A note on my previous post

I temporarily changed my previous post on bullying to private. I realized that my writing was a little clunkier than usual. So I am going to give it a few days and then revisit it. To summarize the basic point though: Teaching teens/children public speaking skills will help them stand up to bullies. More will be coming on that later. I failed to follow my sleep-on-it rule for long entries. I did so much editing in various sections, it felt like it was perfect. I guess I should have known better.

 Another good reason for live edit: we could have a “sleep-on-it” button. If enough people hit the button it would be a good indicator that it might need some reconsideration.  

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Wouldn’t it be cool if…

We could live edit.

I am a big proponent of putting serious time and effort into editing your writings. Even short blog entries usually need editing work. So what if we could publish an entry, but mark it as a ‘live edit?’ 

That would indicate that you were allowing it to be seen in rough form while you were in the process of editing it. Hence, the “live” part. It would be cool because you could have features that were active only during the “live edit.” 

For example:

  •  An ‘edit comments’ box that would not be visible after the “live edit” was removed, but would allow people who came across the blog during the editing phase to make editing suggestions. i.e. grammar, spelling, confusing word usage or sentence structure.
  • A chat box that would allow direct chatting between the readers and the author during that phase so that any confusion or suggestions about the post could be communicated live, in real time.
  • The ability to invite other users to actively participate in the editing process.
  • The ability to inform people in advance when a live edit would occur.

I really like the idea that you could broadcast to anyone who was visiting your blog that you were working on it right then, and they were welcome to put their two cents into the process. No need to feel like a jerk for pointing out a misspelling or grammar mistake, they are live editing. They need your input.

I think it would be awesome. Maybe, it can be a makersquare project.

Price gouging

via wikipedia

Price gouging is a pejorative term referring to a situation in which a seller prices goods or commodities much higher than is considered reasonable or fair. This rapid increase in prices occurs after a demand or supply shock: examples include price increases after hurricanes or other natural disasters

…The term is not in widespread use in mainstream economic theory, but is sometimes used to refer to practices of a coercive monopoly which raises prices above the market rate that would otherwise prevail in a competitive environment

I do not like the term ‘price gouging’ and I do not typically use it. That being said, this is a great description of exactly what it is like to pay $45 for a very small, thin budget-printed paperback book that someone, somewhere decided to call a textbook. This thing looks like it was printed on a fax machine.

A Fun Math Riddle

I was working on a programming project and I discovered an interesting math problem: How many numbers under 100 are odd and not divisible by 3?

After a little investigation on the internet I discovered that this question was typically phrased a little differently: “How many positive numbers below 100 are not divisible by either 2 or 3?”

I actually discovered it by accident when I was experimenting with a ruby program. The program is designed to count how many numbers under 100 were divisible by whatever number you want to pass to it.

Continue reading “A Fun Math Riddle”

The Textbook-Racket

I just received the “text book” for my creative writing class. The book is about the size of a 5 X 7 photograph, and about a third of an inch thick. The cover is paperback, printed in exactly two colors, and the inside pages have the thickness and print quality of regular office copy paper.

I say this for one reason and one reason only. If I had come across this book at a Barnes in Noble, it was written by one of my favorite authors, and the price tag said $20, I would have laughed and put it back.

This thing has the quality and is not much thicker than the $1.00 copy of Heart of Darkness I purchased new in high school. It screams “budget print.”

How much did I pay for it?

$45 (just shy of $50 with taxes).

I usually buy used but I didn’t have time to wait for the slow pace of regular mail. So I am staring at this book in disbelief: a tiny budget-printed paperback about creative writing for $45. I guess it is just like getting the $5 used copy and paying $40 for shipping (wow).

Dear American public universities everywhere,

You are intentionally creating micro-monopolies in every classroom, handing those monopolies over to book publishers, and then allowing them to exploit your students.

Why?

My Right Now

I am splitting my time between studying ruby via codeschool and codecademy, and finishing up the poetry unit in my creative writing class. This class has proved to be more challenging than I expected. For me, writing poetry is relatively easy, critiquing it is not.

I finally got to share my own work with the class, which was fun, but I am still waiting on the professor’s thoughts. That can be a little nerve-wracking. A part of my brain is saying “please, please don’t be as critical as I am.’ The other part is saying “If I hear the words ‘nice’ and ‘poem’ together in the same sentence I am going to rip my hair out.” In case you are curious, the crazy runs in the family.

Steps for Writing Long Blog Entries

Step 1: Develop

Got an idea for a blog entry? Let it percolate for a little while. It doesn’t have to be long. My percolation time has ranged from minutes to months -whatever you feel is needed to feel out that idea a little. If you REALLY want to (and keep in mind I almost never do this) you could write an outline.

Step 2: Write

Write whatever bubbles forth on your chosen topic, even if it seems like you are veering off the point.

Don’t forget to save your draft regularly.

Step 3: Edit for Grammar!

This is where I usually fail miserably. I am always so anxious to publish my blogs I hit the button and then realize it needs major editing for grammar. Seriously, try to edit the grammar before your publish, it can save you from some embarrassing mistakes. If someone decides to re-blog you or quote you, embarrassing mistakes can become permanent.

Using “their” instead of “they’re,” is actually not the worst sort of mistake you will make. It is almost impossible to avoid accidentally using a few homonyms when your thoughts are streaming out. Although, if you have ever accidentally been caught using “wood” instead of “would, it can be pretty embarrassing. Leaving out a “not” or other important word that you intended to include is one of the most frustrating and potentially embarrassing mistakes. e.g. “I do not like racist people.” Imagine accidentally leaving off the key word in that sentence.

Step 4: Sleep

Sleep on it. Don’t publish it yet if you can avoid it. This is really hard because of the instant gratification that is blogging. Short entries do not typically need this step but it is especially important for longer blog entries. I almost never follow this rule, and I am putting it here because I know I should be doing it. It is crucially important that you do this before the next step.

Step 5: Edit for clarity.

You probably threw down a few redundant points, phrased something in an unclear way, or got a little more informal than you meant to. This is when you can fix all that. It happens to me all the time that I reread a post from a day or two earlier and cannot believe that I thought it was good writing when I published it. When you just finished writing is actually the worst time to publish it, because you understand at that moment why every word you put down is there (or at least you think you do). Twelve hours or even a day later that fragment you stuck in for emphasis, might suddenly appear more like half a row boat floating around by itself than a cogent point emphasizing a previous sentence.

Step 6: Publish

This is a good time to ask for feedback from friends or colleagues if you feel like you are making a pretty subtle point, or have not made your ideas clear enough. Keep in mind you can still edit after publishing, but you cannot edit quotes of your work that other people have written. Don’t forget to tag and categorize if you have not already. These are the little things that can make your writing easier for its intended audience to find.