Quotation Marks – Basic Punctuation and Peculiarities Rules

When writing I am most often puzzled by punctuation rules. That is why, whenever I think of this blogging topic, #WriterlyWednesday, I turn my view towards punctuation. Today’s matter of discussion is quotation marks, a.k.a. inverted commas. The use of quotation marks in English is a tough topic for me, not only because it’s different in my language, but also by the complexity and variety of cases that are present.

First of all, let me say how indignant I am at the fact that there are two types of quotation marks – single and double, and, of course, British and American English go completely opposite each other in the way these are used. There are also two names for the same thing, and namely, you can either call them “quotation marks” or “inverted commas”. Such diversity is unnecessary, IMHO. Let’s move on, though.

In British English, you would use the single quotation marks. They are very hard to see and distinguish, partly because they look like the apostrophe, and this is a good reason for me to give up using them after years of poor attempts. You see, I naturally go with the British English version of everything, but typing ‘said he’ quickly gave way to “said he”. Did you see that? Visibility and certainty that these commas are in fact marking a quotation.

The Americans use the double marks for the same cases. Why then the other marks exist? Very simply, they are used when you need to put some quotation inside the main quotation. This is also the reason why our language doesn’t need a second pair of quotation marks – we don’t put dialogue in inverted commas, so if we want to use them in dialogue, we simply use the normal ones.

One of the huge puzzles for me personally is where to put the full stop – inside or outside the quotation marks. No wonder, that also depends on whether it’s British or American English. In the latter, the full stop (which is called “period”) goes inside the marks. I prefer the logic of the British writing style, however, where it depends on whether the ending punctuation mark of a sentence is an integral part of the quote. Thus, if it isn’t, it will stay outside. Here is an example:

I wonder what would be an appropriate use of the phrase “point blank”.

Do you think he’ll say it’s “long overdue”?

See what I mean by logical? This is the way I use quotation marks. Where I step away from American style is the type of the marks – I tried to use single, but this simply doesn’t work with me, so I turned to double and plan to stick to them.
Do you follow the British or American style? Which one seems more intuitive for you?

Flash Fiction: Ritual

Today it’s #FridayFlash time, and here is a 120-word piece, entitled Ritual:

Andy wakes up, a quick dash to the bathroom, toothbrush, cold water on his face, then back. Wardrobe opens, slick suit out and on. Business swoosh though bedroom. Therefore, inappropriate.

Margaret flips the eggs, flops them in the plate. Juice in the glass, ice cubes rattle. Soft sounds and smells of the kitchen. Totally suitable.

Suddenly, the building is rocked by the shock of the waterjets attacking it. No, no waterjets, they are waves. The word is tsunami, the cause is earthquake deep in the ocean, far off shore. So many small items crashed, floating, broken, floating through kitchens, bedrooms, bathrooms. Floating. People scream, float, fight the stream, float, get lost.

Sounds, smells, movements – all in strict observance of their ritual.

The Future of Jobs

And the Jobs with no Future, or Who Will Work That?

As an HR, I’ve attended not one or two conferences where the future of jobs was discussed. Not only that, but I’ve also watched the news and read some articles of interests in various media that also dealt with how work and employment will develop and change in the near future.
First of all, most repetitive and monotonous jobs will be filled in by robots. We don’t imagine complicated androids with dreamy eyes, perfect skin and the ability to discern between good and evil, in addition, to express emotions and empathy. We have to imagine simple non-humanoid machines which execute operations and manipulations that don’t often need creativeness and intuition.

That leaves open the question of what will people do when they can’t execute such jobs. The answer: people will do other jobs. What other jobs? Answer: programming and maintaining the said robots.

We get to understand that there will not be people on cooking, cleaning, data entry, accounting, payroll, and other similar positions. Machines will be doing that. The people who are taking these jobs at present will be re-qualified to maintain the new workers. That notion poses several questions at least. Let’s start somewhere.

First, the educational systems and food industry are continuously producing half-witted adults, semi-intelligent at best. Children finish school hardly literate, they eat junk food and synthetic drugs are their best pals since early teenage. That may be a good thing if we aim at producing idiots who are easy to rule, control and kept in submission. Their addictions to good life, easiness and love of sensation make them an easy target. New adults are lesser and lesser human beings, much to the disappointment of thinkers of old.

Second, these future jobs although they sound cool because there is the word “robotics” in them, sound to me maintenance thing. The majority of these new positions will be simple repairing and adjustment stuff, not higher level coding, programming, design or creative projects. There will be creative jobs, naturally, but I don’t expect them to be so many. The rest? Instead of cooks and cleaners, the rest will be maintenance staff for robots. This doesn’t sound prestigious, for sure. Plus, when so many people do this, there is hardly a reason to consider the jobs anything exclusive or special.

Third, I don’t believe all people will be able to do jobs such as those described above. There is a reason some people end up as cleaners. I know, some law graduates choose that profession for themselves, but the majority of cleaners do it for lack of better options. And for lack of patience and study skills. That is one group – those with lower intellectual abilities. How will they do the engineering jobs? The other group are people of artistic inclinations – poets, musicians, artists, various performers, athletes. How can we expect the artistic mind to bend around mechanic and engineering thinking and action?

Thinking of all that, conclusions are hard to draw. Thinking of all that, I wonder what the future holds. Not that I’m personally curious. It’s just… that human thing I’m thinking about.

Throwback Thursday – You’re so Vain

For today’s #ThrowbackThursday I turned to music. Number 1 Hit in the US Billboard Chart on January 3, 1973, was Carly Simon’s song that afterwards had numerous covers and reprises – You’re So Vain.

I’ve always enjoyed this song even though I have no memory when was the first time I heard it. It is, at that, highly probable that I heard one of the more recent versions and not the 70s original.

It’s attractive because of its tease to the song’s subject. On many occasions, Carly had to answer questions about the specific man or men she aimed at with the lyrics. The fun part is that some men in her life definitely thought “this song was about them” which would both confirm their assurance and expose their vanity. Considering they were no shy guys, I don’t suppose any of those consequences would affect them as negative. There is no bad publicity, you know.

Less talk and more art! I say, let’s go to the video and the lyrics. Enjoy!

###
Son of a gun
You walked into the party like you were walking onto a yacht
Your hat strategically dipped below one eye
Your scarf it was apricot
You had one eye in the mirror as you watched yourself gavotte
And all the girls dreamed that they’d be your partner they’d be your partner and
You’re so vain
You probably think this song is about you
You’re so vain (you’re so vain)
I bet you think this song is about you
Don’t you don’t you?

You had me several years ago when I was still quite naive
Well you said that we made such a pretty pair and that you would never leave
But you gave away the things you loved
And one of them was me
I had some dreams they were clouds in my coffee clouds in my coffee and
You’re so vain
You probably think this song is about you
You’re so vain (you’re so vain)
I bet you think this song is about you
Don’t you don’t you don’t you?

I had some dreams they were clouds in my coffee clouds in my coffee and
You’re so vain
You probably think this song is about you
You’re so vain (you’re so vain)
I bet you think this song is about you
Don’t you don’t you?


Well I hear you went up to Saratoga
And your horse naturally won
Then you flew your lear jet up to Nova Scotia
To see the total eclipse of the sun
Well you’re where you should be all the time
And when you’re not you’re with some underworld spy or the wife of a close friend wife of a close friend and
You’re so vain
You probably think this song is about you
You’re so vain (so vain)
I bet you think this song is about you
Don’t you don’t you don’t you?
You’re so vain
You probably think this song is about you
You’re so vain
Probably think this song about you
You’re so vain
###

I hope you enjoyed the piece today as much as I do.

Small stone for 2nd January

I seem to remember having identical thoughts on the second day of the year. I usually check the weather, which is still fine; I try to come back to my regular sleeping habits, and I also think about having to go back to work on the following day. Here is my small stone for today:
~~
Slowly falling in
daily orderly routine.
No sleep or too much.

~~

Бавно се връщам
към ежедневието.
Сънят е проблем.
~~

A River of Stones, January 2019

Years ago, I followed a blog challenge, A River of Stones, where I tried to contemplate and write one small piece each day in January. Although the stream was interrupted and the original blogger discontinued the tradition, over the years, I have seen many of my poetry friends do the same every January. After the very first time, 2012, I have had many fresh new beginnings, with each New Year dawning, but I, too, discontinue very easily.

This year, I will write small stones for as many days as I find them. No promises, no tears lost. Here is the first stone in this 2019 January River:
~~
Без сняг пред портата –
поле от сивота
и сухи съчки.

~~
No snow –
the field is brown and grey.
Just windy.

Mindful Monday, or How I Scored on My New Year Resolutions

I am posting this only to share how well I did on my last New Year’s Resolutions and to formulate the new ones. To refresh your memory in detail, I can refer you to my blog post from last year.

In short, I’ll report on each of my resolutions:
1. I wanted to make the “Devastation of the Soul” chapbook. Checked. That is ready, but not submitted anywhere. I didn’t finish it by the end of February as I’d planned, but at the end of September or mid-October. – KEPT!
2. I intended to translate 13 horror stories from English to Bulgarian – one each month plus an additional one. I completely forgot about this, and never even started it. – FAILED!
3. I wanted to write a poem every day in April and November but didn’t keep my April part of the promise. Honestly, I don’t even remember this resolution. Anyway, I’m nearly ready with the November Poem-a-Day challenge. That is, all the poems are written in their first draft and need to be edited and the ones for the final chapbook selected. OK, that’s a new plan. – HALF-KEPT!

4. Regarding this project, I won an artist on my side. She thought about it, started drawing, and then, in September, forgot about it. I’ll give it a try next year, perhaps. – HALF-KEPT!
5. Yoga once a week – sometimes, I managed, other times I couldn’t. We’ll consider this as FAILED!
6. Dieting with a journal – definitely not with a journal, and not the whole year through. So, we’ll say it’s FAILED!
7. Five new theatrical pieces and 3 new operas – I saw 3 plays and 2 more for children, so this part of the resolution can be considered kept. As for operas – I saw one new musical, and that’s all. I planned to see 3 operas, I almost bought the tickets, but for one reason or another, I wasn’t able to attend. So – HALF-KEPT!
8. Blogging once a week – actually, I didn’t until August. Then, I made an editorial calendar and started preparing my blog posts earlier, so that I have time to think and polish the content. Well, since August, blogging has been quite fine. Let’s say this resolution is KEPT!

Above, I can count 2 KEPT, 3 FAILED and 3 HALF-KEPT resolutions. I’ll consider this a successful year.
Happy New Year, everyone!

Frivolous Fridays: Happy Newtonmas!

Happy Newtonmas and Reason’s Greetings!

For my last post of 2018, I was looking for a fun topic to share with you within the #FrivolousFridays tag. I’m really happy with my finding – although it’s not so new, I’ve discovered Newtonmas, the alternative Christmas. Accidentally, Newton was also born on 25 Dec, so the community of science geeks and atheists in the world introduced the celebration of scientific achievements as an alternative to the Christian holiday celebrating the birth of Jesus Christ.

Very curious that Sir Isaak Newton was born on that particular date! That is his old-style birthday, while the new-style date is on 4th Jan. This difference puts him in a different year, of course, but I am sure this is not that important from the perspective of the time elapsed.
To make the long story short, the Skeptics Society needed a name for its X-mas party, and in 2011, they came up with the bright idea of “Newtonmas”. Other names for the same celebration are Gravmas along with its spelling variants “Gravmass” and “Grav-mass” that derive from “gravitational mass”.

So, what do we do for this day? Or, we can make it a week-long period of festivity. It can also take all the days between the two birth dates of Sir Isaak Newton – starting on 25th Dec, we can go on celebrating by a different science-related activity each day to 4th Jan.

– Cards – Send out cards saying “Reason’s Greetings” instead of “Season’s Greetings”.
– Gifts – When choosing the special presents for the people we love, need to make sure they are science-related. Encourage children to pursue an interest in the sciences. There are plenty of children-friendly microscopes, telescopes, experiment kits and observatories. Bookshops are full of encyclopediae for the young readers with awesome visuals and catching way of presenting science.
– Games – Board games that are intellectual, such as math or word puzzles, are especially encouraged. Why not also design and build something useful or science-related? You may use scale models, too.
– Food and drinks – Oh, that is up to you. Atheists observe no dogmas regarding food, apart from their personal dietary preferences and peculiarities.

Here’s a thought – when you decorate your X-mas tree think planets and stars instead of ordinary balls and snowflakes! Think galaxies and nebulae instead of garlands and colourful bands – and you’ll have the greatest and warmest of the reason’s holidays!

Share your thoughts, I’m curious to hear them. Did you know about this special celebration?

Mindful Monday: Tao Te King 24

For today’s #MindfulMonday topic I chose to write about Chapter 24 of Tao Te King. I don’t apply any system when choosing the verse. Let’s say I picked this chapter because it’s the 24th day of the month.

Here is the text:

He who stands on tiptoe
doesn’t stand firm.
He who rushes ahead
doesn’t go far.
He who tries to shine
dims his own light.
He who defines himself
can’t know who he really is.
He who has power over others
can’t empower himself.
He who clings to his work
will create nothing that endures.

If you want to accord with the Tao,
just do your job, then let go.

This must be one of my favourite chapters, focusing on a quality I value highly – humbleness, which is not soliciting recognition. The verse states it all – you need to focus on doing what you are supposed to do without burdening your work with any secret hopes for recognition or praise. In my view, this is one of the hardest things for a person to do. We all want to be recognised for our contribution, even if we speak differently. Frequently, we expect to receive the praise we deserve, especially when and because we keep silent about it, in an attempt to be humble.

Let’s Talk Introversion, Part 2

If you need to refresh your memory about this series, Savage Saturdays where I will write about psychology, motivation, inclusion and similar things, you can check this post about some widely-spread introvert myths. And here we go with one of the most interesting things about introverts, the “introverted hangover”.

This is a great term. Even though it’s not new, I met it this March for the first time. I recognised what it stands for immediately. How could I have not? When you have too much to drink, you can get a hangover and feel down, so down that you think you aren’t getting up soon. My very first hangover was a terrible experience, and I have no doubt yours were the same as mine. You just lie there, head spinning, at times pounding and the moment you try to lift it, that sickness in your chest and your stomach starts crawling up. Sometimes, the sickness finds its way up, of course. One of my favourite “drunk” jokes is this:

“The salad was sitting peacefully in one man’s stomach when something cold poured over it.

– What are you? – asked the salad.

– Vodka – answered the liquid.

– Who sends you? – asked the salad.

– John. And the salad quieted for a while.

Then the same thing happened again and again, when, after the third “John” answer, the salad said:

– Why don’t I just climb up there to see who this John person is?”

Fortunately, “introvert hangover” doesn’t have this particular effect on your body. Still, the physical sickness apart, you have this feeling of being wiped out. You are done for, you can’t stand on your feet, very often even literally. Another thing you can’t do is talk to people. Just like when you’re hungover, you can’t drink alcohol and you get sick by only looking at it, in the state of introvert hangover, you can’t take any more talk. After all, you’ve had too much of it already.

You get into this state as a result of too intensive socialising. The best cure is prevention, so you’ll do great to not bring this on yourself, but we don’t always have control over each minute of our daily lives. Imagine you are a teacher at a school camp, or an office coordinator, or an event manager, well, you name it. You can do this, mind you, even as an introvert. Not all people who work such jobs are extroverted. Another thing to keep in mind is, you can get introvert hangover even if you’re an ambivert.

So, let’s get back to our school camp or business event. You are in the middle of this week-long thing and a great number of people turn to you for a great number of things – from advice to simple questions of direction and agenda. You may be enjoying all these interactions – you are needed, you are useful, you see how people’s faces glow when you help. You may also have fun with all the games or entertainment. Yet, inevitably, you’ll be drained at the end and when it’s over, you will find yourself experiencing the introvert hangover.

The cure? Stay in the dark, keep away from the noise. You may read, write, draw or make music – whatever artistic preference you have. Go for a lonely walk in nature. Sit on the beach, look at the sea and breathe. Go to the forest, sit with your back against a tree, look at the greenery around you and breathe. Breathe in peace, breathe out calamity. Take in relaxation, take out soiled emotions.