Wordsmiths – Quality grammar, vocabulary, and writing materials in the field of English
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Our mission is to provide teachers and students with quality grammar, vocabulary, and writing materials in the field of English. Home schools, Christian schools, and private schools currently use and recommend our materials.
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Notes from the Smithy… #96
Hello from Southern Oregon. We are into the hot weather and fire danger, but God is good. We had a wet spring and lots of rain. For most of you, school is out for a few weeks. Relax and enjoy the time off.
NEWS what’s happening
JUST FOR FUN quiz for bright folks
JOBS & PAPERWORK one experience
QUICK READ a method
RECENT READS a few from me
MISCELLANY as it says
ONLY FROM ME: Yes, I still have these tests and answers and make them available for free via email. 1) I have the major tests for the vocabulary books. There are six of these tests, one for each nine weeks of work. 2) I have finished the final test for Jensen’s Grammar. It is 100 questions and quite comprehensive. You do have to email me at email@example.com to get them. I am the only source for these tests. You will have to print them off. Each set includes the test and the answers.
My sale continues on Jensen’s Grammar and Jensen’s Format writing. The Grammar Land series is no longer on sale. As previously mentioned, the grammar books are new but have a name written on the inside cover. I only have about ten of these left. The writing books are also new. Some have a bent corner or some discoloration on the covers, but others have no noticeable problems. If you want more than ten of the writing books, email me. I have to charge a bit more for shipping.
This coming year around January, my fellow author of the Grammar Land series is returning from the foreign field. He has been a teacher of English at schools on military bases overseas. Once he resettles back in the states, he will take over the reins for the Grammar Land series. He says he would like to write a sixth book. Time will tell.
JUST FOR FUN
This is a quiz for people who know everything. These are not trick questions. They are straight questions with straight answers. See how many you can answer and enjoy.
- Name the one sport in which neither the spectators nor the participants know the score or the leader until the contest ends.
- What famous North American landmark is constantly moving backward?
3 Of all vegetables, only two can live to produce on their own for several growing seasons. All other vegetables must be replanted every year. What are the only two perennial vegetables?
- What fruit has its seeds on the outside?
- Only three words in standard English begin with the letters dw. They are all common words. Name them.
- There are 14 punctuation marks in English grammar. Can you name at least half of them?
- Name the only vegetable or fruit that is never sold frozen, canned, processed, cooked, or in any other form except fresh.
- Name 6 or more things that you can wear on your feet beginning with the letter s.
- Litotes is understatement; what is the word which means to overstate or exaggerate?
- What do we call the right side of a ship and why?
If you want the answers, go to jsgrammar.com, my website. You will find them under the MISC pulldown menu when you look at Fun Things.
JOBS & PAPERWORK
A few weeks back a young girl whose family I know quite well spoke to me about getting a job at a relatively large employer in our area. She was home schooled and had some prior work experience doing various odd jobs but had never been employed at what we normally would call a regular job. She asked if I would be a reference for her, and I agreed.
We chatted about how the situation came about. She shared with me that she had found the job online and had applied online. The company had called and interviewed her on the phone but said it was just the first step in their process.
At any rate she needed a resume and so forth. She went to Jensen’s Format Writing and read the information in Section 4, Business Writing of the book. She filled out the resume information sheet, wrote a resume for herself, and sent it in. I did not help her.
She was called for a second interview and then a final interview. She did everything right. She sent a thank you note after the face to face interview. She came with copies of her resume and a list of questions to ask the interviewer. The interviewers were impressed and told she was very organized. The upshot of it all was that not only did she get the job, they told that her because she did so well she would get a work schedule that approximated a regular work week.
Her younger sister at about the same time asked if I would be a reference for her for an entirely different type of job with the YMCA. I agreed. She was asked to write a letter as to why she should be considered for the job. She wrote it and formatted it according to the style provided in that same section on business writing. We went over that letter together, and I made a couple of suggestions regarding the order of some of her statements. She also got the job she applied for.
All of the above is to say that Jensen’s Format Writing has some very practical information in it. Much of that business section came from my practical experience in teaching a career skills class at a vocational college for a couple of years. Many of my students there would come to class with tales of trying some of my techniques and getting positive results. I have quite a number of copies on hand, and I am selling them at a good discount. As you can see from the above, anybody looking for job can use the business section of the book to give them a leg up on the competition. Get your copy from me while they are on sale.
What follows is a method for quickly reading and getting the main information out of an expository book. It doesn’t work for fiction since fiction is quite different from regular expository writing. This method saved me hours when I was in graduate school and had to do a series of book reports for an education class. I developed it out of sheer need. At the time I was taking a full load of classes, probably 15-17 units, and working four part time jobs to earn enough money to stay in school. Needless to say, time was at a premium.
This method works well for books that are well organized. Some authors are more discursive and wander around while trying to make their points. Those books are more difficult to deal with. Nevertheless, the method worked for me when I needed it most.
All of the books I read were library books and were on a reserve shelf for that particular class. The method itself is pretty simple. I would read the first and last paragraphs of each chapter and the first sentence of every other paragraph. I would also read the prologue or forward if one existed. Sometimes a cursory glance at the flaps on the cover of a book was helpful.
The key for me was to extract some specific information. I had about four or five questions that I wanted to answer in my reports. My reports were all alike. I made up a format that would cover what I thought was important, and then I would write to fill in the blanks. There were two main types of information I included. One type was pretty much what could be taken from a bibliography card along with the background of the author. The second had to do with the author’s thoughts and philosophy on the subject, which was junior colleges in the higher education system in the US.
The second part filled the bulk of my short paper. We had 17 books to read in 18 weeks. Some of the books were small, and some were pretty lengthy. I went to the library, looked over the books, and made up a schedule for myself to get the books read and the reports written. I wanted to finish early because when finals came around, I didn’t want to be having to write book reports. The whole system worked out well for me, and I was the only one in the class to end up turning in all the reports and as I remember the only person in the class to get an A.
Note that I did not cheat on this assignment. I read in each and every book, got the information I needed, and dumped it into a pre-formatted report form I had come up with. Of course in those days, it was done on an Underwood typewriter. There was no such thing as cut and paste. So, thinking ahead, developing a plan, and executing it according to a time schedule worked for me, and it will for whoever follows the same pattern.
This past quarter seemed to zoom by. There were fields to mow and winter wood to cut and bring in. Oh, where does the time go? You will find my reviews below.
The first book I read was by Otto E. Reichert. He had a couple hundred copies printed, and I received one from a friend. It was entitled My Comrades Screamed Otto, Pray! Otto, Pray!
His story is one of God’s grace in keeping him from harm. His recollections as a German Christian going through the war show that good folks get caught in bad circumstances. The actual section on his time in the war and his escape afterwards to West Germany is adventuresome reading. The part about his coming to Canada and later the US is rather brief. At the end he warns his readers of a world-wide Satanic conspiracy and says we will all go through the tribulation. His Christian experience and perspective is evident throughout the book. He included a number of pictures which were a positive addition to the book.
The story is a bit of a ramble and somewhat disjointed at times, but he makes his point, namely, that God’s way is best even when it seems not to be at the time.
Flash is the #2 book in the Archform:Beauty series by L.E.Modesitt Jr. This one started slow for me. I realize the author was setting the stage and providing background material, but it was slow going and not too enticing to begin with. Things picked up about a third of the way through, and by then things were beginning to make sense and unfold. The use of unfamiliar terms, safo for safety officer for instance, and lots of acronyms for various organizations required some concentration as well.
Jonat, the main character, has inner and outer conflicts. Inwardly he struggles with what ought to be done and isn’t and how the law seems to protect the guilty instead of the innocent. Outwardly someone is out to kill him, and he wants to survive. It all comes together in the end although some things are not fully resolved, but that’s the real world anyway.
The author does have some interesting things to say about law and justice and how most folks just want to keep their heads down and avoid any change since it would disrupt their lives. It is not all cynical, but those thoughts have a certain relevance to today’s world.
While I liked the book, it was not as good as his fantasy stuff in my opinion. In the author’s defense, I admit to not having read #1 in the series; maybe that would have helped me deal with the familiarization process at the beginning of the book.
Tara K. Barthel and David V. Edling’s book is entitled Redeeming Church Conflicts: Turning Crisis Into Compassion and Care. The term that best describes this book is useful. The authors would make points and then illustrate them from their past experiences in helping churches. All churches have conflicts; they never cease although they may subside and be somewhat under the surface, so the book applies to all churches in some fashion or another.
Forgiveness and humility are high on their list. Owning up to one’s sin in the situation and realizing that somehow each person needs to contribute to the solution are two good thoughts expressed in the book. Reality and experience show that it is rare that all folks will be reconciled even when the conflict is resolved. There is always fallout.
They lean on the leaders for most of the responsibility in a conflict. Either the leaders generate the problem themselves, or they don’t handle it well if it occurs from within the rank and file. The book is readable and generally flows along fairly well. I recommend it to any church.
I took my wife to the mall one day, so I had some reading time. I took along Hondo by Louis L’Amour. Yes, I have the 1953 edition, tattered as it is. I’d read it before many years back; it was still good. It has all the standard stuff: Indians and cavalry, a pretty woman and a couple of weasels, encounters with difficulties of men and nature, and even a dog that plays a part. The good guy, Hondo, wins, and the bad guys get their just dues. It was fine reading and fun along with some Apache or desert wise tips on survival in the desert. John Wayne played Hondo in the movie, and he said about the book, “Best western novel I have ever read!” I won’t go quite that far, but it is certainly in my top ten.
Kevin DeYound and Ted Kluck authored Why We Love the Church: In Praise of Institutions and Organized Religion. This book was a mixed bag for me. I thought the content was spot on and the issue important, but I was somewhat put off at times by the writing style. It is a serious topic, but the treatment at times was pretty casual. My own pastor reminded me that the book was not written for folks like me, meaning my age bracket; it was written for millennials. OK, I get it. My 70 plus years aren’t tuned in to the thirty something crowd that well it seems.
So what bothered me about the bookt? I am thinking it was about the organization at times. Ideas seemed to get introduced and not taken up; there seemed to be a randomness at times, sort of like a discussion among friends that wandered around from point to point. Now, I really liked some of the statements. Here’s one: “Jesus didn’t say, ‘If you love me, you will be close to me.’” This was stated as a refutation of those who want relationships without rules. Nice!
I think the book is worth reading, especially if you have those who are leaving or have left the church, and you are pursuing them to return. There is a lot of dissatisfaction with the church, and rightly so, but the fact remains that the church is where God sends His people. The authors make this point. How about Acts 2:47 where it says, “And the Lord added to the church daily those who were being saved.” I suppose the argument of this being the early church so that makes it different from today’s version of the church carries some weight. However, the authors address the view that says the early church is the model we need to follow and get back to, and they give some good arguments to rebut that position. I do recommend the book for its ideas. Read it and be informed. It is well documented.
Aha, I found #2 in the Defenders of Shannara series by Terry Brooks. It is called The Darkling Child.
Having read the previous book in the series, I found this to be a good second installment. The villain, Arcannen Rai, is just as malicious and dangerous as before. Paxon Leah, the hero, has another inconclusive conflict with him. Some new characters are introduced, a young fellow with the wishsong ability, a girl who switches sides, and a Federation military man who complicates things.
It seems to me this book is a side story to the central conflict with Arcannen and Paxon. It is still a good story, and the familiar characters keep some of the continuity from the first novel. The ending is merely a resting point, not a real conclusion, except for Reyn and Lariana. They may resurface again since he has the gift, but that will be the author’s call. If you like Terry Brooks, you will like this book. I did.
The next book I read was Vinegar Girl by Anne Tyler. This is a current book. It was rated as the number one fiction book for 2016 by World Magazine. Their review interested me, so I bought it and read it in one day. It is modeled after Shakespeare’s The Taming of the Shrew. Kate is the main character in both.
I should say that the characters in this book are just that, characters. They are quirky, somewhat pathetic, and funny. Cousin Richard’s line toward the end says it all, “No normal person could understand you people.”
The story progresses as Kate changes. She is still her acerbic self at the end, but sensitivity towards others develops, and it makes her a fuller person. So she is still quirky but in a nicer way.
This book was fun to read; in spots it was laugh out loud with tears. Oh, these poor people and what they do to themselves. Honestly, I am glad they are not my relatives, but they are dear folk, just different in a variety of ways yet still so human.
- This newsletter is posted quarterly on the website, and it is emailed free to those who wish to subscribe. You will note my website and this newsletter are pretty free of commercials, and that is the way I intend to keep it.
- Remember, if you have questions, I am only an email away, firstname.lastname@example.org. I am your support, so use me when the need arises. I try to email a response within a day or two. The more specific the question, the better my answer will be. The folks at New Leaf will also be answering questions as time goes by.
- To those of you who purchase, use, and recommend my books, please accept my thanks. It is gratifying to know that so many have been helped over the years.
- The next issue of Smithy Notes will likely appear sometime in the fall. The future is unknown, but for now I plan to do another issue or two. These days I am taking it one issue at a time and writing as the impulse moves me.
By His grace alone,