May 29, 2009 - No Capitals, Archy and Transcribing

29 May 2009

Morning,

There has to be something wrong with my keyboard, and I'm beginning to feel like Archy... of Don Marquis ' fame.

As an introduction, Archy was, actually still is, a cockroach, who as a reincarnated poet used Don Marquis' typewriter to create his poetry. The one issue is that Archy, being a cockroach, could not simultaneously press a letter key and the shift key on the typewriter... hence no capitalization! Archy, albeit Don Marquis, wasn't texting... He didn't have a mobile phone or an iPod, and I believe not even an IBM Selectric typewriter. Archy could only press down one key at a time. And Don Marquis passed away in 1937. Forth-telling? Maybe?

And as I was saying, my keyboard has to have something wrong with it... It keeps missing, that is I keep missing or not typing hard enough, the first letter of every capitalized word that I attempt to place. It comes out like, "_rachy... of _on _arquis' fame"! And many moons ago I had a hard time reading Archy's compositions... They were not grammatically correct. I was, and maybe still am a product of my English teaching, a grammar snob... and probably still am. (Eh, Maureen? Liza? Bill? Paul? )

I am frustrated with texting. Actually I'm frustrated with reading today's text messages. I have a degree in English, and I attempt to be grammatically correct. I speak and can read three other languages... But I begin to stew when I see the new text lingo. I don't want to have to learn and decipher a new slang, or abbreviated language. I had a hard enough time trying to catch on to the various forms of Pig Latin. But I know that texting is a new form of communication... We are in a rush and Tweeter only allows us 140 characters. (But is Tweeter and the like, communication? Or are they a slick new way of online marketing? Another discussion.)

And Archy has a partner and compatriot, Mehitabel, an alley cat who claims to have been Cleopatra in a past life. And that's where my tangent is leading to... I have hundreds of images of documents of past lives filed. Documents, births, marriages, burials, etc. images that I must transcribe. I need to find the time to sit myself down and attack my tremendous collection.

Transcription of old documents I've found is also a necessary skill, in the pursuit of one's genealogy that one has to acquire, just like texting. I have to learn to think like the person who wrote the registration or copied the document to some stuffy mammoth register. And who should pop into my head but Bob Crachit... as he leans over his desk, quill in hand scratching away with cold fingers at Scrooge & Marley. (Scrooge and Bob Crachit insert borrowed from Portland Stage Company, Portland, Maine.)

When I mention that I have to learn to think as the person who has written an entry or copied an entire official document into a book or journal, I really mean that I have to learn the writer's idiosyncrasies, especially if I'm going to spend some time with a number of entries or documents that that one person did put pen to paper. How did they make a capital "T" different from a capital "J"? Is it the period of time when a long "s", which looks like an "f" without the little line that crosses through the "f" as " ʃ "?

It is through transcribing that I hope to come upon that clue that may lead me to next piece of this puzzle. And I must organize my files and set my transcription goals. It really does look like a lot of work... but maybe in it all I will find ggg-grandfather James Smith.

Enjoy,

Jim

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