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A checkered future

I have a lot of strong feelings about really stupid stuff. Just today, I became incensed when I heard that someone at the company I work for insists on using two spaces between sentences. I mean, any modern media professional knows there should be only one space. The two-space thing is a holdover from the days of the typewriter. But I nearly became incandescent with rage. Likewise, I got a little heated when some co-workers started planning a gingham day and someone asked about the nature of gingham and whether gingham was the same as plaid. For God’s sake, has everyone lost their respective minds? Gingham is a square pattern, usually limited to two colors, whereas with plaid the line widths vary. It’s like saying peaches are the same as avocados, or snakes are the same as lizards.

Besides, I don’t have any gingham. I think the last gingham thing I owned was probably pink and had what they used to call “pin-tuck embroidery.” I might have been 6. My mom or grandma probably made it for me. It was a beautiful thing. Now grown men are wearing blue-and-white gingham dress shirts with reckless abandon. Maybe I’ll just work from home next Thursday when everyone trots out their damn gingham (or plaid, because they don’t know any better).

I know why I’m acting like this. I’ve spent the last couple weeks writing copy style guidelines. I’ve defended sentence case over title case nearly to the point of fisticuffs; written lengthy treatises on the hyphen versus the en dash versus the em dash; thought too much about the difference between abbreviations and acronyms. Once you start down this road—start noticing inconsistencies and carelessness and the generally slovenly nature of the human animal—it’s hard not to become discouraged and disenchanted. I mean, what the hell?

Also, it’s much easier to get angry over this kind of stuff than it is to face the things that not only piss me off but truly make me worry about our future on the planet. The kidnapped Nigerian school girls. Oil pipelines embedded like poison under our land. Neighbors shooting each other out of fear and anger. I really think we all need to get a grip.

Ya know, maybe it could start with something small, something kind and sweet and community building. Like maybe next Thursday we could all wear gingham to work, or plaid if that’s all we have, just to make each other smile.
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