Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Exclusively and only at My Sick Mind.

"Exclusively and only at Raymour and Flanigan."
- Kathy Ireland, from a TV ad.

Language and grammar are funny things. I play with them frequently, and I wonder if a lot of it flies over the heads of readers, just as most of my physics classes flew over my head in high school.

The advent of the Internet brought about a new mode of communication. No longer did people merely speak to each other. Now, they write down their thoughts and offer them in the written form more than they did in the 1960s. Phone calls were replaced by text messages, and letters and post cards are replaced by blogs and Facebook updates.

Once blogs became popular, I wondered how former students who couldn't grasp the simple rules of grammar would acclimate to the Worldwide web and make their ideas palatable to those of us who find the rules of grammar akin to the way Christians view The Bible.

We used to have to endure bad speech patterns and pleas of "you know what I mean." Now, the written form has forced us to negotiate a mine field of misused pronouns and possessives that sometimes make us turn our head like a dog who hears a high-pitched noise. We are paying the price for our contemporaries who refused to pay attention in grammar school when the simple rules of grammar were being taught.

We read your when they meant you're. They write there when they mean they're and various spellings of words like definately. It has become the new low standard of communication, and sadly, the glory of spell check does not work with bad grammar. I think the solution lies in not using contractions. Even the dullest among us surely know the difference between you are and your -- don't they? It all seems so simple.

I remember being in grammar school and having Miss Buchanan go over the to, too and two; there, they're and their; your and you're and the lesser relatives were and we're. Some of us got it immediately and pleaded for her to move along. Others viewed it like long division and just never seemed to get it. That's fine, how much could it matter to kids in the 1960s?

Little did we know that a world of text messages, where we abbreviate words that we never learned to spell - and the Internet (capital I), blogs and things like Facebook would come along to further torture those of us who learned the rules. It is like driving the speed limit while the rest of the world whizzes by, completely neglectful of the rules. Either they do not care or never bothered to learn. Either way, we suffer at their ignorance.

But the world continues to spin, and those of us who learned to type feel strangely at home behind the keyboard, while others hunt and peck - victims of their childhood. It's not like we foresaw all this keyboard work. We were told that typing would be a valuable skill, and doing it quickly and accurately would be a boon to our college career. If I only knew that I wouldn't attend college until I was 40, and by that time my research skills would be Internet-based and my typing would be corrected by Microsoft Word's precious spell check feature.

It isn't bad enough that we have masses of people infesting the Internet with their spelling and grammar, we also have professional advertising agencies (and their alleged college-educated copywriters) giving us phrases like the one above. Combine that with gems like "Save up to 40 percent, and more," and I wonder why someone's editor didn't correct it before they gave it to somebody to say out loud.

I can only imagine what we are going to have to endure from the next generation, who has the luxury of abbreviating text messages, 140-character limit Tweets and a forgiving Facebook community to live with. If the 40-something's and their work is any indication, we are headed down grammar's slippery slope.

Oddly, nobody seems to care.

Monday, August 15, 2011

Maybe I think too much?

I shouldn't use the salad bar or go to buffet restaurants, but I do anyway. I can't help but think about how infected the buffet spoons and salad tongs are as I pick them up and shovel food onto my plate. We don't give it a second thought, but I think about it when I see the end of the spoon or tong lying in the food in the adjacent container. Sometimes the entire serving device is lying in the food, which makes me think that someone should replace the serving device and, for that matter, the food that the handle has contacted.

It's irrational, I know, because our immune system is built on fending off bacteria. That's why I think hand sanitizers are the biggest scam perpetrated on the American public since Lite beer. Part of me relishes the opportunity for my body to fight off bacteria-ridden salad tongs, but I am similarly grossed-out by the idea that someone's recently nose-picked finger has handled a plastic device that I am using to scoop up some chickpeas.

I'm conflicted.