Tuesday, November 14, 2006

i am an early-middle-age dog. i should still be able to learn new tricks.

I am working on a paper in which I use the word ubiquitous repeatedly, in reference to something I call the "thesis of ubiquitous partial heritability" (Mom! Are you still reading my blog? Don't I know some fancy words? Don't hear 'ubiquitous' up at the Korner Kupboard, do you?). I keep typing it as "ubiquitious" instead of "ubiquitous," time after time, getting the red squiggle and then having to correct. Why am I unable to internalize this? It's not like I say yoo-BIC-wit-ee-us. Seriously, you're going to think I'm making this up, but I typed it wrong at first for two out of the five times it appears so far in this post. It's like even as I'm thinking about how I can't spell it, my fingers insist on sticking in the extra "i."

As someone who has always prided himself on being able to spell, this is especially painful. But I do know how to spell ubiquitous--if I got it in a spelling bee, I would nail it--I just don't know that I should be spelling that way when I happen to be typing it.

Speaking of spelling bees, I had the greatest idea ever the other night. The big national spelling bee has become an annual hit, but the competition itself is basically more about memorization than spelling, and so then it's a matter of seeing which kid has managed to be able to have her head crammed most full of words she is then able to extract under pressure. Spelling bees are wildly unfair in this respect, though, as the difficulty of particular words varies considerably in ways that are hard to equalize (and the national spelling bee folks don't even seem to try). I suspect the winner almost always would not be able to spell all the words that were presented to competitors over the course of the bee. Plus, they get to stall with all those questions about etymology, etc., detracting from its excitement.

My idea: a National Pi Bee. Get ESPN on board, and some kind of massive scholarship prize. Then, put 12 kids on stage who've been culled in preliminary rounds and given a year to prepare with their families for this like it is basically their whole life. The format is like a spelling bee, except that, each time it's a kid's turn, he has to say the next seven digits of pi. No questions about definitions, no questions at all, and very little luck. Just pure pressure, and pure pi.

Update, 2:30pm: I just misspelled serendipitous "serendipitious", so the affliction appears to be spreading. Why?

8 comments:

Anonymous said...

Yes, I failed out in the first round of the only district spelling bee I ever ended up at. It was an easy word, and I spelled it correctly in the end, I just said the wrong letter first, started over, and was out. I still got to eat at Pizza Hut though.

My mom says there is a new restaurant where the korner kupboard used to be, and that it is really good. Some chef from Chicago opened it, and it serves Chicago-style food. I'm eating there before I leave town next Friday... can't remember the new name...

Sara said...

The National Pi Bee is such a good idea I'm surprised it's not already being done. Maybe there is a math fraternity out there who does it?

Of course, the National Pie Bee? All pies all the time. That's an idea I could get behind.

Lucy said...

I can't find the details now, but your idea sounds similar to the Quran recitation competition I read about recently. The judges start reading a verse from anywhere and the kids (who go to special schools devoted just to quran memorisation) have to continue until the judges are satisfied.

They could just make the kids all write down the spelling of each word so they'd have to get them all right to win, but that wouldn't make such good tv.

I think typing messes up spelling. I even occasionally type the wrong their/there/they're, even though I would never handwrite them wrongly.

dorotha said...

i have lucy's problem with their, there, and they're, and i don't screw up as much when i write them. i also have this weird problem with the word "they." i often just leave off they "y" for reasons unknown. i think it may have to do with learning particular patterns for typing and then letting your fingers TAKE CONTROL OF YOUR MIND! i dunno. i see my neurologist this morning. i will ask him if fingers have minds of their (they're, there) own.

dorotha said...

okay, i did ask my neurologist. he thinks i am a nut, but whatevs. his response was that typing and writing originate from different spots in the left temporal lobe. so it is possible to be better at spelling one way than the other.

he also said that the reason the top layer of my nails seem to be peeling from the bottom layers could be a side-effect of my medicaitons.

Hazy Dave said...

Mmmmmm, pi...

Certain letter combinations want to type themselves when I go too fast. I misspell my last name about half the time, and I have to go go back to flip the i and the e. And the next letter after a CApital is often capitalized, too, especially if it's an A, like it is in my first and last names. One can train one's word processor to fix this sort of thing, but I prefer my computer to do as little as possible automagically, so I can keep an eye on it.

I'm not a great typist, but I am a good speller, too. (Though in 6th grade, I misspelled "marraige" the same way the person in front of me did, leaving it to contestant number three to win the Linfield Elementary Spelling Bee. I spaced.)

Writing or typing a word is easier than spelling it out loud because if it "looks wrong" you can go back to fix it. I suppose if a non-verbal Spelling Bee were tried (wouldn't the ADA act require this if a mute kid wanted to compete?), perhaps erasers would be banned.

A+ said...

I have that, too. I always type restauarant.

I almost took the district spelling bee, but I tanked on thoroughbred. Hilariously, I actually got through the beginning, but eventually spelled it like "bread." Whatever, I was hungry.

Winston said...

I believe you have been afflicted with what we in the trade call the "qwish pathosis" . The correct pronunciation of "ubiquitious" is yoo-by-QWISH-us. Commonly called "qwish" by the natives of the islands off the coast of Brazil, this is the smallest member of the eel family, ranging in size from 10 cm to 25 cm in length. Colors vary depending on temperature of their aqueous habitat, and range from pale yellow to dark mocha. The darker variety are dried and pulverized to add the rich color to mocha java, such as sold by popular coffee house stores in the US. Ingestion of too much mocha java will cause the afflicted to start adding an extra "i" between certain "t"s and "ous"es.