Archive for the ‘Read with Care’ Category

Service of Who Reads?

Monday, December 20th, 2021

Image by StockSnap from Pixabay  

If you can’t boil down your thought to 280 characters–the length of a Tweet–or a photo caption you’ll probably lose much of your audience these days. That’s one reason for the demise of many newspapers and bookstores. We’ve been told in countless ways by innumerable people: few read.

In several previous posts I’ve written about outrageous fees and mistakes in choosing products where crucial facts were tucked in the fine print. To ignore them could be problematic.

Not all missed words are negative. Seventy students–freshman to senior–in a music class at a University in Chattanooga learned their lesson when they glossed over a three-page syllabus Professor Kenyon Wilson, associate head of performing arts, handed out at the start of last semester. They all missed a lovely surprise.

Isabella Grullón Paz reported what happened in The New York Times. The University of Tennessee professor wanted to “brighten up the semester during the pandemic.”  She wrote: “… on the second page of the three-page syllabus he included the location and combination to a locker, inside of which was a $50 cash prize.” His words: “Free to the first who claims; locker one hundred forty-seven; combination fifteen, twenty-five, thirty-five.”

The professor said “The syllabus is a really dry document. I mean, it’s not supposed to be exciting to read, but I thought if my students are going through and reading it, I might as well reward them.” At the close of the semester–a few weeks ago–he posted the upshot on Facebook.

When I text or email I ask only one question to most friends, colleagues or clients because 99 percent of the time they have the patience or attention span to answer only one.

Do you observe any impact on people who are out of the habit of reading? Have you missed something–good or bad–because you whipped through an agreement or contract or syllabus? Do you still read books, recipes, magazines or newspapers?

Image by StockSnap from Pixabay 

Service of Slow Reading

Thursday, September 25th, 2014

group reading

In Jeanne Whalen’s article, “Read This as Slowly as You Can,” she wrote, “Slow reading means a return to a continuous, linear pattern, in a quiet environment free of distractions.” She explained in her Wall Street Journal article: “Screens have changed our reading patterns from the linear, left-to-right sequence of years past to a wild skimming and skipping pattern as we hunt for important words and information.”

reading onlineIn addition to “saying it improves their ability to concentrate, reduces stress levels and deepens their ability to think, listen and empathize,” Whalen identified substantive reasons reading a book–in traditional or e-book format–was beneficial:

  • “A study of 300 elderly people published by the journal Neurology last year showed that regular engagement in mentally challenging activities, including reading, slowed rates of memory loss in participants’ later years.”
  • “A piece of research published in Developmental Psychology in 1997 showed first-grade reading ability was closely linked to 11th grade academic achievements.”

Regardless, she reported a Pew Research Center survey of Americans 18 years and older that showed 76 percent had read a book “this year” vs. 79 percent three years ago.

old person readingNothing earthshaking about this information yet, right?

What struck me was what Whealen wrote about the growing trend of groups formed to slow read. She identified such places as Seattle, Boston, Minneapolis, Brooklyn, Orange County, Calif. and New Zealand.

Given that reading a book, much like writing one, is a one-person project [unless you’re reading out loud to someone], why does anyone require a group of others to do so? Whalen reports that the objective of one of these clubs is “to get away from pinging electronic devices and read, uninterrupted.” While she doesn’t say so, I wonder if these groups are simply a pleasant way for people to get to know new people. Or could they actually be like any of the many proven groups that help people address addictions, to give the readers permission to unplug from all their speedy devices with the support of others in the same boat to do so?

in the same boat

Service of Reading the Fine Print

Thursday, February 13th, 2014

Fine Print

I’ve railed against teensy type in photo captions, especially when an art director puts copy on top of an image or colored type against a dark background. Guess he/she figures nobody reads captions so the objective is to make the page look good.

But the fine print I had in mind for this post was more about fees that are easy to miss.

charityI received a request to support a small-town businessman with hefty bills to pay for melanoma treatments. The email came from the upstate car dealer from whom we’ve bought or leased cars for years. He obviously shared his database for the cause.

I followed the link to the website that was collecting the money. Most donated from $10 to $100 [your choices start at $100 but there was an “other” option] and a few gave $1,000.

When I looked they were $2,000 short of the $30,000 goal.

In addition to amount, a donor had other choices. You could post your name or be anonymous; jot a message or not but the donation appeared on the list. In small print next to a box to check [or not] you were asked to agree to cover the $8.20 transaction fee. When I looked in there were 271 donors so the website’s fees were $2,222.

Crowded barI knew a woman who had many friends in NYC police and fire departments and she frequently went to fundraisers at neighborhood bars for life or death causes, education funds for orphaned kids and the like. The bars threw in snacks and made money off the beer they sold. In this context an $8.20 transaction fee may be a legitimate cost, though I think that there should be a ceiling. If a community generates mostly $10 donations to reach a $30,000 goal, the fee would be outrageous–$24,600–and if the family had to pay it, they’d be only $5,400 ahead.

Have you heard of ways a community can help someone in time of financial crisis?

What are your thoughts about the online method of gathering such support?

 Doctor bills


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