Tuesday, February 18, 2014

The Games We Play

 English Class Pop Quiz: What's wrong with this sentence?
When you've paid all that money for a weeks’ vacation, you don’t want to spend two or three days recovering from jet lag.

It seems that most couples have their own private games they play. I don't mean those games. I mean the games that somehow got invented during the relationship and are unique to this particular couple. The Hillbilly and I have our own favorite pastime called Guess What Word I'm Thinking Of. The Hillbilly gives me clues, and if I can guess, I win. We play it A LOT!

Hillbilly: Do you have a bottle of that stuff?
Me: I have lots of bottles. Which bottle?
He rubs his fingers together on one hand.
Me: Lotion? Hand Sanitizer?
Hillbilly: Hand sanitizer.

Now understand that the game is never announced. It just begins with no warning.

Hillbilly: You know that singer from Oklahoma?
Me: Blake Shelton?
Hillbilly: Yeah. He did a duet with the gal from Missouri.
Me: Sara Evans?
Hillbilly: Yeah.
I WIN!  Now the only reason I know those two is because that's how The Hillbilly always describes them.

Hillbilly: He reminds me of the guy from that one show. The show with the cops and the lawyers.
Me: Umm...
Hillbilly: It has SVU.
Me: Umm...Oh! Law and Order!
Hillbilly: Yeah, that's it.
I WIN!    

And this:
Hillbilly: You know those little animals? They're like possums on the half shell.
 Me: ???
Hillbilly: They get run over all the time.
Me: ???
Hillbilly: ....Armadillos! That's it.
Sorry. There was no way I was winning that one.

So do you and your family play this one? What's the craziest description you ever got? I'll bet you can't beat possums on the half shell.

Pop Quiz Answer: Weeks' should be week's. We're only talking about one week and the vacation that belongs to it. If the apostrophe comes after the s, it indicates that the noun is plural. We discussed this in a previous post.

Monday, February 17, 2014

Memorize This!

Stasha over at Northwest Mommy runs a nice little weekly link-up called The Monday Listicles (It's a list. It's an article. It's a listicle!). This week's list is 10 things I've memorized.

I've memorized lots of things, some interesting, some not. Some of them were memorized when I was young, some more recently. Some of the early ones I still remember, but others I've forgotten.  Let's take a look, shall we? Well, of course we shall, or else I don't have anything to blog about this week. Here we go:

1. Countless phone numbers. Interestingly, with speed dial on our cell phones, it's been years since I've actually memorized a phone number. Like most people, I'd be lost if my cell phone died. I don't even know my daughter's phone number! What was the most recent phone number you actually memorized?

2. The address of the house I lived in until I was twelve: 313 N. Cooper Dr., Santa Ana, CA. 92703. Yes, I even remember the zip of the house we left 42 years ago!

3. Those countless little things we all memorize: addresses, birthdays, anniversaries, my ex-husband's girlfriends' names. You know. The routine stuff. 

4. When I was very little, I went to Vacation Bible School one summer. We memorized, "Behold I stand at the door and knock: if any man hear my voice, and open the door, I will come in to him, and will sup with him, and he with me." Revelation 3:20

5. We also memorized "Even the winds and the sea obey him." I didn't remember where that was located, so I looked it up. Mark 4:41

6.My high school locker combination: 10-34-4

7. This list of helping verbs: is am are was were be being been should would could may might must do does did have has had can will shall
8. In the sixth grade we had to memorize two poems. One was 
"El Dorado" by Edgar Allan Poe. I still remember the first stanza:
          Gaily bedight
          A gallant knight
          In sunshine and in shadow
          Had journeyed long
          Singing a song
          In search of El Dorado

You can find the rest of the poem at this link

9. The second poem was "Jabberwocky" by Lewis Carroll. I still remember most of it. Let's give it a try and see how I do. I'll write it from memory and then make corrections in red.
Drawing by Lewis Carroll

'Twas brillig and the slithy toves
Did gyre and gimble in the wabe.
All mimsy were the borogroves
And the momeraths, outgrabe. 

"Beware the Jabberwock, my son.
The jaws that bite! The claws that snatch!
Beware the jub jub bird and shun  
The fumeous Bandersnatch." 

He took his vorple sword in hand  
Long time the manxome foe he sought
Then So rested he by the tum tum tree
And stood a while in thought.

And as in uffish thought he stood
The jabberwock with eyes of flame
Came whiffling through the tulgy wood
And gurgled  burbled as he it came.

One two! One two! and through and through
His vorple sword went snicker-snack.
He left him it dead, and with his its head
He went galumphing back.

"And hast thou slain the jabberwock?
Come to my arms, my beamish boy!
Oh frabjous day!   Caloo, calay!"
He chortled in his joy. 

'Twas brillig and the slithy toves
Did gyre and gimble in the wabe.
All mimsy were the borogroves
And the momewraths, outgrabe.
Except for misspelling a lot of the nonsense words, I did pretty well. You can check it out hereWhat did you have to memorize for school?

10. Sometime in college I tried to memorize Shakespeare's 18th sonnet. I didn't do so well. All I ever remembered (and still remember) is this:

Shall I compare thee to a summer's day?
Thou art more lovely and more temperate.
Rough winds do shake the darling buds of May,
And summer's lease hath all too short a date.
Stan Shebs [GFDL (http://www.gnu.org/copyleft/fdl.html), CC-BY-SA-3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0) or CC-BY-SA-2.5 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.5)], via Wikimedia Commons

It's really a beautiful sonnet. Be sure to read the whole thing.

So that's it for me. What interesting things have you memorized?

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Which Came First: The Inference or the Implication?

English Class Pop Quiz: Fill in the blank with a form of the word IMPLY or INFER.
  1. She had not meant for her statement to ______ that he was lying.
  2.  A lot can be ______ from these statistics.
  3.  The high level of radiation in the rocks ______ that they are volcanic in origin.
  4.  From the evidence we can ______ that the victim knew her killer.
Answers at the bottom of the post.

 Okay, this is the part of the post where the Wicked English Teacher usually lambasts you for not having paid attention in school where you should have learned today's lesson. You can relax though because the Wicked English Teacher understands. No one gets the difference between imply and infer. Certainly not those of you who were busy making plans for decorating the windows in the downtown shops for homecoming when you were supposed to be diagramming sentences. Well, one diagram is as good as another, right? WRONG!

I know, I know. The Wicked English Teacher promised to go easy on you this time, so let's just get started. 

The words imply and infer are frequently misused in one another's place. Reasonably intelligent people in all lines of work make the same mistake. I actually had to grit my teeth through last Sunday's sermon because of it. No, Preacher. I'm sorry, but the text does not infer that. The text is not capable of inferring. Nothing you have ever read ever inferred anything at all.

Let's look at the definitions of the two words:

Imply: to suggest that something is true, without saying this directly
Infer: to form an opinion that something is probably true because of information that you have

So  first you have the speaker or writer who makes you think something without coming out and saying it. That person implies something. Then you have the listener or reader who uses the information to figure out what is being hinted at. When you figure out what is being suggested, you infer.

The giver (speaker or writer) implies.
The receiver (listener or reader) infers.

Sometimes, the "giver" is just a set of facts, such as the evidence at a crime scene. The receiver would be whoever observes the facts. Still:

The giver (set of facts) implies.
The receiver (observer) infers.

So let's look at that pop quiz together:

  1. She had not meant for her statement to imply that he was lying.
  2.  A lot can be inferred from these statistics.
  3.  The high level of radiation in the rocks implied that they are volcanic in origin.
  4.  From the evidence we can infer that the victim knew her killer.
 I hope that little lesson helps. Now go forth and sin misuse these words no more!

Monday, February 3, 2014

7 Ways to Distract Yourself from Stress

7 Ways to Distract Yourself from Stress

We all face stressful situations; it's a regular part of life. How we deal with stress differs from person to person. I always admired those people who actually seemed to become stronger when faced with stress. Of course, the vast majority muddle through trying circumstances in one way or another. And then there are those of us who suffer from depression and anxiety.

It seems that for us, every stressful situation is life-changing. A stressful situation feels like a tidal wave of emotion that we're helpless to deal with. We often seek to hide or run away . . . not from the situation, but from the feelings the situation causes. It just looks like we're running from the situation.

You'll know I'm hiding from my feelings when you see me with a video game in front of me. I first learned to numb myself with video games clear back in the days of Atari. I once stared at the screen while playing a game of Atari Pitfall for so long without blinking that my contact lens dried up in my eye and popped out. Yes, folks, video games are my drug of choice.

As I'm becoming healthier and learning to deal with my emotions, I've learned that there's a difference between avoiding stress and distracting myself from stress. According to the authors of The Dialectical Behavior Therapy Skills Workbook, avoiding stress is deciding not to deal with it, while distracting from stress is giving yourself time to calm down until you are able to deal with it. 
Depression and Anxiety Workbook
Available at Amazon (Affiliate Link)

Whether you experience depression and/or anxiety or not, sometimes you need to settle your mind before you deal with a distressing situation. Here are 7 techniques to help you distract yourself from a tense situation and the accompanying uncomfortable emotions.

1. Engaging Activities

Find something you enjoy doing, something you can get lost in for a while. This can be anything from hobbies to housecleaning. Of course, if you're like me housecleaning doesn't fall into the enjoyable category, but it does for some people. I was raised by one of them, in fact. Apparently it's not hereditary. For me, it's more likely to be writing a blog post or reading a book, but for you it might be exercising or working in the garden. It could even be playing video games unless you're an addict like me. Then save those games for a less stressful time.

2. Think About Others

Take your mind off of your own pain by focusing on others. Do volunteer work. Make someone a gift. Call a friend to see how she's doing. Bake cookies for the children.

3. Look for Someone Who Has It Worse

Compare your life to that of someone else who is worse off than you are. This makes it easier to count your own blessings. This is not do be done in a self-judgmental way: I shouldn't be whining when my problems are so small compared to his. Rather,  it is to be done in a positive way: I can get through this when I see how much smaller my problems are.

4. Act the Opposite of the Way You Feel

Also known as fake it 'til you make it. Our actions help make our emotions, so change your actions to those which match the emotions you want to feel. Listen to calming music. Watch a funny movie. My favorite? Puppy and kitten videos via YouTube!


5. Push It Away

 Just refuse to think about it. Put the situation in a mental box and refuse to take it out. Or physically remove yourself from the situation until you've given yourself a chance to control your emotions.

6. Fill Your Mind With Other Thoughts

Work a puzzle (I like Sudoku), watch T.V., read a book. Examine the natural world around you, count the colors in a tree, imagine images in the clouds. Daydream. Remember happy occasions in as much detail as you can summon. Spend time in prayer remembering to be thankful for your blessings.

 7. Distract Yourself from Mental Pain with Physical Sensations

Squeeze a rubber "worry ball." Get a handful of ice and see how long you can hold it. Engage in a little hugging, squeezing, and caressing with someone you love. Well, it really isn't a good idea to engage in those particular activities with strangers. I'd say definitely stick with a loved one. 

How do you distract from stress? Leave other ideas in the comments!