Friday, August 17, 2007

Emoticons: adding to or detracting from English language?

There are been a few of areas of modern English language that I have been hesitant or even completely resistant to using myself. They are:

1) what I like to call ghetto slang; i.e. crunk up, grills, bling, etc.

2) abbreviations used for instant messaging and texting; i.e. BRB, LOL, TTYL

3) emoticons; i.e. :) :( :P ,etc

I am starting to see the value in the second two of these modern movements within the English language. I started to use number two as I began to message my friend Val last year. We would talk for an hour or so on Yahoo! messenger. In order to better multi-task and even to conform to the new use of English, I became more flexible with my use of abbreviations. That’s not to say I now use poor grammar. Most of the time, I will still attempt to write out words and to use complete sentences. There has to be some rules and structure even in the world of smiley faces and avatars.

It has only been this summer that I have finally succumbed to the world of the emoticon. Why so much hesitation? To me, it always seemed so cutesy and high school girl-ish, so I resisted. My opinion of emoticons began to change as I saw more adults starting to use the symbols to express how they felt. My boyfriend told me that he uses them instead of exclamation marks to express himself more clearly and because exclamation marks are used even when people’s voices wouldn’t rise in pitch and volume. I’ll admit I tend to use exclamation marks too liberally.

Despite all the modernization of the English language, I still like to follow many of the traditional uses and rules. i understand that languages must adapt and change. Languages always change with time, thus, we are not still saying ’thy’ and ’thou.’ I have begun to view emoticons and IM abbrevs. as ways to show creativity and as another way for people to express themselves. In a world where we move so quickly, it’s good that we still find time to get creative and to make our feelings known. That said, you won’t hear me say “Hey, man, you got some coin on those fries?”
Source: The New York Times
A great article in the New York Times about emoticons and their use in modern English
Quote: I do not sit down at my desk to put into verse something that is already clear in my mind. If it were clear in my mind, I should have no incentive or need to write about it...We do not write to be understood; we write in order to understand.
--C. Day Lewis, The Poetic Image

Monday, August 13, 2007

The Waiting Game

It's Monday and I am feeling the pressure of my weekly deadline, which is at 5 p.m. Tuesday. I have six stories and two photo package assignments i am working on this week. The problem is I only have one of them completed and two near completion. i have placed so many calls and am waiting for return calls. Interviews have been scheduled for tomorrow. Now I am just playing the waiting game for my final needed bits of information to slowly make their way to my notepad. It's going to be a frantic race to the finish line after that.

This is the part of my job that really frustrates me: the days where I have so much on my plate so I can't take anything else on, yet I feel like i am accomplishing nothing. This morning was mostly productive, but this afternoon is dragging by.

I worry that I am heading towards burnout at work. I feel so much pressure at work as I am still the only reporter and pretty much the only producer of news copy. With this week's stories getting written at such a slow pace, I feel extra burdened. I worry about there not being enough copy to fill the newspaper pages. I just can't do much else that I'm not already doing to speed up the process.

A little guiltily, I am here writing in copyworks to later post on my blog. One more hour...then I can go unwind in Waukesha by taking pictures of birds, insects and flowers at the Retzer Nature Center. The time can't go fast enough. My fear is always, though, that the Freeman will call me and I will have to ignore my stories in order to cover breaking news. I love covering breaking news. The adrenaline rush is fabulous. The only problem is then I am not working on my required news stories.

I am just counting down the days until my three-day weekend at the end of the month!

“If something anticipated arrives too late it finds us numb, wrung out from waiting, and we feel nothing at all. The best things arrive on time.”
--Dorothy Gilman, A New Kind of Country, 1978

Friday, August 10, 2007

Abstract Views of Playgrounds

These are pictures that I took around Oconomowoc on the night of the 9th. I had so much fun climbing all over playground equipment in parks and at schools to get these pictures. Some of them could probably stand a little photoshop work, but when it comes to photography, I like to shoot to keep. I am not one for using technology to do much more than crop and lighten. These pictures are all as I took them. It's quite amazing how many shapes and textures can be found on a playground.
"The events of childhood do not pass, but repeat themselves like seasons of the year."

Monday, August 6, 2007

Just part of the job?

I have heard that in order to survive in the world that is journalism, you have to separate yourself from what you are doing. And, especially if that story involves death. On Friday, I was sent to a car accident scene about 10 miles south of Oconomowoc on a dangerous stretch of road. In fact, I had been there the previous Friday for a head-on collision between two semis.

This past Friday it was a really bad accident between two cars. One car was going southbound when the driver pulled into the northbound lane to enter a driveway and hit the northbound car head on. When I arrived at the scene, I knew it wasn't good from the info coming across the police scanner in the office. After talking with gawkers and getting the police officers' attention, I walked around and took pictures. I then waited for some one from the Sheriff's department to come over and fill me in. What no one told me, but what I suspected, was that some one may have died.

After getting a bunch of photos, including one of a bloody airbag, I left the scene. On my way back, I phoned in my info to the Freeman so they could update the website. The editor told me that one of the drivers probably died. That later proved to be true.

After I hung up, I began to think about how I was at an accident scene where a driver had just died and how I never thought about the weight of the situation. I just did my job. In the past, when I would hear sirens screaming up north highway 67 past my house, I would say a prayer asking God to be with the rescue workers, the injured people and their families. And now, here I was at a scene where not 15 minutes before someone died and I didn't give it a second thought. I know that you have to be tough-skinned to make it in this business, but how tough skinned? I don't want to become an emotionless individual who ignores the human aspect of a story. The idea of it scares me. I have always prided myself on being a feeling, thinking, compassionate and helpful person. I don't want to stop being that just because I am a journalist. In fact, it was my desire to help those less fortunate that even led me into journalism.
So, on my way home, I said a prayer as I drove. I prayed for the emergency workers, for the drivers of the cars and for their families. I asked God to give everyone strength and courage. I aim to say a prayer for similar situations in the future. For me, that's the compassionate and right thing to do.
"Anyone who dares to waste one hour of life has not yet discovered the value of life."
--Charles Darwin

Thursday, August 2, 2007

Summer ideals

German exchange students, Franziska Lorenz, 16, and Tabea Stroehle, 16, help to paint a French garden scene mural on a wall in Oconomowoc. About 10 high school students and three adults helped with the project, which will give senior residents of the Berkshire apartments a better view.
Tabea Stroehle paints green underneath a bright blue sky.

Rocks were great amusement for Stephanie Shaw, 5, of Oconomowoc. She played on Lac La Belle with her baby sitter and siblings.
**The first and third photographs appeared in the Oconomowoc Enterprise. The middle, however, did not.
"I came to my solitary woodland walk as the homesick go home. I thus dispose of he superfluous and see things as they really are, grand and beautiful."
--Henry David Thoreau