Wednesday, August 26, 2009

With friends like this . . .

I recently met up with some former coworkers (from two jobs ago)--and some of their current coworkers, whom I'd never met--for happy hour. One of the people I didn't know asked me what I do for a living. After I explained that I am a freelance writer and editor, one of my friends quipped, "You wouldn't know it to read her emails . . ."

I know he was joking, but his comment bothered me. Even in the most informal emails, I try to be careful with my spelling, grammar and punctuation. Of course, I sometimes make mistakes or neglect to proofread--especially when typing a hurried message to my mom or husband--but for the most part, I treat my email correspondence the same way I treat any of my writing, and try to keep it as error-free as possible.

Why? Because it bugs me to think that people may be reacting to my emails the way I react to others'. Call me judgmental (you wouldn't be the first!), but when I receive an email that is riddled with misspellings, grammatical errors and the like I can't help but wonder why the sender couldn't be bothered to run a quick spell check (and then give the email a quick read-through--spell check isn't perfect!*) before hitting "send."

How careful are you in your electronic correspondence? And how tolerant are you of people who aren't so careful?

*A woman I used to work with at my last job is a terrible speller. To her credit, she admitted her shortcoming and set her Outlook email to auto-correct spelling errors. Unfortunately, her spelling was so bad that sometimes Microsoft couldn't even figure out what she really meant to type. As a result, she ruffled many a client's and colleague's feathers when she sent out messages stating she was "defiantly" doing one thing or another when what she meant to say was "definitely."

Friday, August 21, 2009

Where's the fire?

Somebody accidentally set off the fire alarm at my agency clients' office building today . . . we dutifully evacuated, and re-entered the building after having been given the all-clear. About 20 mintes later, it started going off again, this time intermittently. Because the few of us who were still there (they have "summer hours" and try to leave early on Fridays) were in a groove, we decided it wasn't worth the hassle of going back outside. However, around 3:45, I'd had all I could take of the ruckus and called it a day.

I've never been so appreciative of the relative quiet of my home.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009


"No one's ever died of spaghettification," exclaimed my husband during last night's episode of Nova Science Now.

Spaghettification, according to the program, is the name for the death one would suffer upon being sucked into the event horizon of a black hole. So now, I don't want to be the person who invents collective nouns, I want to be the person who invents the words for death caused by interaction with galactic entities.

Monday, August 17, 2009

Stumbling into the 21st century

I bought a laptop yesterday. In fact, I bought the first one the salesman showed me. It may appear that I made a rash decision by not shopping around and comparing various models, but I have been thinking off and on about getting a laptop since Christmas. Over the past few months, I've talked to various tech-savvy friends and "built" a few computers on the Dell web site. I knew what I wanted and needed in terms of processors and memory, and I did some comparison shopping online before I set foot in the store. I would have bought it online, but I am one of those people who likes to see what they're getting--hold it in my hands, try it on, take a spritz from the tester bottle--before I fork over the money for it.

My decision to finally break down and buy a laptop was made in part by the fact that my current computer--a Dell desktop that is at least seven years old--has been showing signs of old age recently. It's slow at startup, makes churning noises while running, and sometimes just flat out refuses to do what I tell it to do. It's served me well during its tenure, and I will continue to use it for non-business related things (music, photos, etc.)--but when my time is billable, I need to be able to work efficiently.

So now, I am the proud owner of a refurbished Toshiba Satellite. In addition to the boost in performance over my desktop, I am excited at the prospect of being able to work someplace other than the desk in my home office. My house has been a wireless "hot spot" for about two years, thanks to AT&T Uverse, so I was able to hit the ground running in terms of Internet connectivity. Within 15 minutes of removing the laptop from the box, I was checking email and surfing the Web. If it wasn't 1,200 degrees outside, I'd be sitting on my patio typing right now. But, since I don't want to get my spiffy new computer all sweaty, I am content to blog from the comfort of my 75 degree living room.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

A booger of collective nouns

I am reading a book in which a character mentions that a group of ravens is called an "unkindness." This got me thinking of the preponderance of wacky collective nouns out there . . . how were they chosen, and why not just keep it simple and call a group, a group? I don't have an answer for the former (do you?), but my guess in the latter is that "group" is simply not as fun.

Many of the more interesting collective nouns are reserved for birds. To name a few:
  • storytelling of rooks
  • murmuration of starlings
  • wedge of swans
  • descent of woodpeckers
  • skein of goslings (which grow into a gaggle of geese)
  • piteousness of doves
  • ostentation of peacocks
There was a segment on the CBS Sunday Morning Show about collective nouns, but I can't find a link for it. A Google search did point me to the Fun With Words site, which includes a lengthy list of collective nouns specific to animals. Here are a few of my favorites from that site (although I must say I don't know if I believe all of them):
  • prickle of hedgehogs (how descriptive!)
  • sneak of weasels (invented, I am guessing, by an angry chicken farmer)
  • hurtle of sheep (invented, I am guessing by a BORED sheep farmer)
  • smack of jellyfish (I would have chosen "sting," but okay)
  • cartload of monkeys (I'm not buying it--but I like it!)
  • shrewdness of apes (Jane Goodall would approve)
  • movement of moles (the sheer alliteration gives me joy)

Monday, August 10, 2009


The following came up in my Google Alerts email:

Algebraic Verbal And Written Expressions
Scare Him Off Ladies » Amish Made Log Beds » Kind Of Gland Above The Kidneys » Algebraic Verbal And Written Expressions. Last night the local San Francisco ...

I couldn't dream up a more random string of phrases--could you? I was intrigued enough to click on it to see what those words could possibly have in common, but it appears to be a dead link.

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Busy as a meeeeee

I have at least three fun ideas for blog posts brewing in my head, but I've had no time to sit down and write them.

I have several simultaneous projects with one client, and a few others that I am waiting to get started on. Hopefully I will be able to come up for air long enough to get at least one of my ideas down on paper (or should I say "up on screen?").