Saturday, June 25, 2016

Doe Snot and Other Fox Paws

When I was in high school (1963-67) it did not occur to me that typing was a personal skill that would be particularly useful in my life. For an elective my freshman year, I took woodworking instead.

And while I enjoy working with wood to this day, and have no regrets whatsoever about learning how to operate a table saw safely, eschewing typing turned out to be serious misstep. My choice was both sexist and shortsighted (I thought only secretaries needed to know how to type and men were not secretaries). Oh boy, did I get that wrong.

By the time my mistake became apparent I was 40 years old and remedial touch typing did not come easily for me. After about three months of trying to practice with all 10 fingers I was able to get my speed up to about half of what I could accomplish with two fingers, and I gave up. Since then I have absolutely become dependent on communicating through a keyboard, yet am limited to what I can crank out with my two pointer fingers working furiously in tandem.

While I get a certain amount of perverse pleasure in being able to get a tremendous amount accomplished with two fingers I'm more of a circus act than a model. Plus, I make a lot of mistakes by virtue of my fingers sliding all over the keys instead of simply dropping down crisply from above. (I suffer from a poor angle of attack.)

Also, my two-finger approach makes me susceptible to certain transpositions of letters, because my fingers naturally want to alternate in striking the keys, even if the word I want is not spelled that way. For all I know, people adept at using all 10 fingers may be equally prone to such misstrokes, but I am nonetheless confessing that this is my fate.

Some of these miscues, frustratingly common though they are, are easily spotted and corrected (such as typing "ign" instead of "ing," which is a letter combo that's useful enough if you are reaching for "benign" but not so good when "being" is what you had in mind). Of course, a good number of these mishits are immediately highlighted by the eminently visible red underling of any decent spell check program. But not all. And some of these can be pretty funny (or at least embarrassing) if allowed to sneak through.

Here are some of my favorite faux pas.

When Spell Check Meets Autofill

god instead of good
I have difficulty with double striking, in consequence of which I frequently wind up with one letter when I intended two. This leads to sentences like, "What would this mistake look like in the eyes of god humor?" You can see the kind of ecclesiastical trouble this particular brand of mischief can engender (I know that the lord moves in mysterious ways, but who is foolish enough to pretend to know divine humor?). Or, "What this child needs is a god spanking." Talk about divine wrath.

choosing instead of cohousing
Because I dwell in the arcane world of intentional community there are terms that are everyday to me yet obscure to most others (and therefore unknown to spell check). Whenever I type cohousing I enter into a battle with my laptop over control of my words. My machine is certain that I meant choosing and doesn't even bother to ask me about it; it simply substitutes what it "knows" I meant. Thus the dance begins. I patiently, yet firmly, retype cohousing and the computer, equally patiently, tries to bring me back to choosing, which I decline to choose. Finally, on the third try, it acquiesces, allowing me and my deviant ways. Sheesh. (I can almost hear it whispering in resignation, "Whatever.")
doe snot instead of doesn't
Often enough, the problem arises over when to hit the space bar. Thus, does not (or its frequent alternate, doesn't) is rendered as doe snot—a phrase I'm reasonably certain that I've never intentionally typed. Even though I've lived most of my adult life in rural areas where deer are prevalent and have become sufficiently familiar with them to have earned the sobriquet of community butcher—bringing me up close and personal with the all the bodily fluids that deer exude—I  try hard to conduct my homesteading business with suitable reverence, forgoing any snotty attitude. 

I tell you, god intentions are not enough. One must be diligent at all times.

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