Saturday, September 11, 2010

I remember where I was; do you?

As pretty much everyone around the world knows, today is the ninth anniversary of the terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon. I know some people would want to start ranting against the political right, especially George W. Bush, when that topic comes up, but I'm not going to discuss anything like that, and, if you put anything like that in a comment, it will get deleted. Instead, I'd like to talk about where I was when I first heard about not only this tragic event, but also other ones I can somewhat remember that caused nationwide, if not worldwide, panic.
I'll start with 9/11. It was right at the beginning of my eighth grade year. The school day had barely even started when my good friend Jakob got picked up to go home, and he was not sick, nor did he have an appointment. I didn't even know what was going on until I got back home, and I saw only a few minutes of the news before I went to my weekly counseling session at my church. When I got in the building, they had CBS News playing in the fellowship room, and I can still remember my counselor saying a prayer at the end and praying not only for me, but also for the state of our nation.
April 16, 2007 was probably the most traumatic national event for me, because I had (and still do have) some friends at Virginia Tech. It made things even worse that I didn't even know anything of that sort was going on until I just innocently logged into AOL Instant Messenger like I did (and still do) pretty much every day, and saw Away messages like, "Let's hope and pray everyone is okay at Virginia Tech," or something like that (it's been so long, I can't remember.) I was quite glad that all my friends were okay, and that incident taught me a lesson: Even though in countless fictional stories--from classic Disney animated movies to R-rated, graphically violent action flicks--killing someone (or a group of people) brings peace, it rarely does in real life. When you do as that Cho guy did, not only do you end a person's/people's life/lives, but you also bring serious emotional pain to that person/those people's family/families.
February 1, 2003 was, while not as tragic as the events I just mentioned, still terrible. For those who don't remember--and I wouldn't say this if it wasn't for at least one person I've talked to who is older than me and doesn't remember this incident--that was the day the Space Shuttle Columbia disintegrated upon returning to Earth. I was watching ABC's Saturday morning block (known as ABC Kids) as was usual for Saturdays back then, and I was waiting for Lizzie McGuire to come on. Out of nowhere, the national news comes on. At first, I thought it was just some short educational program, but it stayed on, and that's when I realized something was wrong. I had it on mute, so I turned the volume up, and all they were saying at first was that NASA had lost contact with the astronauts aboard Columbia, and they kept going back and forth from the same person to the typical, "In case you're just tuning in..." summary. Eventually, they ended up saying the shuttle was gone, and that all the astronauts inside were dead. My mom was asleep through all this, because she had worked the night before. I told her about it as soon as she woke up, and it shocked her as much as it did me. Even WGN decided not to show Star Wars: A New Hope that afternoon like they were planning to, only because of that event. As bad as it was, I'm glad it didn't happen when I was little; back then, I wanted to be an astronaut, and a tragedy like that would have devastated me.
There are many other tragedies I could talk about. There was the Asian tsunami on December 26, 2004, which was quite horrible. Hurricane Katrina in 2005 was as bad if not worse; although forecasters did correctly predict where it was going to hit, and some people did evacuate, the storm was among the deadliest natural disasters of any sort to hit our nation, and seeing all the debris, as well as people mourning their loved ones lost in the storm, just broke my heart. The Columbine shooting in 1999 is an event I remember more because of the aftermath than the actual event. At the time, I was a student at an elementary school where my mom worked, and they talked about a code phrase--no, I'm not going to name it here!--that meant the school was under attack. I also remember my friends' mom not wanting them to play GoldenEye for Nintendo 64 because it was very similar--at least, to her--to Doom, which supposedly inspired Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold to do as they did. Although I know tons of people, my friends included, had fun with that N64 game, I can still somewhat understand my friends' mom's feelings; seriously, do you want any of your kids to grow up to be mass murderers? Didn't think so. One of those friends told me during summer of 2000, about a year after they'd moved hundreds of miles away, that a guy he knew had gotten in big trouble, including not only suspension from school, but also a summer-long grounding by his parents, only because he told the bus driver that she didn't want to drive the bus on the last day because something bad was going to happen, and, because everyone was up in arms about school security back then, the bus driver took it as a threat and wrote the kid up. That same fear was proven by an incident involving me early that following school year, but we don't need to get into that.
This might sound trite, but here it is anyway: No matter what happens, God is in control. Some people think recent events are signs that the end is near, and that may be true; however, as I've heard at least one preacher say, it could just as easily be a thousand more years until Jesus comes back. I don't believe in that December 21, 2012 stuff; after all, research just shows that it's the end of their calendar, not the end of the world. People who get all up in arms about that mess sound as ridiculous as a kid saying, "Oh, no! My Camp Rock calendar only goes to December 31, 2010! After that, life as we know it is going to come to a complete end! I better warn all my BFFs!" (No, I do not have a Camp Rock calendar. I have an iCarly one.)
Any comments?

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

On The Spelling (And Misspelling) Of Names

You probably have noticed, based on my blog posts, notes, e-mails, statuses, messages, IMs, comments, etc., that I am somewhat of a stickler for spelling, grammar, and punctuation. I used to be unafraid to tell people when they spelled or punctuated something incorrectly, even sometimes after it was too late. Most people, especially in this digital age, use spell check quite a bit. Although spell check does help, it is not, and probably never will be, a 100% solution. Spell check will catch when you misspell a long as it isn't spelled like another word. I've seen cases where it was obvious, at least to me, that just that happened, one of which was, "Without them I would be a wreak!" Yes, the person who wrote that meant "wreck"; however, the reason the spell check didn't pick it up was because "wreak" is just as much of a word as "wreck" is. In the past, I've been just as guilty of it as other people; that's why, if I have time, I try to read over what I've typed--I don't write things by hand if I can help it--and make sure that I've said what I wanted to say, and used the right words.
When it comes to names, though, things get a little dicey. There are some names that have tons of different spellings, some of which you can see a few examples of if you look through my friends list. For example, I have three friends named Crystal, as well as one named Krystal, and another one named Krystle. Those are all pronounced the same, yet the spelling is different. Differences in the spellings of names used to confuse me; I can still remember when I was a lot younger and a family friend sent a book called _______ Goes to Town. (Sorry, but not only do I not want to give out my name, even my first name, for all the world to see, but I also hate my name for reasons we don't need to get into.) When we received the book, my mom said, "Oh, look! It's got your name on it! That's so nice of her to send you that!" I looked at the book and at least thought, if not said, "That's not my name!" Why? Because it was spelled one letter different than my actual name.
Although different spellings of familiar names do allow parents to be creative, and make their children more unique, the spellings can also be quite hard on teachers. I went through public school from kindergarten through twelfth grade, and I saw some varied spellings of names. My best friend from seventh grade until high school graduation--yes, we still are friends; quite good friends, in fact--was named Jakob. It was pronounced just like Jacob from Genesis (or Jacob Black from Twilight, for those of you better versed in vampire stories than the Bible) but the spelling was different. At first, his name's different spelling wasn't a big deal; it didn't take the teachers long to get used to it, although one P.E. teacher at our middle school thought his name was Jakoby, and it wasn't. As far as I remember, there wasn't anyone named Jacob in the entire team. However, when we got in eighth grade--and we had the same three core teachers as we did the previous year--things got a little confusing, at least for one teacher. That teacher was preparing for her wedding, which was taking place during Christmas break of that year, and, as (I'm guessing) is usual for weddings, she had to send out invitations. One friend or family member of the groom's was named Jacob, spelled just like in Genesis. Problem was, she'd spent over an entire school year getting used to writing my friend/her student Jakob's name with a "K," that she nearly wrote that on the wedding invitation, despite the fact that her groom's friend/family member didn't spell it that way. I'm sure that kind of thing could happen, and probably has happened, to a lot of people.
Now, on the topic of misspelling of names. Again, I'm not going to give out my name, but I will say that my name is usually spelled correctly by others. Some people have had trouble with my last name, but, at least it's easily spelled, though I grew quite tired years ago of hearing people, including myself, spell it over and over. Some people hate it when other people misspell their names. I've always wondered why they did, but, since that hasn't been much of a problem for me, I can't really say I know how they feel. If I had a name that was easy to misspell, maybe I'd feel the same way.
You may think that, if very few people misspell my name, then I don't really have to deal with misspelling of names. That's not true. Although some people have misspelled names of friends, including Jakob's, it seems like most of the misspellings of names I've encountered, mostly online, have been of celebrities. You probably know that I used to be a big fan of Hilary Duff and Lizzie McGuire. Well, during that time, I saw people--both ones I knew, and ones I didn't--write things with typos like "Hillery Duff" or "Lizzy Maguire". I never was offended by people doing that; usually, it was just because Hilary and Lizzie weren't anywhere near as important to those people as they were to me. When I switched to Anne Hathaway, it didn't stop; in fact, people were worse about spelling Anne's name than they were Hilary's. People spelled her first name without the "E," and they spelled her last name "Hattheway." The misspellings increased even more after I became a fan of Siobhan Magnus; since making her my No. 3 celebrity crush early this year, I've seen everything from "Siobahn" to even "Sioben".
If any of you reading this have made any of the mistakes I've described here, I'm not making fun of you; like I said, I understand why you and others have done that. Seriously, if it wasn't for spell check, I'd have made some misspellings of proper nouns, including not just people's names, but also place names, including geographical locations, that would shock you. Just recently, I was typing a note on Facebook that, unfortunately, got deleted because of a glitch. Anyway, I was making a reference to the Philadelphia Eagles--I know that doesn't sound like something I'd refer to, but it made sense in the note--and misspelled the city's name when I first typed it. Someone who is a huge fan of that NFL team probably would spell it right most if not all of the time. However, I'm not a football fan, nor do I live anywhere in Pennsylvania, so that city's spelling isn't important to me, just like the proper spelling of Hilary Duff, Lizzie McGuire, Anne Hathaway and/or Siobhan Magnus isn't important to you, because most of you friends of mine aren't and never have been their fans, and even those who were weren't as big of fans as I am/was. Proper nouns are often harder to spell than other parts of speech, especially since they don't follow the pronunciation rules that most non-proper-noun English words follow. So, if you want to talk about somebody and/or something I like, don't think I'll be offended or even the least bit upset if you misspell his/her/its name, because I won't and never will be.
Any comments?