The Web: The E-Mail

by Mitchell Harding

written 3/4/99

<< ssnnnnnnggg. . HUh? Whaa? Not much work involved? Hmm, okay. Did you know that in the newsreader Agent, the spellchecker flags "hmm" and suggests "hammy"? Did you know that "hammy" is a word? >>

Although I wasn't aware that hammy was a word, it doesn't surprise me. Nothing can shock me after I found out that foofaraw was a word.

Speaking of spellcheckers, mine ALWAYS flags the word "ninjas". Fine, ok, maybe the people who designed it didn't do so with Japanese martial artists in mind. Great. So I added it to the lexicon. It still flags it. Strange? Yes. What's stranger? Well, I'll tell you. One of the suggested words is ALWAYS "ninjas". No spelling difference whatsoever. Stranger? Yes, I already told you it would be stranger. What's strangest? Nothing, only strange and stranger. Still, each time I loyally replace "ninjas" with "ninjas". Actually, that's a lie. On occasion I add it to the lexicon again in the vain hope that this time it will learn. So far I've yet to succeed in teaching my spellchecker to accept "ninjas" as a first-class citizen in the world of words. Woe!

Oh yeah, I think I added "hmm" and "hmmm" and "hmmmm" (etc, ad nauseum) to my spellchecker. And, of course, I added "harf". And "harfy". And "anyharf". And "harfs".

I love spellcheckers. They're so cute. And so arousing! Wait, those are thesauruses. My relationship with my spellchecker is purely platonic, despite what my grammar checker may have insinuated at the New Year's Eve party last year. Who needs a grammar checker anyway? All it does is tell me not to use the passive voice and (seemingly at random) either wants me to switch "that" to "which" or vice versa. Oh yes, and I forgot its favorite thing to do -- try to change my sentences into non-sentences. It will perceive some imaginary problem (much as my cats perceive an entire imaginary world that only they can see, if even they can truly see it) and then suggest some incredibly odd solution, transforming my previously lovely sentence into a garbled mess that a non-native English speaker working the night shift in a convenience store would be embarrassed to utter aloud, or even think, or possibly even see spelled out on my monitor.

Oh, and don't even get me started on capitalization. Sometimes, it seems, a word loses its identity when I capitalize it -- the computer no longer recognizes it. Either the spellchecker (usually my loyal ally -- PURELY PLATONICALLY!!! -- except when it comes to ninjas) will flag it as an unknown word (almost always suggesting the lowercase spelling, as though that were some brilliant insight on its part), or perhaps the grammar checker (damn rumor-monger) will kick in and throw a fit, attempting to persuade me that my sentence would be improved if it looked like a mangled line from Jabberwocky that had been translated from English to German to Gaelic and then back to English, all by means of a translator designed by a team of ninjas (I had to include the word again, so my spellchecker would have a reason to live) who spoke only Yiddish (and then with an Australian accent!).

Yeah.

<< Sure, I'm in to it. The astrology thing, that is. Let me know when to write one, for whom, and how long it should be. And of course, HOW MUCH I'LL BE PAID. >>

Ok, you're in. I've already made the assignments for the first week, though, so you won't have to write anything for a little while. I'll keep you posted.

As for your pay, we can discuss that when tornados take over the world.

<< PS. Should "harf" be capitalized? I'm planning to start using it more, so I should use it properly. >>

No, it needn't be capitalized. It won't get upset if you capitalize it, but don't feel pressured to do so. It's your call. Well, I can think of some occasions when it might get a little pissy if you don't capitalize it. For example, when it comes as the first word in a sentence, it probably will be distressed if you leave it lowercase. As well, if you use it as anyone's name, I'd recommend capitalizing it to avoid any unwanted difficulties. Finally, and this is a lesser known case that I am sharing with you only because of our deep friendship and my unending affection for you, it should always be capitalized when it precedes a five syllable word whose 3rd, 6th and 12th letters are capitalized (and the rest are lowercase, or in the little known "middle case" which I invented last year once while riding a rollercoaster).

Oh yes, so of course you're going to be added to the Harf Project web page as a supporter of said project, unless you have any objection to this.

<< Are you going to abduct me now? Thanks for the link. I'll add one to your page on my links page as soon as I get the wherewithal to upload the changes. >>

I may abduct you. But first, I must ask you, is it okay to put your last name on my web page? If you don't want me to, it's okay (of course).

No problem about the link. I wouldn't have added it if I didn't consider you a friend. Well, I might have, but only had you paid me for the service.

Ok, this message (grand as it may be) needs to end. I've now been awake for almost 26 hours. I spent the 6th hour playing racquetball, the 23rd playing handball, and the 24th running. So, needless to say, I am exhausted. Alas.

Your tired yet strangely driven friend,
Mitch

ps -- My spellchecker didn't know "spellchecker", "spellcheckers", "ninjas" (what a surprise there), "Jabberwocky", "harfs", "hmmm", "pissy" and "rollercoaster". Oh well.


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