Thanks, Croup!

So here I sit, having just waved to my wife & daughter as they backed out of the driveway at 11:15pm.  Unfortunately, this wasn’t for a sentimental “Mother/Daughter Bonding Excursion”…this was (and still is) a trip to the ER.

Don’t worry.  Everything is going to be fine.  We’ve been through this before.  You see, in our family, we’ve been blessed with a special friend named The Croup.  The Croup doesn’t visit often, but when he does he tends to disrupt plans–sleeping plans primarily.  First, he announces his presence with the hallmark Barking Cough.  From there he tends to hang around until he’s sure that whichever child he’s visiting wakes up to take notice.  Once he has all of our devoted attention, he settles in for The Game.  The Game is figuring out how to get rid of him.  

The normal routine involves a short, starlit walk in the cool night air.  This stroll is immediately followed by a brief respite in the poor man’s sauna (our bathroom with the shower cranked as hot as it will go).  From there, if he doesn’t leave, we bring out the technological warfare: The Nebulizer.  

Tonight all of this proved rather futile, so that means we had to call in the Professionals.  Hence, the aforementioned trip to the ER.  Normally, I tend to just sit on the couch and wait on the phone call from my wife to let me know that the prednisone breathing treatment has been administered and all is right with the world.  But for some reason, tonight I was struck with a thought as I watched my two ladies drive away.

I realized I was thankful. Not for The Croup–I could do without ever dealing with him again. My thankfulness was in response to a quotation that my grandmother used to say.  (To be fair, it might have been my Dad that said it, but for some reason  I remember him attributing the comment to his Mom…plus,  sayings are usually best when we think they come from grandparents anyway, right?)  The quote?

“God is previous.”

 Just two hours ago, when my children went to bed, I had no idea that The Croup was on the way.  I didn’t even know what was going to happen at the end of tonight’s episode of “Chuck”. But years ago, God put in some boy or girl’s heart the desire to be a doctor when they grew up.  He already knew how they would do in school, what college major they would decide on, how they would score on the MCAT, what area of specialization they would be drawn to, what hospitals would offer them a position, which offer they would choose, whether they would thrive in an Emergency Room setting, what shift rotation they would be assigned, whether that shift included Monday nights, and even the fact that they wouldn’t be on break when my wife & daughter showed up tonight.  

To chalk all of that up to mere coincidence would be frightening.  

To attribute it to an all-knowing God that not only created our entire universe with just His words, but also cares enough to know how many hairs are on the head of a particular little girl in the ER (even the ones that are out of place right now due to some epic Bed-Head), THAT is unbelievably comforting.

Comforting enough to inspire thankfulness in a moment normally reserved for worry.

BREAKING NEWS! Spellcheck Vanquished!

mike-tyson-koChalk up a win for the common man (or woman)! 

 A mighty blow has been struck in the battle against the tyranny of elitism!

“What blow?” you ask.  “What tyrant?” you beg. 

As this battle belong not only to me, but to you as well, I will tell you. 

Spellcheck has been wounded.  Mortally perhaps!

This man-made program that has morphed into the self-sufficient, seemingly omniscient scourge of human writing has been given a taste of its own medicine–medicine it was not prepared to sample. 

Come.  Sit.  I will tell you of the battle.

As many of you know, I have once more subjected myself to the academic world.  In an effort to improve myself as a writer, I have taken on the task of reading the works of literary giants.  Walt Whitman, Mark Twain, Ernest Hemingway, Emily Dickinson, Dave Barry, John Steinbeck, and occasionally Gary Larson.  The chance to sit at the feet of these writers is an honor reserved for very few.  (and by “very few”, I mean that the class is limited to 20 participants each semester).  As part of my student responsibility, I am required to offer my thoughts and observations after reading each selection.  This interaction proved to be the setting for The Battle. 

On one side stood The Great Spellcheck.  Pompous.  Arrogant.  Grammatically perfect.

On the other side stood Yours Truly.  Pure of heart.  Courageous.  Battle weary.

Many times we had tangled before.  Me, typing my innermost thoughts and ideas, only to have them picked apart by the nefarious Checker.  Too many spaces here.  An extra “p” there.  With each green or red underline, I could hear a computer generated scoffing.  Occasionally it seemed as if my very monitor would throw itself back in mocking laughter.  But not THIS day.

As my fingers flew, submitting over 700 words of literary analysis, I could see It licking its proverbial chops.  Waiting.  Anxious to dash my submission on the rocks once more.  As I wrapped up the last sentence, I felt that familiar pang of apprehension.  Would it be good enough?  Would I be good enough.  I delicately placed the last period.  I clicked on “Save”.  The moment had arrived.  The auto-check.

I could see It thinking.  Scanning.  Comparing my words against It’s inerrant databrain.  The hourglass on my screen seemed to be the Sands of Time slipping away.  For some reason, this process took far longer than normal. 

Could it be? 

Was there nothing to correct?!

It was double checking!  I’m sure of it…The Spellchecker was doubting itself!!  Would this be the day?!

Then, it happened.  The words appeared on the screen.  Those words that had so often accompanied a barrage of red & green underlines that made my document look like Clark Griswold’s house in December. 

“Spellcheck Complete”.

I began looking for the corrections that needed to be made, but curiously I found nary a one.  I looked again.  A third time.  A fourth.  Was this really happening?  Yes!  Yes, it was!

No grammatical errors!  No misspelled words!  I had beaten The Great Spellcheck! 

Sound the trumpets!  Wake up the children!  Break out the celebratory Red Bull!   Risk the Copyright infraction and sing!   “Ding, Dong, The Spellcheck’s dead…Spellcheck’s dead…Spellcheck’s dead…Ding, Dong The Great Spellcheck is deeeeeeead!”

OH!  What a day! 

So there, you have it.  Proof that the Adidas slogan is true–Impossible is nothing.  Spellcheck can be beaten.  I tell you this to give you hope.  If ever you find yourself too scared to hit “save”…do it anyway.  Your day will come as well.  I believe in you.

What’s that?  How did I celebrate this momentous victory?  In the spirit of good sportsmanship, I sent Spellcheck a note.  The text of the note read,

“Eye one.  Ewe did knot.”

Once again, he found no errors.