Sep 28

I’ve lately been the recipient of the most disappointing visitors: fruit flies. They are a huge fan of my kitchen, and lately they have the audacity to venture even into the back rooms where I hide away frantically attempting to type blogs with one hand while swatting fruitlessly at the flies with my other hand. I thought that perhaps once they saw I was fruitless, they’d journey elsewhere, hopefully to my loud and obnoxious upstairs neighbor, but alas even fruit flies find her unpleasant to be around.

Over the last few weeks I’ve spent a disproportionate amount of time trying to capture these troublesome tyrants, attempting to smash them between my palms while jumping, springing, bouncing, and pouncing, and never doing a damn thing but entertaining the neighbors, who probably think I’m doing some sort of Native American rain dance. And I swear I hear the fruit flies chortle every time they evade my increasingly bruised hands. A few nights ago I actually succeeded in catching one, and I was so startled by the unexpected victory that I stared at my victim for nearly a full minute, wondering what people typically do once they’ve smashed a fly on their hands. Bury it? Hold a fruit fly funeral?

It really became quite a mystery to me how my flying foes came to inhabit my place of residence. After all, fruit flies are labeled as such because of their affinity for fruit, and being a person of total fruitlessness, I couldn’t fathom how they came to have such an affinity for me. Not only is my house devoid of all fresh fruit, but also such toxins as fresh vegetables literally flee in panic from the highly preserved contents of my refrigerator. They know they don’t stand a chance next to my BFF, processed cheese.

So what exactly are these flies wanting from me? A stable home life? Money? Fame? I pondered this question as I opened the cupboard under the kitchen sink to toss some trash into the garbage can and as my fan club of fruit flies swarmed out from beneath the cupboard to greet me, I saw the culprit glaring out at me from the array of discarded items: a banana peel.

How could I have forgotten that I consume 5/6 of a banana every day in my protein shake?? I plop nearly everything into that thing when I make it; rice milk, peanut butter, bee pollen, protein powder, yesterday’s leftovers, last week’s leftovers, a shot of whiskey, and the contents of my recycling bin; my protein shake is so dense it could feed a family of four for a week. And when I get home from work to make the shake I’m so hungry I could eat a family of four. For a week.

And it is precisely these banana peels that are luring these flying fiends into my abode. I could find a better way to dispose of the peel, but I figure the easier solution is to throw the whole peel into my protein shake along with the rest of my belongings.

Now that I have eliminated the source of my fruit flies (if only all problems were eliminated so easily—-but men are too big to smash between your fingers ;-)), and I can type with both hands again, you can expect an increase in the number of blogs I’m able to post. Sorry about that. 🙂

–Troi out

Sep 20

If so, you’re not the only one!

I spent four post-college years tirelessly studying the field of speech and hearing sciences. Knowledge and memory of politics, world religions, important dates such as my best friend’s birthday, the name of my favorite breakfast cereal, and the Starfleet ranking of my favorite Star Trek: The Next Generation characters gradually seeped from my cortex as knowledge and memory of theories of language development, audiology and aural rehabilitation, fluency disorders, voice disorders, swallowing disorders, and articulation and phonological disorders took its place. I nearly lost the ability to have a normal conversation as I discarded my usual pleasantries in favor of a more analytical approach to interactions:

Starbucks barista: Can I take your order?
Me: Did you mean “MAY I take your order?” And I notice your initial rhotic /r/ sound in “order” appears to emerge from the retroflex lingual position rather than the more typical bunched position. And did you know that “I,” while being a vowel denoted by a single letter, is in fact a diphthong denoted by the international phonetic alphabet with two letters, and produced only in the presence of lingual movement?
Starbucks barista: [calling for security]

And today I discover to my dismay that all of this training is for naught, and that my time might well have been better spent remembering my friends’ birthdays and watching Star Trek: The Next Generation reruns. Because, as so eloquently pointed out to me, my human expertise in the field of speech-language pathology is simply no match for the technological expertise that analyzes the speech patterns of young children as well as information regarding children’s language environment and development. Which leaves me to simply twiddle my thumbs and eat bon bons while a computer objectively identifies the number of conversational turns a mom has with her baby (Mom: Ga ga! Baby: Ga ga ga! Computer: Congratulations! You have just completed one full conversational turn!) and the complexity of the sentence structures used by the parental figures (Mom: Stop chewing on mommy’s expensive jewelry! Computer: Congratulations! With the plethora of grammatical forms utilized in your conversational turn, including but not limited to present progressive -ing ending, possessive form, adjective, noun, and an imperative negation, your baby will be attending Harvard before his seventh birthday! As long as he stops eating jewelry!)

This technology, known as LENA, appears unnecessary, and I’ll tell you why. While it’s based on solid research that indicates the quantity of speech input and output experienced by a child between the ages of birth to three is correlated with that child’s IQ and vocabulary size, LENA (as per “was developed to give parents useful information to help ensure they are providing the richest language environment possible to their children during the critical years between birth and age 4, before they enter school.”

The problem is that those parents who are both sufficiently concerned and financially equipped to purchase LENA are the parents who are already likely providing their child with an adequate environment of enriched language input and whose child is more likely to acquire the language necessary to reach their academic potential in the school environment. And were those parents to have concerns about their child’s language development, they could access the free early intervention services provided through the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act Part C, by which a simple screening could either validate or ease their concerns, and without the $200 price tag attached to LENA. On the other hand, those families who would most likely benefit from LENA, whose children may be at a higher risk for speech and language disorders, are those for whom LENA is likely a resource they cannot afford to access. Once again, a free screening by a real human who can identify areas of concern and connect the family with early intervention specialists who can support and advise the family in an environment conducive to family need, such as the home or daycare setting, is a more realistic and inclusive approach than LENA.

But to further prove my point, I think I’ll buy LENA anyway. She might be able to analyze speech patterns, but let’s watch her spend seven hours a day evaluating and treating speech and language disorders in young children while managing concomitant attentional and behavioral challenges. My guess is that I’ll still make a better speech pathologist than she does.

–Troi out

Sep 7

Today I went to export a wedding video I’d made from my computer to my camera. I was quite distressed to find my computer spouting rude messages blocking me from completing this task, specifically, a message stating: “Your firewire camera is not powered on or is not available. Please try again.” Certainly, I thought to myself, my computer must be incorrect. It is fallible, much more so than I, and it is not looking directly at the plug that is attached to my camera. So I tried again, at the request of my computer, with no more favorable result.

The enlightenment of a good friend (you know who you are) revealed to me that I had not plugged in the firewire cable, but instead a power plug. It was not any power plug. It was not even a plug that serves any sort of computer or videocamera purpose at all. It was in fact my cell phone charger that I was plugging into my camera.

It turns out that many people make this same mistake. Did you know that the recent number of lay-offs in high-end video production companies is because of the fact that employees are constantly trying to charge their cell phones with their firewire cables and using their cell phone chargers to attempt to import and export video footage? It turns out that there are an estimated 5,000 hours of unproductivity per year due to this very error. Production supervisors have yet to determine the cause of this confusion, due to the striking differences between these two separate entities, including their shape, size, and the fact that one plugs into the back of your computer while the other plugs into a wall outlet. And I have now been offered a hefty sum of money to go into these companies and train employees to distinguish between cell phone chargers and firewire cables. I have accepted the job, and I’m going to start with a variety of demonstrations of what not to do, such as showing employees what happens when they try to film footage with their computer and edit the footage on their cell phones.

Okay, well, approximately 100 percent of that last paragraph was false. I was trying to redeem myself but it appears there is no redemption for an error of this magnitude. Next thing you know I’ll be brushing my teeth with the car keys and sticking my toothbrush in the ignition. Is there no end to this lack of common sense?

There should be a moral here. I’m just not sure what it is.

–Troi out