Many writers struggle bitterly with the appropriate usage of their vs.
there vs. they’re. If you’re one of them, there’s an important lesson here:
Never use th’re, it’s not a word. I learned this the hard way.
…Lo and behold, it would not be long at all.
Only one week after tying the all-time NFL mark for receiving touchdowns,
Jerry Rice claimed it for himself.
This drama to which I’d subscribed reached its catharsis; indeed, the very word
I breathlessly raced in to report found itself purged from the sentence!
It’s easy to assume that the intent of my illustration was merely to depict
Candlestick Park at the moment
of this achievement. That’s true, but I can say with reasonable certitude that
what I really saw was the football field itself as the record book where
Rice now stood alone, the surrounding thousands in their plastic seats swirling
around numerous as the galaxies in the universe onto which he had now
indelibly etched his name.
The vagaries of the English language are rife with opportunities to introduce
imprecision. The so-called “garden path sentence,”
which winds its readers’ attention back and forth on an idyllic journey to parseability, is a favourite
When you read a sentence like, “The exterior vent their frustrations,”
everything starts off just fine! “The exterior vent,” gives you the distinct
notion that we’re about to discuss an exhaust. But then, “their” boldly
declares his presence, throwing you for a major
WAT. Only then do you
trudge back to “the exterior vent,” and realise that what you just read actually means,
“The people outside are complaining.” Reading is hard, let’s have a picnic.
Today’s entry tugged me by the hand, giving me that familiar feeling I was
being led down the garden path. As I reached “home,” however, I looked back in
horror to see no route back to meaning. I had just (barely) survived a
“teleporter sentence,” which is a term I just made up to describe when, a few
words in, the reader suddenly finds himself, punctuation-free, in the middle of
a completely different part of the narrative.
Long-time readers of this blog will not be surprised that I chose a Tuesday to
experiment with both grammar and physics, as you all know exactly what was
going on at my class at the Y.
If you’re anything like me, you’re looking at this page right now thinking,
“Hey, this website is way more websitier than I remember it being!” Well, we’re
right. Over the few weeks, I’ve ported my blog over to
Octopress and slapped on a fresh coat of paint.
Intrepid observers will also notice that the entire month of November,1992
has mysteriously appeared in the archives. But for now, I must address the question
of the hour:
Hey, You Said You Were Going To Do This Pretty Much Every Day In Synch With Your Journal From 1992
I still am! Unfortunately, I accidentally an entire year.
It didn’t really feel like a long time.
But still, that one’s on me. Seriously, my bad.
Sports analysts seem to delight in magnifying the unique in the mundane.
“This is the first time that two lefties from the same
high school have pitched against each other during the first half of day-night
doubleheader since the Ford administration!”
This entry actually is actually not from the 25th. It’s floating around around before the 16th, but I’ve decided to leave it here to coincide with the last day of school before Thanksgiving. In keeping with the vacation theme, I’m withholding all further comment except to surmise that this was probably the last time I ever misspelled “turkey.”
A long kick return for a score is one of the most exciting plays in football. To this day, I can barely contain myself when a Jet takes one back all the way. Just a few weeks ago during the Jets’ listless loss to the Ravens, I was nearly ejected from the Boston bar where I was watching the game after doing a lap around the bar at top speed, screaming “GO JOE! GO JOE! GO JOE!” as Joe McKnight sprinted 107 yards in one of that evening’s only bright spots.
After 20 years of watching professional football, I know that flash-in-the-pan
kick returners come and go, and that even a couple of All-Pro seasons don’t make for
a permanent mark in the public’s consciousness. As it turns out, Dave Meggett
isn’t an all-time great, he’s an incarcerated, serial sex offender.
Computers got to the house where I grew up long before I ever did. My dad began
programming on time-sharing systems in the 1970s, and in 1987, he started a
home-based financial-services software company, Ajay Financial Services, named
after his newborn baby boy (me). In the late 80’s, “working from home on the
computer” was not something one did curled up on the couch; my parents added a
second floor onto our home to accomodate the business.
Upstairs lay a wonderland of circuitry that enchanted me from my earliest days,
a buzzing office (with real partitions!) teeming with HP 3000 minicomputers,
dot-matrix printers, eminently rideable chairs, and even a gigantic 9-track tape drive
on wheels. If you’re having trouble picturing all this, here’s a Very Old Data Center:
Years before I ever got to elementary school, I was learning reading, writing,
and ‘rithmetic from Charlie, a 286 running DOS.
“Charlie,” mind you, was not a sweet nickname invented for a friend,
it was the computer’s actual name on our LAN. For the most part, I was even able to launch
Reader Rabbit from the command line myself,
though I’d occasionally pester my dad with questions like “Where is the B?” and “Where did the W go?”
Eventually, I’d become master of the keyboard – and other peripherals. One day in
kindergarten, my dad came in to tell the class about his job, and brought in a
computer to do a demonstration. At one point, frustated watching a classmate
struggling to use the mouse, I jumped in and angrily yanked it away from her. I
simply couldn’t grasp that she had never even seen one before.
This is all a very roundabout way of saying that if, four paragraphs ago, you
were wondering how a six-year-old boy ends up sounding like a grizzled
sysadmin, you probably aren’t anymore.
It was today, still melancholic from the prior day’s letdown, that I truly reached the apex of my minimalistic period. Like a pint-size Frank Stella, I boiled the new computers that had just arrived down to their very essence, considering these mystical harbingers of the future from all angles and synthesizing them into their most basic form: a box.
“But Adam,” you retort, “surely you were just a six-year-old in a rush to turn in your journal?”
Nope. What I described is definitely what happened.
My phrasing here frames the apple picking as some distant
eventual fruit-gathering quest deferred. In reality, it was (briefly) an annual tradition
for my family. We’d make a picnic lunch and load into the car for a trip to a
mythical land known to me only as “upstate”.
In apple picking, unlike programming, you definitely don’t want to get started on the low-hanging fruit.
To that end, my dad had jury-rigged an impressive contraption from a telescoping painter’s pole and two
paint paddles . With it, we could effectively beat the system,
snatching fresh, virginal fruit from the tallest* branches, leaving the other visitors to scrounge for the few
remaining apples dangling within arms length.
Apple picking likely ended up on the bucket list here as a coping mechanism.
“Apple season” runs through the early autumn, and as November stretched along,
I had probably recently received the news that we’d missed our window. “Maybe
not this year, but one day,” I moped.