911 now hiring tutors

Funny 911 call below (not a prank!):

The kid is absolutely adorable.

[via SpikedHumor]

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Make your writing sparkle.

DailyWritingTips has an interesting (interactive even) post on editing. Granted there are fancy spellcheckers out there, manual proofreading catches more than just misspelled words; you may find an inferior word that doesn’t really capture what meaning you want to convey, wrongly used punctuation marks, and most importantly, you polish your writing so it’s easily digestable.

Here’s a great tip left by a fellow commentor:

Here’s a tip I used in graduate school and one I pass along to my students: Read aloud to yourself.

When you proofread silently, you really tend to skim and possibly miss mistakes. But, if you read aloud, there is absolutely no way your mouth can keep up with your brain. Therefore, you have to slow down and you can “hear” your mistakes more easily.

People may give you funny looks, but not when grades come out and you are on top.

And don’t just edit words, edit content. Take out gratuitious, unnecessary thoughts and ramblings that are meaningless. Make your literary product concise. Copyblogger has a great post on how to tighten up your writing. Your blog is in constant competition not only against other blogs but against broadcast news websites, commercial retailers, IM conversations, emails and so on. By the time readers enter your store, the last thing they want to read is dense literature.

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Not all habits are evil.

Breaking habits

For many of us, when we think of “habits”, we immediately think of those that deserve breaking (such as the one above). However, seldomly do we construct and nurture good habits, those that allow us to climb to the top, to succeed, to become whatever we aspire.

The blog at Productivity501 created a list to help us maintain the habits we do want to harbor.

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The best scene from Mrs. Doubtfire

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I could watch this scene a thousand times over (the clip’s a bit shy on the volume so crank it up!):

 

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Semicolons have feelings too!

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lonely semicolon

“[Colons and semicolons] – well, they are in a different league, my dear! They give such lift! Assuming a sentence rises into the air with the initial capital letter and lands with a soft-ish bump at the full stop, the humble comma can keep the sentence aloft all right, like this, UP, for hours if necessary, UP, like this, UP, sort-of bouncing, and then falling down, and then UP it goes again, assuming you have enough additional things to say, although in the end you may runo ut of ideas and then you have to roll along the ground with no commas at all until some sort of surface resistance takes over and you run out of steam anyway and then eventually with the help of three dots … you stop. But the thermals that benignly waft our sentences to new altitudes – that allow us to coast on air, and loop-the-loop, suspending the laws of gravity – well, they are the colons and semicolons.

Eats, Shoots & Leaves: The Zero Tolerance Approach to Punctuation by Lynne Truss

This great quote, worded by the greatest stickler I know, Lynne Truss, rightfully gives the semicolon the long overdue self-worth it deserves. A friend once told me the correct usage of a semicolon is completely unbeknownst to him. The linguist in me gasped in horror and as I was about to search for the nearest dictionary (every linguist’s best friend), I realized that this was no easy task (especially when you’re in line at 11pm waiting for the bloody club to get its power back – ahem). So Mr., here’s a break-down of one of the most underrated punctuation marks around (take notes, there will be a quiz afterwards – I kid you not).

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Rock your next presentation with these simple steps

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I once listened in on a presentation about modern language ideologies, a very thought-provoking and captivating topic. Instead of tickling my interests (which is what I hoping), the presentation delivered broke down in front of me like a creaky Geo Metro: the speech was delivered verbatim to the text sources, there were massive gaps of silence that left an awkward tension in the atmosphere, “ers” and “ums” were littered all over the place, and random points were introduced anachronistically, losing the audience and our attention.

The next presentation was a bit better, more lax….or perhaps too lax: the speakers lounged in their chairs, hands clasped casually on their stomachs, talking about what they thought and how it related to their personal experiences. I felt like I was in therapy session.

These hazards are culprits of every presentation gone wrong. Yeah, public speaking is nerve wracking but most people fail to see the ultimate point: that you’re presenting and not giving a court testimony. You’re relaying insightful information, not being subjected to scrutiny.

In addition to attaining nirvana before the big day, here’s my prescription to cure poor presentations:

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Be a star athlete – in the car

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Take a good, hard look at this picture. Sear this image into your retinas. Now step back and picture yourself pressing the rewind button, back before this awful catastrophe happened. What do you see the driver doing? Where did the driver go wrong? What could’ve been averted?

Worldwide, an estimated 1.2 million people are killed in road crashes each year and as many as 50 million are injured. My driving instructor once told a younger and more naive version of me that driving is like a sport. He also failed to mention that driving is also more lethal. That said, just as how there are those better at the game of basketball or tennis, it’s easier to accept the idea that there are simply good and bad drivers out there, whether you attribute it to talent, skill, focus, or whatever.

However, just like with any sport, there are fundamental and intuitive rules players must abide by. Within the vast arenas of highways, parking lots, and intersections, these rules aren’t vainly enforced by authorities; instead they avoid potential injuries, confrontation and just bad sportsmanship (aka road rage).

I’m not claiming to be a trophy-sporting, ex-NASCAR race car driver but I’d like to think that there’s more in me than just pure luck that have so far prevented any sort of auto accident whatsoever (*knocks on wood*). My list of top driving tips:

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