WHY DID I NOT THINK OF THAT?

February 17, 2018


Portions of this post were taken from Design News Daily.

How many times have you said that? It’s called the Eureka moment – a sudden flash of intuition that leads us down a path to a wonderful, new, productive solution. Most of us have had such moments, but a select few have parlayed them into something grand, something that changes the world. That was the case for Arthur Fry, inventor of the Post-It Note and Richard James, inventor of the Slinky toy. They took simple ideas – such as a sticky note and a coil spring — and touched hundreds of millions of lives with them.  Given below are nine Eureka Moments that actually produced workable and usable devices that have revolutionized and made life easier for all of us. Let’s take a look.

If you could see my computer and associated screen, you would see a “ton” of post-it-notes.  Most with scribbles, PIN numbers, telephone numbers, etc etc.  We all use them.

Legend has it that Post-It Note inventor Arthur Fry conjured up the idea for his product when the little scraps of paper in his Sunday hymnal kept falling out. To solve the problem, he used an adhesive developed by a 3M colleague, Dr. Spencer Silver. Silver’s reusable, pressure-sensitive adhesive was failing to stir interest inside 3M until Fry came along and made the mental connection to his hymnal.

In 1974, the two partnered to put the adhesive on small sheets of yellow paper and … a mythic product was born. They passed their sticky notes to fellow employees, who loved them. “I thought, what we have here isn’t just a bookmark,” Fry said. “It’s a whole new way to communicate.” They later put their product on the market, receiving an even stronger reaction. Lee Iacocca and other Fortune 500 CEOs reportedly wrote to praise it. Post-It Notes, as they soon became known, eventually were sold in more than 100 countries. At one point, it was estimated that the average professional received 11 messages on Post-It Notes per day. Fry received 3M’s Golden Step Award, was named a corporate researcher, became a member of the company’s Carlton Society and was appointed to its Circle of Technical Excellence.

(Image source: By Tinkeringbell – Own work, Public Domain/Wikipedia)

Ansa baby bottles are virtually impossible to find today, but they were all the rage in the mid-1980s.

The bottles, which have a hole in the middle to make them easy for babies to hold, were the brainchild of William and Nickie Campbell of Muskogee, OK, who designed them for their infant son. After filing for patents in 1984, they took out a loan, launched the Ansa Bottle Co., manufactured the plastic bottles, and enjoyed immediate success. They received editorial coverage in American Baby and Mothers Today, while inking deals with Sears, K-Mart, Walgreens, and Target, according to The Oklahoman. Their bottles even went on display in the Museum of Modern Art in New York City.

(Image source: US Patent Office)

Rolling luggage is an accepted fact of air travel today, but it wasn’t always so and I’m not too sure what we now would do without it.  The concept was slow to take hold, and achieved acceptance in two distinct steps. The first step occurred in 1970, when inventor Bernard Sadow observed an airport worker rolling a heavy machine on a wheeled skid. Sadow, who was at the time dragging his own luggage through customs after a trip to Aruba, had the proverbial “eureka moment,” according to The New York Times. Sadow’s solution to the problem was a suitcase with four wheels and a pull strap. To his surprise, however, the idea was slow to take off. That’s where the second step came in. In 1987, a Northwest Airlines pilot and workshop tinkerer named Robert Plath took it to the next level — developing an upright, two-wheeled suitcase with a long stiff handle. Plath’s so-called “Rollaboard” was the missing ingredient to the success of rolling luggage.

Today, his 30-year-old concept dominates air travel and is built by countless manufacturers — any patents having long since expired. The initial slow acceptance remains a mystery to many, however. Sadow, looking back at it years later, attributed the consumer reluctance to men who refused to take the easy way out. “It was a very macho thing,” he said.

(Image source photo: Design News)

OK, who on the planet has NOT owned and/or played with a slinky?  In 1943, Naval mechanical engineer Richard James was developing springs for instruments when he accidently knocked one to the floor, permanently altering the future of toy manufacturing. The spring subsequently stepped “in a series of arcs to a stack of books, to a tabletop, and to the floor, where it recoiled itself and stood upright,” writes Wikipedia. James reportedly realized that with the right steel properties, he could make a spring walk, which is exactly what he did. Using a $500 loan, he made 400 “Slinky” coil springs at a local machine shop, demonstrated them at a Gimbels department store in Philadelphia, and sold his entire inventory in ninety (90) minutes. From there, Slinky became a legend, reaching sales of 300 million units in 60 years. Today, engineers attribute Slinky’s sales to the taming of the product’s governing physical principles — Hooke’s Law and the force of gravity. But advertising executives argue that its monumental sales were a product of clever TV commercials. The song, “Everyone knows it’s slinky” (recognized by virtually everyone who lived through the 1960s and 1970s), is considered the longest-running jingle in advertising history.

(Image source: Wikipedia)

The Band-Aid (or “Band-Aid brand,” as Johnson & Johnson calls it) is in essence a simple concept – an adhesive strip with a small bandage attached. Still, its success is undeniable. The idea originated with Johnson & Johnson employees Thomas Anderson and Earle Dickson in 1920. Dickson made the prototype for his wife, who frequently burned herself while cooking, enabling her to dress her wounds without help. Dickson introduced the concept to his bosses, who quickly launched it into production.

Today, it is copied by many generic products, but the Band-Aid brand lives on. Band-Aid is accepted around the world, with more than 100 billion having been sold.

(Image source photo: Design News)

Today, it’s hard to imagine that an upside-down bottle was once considered an innovation. But it was. Ketchup maker H.J. Heinz launched a revolution in packaging after deciding that its customers were tired of banging on the side of glass bottles, waiting for their product to ooze out. The unlikely hero of their revolution was Paul Brown, a molding shop owner in Midland, MI, who designed a special valve for bottles of ketchup and other viscous liquids, according to an article in the McClatchey Newspapers. Brown’s valve enabled ketchup bottles to be stored upside down without leaking. It also allowed liquids to be easily delivered when the bottle was squeezed, and sucked back inside when force was released.

Brown was said to have built 111 failed injection-molded silicone prototypes before finding the working design. To his lasting delight, the successful concept found use with not only with Heinz, but with makers of baby food, shampoo, and cosmetics, as well as with NASA for space flights. In retrospect, he said the final design was the result of an unusual intellectual approach. “I would pretend I was silicone, and if I was injected into a mold, what I would do,” he told McClatchey. The technique apparently worked: Brown eventually sold his business for about $13 million in 1995.

Players of pinball may take the games’ dual flippers for granted, but they were an innovation when Steve Kordek devised them in 1948. Working for the Genco Co. in Chicago (a company he became acquainted with after stepping into its lobby to escape a heavy rain), Kordek became the father of the two-flipper pinball game. His lasting contribution was simple, yet innovative — the use of direct current (DC) to actuate the flippers, rather than alternating current (AC). DC, he found, made the flippers more controllable, yet less costly to manufacture. Over six decades, Kordek reached legendary status in the industry, producing games for Genco, Bally Manufacturing, and Williams Manufacturing, always employing his dual-flipper design. He worked until 2003, designing the Vacation America game (based on the National Lampoon Vacation movies) at age 92. But it was his DC-based, dual flipper design that shaped his legacy. “It was really revolutionary, and pretty much everyone followed suit,” David Silverman, executive director of the National Pinball Hall of Fame told The New York Times in 2012. “And it’s stayed the standard for 60 years.”

(Image source: By ElHeineken, own work/Wikipedia)

It’s difficult to know whether any individual has ever been credited with the design of the ergonomic bent snow shovel, but the idea is nevertheless making money … for somebody. Bent-handle snow shovels today are sold at virtually every hardware store and home center in the northern United States, and they’re a critical winter tool for millions of homeowners. The idea is that by putting a bend in the shaft, the horizontal moment arm between the shovel handle and the tip is shorter, putting less strain on the user’s lower back. Although there’s some argument on that point, it was recently proven by engineering graduate students at the University of Calgary, according to a story on CTVNews.com.

Studying the bent-handle shovels in the school’s biomechanics laboratory, engineers concluded that they require less bending on the part of users, and therefore reduce mechanical loads on the lower back by 16 percent. “I think that’s a pretty substantial reduction,” researcher Ryan Lewinson told CTVNews. “Over the course of shoveling an entire driveway, that probably would add up to something pretty meaningful.”

(Image source photo: Design News)

Erno Rubik, a Hungarian sculptor and professor of architecture, invented his famous game cube while trying to solve a structural problem. Although his goal had been to put moving parts together in a mechanism that wouldn’t fall apart, it gradually dawned on Rubik that he had created a puzzle of sorts.

His puzzle consisted of 26 miniature cubes, each having an inward extension that interlocked to other cubes, allowing them to move independently and in different directions. Initially called the Magic Cube, it was released in Budapest toy shops in 1977. It was later licensed to the Ideal Toy Co. in 1980, which changed its name to Rubik’s Cube to make it more distinctive. Its broader release started a craze in the early 1980s. Rubik’s Cube won Toy of the Year Awards in Germany, France, the UK, US, Finland, Sweden, and Italy. Between 1980 and 1983, 200 million cubes were sold worldwide. Clubs of “speedcubers” popped up around the world, it appeared on the cover of Scientific American, books were written about it, and The Washington Post called it “a puzzle that’s moving like fast food right now. “Today, Rubik’s Cube continues to sell and enthusiasts continue to test their skill against it. Total sales are said to have passed 300 million. In 2017, a speedcuber named SeungBeom Cho set a world record for solving the puzzle in 4.59 seconds.

(Image source photo: Design News)

CONCLUSIONS:  We all have ideas.  The difference is persistence in developing and marketing those ideas.

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SMASHVILLE

February 17, 2018


New word, right? SMASHVILLE!  For me also.  Our youngest granddaughter, Sophie is a die-hard Predators fan.  She loves the NHL and the Predators.  I have no idea where this came from but she knows all of the players, their names, numbers, the number of goals they have scored, the record last year; you name it, she knows it.  For her birthday, we gave her tickets to the PREDATOR’S game this past Thursday evening.  That essentially, I’m told, made her year.  Sophie’s picture is shown below.

The Nashville Predators played the Calgary Flames in a four (4) to three (3) heart-breaking loss. Thursday night was a tough night for Sophie.   This game was the eighty-fifth (85th) sellout for the team.  Nashville and the surrounding areas LOVE the NHL and the Predators. (Who would have thought die-hard football fans would love NHL hockey?)  The program for that event may be seen as follows:

The Predators are in the Central Division of the Western Conference along with the Winnipeg Jets, St. Louis Blurs, Dallas Stars, Minnesota Wild, Colorado Avalanche and the Chicago Blackhawks.  Last year they won their Central Division championship so, these guys are really good. The team plays in the Bridgestone Arena shown below.

The arena was designed at an angle on the corner of Broadway and 5th Avenue in physical homage to the historic Ryman Auditorium which was the original home of the Grand Ole Opry.   The arena has a seating capacity of 17,113 for ice hockey, 19,395 for basketball, 10,000 for half-house concerts, 18,500 for end-stage concerts and 20,000 for center-stage concerts.  As you can see from the JPEG below, the seating configuration is notable for the oddly-shaped south end, which features two large round roof support columns, no mid-level seating, and only one level of suites, bringing the upper-level seats much closer to the floor.  The arena also features 43,000 square feet of space in the trade show layout.  The facility was completed in 1996 and has remained the home of the Predators ever since.

We started the game with an absolutely beautiful rendition of “Oh Canada” and then the “Star Spangled Banner”.  I wish I could remember the name of the artist but can certainly say she had a marvelous voice.

As you might expect, just about every manner of refreshment known to man was available before, during and after the game as well as a very well-stocked gift shop. Sophie found the gift shop before and after the game.

Nashville or Smashville as Predator fans know it, is a fabulous town with a remarkable number of restaurants, shops, bars, tourist sites, etc. for every citizen and tourist to enjoy.  I can certainly recommend a Predator’s game, if you can get tickets.

Hope you enjoyed this one.

ORGANIC MENTORING

February 4, 2018


By virtue of a seminar my wife attended this past Saturday, I was made aware of a very interesting book entitled “Organic Mentoring” by Sue Edwards and Barbara Neumann.  My wife attended that seminar and came home with rave reviews relative to the presentation by Ms. Neumann.  The basis for the discussion was the relationship between “Baby Boomers” and the “X” Generation and Millennials. To get calibrated:

  • BABY BOOMERS–In 1964, the last year of the baby boom, there were nearly 72.5 million baby boomers. The population peaked in 1999, with 78.8 million baby boomers, including people who immigrated to the United States and were born between 1946and
  • “X-GENERATION”— Born 1965 to 1976. Sometimes referred to as the “lost” generation, this was the first generation of “latchkey” kids, exposed to lots of daycare and divorce. Known
    as the generation with the lowest voting participation rate of any generation, Gen Xers were quoted by Newsweek as “the generation that dropped out without ever turning on the news or tuning in to the social issues around them.”
  • MILLENNIALS OR GEN Y– Born 1977 to 1995. The largest cohort since the Baby Boomers, their high numbers reflect their births as that of their parent generation. The last of the Boomer Is and most of the Boomer II S. Gen Y kids are known as incredibly sophisticated, technology
    wise, immune to most traditional marketing and sales pitches…as they not only grew up with it all, they’ve seen it all and been exposed to it all since early childhood.

In looking at the three age groups, it becomes obvious there are distinct differences between individuals representing each group.  Let’s now take a look at what the two authors feel are the most-obvious differences.  Here we go:

OLDER GENERATION OR BABY BOOMERS:

  • Scientific method. Information is gained through careful study leading to reliable principles. Life is guided by these proven facts and principles.
  • Life works best when it is carefully organized.
  • Rules: Rules keep things running smoothly and efficiently.
  • Structure and Schedule: Structure and schedules keep tings strong.
  • Responsibility and Commitment: People should be able to count on you. If you make a commitment you should keep it.
  • Logic: Correct thinking and behavior is based on objective principles.  A class with a teacher and study aid is the best manner in which to learn.
  • Career Comes First: Willing to make sacrifices for the sake of a career.
  • Good Role Model: It is very important to set a good example and you try very hard. Perfection is the goal. You keep mistakes to yourself because they make you look weak or unspiritual.
  • Truth Can be Known: Some things are obviously true, some are not and it is not difficult to tell the difference.
  • Religions Traditions: Church membership and attendance is important.  Bible study is a priority. Your spiritual experiences are personal and private.

SUMMARY:  Boomers and seniors tend to think and learn systematically and are drawn to use logic and reason to understand things.  They love structure, rules, organization, control, privacy, and formulas that always work. Personal experiences are private.

YOUNGER GENERATION (GEN X AND MILLENNIALS)

  • Shaped by Technology: Information is gained through technology.  They connect, communicate, and “do” live through technology.
  • Life is Messy: They live in a mix of chaos and order.  They are OK with loose ends.
  • Organic is Better: Prefer what is natural: less formal, less structure, less organization. Attracted to simple and natural opportunities to learn and grow.
  • Requires Flexibility: Flexibility is a must to make their crowded schedules work.
  • Value-Added: They only make time for that which yields high value.
  • Experiential: Prefers to learn through experience.  They want “hands-on” truth instead of principles: they do not like formulas, pat answers, or five (5) steps.  They learn more through other’s life stories.
  • Development of Self Comes First: They want to develop themselves, and make positive contributions to the world.  Not attracted to jobs that put career above personal life.
  • Demands Authenticity: Open about themselves and their struggles: insists others be real with them; do not trust those they know nothing about or those who appear too perfect.
  • Relativistic: Truth is sometimes relative, there is not necessarily one right answer to every question.
  • Spiritually: Tends to be lukewarm about the church, membership is not a priority; they embrace the mysterious side of God; there is more than one way to be a Christian.

SUMMARY:  Next generation individuals think and learn in experiential ways, require flexibility, thrive in relationships and community, demand authenticity, love deep spirituality, value natural learning experiences, and are not typically drawn to traditional churches.

CONCLUSIONS:

I’m going to let you decide for yourself.  I personally know two young ladies in the “X” Generation that do NOT conform to conventional wisdom.  I suppose we all know people who do not.  I think individuals are much too complicated to be placed in groups and analyzed accordingly.

PINK

January 28, 2018


On Saturday January 27, 2018 the City of Chattanooga held the thirteenth annual Pink Gala.  This remarkable event is held to benefit the MaryEllen Locher Breast Cancer Center at Chattanooga Memorial Hospital.  Pink, honors the legacy of Mary Ellen, and remembers all of those who have lost their battle with cancer, and celebrates those survivors that continue after their illness is cured.   This event provides additional funding to maintain the most comprehensive breast cancer center in the region and in the state of Tennessee.

Breast cancer has affected each of us in some manner.  The American Cancer Society estimates that breast cancer in men in the United States for 2018 estimates are:  approximately 2,550 new cases of invasive breast cancer will be diagnosed.  About 480 men will die from breast cancer.  The lifetime risk for women:   Women in the U.S. have a “1 in 8” (or about 12 percent) lifetime risk of getting breast cancer. This means for every eight (8) women in the U.S., one (1) will be diagnosed with breast cancer during her lifetime.  HUGE NUMBERS.  The diagnosis of cancer affects not only the individual’s health but every aspect of family life.  As a comprehensive breast cancer center, the MaryEllen Center receives patients and provides state-of-the-art treatment while supporting then with nurse navigators, social workers, genetic counselors, and dieticians.  The Pink event has raised over $3.4 million dollars since its inception in 2006.  All money raised is used locally and directly affects impacted families in the Chattanooga Community.

We are going to take a pictorial visit to the event last night starting with the program.  As you can see, the theme for this year’s event was “A Night in Old Havana”.  I have to believe the day after the 2017 Pink Gala the organizers started working on the 2018 event.  The planning was absolutely flawless with every detail covered.  There were one hundred and thirty-seven (137) tables with ten (10) chairs per table.  Every chair was filled.  Each table had a “captain” responsible for inviting guests.  There were no empty chairs that I could see.

The program for the evening is given below.   As you can see, included was a remarkably great dinner including a delicious Cuban sandwich offered as appetizer.  It was GOOD.

As we entered the Chattanooga Convention Center we heard the Cuban band playing loud and clear.  No mistaken the origin of the music.  Accomplished musicians doing what they do best—warming up the attendees.

You can see from the digital picture below, the auditorium was decorated remarkably well with table cloths and napkins, obviously, PINK.  The size of the auditorium easily accommodated the fourteen hundred (1400) people in attendance.

The two best words any party-goer can hear, “open bar”.  There were no fewer that four bars open for business that night with no charge to the party-goers.

After a GREAT dinner, a silent auction was held to raise additional funds for the Center.

I want to give you an idea as to what items were offered for the auction.

  • A painting of the auditorium by noted Chattanooga painter Liz Lindstrom. The value of that painting was set at $3,500. Lindstrom was painting when we arrived so the finished work is not shown below but you can get some idea as to the quality of the piece.

  • QUARK Sculpture—Value, $30,000. (NOTE:  The final bid was approximately $38,000.)
  • Diamond necklace valued at $6,500.00
  • Hammerstein Highland Lodge in Jamaica. Six nights–$15,500.00. This is a gated community with every amenity you can think of.  Great place to escape—but with a price.
  • EPB (Electric Power Board) of Chattanooga Small Business Advertising Package—Valued at $9,000.00
  • Custom Men’s Suit by Bruce Baird—Valued at $1,000.00
  • Whirlpool Stainless Steel Refrigerator—Valued at $2,200.00
  • Porsche Driving Experience—Valued at $500.00.
  • Black Cashmere Cape with Fox Trim—Valued at $3,000.00
  • BMW Baby Racer—Valued at $129.00
  • Wine Cellar with Cooler—Valued at $1,550.00
  • Alabama Football Tickets—Valued at $600.00
  • Destin Condo at Breakers East—Valued at $3,400.00
  • Personal Jet Experience—Valued at $3,700.00

There were eighty items auctioned off that night during the benefit.  All items were sold. Nothing left.

After the auction, a terrific band called dancing to Party on the Moon.  I have no idea as to where this band came from but they were not local.  Eight members banging it out.

All-in-all, great event for a GREAT cause.  Everyone had a marvelous time.  We left at 10:45 which is later than I stay up 364 days each year but that’s ok.  None the worse for the wear.

ABIBLIOPHOBIA

January 10, 2018


Abibliophobia is the fear of running out of reading material.  Basically, just look up the Greek root-phobia and add whatever word you are afraid of, replace the ending with -o- and couple the results with phobia.  If you have any experience with libraries, the Internet, the back of soup cans, etc. you know there is more than enough material out there to be read and digested. It amazes me that this word has just “popped” up of the last few years.

Now, the World Wide Web is a cavernous source of reading material.  Indeed, it’s a bigger readers’ repository than the world has ever known, so it seems rather ironic that the term abibliophobia appears to have been coined on the Web during the last three or four years. It would seem impossible for anyone with regular access to the Internet to be an abibliophobe (someone suffering from a fear of running out of reading material) or to become abibliophobic when more and more reading matter is available by the hour.  Let’s look at just what is available to convince the abibliophobic individual that there is no fear of running out of reading material.

  • There Are More Than 440 Million Blogs In The World. By October 2011, there were an estimated 173 million blogs Nielsen estimates that by the end of 2011, that number had climbed to 181 million. That was four years after Tumblr launched, and in May 2011, there were just 17.5 million Tumblr blogs.  Today, there are over 360 million blogs on Tumblr alone, and there are millions more on other platforms. While there are some reliable statistics on the number of blogs in 2011, things have changed dramatically with the rise of services like Tumblr, WordPress, Squarespace, Medium and more. Exactly how many blogs there are in the world is difficult to know, but what’s clear is that blogs online number in the hundreds of millions. The total number of blogs on TumblrSquarespace, and WordPress alone equals over 440 million. In actuality, the total number of blogs in the world likely greatly exceeds this number. We do know that content is being consumed online more widely, more quickly, and more voraciously than ever before.
  • According to WordPress, 76.3 million posts are published on WordPress each month, and more than 409 million people view 22.3 billion blog pages each month. It’s interesting to see that there are about 1 billion websites and blogs in the world today. But that figure is not as helpful as looking at the other statistics involving blogging. For example, did you know that more than 409 million people on WordPress view more than 23.6 billion pages each month? Did you know that each month members produce 69.5 million new posts?
  • Websites with a blog have over 434% more indexed pages.
  • 76% of online marketers say they plan to add more content over the 2018 year.
  • There are an estimated 119,487 libraries of all kinds in the United States today.
  • It is estimated that there are 000 libraries in the world. Russia, India and China have about 50.000 each.

Thanks to Johannes Gensfleisch zur Laden zum Gutenberg, the written word flourished after he invented the printing press.  Gutenberg in 1439 was the first European to use movable type. Among his many contributions to printing are: the invention of a process for mass-producing movable type; the use of oil-based ink for printing books; adjustable molds; mechanical movable type; and the use of a wooden printing press similar to the agricultural screw presses of the period. His truly epochal invention was the combination of these elements into a practical system that allowed the mass production of printed books and was economically viable for printers and readers alike. Gutenberg’s method for making type is traditionally considered to have included a type metal alloy and a hand mold for casting type. The alloy was a mixture of lead, tin, and antimony melted at a relatively low temperature for faster and more economical casting.  His invention was a game-changing event for all prospective readers the world over.  No longer will there be a fear of or absence of material to read.

CONCLUSIONS:

I think the basic conclusion here is not the fear of having no reading material but the fear of reading.

  • If I read, I might miss my favorite TV programs.
  • If I read, I might miss that important phone call.
  • Why read when I can TWEET?
  • Why read when I can stream Netflix or HULU?
  • I’m such a slow reader. It just takes too much time.
  • I cannot find any subject I’m really that interested in.
  • I really have no quite place to read.
  • ___________________ Fill in the blanks.

Reading does take a commitment, so why not set goals and commit?


Mom and Dad taught us how to read so why have I not heard about, until now, the Flesch-Kincaid Grade Level Readability Index?  I suppose better late than never.  Let’s take a look.

Rudolph Flesch, an author, writing consultant, and the supporter of Plain English Movement, is the co-author of this formula along with John P. Kincaid, thus the Flesch-Kincaid Grade Level Readability Test. Raised in Austria, Flesch studied law and earned a Ph.D. in English from the Columbia University. Flesch, through his writings and speeches, advocated a return to phonics. In his article, A New Readability Yardstick, published in the Journal of Applied Psychology in 1948, Flesch proposed the Reading Ease Readability Formula.

In the mid-seventies, the US Navy was looking for a method to measure the difficulty of technical manuals and documents used by Navy personnel.  These manuals were used for training on hardware and software installed on ships and land-based equipment.  Test results are not immediately meaningful and to make sense of the score requires the aid of a conversion table. So, the Flesch Reading Ease test was revisited and, along with other readability tests, the formula was amended to be more suitable for use in the Navy. The new calculation was the Flesch-Kincaid Grade Level (1975).  The methodology is given as follows:

Grade level classifications are based on the attainment of participants in the norming group on which the test was given.  The grade represents norming group participants’ typical score. So, if a piece of text has a grade level readability score of six (6), this is equivalent in difficulty to the average reading level of the norming group who were at grade six (6 ) when they took the test. This test rates text on a U.S. school grade level. For example, a score of 8.0 means an eighth grader can understand the document. For most documents, aim for a score of approximately 7.0 to 8.0.

The actual formula and classification of the individual grades may be seen below:

Now, with that out of the way, President Donald Trump—who boasted over the weekend that his success in life was a result of “being, like, really smart”—communicates at the lowest grade level of the last 15 presidents, according to a new analysis of the speech patterns of presidents going back to Herbert Hoover. 

 

I want to come to President Trump’s defense, somewhat, as an employee at General Electric, we were told to write our Use and Care Manuals at a fifth (5th) grade level AND use plenty of pictures—plenty of pictures.  This President will probably never win an award for public speaking, and he communicates in a rather unique manner:  He does get his point across.

The very painful fact is that we have basically slaughtered the “King’s English” and our presidents are playing to a much less sophisticated audience than ever before.  The following chart will explain.

Sad—very sad.

As always, I welcome your comments.

Heavens to Murgatroyd

January 8, 2018


Portions of this post are attributed to: tobeerndt@yahoo.com

Our English language is constantly evolving to match changes in culture, religion, technology and other areas of reality.  Over the past two or three years the Oxford Dictionary of the English Language has added many new words.  A few of these words are given below:

  • Adorbs
  • Binge-watch
  • Cray
  • humblebrag
  • listicle
  • side boob
  • vape
  • YOLO
  • live-tweet
  • second screen
  • sentiment analysis
  • cord cutting
  • hyperconnected
  • acquihire
  • clickbait
  • Deep Web
  • Dox
  • Fast follower
  • Geocache
  • In silico
  • Smartwatch
  • Tech-savvy
  • Vaping
  • E-cig
  • Bro hug
  • Hot-mess

These new words describe to some extent where we are today relative to technology and “pop-culture”.  These new words are entirely appropriate, but just as sure as we add words, we remove from daily usage words that just do not seem to fit. Lost Words from our childhood: Words gone as fast as the buggy whip! Sad really! Let’s take a look.

Murgatroyd!…

Do you remember that word? Would you believe the email spell checker did not recognize the word Murgatroyd?  Heavens to Mergatroyd!  If you are over fifty (50) or even forty (40) you have said, Heavens to Mergatroyd.

The other day a not so elderly sixty-five (65) or maybe seventy-five (75) year old lady said something to her son about driving a Jalopy and he looked at her quizzically and said “What the heck is a Jalopy?”

OMG (new phrase)! He never heard of the word jalopy!! She knew she was old….. but not that old. Well, I hope you are Hunky Dory after you read this and chuckle.

About a month ago, I illuminated some old expressions that have become obsolete because of the inexorable march of technology. These phrases included “Don’t touch that dial,” “Carbon copy,” “You sound like a broken record” and “Hung out to dry.”

Back in the olden days we had a lot of ‘moxie.’ We’d put on our best ‘bib and tucker’ to’ straighten up and fly right’.

Heavens to Betsy! Gee whillikers! Jumping Jehoshaphat! Holy moley!

We were ‘in like Flynn’ and ‘living the life of Riley”, and even a regular guy couldn’t accuse us of being a knucklehead, a nincompoop or a pill. Not for all the tea in China.

Back in the olden days, life used to be swell, but when’s the last time anything was swell?

Swell has gone the way of beehives, pageboys and the D.A.; of spats, knickers, fedoras, poodle skirts, saddle shoes and pedal pushers. AND DON’T FORGET…. Saddle Stitched Pants

Oh, my aching back! Kilroy was here, but he isn’t anymore.

We wake up from what surely has been just a short nap, and before we can say, Well, I’ll be ‘a monkey’s uncle!’ Or, This is a ‘fine kettle of fish’! We discover that the words we grew up with, the words that seemed omnipresent, as oxygen, have vanished with scarcely a notice from our tongues and our pens and our keyboards.

Poof, go the words of our youth, the words we’ve left behind.  We blink, and they’re gone.  Where have all those great phrases gone? (My Favorite)” Let’s all go to the beach Saturday”..

Long gone: Pshaw, The milkman did it. Hey! It’s your nickel. Don’t forget to pull the chain. Knee high to a grasshopper. Well, Fiddlesticks! Going like sixty. I’ll see you in the funny papers. Don’t take any wooden nickels. Wake up and smell the roses.

It turns out there are more of these lost words and expressions than Carter has liver pills. This can be disturbing stuff! (“Carter’s Little Liver Pills” are gone too!)

We of a certain age have been blessed to live in changeable times. For a child each new word is like a shiny toy, a toy that has no age. We at the other end of the chronological arc have the advantage of remembering there are words that once did not exist and there were words that once strutted their hour upon the earthly stage and now are heard no more, except in our collective memory. It’s one of the greatest advantages of aging. Leaves us to wonder where Superman will find a phone booth… See ya later, alligator! Okidoki

Personally, I like the “old” phrases.  They have meaning to me and to those I associate with but like the lady with her grandson, I use these words and my grandchildren look at me as though I have just fallen off a turnip truck—flown in from an alien planet—come down from the mountain.  I suppose times are a-changing.

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