Thursday, April 27, 2006

As you know, I'm in Atlanta this week, and there isn't much to do but shop. Except that shopping isn't really the same right now, as I'm as big as a house around the middle and normal otherwise (although I DO have these ta-tas that would make Pamela Anderson call her plastic surgeon for a touch-up out of jealousy...). So, I'm licking the windows instead (for those of you not familiar with the expression, it's just that: an expression. I'm not really licking the windows. Just browsing. An equally funny expression, that means almost the same thing when you think about it. Oh jeez, I've done another one of those super-long parentheticals again. Stopping. Now.).

But, I am getting some fun reading done. Thus it occurred to me yesterday that I've missed one of the great Blog Topics all this time!

What Cat is:
Reading: Pregnancy Sucks (forgot the author's name); Eats, Shoots and Leaves: A Zero-Tolerance Approach to Punctuation (also forgot the author's name)

Listening to: John Adams (biography-- forgot the author's name. Sensing a pattern yet?)-- walking and jogging are easier with an audiobook

Watching: Absolutely nothing, unless you count the 20 minutes of The Mighty Ducks I saw on HBO in the hotel fitness center this morning. I've never seen a more Canadian cast set supposedly in southern California. They're just so cuuuuuute.

Last week I finished reading Heloise and Abelard, a biography of the famous medieval couple that brings to light some recently discovered letters presumed to be from the early part of their relationship. It was very interesting because in college, I studied some of their philosophical writings, which were all conducted in the form of letters sent between his monastery and her convent. The primary focus of that college course was the role of women in the church and in society during the Middle Ages. This biography, in contrast, was much more about the people and their interactions with one another throughout the relationship, which spanned over 30 years (the last 25+ being in monasteries and convents, as poor old Abelard had "lost his jewels," so to speak). I'd tell you the name of the author but I forgot it. You already guessed that, right? Anyway, for anyone who likes that kind of thing, it's a good read.

Eats, Shoots and Leaves, which I'm now about 2/3 through, is a grammar book and it is a page-turner. I'm not joking. Well, it's a page-turner for someone like me, who gets violent and experiences missing time after seeing "it's" and "its" used incorrectly. When I see a chalkboard outside a restaurant advertising "Burger's" as the daily special, I erase the apostrophe. I prefer to use the forehead of the shopkeeper as an eraser. So far, Eats, Shoots and Leaves is fantastic. The author encourages geurilla tactics to combat poor grammar and punctuation, including (but not limited to) vandalism, confrontation and letter-writing (full of thinly veiled threats). I predict that she will suggest kidnapping pets before the book is finished. She makes a good point: punctuation is part of what makes written communication flow smoothly. Without proper punctuation or grammar, we may as well use grunts and gestures to convey our thoughts and intentions.

And the information age almost makes the problem worse. Who is a worse judge of proper spelling and grammar than MS Word? Auto-correct does more damage in my writing than it fixes typos. So I turn it off. If I have a few genuine typos (where I hit "r" instead of "e" because they're next to each other) I think it looks less stupid than if I have the wrong form of "whose" or "who's" in my writing, for which the only excuse is ignorance of the English language.

Dirty confession: I once sent an email, cc'ed to the Big Cheese of my company (hint: you'll find his name in Fortune magazine once a year) where I had TYPO'ED (honestly!! Not ignorance, just a TYPO!!) the wrong form of their/they're/there. I can't recall which was the offending version, but it was one of those half-asleep mistakes that I saw just as the email blinked off the screen to "Sent" land. That was 5 years ago and I'm still embarassed about it. Hopefully, the fact that Big Cheese is a statistician and not a grammarian means that he didn't notice. He's definitely forgotten it by now, but I haven't. I've tried to come up with an excuse to CC him on another message using "there," "they're" and "their" all in their correct forms. OK I TOLD YOU IT WAS A DIRTY CONFESSION, STOP LOOKING AT ME LIKE THAT.

And just as a point of interest, I dislike the Oxford comma. It's superfluous.

Perhaps I've said too much....


alphagal said...

Um, I just want to make the discalimer that I'm being silly here. If you're feeling all bent at me because your grammar is poor, dude, I'm just poking fun at myself, not you. Honestly. No intent to hurt anyone's feelings.
BUT, the book DOES do a good job of teaching the basics of good punctutation, so if you think it'd help... ;-)

SNG said...

You forgot to mention that "licking windows" comes from a French expression. Otherwise your North American fans will wonder where the heck you came from.

PartnerInCrime said...

I do remember that the French term for window shopping literally translates as "window licking".
I also remember finding that especially funny when we used the term "window lickers" to refer to the, ahem, special needs children who rode the short bus to school. (It was high school. We were all a-holes.)
I twitch over bad grammar too. I think we inherited that gene somehow.

PartnerInCrime said...

Forgot to add - congratulations on your bodacious ta-tas. :)

SNG said...

Amen. ;)

alphagal said...

I'm enjoying it while it lasts. And I'm thinking about springing for the cost of a "lift" after I'm finished having babies. I like having chichis up to my chin, like Chaka Kahn!
Again, perhaps I've said too much...