Tuesday, February 27, 2007

Don't Believe Everything You Read on the Internet

This morning I was trying to research on-line the history of the Greenwich Armory, which sits downtown at 230 Mason Street. The only thing I could find was a press release from former First Selectman Dick Bergstresser on the Town's website trumpeting the fact that the new police headquarters would soon be located there.

Well, as we all know, things didn't turn out that way. But someone researching the history of early 21st century Greenwich might be forgiven for thinking that they did. Because that's the only offical document I could find in cyberspace about the building. It reads like this (click on the link below):

Welcome to the official Town of Greenwich Connecticut Web site

All very official and definitive-sounding. But all very wrong.

Earlier today I was writing a post about piranhas. No, dear reader, I wasn't exactly thinking about the Town of Greenwich at the time, but my experience proved a salutary lesson which has become the title of today's post. I was writing on the fly, you see, and couldn't come up with the exact spelling of the p-fish's name. So I guessed "pirhanna", and then went to Yahoo! to do a spellcheck. I got dozens of hits, and thus presumed (wrongly) that I'd spelled the p-fish correctly. Shortly thereafter, my mistake was gently pointed out to me, and I made haste to add the following addendum to my post:

(Color me embarrassed.)

In my rush to post my penultimate comment, I did an over-hasty spellcheck on the p-fish.

I typed my typo "pirhanna" in the Yahoo! search box, and was rewarded with the following hits, among many others:

"Yahoo! Answers - are pirhanna fish easy to own?" [No, I did not make this up!]

"Pedro the Paranoid Pirhanna" [A cute poem about a p-fish who fears being eaten even as he eats one of his mates - rather amusing.]

Well, I thought to meself, thought I, the word doesn't look quite the way I remember it, but apparently that's the correct spelling. And went on to write the rest of the post.

Let this be a lesson to all who fail to CONSULT THE DICTIONARY!!

Having thus performed my mea culpa, I thought I would share this contretemps with all of you as part of my penance.

OK, you may ask, so can we ever believe you again? After all, dear scribe, you too are on the Internet.

My reply, gentle reader, is that I made a spelling mistake. Embarrassing, to be sure, but not an error of fact. I take great care to be sure that the facts in this blog are accurate, and to make clear that the opinions expressed are my own (unless specifically attributed to someone else). So yes, you can continue to rely on what you read in these pages.

However, what you may read on the Town's website is clearly another matter....


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