Tuesday, August 30, 2005
Well I am still doing quite well in my "one book a week" quest. Even though I rarely hit the target, it's good to push myself towards some type of goal.
Some books feel like a push. Sometimes I really have to struggle through them. On Writing Well by William Zinsser is not one of those difficult to read books.
As someone who barely remembers high school English class and who (obvious by this blog) really needs practice in writing, this book is a godsend. I actually borrowed this copy from a good friend but after I return it I'll be sure to pick up another for myself.
Fighting clutter is like fighting weedsThe writer is always slightly behind. New varieties sprout overnight, and by noon they are part of American speech. John Dean holds the record. In just one day of testimony on TV during the Watergate hearings he raised the clutter quotient by 400 percent. The next day everyone in America was saying "at this point in time" instead of "now."
Consider all the prepositions that are routinely draped onto verbs that don't need any help. Head up. Free up. Face up to. We no longer head committees. We head them up. We don't face problems anymore. We face up to them when we can free up a few minutes. A small detail, you may say is not worth bothering about. It is worth bothering about. The game is won or lost on hundreds of small details. Writing improves in direct ratio to the number of things we can keep out of it that shouldn't be there. "Up" in "free up" shouldn't be there. Can we picture anything being freed up? The writer of clean English must examine every word that he puts on paper. He will find a surprising number that don't serve any purpose.
Clutter is the laborious phrase which has pushed out the short word that means the same thing. These locutions are a drag on energy and momentum. Even before John Dean gave us "at this point in time," people had stopped saying "now." They were saying "at the present time," or "currently," or "presently" (which means "soon"). Yet the idea can always be expressed by "now" to mean the immediate moment ("Now I can see him"), or by "today" to mean the historical present ("Today prices are high"), or simply by the verb "to be" ("It is raining"). There is no need to say, "At the present time we are experiencing precipitation."
Speaking of which, we are experiencing considerable difficulty getting that word out of the language now that it has lumbered in. Even your dentist will ask if you are experiencing any pain. If he were asking one of his own children he would say, "Does it hurt?" He would, in short, be himself. By using a more pompous phrase in his professional role he not only sounds more important; he blunts the painful edge of truth. It is the language of the airline stewardess demonstrating the oxygen mask that will drop down if the plane should somehow run out of air. "In the extremely unlikely possibility that the aircraft should experience such an eventuality," she begins a phrase so oxygen-depriving in itself that we are prepared for any disaster, and even gasping death shall lose its sting. As for her request to "kindly extinguish all smoking materials," I often wonder what materials are smoking. Maybe she thinks my coat and tie are on fire.
Saturday, August 27, 2005
I have never been there but I'm envious anyways. The clear skies, cool amusement parks, and North American shopping is quite the draw for us.
Now if only she could avoid those pesky storms.
Monday, August 22, 2005
Tuesday, August 16, 2005
Well I am still trying to keep with the "a book a week" thing. I know it's been over a week since i last posted a book, but honestly, the "week" thing is subjective. Kinda like when God created so and so in 7 days. personally, it's all a matter of perspective.
Anyways, my most recent book was "THE 10 DAY MBA" (must be said in CAPS I suppose).
I am not really going to write much about it other than... it was ok.
I read it, not because I'm interested in getting my MB, but more because I wanted to enlarge my Biz-speak. Instead, I think I bored myself out of the business. It's not a bad book, it is just something I'm not focused on right now.
I may have to pick it up for a second read at a later date.
Friday, August 12, 2005
Well we finally got around to developing some wedding pictures. Take it from me, if you ever get married, get the pictures "done and sent off to the relatives" ASAP. Ifyou don't, then you'll be like me doing it 14 months after the fact.
Here is a cool picture of us walking through the garden behind the place we got married. It's actually one of my favorites.
Here is another one, same garden, but more wrinkles. I swear that the photographer was trying to make ME look bad and Joo look good. He kept yelling at me in Konglish "SMILE!"
I think I might have to photoshop my face a bit here. ;)
And of course, here is another lovely shot of my Moonie.
For some funny reason, she had tons of shots of her "solo" but not one single cool shot of me.
And this is the last one for today. I really liked the lighting here. Not the cleanest shot but I think it'd look nice blown up and in a frame.
Wednesday, August 10, 2005
Well, it seems that my favorite body builder/ movie star/ real estate mogul/ Governor has been having a tough time in the mean streets of Cali.
From what I understand (and that is very little), the state was operating at a huge deficit and was leaking money from all points. Arnold came in and approached it like a businessman would; he attempted to trim the fat.
Unfortunately, "the fat" in business often refers to "the essentials" in the community. Health care, police, fire, education, ect... They all are usually the first to fall (in hopes of brining some of the bureaucracy down with em').
Ralph Klein did the same thing in Alberta and was heavily criticized for it. The truth can only be told in long term figures such as quality of said services over a range of say 20 years. What does become immediately evident (if it is left to run it's course) is the economic benefits. Being from Alberta one knows right away to brag about the economy. While other issues must be included, it always feels nice to know that there are tons of jobs around.
So, I guess Californians need to ask themselves; do they want jobs or services?
Even the BBC picked this one up.
"We have tough choices ahead. The first choice that we must make is the one that will determine our success. Shall we rebuild our state together or shall we fight amongst ourselves, create even deeper division and fail the people of California?
"Well, let me tell you something, the answer is clear. For the people to win, politics as usual must lose."
Inclination to re-elect Schwarzenegger among registered voters
February 2005: 56%
June 2005: 39%
Source: The Field Poll
Thursday, August 04, 2005
Well, in keeping with me posting about books I've read, here is another. Actually "another" by Bill Bryson. I think it may be his easy to read style and my "lazy when reading" style that attracts me so.
Anyways, Mother Tongue is a decent read about the origins and growth of the English language. Although not my specialty (shhhhh, don't tell my students), it was still very informative.
here is an excerpt:
Words change by doing nothing. That is, the word stays the same but the meaning changes. Surprisingly often the meaning becomes its opposite or something very like it. Counterfeit once meant a legitimate copy. Brave once implied cowardice -- as indeed bravado still does. (Both come from the same source as depraved.) Crafty, not a disparaging term, originally was a word of praise, while enthusiasm, which is now a word of praise, was once a term of mild abuse. Zeal has lost its original pejorative sense, but zealot curiously has not. Garble once meant to sort out, not to mix up. A harlot was once a boy, and a girl in Chaucer's day was any young person, whether male or female. Manufacture, from the Latin root for hand, once signified something made by hand; it now means virtually the opposite. Politician was originally a sinister word (perhaps, on second thoughts, it still is), while obsequious and notorious simply meant flexible and famous. Simeon Potter notes that when James II first saw St Paul's Cathedral he called it amusing, awful and artificial, and meant that it was pleasing to look at, deserving of awe, and full of skillful artifice.
Interesting stuff, no?
Tuesday, August 02, 2005
I am finally back from Hanoi.... I came back from hot weather, only to land in even more hot weather.... how lucky I am:)
I wanted to show a Vietnamese rainbow to Eddie.... because even I haven't seen one for a long time. I hope you guys like this one.
Before the rainbow, it rained soooooo much. The car I was in could barely move. Check out this photo I took while driving to a factory.