Good news for our free users! Vocab Vitamins is opening up the audio pronunciation and archives for the last week to all users. Now, everyone can hear the daily word pronounced out loud and review the last five words in the archives. Please help us out by letting us know if there is anything wonky in the next couple of days with emails or the website. We are shifting our membership model and there will be some additional changes over the next couple of weeks. We are excited to provide a more useful service to our users and would love to hear your comments.
There are many benefits to running a small operation. No office politics, no dress code and decisions are not made by committee. However, there are also countless drawbacks. A significant one is that when my personal life goes through a major milestone, such as moving house and traveling, Vocab Vitamins feels the ramifications of the time crunch.
Well, I am back to let you know that I have not drowned in the ether and that Vocab Vitamins will be coming back to life over the next couple of weeks.
Our television forefathers would be in awe of the convoluted, multi-year storylines that run through our contemporary tv programs. Compared to the plastic, immutable characters of the early era, today’s characters are four dimensional beings who happen to live their very interesting lives on screen.
It became painfully obvious during the recent writers strike that tv people need thousands of writers working behind the scenes to orchestrate who they fall for next, who they slice open on the operating table, what kind of murderer they will wipe off the face of the earth this week. Perhaps our lives would also be equally fascinating if we had a cadre of ‘life writers’, but I digress.
As the strike wore on, production stopped and the networks were faced with running the shows they had, then switching to re-runs or the glorious excrement that is reality tv.
And then something very interesting happened. It was as if all the living, breathing people in tv land slowed, then sat down. They lay their hands on their lap and contemplatively watched the real world move past them. Then they hollowed out, they froze. They became still, impotent mannequins, stuck without a story to give them life-force.
And yet, their loss became our gain. In the real world, all of a sudden, people were no longer tied to the ongoing story in tv land. They were free of it and had more time, more brain space, more real life force.
And now they are waking up, regaining color, trickling back. Are you taking them back in?
Hello and happy holidays to all! Everyone and their cat is doing best-of-2007 lists. We thought we would do something a little different and ask you what was your personal favorite of the books you read in 2007. It could have been written at any time, but read or re-read by you in 2007. Here’s to reading a multitude of amazing books and learning many new words in 2008!Review Software Purchase - Store Download Software - Products Software Cheap - Cheapest Discount Here - Brands Software Discount - Software Review Brands
“Whether you think you can or you think you can’t, you are right!” - Henry Ford
I have been blessed with a little girl. I know that I speak for 99% of parents when I say that I could not have imagined a more perfect child. I love her endlessly. I am doing everything in my limited human power to ensure that she thrives and grows up happy, intelligent and kind. Of course, this is a tall order for an inexperienced parent, and like countless generations of parents before me, in addition to consulting books and grandparents, I am mulling over my own childhood experiences to glean the bits of wisdom that may help me get there.
I recently came across an article that resonated so strongly with me as a person, parent and Vocab Vitamins editor, that I am forced to share it with you here. The article is entitled: “The Secret to Raising Smart Kids,” but it is not fundamentally about how to implant your children in the Ivy League, but rather how to give your children the outlook to be able to tackle the challenges in their lives with confidence and achieve Success.
The article discusses the unpredictable and tragic consequences of calling a child ’smart’, namely that children will see intellect as a static attribute doled out at birth. The danger of this perspective is that when the going gets tough in any endeavor, intellectual or otherwise, such children believe that they have reached the limit of their natural ability and become hopeless. Children who are praised for their effort or acquired skills develop a flexible view of intelligence and ability and are more likely to put the necessary effort into a difficult problem and ultimately succeed.
I attended special schools or special programs throughout my education. My junior high school had ‘for the Gifted and Talented’ attached to its name. We were not geniuses, just kids who were excelling. It was a public school, and it was obvious that the powers that be tried to give us a boost with those loaded ‘gifted/talented’ words. But I bet many kids like myself walked away with the sad assumption that we have ‘X’ amount of gift and talent. I acutely remember thinking at many points in my education, ‘If I have to work so hard, I am not smart enough for this. I give up.’
Our American culture, in general, places great value on inborn talent, and much less value on hard-earned gains. In our society, it is embarrassing to try hard for a B, but somehow less embarrassing to do nothing for a B-. Actually, we don’t want our kids to work hard at all. School is embarrassingly easy until college. Parents complain about too much homework, and we never let our kids really flex their developing brain muscles, and show us what they are truly capable of — through hard work.
The highest hope I have for my daughter is that I can help her see how strong and capable she really is. And to start that process, I intend to praise her for her for effort, praise her for trying and failing, for doing her best, for working hard, for not taking no as a final answer, for carving her own path.
And this goes for adults too. Think you are bad at something? Stop giving excuses and work on it. Want to truly excel at something? Roll up your sleeves! With true effort, you have the power to change everything: how quickly you read, how well you eat, how far and fast you can run, how well you manage anxiety, time, deliverables, how much you weigh, and how ’smart’ you are. Can everyone become Shakespeare? No. But who knows how far one can get?
Pride in knowing that you are trying your best and the confidence that you *can* succeed with effort, will be your armor against all difficulty and setbacks.
Go get ‘em, Sasha!
As you know, we have been in the throes of correcting a system time problem on our server. The first problem we fixed was responsible for a mysterious late delivery time on our emails. This, unfortunately spawned another problem. All of a sudden, our words were being sent a full 8 hours earlier than they should have been. Eight hours essentially got us into ‘the day before’ territory, so words were being sent on Sunday when no words exist for Sundays. Just when we thought it was fixed, the blank words demon struck again.
I assure you that we are not “speechless” or on a lovely hiatus in the Bahamas. The words are still there, Monday through Friday. Please see the today’s word page:
Our system administrator, despite his brilliance, is still chasing this one down. Apparently, there are three or more system time and/or time zone settings that have been responsible for this mess.
We are switching over to complete manual sending until things are 100% fixed. Thank you for your patience!
Fix one problem, get another!
We have had many a mysterious complaint about the timestamp on our emails. You have been telling us that the emails have been coming late, but we know full well that they were being sent on time.
The server time was correct, and it was one of the first things I checked to try to unravel this mystery. So, our talented sys admin tackled the issue and discovered that our server time was time zone agnostic.
He fixed it and viola, the emails started coming on time! Unfortunately, fixing the problem and changing the time zone also changed when our server ran the script that sends out words. At that time, the word data had not yet been updated and the word came out blank! Please accept our apologies for the error!
I am not a native speaker of English. I learned it when I came to to the US from the Ukraine. I was only 8 and within a year I was fluent, but it took me decades to learn some of the funny slang terms that friends of mine would pull from what seemed the deepest canyons of their gray matter. I would look at them in utter confusion. What did you just say? Many of the expressions just struck me as completely ridiculous and nonsensical. For example, take “cry uncle” when asking for help or giving up. Uncle? Who calls their uncle in moments of pain or desperation? Crying for mom, dad, a brother, or sister would make infinitely more sense. Apparently, I was not the only one who thought American slang expressions were just a little too absurd.
Daniel Cassidy, who had a healthy dose of curiosity and the right ethic background, has solved the mystery! He has traced many American slang terms to Irish words. The tricky thing is that we did not just incorporate Irish words into our language, but we Anglicized many of them — keeping the original Irish meaning and substituting English words for the sounds. According to Cassidy, “cry uncle” is from “cry anacal” and anacal means mercy in Irish. And I am beside myself in excitement that “gee whiz” and “holy cow” and “holy mackerel” also appear to have roots in some LOGIC!!!
So this St. Patrick’s Day, over a pint of green beer or a bite of green bagel, you can celebrate a newly polished link in the American-Irish chain.
Here is the Times article:
Humdinger of a Project: Tracing Slang to Ireland
As technophiles, we here at Vocab Vitamins love the fact that so much data is now at the tip of our busy, fast-typing fingers. But as enthusiastic as we are about the web and its wonders, we still firmly believe in the magic of books. Yes, even English Reference books. I am specifying ‘English’ here lest these reference books get lumped together with the tragedy of the long dead and buried encyclopedia (26 volumes, outdated as soon as they are printed for heavens sake!!). Our language is a living creature that grows and morphs measurably on an annual basis, but it is still a entity that is well served by a printed volume.
Although we do mostly use online resources, the Vocab Vitamins office holds several delicious tomes: the Webster’s Unabridged, the American Heritage, the Barnhart Concise Dictionary of Etymology and the recently added Rodale Synonym Finder. The Webster’s measures four inches thick, but our new Synomym Finder hardcover buddy is much more easily wielded. And wield it we will.
In comparison with Thesaurus.com and Bartelby.com, this is a slower, less comprehensive method of finding a suitable synonym. Also, this nifty book leans heavily on your vocabulary knowledge, as no actual definitions are given, just a list of synonyms. We all know that no two words in the English language mean exactly the same thing. There is always a shade of variance, a nuance that justifies the existence of both. So, you could be searching for a word substitute, find one that looks like a great possibility and still have to use a dictionary to look up the exact meaning and usage.
However, there has been one overarching benefit with the Synonym finder vs. online tools: When using this book, I have felt closer to the words. They have entered my consciousness, not as concepts of language, but as tangibles. What can I say? When I have to brainstorm, organize, or plan, I am useless without paper. I just think differently with a pen and a blank sheet of paper in front of me and no computer program can replicate that experience for me.
And now I am off to read my synonym dictionary!
So you don’t feel left out of the fun, here is an excerpt:
ploy n. stratagem, maneuver, gambit, move; ruse,
wile artifice, dodge, artful dodge, Sl. gimmick; sub-
terfuge, design, scheme, craft, game; trick, decoy,
red herring, feint, blind.
Hello all, apologies for the writing hiatus. I have had a snowstorm of possible Vocab Vitamins blog topics, but unfortunately not enough time to bake any of them to delicious fruition.
Just an update to let you know that we have had a couple of problems with account upgrading that have now been fixed. The errors were cause by really minor issues, but were resulting in heaps of frustration for our users. We are thrilled to be celebrating their demise. Please accept our regrets. Contact us at support@ if you need assistance.