Bullet journals and barking dogs

Just saw this in a New Yorker story on bullet journals:

He started writing down his thoughts in short bursts throughout the day and found that it calmed him, allowing him to see past his anxieties to their root causes. “When there’s a barking dog outside, you can’t hear anything else,” he told me recently, by way of analogy. “But when you go to the window you realize there might be something wrong, you think about it, you get the context. It’s barking at something. You actually get up and look. And, for me, writing is that process.”

The dog is barking at something. I love that.

Of course, in my own case, what with the two American Labs who weren’t bred to be “lifestyle dogs” and all, the real trick is training my adrenal glands not to launch a tsunami of cortisol every time the dogs explode into a frenzy of barking and hardwood-floor scrabbling over nothing at all.

I have an extremely reactive startle reflex. Medical science can do nothing to help (I’ve asked).

So the dogs we live with–Luke and Lucy–are the exact wrong dogs on that score. Roughly once a day I have the same bodily reaction to my own pets that I would to being caught in crossfire in Syria, say, or Yemen. Except there are no guns and no enemy combatants, quite apart from the fact that there is nothing in the yard that needs barking at. 

Keeping a bullet journal, which I do, doesn’t help with any of this, sad to say. I already know, as I’m jumping out of my skin, what the context is and whether there’s anything either I or my insane dogs actually need to worry about. 

There isn’t.

Progress Report, part 2

re: Happy New Year

  1. Dry January is going swimmingly. Not so swimmingly that I’m tempted to adopt Dry February, too, but never mind that. I recommend it. 
  2. 7,000 steps is going. Mostly, I’m hitting the mark, even this week, under the influence of a protracted flu that keeps me up nights coughing. 
  3. Andrew and I are 2 steps forward, 1 step back, which has set me to wondering whether all implicit learning is like that. More on that later. 

Today’s question: suppose I were to buy the ridiculously pricey Nylora tights leggings I’ve been cruising at Neiman Marcus.

Would that make me get in my car and drive to the gym? Because I bought ridiculously pricey Nylora tights leggings so now I’m obligated? 

And see:
Happy New Year !
Sober January, too
Progress report
News you can use: the 7,000

Progress Report, part 2

Is ‘bad’ grammar a tell ?

I realized a while back that I base decisions about whether to trust an expert on the expert’s writing style.

Specifically: I instantly trust experts whose writing style signals that they want to be understood by non-specialists. I feel, intuitively, that they:

a) know what they’re talking about, and
b) want me to know, too.

I’m a bit more cautious when it comes to experts whose writing style signals that they don’t care one way or the other. 1

Experts who seem actively to wish readers not to have the first clue what they’re on about are another category altogether. Zero trust, plus a big round zero on the feeling thermometer.

Extended lean toolkit for total productivity,” for instance. No. Go away.

Having a reflexive trust in clear writing is the reason I came to own a copy of Siegfried Engelmann’s Teach Your Child to Read in 100 Easy Lessons years before I knew anything about phonics and/or the reading wars. His prose. Engelmann’s prose told me that he wanted everyone who picked up the book to understand every word in it. 

So I trusted he knew what he was talking about.

Recently, I’ve realized that I also use non-standard grammar as a tell. I take non-standard grammar, in speech and in text, as a sign of authenticity. 

By non-standard, I mean constructions like: “I am making this statement on behalf of me and my sister.”

Obviously, “me and my sister” is standard for the person using this construction. But it’s not Standard Written Englishand because it’s not, I reflexively assume the speaker (or writer, in the case I’m thinking about) is telling the truth as he sees it. 

Another example: “wrong” participles.

I heard a politician, a few weeks ago, use the construction “If we had went to that meeting.”

None of his colleagues say things like “if we had went,” and the fact that he does makes me see him as truthful in a way I don’t see the others as truthful. I see him as not “polished,” not “slick.”

I have no idea whether I should be making such judgments, of course (although I’m pretty sure the nothing-to-hide principle works in the case of education writers). 

But here’s my question: if a person wanted to fake authenticity by using non-standard grammar, could he or she do it ?

I’m pretty sure Katie can, but I’m pretty sure I can’t. 1

Which makes me think your average person can’t fake grammar. 

Your average person can lie.

Average people can lie about what they’re doing or thinking or planning or hiding.

But they can’t lie about what participles they use. 
.

1. Katie’s a linguist.