Janet's Jargon

Fun lifestyles, charitable acts, great fiction, author support, Patrick and Grace Mysteries, Keith clan trilogy,

Tuesday, October 25, 2005

It's family night tonight!

There are times when you realize that being a part of that entity they call a "family" is about as good as it gets. This last week has been one of those times. Let me elaborate just a bit.

Our youngest son was in New Orleans and got out just before the roads were closed before Katrina hit. A couple he knew who lived next door grabbed him and his dog at the last minute and they headed--they had no idea where, but "north" was how they described it. They ended up spending a couple of weeks in Alabama, then they went to Orlando, where the couple had family. After shifting from one place to another and another and another, he landed a job, got a nice apartment, and was pretty well back in the swing of things. Then he got a check from FEMA to help him with his relocation expenses. I was SO PROUD of him when he accepted the check, as the costs had been quite steep, but he wrote back to FEMA, thanking them for the check, but telling them that he had a job, a place to live, and in the future please send the money to somebody else who needed it worse than he did. (They had told him that he was eligible for up to 18 months of assistance for rent.)

Then our daughter, who lives here in Grand Forks, was quite stressed out from her job situation. She had been approached previously about taking a manager position at Wendy's, but she had always turned it down because one of the other employees had told her that she had to work more hours than she felt she could honestly promise them and still keep her two other part-time jobs. They again asked her about taking a manager position, but this time at the store she had previously worked at. She didn't want to go back there, but she also didn't want to sacrifice her other two jobs. After a lot of bickering and their almost insisting that she accept the offer and/or at least move to the other store, she took the bull by the horns and went directly to the owner. He was surprised at some of the reasons she gave him for why she didn't want to do what he wanted from her. Seems that, as is so often the case, the employees will do all sorts of griping, but never go directly to the source. So, she is the new co-manager at the old store. We stopped there for supper last night, and she is so much more relaxed and happy. Yup, I'm proud of her, too.

Then, to top it all off, yesterday I got a letter from my ex-sister-in-law. I never had any problem with her, but she disappeared from all of our lives after their divorce, in 1971. She accidentally stumbled across my website and got in touch with me. I could hardly wait to get on the phone with her. We had a very long, wonderful phone conversation. She is as sweet as ever. Tonight I got the email for her son (my nephew) and I just sent a note off to him. Still have to get in touch with her daughter (my niece) but she lives near her mom in Alaska. For a little extra icing on the cake, she ordered several of my books from Amazon.com!

Yes, we have another son. He's our firstborn. He is a good kid, even if he did forget my birthday last week. I am sure he will make up for it one day soon. Or maybe he did the other night about a month ago when he called me in the middle of the night because he had just met a gal who had actually been to Blackduck, MN, a little tiny town that was near where I grew up. He wanted some more information about how we turned at the biggest tree after we passed Bina on Hwy. 2 to get to Blackduck. I asked him why he wanted to know that. He and the girl he had just met were at a nightclub in Las Vegas, where he lives, were going to do a comedy routine. It was open-mike night. Yup, he's OK, too!

Anyway, it's been a good week, family wise. Hope yours was, too. Your comments are always welcome.

Until next time.

Thursday, October 13, 2005

Somebody's knocking!

There are all sorts of "knocking" ditties: songs, knock-knock jokes, and even movies. I have never been able to figure out why my husband asks me "Who's there" when somebody knocks at the door or "Who's that" when the phone rings.

Yesterday afternoon I was in the back rooom and Ivan was in the living room when there was a knock on the door. I heard him call out "Just a minute" and then his wheelchair went over to the door. There appeared to be nobody there, so he went back to his computer. In a few minutes, there was another knock on the door. He again went to see who wsa there. He thought maybe some of the kids in the neighborhood were playing tricks on him. Again, he saw nobody. Then he saw the visitor.

Several years ago we started to feed the squirrels who inhabit our trees. We put out an assortment of nuts, but our northern furry critters apparently don't have as tough a teeth as their southern cousins. Ivan decided to try some salted peanuts. Well, they were an instant hit!

But back to the mysterious visitor. He saw the squirrel scurry down the railing on the ramp, off into the spot where we put the nuts. He called me, and I came and fed the little guy. This afternoon we had a repeat performance. When I didn't come fast enough for him, he began scavanging around in the leaves that had fallen onto the ramp. He's the most impatient little critter! I guess I'll have to make sure they are loaded for him. Last winter he chewed through the electrical wires to the car a couple of times. Believe me, peanuts are a whole lot cheaper.

It makes me think of the verse in the Bible that says "Beware, lest you entertain angels unaware." Hmmm! Does God sometimes send angels as squirrels. Now I KNOW I have to keep feeding him. Besides, he is cute!

Thursday, October 06, 2005

Editing--and *#^%#& Spellcheckers!

I do a lot of editing. I have for over 40 years. We used to have an editor at our local Grand Forks Herald with whom I had a running joke. I would circle the errors in the newspaper and about once a month I would drop them off for him to peruse. I told him that if he ever decided to hire a proofreader to give me a call.

Then came the age of the computer. He gleefully let me know that there would be no more errors in the paper, as "the computer has a spellchecker." Well, as you probably know, a spellchecker is only as good as the person who invented it. If a letter is dropped or misplaced, many times it is still a legitimate word, so there is no little red line under it. Here are a few examples of the most common errors:
too, to, two
there, their, they're
which, witch
vary, very
grown, groan
week, weak

Another problem is when you hit a key too fast and it doesn't show up. It can result in a very quick, painless sex-change surgery: "she" becomes "he." Or the addition of a simple space can change a grouch to a cat: "sourpuss" to "sour puss."

The list could go on almost indefinitely. I am amazed constantly by people who have good educations and are considered quite intelligent but who can't write a single paragraph without a myriad of spelling and grammar errors. Some of these writers are even English teachers! Where has the education system failed? If the teachers don't know the basic rules, how can they expect their students to learn them?

I have a theory. I think it is in the lack of phonics being taught in the early grades. Our oldest son, Wilbert, had a first grade teacher who drilled phonics into them from day one. The only time I ever remember him misspelling a word was after he was grown up and out on his own. One day he told me that the calendar he had gotten for the year had a word that was spelled wrong. I asked him what word, and he said "Feburary." I said "How did they spell it?" "F-E-B-R-U-A-R-Y." I told him that was correct, and he argued with me. He made a trip to the library and checked, and every reference he could find had it spelled F-E-B-R-U-A-R-Y. He called me back and admitted that either he was wrong, or all of the calendars at the library were wrong.

His grammar was as good as his spelling. We had an Irish setter named Friskie. Wilbert taught him proper grammar. If someone told Frisky to "Lay down," he would stand there and completely ignore them. As soon as you told him to "Lie down," he immediately would drop to the floor.

If you would like to see a fun sample of Wilbert's writing, go to my website at http://www.janetelainesmith.com and click on the page "Wish I'd Never Gone to..."

And remember to check your own spelling. You can't count on the &#^$%*# Spellchecker!