Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Banished words

The educators and PR folks at Lake Superior State University have released their 34th annual List of Words to Be Banished from the Queen's English for Mis-use, Over-use and General Uselessness.

Being from Ohio, I don't pay much attention to the happenings up there in that crazy mitten-shaped state (GO BUCKEYES!), but I like lists, and I like words, so I decided to have a peek at it. Of course, it took me the better part of ten minutes to get their web page to load, which did nothing to reverse my innate bias against all things Michigan. Then after perusing the list, I discovered that it is more a list of phrases (and one emoticon) than a simple list of words. Another point deducted.

Further deductions were given because of the list itself. While many of the entries are indeed annoying, I don't think these really merit banishment:
  • Icon/Iconic--what would we call those little pictures all over our computers?
  • Game Changer--I'd never heard this phrase until I read the list (maybe I don't watch enough CNN)
  • Staycation--it's not even a real word, so how can you ban it?
  • Desperate Search--I blame Nancy Grace for this one
  • Not So Much--I like this phrase. Period.
  • Winner of Five Nominations--how is this more annoying than winner of less than or more than five?
  • It's That Time of Year Again--there are plenty of things that only happen once a year!
It also struck me that several of the entries are only part of the lexicon thanks to one of the many gaffes committed by our current Commander in Chief:
  • Green--we had to have something to focus on other than the war in Iraq . . .
  • Carbon Footprint/Carbon Offsetting--see above
  • Maverick--without this phrase, how would we have been able to distinguish that McCain/Palin were any different from Bush/Cheney? (that's a joke, please no angry tirades)
  • Bailout--'nuff said
  • Wall Street/Main Street--see above
Some entries were just not worth getting worked up about:
  • First Dude--Was there ever any chance that anybody other than Sarah Palin would ever call her husband that (and somebody should explain to the Palins that the spouse of the VP is not the "first" anything)?
  • <3--Until technology advances to the point where emotion can be conveyed via email, I say leave the poor emoticons alone. ;)
This leaves one final entry on the LSSU list: Monkey. I refuse to live in a world without the word "monkey." I love monkeys. Without the word "monkey," my Christmas list would have taken much longer to write, as I would have had to enumerate the various types of monkey that I wanted: pygmy marmoset, capuchin, chimp, macaque . . . in fact, I wouldn't even be able to make my list, because many of my favorite monkeys have the word "monkey" in their name: squirrel monkey, howler monkey, spider monkey, helper monkey, flying monkey . . .

So now you know my opinion of LSSU's little list--what are your thoughts?

Tuesday, December 30, 2008


Just for the heck of it, I parted my hair on the opposite side today. Not only does it feel weird, but looking at myself in the mirror is like looking at a complete stranger who bears a striking resemblance to me.

The change has had another, less predictable result, which I just discovered when I sat down to type this post. Typing feels less natural, as though parting my hair on the wrong side has affected my left brain-right brain balance. My fingers are struggling to find the right keys. It is truly an odd sensation.

I'm wondering if it's safe for me to drive my car in this altered state, but I've got places to go and there's not enough time to redo my hair--be on the lookout for a news story about a woman in Central Ohio driving on the wrong side of the street!

This isn't what I intended to write about today . . . oh well. It's probably more interesting.

Monday, December 29, 2008

End of year thoughts

This is a reflective time of year for many, myself included. In the week since last I wrote, I've been thinking a bit about what I did right this year business-wise, what I could have done better, and what I hope the next year will bring. Being the list-making sort, I decided to type up my thoughts and post them here for all to see . . .

What I did right
  • Landed two really wonderful, fairly steady clients
  • Kept thorough books
  • Dumped one creative staffing firm for another, better one
  • Read a lot--books, magazines, other people's blogs
  • Took some good advice, and ignored some bad advice
  • Became much less negative
  • Stuck with freelancing even though it freaked my husband out
  • Started this blog
What I could have done better
  • Took advantage of more networking opportunities
  • Budgeted for the lean times
  • Put more thought into how much time and effort it takes to complete a project
  • Established ground rules for procrastinating clients about when I work and when I don't
  • Less sweating the small stuff
  • Gotten up earlier in the morning
What I hope 2009 will bring
  • Continued success
  • Steady work, and a contingency plan in case that doesn't happen
  • Happiness
  • Learning from my mistakes
  • Learning in general
  • Work-life balance
Happy New Year! Best of luck in 2009!

Monday, December 22, 2008

Happy Holidays!

I have decided to take the rest of the week off from blog-writing to focus on finishing up some projects and preparing for the holidays. See you next week!

Sorry if the video takes a while to load . . .
Send your own ElfYourself eCards

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Christmas shopping

I have work I should probably be doing, but I think I'm going to take the morning off and try to finish--or at least put a considerable dent in--my Christmas shopping. My list is color-coded for maximum efficiency, and the crowds shouldn't be too bad on a Thursday morning.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

The search is on

At the suggestion of Jeremy at (the company I work with to print proposals for the procrastinating client), I have been researching free PDF tools. When I was talking to him yesterday, I mentioned that I had downloaded a free trial of Adobe Acrobat, but that it expired last week. I really liked having the ability to add and delete pages from existing PDFs, and the edit and comment tools were handy too--but buying the Adobe software is not in my budget. He suggested I search for a freeware version.

I found an online PDF editing tool called PDFVue. It's free for six months, beyond which I would need to begin my search anew. I've not attempted to use it yet.

Do any of you use this or other free PDF tools? Do you have any suggestions, recommendations, warnings, etc. for me?

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Down to the wire

I am in the midst of putting to bed another proposal for the client who procrastinates (in all fairness and accuracy, it's not everybody I work with there who procrastinates, it's just one person). The proposal needs to be printed and shipped tomorrow, but I gave the client a deadline of 10:00 this morning (15 minutes after the writing of this post) to give me ample time to format, proofread and upload it to the printing company.

I am still waiting on two questions and the review of a third, but I am in a far better position than I was the last time I did a proposal for this client. I'm happy to report I am free of facial twitches and hypertensive episodes, and have not yet begun screaming obscenities at my monitor.

Monday, December 15, 2008

No good deed . . .

I gave blood yesterday. As good as it feels to help people in need, I think I may need to consider finding another way to help. Consider my track record:
  • I gave a pint on my last day at the cubefarm. Unfortunately, I neglected to eat enough beforehand so I almost fainted afterward (feel free to insert a joke about them bleeding me dry).
  • I often see signs for blood drives when I'm driving about, but conditions are never right for me to stop in (I'm on my way somewhere, I haven't eaten, etc.).
  • In May, my high school had an alumni blood drive. The phlebotomist forgot to attach what turned out to be a very crucial clamp, and I ended up bleeding all over my alma mater's gymnasium floor. So I got all the pain of donation (finger prick, needle stick and subsequent bruising) with none of the pleasure of knowing I helped somebody with my donation.
  • Yesterday's donation didn't go much better, but at least it counted. As I was being prepped to donate, the man on the bed next to me passed out mid-donation. When he came to, he freaked out a bit and ripped the needle out of his arm. Needless to say, this rattled my nerves a bit--so of course halfway through my donation, I got lightheaded. Fortunately, I was able to tell the phlebotomist in time and he leaned me back and let me finish in a reclined position. Then I was escorted to the snack area, where I was entertained by three Boy Scouts while I ate my Oreos and drank my water.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

A little closer

Today's earworm courtesy of the movie Elf, of which I watched two minutes last night: "Baby It's Cold Outside"

In less annoying news, I got a step or two closer to the Christmas spirit last night, at my client's Christmas party. Sixteen of us had dinner together in a private room at a nearby country club, which could have been stuffy and snooty if not for the fact that these people are in no way, shape or form "country club" people. In fact, the dinner was held at the club for one reason: the club is one of their clients, and offered to host the dinner in trade for some ad work.

I really love working with this client. They are the nicest, most down-to-earth people you'd ever want to meet. And they genuinely like each other, and like working together. Such a change from the back-stabbing corporate world I grew to hate at the cubefarm job.

I brought my husband, and in the car on the way home he said "that's a good bunch of people." I couldn't agree more!

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Ho ho hum

I need to get in the Christmas spirit. I started my shopping this past weekend, but that certainly didn't help (crowds of cranky people with no respect for the concept of personal space--joy to the world!). I've heard enough Christmas carols to last a lifetime, and all that did was give me a new and more annoying bunch of earworms (and right on queue, my brain strikes up a chorus of "I Want a Hippopotamus for Christmas"). I tried to watch "A Charlie Brown Christmas" last night but it seemed there were more commercial breaks than television program.

Maybe this weekend will mark the tipping point. I plan to decorate the house and get a tree, and I'm getting together with some of my relatives for dinner and an ornament exchange. I'll also have an opportunity to help out a bit at our local food pantry. If all those holiday activities don't do it, I may need professional assistance!

How do you get into the spirit of the season?

Monday, December 8, 2008

The ghost of posts past

I received a notification late last week that I had a new comment on a blog post I wrote back in August . . . this particular blog post is one of my most-visited and prompted two follow-up posts--one later that month and one in October.

Allow me to summarize for you if you don't feel like following the links to the old posts: I responded to a Craigslist ad for some project work only to get a canned response (with a typo) telling me to upload my resume to I was suspicious, and said so. I received a handful of comments from people who received the same auto-response and were equally suspicious, and the post was viewed by dozens of others who didn't comment (all found my post after doing some type of search engine search for In the first follow-up post, I admitted to getting fooled a second time, and in the October post I wrote about my concerns about the value and/or validity of

When I first read the comment, I thought the anonymous author actually was the person responsible for the offending Craigslist ad, but after a few reads I wonder if they are just another recipient of the auto response who wanted to let me know that while the game is still afoot, at least the typo had been fixed:
The typo about they/their on the auto reply has been fixed.

I've set up a separate Gmail account for Craigslist and a couple of blogs. I give my qualifications in general terms and let them know that due to the fraud on Craigslist, I will respond with complete information after they provide information and I can research. Why would you forward a complete resume right away, knowing that scum are out there?

I found your blog while researching tonight.
Why would I forward my resume when responding to an ad on Craigslist? Because I was looking for project work and assumed the ad was legit. Silly me. I'll not make that mistake again, I assure you.

Friday, December 5, 2008

My horse has a receding gum line

I know better than to look a gift horse in the mouth (does the title make sense now?), but I have to wonder if $240 for 2 hours and 20 minutes of work is really worth 5 hours and 40 minutes of thumb-twiddling for me or my client . . .

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Bits and pieces

Nothing specific to write about today, so this will just be a ramblin' piece.
  • There's a Christmas card for sale that features two young women in conversation on the cover. The word bubble over one's head says "Where's the holiday party at?" The word bubble over the other's head says "You shouldn't end a sentence in a preposition." The inside of the card says "Where's the holiday party at, bitch?" Made me laugh.
  • I will be filling in for the copy editor tomorrow and Friday, so I may not get to post again until Monday.
  • I've been invited to the holiday party that one of my clients is having. I'm looking forward to it, because they're a fun bunch of people!
  • I have to do my bookkeeping for last month. Bleh.
  • Check out's Feed It Forward site. From now until Christmas, they are offering free restaurant gift certificates. Once you register, you can send $10 gift certificates by email to friends, family, whomever. You're limited to three per day, but it's still a pretty cool idea.

Tuesday, December 2, 2008


Lori's comment on yesterday's post got me thinking . . . why did I get so worked up about my client's procrastination? I was working for them, not vice-versa. I did everything I was supposed to do, when I was supposed to do it. The time crunch was their fault. If the proposal hadn't been completed on time it would have been their fault, not mine.

So I guess what really upsets me is the disregard for my time. The lack of understanding that their procrastination had a big impact on my weekend. I didn't want to spend my weekend checking my email and fretting when I didn't see the missing piece of the puzzle in my inbox. I didn't want to cut short my errands yesterday because I got a text message saying the information had finally been sent. But I did, because I was keeping up my end of the bargain. So maybe instead of feeling angry, I should feel proud that despite being treated like my time didn't matter, I still did what I had to do to help my client succeed.

And next time, I'll crack the whip a little harder and hold them to their end of the deal.

Monday, December 1, 2008


I spent my entire weekend waiting for one of my clients to send me the last little bit of information I need to complete a project. I had hoped to receive it early Friday so that I didn't have to wait until the last minute to get everything together, but was told at 5:30 that I would get it over the weekend. I need to send it to the printer ASAP this morning.

Procrastination really sucks when you're the procrastinatee instead of the procrastinator.