Tuesday, September 23, 2008
Two weeks ago, she missed two words on her spelling test. In one word, her "v" looked like an "r"; in another, the "v" looked like a "w." In other words, she spelled the words right, but she wrote the letter "v" wrong.
At first I felt bad for her. What a shame, to know how to spell a word but miss it because you're having trouble with one of your cursive letters. I believe I even said something embarrassingly old-fashioned like, "When I was a kid, we never had spelling tests in cursive." (Why didn't I just go all out and announce that they hadn't even invented cursive when I was in grade school?)
Then it dawned on me that it wasn't I who was deciding what my daughter did and didn't need to know. It was the teacher; the person with whom I trust my child five days a week. If she thinks that a third grader should be comfortable enough with her cursive letters to use them on a spelling test, she's probably right.
Thus, the attitude at home immediately changed to, "Well, you just have to practice your "v." Which she has been doing. But she's still not doing them the right way.
And after an hour of frantic erasing, pencil-throwing and screaming, my daughter sits before me crumpled and defeated. Which leads me to do the only thing I can think of at this desperate point: Fix the letter for her. This is on her weekly homework assignment where she must write all of her spelling words twice, in cursive of course.
I wrote the "v" on the first word for her, certain that my little bit of assistance would no doubt help her to master the letter. "Do it just like this the second time," I tell her. She tries. She fails. The word "divide" looks like "diride." She passes the paper to me and looks at me hopefully, but she knows she's missed the mark. And again she crumples.
"It's fine," I assure her. "You tried your best. Let's step away from it for now and come back to it later." But she doesn't want to come back to it later. She now hates the letter "v" and every word that contains the letter, and she wants to rid herself of all memories of "v" for the evening. I decide to leave her alone.
This morning, I opened her yellow homework folder and stared at her spelling assignment. How easy would it be for me to correct the "v" again? Wouldn't it be helping her to see what a proper "v" looks like?
But I realized, while changing the letter might help her to receive a check-plus on her paper, it wouldn't help her to take responsibility for her work, nor would it allow her teacher to see that she has a problem that needs attention. I can't be right beside her on the day of the spelling test, quietly erasing her flawed letter and replacing it with a more proper version.
Looking at the bigger picture, I won't be right beside her down the road, when she's studying for college exams, applying for a job or raising her kids. She's going to make mistakes, but hopefully she'll learn from them. And maybe learning the hard way to write a proper "v" is just the beginning of lessons that will make her a strong, responsible person, who hopefully also has great penmanship.
Learning to let go when your child is about to make a mistake: That was my big lesson of the day.
Tuesday, September 16, 2008
The article ran as a news brief in the Cleveland Plain Dealer on Monday. The article titled, "Dispatcher Tried to Warn Engineer," about the deadly train collision in California last Friday, states the a dispatcher supposedly tried to alert the engineer of the commuter train that there was danger ahead, namely, an oncoming freight train. The call supposedly came too late.
Buried near the bottom of the news brief was this chilling piece of information: "A teenager told CBS2-TV that he had exchanged a brief text message with the engineer shortly before the crash. The Los Angeles station said the teen was among a group of youths who befriended the engineer and asked him questions about his work."
Now there are more reports surfacing about an investigation into whether the engineer for the commuter train was text messaging while on duty.
Let me just say this: Even if you are operating the old-fashioned cars at an amusement park--you know, the ones that run on a track--you should not be text messaging.
Does it take a train wreck that kills 25 people to scare everyone about this?
Many cities and states across the country have banned the use of cell phones while driving. . Only a handful also ban text messaging while driving, including New Jersey. (And if you've seen people drive in New Jersey, you know this is a good thing.) California has a new no-cell-phone law pertaining to drivers that went into effect earlier this year. Currently, there is no ban on text messaging in that state. And all of this refers to car and bus drivers. There is no mention of train drivers.
But doesn't it just seem like common sense that someone in charge of a train carrying hundreds of passengers should not be allowed to chat on a cell phone or send text messages? No doubt, if it turns out it's true that this engineer was texting while on duty, swift action will take place to keep this unfortunate event from happening again.
It seems, though, that some people may still not understand the potential risks of text messaging in certain circumstances. So here is my personal list of people who should not text message:
• Drivers behind the wheel-- this includes car drivers, truck drivers, bus drivers, train drivers, grocery cart drivers and tricycle drivers
• Airline pilots-- commercial or private, it doesn't matter
• Cyclists, joggers and roller bladers-- this should be a no-brainer, but allow me to beat the obvious to death
• Doctors performing surgery-- I don't care if you're only removing a wart from someone's finger; your texting can wait
• People seated at dining tables with other people-- in other words, how rude
Please feel free to add to the list.
P.S. Photo courtesy of download-free-pictures.com
Sunday, September 14, 2008
WORDS with MEANING
A newsletter for small business owners and entrepreneurs who want to build their companies one word at a time
Diane DiPiero has written extensively about and for small businesses and entrepreneurs. Diane's copywriting services target every aspect of content—both in print and online—that small business owners and entrepreneurs need to tell their story and grow their business.
Diane DiPiero, Copywriter
QUESTION: What makes your website so good? Killer graphics? Awesome content? User-friendly design? Tell us what makes it great (include the web address), & be featured in the next newsletter!
LET YOUR CONTENT SING!
To capture the attention of visitors to a website or readers of a brochure or newsletter, the content must “sing.” That doesn’t mean you need to employ trite slogans. The words should be conversational and catchy without being corny, and there should be a clear message.
When your content sings, readers end up humming your company’s tune, which can lead to greater awareness and increased business. Here are some ways to create content that sings. For more, visit www.dianedipiero.com/blog.
A.) Grab interest with sharp headlines (Just like memorable song titles. Think “Strangers in the Night,” “Somewhere Over the Rainbow” or maybe “Dude Looks Like a Lady.”)
B.) Highlight great quotes from customers; give credit when possible. (Powerful words make for a powerful song.)
C.) Avoid telling your company’s whole story, especially on the home page. Tell an engaging but short story. (If they like this song, they’ll want to hear your whole repertoire.)
D.) Keep paragraphs on the short side, about 3-5 sentences. (Make it a tune they can stick with.)
E.) Avoid technical jargon as much as possible. (Wordy songs never catch on.)
F.) Be creative when appropriate; for example, when telling your company’s history or sharing employee bios. (Don’t be afraid to belt it out in an unusual way.)
SNAIL MAIL: IT’S STILL GOOD FOR BUSINESS
If you’ve never Tweeted; you’re not LinkedIn, and you believe that Face Book is for teenagers, you’re probably someone who still believes in the power of the postal system. Many a small business continues to get its message to prospective customers, vendors or partners through “snail mail.”
When targeting through direct mail, you’ll want to create the best possible effect to impress your audience. Here are some tips from Entrepreneur.com:
• Hire a professional copywriter and graphic designer
• Have an objective 3rd party read your piece
• Personalize as much as you can
• Break up copy with bullet points and graphics/white space
• Use a "P.S." because those are frequently read
• Use easy-to-read typestyles
• Put a call to action at the beginning, middle and end of your copy
WHAT CAN I DO FOR YOU?
Diane DiPiero’s copywriting services are customized for small business owners and entrepreneurs.
• Newsletters (print or online)
1.) Editorial Content: Researching, interviewing and writing all newsletter articles; proofreading all copy
2.) Full Newsletter Package: Writing and layout, maintaining database and sending out newsletters
• SEO Writing
Strategic Writing: For strong SEO Results
• Web Content
1.) Writing and Researching: For new or updated websites
2.) Ongoing Content Updates
3.) Complete Web Content Package: All of the above
Regular Contributor: To your company's blog.
• Press Releases
1.) Writing Press Releases: Based on company news
2.) Complete Press Release Package: Includes writing and distributing press release + follow-up with media
1.) Speech Writing
2.) Consultant Services: Advice on content, grammar, etc.
• Article Writing
1.) Bios & Company Stories: For industry publications
2.) Ghost Writing: For small business execs + entrepreneurs
• B to B and B to C Communications
A variety of print and online options
• Case Studies
Interviewing, researching + writing of case studies
Note: Fees vary based on project scope. To receive a rate sheet with general price ranges for each package, call 216/551-1764 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Friday, September 12, 2008
Thursday, September 4, 2008
Tuesday, September 2, 2008
Wow, am I suffering from Catholic guilt. I had mentioned that I was looking for some scuttlebutt on Sarah Palin, woman extraordinaire and presumptive vice presidential nominee for the Republican Party. All I wanted was to find out that her pantry wasn't well stocked, or that she hadn't cooked a meal for her family in seven months or that her closet was a mess. I didn't want or expect to hear that she had a pregnant teenage daughter.
The pundits were already laughing their heads off yesterday about this situation. But so far, Palin seems to be handling it with dignity, and I wish her the best. And if I find out that her house is a little messy during this time, I promise to let it slide.