Kein Thema

August- the month without a theme- not really- just no thematic holidays for which I need to order cards and or decorate the house with window clings. The month of our annual family Pismo camping trip spiced up with a good amount of family birthdays. That's why I chose the butterflies - it is a month of semi freedom, filling the void between the end of summer school and the beginning of fall session, end of Tournament soccer to the beginning of AYSO. We've been having spectacular weather in CA- hot but not awful, and no floods, thank God.

In fact it's been so free I was struggling for a theme for the Muse! Usually something presents itself over and over, and that's how I know I need to share it. The only thing that presented itself over and over during the month of July were the BBQ's we hosted. They were lovely, but I'd hate to bore you with the details of the dining.

Instead, I am going to fall back on an old favorite- communication. Hence the title of this article: "Kein Thema". We were approached by distant relatives in Germany regarding hosting their daughter for six months so that she could immerse herself in the English language. Her mother had been out for a visit some twenty years ago. All I remember is that we ate on the patio at our previous house and I served mashed squash with cheese and everyone liked it. I can't even remember if we had kids yet! Probably not if it was twenty years ago because the twins are turning nineteen in three weeks. Norbert brought us a gift of a bird mobile made of sea shells which hung in our bathroom for years. We still have it, so I guess it was a great gift. His granddaughter is the one who may be coming to stay with us.

My husband has been corresponding with Pietra ( reminds me of Petrie Dish) via email and cc'ing me. I was mesmerized by the accuracy of her English! Heck, she writes better than we do! Hubby received an email from her with "Kein Thema" in the subject window. He was trying to figure out how it related to the content of the email. I think he may have used one of those online translators, and came up with "without a theme" and then figured that since Pietra had neglected to list a subject for the email- this was the default setting: Without a Theme = No Subject.- entirely different words conveying a very similar meaning.

Course this warmed up the strudel in my Linguistic schooled noodle and got me to thinking about the different ways people have of communicating. Some folks just come right out and say what they mean- direct communication. For example:, "Are you available to join us for dinner tomorrow?" Some prefer to use innuendo to get their point across. For example, " You know, Albertson's has Bermuda Lobster Tails on sale for $9.99 each. Wouldn't it be fun to eat them under the stars?" Others prefer to presume they know what you think and respond accordingly. For Example, "I'm sure you already have plans, but wouldn't it be fun to eat lobster outside tomorrow?" This last scenario irritates me to no end. Why does the asker feel it is necessary to act like they think that their guest is already busy? To allow them an out in case they don't want to accept the invitation? Some freakish way of saving face? Kind of like asking but reneging all in one sentence. Yet this seems to be the preferred means of communication for many people. Especially when you put a direct communicator in the same conversation with an indirect communicator. The conversation could go something like this:

DC: "It's hot! Would you like a soda?"

IDC: " No thank you. I don't want to drink up your soda. You'll want it for tomorrow....."

DC: " No. I'll be going to the store later tonight, and I can buy some more. Go ahead and have one."

IDC: "But soda is expensive. I'll feel bad. Just give me some tap water."

DC: "So you don't like Cactus Cooler or what? Why don't you just drink a soda?"

IDC: " Well, if you insist. I guess I will have one."

Here is an example of direct and direct:

DC1 "It's hot outside. Would you like a soda?"

DC2: "Sure. I love Cactus Cooler."

Here is an example of indirect and indirect:

IDC1: "I am so hot. A soda sure sounds good. Unless you don't drink soda. Then maybe water or juice might seem better..."

IDC2: "Soda does sound good, but I wouldn't want to drink that grape soda that someone else might be saving for later......"

IDC1: "I don't think anyone is saving it. But if you don't like soda, there is some bottled water in the fridge."

IDC2: 'Oh, I'll just fill a glass from the tap."

This exchange leaves the asker not knowing if the guest just plain doesn't like soda, thinks the host isn't really willing to share (when the host may have made a special trip just to have the soda in the first place!), or who knows? Seems to be overcomplicating the situation thus opening up all sorts of opportunity for misinterpretation. Maybe the host didn't want to have to wash a glass and perhaps the tap is nasty. By trying to do the polite thing, IDC2 might be putting his host to more trouble than just accepting the doggone soda in the first place.

If you want to watch an interesting exchange, put two indirect communicators together at lunchtime and have them figure out a place to eat. It can go on for more rounds than a boxing match. And they run the risk of eating somewhere neither one of them likes, each thinking they have succeeded in selecting the place the other secretly wants to dine at, but just won't come out and say for some mysterious reason....Oh my.

But enough on that. If you want an excellent summer read for the remainder of the respite, read The Help. It completely swept me away, I was saving it for Pismo but decided to take a sneak peek one evening. Not a good idea. I was obsessed. Couldn't put it down, and now that I've finished it, I feel like I've lost a friend. And the best part is that it demonstrated so well the results of both direct and indirect communication. Rush out and read it.

'Happy August.

American Term
British Term
1. ballpoint pen
2. toilet paper
bog roll
3. umbrella
4. fanny pack
bum bag
5. cotton candy
candy floss
6. french fry
7. plastic wrap
8. zucchini
9. potato chip
10. checkers
11. thumbtack
drawing pin
12. busy signal
engaged tone
13. soccer
14. astonished
15. sweater
16. elevator
17. restroom
18. truck
19. ground beef
20. diaper
21. mailbox
pillar box
22. bandage (Band-Aid)
23. baby carriage/stroller
24. collect call
reverse-charge call
25. aluminum can
26. to go drastically wrong
to go pear-shaped

Commonly Misspelled Words

1. accommodate
2. a lot
3. arctic
4. calendar
5. cemetery
6. conscience
7. conscious
8. definitely
9. embarrass
10. existence
11. foreign
12. gauge
13. grammar
14. guarantee
15. harass
16. height
17. independent
18. inoculate
19. its/it's
20. liaison
21. license
22. maintenance
23. millennium
24. minuscule
25. mischievous
26. misspell
27. noticeable
28. occurrence
29. perseverance
30. playwright
31. possession
32. preceding
33. prejudice
34. principle/principal
35. privilege
36. pronunciation
37. questionnaire
38. receipt
39. recommend
40. rhythm
41. separate
42. sergeant
43. stationary/stationery
44. supersede
45. their/there/they're
46. twelfth
47. until
48. vague

Next Post date: September 6, 2010

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August 2, 2010

Wisdom Quotes

The act of compassion begins with full attention, just as rapport does. You have to really see the person. If you see the person, then naturally, empathy arises. If you tune into the other person, you feel with them. If empathy arises, and if that person is in dire need, then empathic concern can come. You want to help them, and then that begins a compassionate act. So I'd say that compassion begins with attention.
- Daniel Goleman


People love to talk but hate to listen. Listening is not merely not talking, though even that is beyond most of our powers; it means taking a vigorous, human interest in what is being told us. You can listen like a blank wall or like a splendid auditorium where every sound comes back fuller and richer.
- Alice Duer Miller


If it's very painful for you to criticize your friends -- you're safe in doing it. But if you take the slightest pleasure in it, that's the time to hold your tongue.
- Alice Duer Miller


The greatest degree of inner tranquility comes from the development of love and compassion. The more we care for the happiness of others, the greater is our own sense of well-being.
- Tenzin Gyatso, 14th Dalai Lamat


I am part of the sun as my eye is part of me. That I am part of the earth my feet know perfectly, and my blood is part of the sea. There is not any part of me that is alone and absolute except my mind, and we shall find that the mind has no existence by itself, it is only the glitter of the sun on the surfaces of the water.
- D. H. Lawrence


Power without love is reckless and abusive, and love without power is sentimental and anemic.
- Martin Luther King, Jr.


Do your little bit of good where you are; it's those little bits of good put together that overwhelm the world.
- Bishop Desmond Tutu


Optimist: Person who travels on nothing from nowhere to happiness.
- Mark Twain


A small body of determined spirits fired by an unquenchable faith in their mission can alter the course of history.
- Mohandas K. Gandhi


Lord, make me an instrument of your peace; where there is hatred, let me sow love; where there is injury, pardon; where there is doubt, faith; where there is despair, hope; where there is darkness, light; and where there is sadness, joy
- Francis of Assisi

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