The most impactful vocabulary hacks you, like, need, going forward, because you only live once and it is what it is. Literally.

This also a Lucky 13, but the title was too long already.

Disclaimer: I know a lot of people hate selfie and hashtag, but those words did not make this list. My reasoning is that they mean specific things, and therefore have valid places in our language. They are new, but so are the things they describe. I think #using #hashtags to #makeapoint in a #conversation is #stupid, and there are some people who share way too many selfies, sure. But the words themselves are not misused or overused. Not yet, anyway.

Lists are fun. I’m a list person. Ranting is fun too. Here are the overused and misused words and phrases that get my hackles up the worst:

13. Literally

This has been bitched about so often that I shouldn’t have to.

“I’m literally going to squeeze your head off your neck with my bare hands. “


I’m going to keep doing whatever I’m doing that irritates you so much while you go look up hyperbole.

I’ll wait.

12. Like

And its best friends, whatever and you know. I somewhat expect these transgressions from a gum-popping, slack-jawed* teenager. It’s disturbing how often I hear it from adults.

Teenagers and adults can, like, sound more thoughtful and, you know, intelligent by, like, making conversational pauses, like, silent. And whatever.

11. ATM Machine

From the Department of Redundancy Department. ATM means “automated teller machine.” “ATM machine” means “automated teller machine machine.” It’s just an ATM.

I have the same complaint about “PIN number.” PIN means “personal identification number.” No need to say “number” twice.

As for chatspeak, wherein “ATM” means “at the moment,” why not just say “now?” It’s the same number of letters and means the same thing.

10. OCD

As in,  “I’m OCD about keeping my car clean. ” OCD does not mean particular or fussy. OCD is the abbreviation for obsessive-compulsive disorder, as found in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, used by psychologists,  psychiatrists, and other mental health professionals. Saying “OCD” instead of  picky belittles a health condition that  can be debilitating and agonizing. OCD does not mean fastidious

The preceding paragraph contains four words that can be used instead of “OCD” that sound a lot more intelligent.

9. Going Forward

This pointless buzzword-corporate-speak adds no meaning to what is being said. Chop it off the sentence, and the sentence means exactly the same thing. Of course we are implementing this new strategy going forward. If we could do it going backward, we wouldn’t need to implement it at all. Time travel paradox, anyone?

8. I Feel You

No, you don’t. You empathize with me, or you sympathize with me, or you are in a similar situation.  I appreciate the commiseration, but my husband is the only one allowed to feel me. Keep your hands to yourself, or you will certainly feel my elbow in your face.

7. Impactful

What cretin thought this up?  It’s cute-ish if your grade-schooler threw it out while fumbling for the correct word. Adults who use this non-word sound like they don’t bother to do their own thinking.

6. Hot Water Heater

Why? You don’t need to heat hot water. It’s just a water heater.

My son, Monster, breaks out in hives when someone says to “preheat the oven.” He maintains it’s either heated or it’s not. You don’t heat it before you heat it. Just heat the damned oven.


Short for “you only live once.” This nitwittery is usually used to justify behaving irresponsibly, as in “I’m about to add $250 to my already groaning credit card balance for [insert name of conspicuous consumerism item] that I don’t need and can’t afford. “

Besides, whether we live only once has not been established. I happen to believe in reincarnation.

4. It Is What It Is

You mean, it’s not what it isn’t?  Are you sure?

Socrates nailed the Law of Identity a couple of thousand years ago. I’m well aware of what the situation is. I’m not questioning a potential tautology; I’m just griping. Offer me a fresh insight or a solution or a therapeutic glass of Argentinian red, not a trite platitude that has ceased to mean anything. 

3. That Awkward Moment

. ..when you said “that awkward moment” to post to Facebook or Twitter about something that wasn’t awkward, just because you wanted to be cool and say “that awkward moment.”

It’s not clever anymore. Let it go.

2. Baby Bump

This sounds like prepubescent boys snickering behind their hands. It’s juvenile. Please stop.

And the #1 offender…drum roll, please…

1. Hack

They have taken over the media, these stupid hacks. Kitchen hacks. Gardening hacks. Office hacks. Ikea is not a hack; it’s a merchandiser. This dinner hack that “has millennials ditching delivery” by…having the advertised product delivered. Not only is that not a hack, it’s bassackward. Knowing how to change a tire is not a road trip hack; it’s common sense for anyone who drives a car. Not to mention that the concept of a mix tape/CD has been around for, what, 30 years? Not a hack. It does make me a little bit sad that I will never see the article that claims beating my heart is a health hack, because that would be so funny as to be utterly hysterical, but I have decided I will no longer read anything with the word “hack” in the title.** That’s how stupid it is.

I went to Synonym Finder and to find some words to use in place of the idiotic hack, and guess what? They list synonyms for 16 different meanings of hack, none of which are the debatable genius of using a paper clip to make a DIY convertible bra. Why? Because it’s not a hack! No! No hack! There is no boob hack there!

Being efficient or clever or even innovative does not make you Gary McKinnon. Breaking into and shutting down the computer systems of the US military and NASA from 3,500 miles away – not ethical, no, but that is a hack.

But on a good note: Today I heard a radio ad that promoted a food as “nutritious” rather than the grammatically incorrect and ubiquitous “healthy.” I almost swooned with happiness.

* It seems contradictory, but teenagers really can pull off popping gum while being slack-jawed. Covertly observe them sometime in their natural habitat, like a mall or a FEMA zone of a bedroom.

**Unless I’m actively looking for moronic things because I need to feel smarter. Some days are like that.

The One You Love by Paul Pilkington (Book Review)

The One You Love (Emma Holden Suspense Mystery, #1)The One You Love by Paul  Pilkington
My rating: 1 of 5 stars

Did I get the same download everyone else did? I’m not seeing near the quality others seem to see. This is quite possibly the most poorly written book I’ve read in my life. I mean that. I have a rule about not finishing badly written books, because life is short and there’s just too much good stuff out there, but I wanted to see if this literally was the worst book I’d ever read. I’m pretty sure it was.


“I have to do this.” “If it helps me find out,  then it’s worth it.” “If I don’t go in there now,  I’ll regret it later.” “I can’t let things go without trying to find out for sure.” “I am scared but I still have to do this.” “I can’t take not knowing.” “I have to do something.” “It’s the chance I have to take.” “We’re here now,  let’s do it.” “There’s only one way to find out.” “I have to check it out.” “She would have to go down there in the dark, or give up.”

Over and over and over.

And then there was the interminable build-up to the deep dark terrible something that happened in the deep dark past. Dunh-dunh-DUUUUUNNNNHHH. The constant almost-tells weren’t suspenseful; they were just annoying. To be fair, I should concede their effectiveness, as they kept me reading to find out if the big bad secret was worth all the buildup. It wasn’t.

The characters’ lackwittedness was amazing. Emma in particular is a beanbrain. She accosts a photographer and forcibly takes the film from his camera, then turns the pics over to the police. Okay. But on the other hand, she doesn’t turn in her vanished fiance’s phone after it mysteriously turns up in her father’s mailbox, reasoning the police wouldn’t know what to do with it. Puh-leeze. Very little of what the characters do and say makes much sense. They are not developed at all, and seem to do things only as devices to push the story forward.

There is no sense of place. I know I was in London because I was specifically told that several times, but I did not feel London.

Another peeve: what is wrong with telling me that a character “said” something? In this book they noted, stated, admitted, conceded, countered, revealed, insisted, interrupted, suggested, lied, confirmed, announced, prompted, commented, reiterated, queried, lamented, comforted…ad nauseum.

I wish I had a dollar for every time I read this identical sentence: “I don’t know,” Emma admitted. I could take myself out for a nice meal.

Overall, it was like reading a soap opera script that was written by a teenager. I could easily see the dramatic downstage turns and the backlighting and the generically staged and propped sets. The book was mostly dialogue, and that dialogue was cheesy and unnatural and overdramatic.

I hate cliffhanger endings that don’t bring the story to a close. The only writer I’ve ever read who can get away with that is Tolkien. Don’t try to manipulate me into buying the next book. Make me want to buy the next one, by doing a good job with this one.


I appreciate a book that is not riddled with misspellings and grammatical errors, so thank you for that.

Nice short chapters and good stopping points. I like to pause reading at the ends of chapters and I dislike endlessly long chapters.

It was a page-turner, if only because I wanted to see if things could get any more ridiculous.

The storyline wasn’t bad; it was the execution that wasn’t good.

It was free. I have found some gems in the Amazon free list, but this time I got what I paid for. I will not be reading the rest of the trilogy.

View all my reviews

#1000Speak: Every Connection Counts

This month’s #1000Speak post sneaked up on me. On Saturday afternoon I wasn’t even sure what I was going to write about, but I brewed a fresh cup of hot tea and sat down to write anyway, when my husband’s phone rang. I heard him through the open window, answer “Wazzup?” as he always does, and then his tone changed. I knew it was bad. I went out on the deck in time to hear both sides of the conversation: my husband’s brother had killed himself.
Even the birds were silent.
This is not a story about addiction or mental illness; those factors don’t add to this tragedy. It is the story of a man who had buried his wife only weeks before, the wife he’d loved as much as life as itself, and without whom he could not go on. I believe he did not leave this life so much as he chose to follow her into the next one.
I am not second-guessing, or recriminating, or blaming, or guilt-tripping. I cannot presume any of those things. All I can know is that they were both wonderful people. They were deeply loved and will be deeply missed.
And these musings bring me back to this month’s #1000Speak topic: Connections. How precious they are, how fragile, and how strong, even between the worlds, and how aware of them I have been of late.

As part of my coursework this quarter, I am up to my eyeballs in the subject of domestic abuse. It has swept me back to my own time in that hell, with all the fear and loathing. Each situation is unique, but all have one thing in common, and that is isolation. Abusers actively work to cut off their victims from the rest of the world and what they don’t accomplish intentionally is achieved by other dynamics. The rest of the world begins to say, “Well, she must like it there or she wouldn’t stay.” Like so many others, I believed I was looked down on for getting myself into such a situation, and for failing to get myself out of it. Shame and pride can indeed be bedfellows. All of this adds up to someone who needs help desperately and effectively has nowhere to go for it. Connections cut.

If you have not lived through an abusive relationship, please believe me when I tell you that what you may see is only the very tip of the iceberg. There is a violent storm under what may seem to be a calm surface, a storm you cannot know unless you are the one living it.
Would you help if they asked you? Be sure you let them know that. Don’t assume they “should just know it.”
Keep holding out that helping hand. If the connection is there, they will use it when they are ready.

The other thing that jumps straight to my mind when I think of connection are my children. Monster is unique, one of those easy-to-raise kids everybody loved, a charismatic overachiever who seems extra blessed somehow. We are eight hundred miles apart these days, but the connection is always there. Both busy with work and school, we may not talk for weeks but when we do, it’s just picking up the same conversation. He and I are always and effortlessly connected.

With Dream Girl, it’s rather different. I love her no less, and I probably know her more intimately. She has had a multitude of issues, none of them her fault, including crippling anxiety and a father who (apparently) fell off the planet several years ago. Dream Girl has had a rougher time with finding herself and molding herself through her teenage years, and it often seems that for months on end we do nothing but argue. She doesn’t like the situation any more than I do; she feels just as frustrated, just as unheard. She and I both take the same tactic to avoid it: we just don’t speak to each other. We love each other so much we’d rather be silent than be hurtful.
Sometimes the best way to keep the connection is to just let it go. For now. Seize the moments when they come — and they do. It will not always be this way and when things change, our connection is waiting for us.

Several months ago at the ripe old age of 52, I connected with my birthmother. I was giddy with excitement, and terrified. What if we had nothing in common? What if we didn’t like each other? What if she didn’t want anything to do with me? What if I was making a big mistake? I was so wonderfully, happily surprised to find that the connection there, and it was almost instant. Many things about me are nature, but others are definitely nurture. It has been a joy to have her in my life, and there was another, unexpected gift: In making the connection with my birth-mom, I rediscovered connections with my mom-mom. How blessed I am to be connected to both!

Connection waxes and wanes, like the phases of the moon. Too much is a leash; too little is slow death by starvation. Finding the right connection — the right strength, the right medium, the right touch — can take years to learn, or it can be effortless, like two jigsaw puzzle pieces locking together. The love any one of us feels for the others in our lives can never be duplicated by any other two people, making love infinite in its variety, for all the billions of loves between all the billions of people.  No two people can ever love exactly the same way. No two connections can ever be the same. Some are fleeting, others are timeless, and none is any less important than any other. We may never know when the tiniest, most fleeting of connections may save a life – or when the lack may cost one.

All connections matter. These connections, whether a lifelong bond between husband and wife or a moment of kindness and compassion between two strangers, are what give humanity the power to be what I hope it will someday be: one race, the human race, all aware of the connectedness each of us has with all others as we share and care for this beautiful green planet we call home.

Photo credits, in order of appearance:
Tin can phone: t s Beall and many others
Women holding hands: Valerie Everett, Creative Commons
Shadow women: Justice Beitzel, Creative Commons
World hands: #1000Speak

Tired of people playing the race card? Try taking it out of the deck.

“There they go, playing the race card again.”
Let’s be clear. I’m not even talking about individual attitudes. Any person may say, “I’m not racist,” and it may or may not be true. I can’t see into your heart or your mind, and I don’t care. I’m sure an individual person of color can go through life knowing an individual white bigot hates them and really not give a crap.
 That’s not the point of this post.
Prejudice is the individual attitude, fueled by upbringing, fear, ignorance, and, all too often, the twisted and uglified teachings of a prophet, a prophet seen as a messiah, who was probably a pretty righteous guy and who would be spinning in his grave if he hadn’t risen from it. (And by the way, I’m still waiting for people to tell me two things. The first is where in the Bible it says to hate people whose skin is different from yours. The second is where they get the idea that Jesus was white, considering he was a Jew of Middle Eastern lineage born some 2,000 years ago. I’m just sayin.’)
When we speak of racism in this country, we are talking about an institutionalized, systematic, national attitude. You truly may not hold prejudice toward people of color, but if you are white in America, you benefit from living in a society that is geared toward keeping people of color down. If you’re not aware of this, think about the fact that you have the luxury of not having to be aware of it. A large percentage of our population does have to think about the color of their own skin in almost every way they interact in our society, on pretty much a daily basis. That is what racism is.
Educational researcher Jean Anyon did a groundbreaking and seminal study spanning 25 years that followed the curriculum and methods of teaching in different schools in one district, and what she found was astounding.  Yes, the education system is where the racist system starts.  At the inner-city schools, the ones attended by students who were generally of color and generally poorer, teaching centered around step A, step B, step C, until you come to the right answer, which had better match what’s in the answer key in the teacher’s book. No creative thinking or development of individual ingenuity. No thinking outside the box. Color inside the lines. When you move up to private schools and the public schools in more affluent neighborhoods, even within the same school district, teaching centers around the study of history and applying it to the world today, critical thinking, problem-solving, free association to create new things.  Even the SAT’s are racist, when you factor in the difference in curricula and that only the wealthy parents can afford SAT coaches for their children, to boost their chances for admission to a prestigious college. Put simply, poorer students, primarily kids of color, are being mass-educated to fill lower-paying jobs. More affluent, and therefore predominantly white, students are educated toward better colleges and white-collar, managerial jobs and high-status professions. Racist.
You want that angry black man to get a proper education and better himself? Start paying teachers the same salaries from one district to the next. Start teaching all of America’s students how to succeed. Start funding schools on a per capita basis.
In my state, for health care access determination, they just dropped the poverty line, redefining what poverty is, a typical government solution. Don’t want to solve the problem? Just adjust the parameters that make it a problem. There, all fixed. The low wages haven’t been raised, and the costs for necessities like food and housing haven’t gone down. But it’s been officially declared that poor people can somehow now afford these things, just because they moved the line. And with the majority of poor people being people of color, guess who just took another blow in their struggle to get and keep access to basic health care, decent housing, and food? Right. Racist.
Then there’s finance. Of course it is illegal to deny a mortgage or other financing to anyone based on their race. That’s discrimination. Guess what else is illegal, but goes on all the time? Denying financing to people based upon address. It’s called redlining, and it targets not specific people, but people who live in certain geographical areas. People in those neighborhoods are denied insurance coverage, home and auto loans, jobs, and other things the rich and the white take for granted, not because of their employment or creditworthiness or potential for success, but simply because of where they live. Guess who lives in those neighborhoods? The poorer people, single mothers and people of color.  Racist.
Affirmative Action. How many times have you heard, “Oh, he’s the token black.” Here’s the scoop on what Affirmative Action is, and what it’s not. Decades ago, it was deduced that minorities were not getting their fair shake at going after good jobs because job listings were posted only where people of privilege would have access to them: the men’s room, say, or the break room, or the bulletin board of a sister company. Posted, in other words, where other white men (not women, and not people of color) were likely to see them. Affirmative Action is simply the requirement that all people shall be given an equal opportunity to apply for the job. To do that, they need to know it exists and be told what the application process is.Affirmative Action does not require that minorities be hired; only that they have a chance. Affirmative Action is not a quota system. Quotas are discriminatory, and illegal. Hell, it’s still perfectly possibly to discriminate racially even with Affirmative Action; all a hiring manager has to do is pick the white guy, even though the black one was more qualified. If you want to read something about the white attitude of entitlement, check out sociologist Michael Kimmel’s article, “A Black Woman Took My Job.” Racist.
Sure, we have laws against discrimination. But when a law isn’t enforced, what kind of a law is it? It’s going to take a lot more than lip service to fix this corrupt system.
No, I don’t approve of the intentional destruction of other people’s property. But — I have mentioned before that I have the kind of temper that at full boil can only be assuaged by the sound of breaking glass — I absolutely understand why people are rioting. To paraphrase a very dear friend of mine: When you keep a certain group of people face down for decades, centuries, and the talking and the talking and the legislation and the talking doesn’t change anything — something’s going to give. When you have been hated and acted against — financially, legislatively, educationally, socially, violently — persistently and consistently and vengefully — something’s going to give. 
Are riots right? No. Are they effective? You bet. One way or another, people in America are paying attention just lately, what with Trayvon Martin and Michael Brown and Freddie Gray and so many others.
Hey, if that’s what it takes.
I am so sick of this phrase I want to hit people when I hear it: “There they go, playing the race card.” You know what? Every time a person of color is born in this society, they are dealt that race card. I’m pretty sure they would much rather have true equality than a card that usually doesn’t get them a fair deal anyway.
If you don’t want people playing the card, take it out of the deck.
Eliminate the racism.
It’s that simple. 
And, just so we remember that it all starts with each one of us: