Wordless Wednesday (Green Pen Junior Debut Version)

It’s never too soon enlist fellow guardians of accurate spelling (plus I didn’t want to get out of the car):

Wanna trade an “a” for an “e” and make “calenders” back into “calendars”?
Photo Credit: Wayne Kevin Kiger
And we hope “N” pray everyone had a good “Valetine’s”
Photo Credit: Wayne Kevin Kiger
Nice to have help keeping the Big Green Pen from seeing RED, Wayne!

It’s About Time for “About Me” (a Mama Kat Writing Workshop Prompt)

When Mama Kat published her weekly writing prompts this week, I put the five options into the Random Number Generator, and came up with a prompt that would have been interesting to write to (In what way were you labeled as a child and how did it affect you?).  However, prompt number two kicked me in the procrastinating butt and reminded me that my BigGreenPen webpage is still under wraps, primarily because I haven’t finished doing the writing to flesh the page out. That is why tonight I will be writing to this prompt (and getting a step closer to activating my web page in doing so):  About me. Do you have an about me page? Because people want to know. Write a page that describes who you are and what you’re about or spruce up your current about me page!

The screen print of the www.biggreenpen.com site that is under development.
With gratitude to Mama Kat for this prompt, I am happy to share the newly composed “About Me” content for http://www.biggreenpen.com/:
Introducing myself through these one-dimensional words on a computer screen seems so impersonal! However, you are there and I am here, so we will give it a shot.
In a way, my Twitter profile says it all:
Wife of one, Mom of two, friend of many
The beauty of a website is that I can use more than 140 characters to introduce myself.
My husband, Wayne, and I got married in 1992. (We met on a blind date!) We had our daughter, Tenley, in 1996, and our son, Wayne, in 1999.
I have a bachelor’s degree in Child Development and Family Relations from Florida State University.  My master’s degree, also from FSU, is in Counseling and Human Systems.
I took my “bite of the Big Apple” from 1989-1992, when I coordinated the internship program at Fordham University.
When Wayne and I decided to get married and locate in Tallahassee, I worked in communications for the Florida Department of Education’s Comprehensive School Health Program.
In 1994, I moved to the Florida Healthy Kids Corporation, which at the time was a fledgling program designed to insure uninsured children. “Fledgling” would never describe Healthy Kids now — we have more than 225,000 enrollees, federal funding, and 30+ staff members.  I have done pretty much every task there except for accounting.
Throughout the years, reading and writing have always been a thread running through my life. In New York, I proofread professionally for Ballantine Books. I am a voracious reader who actually still communicates via snail mail with some people.  I am the “go to” girl for friends who need “one more eye” to tighten up and clarify their writing.
There are other things that I like to give my energy to also:  acting, running, being with my church family, and mobilizing volunteers. 
I also love quotes, and have chosen this one to sum up my approach to the things I do:
You don’t have to get a job with a famous company or hot-shot industry in order to have a spectacular career. You just have to do what you do with reverence.
–Hugh MacLeod
Mama's Losin' It

When the going gets though, the though get going.

Some people sing with the voices of angels.  Some people run long distances quickly.  Some people coach athletic teams to win, season after season.  Me, I see typos.  As several of my previous Wordless Wednesday posts attest, many letters are being written on objects that do not move while perfectly good letter-writing paper goes unused.  Thank goodness Mrs. Bowen, my sixth grade teacher, gave us students the hint that “stationary” has an “a” in its last three letters to remind us of an “anchor,” something that remains still.  “Stationery,” on the other hand, is used for writing letters. 

My nickname at Healthy Kids has been “The Big Green Pen” for many years now.  Because I use a green felt-tip pen when I edit letters, and because I am, to put it mildly, generous with the green ink, the nickname is permanent and has become my identity on Twitter (@biggreenpen) and among my proofreading/copyediting clients. 

There are a few of us at the office who enjoy language, and appreciate language used with precision and care.  Therefore, when I see something egregious (like the recent “Flordia”), I send out a quick email with a “Big Green Pen Challenge.”  When my coworker, Niki Pocock, participated in the most recent “Big Green Pen Challenge,” she included in her response a link to a blog by Bob Gabordi, Executive Editor of the Tallahassee Democrat, in which  Bob discusses why answering his phone is always an adventure.  As part of his blog, when he refers to a caller who questioned whether the Democrat still utilizes proofreaders, he wrote:

Losing those people huddled in the back proofreading pages was part of the price we paid for technology. These days, newspaper pages go straight from the newsroom’s computers to metal plates that go on the press. Fewer eyes are looking for typos and minor grammar flaws.

Between my initial reading (on Friday) of Bob’s blog and logging on to http://www.tallahassee.com/ this morning, two typos jumped off the page (first case) and screen (second case).  It was time to e-mail Bob.

In my e-mail, I expressed my hope that there can be some happy medium between those non-existent “back of the room” proofreaders and “a journalistic organization resigning itself to an attitude of “we’ll catch what we can, but errors happen.” 

I pointed out the on-line lead for the well-done “print exclusive” article about the fiscal difficulties faced by the LeMoyne Center for the Visual Arts.  The text stated:

The recession has been particularly though on the
LeMoyne Center for the Visual Arts, a Tallahassee
nonprofit that’s been around for 47 years.

I also pointed out that the header to a very informative article in yesterday’s Democrat, which described how to prepare for the sport of triathlon, was titled this way:

Break in new gear as part of pre-race preperation. 
Arguably, neither of these errors did any damage.  The recession is still hitting Lemoyne; athletes still need to break in their gear to get ready for triathlons. 
I once proofread a friend’s resume.  I’m pretty sure the friend’s career might have gone a whole different direction if the friend’s original representation of her “Master’s in Public Administration” had not had its “L” in “Public” replaced before distribution. 
For examples of typos that have done more than annoy, visit Eye for Ink’s Typo of the Month page.  You can even subscribe to receive a new “particularly embarrassing or expensive” typo every month (if you can stand it!). 
When my new smartphone started anticipating my words for me, so that, for example, I could start typing “let’s get lu….” and the phone would pop up with the options of “lunch” or “lucky,” I started tuning in to the types of technology that have become an expectation of my 10- and 13- year old children.  There is very little thinking involved; your message can be composed and sent in a flash. 
But getting “lunch” and getting “lucky” are different.  I imagine there are many people out there I might want to have lunch with, but only one I plan to get lucky with!
In the final paragraph of my email to Bob, I said, “However, if we parents do manage to get our kids to read the newspaper (one can always hope) or if a teacher requires students to read an article in the newspaper for a class-related assignment, I think it is important that the writers/publishers have made every effort to show that they care about the “small considerations” of spelling and grammar in addition to the “big considerations” of what they have to say.”
Bob responded within two hours of my original e-mail.  His response e-mail, in which he assured me that typos “drive me utterly insane” (yay! a kindred spirit), he also pointed out that the “online editing process is different … than the print process.”  He discussed the “nature of writing and editing so quickly for the 24-7 news cycle” and commented that, “such errors have always been a problem for newspapers.”  Bob said that, “Newspapers have long been called the first draft of history ……. Now, with the Web, perhaps print is the second draft.  But in either case, we have never faced more intense deadline pressure than now and I would not be surprised if our typo-error rate is not higher than in previous generations.” 
In closing, Bob wrote, “there is anything but a casual attitude or reaction to such errors in our newsroom.  If I gave that impression, it is a false one.” 
I really appreciate the e-mail exchange I shared with Bob, and the articulate, explanatory nature of his response.
Writing, proofreading, and editing have always been a big part of my life.  Sometimes it has been professionally compensated; other times it has been on behalf of a cause that I love.  When I left the Holy Comforter book club tonight, thinking about next month’s book, Half the Sky, it occurred to me that quibbling over “it’s/its, heel/heal, peek/peak, and other grammatical no-no’s,” while important to preserving the integrity of the written word, is a true luxury compared to the life and death struggles the women featured in the book face from the moment they are born. 
To tell the story of the women featured in “Half the Sky,” though, and other stories meant to inform, convince, and reassure, requires attention to language and detail.  It is that attention to detail and drive to be accurate that I seek to keep alive by protecting the way in which language is used. 
Maybe I’ll “get lucky” and this blog won’t have any errors.  Anyone want to “get lunch” and calmly discuss?