How is righting formed?

While I plow through my collection of end-of-term assignments to grade, the New York Times came out with a related article.

One of the assignments the 519 students get is to conduct an e-mail interview and write up an article based on the result.

Virginia Heffernan last weekend had a column in the New York Times on how to quote text you find online, primarily in message boards rather than e-mail, but the concepts carry over. The first example Heffernan uses is:

pornography if for the ruling classes and their violent vulgar all consuming appetites. Or their slaves.

As a writer or editor, do you correct issues of punctuation and capitalization? What about grammar? What do you do with a piece of text that’s irreplaceably salient yet so riddled with mistakes that it makes the author seem like an idiot? If you do correct it, do you lose the flavour?

Daniel Okrent, the first public editor for The Times, who is now at work on a book about the history of Prohibition, e-mailed me further thoughts: “The minute you start trying to replicate someone’s accent or diction, you run the risk of appearing to be patronizing or worse. When the Mississippi State football coach said something like, ‘There ain’t but one color that matters here,’ the paper was wrong to recast it as ‘There is only one color….’ – he didn’t say that.”

The article leaves us with no answers, and I don’t think there can be a single definite solution. But it is a point to ponder.

Short term pain for long term pain

My recent round of job interviews has landed me nothing. This sucks. I haven’t made a whole lot in freelance income this year. And the Journalism Department took away two of my classes to give them to an incoming full-time professor who specializes in new media.

On top of that, the private school that Children Two and Three attend decided to drastically cut the financial aid we receive. With Elvi still in school, I don’t see how we can possibly afford to send them there. (Fortunately, Child One’s school remains generous.) Our credit is maxed out, and that already includes a second mortgage.

I’ve been able to shelve some dreams, like ever buying a new car, or a new computer, or a $50 shirt. But this hurts.

It hurts more because after 15 years as a writer, I have no marketable skills other than writing and researching. If no one is going to hire me to do that, I have no prospects. I can’t even work in MacDonald’s until I get my French up to speed.

At least I no longer have to worry about choosing a fridge. I think we’d save $100-$200 in electricity each year, but it doesn’t make sense to spend $700 or so right now to do that.

Hell, I can’t even afford a therapist to bitch to, so you’ll have to do.

Bonus Web site:

My dad found a domain that you might think belonged to me :

A little research reveals that it belongs to a Web designer in Florida. The page loads very slowly, maybe because of the Java slide show. You might want to look elsewhere for your Web design needs.

Crash info

I took Crash to a dog run this afternoon. He walked around a bit then went to hide under a picnic table.

While we were there, a couple showed up with two Samoyeds of their own. One was a huge male and the other was about Crash’s size, probably female. The man looked at Crash, asked who he belonged to, then came over to chat once I owned up. He asked me where we got him.

I told him we got Crash from the SPCA after he’d been found without tags wandering around Vaudreuil. The man told me he’s familiar with Samoyeds and local breeders. He said Crash has features that tend to show up in Samoyeds bred in the US. Vaudreuil, just across the water from Montreal’s western tip, is still pretty darned far from the American border so it’s unlikely Crash walked that far. The man thought an American owner must have lost Crash during a trip in this region. It’s possible.

The rest of last few days has been spent collecting and grading assignments from the summer class I finished teaching on Thursday and shopping for refrigerators.

Retailers sure don’t make it easy to comparison shop. Each has its own model number and the fridge market in general hasn’t really broken online the way shopping for cars or smaller appliances has. My head hurts, and I have a blister on one toe.

Bonus Irrational League update:

Frank’s in first. Ugh. But I’m tied in second. I have good prospects of taking sole possession of second place, and I once had good prospects for taking first, until Frank convinced an owner who shall remain nameless to trade him Adam Dunn for Brian Fuentes. I’m still steamed about that – not so much about the trade, but about Frank’s refusal to admit he ripped the other guy off.

There are games in progress, so I won’t post stats now. Maybe tomorrow.