When affordable housing doesn’t really mean what you think it means

In my neck of the universe, and likely in your own, words are prone to losing their meaning.

Take “affordable” as the most recent example of a word I once thought I understood. I looked it up just now to check and found this definition in my go-to online dictionary, Merriam-Webster:

able to be afforded

Well OK then. It’s just as I thought, but more vague than I remembered. M-W goes on to define affordable housing as housing that is “not too expensive for people of limited means.”

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Rendering of a wee-Cottage. (Boulder Creek Neighborhoods / Courtesy Photo)

Again, rather vague. What is “too expensive”? When do means qualify as limited?

Affordable is a relative term that can no longer stand alone and have any real meaning, but the news media and peddlers of sundry goods rarely qualify it as they should.

Take this story about the “wee-Cottages” coming soon to the southeast part of Longmont, Colorado. As if the hyphen and mysterious capitalization weren’t unreal enough, the story says these no-doubt-cute little places will be listed in the low-$300,000s. Presumably they are all at least temporarily affordable, because 27 of the 102 wee dwellings will be permanently affordable in the low- to mid-$200,000s.

Permanently? Nothing is permanent.

This is what affordable actually means in our little piece of Boulder County:

able to be afforded by some people but not by many whose means are actually limited

If a guy tells you something is “affordable,” ask him to complete the sentence.

 

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Vultures circling, Denver Post calls for its own sale

Anyone who understands the importance of a strong, free press will be disturbed about the precarious state of journalism in Colorado.

So dire is the situation that the Denver Post today called out its owner, a New York City hedge fund, for yet another round of cutbacks. It called on Alden Global Capital to sell the newspaper to an owner that is “willing to do good journalism.”

The Denver Post has done good journalism for decades but is being starved of the resources it needs to continue. These are challenging times for most news organizations, yet many, including The Post, can and do remain viable if that’s what ownership wants.

The Post’s ability to fulfill its important role in the community has been diminished by round after round of greed-induced reductions in newsroom personnel. The latest cuts will further damage its ability to keep us informed.

I could go on, but read the newspaper’s own call for action and act accordingly:

As vultures circle, The Denver Post must be saved

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When message trumps spelling and grammar

Much human written communication is more clear if the spelling, grammar and punctuation are good.

Having said that, I will be embarrassed if you find a typo or other mistake in this post. If you do, feel free to mock me. I write and edit for a living, after all, so you should expect a certain level of quality in this space.

However, please think before you belittle anyone else over such details.

Sometimes spelling and grammar are simply not important.

Twitter users like to pick on poor spellers. Those pickers annoy me to no end, regardless of the pickee*. Their reactions to a Trump tweet a few weeks ago were typical.

Here’s one example.

Brian Klaas is a journalist, by the way. You can find my response here if you’re interested, but here’s a summary:

I don’t care that Trump can’t spell or punch letters on his phone without making a mistake. Millions of people are poor spellers. It doesn’t matter. The message matters.

Mocking a person over spelling in social media marks you as a snob.

For another example of what matters, take a look at Inmate Blogger, which I came across just the other day. Read a few of the posts by incarcerated men and women.

Some are polished and punctuated to near perfection.

Some are profoundly eloquent in their rawness.


 

* pickee: One who is picked upon. If it is not in your dictionary, it should be.

Homo sapiens in nature

Nature doesn’t exist
apart from us, Rabbit Mountain mule deerand we do not live
apart from nature.
It surrounds us, permeates us.
We are in it, and of it.

We are no less a part of nature than
chattering wrens and howling wolves,
flitting butterflies and buzzing bees,
mountain forests and lakes and raging
rivers and meadows alive with wildflowers.

Squirrels outside a window,
birds at the neighbor’s feeder,
mule deer grazing on a hillside
take what they need to live
while we claim to be wise.

What do documentarians do?

Some people who write documentation call themselves documentarians (6 syllables), leading me to conclude that they produce documentaries and like to use long words.

To say they are documenters (4 syllables) would be more concise. What they do is document stuff.

I generally use writer. ~ B.J.

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Giving away a story of dealing with Alzheimer’s Disease

If you read to the bottom of my previous post, you might be surprised to learn that there is one book I am more than happy to just give to anyone who might find it useful.

Mom
Rosemary

Miles to Go: An Alzheimer Journal is free for the next few days on Amazon. Beyond that, since the platform limits how long I can offer it for nothing, it’s the minimum of $.99. Anyone who wants the book but doesn’t like buying online can just ask me for a PDF any time using this simple form.

I initially published the whole thing on a previous blog so anyone who came across it could read freely. Having it on Amazon makes it possible to reach more people.

Since the scourge of Alzheimer’s Disease remains an awful reality for so many, I hope others can learn from my family’s experience, as did the reader who included this in an online review:

“I even took notes because the emails showed subtle changes that many other family members could not see and yet is what everyone in this type of situation is going through.”

B.J.