Archive for Writing (other)

On the First Day: The Importance of Planning

God knew nothing

I’m taking an IT course at BCIT loftily entitled, “Business Analysis and Systems Design”. It’s about project management for large enterprise systems, and with data coming in that such projects have a terrible track record—about 75 per cent fail or go way over budget—there’s a need to refine the planning process and train people better.

Some have postulated that the universe is really just a vast software system, but that idea always infers that it’s a successful system. What if God knew nothing of project management? What if He just jumped in and started making the cosmos with no clear plan of where he was going?

Here’s one scenario:

God Goofs OffOn the first day, God rested. He figured He had a whole week to create the cosmos so “hey, like what’s the rush?”

On the second day, God got up, made a cup of coffee, and checked His email. He had over 7 million messages.

Most were spam.

On the third day, God logged into Facebook and updated His status—28,000 times.

Then He tweeted about it.

On the fourth day, God realized that He had better start to seriously do something about creating the cosmos, so after lunch He created the night and the day. But then He realized that it might be too dark at night (even with the moon, which he hadn’t created yet), and people would get lost or fall down in the dark and would probably curse His name, so He revised His decision about creating the day and the night deciding that it might be a bit rash without considering all the repercussions of this cosmos building stuff before jumping in.

He resolved to sleep on it and start fresh the next day.

On the fifth day, God got an idea. He decided that He’d create the waters and the firmament. “Oh my God”, said God, “That would be so cool”.

But then He thought, “What’s the point of water and firmament (does anybody even know what the heck “firmament” is anyway?) with nothing to swim in it or fly through it? Instead, He thought it would be super fantastic to create all the birds, bats, insects and other flying things as well as all the fishes that swim in the sea.

He stayed up really late creating all that cool stuff.

The sixth day wasn’t a good day for God. On the sixth day, God woke to find that, without the water and the firmament, all the birds of the air and fishes of the sea had died horrible deaths. It was pretty depressing (and it smelt bad too).

God wasted most of the sixth day cleaning up from the fifth.

On the seventh day, God woke up in a cold sweat well before His alarm clock rang. It was dark and cold and He realized He’d done nothing useful to create the cosmos. He told Himself that He’d certainly tried—”but life can be so unfair, you know”—and now He didn’t have a prayer of getting the cosmos ready in time. What He needed was a miracle.

And just as he was about to curse His fate for the third time, God noticed a handbill from Wal-Mart and it was offering a ready-made cosmos for sale. At these double discounted prices, God knew this would cover His Ass perfectly. Sure it was cheap and made mostly of plastic and particleboard (probably in some country with dubious labour practices and no environmental regulations), but with all the plug n’ play features, it would do just fine as a last-minute solution.

God thought, “Hell, why not?”

wal-mart-smileyOn the eighth day as God checked out of Wal-Mart, He then noticed that, where His original idea for the cosmos stressed cooperation, this pre-fab version was built on the Darwin model of competition­–survival of the fittest. “Oh well”, thought God, “It didn’t matter really.” He was out of time and short on good excuses.

“Besides”, God said to Himself as He left the parking lot,
“No one would even know the difference.”

Simplicity

Les Très Riches Heures du Duc du Berry

Les Très Riches Heures du Duc du Berry

I spent the month of July this year in Paris. In summer, Paris is very exciting with the Fête de la Bastille parade, the Bal des Pompiers, the Tour de France, and many other festivals all happening simultaneously. The city crackles with excitement. Yet with two thousand years of history, what is a little missing in the summer sun are Paris’s subtler sides.

I have a deep love for the quietude and timelessness of Medieval thought. I’ve always admired the multi-panel manuscript Les Très Riches Heures du Duc du Berry for its depiction of simple life…and that blue, blue sky that seems to bear witness to a timelessness now so rare. Part of the book depicts everyday life throughout the year (it’s a book of hours afterall). What I never knew was that in the October panel, the castle is a real one and that it still exists—in part. It is the original Louvre.

Over the centuries this old castle, with its many ardoise turrets, was gradually erased and replaced by successive regimes bent on modernizing it and putting their stamp on it. But in 1989 when excavations were made to build the Carrousel du Louvre (the pyramid), the original Louvre was rediscovered.

One bright and hot day, I followed the self-guided tour that takes you down to the foundations and origins of the Louvre. On the walking tour, you can now walk through the original moat and the substructure of the walls and donjon (keep). There’s nothing much else remaining, just simple stonework, yet my eyes set these stones high against that azure Medieval sky. And stared.

Upstairs, the Mona Lisa, the Venus de Milo, and a thousand other art treasures awaited, and yet I stood mesmerized by these unadorned stones. It’s not what you’re looking at so much as what it evokes.

When is “is” a Poor Verb Choice? (My writing: Sept 10 to 17)

Like so many ineffective charitable organizations trying to come to a mutual decision, the “to be” verb can wring its hands and drain the life out of your writing.

Consider this example:

Our goal is to pave the way for sales to create and land opportunities. We will be delivering content for the next platform.

These two sentences have been robbed of their power by an overuse of the verb “to be”. Along with its only slightly more energetic mate, “to have”, “to be” is very passive.

As in life, sometimes “being” is perfectly acceptable. Other times, action is required. Being is important and is therefore important in writing, but only where appropriate. To improve passive writing, I check the vicinity to find other more powerful verbs stymied by the “to be” verb. In the example above, I found “pave”, “create”, “land”, and “deliver”—all excellent verbs that when set free, will transform your writing.

Here’s my revision:

Our goal paves the way for sales to create and land opportunities. We will deliver content for the next platform.

Read my latest posts:

Webtech-Wireless-Temperature-MonitoringCargo Temperature Monitoring Helps Reduce Hunger draws an interesting line between food security, food wastage, and the trailer temperature monitoring solutions Webtech Wireless provides in the transport of food.

 

http://www.disabilityclaimdenied.caAging and Accessibility Go Hand-In-Hand describes baby boomers create demand for universal design. September 23 to 29 is Active Aging Week, and Canada’s aging boomers are smoothing the path for people living with disabilities.

 

 

http://www.disabilityclaimdenied.ca4 Healthy Ways to Reduce Engine Idle showcase idling and its affects on health. As parents idle in front of the school, important lessons are being learned—and lost. Why not introduce your family to a few new habits and skills?

My Writing: What’s the most common grammar error? – (July 9 – 23)

It’s been a couple of weeks without an update, but the writing goes on (along with lots of copy editing of others’ works not mentioned here). This gives me an excuse to use a unit of measure almost unknown in North American English: the fortnight, British English for two weeks (fourteen days).

I recently heard that English doesn’t suffer from a lack of a clear second person plural, but in fact from a lack of second person singular. The classic greasy-diner waitress who asks, “Okay, what do yous guys want?” is not inventing a second person plural to distinguish from its identical singular form, but is in fact doubling an already second person plural form. “You” is plural; the singular form is “thou”. So, next time you’re dining alone, an informed waitress could ask you, “What dost thou want?” Or, maybe not.

Below are my corporate blog post for the last two weeks:

What Do Lawyers Cost? is overview of what you need to know before you decide to hire a lawyer to represent your claim. You want one who acts solely in your best interests, advises you to protect your rights, positions your claim to obtain a fair settlement from your perspective, and decides what compensation you deserve for your case.

 

Disabled, “Yes”; Unemployable, “No” describes the Government of Canada’s 2012 Economic Action Plan. By investing an additional $30 million over three years into the Opportunities Fund,  more Canadians with disabilities have the opportunity to become gainfully employed.

 

ICBC and Drunk Drivingdescribes ICBC’s aims in preventing drunk driving, which includes convincing drivers (demographically young men) that making excuses and rationales for why it’s “okay” to have a few before getting behind the wheel is part of the problem of drunk driving itself.

My Writing: Getting published and corporate blogging (July 1 to 8)

There must be some form of critical mass that, when reached in corporate writing at any rate, causes others to start publishing your work even without you knowing it (not that I mind). On opening the June issue of BC Tech Magazine (page 60), what confronted me was, well, myself. I could also see that a new and unseen hand had left his or her mark on my work, particularly around stylistic sensibilities such as changing our corporate branding (I would never do that). On the use of verbs, though, it still carries my thumb print. I’ve been giving a lot of thought to using verbs for maximum punch, and to that end have classed some as ‘weak’ or ‘vague’ while others as ‘strong’ or ‘descriptive’. I was pleased to see them unmolested by the phantom new editor.

Imitation is the highest form of flattery, they say. That was the case for me this week as I discovered my article based on an interview with Troyer Ventures for a Webtech Wireless award application has appeared (in print) in the BC Tech magazine. How did I not know that?

 

Distracted Driving: Legislate or Implement? reveals the connection between the recent settlement by Coca-Cola to a Texas woman injured when struck by a Coca-Cola truck driver who was on the phone while driving. I created a new image for this because we agreed that, on a scale of one to ten for suitability, my “Telematics: It’s the Real-Time Thing” probably rated a nine.

 

Is Your Favourite Summer Sport Covered? advises you to, before undertaking a dangerous summer sport, consider whether or not your extended coverage includes extreme sports.

 

Summer Driving Tips describes some tips provided by ICBC to help keep the roads safer this summer for both drivers and cyclists. It’s a good news story.

 

A Week of Writing, June 11 – 18

This week has been much more about meeting people than being the scribe in the corner. I’ve got a fistfull of business cards after visiting the EMSCC (emergency services) convention and trade show at the Westin Bayshore. Then,  in the evening, I was wined and dined at the Vancouver Trade and Convention Centre as a guest (on behalf of Webtech Wireless) to the annual British Columbia Technology Association Industry impact awards (TIAs). In part to me interviewing our client, Troyer Ventures, and writing the award application, we were nominated and last night, we won! The following day was a mad montage of assembling all the copy including a news release, new Home page, and new blog post (listed below):

BCTIA-Award-Webtech-WirelessI wrote the content for the new Webtech Wireless Home page and photographed and photoshopped an image of our award. It, being glass, was quite a challenge, but eventually I prevailed.

 

Webtech Wireless WinnersI also slammed together a rather festive blog post describing the event for the Webtech Wireless blog. Our winners were holding their glass awards toward themselves, so I had to flip the image (and therefore some buttons on jackets) for the best effect.

http://webtechwireless.com/

A Week of Writing, May 14 to 20

Once again, this week has seen much work that is as yet unseen. I’ve been talking to project managers in Iowa, sales managers in Montréal, and managing editors in southern France, but none of that work is going to be published this week. Instead, I have several technical stories festoon my gallery of corporate blog posts. Enjoy!

Webtech WirelessI worked with Product Marketing Manager, Irtiza Zaidi at Webtech Wireless to describe his experiences at the Petroleum Safety Conference in Banff, Alberta a couple of weeks ago. The oil and gas industry is extremely dangerous and technology is one way to keep drivers (and those using the roads) safer.

 

Summer Driving in BC: How Safe Is It? describes how reduced truck inspection, increased highway usage, and distracted driving conditions, are making BC’s roads increasingly like a “war zone”.

 

How-Safe-Are-Your-Government-Disability-BenefitsHow Safe Are Your Government Disability Benefits? describes various ways public sector disability benefits are being eroded by government action and inaction. CTV reporting on this is quite revealing.

 

Watch out: Canadian(s) about…” is my homage to some great hiking trails I explored in the South of France (around Nice) last December. Le Magazine Azur, where its published, is based out of Antibes. While being an online magazine, it publishes every two months like a print magazine.

 

A Week of Writing, May 7 to 13

Big news this week is that last week’s gains continue to drive writing efforts forward. The French translation of my first article for Le Magazine Azur will be complete by the week-end, and my application that won Webtech Wireless the 2012 Adoption of Technology award continues to reverberate through that company. CEO, Scott Edmonds, said, “now we can call ourselves an award-winning software company”.

Pro-EOBR Campaign Gaining GroundPro-EOBR Campaign Gaining Ground describes efforts by trucking associations to get the Canadian government to legislate in favour of mandatory electronic onboard recorders (EOBRs). These devices replace paper logs books that drivers use to track their hours. EOBRs are considered safer and more reliable in the industry.

 

Long-Term Disability: What If You’re Employer Goes Broke? is based on the federal government’s 2012 budget that includes a requirement for companies to insure their long-term disability plans.

 

 

Getting The Car Accident Trauma Help You Need is sadly based on a real-life tragedy and serves as the springboard for understanding how to deal with ICBC if you’re in a MVA.

 

I turned some creative writing into a movie just for fun. It was fun, but it cost money too. In my new little film, I was amused at the idea that our brains grew not to accommodate our needs, but exactly the other way around.

 

A Week of Writing, April 30 to May 6

This has been another epic week of writing for me, although some of it won’t appear online just yet. For example, I just wrote an article for Magazine Azur, but its awaiting translation to French so it won’t be published for a few more weeks.

On May 2, 2012, I attended the BCTIA Techbrew event where it was announced that Webtech Wireless was nominated for the Adoption of Technology award. I pre-wrote this blog about the event to which I updated and added photos later that night to be ready for its scheduled release at 5:40 am PST (early enough for eastern readers).

 

Webtech WirelessI found out that the agency that looks after Webtech Wireless’ news releases particularly mentioned the quality of the Quadrant Manager Mobile news release I wrote. I haven’t been writing a lot of their news releases, so that’s great to hear.

 

Magazine AzurStay tuned for an article in Magazine Azur (it’s written and submitted, but not yet published). Two Canadians—one English; one French—experience the trials and triumphs of travelling in the south of France. I wrote the English and my friend and fellow traveller, Sylvie Soucis, is translating it into French. “Où est le &#@* train.”

 

Celebrating Mental Health Week: May 7-13, 2012 describes the loopholes private insurers use to elude quite valid claims from people who pay for private insurance.

 

 

May is the Month of Motor Safety is another timely blog post based on a recent news release from the Vancouver Police Department’s announcement that it will be targeting dangerous drivers in May. I go on to warn of the dangers of entirely trusting one’s accident claim to an ICBC Adjuster. AS a public entity doing the work of a private insurer, ICBC is in an ongoing conflict of interest with every claim it settles.

I wrote an article called, Long-Term Disability Claims: A Cross-Country Check, which highlights stories across Canada affecting those with long-term disabilities. I didn’t know there was a Rick Hansen coin?

A Week of Writing, April 23 to 29

I’m in such a state of production, that I didn’t realize I’d written two blog posts for Webtech Wireless (our goal is one per week), so that’s why there are two.

Webtech Wireless’ InterFleet client, Ville de Québec is among seven finalists for this year’s Intelligent Community award for web savvy and innovative cities.

 

Quadrant Manager goes Mobile describes the latest, greatest to the Webtech Wireless suite of Quadrant products: Quadrant Manager Mobile for iPad and iPhone.

 

 

I researched a quick and wrote a quick ICBC Accident Checklist for those in British Columbia who’ve had a motor vehicle accident and need to know what to do next. There’s a downloadable version you can print and keep in your car too.