Cross the streams

I was recently reminded that one area of life can easily feed into another, if you let it. As Egon once said in Ghostbusters, it's time to cross the streams.

Writing a document involves several different tasks: organizing and gathering the information, writing, rewriting, producing the text, making notes, etc. But a word processor can only help with the production of the text. It won't help you collect all of your research so it is in one place, it won't help you format the document, it won't help you re-organize the document as you rewrite it.

At work, I have been using integrated development environments for coding projects, where everything one needs to get the work done is collected in one place. The idea is that you can devote the maximum amount of effort to getting work done instead of switching between windows, trying to find that note you had somewhere, or re-finding that research material you put... somewhere.

So why not apply the efficiency from the programming world to the writing one? Brilliant.

I think I'm leaning toward this creative writing software program for that part of my life. More about finding one for work later.

Word choice

All my life, word choice has mattered to me. I would get confused by imprecise directions, poorly explained ideas or rules, etc. I appreciate the precise language of the law and philosophy which others regard as picky hair-splitting. I adore the well crafted phrase, the muscular verb, the witty Twitter tweet.

There are the words and phrases that are cheese graters on my ears because of the emptiness or the evil intent:
going forward
in order to
the impact of
nonbeliever, nonreligious
sexist and racist epithets

Some folks are mightily upset by profanity, which is taken to be either unspeakably rude, mean-spirited, inarticulate or showing lack of character. A lot of it is scatological, and anything referring to the human body is considered off limits by some. This is a front, as I challenge anyone to be offended by my wife's use of the phrase "bladder of steel" to describe Micro Trackball's limited bathroom-going. Or George W. Bush's nickname for his advisor Karl Rove: "Turd Blossom." May have been a lousy President, but he has some word choice chops.

I find it odd that a shorthand reference to a penis is not objected to and is casually used or has multiple meanings (dork, cock, dong, scumbag, has balls, etc.) while any reference to a vagina (including the word 'vagina') is treated with an awed horror akin to yelling "Voldemort" in the middle of Hogwarts. It is the Organ that Shall Not be Named. People may cringe when someone says you 'throw like a girl,' but call anyone a 'pussy' and there's likely to be a fight. And of course the non-slang, scientific term 'clitoris' makes people pass right the fuck out.

As you can guess, profanity doesn't bother me. When a little kid wearing a backpack angrily calls Hancock an 'asshole' at the beginning of the movie 'Hancock' it nailed my funny bone hard. Why? There is brutal honesty in that, and there's no better way to convey how low public opinion of Hancock has fallen at that point in the story. And I bet that kid loved filming that scene. Profanity is just another toolbox of words that, when used in the right amounts, can do something nothing else can. Some people can be offended by any and everything, so tread carefully.

What about politically correct speech? My rule here is that if a group wants to be called "Native Americans" and object to other labels or monikers, then we should respect that. And they can change their minds whenever they want and we should go with that. After all, if I introduce myself as Trackball, I don't want to be called "Brainless." And if people change their names when they get married, it's stupid and rude to refer to them by their previous names.

So watch your word choice.