…Eloquence and Social Media…


typewriter keys
Photo by Caryn on Pexels.com

My ellipses have served me well, if I don’t know how to punctuate something, I just fill in the gaps with ellipses. My eighteen year old daughter recently told me that my use of ellipses ages me as someone over forty. She cited a conversation on reddit about old people’s use of ellipses. I am a curmudgeon, after all, so I decided to vent my literary grievances on Facebook to see if I could understand why the use of certain words/phrases like “shenanigans” and “pop of color” make me sick and feel as though I would not want to “hang out” with people who use these words. I was hoping for some kind of understanding or even a challenge to my assumption that the users of these words were sheep-like, common people who just couldn’t come up with original language. Perhaps the use of these fall-back phrases, like 24/7 or “that said”, are just products of an age barrier …like my generous use of ellipses…but as it turns out, my Facebook friends (and twitter feed) had more “latest buzzwords and catch phrases” that are overused and made them sick too. Here is the collective list:

Hilarity ensues,

At the end of the day






 No worries





Sex y(for stuff other than sex related)


To be honest (before anything)

So (before a sentence)

Fail Fast (sounds like the “freedom to fail” that corporate hatchet men used in the 80s)

Always be shipping

ecosystem (when it applies to corporations)

Soooo (uh oh that was one of the words on list) with all of these words swarming around the virtual and real office water coolers, just how am I supposed to come up with my own voice? Coincidentally this same week -on my twitter feed- I came across an Atlantic Monthly article about EDX offering free MOOCs  (massive open online course) taught by professors of many respected universities. Luckily I was in time to sign up for UC Berkeley’s College Writing class. My first week was spent doing a segment on Vocabulary.

A quick look at the discussion board showed me that many of the students enrolled were taking this course because English was not their first language and they wanted to be able to write better. Interestingly, since our family just took a “college tour’ of UC Berkeley, I knew that the real campus also had many international students and that this course was/is probably a virtual parallel to the real thing. MOOCs deserve a post and I may write that next but I am still working on my vocabulary and grammar. I hope to get rid of my ellipses soon….but in case you were wondering if a native English speaker could learn anything new …here are my new vocabulary words:




And I can now write that “a pop of color” is my least favorite collocation.

Published on Open Salon under Snarkychaser

The Pinball Zone-Can Pinball Playing Become as Much of an Addiction as Machine Gambling?

Play Boy

As someone who grew up in New York City, summertime in my youth was punctuated with short trips to the Jersey Shore’s Atlantic City. For me, summer time is a time to let go of routine and let the Id take over. I am not much of a gambler but the experience of the boardwalk was enough to make the drive worthwhile.  Three years ago, my husband discovered The Silverball Pinball museum on Asbury Park’s boardwalk and I knew that I had found my compulsion- my “low risk” Atlantic City.


The Silverball Museum on Asbury Park’s board walk offers hourly, daily, weekly and yearly admission. The museum’s vintage pinball machines are displayed by decade. All of the machines are refurbished and in working order. The price of admission allows unlimited playtime on these very special machines.  Last Saturday night, my husband, son and I stopped in- hoping to get an hour of pinball- only to realize that we hit the jack pot when the staff told us that since we came in after 6PM, we qualified for the museum’s unlimited playtime until 1 am. This is when I realized that pinball might qualify for an addiction.

There is a new research outlined in MIT’s Dr. Natasha Dow Schull’s new book, Addiction by Design: Machine Gambling in Las Vegas (Princeton University Press), which basically says that compulsive gamblers who use these fast paced machines are not gambling to win but to win enough so that they can keep playing and remain in the “zone”.  When asked to describe the “machine zone” a compulsive gambler named Mollie describes the experience like this:

It’s like being in the eye of the storm, is how I’d describe it. Your vision is clear on the machine in front of you, and you can’t really hear anything. You aren’t really there-you’re with the machine and that is all you’re with”

The “Zone” is what I experience when I am allowed to play unlimited pinball. I’m not that picky-any 70s era machine will do for me; my husband, however, likes to try out a few machines until he finds a “friend”. Once that connection to the machine is found, I think the experience of being “one with the machine” is the same.  The Who’s song, “Pinball Wizard” describes the wizard (Tommy) “He stands like a statue and becomes part of the machine”.

This zone is the cornerstone and driver for many people- whether it is sex, shopping, athletics, or work- being in the zone, is the feeling that keeps us doing the behavior and in many cases makes us expert. And yes (if you are wondering), I have very high scores in pinball and am very solvent.

Pinball Wizard

Published June 7, 2013 on Westfield Patch