Archive | September 2012

Word Counts

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Do you know what grinds my gears? When teachers assign word counts on essays. Now one of my main goals when I blog is to not offend anybody, even if they are the ones I am blogging about. Anyway, I can’t stand word counts. I know that if we didn’t have them that students would slough off all writing assignments and write mere sentences. But it is the worst feeling when you have a strong piece of writing with great information but you have to use three times as many words to even pass the assignment. This creates numerous amounts of problems for the writer. First of all, the piece of writing will often be completed with filler, or stuff that is extraneous to the topic. Also, it is common for the author to repeat themselves. For example, if they are trying to write an argument, one of their main points can probably be found throughout the writing, even after it has been explained fully.

            I know that the goal of putting despised word counts as part of an assignment is to try and challenge the writer to fully explain their topic and stretch their minds to make them better. However, sometimes I think that teachers should not worry about word counts, but making the students make their words count. Perhaps an exercise teachers should try is assigning a word limit. After you’ve assigned a paper that has to have 1,000 words or more, try having the students shrink down their writing to 900 words. For all of those students who insert filler when writing is assigned, it should be easy for them. This would help them distinguish between the main meat of your writing and what’s just filler. Now for those students who have fully explained their topic and wrote way more than needed (but didn’t use filler) don’t worry about them. They accomplished the goal you set for them in the first place. Word counts is a two way street, so there will always be people that will like one assignment over another.

            Finally, after all is said and done, word counts aren’t the worst thing in the world. They are there to help us, no matter how stressful they can be. I just want teachers to know that when word counts are assigned, a lot of students focus on how they can meet that instead of focusing on their piece of writing. Also, putting word limits on things might help students in writing arguments, where your points need to be clear, concise, and not repetitive. It’s just a thought.

            Either way, word counts are just something we have to live with. But teachers could do things to make it a little easier or more fun for students.  And once again, not meant to offend anyone!

Please don’t grind my gears by using word counts!

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“Back-Seat Drivers” in Life

Do you know what grinds my gears? When people are back-seat drivers in your life. What I mean by this is that some people like to criticize, speak badly of, and put-down others for something that they are doing wrong. Before I go any farther however, let me specify what I mean by this.

There are some people in your life that are supposed to analyze everything you do and tell you how to do it better. Those people are like your bosses, coaches, advisors etc.  But then there is the group of individuals that are just by-standers that do not approve of your actions or how you are doing something, and just feel the need to tell you how to do that thing better. Also, (these people grind my gears the most) there are people that say, “Oh, I can do that so much better than you can,” or “Why is it so hard for you?”. Why do people feel the need to say that so badly? I have experienced this many times, but one of the worst times has happened over the past two years. I am the field goal kicker for our football team at our school. When I started out as a freshman, I had never kicked a football off a tee in my life. I had played soccer for five years or so and thought I would give it a try. I was absolutely horrible at kicking a football. It was nothing like kicking a soccer ball and I struggled for a long time. At the time, we had a senior for a kicker, and nobody else besides me took up the challenge. So this added even more pressure for me to get better, considering I would be our only kicker the next year.

So I practiced and practiced over the summer and on the weekends, and I still was terrible, but I had improved. All my teammates looked down upon me during practice and shook their head when I couldn’t make any field goals, let alone extra points. Some of them would come up to me and say, “Why is it so hard for you? I can make field goals and I’m not even the kicker.” I was furious with these people. I was putting myself on the line and embarrassing myself while other people just watched from the sidelines instead of trying out for kicker themselves. But that didn’t stop me. I took all of the criticism with a grain of salt and continued to practice. During our first varsity game of the year, our team was way ahead of the opposing team. When we scored yet another touchdown, the coach looked directly at me and asked me if I wanted to kick an extra point. Without hesitation, I said yes. My heart was thumping out of my chest; I wanted to make one so badly and prove to my peers and haters that I could be our next kicker. When the ball was snapped, I said a prayer, took my two steps, and hoped that my practice would pay off.

The ball seemed to freeze for a second in mid-air, it hadn’t gone very high. The crowd breathed in as the ball flailed toward the goal post. It cleared about a foot over the crossbar, but it went through. The crowd erupted into cheers, and I was elated. I had proved to everybody, even to myself, that I could do it. Today, I am our starting kicker and have improved immensely at kicking. I even kick the ball for kick off for the start of every game.

This just goes to show, that even when you have people like this in your life, just ignore them. It’s not worth it to let it affect you in any way shape or form, unless you use it to motivate you. Just be sure that you aren’t the one doing the commenting either, because you probably have no idea what that person is feeling inside.

Please don’t grind my gears by “back-seat driving”!

Self-Centered

Do you know what grinds my gears? People who think they are so much better than everyone else. I get so irritated when someone talks only about themselves and think that the world revolves around them. Before I go any farther, let me explain what I consider to be the three types of self-centered people: the ones who only talk about themselves, the ones that don’t care about anybody else, and the ones that do both of the previously mentioned. As you can probably tell, the latter group is the most annoying and most likely to get under my skin.

Anyway, everything in your life is relative. Everybody thinks that they have it bad; I have many times before as well. The reality is that there will always be somebody who has it worse than you. I’m not saying that you can’t complain to your friends once in a while. However, people tend to get mad at you if you are complaining about something that isn’t near as bad as them. One example that I had the other day is when someone told me that they were so tired and had a lot of homework. I asked them how much sleep they got the night before and they replied a little less than eight hours. Here’s what ground my gears: 1.I have the same amount of homework (if not more) than them, 2.I have practice for two and a half hours after school while they get to go straight home, and 3. I worked on homework until 12:30 and had to wake up at 6:45 A.M. Now I know that other people have it worse than me, but that person had no idea that other people had it worse than them.

This is an important thing to remember: people that are self-centered are created by unawareness. They are extremely unaware of how self-centered and stubborn they sound to the other people around them. To the self-centered people, they  think everybody cares about their opinion. They also think that every little tiny bad thing that happens to them is a terrible disaster. Things like “I had so much homework last night” and “I am SO tired today” and, the worst one of all, “Why do these things happen to ME?” 99% of the people who say that last phrase need to reconsider where they are in life. I know that I have been blessed more than I deserve, so some people may think that I can’t make accusations like this when I haven’t been in those types of situations. However, most of those people are exactly the ones I am describing in this blog!

I know that some of you may think that I have no power to say these sorts of things, and maybe you are right. Just try to remember the following: Be thankful for everything that you have, and think twice before you complain about what you consider to be “bad”.

Please don’t grind my gears by being self-centered!

Posting/Blogging Assumptions

Do you know what grinds my gears? When people think everything posted or blogged about someone applies to them. Or, when people don’t think that that person was talking about them at all. People need to realize that the point of blogging and posting is to get something off of their chest without actually hurting or naming the person they are secretly referencing. Not all things posted are going to apply to you, and sometimes the post will be ALL about you. Keep an open mind and don’t eliminate the possibilities when you read a post. If the person posts something vaguely instead of directly, they probably aren’t trying to start a big commotion. The best case scenario is that the person it applies to will read the post and take a hint and admit to themselves that yes indeed, it is them being posted about. On the other hand, the worst case scenario is that the people not intended to be referenced in the post will become extremely over sensitive and cause a huge fight with the poster or blogger. First of all, if you truly are the one being referenced, the last thing the poster or blogger wants is to start a controversy over their topic. Even if you ignored all the rest of the stuff I said earlier, DO NOT START A “WEB WAR”. I consider a web war to be a conflict that is fought on the internet and not face to face. People can take things said on the internet so much differently than what they were originally meant to be. Sarcasm, body language, and eye contact are all lost with web interactions. This can cause many misconceptions over what the point of the post/blog was about. A lot of that fighting can be resolved if a few key things happen. The first thing is don’t assume everything is about you; it may just be your conscious overthinking what has been posted or blogged. The next thing is that if it is you that is being posted about, maybe try and fix it without even confronting the poster/blogger. For example, if the poster/blogger says that someone will not stop talking and you have a tendency to talk a lot, try to fix the problem. This may avoid a conflict all together. Finally, (this is the most important one of all) if you have any doubt in your mind if it is you or not, calmly and politely talk to that person about their post/blog. Ask them if you were the one they were trying to reference. If anything, you could talk through whatever the problem may be, and not have to worry about whether or not it was you mentioned.

If you take anything from this blog, let it be this: Don’t under or over assume any blog or post. And, if you are worried whatsoever about whether or not it’s you, settle it in person and not over the internet. Please don’t grind my gears about what I post. (And don’t assume I’m automatically talking about you when I say that!)