Archive for the ‘Arizona’ Category

The Emense Canyon

Friday, March 28th, 2008

Flagstaff, AZ


Typos Found: 102
Typos Corrected: 63

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Border Patrol

Thursday, March 27th, 2008

Flagstaff, AZ

In my haste to get yesterday’s entry posted, I neglected to mention how generally awesome people seemed to be in Albuquerque and Santa Fe. We had to waste some time cruising around for wi-fi in Albuquerque, as the hostel barely had running water, and we ended up at one outpost of the Flying Star Cafe and Restaurant. Which had free wi-fi, sure, but only one outlet in the whole place, and I needed power. An older gentleman noticed us hunched over searching the walls, with our laptops at our sides, and deduced the nature of our problem. He stood up and directed us to another cafe in town, Satellite, that had more outlets, as well as uncommon pastries. That was genuinely cool; we hadn’t even asked for help. Once we got to the place, a guy sitting there with his own computer directed us to the nearest free outlet, again of his own initiative. My frozen Northeastern heart is warming to this kind of congeniality.

We arose this morning and realized that the drive to Flagstaff would take longer than I’d originally reckoned. Thus we were forced to bid goodbye to Albuquerque without visiting the Old Town. As ever, the schedule beckoned and we could not but obey. Today’s drive consisted solely of pressing west on I-40, a task that could have been monotonous indeed if we hadn’t had plenty of music and comedy at our disposal. The landscape became less interesting than previous days as we headed through western New Mexico, then perked up a bit at the Continental Divide. We ate sandwiches while gazing out at that red ridge. Then, just as we crossed into Arizona, Benjamin loosed a near primal sound of dismay. As soon as I saw what he’d seen, I took an exit off 40 and brought us back around via a service road to the site of the wrong.

This was the first thing people saw upon entering the Grand Canyon State. And it was not right, not right at all. We found that we needed to jump a barbed-wire fence and cross cactus-strewn scrubland to reach the sign, a feat we performed without hesitation or difficulty. Once in the vicinity of the awful object, both of us were overcome by rage and despair that such a thing could have come to pass in the first place.

However, we pulled ourselves together and figured out how best to address the elimination of the apostrophe, which was nearly the size of Benjamin’s head. The most expedient solution that I could see was to use chalk. It would not be a permanent solution, but hopefully the message would come across to those in a position to make this right for good.

We resumed our journey with lighter hearts and soon found ourselves speeding through a wide and flat land of dry grasses. In the distance, a great peak loomed, the only feature of real interest in the landscape, and I was pleased to see that we seemed to be heading pretty much right for it. That turned out to be Mount Elden, looming over Flagstaff, with other members of the San Francisco Peaks close behind. Benjamin and I checked in at the hostel in town and then took a walk around. We were pleased to discover that we’d landed in another cool town; must be something about the Southwest. All of the independent shops around Flagstaff made for fertile typo-hunting. I almost felt bad for sounding my sour orthographic note in the midst of this happy little bustle. But we are here to help, are we not?

I found trouble on the door of a gallery of local artwork. Why, when the apostrophe is finally called for, does it never seem to show?

I went in and brought these errors to the attention of the gallery owners, pointing out that on their brochures, the apostrophe did appear. When they asked me why I even cared, I told them of TEAL’s mission. They reluctantly permitted the corrections, but one of them said, trying to sound half-joking but coming off as scornful: “There are better missions to pursue in this world.”

Truly, sir? I can’t think of a single more worthwhile cause at present.

Next we came upon a somewhat quaint diner and noted three distinct issues with the signs in their windows. Naturally, our instinct was to enter the establishment and speak with the woman at the counter at once.

I described the errors on the signs in the window and asked her permission to fix them. She said, “All right, we’ll take care of them.”

“Actually,” I said, “I can do it for you… it’s no trouble. I have the proper tools right here.” I showed her the Typo Correction Kit. “We’re going around the country fixing typos.” Then, seeing her look of disbelief, I presented her with one of the business cards that Paula had made for us.

“Sure,” she said, laughing, “Feel free to fix them, then. Is this for real? This is great.”

I appreciated this reaction much more than that of the disapproving gallery owners, so I tried to take extra care with the diner sign corrections. One turned out to be on corkboard, necessitating a dash of white-out and a permanent marker, whereas the other needed one of my dry-erase markers.

We came upon a different gallery, one that was shuttered but had an explanatory sign in its window. I present it to you here; I’m sure you can spot the subtle typo contained within. Short of breaking the glass, there was nothing we could do to fix the mistake. By the way, do call Peter and Natalia if you have a big <3.

Flagstaff was home to a couple of mineral shops, and we blundered into one thinking that I might once again be able to put my Rocks & Minerals experience to use. In this, we were correct.

I brought it up to the woman at the counter, and as at the other mineral shop, she was pleased to have the error pointed out, and willing (if a bit baffled) to let me fix the sign right then.

Back at the NPR interview in Manhattan, an experience that seems like it was a continent ago, the hosts had asked what would happen if we ever encountered a typo writ in neon. Today that fear came to pass, and it turned out we just did nothing. I don’t think anything could be done short of ordering a new sign altogether. Note the inconsistency between the two instances of the store name… the left one is correct.

And this appeared on a sign on the town bulletin board.

I made what seemed like the right correction, though I reflected later that they might have been trying to say South San Francisco. Ach weel, there is only so much I can do to interpret others’ garbled thoughts for the public.

All this typo-hunting had filled us with the hunger of the just, so we decided to treat ourselves to some pasta at the Pesto Brothers Piazza. We were shown to a table right away. Then our orders were taken in good time. We had a positive feeling about the place. I did note a couple of typos on the menu, and I present to you my dim attempts to capture them.

Then the waiting began. We realized that the place was severely understaffed, especially with the kids’ pizza party that was taking place at the next table. Our waiter was trying to do his best, but it just wasn’t good enough. All told, we spent about an hour and twenty-five minutes in the place, ten of which was spent eating. The food was well prepared, though, at least. Benjamin said, “Well, maybe we should just forget about pointing out the typos. He seems to have a lot on his mind already.”

“No,” I said, “we must tell them. We must.”

“You passed the test,” he said.


“That was a test,” said Benjamin. “You’re back, man.”

And I was indeed determined, maybe just out of spite. During our waiter’s final dart over to the table, I said, “Oh, one more thing.”

“Yes?” he said.

“How do you spell ‘piccata’?”

“P-I-C-A-T-T-A,” he said, then frowned. “Or maybe there’s more than one C.”

“I am no student of Italian,” I said, “but I was under the impression it had two Cs, and that the menu spelling was incorrect.”

“Why don’t I check on this one for you,” he said, suddenly remarkably accommodating. Perhaps he had been stricken by remorse for our poor service. He went over and asked a couple of nearby diners; I assume he knew them already. They appeared to give conflicting answers, for he then went out back and asked the chef himself. He came back and reported, “The chef spelled it P-I-C-C-A-T-T-A. I will look into this further for you. Maybe you should check a dictionary.”

I thanked him for his efforts, and we headed out. I’d like to think this means the menu spelling will be corrected someday, but we may never know, will we? According to two estimable sources, Wikipedia and the Food Network, the right spelling is piccata. For the record, the one that I was less sure about, arrabbiata, was wrong on the menu after all. Though anyone could mess that up, I’m sure.

I’m glad that we were able to round up so many errors for your perusal today, for tomorrow we visit the Grand Canyon, and I don’t think there’ll be much text at all to scout. I may only put up a brief entry, depending on the content available. I would so hate to waste my cherished readers’ time with fluff.

Typos Found: 99
Typos Corrected: 61

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