English Is A Great Big Pain In The Seat #socs

So, I was going through all the words I could think of that end in -eat, and I realized that there’s one word that doesn’t rhyme with any of the others: great. And I tried to think of a word that rhymed with great that ended in -eat, and I couldn’t think of one. I even checked a rhyming dictionary, and none of the words that rhyme with great end in -eat.

Heat, meat, beat, seat, peat, treat, bleat, neat, feat, cheat, cleat, pleat, and wheat all rhyme with each other, but great doesn’t. If it did, it’d sound like greet. But great and greet are two different parts of speech, and mean different things. Great sounds like grate, but again, they’re different parts of speech, and their meanings are different. Maybe the Grand Poobahs of the English language decided to spell it differently because of this.

Why didn’t they spell it greight, then? I mean, it rhymes with eight, and weight, and Haight, as in Haight-Ashbury.

While I’m at it, compleat and complete are the same word, pronounced the same and with the same meaning. Why two spellings? One looks cooler than the other? I had a friend that pronounced the former “cahm-plee-aht.” Is that how it’s supposed to be pronounced? Why would you say it that way, anyway? I mean, it’s “cum-pleet” versus “cahm-plee-aht.” One’s two syllables, the other’s three.

I’m sure someone with a background in etymology will leave a comment, explain the whole thing, and make me feel like an idiot. See, I’m supposed to know things like that, because I took three years of Latin and two of Greek in high school because my mother told me to. “It’ll help you with English!” she claimed. What did she think I had been speaking for the first fourteen years of my life? Finnish? The only people who speak Latin nowadays are either celibate or dead. And the Greek? It wasn’t like the kind of Greek they speak nowadays. Nooooo…. It was Homeric Greek. The kind the blind storyteller used to speak.

Homer_British_Museum
A bust of the blind storyteller himself, at the British Museum. Public domain, thanks to JW1805 at Wikipedia.


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This silly rant has been brought to you by Linda Hill, who runs this little old blog hop. Visit her for the rules and the list of other participants.

What Do We Do About Student Debt?

The whole issue of massive amounts of student loan debt is in the news (election season, don’t you know). Most recently I saw an article about a young woman offering her Bachelor of Arts (cum laude) in Theater from Florida State University for sale on eBay. Price: $50,000.

The young woman in question graduated in 2011 with $40,000 in student loan debt. She now lives in Los Angeles and is a personal assistant, not what she was trained for, but it pays the bills, barely. She says:

I’m doing the exact same things and probably getting paid the exact same amount as people that dropped out halfway through freshman year, except I’m still $40,000 in debt and they’re, well, not.

Of course, I saw this on Facebook, and of course there were lots of people expressing the opinion that she was an idiot for getting her degree in Theater. I was a little kinder. Here’s what I said:

She probably got her degree in theater because she had to get it in something and had to declare a major by the end of sophomore year, when she was twenty and had no idea what to major in. It’s a crappy major, sure, but let’s face it, 95% of majors at any university aren’t worth four years of a young person’s life and years of living with Mom and Dad while trying to pay of thousands of dollars of debt spent getting a diploma that isn’t worth the paper it’s printed on. If she had actually wanted to work in theater (which I question), she could have started by applying for jobs in theaters and getting to know the people and jobs from the inside, and spend the four years she would have spent in Jacksonville actually working in theater. She’s young, and if she decided the theater wasn’t for her, she could have examined other options, including going to school. We’ve brainwashed kids into believing they must go to college immediately after high school without taking time to find out what they want to go to school for. And listen, the meme about college graduates making lots more money is demonstrably false, especially in this day and age where it seems that every kid getting out of college can’t get a job. Parents, college counselors, and university marketing departments need to stop telling kids that.

Years ago, people were all up in arms over advertisements on kids’ TV shows, how they had a captive audience and were basically brainwashing kids to tell their parents that they wanted all these sugary snacks and toys, and pressured the broadcasters and sponsors of those shows to stop marketing to kids and be more responsible to the actual needs of children. Today, we see the kids being subjected to the same treatment when it comes to going to college, by the same people who complained about the TV shows. That doesn’t seem right.

What do you think needs to happen? I have my ideas, but I’d like to hear yours first.

Who comes up with these?

I’m not much of a fan of Facebook, but I admit that it can be a good source of material for the blog, and when I’m stuck for something to write about, I’ll go out there and see if anything might be of interest to you. Sometimes, I’m introduced to new-to-me websites. Today I learned about List Challenges, a site that curates long lists from other sites and surveys their readers to see how many people are familiar with something, have had certain experiences, read certain books, have certain albums, traveled to certain places, etc. At the end, they give you a “score” that you can post to Facebook, Twitter, or whatever your social media drug happens to be.

Today, they featured a list of the “100 Worst Songs Ever.” The challenge was to indicate which of the songs you’ve heard, and that would determine your “score.” Being kind of a music fan (i.e. I write about it a couple of times here on the blog), I said, OK, bring it on, and worked my way through it. By the time I had finished the list, I was convinced that the person who assembled it was suffering from rectal-cranial inversion or had merely gone through a list of songs recorded from 1951 on and picked them at random. Researching further, I learned that this list was written for the AOL Radio Blog almost five years ago, and it doesn’t appear that the author still writes for them. Whether that was because of this list is still a mystery.

I couldn’t disagree with some of the songs on the list. I think songs like “Feelings,” “Seasons in the Sun,” and “You’re Havin’ My Baby” are EBS Specials. But others? I really wonder what the author was thinking.

I guess it all boils down to this:

De-gustibus-non-est

But honestly, I think some people’s taste is all in their mouths.

I “scored” 31 out of 100, and as I look at the list, I missed a couple, and I’ve probably heard some of the others and never knew the names. About 10% (3) are songs where I agree with the author of the post.

If you have the inclination, take the test yourself and leave your score in the comments. Are these, indeed, the worst songs of all time? Or is the author out of his mind? I’d be interested to know what you think.

SEO Spam

If you run a blog on WordPress, chances are you’ve gotten the spam comment that starts “Hello Web Admin, I noticed that your On-Page SEO is is missing a few factors” and goes on to tell you what, in this person’s humble opinion, you’re screwing up, following all of it with an offer to watch a video about what their amazing plugin will do to improve pages hits and blah blah blah. Save your time: I clicked the link, and it didn’t bring me to a page with anything whatsoever to do with improving search engine optimization. It took me to a page that was pushing one of those get-rich-quick schemes where you can’t leave the page unless you leave your name and email address, no doubt so they can send you hundreds of emails like normal spammers do.

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Uh, guys, word of advice: WordPress.com, which hosts this blog, doesn’t allow its users to install third-party plugins like the one you claim to talk about in a video somewhere. To the best of my knowledge, neither does Blogger, TypePad, or any of the other blog-hosting sites. You’re wasting your time. And, exactly how do you suppose that constantly dumping these spam comments on me gives me any confidence that your plugin will do anything close to what you’re promising and that it won’t unleash a virus that will eat my blog and infect every computer that visits?

Search engine optimization was a big thing a few years ago. The trick is to set up keywords both on your site and in your HTML that will result in your site showing up on the first page of a Google search. There are any number of ways to do this, among them looking at the most-frequently used keywords on sites like yours and using as many of them as you can to achieve the highest position possible. Kind of like I talked about during the A to Z Challenge, where companies would add strings of A’s in front of their names so they’d would be listed first in their category in the Yellow Pages (e.g. A AAA AAAAAA AAAAAAAAA Roy’s Termite Service).

Understand, SEO is a legitimate concern, and if your business depends on being listed at or toward the top of a Google search, you need to pay attention to it. At the same time, Google is messing with their algorithm almost constantly, and what gave you a high position on Google pages once upon a time is not guaranteed to give you the same ranking in the future. Google will also look at the location the request is coming from and what you’ve looked for and linked to in the past (yeah, they keep statistics on that, too) before giving you results. If your primary concern is page ranking, you might be wasting your time. And the search engines are getting wise to spamdexing, and actually penalizing sites for doing it. The way you talk in your spam messages, I can tell your plugin relies heavily on spamdexing. Why would I give you money to be penalized by Google and the other engines?

So, guys? I’m not interested.

Now to take on the people on Twitter who are willing to sell me 5,000 followers for the low, low price of just $19.95…

No More Wordsmithing On The Fly!

The last couple of days, I’ve concentrated on going as fast as I can when I write my 750 words. I’m not worrying about the number of typos I make, nor am I concerning myself with what exactly I’m saying. Yesterday, my average words per minute was 28, today it was 33. That’s for a guy typing with one hand.

I asked myself, why does it take me a couple of hours to write some of these blog entries?

I thought about it, and I realized that I’m typing so slow that I actually have time to think about what I’m typing. And about halfway through a blog entry, or a paragraph, or even a sentence, I start to question myself. That results in my backing up and rewriting the sentence, which leads to rewriting the paragraph, which leads to rewriting the whole blog entry or, worse, scrapping the whole thing and starting over.

Worsmithing on the fly. Can’t be doing that. Why am I doing it?

  • I get codependent and think that something I’m writing is going to hurt someone’s feelings. Even a sentence as innocuous as “It’s raining cats and dogs out there” has me thinking, a dog lover or a cat lover is going to read that and take offense, or I’ll be reported to PETA and they’re going to be standing outside my door and protesting and probably throw fake blood on me. And that’s ridiculous.

  • I regress to third grade, when Mother Juanita would make nasty comments about the things I wrote and my handwriting and I think, can’t say it that way, better find a better way to say that. They won’t like that. So, even though I’ve been on a roll, I have to back up and change everything, leading me to start reading things that I’ve already written and think, nah, this ain’t gonna do, and I end up sending it off to the drafts, or worse, the trash. I picture the nun crumbling up the paper I had written on, throwing it in the wastebasket, and telling me to do it again.

  • I start writing and realize that I’m missing something that I need to complete the post, and I go off looking for it, and meanwhile I start thinking that what I had written already wasn’t very good and that I should rewrite it, or at least check my facts, and I come to the conclusion that I’ve gone off half-cocked and maybe I should just ditch the idea and come back to it when I’m better prepared.

I know I’ve talked about this in the past all the while exhorting myself not to do it, but, well, I can’t avoid it. And it’s costing me time and words. I think I saw someone say that the number of words they’ve written is nothing compared to the number of words they’ve written and thrown away. I know what that person was talking about.

And I know the things I said above are BS. The third one’s legitimate, I do go off half-cocked sometimes and need to do a better job of preparing. But the other two? Pure unadulterated BS.

  • If someone gets their panties in a wad over something I’ve written, that ain’t my problem. I am not trying to hurt anyone’s feelings or piss anyone off. They need to get over it.

  • Mother Juanita was fifty years ago. She’s probably dead by now. And she got thrown out of the convent, anyway.

Okay, well, I’ve had my rant. So I’m adding this to my list of ROW80 goals: practice not wordsmithing on the fly.

Did you have this problem? Did you struggle with wordsmithing on the fly? What finally broke you of it?