To Tell You the Truth, I’m Like Whatever

A recent poll out of the States listed the 5 most annoying words and phrases that people use.  Here’s my take on each of them along with another 5 that annoy me for different reasons.

Whatever.  This word likely tops the list because it’s over-used.  While many people use it to express indifference or to be accommodating, it quickly becomes annoying when no one makes a decision because they are trying to defer to others.  At the OYYAM, this word reared its ugly head in New Orleans when we were trying to figure out a place to eat for dinner.  We ended up going to a little place that we had passed 30 minutes earlier.  Before we knew it, 90 minutes had passed, and Analyn and I had to leave before receiving our food because we had another commitment!

Like.  This like doesn’t refer to the “like” feature on Facebook, rather the like tendency of people, like young and old, to like interject this word into like every single sentence sometimes like multiple times.  I don’t see this one going away anytime soon…a fact I dislike.

You know what I mean.  I admit it:  this is the one word/phrase from this list that I use way too often.  One of my best friends also uses it a lot, and we often bug each other about it.  While it might sound polite, as if checking for understanding from the listener, at least in my case it’s a lazy speech habit.

To tell you the truth.  I can’t stand it when someone starts a sentence with this.  It shouldn’t have to be stated that you’re about to give a truthful statement or opinion.  Same goes with the word “honestly.”  Am I supposed to conclude then that every sentence that doesn’t start with “to tell you truth” is a lie?

Actually.  I don’t really have a problem with this one, especially if it’s used properly as if correcting someone or stating a fact.  Actually, it’s a heck of a lot better than “to tell you the truth!”

Here are 5 more words and phrases that I find quite annoying:

360 degree turnaround.  People often talk about someone making a complete change in his life, and usually it’s a positive change.  Unfortunately, they use the term “360 degrees” in trying to show a turnaround.  This is obviously very wrong, as it’s 180 degrees that gets you moving in the opposite direction.  In fact, a 360 degree turn signifies no change at all, as you wind up going in the exact same direction you were moving initially.

At the end of the day.  This one is used a lot in sports, often when talking about an end goal or desired outcome:  “At the end of the day, it’s about improving every game” or “At the end of the day, we got the 2 points.”  This last example makes literal sense, as it gives a finite time-frame and objective way to measure success.  But it doesn’t necessarily work for everything.  Try this:  the next time you hear someone start of a sentence with “at the end of the day,” see if it truly matters if you look at it at day’s end, or if the start or middle of the day will suffice.

No offense/Don’t take this the wrong way.  I don’t care what the speaker is about to say to you…the mere fact that he’s started off his sentence this way:  you better brace yourself.  Somebody gonna get hurt…real bad.

Basically.  I can’t believe how much I used this word in everyday conversation.  I even catch myself saying it, but I can’t stop.  I think my intent is noble in trying to explain things in a clear and concise manner.  I just need to see if I can do so without saying “basically” every second sentence.

Um/uh.  As I continue to develop my public speaking skills, I need to remove some word whiskers (thanks Dave for the technical term!).  My most evident one is “uh” or “um.”  In contrast to “basically,” I’m not as aware when using these.  It’s when I watch video of myself (that sounded a tad ego-centric…haha) or listening to audio (still ego-centric) that it sticks out to me.

And lastly, here’s a bonus one:

We need to talk.  When I hear these words come from my lovely wife Gail, I know what she’s really saying:  “YOU NEED TO LISTEN!”  And as my friend Mark Hart would say:  this isn’t an invitation for a dialogue.

You know what I mean?

Youth Ministry "Flash Mob" at NCCYM 2010 in New Orleans

Here’s the Youth Ministry “Flash Mob” from the National Conference on Catholic Youth Ministry (NCCYM) held in New Orleans in December 2010. It features some of the biggest and brightest Catholic youth ministry speakers, worship leaders, and musicians…as well as 4 Canadians from the Archdiocese of Vancouver. :p

It technically wasn’t a true “flash mob” but it was effective nonetheless: we performed it to promote the big Youth Ministry Extravaganza variety show that evening (featuring many of the dancers).

Special thanks to Joia Farmer for envisioning, planning, and executing the entire project and for inviting us to participate! Make sure you watch the entire video, as Joia calls out a few people (including Gene Monterastelli, Chris Padgett, and yours truly) as ones she’s concerned about…haha.

This video also includes a bit of footage from our rehearsal, and the song is TobyMac’s “Funky Jesus Music.” Enjoy!

The Day Faye Met Her Match (Our March was Almost a Crawl)

I have just returned from a wonderful trip to New Orleans for the biennial National Conference on Catholic Youth Ministry (NCCYM) presented by the USA’s National Federation for Catholic Youth Ministry (NFCYM).  So right away, you know this blog is going to be about youth ministry because of the number of acronyms in the opening paragraph.

I went with my fellow OYYAM (Office of Youth and Young Adult Ministry) staff members along with 4 YM (youth ministry) and YAM (young adult ministry) leaders from SAK (St. Andrew Kim parish…not their official acronym…but I just love saying it…LOL).  Okay, enough with the acronyms for the sake of acronyms.  Acronyms FTW!

I’ve been blessed to attend these conferences in the States for the past few years since 2004 (the conference for adults such as this year’s alternates with the conference for teens) but usually I’m flying solo or with one other staff member.  Thus, I was very excited to be joined by Analyn, Faye and Gerard this time as we collectively rubbed shoulders with some of Catholic YM’s most prominent speakers, artists, and workshop leaders.

 Indeed, it was a fabulous 4 days of faith, fun, food, and fellowship (wait…this sounds like a Spirit Day promo or something):  we got to see old friends as well as make many new ones as we explored the theme of “Marching With the Saints.”

But our march was almost relegated to a crawl right off the start.

On Thursday afternoon, we made our way to the Exhibitor’s Hall to pick up our credentials (nametags) for the conference.  Gene of APeX Ministries had them at his booth, as he had generously arranged to “sponsor” us for the conference.  We excitedly approached the entrance and peered into the massive hall in the Convention Center (think the size of 2 football fields).

That’s when I saw her.

A tiny, serious woman stationed at the door.  The only person standing between us and over 100 exhibitors.  I quickly surmised that she was ensuring that everyone was wearing their nametags as their entry to the venue…similar to what we do at Spirit Day.

I don’t even know why I tried, but I casually tried to walk past her.

“STOP!  You need your badge.”

“Our credentials are actually with…”

“Doesn’t matter.  You can’t go in.”

Normally, at this point I would try and say something charming or at least disarming.  Maybe explaining we were nice Canadians (something we were recognized for quite a bit during the conference…but I’ll save that for another blog) or appealing to my good looks.  But I could tell that neither was going to work:  this one was a non-negotiable. 

I turned back to the rest of the staff after my futile entry attempt.  Knowing Faye’s admirable penchant for sticking to our firm yet fair office policies especially with respect to registration for our events (case in point:  one of our favourite lines in the office is “We’re sold out…even the Pope can’t get in”), the only thing I could say to her was:

“Wow Faye…this lady makes you look like a teddy bear!”

We erupted into laughter because my statement was both sad and true.  Faye’s really good at what she does; sometimes I’m scared of her.  But even Faye might have trouble holding a candle to this security woman.

Our laughter was interrupted by the appearance of Mark Hart (Vice-President of LIFE TEEN and long-time friend of our archdiocese), who, like us, wanted entry into the hall but not yet with his credentials.  After some quick hugs and hellos, Mark was met with the same fate at the door:  he wasn’t allowed in.

“But he’s tonight’s Keynote Speaker!” I said through my giggling.

As expected, the lady didn’t react to my comment as Mark stood waiting at the door.  Meanwhile, Chris Padgett bellowed from the spotlight stage inside the hall:  “Hey everybody, it’s Mark Hart!  Come join us!” 

Mark sheepishly pantomimed back that he couldn’t get in.  It was an unintentional brilliant comedic moment.

Mark came back to our group and said “I think we can take her if we all split up…we must be faster than her.”

Our strategizing was cut short by Gene, who emerged from the hall with our credentials (turns out that Analyn had summoned him via text).  A few seconds later, a LIFE TEEN staff member came out with Mark’s.

We greeted Gene and thanked him before donning our nametags.  As we once again approached the door, I complimented the woman for doing a good job.

Her quick grin confirmed that she indeed knew how to smile.

So we proudly marched into the exhibit hall with a new spring in our step in eager anticipation of what the next few days held in store.

CCC – Clay’s Canucks Commentary for December 6, 2010: The Loyalty of Leaf Nation

On a recent trip to Toronto I made my way to the Air Canada Centre on a Toronto Maple Leafs game night to interview some hockey fans. My time there confirmed what I had anticipated: Leaf Nation is certainly very loyal to their hockey team!

I asked people 3 questions:

1. When will the Maple Leafs next make the playoffs?
2. Can you name 5 Vancouver Canucks players?
3. What’s the best Canadian hockey team right now?

The answers range from hilarious to insightful to honest to downright disturbing. My favourites are the woman who answered “3 games” to question #1 and the guy who named “both Sundins and Kessel” among the Canuck players he knew.

Music is “Hockey Night in Canada” recorded by Naturally 7 on their CD “VocalPlay.” (