A weekend ago – and even into Monday – I spent several hours at my new computer proofreading a handbook for a local business. The project gave the grammar part of my brain a good workout, but I also noticed a decidedly casual tone in some of the commands appearing on my screen.
I have never really appreciated Google’s occasional cheeky reaction to my typos: “Did you mean…” If Google knows what I am thinking, then just get to it without pointing out my errors! And the informality of McAfee’s big red “Whoa!” always surprises me.
But I noticed new language in the Word program I use for typing. I often decrease the size of preset margins, which triggers an alert. Originally the cautionary comment was quite formal in tone: “The margins are outside the acceptable limit. Do you wish to continue?” With the updated warning, I feel as if the computer wants to be friends with me: “Your margins are pretty small. Do you still want to print?”
There is also different wording if I do decide to print. The first available option remains: “Print All Pages” – with this added clarification: “The whole thing.” I guess my computer and I are just pals now.
Tuesday rolled around as National Pancake Day. Although I did not head to the nearest IHOP for a free short stack, I remembered that during my college days we called the restaurant by its complete name: International House of Pancakes. The company began marketing its chain as IHOP in 1973, but I still remember the original name – as well as other favorite Columbus-area restaurants of the time: the Kahiki, Lum’s, the Wine Cellar.
On Wednesday I happened across the photo of a beautiful blanket crocheted by a friend of mine. The art of crochet still eludes me, so I always look at her handiwork with extra admiration.
Then it came to my attention that she had made the lovely coverlet with its inspirational message especially for the young man at West Liberty-Salem High School still recovering from the wounds he received in January. My friend followed her heart and her faith in this creation – all for a most deserving individual.
Her efforts remind me of the many ways we can use our talents for others. Nationally, Project Linus depends on volunteers to create blankets for critically-ill children. Little Dresses for Africa encourages the clever transformation of pillowcases into garments for girls an entire world away. The Quilts of Valor Foundation inspires sewers of all abilities to make covers for service members and veterans.
And right here at home, a quick look around the community reveals many needs that would benefit from our pastimes. Lap quilts are very appreciated by nursing home and assisted-living-center residents. Shelters all around are filled with homeless families, individuals in danger or distress, pets – all with needs we could alleviate with any number of projects. Personally, I love knitting a big pile of kids’ hats at the beginning of each winter.
On Thursday a Facebook message by Jane Ludlow prompted a sad walk down memory lane. March 9th was the 50th anniversary of the collision of a TWA DC-9 and a small, twin-engine Beechcraft over “the rolling fields of Concord Township.”
I checked out the actual UDC coverage of that day, front-page coverage that continued for another five days. And I was fascinated by the Facebook comments of many who chimed in with their experiences and recollections. There was a range in age from young people who had never heard of the event to the then-elementary kids who thought the crash was a sonic boom and some of whom had to be driven home by law enforcement because of the many closed roads.
I subsequently read an updated article describing changes made to the aviation industry based on that tragedy and several similar mid-air collisions. The newly-formed National Transportation Safety Board eventually established updated aircraft speeds in certain instances as well as required collision avoidance and pilot warning systems.
On Friday I returned to the Facebook discussion, haunted by the topic most frequently mentioned in the 20+ comments posted. Poignant memories were expressed by “kids” whose fathers and grandfathers, mostly volunteers, were called to the scene that day. The sight of the snowy, pre-spring landscape where 25 victims lost their lives left emotional scars on the hearts of those brave individuals in 1967, scars that in many cases never faded away.
As my mind wandered, I recalled some of my college classmates who served as volunteer firemen rushing from classrooms and lecture halls whenever the Westerville alarms sounded. I recalled friends hurrying to Xenia in 1974 to tend to tornado victims. I recalled my own interactions with paramedics and fire personnel in recent years for minor crises. I recalled the myriad of heroic narratives I heard as emergency personnel carried out their duties for the children of the West Liberty-Salem community two months ago.
And I pondered all that we have learned in the last fifty years about the brave souls we now refer to as first responders: their courage and strength, their resilience and vulnerabilities, their willingness to serve.
I ended the week feeling grateful that we live in a place where we can depend on the professionalism and kindness of great-hearted individuals, paid and volunteer, who care for us so capably in our times of need.