Bye for Now Blogette

Summer is in its fall….

As the month of July comes to a close, my weekly blog posts will need to as well. While there is still a bit of time left before I go back to school, life has become incredibly busy! So this is officially farewell until (possibly) next Summer.

In the meantime enjoy the warm weather (or cold, depending on where you live), full days, and life in general. Toodle pip!

Reason #4562 Why Communication Matters

food-pizza-box-chalkboard

Today’s Sunny Story

A fun fact about the newspaper business; happy stories, like someone saving a family of ducks from traffic or a local fundraiser doing well, are called brights. They’re a small happy spot in the dark world of news, and I happened to bump into one earlier this evening that demonstrates how important communication is in general.

You Ordered… What?

Early this month, the mother of a metalcore guitar player tried to use the Domino’s app for the first time. What was at first a pepperoni pizza order ended up being a fairly pathetic disaster. The mom had ordered no sauce or cheese, just bread and pepperoni, so what was supposed to be a fresh pizza was just bread and burnt circles of meat. Ick!

After a tweet from the artist went out about her mom’s baffling order, it went viral in a matter of days. Presumably because of the attention, DiGiorno found out about the situation and sent the family 10 coupons for free pizza, expressing how they were miffed at the situation as well. Domino’s move to redeem itself wasn’t quite as eloquent, but by then the point was moot (Harrison, 2017).

Lessons Learned

There are morals to both sides of this story, the first being make sure that you read the directions, especially when ordering pizza online! However, the other is when a mom can’t figure out how to order pizza on your app, you may want to think about your wording and interface design. Here’s to both understanding and creating meaning through communication!

Reference

Harrison, O. (2017, July 17). This Mom Tried Ordering Pizza With The Domino’s App & Things Went Horribly Wrong. Refinery29. Retrieved from https://www.yahoo.com/style/mom-tried-ordering-pizza-domino-153500475.html

Writer’s Blo…

Wait for It

Have you ever been working on a paper or project, and you just can’t seem to come up with an outline, or even ideas for the outline? Something just keeps you from going forward and stops up creativity, and that thing is commonly referred to as writer’s block. This mysterious annoyance plagues writers everywhere, especially when there is a time crunch.

Origins

Where does writers block come from? Well, as two scientists, Barrios and Singer, discovered, in their study it was mainly from unhappiness. Whether it be self doubt, depression, or motivation in general, those who had trouble writing were sad and/or angry with life in some way. Because of this, the writers became stuck and could not complete their projects.

Drain-O for the Brain-O

So what was the solution? How did they eventually overcome the block? The two scientists decided to try an experiment with the writers. It was simple, but surprisingly very effective.

They put some writers in a dimly-lit room and asked them to do some mental imagery exercises. They would visualize something, such as a scene in nature, and describe it to the scientists. Later, they would then visualize again, but do something from their current projects, and create a “dreamlike experience” that had to do with that project.

After these interventions, the writers who took part in the study used the exercise to get around their writer’s block and improve their overall motivation. While it wasn’t the cure-all, it did help many that had issues (Konnikova 2016).

Fast Forward

Overall, this technique today could still help people today who are having issues with writer’s block. Again, while it’s not a one-stop solution, it can help by releasing tension and generating creative ideas on something besides the project. So the next time you’re having issues, go ahead and try this to get past that invisible thing that’s blocking your creative thought process. It never hurts to try!

Citation

Konnikova, M. (2016, May 11). How to Beat Writer’s Block. The New Yorker. Retrieved from http://www.newyorker.com/science/maria-konnikova/how-to-beat-writers-block

Fireflies: Decoding the Blink

stock-photo-fireflies-in-the-bush-at-night-in-taiwan-410515864

Gorgeous!

Which One?

In culture, there are many meanings for the word “firefly”, ranging from different music festivals, a popular television show, and more. However, the one that this post will focus on is a small bug whose blinking is commonly seen in six out of seven continents during the summer (as you can guess, Antarctica is the exception) (“Facts About Fireflies,” n.d.). But first, how do “lightnin’ bugs” create that small light, and what does it mean?

Blink Blink

Fireflies are actually one of the most efficient light makers in both the natural and man-made world. They combine luciferin and oxygen in their bodies to create the light they give off, which is virtually all luminescence and no heat. Thanks to this concoction that occurs in their abdomens, we can observe that all-familiar flash.

So what is the purpose of it? There are actually two reasons why they need to create their glow, with the first to signal potential mates. However, it also warn predators that they taste bad. Even the larvae of fireflies glow to demonstrate this, and it seems to work quite well (“Fireflies,” n.d.).

 What Else?

So that’s how fireflies communicate … but there are a lot more interesting facets to them besides communication. For one, they spend most of their lives as larvae, which is up to 2 years. Fireflies also are cannibalistic depending on the species, and lure males in with their light so that they can attack then eat them (“Facts About Fireflies,” n.d.).

Conclusion

While they may just seem like seasonal bugs that go blink in the night, fireflies are actually pretty incredible little creatures. So the next time that you’re out and about this summer, remember to keep an eye out for them.

References

Facts about Fireflies (n.d.). Retrieved from http://www.firefly.org/facts-about-fireflies.html

Fireflies (n.d.). Retrieved from http://www.nationalgeographic.com/animals/invertebrates/group/fireflies/

Snowmen in the Summer

Winter is in 6 Months, but…

June is almost over, and with the first day of summer officially over as of a few days ago, the season is well on its way. To help beat the heat, I thought that I would focus on summer’s opposite time of year, and discuss the topic of snowmen. They obviously don’t thrive in this weather, but their surprising contribution to communication is important at all times of the year.

The Obvious Question

So, the elephant in the room is the question, “when was the first snowman made?”. Chances are it was actually during prehistoric times, which (at least in my case) was slightly surprising. I thought that they had started much later in time. However, during a very early era, humans would build snowpeople to express security economically and possibly a larger population (Carey, 2012).

As time marched on, people continued to build snowmen and women, but things changed along with civilization. Michelangelo at a young age was commissioned to make a snowman for a mansion. Another notable trend from centuries ago is in the early 1800’s. The city of Zurich in Switzerland celebrates the end of winter by blowing up a giant snowman as part of the festivities.

These are just two of the dozens of recorded uses and artistic interpretations of snowpeople throughout history. Most of them are as noteworthy as the ones above (Eckstein, 2007), with each bringing a particular refreshing aspect to the idea of building snow men and women.

Snowmen and Women Today

In this day and age, snowpeople still have relevance in many different ways. They are used in pop culture, as readers of the comic Calvin and Hobbes know. There are also building competitions, and of course, just creating them for fun. It is one activity that the young and old can both enjoy doing, which might be one of the reasons why the tradition of building snowpeople has lasted for so long.

Do They Actually Send a Message?

Building these particular snow sculptures may just seem like something that crowds just do in the winter, but there is more behind them. While they do not have the purpose that they used to, people today still use snow representations of humans to express a message and/or make themselves and others happy. One could say that this gives them a close relationship with art, if they are not art themselves. Personally, I think that snowpeople can be considered a medium of art, or they can just be for fun. Either way, it looks like snowpeople are here to stay….. until summer.

References:

Eckstein, B. (2007). Beyond Frosty: The Bizarrely Important History of the Snowman. Retrieved from http://www.rd.com/culture/history-of-the-snowman/

Carey, B (2012). A Really Short History of the Snowman. Retrieved from http://www.harrisburgmagazine.com/Home-Garden/December-2012/A-Really-Short-History-of-the-Snowman/

Cursive: Scrawling in the Past and Present

IMG_1743

After eight years of learning cursive, my writing still looks pretty terrible….

School Days

I remember being in eighth grade, where I was starting to move into higher level English classes and I FINALLY got out of spelling. However, the one thing that put me off was that I was still being forced to take cursive. What was the point besides writing my signature and writing that paragraph on the SAT?

Brooding teenage me was very unhappy for a while, but eventually got over it. But many parents, and adults, have asked the same question: What is the point of cursive? Should we even be teaching it in schools? To answer this, we must first look into the past.

Previous Penmanship

The origins of cursive (like so many other things) began with the Romans. Around the 5th century A.D. is when the style really started to develop, and even after the empire fell, monks all over Europe used different types of handwriting.

The next big step in history was brought about by the cost of parchment in the Middle Ages. Writers wanted to save space, therefore money. Shortly after Johannes Gutenberg and his printing press appeared, a group of Italians invented a cursive version of Carolingian handwriting, which they called Italic.

After this, the style took off in Europe, then later the United States. There were professional “penmen” that copied documents in cursive and different styles of writing for men and women. In the 19th century, cursive became a major part of curriculum in schools, and flourished in education. However, its popularity started to decline with the invention of the typewriter, and soon, cursive began to fade into history (Cohen, 2012). Today, with computers and electronics, cursive is not taught in most schools in the USA, with a few states, such as California, being the exceptions (Heitin, 2016).

Is It Worthwhile?

Currently there are many arguments against leaving cursive out of schools. Part of the protests come from the fact that many children do not know how to sign their name in cursive. How would they sign for bank loans, credit card purchases, or anything involving a signature? Not only that, but if cursive continues to be left out, future generations will be unable to read previous documents in cursive, and will be not be aware of the emotional nuances of handwriting, such as pressure, splatters, etc. (Leclerc, 2013; Heitin, 2016).

Because I am specializing in communication, I can understand the importance of cursive. If documents are transcribed to print, and the originals are never seen, certain feelings and facts can be lost. One example are the signers of the Declaration of Independence. Each one had his own unique signature, and showed a small amount of personality through it. On the other hand, as technology moves forward, I can understand how cursive is not quite as important as it used to be. Different types of verification can be used besides a signature, and backstory can be provided for items written in cursive.

In summation, cursive has played an important part in writing, and it still has a place now. Whether that place is as important now versus the past is still up for debate. However, as with all history, it could be beneficial to all if we preserved it now and for future generations.

Citations:

Cohen, J. (2012). A Brief History of Penmanship on National Handwriting Day. Retrieved from http://www.history.com/news/a-brief-history-of-penmanship-on-national-handwriting-day

Heitin, L. (2016). Why don’t the common-core standards include cursive writing?. Retrieved from http://www.pbs.org/newshour/updates/scary-clown-rumors-serious-business-schools/

Leclerc, M. J. (2013). Killing Cursive is Killing History. Retrieved from http://www.huffingtonpost.com/michael-j-leclerc/killing-cursive-is-killin_b_4261572.html

 

The Brothers Grimm and Their Research: More Than Just Fairy Tales

Two Siblings and a Hypothesis

In Germany during the early 1800s, there were two brothers. They had both encountered horrible circumstances, such as their father dying and living in poverty, but they persevered, and ended up continuing their education at the University of Marburg. While there, they encountered ideas from one of their professors, and came to believe that studying the culture and language of the Germanic people could give them a deeper understanding of literature.

Who were these two brothers?

Jacob and Wilhelm Grimm.

Enter Cinderella, the Frog Prince, and more

Once settled on this ideology, they decided to go out and about among the German population, thinking that folktales would help them understand their written language in a more thorough way. What they were essentially doing during this time was what we would in this age call primary research through an interpretive method, that method being interviewing. While they did not use the data they collected for a scientific study in the way that we think of it today, Jacob and Wilhelm obtained in a very similar manner. They transcribed the many stories that they were told, such as the Snow White and Rose Red (yes, there is one besides the apple-eater), Cinderella, Allerleirauh, and Rumpelstiltskin.

After finishing their project, Jacob and Wilhelm decided to publish their book, called Kinder – und Hausmärchen, or Children and Household Stories. This would be the beginning of not only the fame of the Grimm brothers, but also the introduction of these fairy tales on a large scale, where they would impact history permanently.

How They Changed Today

So while many people know the stories that were collected either by hearing, reading , or watching them from movies, much has changed since these were originally recorded. For one, the Grimm brothers did NOT intend for children to see these folktales, as they were considered too gruesome. This is understandable, as Cinderella’s stepsisters have their eyes pecked out and the evil queen from Snow White (this time with the seven dwarfs) has to dance to death in hot iron shoes. However, many have been adapted over time in order to present and market them to children, as can be seen by the many movies and interpretations of the stories.

Even though this has helped the audience for them to grow, the original details from the folktales, and their origins, have been lost to public memory. Thankfully, the world still has the original version of the book the brothers created from their investigations. So readers can look back not only for a new yet original version of the story they love, but also ideas about German culture and history, as many of them date back well before feudal Europe (Dalton, 2003, pp. xv, xvii-xviii).

The End?

Even though Jacob and Wilhelm passed away well over a century ago, their works live on through infinite interpretations and ideas. Because of them, we have not only entertainment, but a large portion of Germanic history and culture that is invaluable today, when so much of the past has been lost. So while Into the Woods is phenomenal, and the Disney movies based off their tales are excellent, it might be wise to look back over their collection every once in a while to remember what ideas, themes, and experiences were originally intended for the reader or listener.

Citation

Dalton, E. (2003). Introduction. In E. Dalton (Ed.), Grimm’s Fairy Tales (xv-xxxiii). New

York: Barnes & Noble.