PlannerDan's Blog


Near Fort Worth, Texas, USA
September 22
Much of the same stuff applies. I'm a married guy--quite married, in fact. We are pushing our 44th year of bliss. In fact I am a grandpa; and wear that title proudly. Over the years I've learned a few things. And tend to share it--tactfully, I hope. I'm a professional, which only means I went to school and got all the degrees. It took years to do it, and has added a little to that experience thing. I'm fortunate to be doing something I love for a living. But, even then, the work place can become boring. However, those times are few and far between. I have two passions in life. I love to write. Sometimes I do that very well, sometimes not so much. But, I've realized you don't have to be good to write; you've just got to really want to. My second passion is my dog. I am a dog person. I'll try not to get mushy and obsessive about it. Pet owners can sometimes do that. I will write about my black Lab, Max; however, I promise to be restrained. I know how those crazy pet people are. Other than that, you will find out more about me from my entries. They likely will be sporadic, because I obviously have a life outside this virtual universe. But, I will try the best I can to make a worthy contribution to the site. Can't ask for more than that.


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JULY 18, 2011 2:31PM

Everyone Needs a Plastic Dictionary

Rate: 5 Flag


  I rejoiced early in the advent of computers when they introduced spell-check, for I am the world’s worst speller. I’m much better than I used to be. I have actually learned some of the spelling rules and have mastered spelling some of English’s more sneaky words. I confess “i” and “e” still throw me occasionally. However, the magic and genius of “spell-check” has made my writing a much less tedious chore.

         Because it requires great labor for me to produce an appropriate written page, it bothers me, to no end, when folks cut corners when writing in the virtual world. I don’t know how many times I have received an email or text message written totally in lower case letters; I mean completely void of capital letters. Needless to say, there is no attempt to spell words correctly. Often these pieces are written in “virtual write.” You know, that’s where “your” is spelled as “ur” and “are” is spelled as “r.” I suspect this abbreviated form of writing has fostered a laziness in writing which has discouraged authors from devoting time to running “spell-check” much less to have concern a word may be misspelled.

         Recently, I had the opportunity to review a lengthy document written by a study group of post graduate students. I was appalled at the grammar and spelling mistakes and the general lack of cohesion in the written document. These were not eighth graders writing beyond their capabilities. Nope, these young people were all college graduates working on earning a Master’s degree. I can’t explain it. I don’t know why our young people are not taught to write. But, obviously they are not.

         I read in the newspaper recently of the account of a state public education organization which has removed handwriting from the curriculum of prerequisite skills. It seems as if our educators have concluded our youth do not need to write legibly anymore, since everyone either types on the computer or texts their messages. When young people are forced to write an essay, often it can barely be read because of the poor quality of the scrawl.

         A whole set of questions rises: Why should folks be required to write legibly? Why should grammar and style be important? Why should we even be concerned that words are spelled correctly? Computers can do most of that stuff for us. Well, I suppose those who advocate less attention be spent on handwriting, grammar, and spelling have grounds for their argument.

         I suppose in the future somewhere communication will advance to the point where we will no longer depend on the written word. Perhaps we will simply transmit complicated words and visuals telepathically. Our signature will no longer be necessary, we will simply imprint our DNA on the communication –be it holographic visuals or even mental images transmitted directly from one brain to another. It will no longer be necessary to write, type, or even read. Maybe someday, in some distant future, that will be the case.

         However, it ain’t today. Today it is still appropriate and proper for people to write in complete sentences with correctly spelled words. (I claim literary license to use “ain’t” instead of “isn’t. Dramatic, wasn’t it?) That means we should use the tools provided us to present a well written product—even if that product is only an email message or a text message. I am very fond of my “spell-check” feature on my computer. Even so, I also have a handy 3.5-inch by 6-inch plastic covered Webster’s dictionary next to my keyboard. Because, even with all of technology at my fingers, I still feel safe thumbing through my little pocket dictionary. I firmly believe everyone should have one; and even more firmly believe they should actually use it.

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Well, now I'm a little self conscious about what I write...hmmm.
When I write my son in prison (and when he writes me) it is longhand. Perhaps the fact that I draw my cards special for him or maybe it is because I care, but longhand is my choice for those. He doesn't have a choice, and I am glad.

There are times and places handwriting something is appreciated, and it is necessary to know to be able to communicate...I'm sure.
If you haven't yet had the pleasure of hearing Taylor Mali's spoken-word performance, "The The Impotence of Proofreading," you'll want to go to YouTube and look for it. I've shown it to librarians and to student editors as well as to friends; it completely gets the point across in a most hilarious way. I agree with everything you say here! And I just read your bio and want to add that I share your dog-lovingness: we have a standard poodle named Zoe who is sort of like a firstborn child to us.
Dan, what I miss are the days when people use to correspond via letters. Do you remember what a thrill it was to go to the mail box and discover a letter from a friend there?

Maybe we should try doing more of that.
i try not to capitalize if i can help it, makes me happy, and means i don't have to stick my tongue out the corner of my mouth, squinch up my eyes, and find that dang shift key. we are all happier now, i expect.
Case in point: I have a side business of editing and no matter how "smart" my website sounds, I have only gotten a couple of bites. I think there is just a lot of tolerance for poor grammar and typos. I still cringe (especially at my own).

When someone types "ur" to me, I swear, I feel like a 90-year-old grandmother with a stern face and a paddle...!