦ and that"™s when the elastic hit the fan. These totally posh tights STOPPED an inch short of my umm nether region! I started pulling with all my might but nope, they weren"™t budging. By this time I"™m sweating from the exertion of trying to haul up the now obnoxious pair of too-tight tights and I"™m ready for my second shower of the day.

In a fit of rage, I grab the package to see what possible size these thigh huggers are and there on the label lies the culprit: ONE SIZE FITS ALL.

Okay. Who the BLEEP is "˜One"™ and how come HER measurements are used as a gauge for the rest of us?  One isn"™t even a prime number for heaven"™s sake! I remember from the movie The Matrix that "˜Neo"™ was determined to be The One, and frankly at this point of trying to get these stupid tights on, I was going to need a miracle of futuristic proportions in order to get them on my body!

I say we outlaw the ONE SIZE FITS ALL labelling of garments because it never does. Same goes with hats. That label equates to them being either too small or too big on me and I"™ve yet to find sweaters that fit perfectly bearing that tag as well.

Let"™s start a movement, ladies, to get this stupid "˜no size"™ label off clothing now! How about we get rid of it and create "˜MIGHT FIT"™ or "˜NO WAY HONEY"™ labels instead? They might be a tad more accurate and at least not give one false hope that the garment may cover whatever body part it"™s meant for.

I did manage to scrounge another older much worn pair of tights from another drawer which fit just fine. But get this: the tag on this pair says "˜Large "“ Tall."™ I"™m 5"™ 3" (and that"™s pushing it) so perhaps the labelling on what constitutes tall is a tad off as well.

So, what"™s the moral of this story? Don"™t buy anything labelled ONE SIZE FITS ALL unless you"™re 110% positive that you"™re the "˜one"™ who was directly involved in the construction of said garment. Either that or just take your chances and be ready for an extra workout in the morning trying to get the @#*! on J

Stay warm everyone!

Why Money Should Never Be Your Motivator

Yesterday I watched a short clip that a friend had posted on Facebook entitled "œWhat If Money Was   No Object?" and it was so good that I shared it on my own wall. It made me stop and realize that for a good part of my life, money was my motivator "“ the driving force behind 90% of every decision I made.

For a lot of people, their life"™s equation looks like this: work + money = success. Yet at what cost to human creativity? I wonder how many of us reach a certain age, stop and look back over our lives and wonder, "œWhat if I"™d done something different. How would I feel today?" Even worse, there are far too many people who lay on their deathbed and think, "œI wish I"™d followed my true passion of "¦" you fill in the blank.

Yes, money is important, to the extent that we need a certain amount of it to live a reasonably comfortable life. We all need a dry roof over our heads, clothes on our back, and food on our table. These are the basic necessities of life and in order to enjoy them, we need to earn money to pay for them doing some type of work. However, where is it written that we have to stifle our dreams and desires for doing what we truly love to do in order to be considered a success? Who, exactly, dictates that we need to work at a 9 to 5 J.O.B. that we detest simply because "œThat"™s what everybody does!?"

I wonder if people like Monet or Rembrandt thought, "œWell, I"™ll never be rich and famous because I"™m "˜just"™ a painter" or if writers such as Hemingway, Fitzgerald, or so many other literary giants decided, "œI"™m going to write because I"™ll achieve critical acclaim and be revered for my work when I die." I suspect they, along with thousands of others who have followed their passion, did what they did because they paid attention to their innate intuition to follow what made their heart sing "“ to do what fulfilled them and made them want to get up in the morning, EVERY day of their life, and do it all over again.

The title of this piece is "œWhy Money Should Never Be Your Motivator" and here"™s why I believe this statement to be true. If you base your sense of self-worth and self-esteem on the size of your bank account, you run the risk of having a zero balance "“ in both your wallet AND in your life. Finances have a way of ebbing and flowing, much like the tides of the ocean are governed by the moon. If your moral character is based on hard currency, then what happens if you lose all your wealth? What do you have in your "˜internal"™ safety deposit box to fall back on to get you through such a hardship? Probably zilch.

I have no children of my own, but I do have nieces and one nephew whom I adore, as well as an extended family of great-nieces and great-nephews. If I were allowed to share with them only one piece of business advice, it would be this: Choose your career path by that which makes you feel happy. For if you follow your instincts and take the path that fills your soul with satisfaction, the money will eventually come. And when it does, you will most likely be more appreciative of those dollars and cents, and share your wealth (and joy) with others in the world.

Pay attention to your dreams as they will provide you with a lifetime of joy.

PS: By the way, here"™s the link to the video clip should you like to watch it. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=siu6JYqOZ0g

The Road to Entrepreneurialism is Paved With… Vegetables?

The Old Farmhouse Barn Aug 27 12 adjI know. Strange title for a blog post but after you read the remainder of the story, you"™ll know why I"™ve chosen this  as the introductory line.

I suspect if you were to take a poll of 100 business owners, all of them can pinpoint the main reason why they took the plunge into entrepreneurialism. I also know that being their own "˜boss"™ would most likely rank in the top 5 answers to that question. For me, my entrepreneur ideas took root when I was 8 years old, literally and figuratively.

I was born and raised in an 18 room farmhouse situated on 200 acres (more or less) of relatively fertile ground, located in a fairly remote rural area of New Brunswick, alongside the coastline of the Northumberland Strait. My father was a self-employed business man, who held down 2 demanding jobs: that of being an owner of his own front-end loader/backhoe during the day, and in all the hours before 8:00 am and after 5:00 pm, he toiled at his true love, that of farming.

As most of the people in the area did, we too, grew our own vegetables and harvested them for winter. The trouble was my Dad thought that a ½ acre of garden simply wasn"™t enough to feed our huge family (including myself, there were only 4 of us children), so therefore a second ½ acre or more was ploughed, seeded and tended which grew only potatoes, turnip and cabbage. For those of you who"™ve never tended gardens of that size, let me assure you that it takes a LOT of hoeing, weeding, tilling etc. to maintain something of that size.

Over the years, people from nearby towns constructed cottages along the beautiful coastline and my older brother had started what we called the "˜vegetable route"™ supplying the "˜cottagers"™ with fresh vegetables once they came into season.

The summer I turned 8, my brother decided he was too old to be doing this piddly work and passed the baton down to me. My father sat me down at the end of June and said, "œI"™ll make you a deal. If you take over the cottage route, I"™ll split the money we make with you at the end of August." Well, to an 8 year old girl, in 1965, the promise of actual dollar bills seemed like a tremendous idea, so we shook hands and a deal was struck. All the monies collected were to be deposited in an old tobacco can which sat at the back of the sideboard in the kitchen and divided just before school started in September.

I still didn"™t have a bicycle yet (although I should add I"™d started nagging my parents 2 years prior for one!), so twice a week I"™d either walk the 2 mile route, knock on the cottager"™s doors, smile and ask, "œDo you need any vegetables this week?" and proceed to rattle off what offerings were available, or on the odd occasion my Mum would drive me in our family car. I"™d write down their orders in a tiny coil-bound flip-top book, move on to the next cottage and repeat the process. When the last cottage was duly asked for an order, I"™d walk back home and then my mother and I would tally up how many bunches of carrots, beets, radishes, pounds of peas, beans, or potatoes etc. we"™d need to pick, wash, and pack to deliver later that day.

I should also mention here that a "˜bunch"™ of carrots consisted of 12 firm, bright orange beauties, all nicely washed and tied with a piece of left-over baler twine, which sold for the princely sum of $.25/per bunch. (Yes, I"™m that old!)

The hazy days of summer quickly passed and the garden once again yielded a wonderful crop. I cannot tell you how many trips I made down the cottager"™s route; the tons of weeds I pulled from those rows of vegetables; the mosquito bites I received from pushing through the thorny raspberry bushes in search of the bigger, more tastier morsels, or how happy I was to hand a brown paper bag full of produce to the respective buyers and say, "œThat comes to $ 1.85 please" and run home to stash the cash into the tobacco can.

Cooler days rolled in and September 1st arrived. Dad decided that the Saturday night before Labour Day was to be the big reveal and division of funds. I could hardly wait.

With both of us sitting at the sturdy weathered farmhouse kitchen table, he dumped the contents of the tobacco can and started counting. After 20 minutes or so, we had the grand sum of"¦ $ 60.00 (give or take a few pennies). Woo hoo! I would get $ 30.00 for working the entire summer!

And that"™s when I learned my first lesson in entrepreneurship from my Dad.

He looked at me and said: "œBefore we split this money, the first $20.00 is mine because I paid for the seeds, fertilizer, and gas for the tractor and tiller." "œWhat do you mean, Dad? You"™re taking more money than me!", I defiantly said.  He smiled and replied, "œRemember, little girl. Being in business costs money, and you can"™t make money if you don"™t spend money."

Hmpf!

In the end I took my precious $20.00 or so and stashed it away in my empty Cherry Blossom candy bar box that served as my piggy bank from whence I carefully doled out a dime here or a quarter then which was spent on trips to the general store to buy penny candy on Saturday nights.

I continued to do the summer cottage vegetable route until I was 15 and got my first "˜real"™ job washing dishes and peeling produce at a new restaurant/gas bar that had opened the summer of 1972 about a mile from my home. I then passed the vegetable route on to my youngest brother who was around 8 at the time"¦ and HE had a bike! (Lucky kid!)

That meager paying, labor intensive summer job lit a spark deep inside me and I knew that at some point in my life I would become an entrepreneur. In April of 2006 I finally opened my existing wordsmith business.

No, I don"™t keep my money in an empty candy bar box today, but I do pay my bills on time and try and put aside a smidgen for "˜rainy days."™

And I still tend to a teeny vegetable garden just because:-)

Fresh tomatoes from my garden Sept. 2012

9 Words

I"™ve read a lot of self-help/motivational books over the years and have taken bits and pieces from each of them to build the life I lead today. Some of the "˜experts"™ claim that the most important statements one can make to another human being are "œI love you" or "œI am sorry." While both of these phrases certainly belong in everyone"™s vocabulary, (and should be used frequently in my opinion), I recently heard 9 words that should be shared with the people in your life, especially with those you are fortunate to be around in their early childhood. 

Last Sunday afternoon, my hubby and I went to an afternoon matinee at our local theatre. I got to choose the movie we"™d see, and since I"™d heard rave reviews of the film, The Help, based on the book by Kathryn Stockett, that was my pick. 

It turned out to be best $10.00 I"™ve spent in years. 

This amazing movie chronicles the behind the scenes feelings of colored domestic maids in the early 1960"™s in Jackson, MS. While I suspect that some of the incidents and situations in the movie were indeed true, I"™m choosing not to comment on the politics of the film, but rather the words that from the moment I heard them, I knew them to be some of the most profound I"™ve heard in my lifetime. 

The main character, Aibileen Clark, portrayed brilliantly by actress Viola Davis, tells her story of raising white children during this era. In one of the early scenes in the movie, Aibileen reaches into a crib, picks up the little white girl she is looking after, sits down with her in a rocking chair near the bed, and says"¦Â 

"œYou is kind; you is smart; you is important."Â 

9 words. 

Aibileen makes the little girl repeat these words after she says them to her as if repeating them will somehow make the child realize her own worth.

I"™ve been wondering all week long what would happen if all of us said these 9 words to the children in our life. Better yet, what if we, as adults, switched them around a bit and daily told ourselves, "˜I am kind; I am smart; I am important."

They say it takes 28 days to either break or form a new habit. I"™m issuing a challenge to everyone who reads this post. For the next 28 days, before you get out of your bed each morning, silently say these words: "œI am kind; I am smart; I am important." Better yet, if you happen to have children or grandchildren, or even young nieces and nephews, at least once a day tell THEM these same words. 

9 simple words. 

I wish I"™d heard them sooner.

Anticipation

Anticipation

How our definition of this word changes as we age.

Today is the first day of school in my area. Since I live on a street that ends at the local elementary school, I get to see all the children in my neighbourhood between the ages of 5 and 13 walk past my house heading to the big brick building where they"™ll spend roughly 5 hours a day for the next 10 months.

Guess which ones I love to watch the most? It"™s those first-timers, the little kindergartener"™s and grade one students. You can divide them into two categories: those filled with anticipation and the others who are filled with dread.

I LOVE the anticipation crowd! They"™re the ones that are running ahead of their Mom"™s or Dad, skipping over cracks in the sidewalk in their haste to get to school for the first day. With faces as shiny and radiant as their new backpacks and lunch pails, they exude anticipation for what is to come once they enter those hallowed doors of the school. "œSlow down, Suzie! Don"™t run, John!" anxious parents admonish their children. "œBut"¦ but"¦ I don"™t wanna be late!" exclaim the little ones. Such exuberance and unbridled joy.

It"™s been a long time since I felt that much bottled-up anticipation in my life, until last Friday, that is. My sweetheart decided to give in to my whining for a new puppy and brought home Max, a Havanese/Shih Tzu mix, from Paradise Kennels which is about 5 hours from our home. Along the way he"™d take periodic pictures of Max and send them to me via email with silly captions like, "œHe"™s not too impressed" showing Max woefully looking up from his cardboard box at my hubby.

By 4:00 pm my anticipation meter had blown through the roof. At around 4:10 the phone rang and my hubby said, "œWe"™re about 5 minutes away." I rushed outside and stood in the middle of driveway as I could not wait to see and hold our newest addition to the family. My hubby"™s car barely made it to a stop when I yanked open the passenger side door and reached into the box to lovingly pick up my new "˜baby"™ to pet him. I held that gorgeous ball of fur"¦ and he started licking my face showering me with puppy chow kisses. And you got it "“ I started bawling.

DSC01491For one brief moment in time, I was just like those little kids who were skipping on their way to school today. Full of anticipation as THE day had arrived filled with unlimited possibilities.

So, I raise my coffee cup to salute all the little children who traveled on the road to adulthood this morning, filled with bravery, wonderment, happiness, enthusiasm, with just a little anxiety thrown in for good measure.

I know exactly how you feel!

PS -  Here’s my all-time favorite song about Anticipation. Enjoy!

Anticipation – Carly Simon

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