Make Me Think Monday

8 08, 2022

Spellcheckers, Auto-correct, and Pullet Surprise Work

By |2022-08-07T12:16:46-05:00August 8th, 2022|Make Me Think Monday|1 Comment

Computers, iPads, and iPhones run grammar checkers and spellcheckers built into their operating systems (unless you turn off the function) that are meant to become a collaboration between user and machine.

That should be a good thing, right? Nope. It’s more a kind of word combat between user and machine.

Auto-correct and spell checker follies run amuck all. the. time. thanks to “helpful” computer algorithms.

It’s called the Cupertino Effect and is an unfortunate, aggravating part of writing on a computer since Microsoft Office 97 couldn’t recognize the word cooperation with the hyphen and the spellchecker replaced it with Cupertino, the name of a California town.

To this day, you can still find online documents from international organizations with the word Cupertino where cooperation is intended. For example, a NATO document that has the line, “The Cupertino with our Italian comrades proved to be very fruitful.”

According to one journalist, “Spellcheckers are the enemy of writers and editors as Voldemort is to Harry Potter. Or as our spellchecker would have it, ‘as Voltmeter is to Harry Potter.”

To their credit, leading software companies do steadily expand their wordlists and fine-tune their algorithms to improve their spellcheckers. That’s why older Cupertino-isms have thankfully fallen by the wayside. Only to be replaced by others equally annoying and humorous, unfortunately.

Doesn’t matter how much the techies tinker, the Cupertino effect will always be with us in one form or another.

We’ve all been zinged by spell checker and autocorrect goofs at one time or another. Any “horror” tales with your goofs? Let us know in the comments below.

1 08, 2022

Graphologists and Graphology

By |2022-07-31T12:10:25-05:00August 1st, 2022|Make Me Think Monday|2 Comments

Written communication is being replaced by computer-generated printing in emails and texts.

When we do handwrite a note, it’s too often difficult to read. I believe that’s because cursive writing and print lettering aren’t taught anymore, but that’s another topic.

I remember copying from a chart like the one pictured daily to improve my penmanship when I was in school. These days you can generate cursive with fonts from sites like this. 

It’s just not the same and it challenges graphologists’ work.

Graphology is the study of handwriting as it reflects the writer’s character, personality, and abilities. A graphologist analyzes handwriting for patterns that identify the psychological state of a person and characteristics of their personality.

There are 5,000 personality traits distinguishable by the size of your letters, spacing between words, and shapes of letters. Their analysis can be used to determine the authenticity of signatures in forgery cases or reveal whether you are lying or not. A close look at your handwriting can also aid doctors in medical diagnosis.

It’s a fascinating science, but I’m wondering as we increasingly rely on computers and texting and not our penmanship if that will change the analysis process and findings. What do you think?

Check out the Pens.com Graphology infographic at https://www.pens.com/blog/handwriting-infographic/  and – for fun – analyze a sample of your handwriting. My analysis came remarkably close. Will yours?

Let me know what you discover in the comments.

25 07, 2022

It’s Finnegan’s Birthday

By |2022-07-24T12:25:26-05:00July 25th, 2022|Make Me Think Monday, Writer's Life|2 Comments

Somewhere back in time, I fell in love with Old English sheepdogs. We adopted a mixed-breed puppy (part OES and part New Foundland). He and his litter had been found abandoned in the snow. The puppies were raised in the science lab at our daughter’s high school in Connecticut.

Azariah was big, black, and kinda scary. He didn’t much care to be told what to do and had bitten several people. When we moved to Texas, he didn’t.

Because I loved Connecticut and wasn’t happy about moving back to heat and humidity, hubby-dear promised another real OES puppy and a swimming pool. That made the idea of a move far more attractive.

Obadiah arrived. He too was big, but not scary. He loved to play hide and seek with the children. He even let our daughter dress him in her softball shirt.

Obie’s face always greeted me in the front window whenever I came home from my teaching day. The dog could tell time! Obie was a terrific dog and he instilled an even stronger love for the breed. Sadly, an OES lifespan is 10-12 years and we lost Obie.

Things were sad around our house that holiday season until my Christmas present arrived-you guessed it, an AKC Old English puppy-we named Micah Bear. He was another great dog. Our nest was emptying and he filled the space as only an OES can.

He was joined by Bernie a terrier mix and Rhinestone, a rescue OES. Our walks with the three dogs stopped traffic. We lost Rhinestone and Bernie and then Micah Bear, and decided we’d go dogless.

That did not last.

Tobias Bear flew in from Florida to join our family. He was a love with all the fun traits of OES in abundance. He was intelligent, playful, sociable, bubbly, loving, and adaptable. When we added a Maltese brother, he loved him too.

 

We lost Toby before our return to Texas and decided Buster the Maltese was pet enough. After a couple of months, all three of us were so depressed without our Toby that we started looking for another OES.

Micah Bear had come from Bugaboo Kennel in Colorado Springs so we hopped in the car and drove four hours from our mountain home to meet another puppy who would be our next OES, Finnegan MacCool.

He was a hairy bundle of joy who loved being held from the first moment we saw him. That was charming when he was a puppy.

Now full grown and ninety-four pounds it can get trickly fitting on laps.

He’s my writing buddy, always laying nearby in front of a fan because we’re back in Texas.

Time is moving far too fast.  Finn will be six on July 27.

Happy Birthday, Finn.

18 07, 2022

Guest Book Tradition

By |2022-07-17T07:01:29-05:00July 18th, 2022|A Writer's Life, Make Me Think Monday, Writer's Life|0 Comments

When you read the blog title, bet you thought about a guest book at a wedding or funeral or the cute welcome books at bed and breakfast inns or Airbnbs. There are those, but that’s not our guest book tradition.

We welcome guests to our home with our guest book and a cead mile failte plaque, which is the Irish greeting that means “A hundred thousand welcomes.”

Asking our guests to sign our guest book is a tradition we started when we were first married, a long time ago. As we moved around the country and world, we’ve always had a guest book. Guests who come for dinner or stay longer have filled more than one.

When we lived in Colorado, every summer our home overflowed with guests escaping the heat of their hometowns. Now that we are back in hot, humid Texas the guest book pages aren’t filling near as fast.

We have other guest books. The one from our wedding, and all the guest books listing those who paid their condolences at family funerals. We rarely look at those, but I’m so glad we have kept our home guest books.

We have signatures of family and friends from far and near. We even have Earl Campbell’s signature from his days as the Houston Oilers’ star running back. It’s fun to skim through the names and remember the occasion. We smile every time from fond memories with our guests.

If you don’t use a guest book in your home, and you’re interested in starting to use one, there are some great ideas on Pinterest. A lot are for wedding guest books but are easily adapted for home guest books.

This is a cute blog about a young couple and their guest book. They share their reasons for having a guest book and how they chose from all the options.

4 07, 2022

All-American Holiday Trivia

By |2022-07-01T10:22:37-05:00July 4th, 2022|Holidays, Make Me Think Monday|0 Comments

Every year in the United States July 4th celebrates the day the Second Continental Congress adopted the Declaration of Independence.

text of U.S. constitutionTechnically, independence was declared on July 2 and the Declaration of Independence wasn’t fully signed until July 19. But who cares?

July 4th is the federal holiday where we traditionally celebrate our freedom. Fourth of July gatherings or events to celebrate the birth of our nation will vary across the country, but parades, fireworks, and outdoor fun are sure to be found.

Fun facts and trivia to share at your backyard celebration.

  1. The first White House Fourth of July party was held in 1804.
  2. John Hancock was the only member of the Continental Congress who formally signed the Declaration of Independence on July 4, 1776.
  3. The Fourth became a paid legal holiday for employees of the federal government in 1938.
  4. John Adams, Thomas Jefferson, and James Monroe died on the Fourth of July.
  5. Yankee Doodle, the celebrated patriotic song, was written by British army officers to make fun of backwoods Americans.

Prefer statistics?

  1. Roughly 2.5 million people lived in the newly formed nation’s 13 colonies. Today, 246 years ago the U.S. population is more than 331.8 million.
  2. A whopping 150 million hot dogs are consumed on the 4th of July — enough hot dogs to stretch from Washington D.C. to Los Angeles more than five times!
  3. Display firework sales were $262 million in 2021. The consumer fireworks industry grossed $2.2 billion.
  4. Pet disappearances increase by 30% on the 4th of July.

Not only will pets suffer on this holiday, but many PTSD veterans will also be cringing with every blast of those fireworks set off in your driveway. Consider attending a fireworks display or watching one on the television instead.

Statistic Sources:

https://www.foxbusiness.com/lifestyle/4th-july-numbers-look-american-holiday

https://www.foxnews.com/lifestyle/4th-july-pets-dogs-cats-go-missing-holiday-more-any-other-day?cmpid=prn_newsstand

https://www.tastingtable.com/909299/this-is-how-many-hot-dogs-are-actually-eaten-on-the-4th-of-july

27 06, 2022

Scrabble and the Heat

By |2022-06-26T08:01:38-05:00June 27th, 2022|Make Me Think Monday, Writer's Life|2 Comments

It’s like living in hades in Texas right now. Probably hot where you live too. I’m a native Texan. I grew up without air-conditioning. You’d think I’d be used to hot summers.

Not this heat though. Going outside during the peak afternoon hours is unthinkable. We stay inside.

There’s always a jigsaw puzzle calling to be finished when it’s too hot to be outside. This summer we started afternoon game time. Card games, board games like Parcheesi, and dominoes.

Word games are very popular these days. Wordle scores keep popping up on social media. You’ll find dozens of other varieties, online and off. All are fun and challenging, but Scrabble, the board game, is my favorite.

We used to play Scrabble a lot. It kinda got forgotten. Not anymore. We rediscovered our love of Scrabble when we pulled the deluxe board that swivels from the game cabinet.

Now every afternoon it’s game on!

And we’re keeping score. At this point, I’m behind but moving up fast.

Hubby was the reigning 50-point word champ.

For non-Scrabble players, that’s when you use all seven of your letters to make a word and earn the word score plus a bonus of 50 points.

Recently I’ve managed the feat twice with the opening word

Scrabble was created in 1933, and there are over 121 billion Scrabble versions sold worldwide in 31 different languages, even a Braille version.

Why do so many people love Scrabble?

Mainly because it’s fun and challenging, but there are substantial benefits to playing. Here are ten:

  1. Scrabble teaches you the vocabulary
  2. Scrabble helps develop your intellectual abilities
  3. Scrabble teaches you strategy
  4. Scrabble encourages social cooperation and bonding
  5. Scrabble helps improve your emotional well-being and personal confidence
  6. Scrabble improves creativity
  7. Scrabble develops concentration
  8. Scrabble fosters learning through creative play
  9. Scrabble helps boosts the immune system
  10. Scrabble makes you happy

That last one is especially true if you live in Texas right now.

20 06, 2022

A Twofer Holiday and One’s New

By |2022-06-19T12:52:42-05:00June 20th, 2022|Holidays, Make Me Think Monday|0 Comments

This month Father’s Day and Juneteenth fell on the same day–June 19. Lots of social media about the Father’s Day holiday.Not so much about Juneteenth. It may be new to you if you’ve never lived in Texas.

Also known as “Jubilee Day,” “Black Independence Day,” and “Freedom Day, June 19 only became a national holiday last year.

Read President Biden’s proclamation HERE.

Emancipation of slaves at the end of the Civil War took effect in 1863 with President Abraham Lincoln’s proclamation, sadly, however, slaves in Texas would not be freed until two years later on June 19, 1865. On that day, 2,000 troops arrived in Galveston Bay and announced the freedom of enslaved Black people by executive decree.

“Juneteenth” has been celebrated in Texas ever since then with community gatherings filled with food, music, and fellowship. Now it’s a national day to celebrate freedom.

Learn more about the history of Juneteenth HERE.

If you didn’t celebrate Freedom Day yesterday, no worries. Mark your calendar for next year.

We also honored our fathers—a birth father, a stepfather, a relative or friend, whoever served in a father role. My father is gone now so the day is always a bit sad for me, but old pictures and memories bring a smile.

13 06, 2022

Wandering Writer and Stories

By |2022-06-03T08:54:31-05:00June 13th, 2022|Make Me Think Monday, Writer's Life|1 Comment

I am a wanderer. I love to see the world and the people in it. Oftentimes my wandering is dictated by outside forces, but I’ve always been ready to go.

I’ve wandered on foot, by plane, by bicycle, and by car.

I will meander through houses, mine and others, the woods and neighborhoods, stores, through cities and towns near and far.

Wherever I wander, stories find me and the memories of those encounters stay with me. Here are three that will always make me smile.

Once in Ireland, sitting at a Dublin train station, an older woman sat beside me and began to share about her family and her country. She told me she was returning home after being with her daughter, who had given birth to their twelfth grandchild. Another grandson, she said with pride in her eyes.

Yes, there were pictures and lovely tales of her family told as only the Irish can spin.

Recently in a grocery store not far from home, a young woman waiting behind me in the checkout line patted the multi-colored headscarf she wore. “Chemo,” she said. Her eyes misted. She shared her journey with breast cancer. I couldn’t stop myself I squeezed around my full cart of groceries and hugged her.

Walking with my dogs when we lived in the Rio Grande Forest always brought stories. Once a little girl playing outside at one of the rental cabins nearby ask to pet the dogs. My Old English loved on her. The Maltese jumped around all jealous then relaxed when she petted him too. As we walked away, the youngster plucked a purple wildflower and rushed over to give it to me.

Life is filled with so many chance meetings. Each encounter is unique, and I come away with a myriad of feelings from each.

Those characters and emotions from my wandering encounters frequently find their way into my stories. Not the specifics, of course, but the emotions and characterizations.

What about you? Do stories find you in your wanderings?

6 06, 2022

7 Reasons to Read this Summer or Any Time

By |2022-06-05T08:04:38-05:00June 6th, 2022|Make Me Think Monday|0 Comments

Summertime signals lazy days of relaxing. Time to sit under the shade of the big oak tree, splash in the pool, or lounge on the porch swing, and do my favorite thing…read.

Why read? To quote Joseph Addison:

“Reading is to the mind what exercise is to the body.”

Research backs up his words. Consider these seven reasons to read this summer or any time.

  1. Reading strengthens the brain. As your reading ability matures, those networks also get stronger and more sophisticated. Readers are two and a half times less likely to be diagnosed with Alzheimer’s later in life.
  1. Reading reduces stress. A study showed reading only 6 minutes a day reduces stress by 68%.
  1. Reading can aid in falling asleep. Doctors at the Mayo Clinic recommend reading as part of a regular sleep routine.
  1. Reading helps reduce depression. Reading fiction provides a temporary escape from your world into the experiences of the characters. And reading nonfiction self-help books can teach strategies to help manage symptoms.
  1. Reading fiction builds empathy by exposing us to life circumstances that are very different from our own. We experience the world as another gender, ethnicity, culture, sexuality, profession, or age in fiction. This can influence how we relate to others in the real world.
  1. Reading ignites imagination and stimulates the memory centers of your mind. That, in turn, helps you recall information and expands your vocabulary.
  1. Reading can lengthen life span. A twelve-year study of 3,635 adult participants showed those who read books survived around two years longer than those who didn’t read.

With those great reasons and the plethora of books available from libraries and online stores, why not grab a book and go read now? That’s what I’m going to do.

30 05, 2022

Memorial Day and TAPS

By |2022-05-27T10:49:03-05:00May 30th, 2022|Holidays, Make Me Think Monday|0 Comments

On Memorial Day, I’m reminded of my days living on military bases and hearing TAPS played from the base speaker at the day’s end. We stopped what we were doing and stood at attention. The day had ended.

Hearing TAPS at military funerals always brings a tear to my eyes. I agree with Master Sergeant Jari A Villanueva, USAF:

“There is something singularly beautiful and appropriate in the music of this wonderful call. Its strains are melancholy, yet full of rest and peace. Its echoes linger in the heart long after its tones have ceased to vibrate in the air.”

There are no “official” words to Taps. These are the most popular and the ones that run through my head when the bugler plays.

Day is done,
gone the sun,
From the hills,
from the lake,
From the skies.
All is well,
safely rest,
God is nigh.
Go to sleep,
peaceful sleep,
May the soldier
or sailor,
God keep.
On the land
or the deep,
Safe in sleep.
Love, good night,
Must thou go,
When the day,
And the night
Need thee so?
All is well.
Speedeth all
To their rest.
Fades the light;
And afar
Goeth day,
And the stars
Shineth bright,
Fare thee well;
Day has gone,
Night is on.
Thanks and praise,
For our days,
‘Neath the sun,
Neath the stars,
‘Neath the sky,
As we go,
This we know,
God is nigh.

Today, along with the hot dogs, hamburgers, and swimming we associate with Memorial Day, let’s honor and remember those who have gone before.

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