What I Learned from my Goldfish Today

What I’ve learned from my goldfish today… You can not underestimate space and camouflage.

The feral goldfish in my backyard pond have had babies after all. I thought it would be impossible for any fish fry (babies) born out there to survive the adult goldfish, the frogs and toads and the assorted birds and other predators who wander by. But, they are there. Yesterday I was looking at the pond on a quiet day when the water was very clear. I noticed two new goldfish, smaller than the others. I really knew they were new because they are brown/ bronzed coloured. Until now there were only two fish in the pond that colour, now there are four. I don’t know goldfish genetics enough to know if the bronze fish are the lucky parents but it does seem bronze is the right colour for natural selection in a backyard pond.

Anyway, with enough space to find food and shelter (and the right camouflage) two baby goldfish have survived the Spring and Summer season.  It was really nice to see them. I won’t go so far as to claim they are cute but they are alive and that’s an achievement in itself!

Write something where camouflage is an essential element to survival. Don’t just think about jungle scenarios. Where does camouflage fit into urban life? How could some element of that be added to an urban story?

Also, why does camouflage have so many letters? It’s a spelling hazard. The goldfish don’t have an answer for that one.

Writer Heal Thyself

We all make little mistakes. It seems the longer and the more you write the more mistakes you make – and take for granted. I think we just get used to thinking we know what we are doing.

Being your own editor can only get you so far. Every now and then have someone else look over something you have written. Get them to spot check your grammar, your over use of any certain word(s), your punctuation and spelling.

Of course, pick a day when you are able to listen to their critique. You can’t ask for help and then argue with them or defend yourself as if you have just been personally attacked. When you ask for help accept it graciously. You can be sure you will need help again.

Make note of everything they tell you and keep it all in mind when you write again. You might notice how right they are once it has been pointed out to you.

We all Know Boys Have Cooties…

As we all know, boys have cooties (kooties, not sure on the official spelling). It’s not their fault, it just happens that when they reach a certain age boys stop being cute and sweet and just get cootified. No girl in her right mind would want to kiss one of them.

The strange thing is, no one has actually seen a cootie. I’ve asked around and none of the girls and women seem to have found a cootie on any boy. That doesn’t mean they aren’t there. My Great Grandmother told me boys have cooties and she wouldn’t lie about a thing like that.

So draw a cootie. Whatever your level of illustrating skill you can come up with some theory of what a cootie looks like.

This will be a big help to those girls and women who still want to kiss boys, at risk of getting cooties themselves.

Note to the boys: Most of us still like you, even though you do have cooties.

I’m So Tired…

I’m so tired….

  • If I fell into a vat of quicksand I’d be ok with it as long as it’s warm quicksand.
  • If I fall down I know I’m not getting back up and I don’t care.
  • The sensible, left side of my brain has been asleep six hours already. I’m sure I’m only dreaming all of this.
  • I just wrote an email that looks like I was spelling it in a foreign language.

How many unique versions of “I’m so tired…” can you come up with?

Spelling Lesson for Grammarians

I try not to be a grammarian or spellarian myself. It’s not easy to resist the temptation to teach someone but I know most people won’t feel that way about it. Most people see it as being corrected, not taught. That makes it easier to resist telling them to fix their spelling. But, one thing I often notice is how often the grammarian’s spell a lot as one word. It’s not. Alot is not a word. It’s actually two words all too often combined. Alot is not a compound word, it’s just wrong, bad spelling but easily fixed. So, if you tend to give in to your urge to teach spelling remember not to make this simple mistake yourself. Just a note for the day to the grammarians out there. Of course, it’s my chance to teach spelling too. Hard to pass that up.

Spelling Style

Spelling is tricky all on it’s own. When you throw in different languages and cultures it gets down right complicated.

First, consider English and American spelling. Then throw in Canadian spelling, which is some combination of the two. Same for other countries in the commonwealth.

Have you seen words spelt with an s instead of a z? You would if you were English or from South Africa. Do you see words with a u in them or without a u in them? You would see them with added u if you were English or Canadian.

Which is right? How do you know which spelling to use? Will people think you just don’t know how to spell? Possibly.

But the world is a big place, if you were writing locally you would spell for your readers. But, when you are writing on the Internet, your readers come from all over the world. Which spelling should you choose?

First, talk to your publisher or editor. Find out what they use for a standard. They call those style guides. It’s a good idea for publications to have one. Not just for different spelling issues. If you’re more or less on your own as for style, go with what comes naturally to you. It’s hard to remember to spell a different way. Likely you’ll miss a few anyway. You may hear from the odd reader who thinks you don’t know how to spell. But, that just gives you something to chat about in your reply to them.

Is spelling an art or a science? I think I’ll leave that as thought fodder for you.

Time to Buy a New Dictionary

When did you last buy/ get a new dictionary? How about a thesaurus? Maybe you splurged and got a rhyming dictionary too?

I especially like playing around with my thesaurus. But, tonight, I discovered how out of touch my trusty dictionary is. In fact, good old trusty is down right rusty. There is no ergonomics in my dictionary. Sure, I can spell check it with Lotus Word but it’s just not the same. If you can’t rely on your hand held print dictionary what is life coming to?

It’s coming to the point where I will sacrifice a few (few dozen likely) bucks and buy myself a shining new, updated dictionary. Now, the question is which company to choose from. The current oldie is a Funk and Wagnalls I bought for college English classes. At the time it was the best choice between wordiness and thriftiness.

However, I’m not a college student any more. Now, I’m actually making real cash money every other week. I’ll stick with paperback. It’s easier to transport around and find space for. I can’t imagine hauling out some hard, huge book every time I get the urge to look up something.

Another credential for my dictionary will be Canadian spellings. I’m Canadian and I intend to go on spelling like one. If anyone can’t understand it they can just pull out a dictionary of their own.

While I’m dictionary shopping this weekend I’ll peek at the thesaurus too. It’s more fun than the stuffy old dictionary anyway.

So, how old is your dictionary? Can you find ergonomics?