Classical Predilections 5
A TGB READER STORY: Aaah, the Good Old Days

How Many Mistakes Can Crabby Old Lady Make?

Prompted by some of your comments, last Friday evening Crabby Old Lady re-read that day's post and even being home alone, she cringed. Big time. She was appalled and embarrassed at what she had published.

In one 700-word essay, Crabby found a minimum of five glaring errors. Let her show you:

AS PUBLISHED: As I of write here, the few news stories about elders, a large number are about those, even 80 and older, who climb mountains, jump out of airplanes, run marathons and otherwise outdo even much younger people at physical challenges.

What a horrible mess. First, that “As I of write here” should be “As I OFTEN write here”.

The rest is much worse. Here is rewrite that is not wildly wonderful but not as terrible as the original: “the few news stories about elders emphasize age 80-plus people who climb mountains, jump out of airplanes, run marathons and...”

It doesn't end there. Here's another which, like the first example, is a twofer:

AS PUBLISHED: What important today is that In many cases it is not just a preference, it is all we are capable of. On Wednesday, New York Times columnist Frank Bruni, noting that “energy in an arc, and it bends over a lifetime toward depletion”, wrote...”

Where the hell is the “is” that should be second word? Worse, apparently Crabby typed the Frank Bruni quotation rather than copy and paste it so that part of the sentence should read, “noting that “energy IS an arc...”

(“Is” does seem to be a particular bete noire of Crabby's.)

Crabby always proof-reads her posts, sometimes more than once and she tries to do that after several hours have passed so that she comes to the copy with a relatively fresh eye. She often catches such errors as these but not this many at one go.

How did she miss them on Friday's story? Crabby has no idea.

When she first noticed all this on Friday, she thought to correct them but the post had been online most of the day and many people had read it so that didn't seem fair. Better to just let her errors stand.

What's amazing is how polite all of you, dear readers, are. Not one of you mentioned the mess Crabby made of a post she considered – and still does – one of the more important in her recent thinking about what it's like to grow old.

While Crabby was pondering all those errors – she found yet another in Saturday's post, in a headline: IS THE DUNNING-KRUGER EFFECT EXPLAIN THE WIDE SUPPORT OF TRUMP?

Obviously the first word should be DOES.

Crabby doesn't recall that she made very many of these sorts of errors throughout the years and decades before now. So is this some quirk of an old brain, do you think? Or could it be that the media emphasis on Alzheimer's stories and drug advertising for that terrible disease has a lot of us – Crabby Old Lady, for example – wondering if these mistakes are signs of incipient dementia.


And Crabby isn't sure she even found all the errors in that Friday post. If you find others, please let her know in the comments. Also, is any of this familiar to you? Not just writing, necessarily, but other small things that creep into daily living?

As we all discover in time, it's hard to get old but there doesn't seem to be anything to do but get a laugh out of the parts that we can and move on.


Gremlins in the keyboard is all. Not to worry.

I find that I make more typing errors than I use to. In college, I typed master's thesis and doctoral dissertations as a way to earn some money. Accuracy was very important and not only because a typing error would mean either retyping the entire page or correcting the original and three carbon copies. Mostly the subjects were "Greek" to me, so I had to be very careful to transcribe exactly from a handwritten original. I tried to correct spelling errors of non-technical terms. Spelling has never been easy for me... the dictionary was always close by. Apparently my work was good since I always had more potential customers than I had time to accommodate them. All those documents were typed on a manual typewriter. I think I kept the ribbon companies in business.

Today I don't do nearly so much typing. Alas, I've either gotten sloppy, I've lost the knack or worse. Spell-check and the back space key are my best friends.

Errors, on-line or off-, are a part of ordinary life.

What has sadly become extraordinary is having the grace and good humor to admit to them.

P.S. My trick is to read everything out loud. Helps me spot mistakes and those "corrections" the not-totally-smartphone forces on me.

Yes, the number of errors I miss now is unsettling. I have always possessed some kind of magical proofreading ability - my eye would fall on any error on the page, even before I read the section in question. But now even when I send texts, I half believe that my phone changes what I've written because when the "sent" version appears, various errors show up. It's hard to believe that I simply missed them, but there it is. This is a true factor in why I chose to retire - it was becoming more and more exhausting to perform at the level I had always taken for granted. So grateful to be able to be less concerned with that kind of thing.

Years ago, a fine tech writing teacher advised proofing copy upside down. This way, scanning can't happen easily and errors are more easily caught. About errors, I am not as critical as I used to be (when writing for a living) because I care less about "perfection" and most tasks save forms, important personal letters, etc., I don't waste precious time proofing more than once (right-side up!). And, I assign credit to my iPad for many of my typos.

I have oft said that the key to our personal and professional relationship is that I can write and Kathy can spell. Everyone on the planet needs an editor. Crabby is no exception. Not volunteering, just sayin'. But her gaffs make her not one wit less lovable. Now and forever, the alter ego of wisdom, saying all the things we wished we'd said before reading them. Of course, she's only a veiled reflection of her creator, a master of all she surveys. xoxo

We might be stardust, and we might be golden, but we are definitely human and, as such, prone to error. When we are stressed, as I have been here by extreme heat for several days, we make more mistakes. Rather than add to the stress by worrying about relatively minor ones (as long as we're not actually doing rocket science or other things that could endanger people) I say "so what?" about things like typos. Mostly we know what you mean. They're not so bad that we can't read the post and figure it out. Time to let ourselves off the hook as much as possible. We have much bigger fish to fry these days.

Even with the "corrections" of grammar and spelling, many of which make our typing less than what we intended, I'm of the opinion that typos are just part of life, get over it. And I obviously find with a glass of wine in hand, my typing gets more and more unreadable. There's a rule here in my house not to blog when relaxing with wine. Coffee is ok, and those typos can just zing off my early morning fingers...and it's often that my left hand is more dominant than right, so gh becomes hg easily. I don't mind, and didn't either, your typos. I could figure them out. Keep on sharing.

Oh yes, I understand completely but I've noticed that lots of people make typos like I do, even much younger ones. Here's a big stupid thought I had this morning. I chalk it up to six concussions:

I was ready to back up my car out of the parking lot. I saw a "new" pedal and wondered how I'd missed it all these 20+ years of driving this car. "Could it be a special emergency brake?" After a minute or so it came to me. I had my foot on the brake (safety automatic thing when I turn on the ignition). The "unknown" pedal was the gas pedal. Yikes!

This is (I agree with Erin Read) an instance in which you have once again shown outstanding grace. The message is that for which I read your postings, Ronni.

Now that I no longer do aeronautical engineering and what I write cannot be the cause of an airplane crash (about which Cathy J was wise enough to worry!) I am much less uptight about errors in typing or grammar. I don't know about your equipment; but, often I "type" so fast that the signals don't all get through to the monitor. (Yes, I'm sticking with my excuse - lol.)

Write on, Ronni!

No biggie Ronni, be kind to yourself. All of us who text long ago learned to read over the typos anyhow and your meaning was clear as a bell.

If you had not made those mistakes (or, by the way, automatic correct got in the way, as seems to be more and more the case these days) we would not have had the laughs you provided as you critiqued what you wrote on Friday.
That being said, I have noticed that there are certain days when my brain is just down right dead. I can't conjure up the words I am trying to express. I do stupid things like misplace my phone. It is almost like a fog comes over my ability to interact with my environment. What with the fact that I live in the Bay area (at least for right now) and often see the fog rolling in with all of its benefits, one might assume that this would help me in easing my negative thoughts regarding impending dementia. But, well, it doesn't.
On the other hand, there are plenty of younger people who seem to be plagued by some of the same glitches but they are still young enough not to immediately jump to the conclusion that they are losing their brain capacity.
And there is nothing that bothers me more than when I see a headline or sentence in an "official" or "professional" publication that purports to bring us well-researched articles with the facts and they don't seem to be able to catch the most obvious typos.
At the same time, I attribute this to the fact that we have doubled, no quadrupled, the speed in which we interact, all thanks to that instrument of immediacy: the computer. And that instrument moves at such a speed, that as much as we might try to keep up with it, it will outrun us each time. Not only that, it will eventually leave us behind.
My theory: The computer is slurping our brain cells every time we interact with it and with that, gains more of its power, while we lose more of ours.
In the meanwhile, life is a gas, isn't it?

I saw the errors and thought "damn autocorrect!" Let it go!

I really admire your blog and that you have been willing to share your experience with cancer. I do not think that making writing errors is related to aging. It happens to everyone...It is hard when we don't have an editor reading our stuff. I did invest in to see if it would catch stuff and it's not 100%. I would say that you should not worry because many bloggers have this happen.

I am not sure if anyone else has this experience, but what happens in my brain is that I insert the correct word and never see that there was an opps! Just like spell check my brain automatically is doing it. Autopilot. I am not sure if this is good or bad, maybe bad when it comes to my own writing. How can I really be proofing it if my brain is not seeing what I wrote? Focus, I keep telling myself.

However, I am trying to learn to NOT focus on the larger world around me given politics and the Trump regime. Turn the focus button on and off.

Thanks for your insights, Ronnie. An interesting topic as always.

Have a politics free day,


Grammar, what a hassle! Ronni, that is the least of all worries. Many do not even notice such errors. Not all of us had English Majors, or even Minors for that matter. I enjoy repairing mechanical objects and household repairs. I stopped long ago worrying about errors in my repairs. I often miss a step or have to redo a project because I missed an item. Oh well, I still enjoy my projects. I'm no longer perfect, but I am also no longer working for food. I get a check every week for which I am eternally grateful. I miss things, but as I tell others: "I'm
not 25 anymore.". Heck, even at 25 I made some mistakes. I've been married three times.
You are your own worst critic. B

The intent was there, and I knew what word was meant about the Arc and Bruni, we who read your blog know what is the thought, and your expression converts in our heads automatically, I almost remember going back and re reading, and correcting it as it was in it's context, understood totally. m

Everyone have a good week, and BREATH. Breathe, Namaste,

I also make typos. I reread my work before I print it but somehow still miss things. I get my news off the computer and find many typos in news stories. I think the media eats up stuff too fast for writers to recheck their work.

But what really bugs me is the wrong word choice. For example,
one writer wrote about a faze when the word needed was phase.
I hope I've caught the typos I made just typing this.

I get free books that our library discards. I can't resist correcting the typos before passing them on.

As all these comments make clear, none of your errors matter one damned bit to us -- partly because all of us make them too, but mostly because we love and admire you.

I spent years as a newspaper and magazine editor and then in corporate communications. One thing I learned early is that I don't catch typos on the screen; I catch them on the printed page. I still print out everything I write to find the typos. A waste of paper, but it works. Reading what I've written out loud helps too.

Welcome to my world. As a dyslexia blogger I fight against not finding all my mistakes all the time, even when I proof-read a million times and still don't catch them all. We read what we THINK we wrote.

Most of my career was as a writer/editor/publisher, yet even I’ve realized that there are times when it makes sense to cut yourself—and others—some slack. This is definitely one of those times!

My mother was a stickler for grammar! There's probably already something wrong with that sentence and I cringe. My best gift to her at 90 years was a t-shirt that said in bold print: Silently Correcting Your Grammar. Of course, my mother was NEVER silent about it : )

Write on!

As of late, I have been running everything I write for publication through "prowritingaid" or "Grammarly." When I start to write something, my thoughts come faster than I can type which opens the door for lots of errors.

I blame it on computers and their many word processing abilities. It's so easy to correct an error, and just as easy to introduce one. When WordPress dropped its spell checker not long ago, I added Grammarly to my browser. It's unobtrusive and catches a lot of errors. But only a sharp-eyed editor will catch everything. Too bad so many publishers decided editors and proofreaders were expendable.

I've found as I age I tend to not forget the things I most definitely should and forget the things I shouldn't. The past year I've been paying weekly visits to a sister who is a nursing home resident as a result of the ferocious ravaging of progressive Parkinsons. Upon getting to know the residents of the nursing home , ranging in ages from 25 to 102, I am amazed at the determination of the human spirit...and every single one of them would love to get out the door of that nursing they seem to be the ones forgotten...certainly not the ones forgetting. I have been there as some have passed...and I can attest...most did not go gently into the night...nor had they forgotten...what they use to be.

I appreciate all your support for the too-many errors I'm coming up with in this late period of life but what I forgot to tell you is that I corrected at least one error per sentence in Friday's post. Grrrrrr

And I corrected seven errors in this little comment. If dire diagnoses are not the cause, they are really, really irritating and time consuming.

Good grief, Ronni, don’t sweat the small stuff! I think it’s an amazing feat to be so faithful about your blog in spite of your new life circumstances.
I noticed the errors, but I also knew what you meant. Since it isn’t like you, I figured you were either tired or rushed.
When I look at some of the stuff I type, I thank God I took the time to proof before hitting send. Between autocorrect and fumbling old fingers, it’s a horror show. If you have time, put your blog aside and reread it after a nap, a cup of tea, or some other activity. THEN post.
BTW, I found 4 errors in this before I sent this short missive. I love that “stuff” invariably becomes “studs”.

In this modern, fast moving media world, many journalists and writers have adopted speech-to-text technology, and sometimes post straight away without running by an editor, trusting all will be well. Also, transcriptionists may be pressed by deadlines, and might not proof properly.

I too find I make more errors these days, especially on my tiny phone keyboard. I think it’s a combination of having more important things on our minds, and that technology continues to fail in user-friendly design for elders.

At any age most of our brains, I have discovered, do an auto-correct when they see something askew and just continue reading. I have read some real doozies that it took my conscious mind several seconds to even figure out what the intent of the author was!

Like many of your readers, my Mom was a real authoritarian on my spelling and my punctuation! Once upon a time, my then-husband, an English Professor at Georgia Tech, wrote her a letter while I was with her on vacation. She promptly took her red pencil and started to make up HIS letter! It was all I could do to stop her from sending the marked-up letter back to him!

Nowadays, I use Grammarly and just breeze through my writing, assured that Mom is looking over my shoulder and approving that piece of software that keeps me on the straight and narrow. It was at work even as I was writing this missive, and corrected me several times before I was through! LOLOL

Give me (and you!) a break... none of us are perfect, and the occasional misspelled, word is perfectly understandable. Your thoughts and comments are important.

Each morning, with my first cup of coffee, I turn to your blog. It is always something I find interesting, and informative... just like chatting with an old friend. Keep on keeping on!!

I wish you wouldn’t be so hard on yourself. First of all, I don’t know (or care) what this says about me...but, I didn’t notice your errors. We all make errors... by all, I mean every age group. Sometimes (often) we proof our writing...and still don’t see our errors. Please try not to get self conscious about are just being hard on yourself and noticing it more now. We want to enjoy the information you impart to us...and for you to NOT feel nervous or self conscious about doing it. We don’t care if you make an error....that’s not the important part. Please accept that we all do it...and don’t let the awareness of this get in your way of enjoying writing to us!! In other words...don’t drive yourself crazy.

Though I have been a keyboard whiz for nearly 60 years, I have discovered only recently that my brain/keyboard link is eliminating many articles. Oddly, proofreading doesn’t seem to catch the loss of a, an, and the, so I am left to conclude it may be a systemic problem.
I try to look more carefully, but when in doubt I grasp forgiveness.

Happens all the time Ronni. Even in the New York Times and textbooks.

Oops - missed a comma in my comment.

I didn't even notice the errors. I read for meaning and enjoyed the post.

Errors: so NOT a problem for me in reading Ronni's great posts. I, like Trudi, used to type graduate theses for additional income many years ago on a manual typewriter. Now I make keyboarding mistakes that I do not always catch. Sometimes I think autocorrect is at fault; other times, I probably just miss my errors. Ronni's meaning is always perfectly clear.

I don't think this is an issue with older adults only. Many young people apparently haven't learned to spell or construct a sentence and "smart" phones aren't a lot of help in that area. Our move-at-the-speed-of-light culture isn't either.

I saw none of these errors, but then I tend to skim and our brain does fill in the voids and corrects automatically...

For what it’s worth, I caught none of these, and I’m a careful—and critical—proofreader. Chalk it up to “part timers.”

I did catch them but when I read such articles I tend to correct as I go, like the whiteout and typeover we had in the old days.

I miss more now in my own writing, for instance in an email to my sister today, I had to re-read 3 times picking up weird stuff like I noticed in yours, is and was and does used incorrectly, punctuation hit or miss or excessively used to the detriment of friendly familiarity, etc.

I have always operated at a speedy level and this slowing down stuff has me challenged. But once I do, I bump into fewer things and don't knock over objects as I go, or drop things. I hate dropping things.


I am grateful for all you do.
(Soon to be 90 in December )

Can't spell or type as well as I used to. Can't remember a name or a word I want. If these were the only symptoms of aging I have to endure, bring 'em on.

Keep on keeping on, verbal warts and all. Nobody cares.

Now, dear Ronni, don't be hard on yourself, you have enlightened us, made us laugh, and embrace our aging process. You should get a medal of honor just for the last two years alone.
And that typing thing? Oh, I give anyone over 60 lots of room, though I do hate it when I do it.

My sister gave me a page-a-day calendar on elderly memory loss. Today's quote was "According to a study at the Rush Alzheimer's Disease Center, some people who regularly read books throughout their lives did not show outward signs of the disease even if their brains had the tell-tale signs. Moreover, the rate of cognitive decline was slower among the lifelong readers."

I just read without noticing most of the errors and the brain makes sense of it all. Considering the predicament and advancing years, Just do your level best and let these errors go. We all understand. Extend your blogging years by tolerating some degree of imperfection. As a true fan, I write while abroad in Switzerland. Good night.

My mantra lately is "who cares?" Of course this doesn't apply to all things, but as I get older and the world gets more crazy it applies to many things!

Arthritis has distorted several of my fingers causing them to land on the wrong key. My functioning fingers are much slower now and I am prone to hit extra keys all the time. All of this keeps Grammarly very busy and I don't think I am able to type more than 2 words in succession without having it correct me. All of which means it takes twice as long to type a comment than it used to.

Typos aren't the only bane to my typing now. I also have to correct the sentence construction and often in doing so words get left out or are placed in the wrong sentence.

I find it so tiresome now that I just skip the chore entirely. I am not patient with doing something over so if you fail to hear from me it isn't that I am negligent or lacking in interest, it's just that I am so darned tired.

I only caught a few of the errors, and i recently retired from teaching university-level ESL, which involved lots of carefully reading of students' arcane papers. Some days we're just not at our writing/reading best, eh?
The proof-reading 'trick' I encouraged students to use is reading from the last sentence to the first so the brain focuses on grammar, not meaning. If you have time to wait 24 hrs before proof-reading, that helps too, but not many people have that option.
I agree with the many other commenters who look forward to and enjoy your posts, warts and all! Keep on keepin' on!

Ah! Because so much of my work is on contracts I e learned how we read what we believe is meant missing our own and others' errors. Better here than in a contract for a meeting for 2500!

Indeed I think we read what you meant.

And it was good reading then and corrected.

You give so much to us how could we think CoL was negligent?

Like Celia said, no worries.

Here's a little story on the same theme:

So, back in the 60's I worked at a major beauty cream company in Montreal.

My job? Secretary to the sales manager, a cool boss.

Nine to five, typing. One letter after another. On a Typewriter. Make a mistake, start over. Pre-computers.

So deadly boring I fantasized about being anywhere but that busy open office, my desk two feet away from other drones and a million years away from my dream future.

I was a machine. Type type type, ding, ding, return carriage, mistake, rip up, repeat, bading badoom.

What a way to make a living..

Boss asks me to type his hard to read handwritten sales pitch letter extolling the benefits of a new face cream, one that promised to magically turn apple doll faces into screen queen ones, blah blah.

I glanced at his turkey scrawls..

And started typing, my mind on Clearwater Beach..

The proper line was:

"Scores of women will have perfect wrinkle free skin within days."

Here's what I wrote (oh no)

"Sores of women will.."

I handed the good copy to my boss who read it, stared at me, fell over laughing, rushes out of his office, passed it around for all to see, including the Polish caretaker.

"Hahaha, sores of women.."

Echoed down the building..

I faked mortification on the outside, but cracked up on the inside to have instigated some humour in the building.


Boss wanted to frame it.

I kept a copy for future reference.

Part of my job as a university research administrator was to ensure submission of correctly written faculty proposals. In my advice to proposal writers, I stressed the difficulty of editing oneself. I can spot numerous errors in print or online publications, but my own errors often go undetected because I know what I intended to say so I read it that way.

But I can do better than iPad, which is why I turned off auto-correct, although I’m grateful for spell-check. At least our grammar and spelling are far more likely to be correct than that of many tweeters, who seemingly cannot even master the difference between your and you’re and all too frequently match subject to verb incorrectly.

Claudia’s comment about speech-to-text bypassing editors probably explains a lot except that there are almost no professional editors left. Except at the very highest levels of journalism such as the NY Times, most newspaper editors were long ago given buyouts and shown the door, which is why most publications are rife with errors.

In any case, I agree with everyone who said the fairly minor errors in TGB posts do not in any way detract from your message—a message for which we are all extremely grateful.

I will keep reading no matter what you write!

I just chalked down some of your wordings, mistakes or whatever you want to call them, to your, perhaps, rushing to write, publish, or simply not having time to edit as you so carefully do. I say this predicated on what occurs for me at times when I hurriedly write comments here and elsewhere, also sometimes with my posts. Occasionally, I’ve even allowed a misspelled word, the incorrect form of a word, or omitted words to slip through and likely will in the future. I like to think friendly readers will make allowances and probably conclude I’m just as imperfect as they are.

I don’t hold bloggers to such high grammatical standards as I do some other published forms of writing. I write more casually, much as I did and still do with a few correspondents in that old-fashioned system of snail-mail letters. They do the same, and we simply overlook any of each others mis-wordings, spelling errors and the like, since maybe we weren’t operating in top form at the time. That’s friendship, too, just as pointing out another’s goofs can be. If meaning is altered, or if clarity is lacking, then those are other issues. Sometimes, just overlooking things can be better for both people — perfection isn’t always really necessary in the scheme of life, especially among friends.

Last night I received a group email from a professional colleague. It began "Hope you are all serving the heat." I imagine one Could serve the heat (perhaps offer it a glass of iced tea?) but I imagine he meant to write "surviving." And, as many before me have commented, we love all Crabby Old Lady writes and her mistakes just make her more endearing.

I missed all those typos. And I thought that column was one of your best.

It’s really ok. Mistakes happen. I’m still your devoted fan.

Not a big deal, so don't worry about it. Yesterday, Ivanka Trump sent a tweet to Boris Johnson that went "Congratulations @Boris Johnson on becoming the next Prime Minister of the United Kingston." She took quite a ribbing on lie.

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