Wednesday, June 15, 2016

Intelligence Quiz by Konnie Enos

While online yesterday I found an infographic that presented the conclusions from several different studies about intelligence. Each of these studies evaluated different things to see how they indicated a person’s IQ. Two of them were based on genetics, two on family dynamics and the remaining four on things that can change throughout life.
The two based on genetics are being tall, and being left-handed. I guess one of the two isn’t bad.
The family dynamics were being the first born, and having music lessons, which cuts out a whole lot of kids who come from poor families. My own son, has never been able to have them, because they weren’t offered in school and we couldn’t afford them, yet he’s extremely intelligent, even if he isn’t first born.
Three of the remaining four things involve your health. One was being thin. One study correlated healthy mind with a healthy body. According to that study the intelligent people took better care of their physical health, and one of the other studies agrees with it. They concluded that highly intelligent people were non-smokers. However, another study said highly intelligent people, at some time in their adult life, used, yes, I said used, illegal drugs. It seems contradictory for a person who intelligently takes care of their health by staying a healthy weight and not smoking to engage in risking behavior like drug use which is proven to destroy a person’s health. I’m intelligent enough not to engage in such risky behavior.
The last one was being a cat owner, well I’ll generalize it to cat person. Apparently cat people tend to be introverted and pursue more intellectual hobbies, you know, like reading and writing.
As I discussed this list with my daughter it occurred to me that she could prove them wrong. Okay, she is a thin, non-smoker and being ambidextrous can claim left-handed, plus she did have a little bit of music lessons in grade school. She is however, my middle child. She’s also intelligent enough not to use illegal drugs and although we consider her tall in my family I sincerely doubt those doing the study would consider her petite 5’4” frame as tall. Plus as she pointed out, she is a dog, not a cat, person. However, her hobbies are more intellectual ones. Namely the reading and writing.
Recently, to enroll in college, because she hadn’t been able to take the ACT, she took some entrance exams. When her counselor saw her scores she commented that she had never seen such a high grade in language arts before, it was off the charts, and my daughter did it fresh out of high school. And though her math scores were lower, they were still high enough she didn’t have to enroll in remedial math classes but could start with college level classes.
So she gets four out of eight. Then again so do I. Seems to me we’re doing pretty good in the intelligence department.
Anyway, the whole thing got me thinking about how we have this tendency to judge people, trying to put everyone in neat little categories, and I find myself repeating my favorite saying.
No two people are exactly alike.
Think about it.
Putting people into neat little categories says we’re all alike in some ways. That it’s impossible for a cat lover to be an extrovert or a dog lover to be an introvert, or an intelligent person to be fat or a smoker, or the middle child.
Be intelligent.
Think outside the box.
Smile. Make the day a brighter day.

Wednesday, June 8, 2016

Big Words by BL Hamilton

 “Don’t use a big word when a singularly unloquacious and diminutive linguistic expression will satisfactorily accomplish the contemporary necessity.”

Every time I read this, and I know it’s true, and a very necessary part of writing, but I can never help reminiscing about an incident, which happened in sixth grade.

It all started when the teacher changed the sitting arrangement, placing my seat between two boys who were close friends, and they couldn’t stop discussing all sorts of things over and around me, while the teacher was instructing the class, making it impossible to hear her.

For several days, I tried without fail to ask them to stop talking, but my request seemingly fell on deaf ears. So by the time the weekend came, I totally frustrated, and searching for some way to get it across they’re thick skulls to be quiet during class, and my big sister, Jacki, came up with the answer. (Her nickname isn’t Dictionary for nothing.) She wrote out a twenty-five word sentence of singularly loquacious words, which frankly I wish I could remember today, but back then, Jacki spent the whole weekend coaching me to memorize the phrase.

The following Monday, at the first opportunity, I spewed forth this enormous sentence and, just as Jacki had promised, it stunned both the pains into jaws hanging open, stunned stares, silence. A fact that caught the attention of the teacher who asked what was going on.

Both boys pointed at me and said, “You should hear what she just said!” making it sound as if I’d broken the rule against foul language. The teacher asked me to repeat it, so I did. Now, the only ones in the room that didn’t have their jaws hanging up were Konnie and my best friend Sherrie, who had helped me learn the sentence.

The teacher stared at me for at least a minute before she finally said, “Do you even know what it mean?”

“Yeah, it means, ‘Shut up!’ They keep talking and I can’t hear you!”

She moved the boys in question across the room from each other. Problem solved. And I learned a valuable lesson about big words. Sometime you need them. Then again, sometimes you can go overboard.

Years after that sixth grade experience, I entered college and signed up for a class title “Concise Writing” in which I think I was little ahead of my fellow classmates.

On like our second or third class, we entered to find the teacher had written a particularly long quote on the blackboard. It was a rather easily recognized quote from the ever-loquacious Howard Cosell, and, per his usual, four paragraphs long.

As class started, the teacher said we could form groups and work together to cut the quote down to as concise a form as possible.

  So, while all my classmates busied themselves with moving into groups and dividing up who would look up words, I remained in my spot and read through it a couple times. In previous lessons, the teacher had instructed us to never use two words, which mean essentially the same thing, and having grown up under the tutelage of the aforementioned Dictionary, I knew quite a few words, enough to know all the words utilized in the subject quote.

So, while my classmates discussed which words they needed to cut, I simply wrote down my concise version. Then sat there twiddling my thumbs until the teacher decided the class had had enough time. Then the fun began.

He asked for a show of hands on how many cut the quote down to two paragraphs or less. Everyone raised their hands. Then he asked for a show of hands on how many cut it down to just one paragraph or less. Most of those hands dropped.

Then he asked for a show of hands of those who got it down to two or fewer sentences. More hands fell. Then he asked for those who had a single sentence, of sixteen or fewer words. Still more hands fell. So he asked for ten or fewer words, and eventually six or fewer words.

By that time, there was only one group, and me, with our hands still up. He asked the group how many words were in their sentence. They had exactly six. He asked me how many words I had. I had four. He stared at me and asked what my sentence was.

Now, today, I can’t remember what dang team Cosell had been talking about, but I’m sure anyone who knows who his favorite team was can fill in the blank, but here it is:

“The (insert team name here) are good.”

All my classmates erupted in protests because Cosell had most decidedly not used the singularly unloquacious word “good” in his rather pompous soliloquy, but the teacher had never said we had to use the exact words, only that we needed to attempt to make it as concise as possible. I nailed it.

After all, if twenty-five words boils down to just two words, then four long paragraphs can boil down to just four words, which, as this post shows, is something I learned in sixth grade thanks to Dictionary. J   

Happy writing everyone! J

Wednesday, June 1, 2016

To Remember By Konnie Enos

Growing up Memorial Day was always a long weekend were we had picnics and put flowers on all the graves of our loved ones. I never thought much about it and as I grew up I learned many cultures have customs which include a yearly remembrance of loved ones who have passed on, which is what I understood Memorial Day to be.
It isn’t.
It isn’t about remembering veterans, now dead, who once served in the armed forces.
Sorry Dad.
Originally Memorial Day, which was at first called Decoration Day, was a day to remember those who had died in war. Eventually it was declared as a national holiday then Congress made it the last Monday in May.
Over time people have used Memorial Day to remember all their dead, which I have no problem with. As I said, many cultures have customs to remember their deceased, but don’t confuse remembering those who died in war with honoring all who served who are now dead.
During this month of May we had another holiday which very few people even mentioned. If you want to honor those who are now serving our country, remember Armed Forces Day. Officially it’s celebrated on the third Saturday in May each year.
To remember those like my husband, father, great uncle, brother-in-law, father-in-law and so many more who have served in the military at some time in their lives, thank them for their service and decorate their graves on Veteran’s Day, which is celebrated on November 11th of each year.
I’m proud of the men and women in my family who have served. Let’s all remember their days.

Smile. Make the day a brighter day.

Wednesday, May 25, 2016

Bullies And the Zero Tolerance Policy by B.L. Hamilton

I know Konnie already commented on this last week, but I’d like to say, “I told you so!”

Okay, back when they first started this policy I didn’t have any way to make the powers that be listen to me, so they never heard my words, but I said them. I said it often because I know one major thing about bullies from sad experience. They’re favorite method of intimidation is to goad and harass their victim to the point that the victim lashes out, physically.

And given this knowledge, I knew, the zero tolerance policy would backfire, big time, because it would be punishing the victim and still avoiding or ignoring the real problem, which is of course the bullying. (Something they have been doing for a long time.)

I would go on to say I’ve been saying, “If you’d have listened to me, this wouldn’t be happening,” when the outcry over kids committing suicide over bullying started. Let’s face it, folks, if they can’t lash out at their abusers, how else are they going to get out of that untenable situation? And who could these poor victims have turned to for help?

After all, Adults have been ignoring schoolyard bullying for probably a whole lot longer than my school days, let alone this disastrous “Zero Tolerance” rule, but with said rule in place, the kids couldn’t do what the authorities wouldn’t do, and punish the abuser.

(By the way, for all those who take exception to me using the word abuser instead of bully, please look up the meaning of the two words. They are the same thing. And having been on the receiving end of a bully’s treatment, and having compared that to what officials say a spouse abuser does, I’m bound to say they are the same thing. )

Now back to the schools, even when I was a kid in school the teachers and other adults in authority ignored bullying. Why my sister and I got behind one year in school because we ditched so often we missed too much school, and we did it partly because the teachers did nothing about the fifth and sixth graders pushing around the first and second graders on the playground. Those kids literally would shove us out of the swings or off the other playground equipment and the teachers did nothing. If we complained, they told us to stop being such babies.

And that doesn’t even address the fact that through most of my junior high and high school career I was the victim of repeated propositions from the boys. Though the worst part of all of that is those boys were never taught the difference between a proposition and actually asking a girl out! And I’m afraid that situation is worse today. (I’ve actually addressed this topic in more than one of my stories.)

Back in my day, it was bad enough when guys wolf whistled or cat called when I walked down the hall, but I’m told now-a-days boys actually try to cop a feel in the hall! And no one does anything about it, but when the girl lashes out at her tormentors, she gets suspended! Outrageous!

All of this has to stop! We need to lay down the law, starting with name-calling; it’s unacceptable. We shouldn’t be allowing it, ever. If I had children, I wouldn’t allow name-calling in my house. I know how bad it is, and I know that is where bullying starts. I would also ban just touching someone without their permission, ergo, poking is not acceptable behavior. I’d teach everyone to respect everyone else’s personal space as well. And I’d discipline violators, so they actually learn it is not acceptable behavior.

And that is what I have to say about this deplorable situation.

Wednesday, May 18, 2016

Zero-Tolerance Bullies by Konnie Enos

The headline read, “Zero-tolerance policies ineffective”, as if it was something new.
We’ve all seen far too many stories of kids, bullied for years, finally “snapping” and either taking their own life or trying for a mass shooting. This zero tolerance system punishes them for their actions, but is ineffective in stopping those who picked on them.
Why? Because zero-tolerance doesn’t stop bullying. It encourages it.
Zero-tolerance tells bullies the authorities will help them pick on and humiliate their victims since the victims of bullying will get punished more often than the bullies will. Newsflash! Bullies like it when they have that much control.
Zero-tolerance tells victims they have no recourse. In fact if they say anything they will get punished before the bully will. That’s what zero-tolerance tells kids.
That’s what I see happening far too often in the stories I see in the news. Innocent victims either never fight back and take their own lives or finally snap and fight back only to have the authorities FINALLY notice, but they come down on them harder than they do the bully.
In all cases the bully’s get their way. The victim is humiliated, isolated and feeling lower than dirt. So why should the bullies change if the authorities are helping them?
And the problems of zero-tolerance go way beyond not punishing the bullies.
We have real problem when authorities are so concerned with violence that they have to expel a kid from school because he nibbled his pop tart into the shape of a gun or drew a picture of one. They focus so much on the harmless that they don’t address the class full of third graders calling a classmate fat every chance they can. They don’t address that boy poking that girl every time he walks past her, or that girl insisting on playing with that other girl’s long ponytail. They punish that girl for finally slugging that boy to make him stop snapping her bra, attempting to undo it in class but shrug at the boy’s actions. They suspend a tiny first grader because he fought off five fifth graders who were picking on him. (Fortunately for the first grader he had a black belt.)
Zero-tolerance policies dictate in often minute detail what a girl can and can’t wear to school but often the more detail they give on the girls attire, the less they give on the boys, i.e.: t-shirt and jeans compared to shirts must cover the collar bone and pants/skirts must cover the knees and nothing can be skin tight.
I’ve read dress codes where the girls’ guidelines were a full page and the boys’ were one paragraph.
And what does such policies do?
They just make it easier to pick on people thereby furthering the environment that bullies thrive in. No wonder zero-tolerance policies don’t work.
You can’t stop bullies by being bullies.
Let’s put some sanity back into our society and start teaching people to respect one another.
I’ve been facing down bullies since I was a tiny first grader. The best solution I came up with was in second grade. I showed the class bully some respect and befriended him. Not only did I not have a problem with him after that, but it also protected the kids in our class who were the usual outcasts.
Some bullies refuse to be befriended. That’s when you have to stand up, look them in the eye and tell them you’re not scared of them. It’s time to tell supporters of zero-tolerance that we’re not running from them anymore.

So I’m borrowing this phrase today, “Stop the insanity”.

Wednesday, May 11, 2016

Bad Day by B.L. Hamilton

We’ve all heard the edict to write every day, but how many of us actually do it? There are plenty of distractions, even for someone like me, who lives alone.

In the last week alone, I have a trip to Yellowstone, which took all day, and well. . . Have you ever been so sick, all you can think about is how much your stomach hurts, and praying you don’t have to run to the bathroom anytime time soon?

Some days, it’s just not possible to write even one paragraph, and sometimes that lasts for more than a week.

Here’s to hoping everyone else is feeling better than I am.

Happy writing everyone.

Wednesday, May 4, 2016

Seat Dominance by Konnie Enos

“Hey! I was here first!”
“That’s my spot!”
“I had dibs!”
“Move it! I was there first!”
When you have kids, you’re bound to hear them fighting over something and it’s not uncommon for them to fight over where they want to sit, be it in front of the TV, in the car or at the dinner table.
I can’t think of a family meal where someone didn’t ‘dib’ a seat or tell someone to move out of a seat they’d only left long enough to get something that was missing from the table. I’ve had to mediate arguments and even had one kid sulk in his bedroom rather than eat because he couldn’t sit where he wanted to.
Going somewhere with more than one child can be equally as bothersome because only one of them can be ‘shotgun’ and there is only so many window seats, so someone isn’t going to be happy. (Well, if I only take two I’m generally okay, any more than that and I may have an issue.)
The funny part is when my husband finds someone in his place, he generally just moves to their place. When he wants to lie down in his bed and finds one of his kids sitting there, generally talking to me, he sleeps in that kid’s bed so when said kid wants to get in their bed they’re stuck with waking him up and making him move. So I hear more things along the line of, “That’s my spot.”
Since this sort of thing happened in my family when I was growing up, and in the places I lived while away at college, I’m sure it’s a dynamic common in most households where more than two people live.
Anyway, since my kids are getting older, things like this don’t happen as much as they used to. It’s almost like we have assigned seats around here, at the table, in the car, in the living room. For one thing, it’s a given where I’m going to be sitting, and the kids and my husband generally fall in around me in a predictable order, so hearing complaints about someone being in someone else’s spot doesn’t happen very often around here.
Then a couple of weeks ago, that particular complaint was ringing throughout the house.
“Hey! I was sitting there!”
“That’s my spot!”
“Move it mister!”
And I had to laugh, watching my oldest son stand over the chair he wanted to sit in but couldn’t because it was occupied. That was at least the third, if not the fourth time in a matter of minutes that someone had voiced that complaint, always against one of the dogs.
The funny part was my son was just standing there looking rather perturbed at the chair and its occupant while from my viewpoint, I could see the back of the chair, but not who was in it.
Considering my youngest child is 15, and I’m the shortest member of the family, I figured it was a dog, yet again. Of our five dogs only one wouldn’t have been able to get into the chair because of her age and arthritis, and only two of those could sit high enough for me to see them from where I was, though even they could just curl up on the seat.
I asked my son which dog was in his way and he glared at the chair. “None! It’s Tiger!”
I laughed. His cat was in his way, and that meant all our non-caged animals were trying to take over.
Smile. Make the day a brighter day.