It’s been over a year since I’ve blogged. The last year has been a crazy flurry of life changes and positive self improvement, including but not limited to:

  • Dropping out of grad school
  • Joining the tech industry
  • Moving (twice)
  • Rekindling old hobbies (cycling, painting, and PC gaming)
  • Picking up new hobbies (audio books, rock climbing, and tabletop RPGs)
  • Running my first Beer Mile (in 17 minutes, tyvm)
  • Doing my first unassisted pull-up
  • Riding my first quarter century, half century, and metric century
  • Going to therapy and stopping having anxiety attacks
  • Cutting my hair short

Anyway, I’m at a point in my life where regular blogging might become a thing again. I am learning so much about bikes and computers, I want to share!

Some goals for the foreseeable future:

  • Start building stuff with Raspberry Pis
  • Go on a multi-day bike tour
  • Finally learn calculus (thanks Khan Academy)
  • Blog more, paint more, do more yoga

As far as long term goals? I’m really not sure. I recently closed my academia/linguistics chapter of my life, and am starting down this path of the tech world. I’ll do this for a while, and then see where my next “lifetime” takes me.

I’m a linguist. At the core of my soul, I believe in descriptive linguistics. A biologist goes out in the world, and describes the anatomy of the plants and animals he collects. He doesn’t say “this shouldn’t exist, because evolution says it shouldn’t!” Likewise, linguists go out in the world and describe the languages they collect. They don’t say “this shouldn’t exist, because the grammar rules says it shouldn’t!” Linguists and biologists alike wonder at all the weird structures they find, and aren’t judgmental about them.

Is there a time and a place for “correct grammar”? Sure, but it’s cultural. It’s not an objective fact. Stephen Fry put it nicely: just like you dress up your attire for special occasions (like job interviews), so do people dress up their language. All the science says that most of the “rules” people are taught in grade school are totally bunk. When I taught Intro to Linguistics last summer, I spent a whole lecture going over why Weird Al’s Word Crimes was totally bunk. Other linguists did so too.

Which is why I feel totally weird and out of place being a prescriptivist teaching “correct” “academic” writing. Sure, I can teach them some common conventions and research skills. But I’ve been asked questions like “Is it Tom and me or Tom and I?” And the real answer is “it depends” or maybe “whichever one is more frequent in your dialect”, but the answer they want to hear is “it’s Tom and me if the phrase is an object and Tom and I if the phrase is a subject, because and me are case-marked pronouns and English was a historically case-marking language even though we don’t use case anymore except in these pronouns and some people who still use whom“.

For centuries, people have bemoaned the downfall of the next generation’s language. The latest rendition of this fear comes in the form of a fear of the digital age. The New York Times just published a piece decrying the lack of handwriting – especially cursive handwriting – in the new Common Core standards. To support their claims, the article cites a study which links handwriting to greater activation in the brain.

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