Struggles of the Wannabe Grammar Police

On my neighborhood Nextdoor site, I recently saw a post about a lost dog that was found. In response, one person wrote, “Glad this tale/tail has a happy ending.” I started to roll my eyes at her seemingly unnecessary decision to clarify that she was making a pun, but then I stopped. The truth is, I can easily put myself inside her mind. I’m constantly making calculations in my head about whether I should speak “correctly” or speak like most people around me do.  Continue reading →

A Not-So-Little Pat on the Back

This post is a brag because this is my blog and I’ll brag if I want to. Also, I post plenty of embarrassing or unflattering content about myself, so I don’t think anyone can fault me for publicly praising my accomplishments.

I am now a Senior Technical Writer at LogRhythm. I started less than two years ago having no “technical” technical writing experience, although I have a 16-year career related to controlled writing, editing, and language use in general, including creating IT certification courses. The first six months at this company were really rough for me. About 10 percent of that was my own sour puss attitude at the company I loved shutting down and being completely ungrateful for the amazing opportunity I walked into, but, honestly, 90 percent of it was the massive learning curve. Almost everyone I work with agrees that this is the most complicated product they have ever worked on. Not only was I going from a job in which I had total control over the development of a product that was firmly in my area of expertise to one in which I was in a reactionary position, dependent on the goals and management of others, but I also simply couldn’t understand the product. This was tough. I hate feeling useless and not being able to take initiative. Most jobs I’ve had required a one-month or so learning curve before I could show up to work confident in what I was doing and my ability to handle anything that came my way. This one was every bit of six months and still, 21 months later, plenty of issues come my way that I haven’t the foggiest idea how to start dealing with and that I feel quite intimidated by. Continue reading →

Say What? Edition 5: What Not To Say

Don’t say donzerlyThe Christmas season, which thankfully is over, always reminds me of my first neologism. While I never flubbed these lyrics from what is probably the most sung song in the country, I did spend a good portion of my childhood wondering what wilkenspire was, as in “Later on wilkenspire. As we dream by the fire.”

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Don’t say in order to.  Or should you? In my day job, I often have to decide whether to use “to” or “in order to.” The more succinct version generally suffices, but I sometimes opt for the longer because somehow it seems to provide clarity, though I could never articulate exactly why or how. Then I stumbled across this on the Write the Docs Slack.

I need John to answer the question. (He has to do it. No one else can.)
I need John in order to answer the question. (I need something from him so that I can answer the question myself.)

Ah, sweet relief. Continue reading →

Boulder 911, or How I Was Almost Caught in a Shootout

2016 had an interesting end for me. I was on my way to work on the morning of Friday the 30th, waiting to make a left turn from one main road in Boulder onto another. As I sat in the left turn lane, a police vehicle came screaming up the inbound traffic lanes to my left, zig-zagged through the intersection to get back into the lanes going his direction, and then vanished around a turn at the next intersection. Actual crime is almost a novelty in Boulder, but even so, it was early and my mind was already checked out for the holiday weekend, so I forgot about the cop even before I got the green arrow.

When I turned left, I got into the right lane and drove along, nearing a gas station on my passenger side. Just as I reached the entrance, that same cop came tearing down the opposing lanes once again, lights flashing and siren blaring, but this time, instead of driving past, he sucked me right into his dramatic morning. He pulled a hard turn directly in front of me, back end of his SUV swinging wide, and slammed to a stop perpendicular to the road, blocking both lanes going my direction. He jumped out of the car with an assault rifle and ran into the gas station lot. Just then, three other police cars screeched in from different directions and all the officers jumped out, weapons drawn. They were pointing them at a man on the ground in front of a van. Continue reading →