Stodghill Says So

An opinionated posting on a variety of subjects by a former newspaper reporter and columnist whose daily column was named best in Indiana by UPI. The Blog title is that used in his high school sports predictions for the Muncie Evening Press.

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Location: Cuyahoga Falls, Ohio, United States

At the age of 18 I was a 4th Infantry Division rifleman in the invasion of Normandy, then later was called back for the Korean War. Put in a couple of years as a Pinkerton detective. Much of my life was spent as a newspaper reporter, sports writer and daily columnist. Published three books on high school sports in Ohio and Indiana. I write mystery fiction for Alfred Hitchcock Mystery Magazine and others. Three books, Normandy 1944 - A Young Rifleman's War, The Hoosier Hot Shots, and From Devout Catholic to Communist Agitator are now available from Amazon, Barnes & Noble and other booksellers. So are four collections of short mysteries: Jack Eddy Stories Volumes 1 and 2, Midland Murders, and The Rough Old Stuff From Mike Shayne Mystery Magazine.

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Tuesday, March 20, 2007

Spell Checkers and Hearing Checkers

After you've been around for a while you sometimes don't hear quite as clearly as you once did. That's usually because the other person mumbles, of course. After lunch today I said I'd like a cookie.
"What kind?" said Jackie.
"One of those fudge sticks. What other kind are there?"
"Ice floes?"
Well she didn't have to shout.
But this really is about spell checkers. If you do a lot of writing there are times when you type a familiar word and it doesn't look right. I don't mean one of those long words nobody ever uses in a conversation, just everyday words. You've typed one a thousand times before but it just doesn't look right. That makes you doubtful. This morning I typed desperate, a word I've used many times before. It didn't look right. Was it er or ar? I reached for my Webster's Instant Word Guide, a little book only four inches wide and not quite six inches high. No writer should be without one. So I was right. In other words I was wrong when I typed it.
Computer programs such as Word Perfect, Microsoft WORD and Lotus Smart Suite used by writers have spell checkers. Some misspellings are corrected the second you type them but then after you finish writing you click on the spell checker and it scans the entire document. That's fine if you watch carefully and tell the checker to ignore a lot of things. For instance, if you write, "That'll show 'em." the spell checker wants to change it to "That'll show me." A far cry indeed from what you wanted to say.
While good for many things, spell checkers are awful when it comes to names. In the series I write about Jack Eddy, one of the private eyes working for him is Chet Blinn. According to the spell checker he really is Chat Blink. The narrator of the series is Bram Geary. The spell checker insists he's Brim Gary. But the one who really takes a hit is Mabel Klosterman, a young woman in her mid-twenties who lives at the same boardinghouse as Jack and Bram.
Pudgy Mabel embarrasses easily, sweats a lot and giggles at all the wrong times. She'd be horrified to learn that the spell checker swears her name isn't Mabel Klosterman but Amble Lobsterman.
One switch the checker wants to make could cause real trouble. It contends that Mohican, the name of the Indian tribe, should be Mexican. That could cause a lot of scalping knives to be drawn in this country today. Just having me type it out caused James Fenimore Cooper to turn over in his grave.

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