One Space or Two?

Proportional versus Monospace font

In his post yesterday, my blogger friend Jim Adams wrote, “If you have ever read any of my posts you may have noticed that I always skip two spaces after every period and before I start a new sentence. I guess that this would qualify me as being anal.”

No, Jim, not anal. Just a throwback to the dark ages. You see, way back when I was in high school (aka, the dark ages), before personal computers, laptops, tablets, and smartphones, I took a typing class. On a typewriter. A manual typewriter.

In that class we were taught to always put two spaces after periods at the end of sentences. It turns out, though, that the “two space rule” I was taught in 10th grade typing class is an archaic rule.

Most typewriters back then had only the courier font, a monospaced font where each letter took up the same amount of space. The skinny “i” and wider “w” occupied the same amount of space on the printed page. To make the text more readable, two spaces were used after the period in order to give the eyes a break between sentences.

When typing on a computer, however, most fonts are proportional fonts, which means that characters are not all the same widths. That skinny “i” referred to earlier takes up much less space than that fat “w.” Hence, putting an extra space between sentences doesn’t do anything to improve readability.

It was difficult for me, at first, to break a decades old habit of putting two spaces after each sentence-ending period. But when I started carefully reading printed documents and emails for work, I noticed that when I used only one space after the periods versus two, they looked better, more professional. And I also noticed that my blog posts looked more professional as well.

So I moved into the 21st century and embraced the “one-space rule.” But this is certainly not a life and death matter, Jim. If you wish to continue to practice the archaic “two-space rule” in your posts, well hey, it’s your blog and you can do as you please. I won’t think any less of you.

Of course, if you do choose to continue to skip two spaces after every period and before you start a new sentence, I’m afraid I’m going to have to rescind my nomination of you for the Unique Blogger Award.

Who? Me?

Image result for Who me?

I’m always entertained when I read about the trials and tribulations of teaching, bicycling, and other activities of daily living over at Non-Euclidean Sofa. But imagine my surprise when he notified me that he’d nominated me for a blog award.

Yes, he nominated me for the Unique Blogger Award. I’m not sure what that is, or what it means, but it’s always nice to have someone recognize you for something you do, other than whatever crimes and misdemeanors you may have committed during your life. So I’m pleased and appreciative of him for think kindly of my blog.

Anyway, as with anything worthwhile, there are rules.

  1. Share the link of the blogger who has shown love to you by nominating you.
  2. Answer the questions.
  3. In the spirit of sharing love and solidarity with our blogging family, nominate 8-13 people for the same award.
  4. Ask them 3 questions.

Okay, here goes. Time to pay it forward.

I have shared the link of the nominator. Now I have to answer his three questions.

  1. What is something you’d show from a rooftop on a Sunday night during a rainstorm? Also, explain why at your leisure.

Why would I be doing anything from a rooftop on a Sunday night during a rainstorm? And did he mean “show” from a rooftop or “shout” from a rooftop? No one knows, right? Anyway, I’d shout, “Rain, rain go away, come again another day, or night, or whatever. Just go the fuck away.” Why, because I’m on a rooftop and it’s raining. Why else?

2. What is something you could enjoy complaining a lot about?

You mean besides Donald Trump? Oh, let’s see. The weather. Traffic. The cost of living. Life in general. Yup, that about covers it.

3. What is something you think about that keeps you awake?

You mean besides Donald Trump? Oh, let’s see. The weather. Traffic. The cost of living. Life in general. Yup, that about covers it.

Now I’m supposed to nominate a bunch of other bloggers. This is where it’s easy to get in trouble. There are so many bloggers who are deserving of this recognition and I’m bound to leave someone out and that will piss them off. But a line, no matter how arbitrary, must be drawn. So here goes, in no particular order.

Sight’s poetry is often incomprehensible to me and I even am challenged by much of his prose. Still, he takes us all on quite a journey at his blog.

Sandi’s Flip Flops Every Day is always a fun read and the comments section is a hoot. And she’s also the brains behind the Manic Monday challenges.

Jim Adams is an author, a historian, and a teacher. I always learn new things at his blog.

Not to be missed are the cartoons and humor over at Bad Dad Cartoons. They’ll keep you smiling (and sometimes groaning).

Margaret Curry’s Life on the Skinny Branches is entertaining and endearing.

Marilyn Armstrong leads an interesting life and is full of wit and charming wisdom at her Serendipity blog.

I always have fun with Linda G. Hill’s One-Liner Wednesday and Stream of Consciousness Saturday prompts. She’s the blogger who got me into responding to prompts and challenges.

Michael at Morpethroad is fellow prompt responder and he always has a good story to tell.

Jerry Brotherton, The Backyard Poet is a recent discovery and his down home humor and observations are engaging.

I share my strong political beliefs with Lydia’s at A Lot From Lydia, and she’s great at expressing things that, were I more talented, I might say myself.

Kijo’s Live Life, Make Meaning blog, even though I’m not a fan of poetry, is a must read.

Okay. I’ve reached that arbitrary line and fulfilled my obligation. There are many other bloggers who deserve recognition, as well. But, should I ever be honored with another blog award, I’ll get to them.

And thanks again to Non-Euclidean Sofa for the recognition.

A Man of Many Words

IMG_2341.JPG

I am a contradiction.

In the real world, I’m something of an introvert. In social situations, I tend to stumble and bumble may way through conversations. I listen to the discussions going on around me. Sometimes I may react to what people are saying. But only occasionally will I contribute to the dialogue.

I am not someone who seeks to be the center of attention or who tries to draw others to his side while leading lively discussions on engaging topics. I’m more of an observer than an active participant. One might characterize me as a man of few words.

Contrast that with how I am when sitting at my desk tapping away at my keyboard. There, I am a god, the ruler of my universe, reaching out to my minions and waxing on about nature, life, and society with myriad words expressing profound wisdom and unparalleled wit.

Okay, maybe that’s a bit over the top.

What I’m really saying is that, when it comes to the written word, I’m a man of many — not few — words. Maybe even too many words. That’s because brevity of the written word goes against the grain of the way I’ve been writing all of my life.

Sure, I over-explain things and I often use more words than may be necessary to make my point. But I’ve always felt that my style of writing, verbose though it may occasionally be, adds color and life to what I write, and demonstrates that I’m an intelligent and articulate writer with an excellent command of the language.

And perhaps ― just perhaps ― that I am someone with a slightly exaggerated sense of self-appreciation.

The late Al Neuharth, founder of, and columnist for, USA Today, wrote that “long-winded stuff loses the attention of listeners and readers.” He quoted FDR, Henry David Thoreau, and Mark Twain, all of whom made comments about how difficult it is to be concise in one’s writing. Twain, for example, said, “If I had more time, I’d write shorter.”

I find it much easier to write in a stream of consciousness manner than it is to be concise. I usually start out writing whatever pops into my head about a subject and then try to edit that free-flow of words into something cohesive. But that process is often more a matter of moving things around than actually cutting out words.

Removing what some might consider to be unnecessary words from my writing is difficult for me because everything I write is, in my humble opinion, germane to the subject matter. Thus, nothing is unnecessary. For me, removing words, phrases, and especially entire sentences is akin to asking a mother to choose which child she’s willing to edit out of her family.

So you see, while I consider myself to be a writer who has a way with words, what I should be striving to be is a writer who knows how to do away with words.


Today’s one-word daily prompt is bumble.

Life’s Illusions

IMG_2366

Jake was under the impression that there were certain givens in life. Aside from the givens of birth, death, and taxes, that is. Givens like hard work will be rewarded, love conquers all, time heals all wounds, and a whole host of other trite platitudes that Jake accepted as life’s givens.

But as Jake grew older and more and more cynical, one might even say jaded, he learned that those are all illusions. Well, except for birth, death, and taxes, which are all too real.

Jake did work hard most of his life until his company moved the bulk of its jobs, including Jakes, to China and India. He suddenly found himself unemployed and uninsured. Even his pension plan ran out of funds due to poor decisions by management.

Jake was deeply in love with the woman of his dreams. Or was that just love’s illusions he recalled? Shortly after he lost his job and ran out of money, she walked out on him. He found out that love doesn’t, in fact, conquer all. Losing one’s dignity, for example. Another shattered illusion.

That all happened more than two years ago and, despite the passage of time, the wounds still seemed quite fresh to Jake. He was hurting, broke, homeless, and alone.

The good life, Jake thought, was just an illusion. All of Jake’s illusions about what life was supposed to be had been shattered. Yet, despite the hurt and disillusionment, he was still alive. He was still breathing. His heart was still beating. And he knew that his reality, as bad as it seemed, would persist. Somehow, in some way, he would survive.

After all, where there’s a will, there’s a way. At least that’s the illusion Jake chose to embrace.


This post is for today’s One-word prompt, that word being “illusion.”

 

Commas, Quotation Marks, and Apostrophes

Yes, when it comes to grammar, punctuation, and usage, I can be a little fussy (aka, pedantic, persnickety, and/or nitpicky). But like sexual orientation, it’s not a choice. I was born this way.

This post is about three of my personal punctuation pet peeves. How’s that, grammar nerds, for a wonderful example of alliteration?

First, I will opine about the Oxford comma. After that I will discuss the placements of period and commas with respect to quotation marks. And finally, a brief word on apostrophes.

Are you ready to rumble?

The Oxford comma

The Oxford Comma

The Oxford comma is a comma before the conjunction “and” or “or” preceding the last item at the end of a list of three or more items. Some suggest that use of the Oxford comma is optional. I don’t concur. Let me give you a few common examples where the absence of the Oxford comma can be problematic.

“We invited the strippers, Trump and Putin.”

Without the Oxford comma, that sentence implies that Trump and Putin are the strippers who were invited. But with the Oxford comma, “We invited the strippers, Trump, and Putin,” it becomes quite clear that Trump and Putin were each invited, along with the strippers.

Another frequently used example:

“I’d like to thank my parents, Ayn Rand and God.”

Hey, unless you’re Jesus, God is not one of your parents. Neither is Ayn Rand, since she never had any children. What’s so hard about writing, “I’d like to thank my parents, Ayn Rand, and God”?

I’m not sure why anyone has a beef with using the Oxford comma, which always insures clarity in written communications. It’s not like the little comma takes up a lot of extra space. It’s not as if that one extra little keystroke will increase the amount of time it takes you to write whatever it is that you’re writing.

Why not, in the interest of clarity, insert that little comma each and every time? Why not ensure that people aren’t confused by what it is you’re trying to communicate?

Quotation punctuation

quotation

Let me state up-front that I write primarily for an American audience. I preface this rant with that caveat because I know that you Brits, Canadians, Australians, and New Zealanders follow different punctuation rules.

And that’s fine. That’s the way you were taught. Who am I, just because America is the center of the universe, to suggest that you’re wrong? Even though you clearly are wrong.

That said, there is an American punctuation rule that states unequivocally that commas and periods must always be placed inside the end quotation marks, even if they are not part of what is being quoted.

Okay, I’ll admit that putting a period or comma inside the end quotation marks may not always make sense. But rules are rules, right?

A recent movement in this country, though, promotes what is called “logical punctuation.” As one grammar site noted:

“In the United States, periods and commas go inside quotation marks regardless of logic. In the United Kingdom, Canada, and islands under the influence of British education, punctuation around quotation marks is more apt to follow logic.”

This “logical punctuation” movement seems to have gained some level of grassroots acceptance in the U.S. I’m not surprised to see this trend developing,  given the proliferation of emails, chats, blogs, tweets, and Facebook posts, and the informality used in those forms of written communications.

Even Wikipedia, the “free encyclopedia that anyone can edit,” has embraced logical punctuation. Wikipedia’s style guide notes that “logical punctuation … is used here because it is deemed by Wikipedia consensus to be more in keeping with the principle of minimal change.”

This “principle of minimal change” means that if you put a period or comma inside quotation marks, you are wrongly suggesting that the period or comma is part of the quoted material, and thus you have “changed” it.

As a liberal, I am certainly not opposed to change. But as an American, I am bothered by this encroachment of the British way of using punctuation, or what is euphemistically called “logical punctuation.”

My fellow Americans, it’s really not that difficult. Put the goddam period or comma WITHIN the freakin’ end quotations marks.

Oh, one more little thing

If you’re using an apostrophe to make a word plural, as in “Stop by the grocery store and pick up some banana’s and apple’s on your way home.” STOP IT, DAMMIT, STOP IT!