Spell (and reality) check.

Tuesday, April 22nd, 1997

Well, actually I consider myself a good speller, but I’m not always sitting in the correct posture with the correct attention to detail when I’m typing–hence the occasional ‘teh’ or ‘afetr’ that sneak in to my otherwise perfectly rendered words. (As comfortable as it is, sitting with one’s feet propped up on the desk, keyboard on the lap–that’s not necessarily the best way to actually get down and get busy. Sometimes it’s just…comfortable.) I see errors quite easily and from a distance (just ask people whose typos I catch at television stations), but I have to be, you know, really looking for that little trick to work.

Usually, someone will email me (I just typed that ’emil’) and point out the error; often, helpfully, they’ll say ‘don’t you have spell check?’ Well, yes, I have spell check all over the damn place, but that doesn’t mean I always like to take advantage of the raw unbridled power of this computer.

Part of the reason why: I hate to go back, double-check, and clean up after the machine, which often is what you have to do, because inevitably the computer hasn’t lived quite the life you have, and therefore hasn’t collected the precise subset of proper nouns and place names that you hold dear.

And of course, if you type a legitimate english word as the typo (‘ho’ for ‘who’, or the wrong too/two), the darn thing won’t catch it anyway.

Add to that the myriad acronyms and equipment names and techno-gobbledygook that folks in my line of work love to use, and, well, there you are.

There’s something to be said for going back through your work at least once, just to make sure you haven’t said something really, really stupid–especially when one can just flow this stuff in, and, with a touch of the button blast it out there for everyone (even you) to read. Write, then revise. Think, then write.

It’s a rainy or post-rainy Tuesday, and I’m doing what seems to have become my classic morning ritual: checking the email and the web, hitting the dozen or so sites that might have software upgrades for the applications or parts of the system software that might be misbehaving. There are those software folks who update their software actively, getting a new release out there on the net moments after hearing about and fixing a problem. Their stuff sits on my Mac with versions like ‘2.45b7’. Others seem loath to make any small changes until they can make big changes, and we’re lucky if they favor us with one new release a year.

Keeping up with versions is not only my little compulsion, it’s damn near essential when you’ve got a machine loaded up with beta versions of software, odd system extensions, and work that needs to be done.

So it’s my morning surf, done a bit foggily, my head pulsing a bit, fighting off the humidity from last night’s rain.

It’s in this context (if I’ve provided a context) that I realized how little I have actually been listening to NPR these mornings. It’s on, but as a background to me reading the news (off the web) at The New York Times, catching the latest Suck or Salon (heck, maybe even Slate), or making sure I’ve carefully and thoroughly tracked through the latest MacInTouch. It really has to be a compelling feature for me to turn my attention radioward. Of course, sometimes, it’s just a phrase that grabs my attention: the reporter says “a small town just off I-70” and I pick up on a story about Muskingum College, near my old stomping grounds. Or I hear vivid descriptions of the birth process and, somewhat queasily, I turn the volume up. My interest shifts, I begin to type gobbledygook–sometimes characters from the words I’m hearing show up in the words I’m typing. Uh-oh.

Maybe it’s just selective (nicely filtered) memory, but I think I used to be better at multitasking than I am now. Maybe it’s not even a multitasking issue, but one of general focus and concentration. All I know is that while were in Mexico, NPR is the form of mass communication I missed the most. So why aren’t I paying attention?

Maybe I just need to go get some coffee.

Afternoon update: I’ve finally put some actual images on the blatantly self-promotional My so-called work. I’d appreciate your comments, suggestions.

This is Diversity Awareness Day at The Citadel, Morning Edition tells me. It’s Earth Day. It’s also the day after Tom Burton’s birthday. And a happy Tuesday to you, too.