CYA News Vol. 3, Issue 4: Mouth-Brain Disconnect / OpenOffice

Posted: June 5, 2011 in CYA News

Conversational FUBAR
I don’t know how often this happens to other people, but lately it’s been an issue for me. Have you ever been in a social situation and, in your mind, you respond to something in a perfectly appropriate manner, but what comes out your mouth is completely different? Take, for example, the other day at Tae Kwon Do. Throughout a single class, a typical student will say, “Yes, sir!” roughly two dozen times. We’re halfway through the class and one of those “Yes, sir!” moments comes up. And what comes out of my mouth? “Yes, ma-” I stopped halfway through the word “ma’am” because I realize there’s been a breakdown in the internal communication between my brain and my mouth. Now, you could explain this one away because a female instructor had taught the previous class I attended, but you would think a mistake like that would happen at the beginning of class, not the middle, right?

Then there are the moments when you mean to say something that has a full line of logical thinking, but what you say comes across the wrong way. At Christmas many years ago, my brother and I were to receive our own wallets. One of them was made of nice leather and had a cool strap that kept it closed. The other was a cheaper, faux-leather number, but was still fairly nice. My parents gave me first pick since I was the oldest. Now, my younger brother is horribly prone to losing things, even to this day. He’ll put something down, forget about it for about two minutes and then spend the next hour or two trying to find it. So, my thinking was that it would be less costly to my parents if the faux-leather wallet was lost than the nice (and more expensive) one. Perfectly reasonable, right? I could have explained this line of reasoning, or simply said, “I’ll take that one.” Even pointing to it and grunting would have been an acceptable option. Instead, what came out was, “I’ll take that one because it’s more expensive.” My aunt laughed her head off, and my folks chewed me out because I sounded like a total snot. They nearly made me take the cheaper one. I had to do some serious back-pedaling to explain why I said what I did.

What’s worse is when the disconnect happens, and I don’t even realize it! I’ll be rolling merrily along in a conversation with my wife, and she’ll suddenly give me a weird look. She’ll ask me what I mean, and then I – unaware that I’ve made a conversation fail – will procede to explain what I thought I said thus confusing her even more. Then she’ll say, “That’s not what you said a second ago.” Me: “I didn’t?” Her: “Um, no.” Is this an early form of aging? I am approaching 30, but I didn’t think I’d start getting senile yet.

Ugh. Well, at least I can always trust my writing to be solid, right?…Guys?

Weekly Showcase: OpenOffice
A word processor has taken the place of pen and paper, and the typewriter as the writing implement of modern-day writers of all kinds. Unfortunately, word processors can tend to be either A) very good, but very expensive or B) very cheap, but very terrible. Luckily, Sun Microsystems (now owned by Oracle) developed an open source office application package that works beautifully. The best part? It’s completely free. It boasts a collection of six applications that can be thought of as stripped down version of their Microsoft counterparts. Now, while they may have fewer advanced features than MS Office, OpenOffice keeps the lion’s share of the stuff for everyday folks like you and me.

The Writer program is their word processor, and I began using it toward the tail end of The Thief and the Red Mandolin. It made formatting so much easier and even has integrated conversion to PDF feature. This is especially helpful to me when I’m designing the final interior of a book and uploading it to CreateSpace. What’s more, it can save and open a wide variety of file formats (unlike the other word processor). But, my favorite thing is that it doesn’t try to think for you like Word does. I feel less insulted by the software. Now, it’s the only program I use for writing books. Both Istburn and Project R were written exclusively on OpenOffice Write.

Calc is OO’s spreadsheet application. It functions in much the same way as Excel, but you see more differences in the user interaction here than between Writer and Word. However, it’s still a wonderful program and fairly intuitive. I use it for our personal budget and any time I need a spreadsheet.

I haven’t really dug into the rest of the applications, but I hope to at some point. Impress is their version of PowerPoint, Base is comparable to Access, Draw is much like CorelDRAW or MS Visio, and Math is similar to MS Equation Editor.

Alrighty, this issue in now in the books. Have you had any memorable conversation goofs?

Next week: Gladiator and John C. Maxwell

  1. […] this last week I had a major brain malfunction (see Vol. 3, Issue 4) and forgot to post this.  No excuses, no busy schedule really.  I just flat out forgot.  My […]

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