Monday, June 26, 2017

Verb Tense, It's A Thing, And Other Frustrations

I'm supposed to be teaching a technical writing course at my IRL job.

Great. I've done a lot of training over the course of my career (now in its 15th decade, or maybe it just feels that way). I do technical writing/editing every damn day.

I got this.

Is that a participle I hear dangling?

I've basically got the entire course mapped out in my head. All I have to do say out loud the internal monologue I give daily while I'm editing other people's reports. I pretty much know it by heart.

On the other hand, that's maybe not such a great idea.

I'm pretty sure my co-workers know when I'm having a particularly frustrating time wading through a piece of technical writing one of them produced. Just as I have no problem humming and even singing out loud when I'm in a good mood, I have an entire verbal repertoire to express vexation, ranging from unintelligible grunts to muttered strings of profanity that would make Popeye proud.

Arf arf arf, stick a hot poker up yer rectum,
Bluto, arf arf arf.


Anyway, if I were to produce a training script from the things I say to myself (and occasionally murmur, not exactly under my breath then a few feet above and beyond the threshold of hearing), it might not pass muster with HR.

It would be awesome af, however, and probably super-entertaining. And I'll bet my students would never forget Chuck's Rules of Not Writing Like a Third-Grade Troglodyte When You're Supposed to Be a Grown-Ass College Graduate.

Here goes.

1. Hello, class. I wrote my first book in the third grade. It was about snakes. It wasn't particularly well researched, and the language was not especially nuanced. Yet it contained fewer grammatical errors than the average so-called professional report by an apparently educated and experienced scientist that crosses my desk every goddamn day. Let's talk about how the fuck that can possibly be.

2. First of all, the reports we produce in this company are at least 65% boilerplate language that should never change. I find it amazing, therefore, that so many of you are inspired to delete the perfectly structured template verbiage and replace it with six sentences in a row that begin "The property was..."

3. "Is" and "are" have two distinct and different purposes in the English language. One property perhaps "is" located adjacent to another. Several properties "are" located adjacent to another. The verb "to be" is, you know, foundational to our system of grammar. How is this so fucking difficult that you literally never get it right?

4. Look, you dumb shit, you can't simply sprinkle commas and semi-colons into your sentences as if they were merely two different colors of confetti. WORDS ARE NOT CONFETTI. Jeez. How the hell is it that I understand the function of semi-colons to separate compound clauses and/or indicate inequal yet related grammatically complete thoughts, but you don't, with your fancy-ass degree in something sciency/engineeringy?


6. Perhaps this is a bit political, but I don't believe that corporations are people. So please....for fuck's sake...don't say "ABC Co. services their customers," or "BigAss LLC installs their products..." Companies, corporations, organizations are "it." Fuck Citizens United, the linguistic purists of America agree that a company is a goddamn "it." If you write, "The Client says they provide..." I'm gonna jump down your throat with a fucking dictionary. Think about it, OK?

7. How DARE you begin a sentence with a numeral? "6 drums are located"? REALLY? "Six." The word is SIX. God. Damn.

8. OK, this. This makes me feel actually murderous. WHO THE HELL taught you to write "five-feet" or "two-miles"? I want to know who this person so I can wrap an actual garrote around his or her motherfucking neck. If I had a nickel for every misbegotten hyphen I had to delete, I'd live in Jamaica instead of in a North Texas suburb correcting your lame-ass mistakes.

9. This entry is directed to one specific person whose reports I'm obliged to edit weekly. If something - a drum, a piece of equipment, a goddamn chicken - is located in the central portion of your site, it's located in the central portion of your site. Not "near the central portion." Not "along the central portion." Not "by the central portion." And I swear to JF Christ that I will die of a heart attack changing your dumb-ass attempts to write it any other way.

10. Listen up, you assholes: Acronyms are spelled out once and parenthetically defined, after which the acronyms are employed EXCLUSIVELY.  The presiding environmental entity in the State of Texas is the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality (TCEQ). If you insist on spelling it out - and writing the goddamn acronym - at multiple points in your report, I will eat your skull in lieu of popcorn at my next movie night. GOT IT?

So yeah. That's my average day working with purportedly educated scientists.

My teenage daughter knows more about the basics of sentence construction than they do.

I hope they thrive under the Trump presidency. Meanwhile, we'll be readying our places as members of the tribe of Holy Fuck, At Least We Respect the Foundational Knowledge of Our Civilization.

Cheers, Drunkards. Write well. It's the best thing, I promise.

Saturday, June 24, 2017

Gonna Get Married


I have a message.
A little Hamilton Easter egg for the fandom.


Drummer Boy and I are getting married.

Yep, we're definitely getting married.

We haven't set a date, mind you.

It will be, um, after Precocious Daughter graduates from high school (June 2018).

It will be after Drummer Boy is actually divorced from his wife, whom he hasn't seen in almost five years.

It will be at some point in the future that we haven't yet determined.

But here's the thing, Drunkards.

Drummer Boy and I are utterly devoted to each other.

Hopelessly, one might say.

We've talked about marriage for a long time. We've assumed that that is where we'd end up eventually.

Still, I've been divorced for just over a year now. And I love being single. It's scary as hell. Sometimes it's lonely as hell. Yet, after being married for 25 years, it's been absolutely exhilarating to be the captain of my soul. To not need a co-signer. To pay my own way.

Not to knock marriage as an institution, but DAMN, being single is pretty freaking great.

On the other hand, I yearn to be with Drummer Boy 24/7.

And not just be with him, but be part of him. able to make decisions if he's ever in the hospital. Like...represent him if he ever becomes unable to represent himself.

And vice versa, of course.

I decided, just a few days ago, that I would like to marry this man, whom I love with all my heart.

He is willing. Un-freaking-believable, right?

I'll let you guys know when we actually set a date.

Until then, be happy for us.

With apologies to Lerner and Loewe, I'm getting married in the...undefined future.

Ding dong, the bells are going to chime.

Sing along, and I'll probably send you an invite