Thursday, March 25, 2010

Props to 'Tiny Art Director'

I found "Tiny Art Director" after reading a Boing Boing post about the author's book.

Dora and I are expecting our first child in May, and I know the urge to include my son in every aspect of my life will be irresistible. I plan to do just that, but I do worry about Vacation Slide Show Syndrome.

It is a common condition. Sufferers of Vacation Slide Show Syndrome exhibit the following tell-tale symptom: Sharing pictures and stories that they find endlessly entertaining, while failing to realize that their audience only comprehends the 'endless' qualities of that which they are sharing.

New parents are at high risk of contracting Vacation Slide Show Syndrome, as it most often targets people in the weakened state brought about by unique and powerful life-changing experiences.

In my efforts to avoid Vacation Slide Show Syndrome, I have done some research. I found that the condition can be avoided by incorporating a regimented approach to tasteful sharing. That's no easy task, but I think "Tiny Art Director" is an excellent example of success.

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Support for Assault Victim from CEU

Early Saturday morning Edward Cuneo was assaulted by three attackers near a major public transit hub. Edward is from the US and is here in Budapest pursuing a degree in gender studies.

I want to extend my best wishes to Edward and his family and friends.

CEU has done an excellent job keeping the community informed about the situation. According to internal communications, Edward is recovering from his injuries. Again, I wish him all the best.

It is worth noting that in the most recent update on the assault, the Rector of CEU suggested that in the weeks leading up to Hungarian elections "it is advisable to exercise caution when facing situations where the diverse views of others might result in volatile actions."

Sadly, that is good advice today in Hungary. I can't help but feel ashamed that such advice is required in the country I have called home for the past six years.

Friday, March 12, 2010

Banned Words

Wordle: Hogs
My friend Dan sent me this story about an exec at the Tribune Company who has banned 119 cliched words and phrases from the newsroom.

I also read a fun take on the story on an NPR blog.

My first reaction was, "Banning words is bad." But then I thought of all the words and phrases I would like to ban from my students' writing. The first few that come to mind?

"It is true that..."
"In my opinion..."
"In olden times..."
"Many people would tell you..."
"At the end of the day..."
"In this paper I am going to..."
"It can be said that..."

And there's so many more.

You see, it's not a set of useful words that the Trib exec is banning, it is the lazy filler words we've heard so often that we now unthinkingly incorporate them into our speech and writing.

I'm all for listing such phrases, and while I won't ban anything outright, I'll certainly think twice before using these words. And more often than not, thinking twice is a good thing.

I'll keep trying to add to the list this week, but I'd love suggestions from other teachers and any old students of mine. Leave them in the comments.