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Readers Questions Answered ‘Hoofoos, Yes, Gerunds, No; Team, Maybe 3.15.2006

By Rick Racela

This is the first of an occasional column called, Herald Readers Want to Know.
In these articles, I will attempt to answer some of the more pressing questions raised by our readers.
R. W. of Belleplain: I read the Herald from front to back, every word, and I noticed I finish Tuesday night, just in time to go out the next day and pick up the next issue.  Is this an accident?
You are very perceptive, R. W. This is the result of fine tuning by the Herald’s Planned Obsolescence Committee.  The content of the Herald is decided in advance each week to match the average reading speed of our readers so that they do, in fact, finish just in time to want to go out and get another fix.
Of course we have fast readers who finish after a couple days. They are what keeps the county library going.
And we have some slower readers who don’t finish one week’s edition until maybe eight or nine days later. Lip-reading mouth breathers, they are the ones who call to complain on Friday or Saturday that they can’t find this week’s Herald.
Some consideration was given to preparing a smaller Herald for slower readers. It would be stamped FOR SLOWER READERS across the top of the front page. In a test project, we found almost no one willing to pick up a copy thus labeled.
The planned obsolescence theory, incidentally, extends to the Herald’s hiring practices.  Psychologists study job applications and are able to determine almost to the minute how long a person will stay with the company before burning out.
That’s a key factor in raises, promotions, responsibilities, etc.
Not to brag, but planned obsolescence was a concept I first recognized when I realized my electric shavers were built to die in two years no matter what. Once I bought a back-up shaver, never used it, and, two years later, it wouldn’t start.
¥¥¥
T.K. of Stone Harbor writes, Why do I have to type a “www” before every internet address?
This is a good question, T.K.   Few people realize this, but the internet was invented by Waldo W. Wierzbicki of Milwaukee, Wisconsin.
He patented it and as a result is able to charge one cent for every “www” used to gain access to the Internet.
The resulting fortune has not brought Wierzbicki happiness.  He has been divorced three times, has picked the wrong horse in almost every race, thinks Duke will win the NCAA Tournament, and is addicted to Iron City beer.
¥ ¥ ¥
L. V. of Green Greek writes, I was on Craig’s List looking for an apartment when I spied a place described as a “pied-a-terre.”  Can you tell me what this is?
  I believe this means the owner has a terrier still not potty-trained.
.
¥ ¥ ¥
S. U. V. of Avalon writes: Do the various Herald departments function well as a team?
In some ways yes; in other ways, no.  There was quite a ruckus the other day when the Ad Department wanted to do their tai chi exercises behind the building in the same place that the Editorial Department was engaged in a fierce curling competition. The Editorial Department gave in after it noticed that someone has been walking his dog in the same place.
¥ ¥ ¥
L. H. of Bennys Landing writes: Who is the Herald’s target reader?
The Herald will take any reader it can get and will never shade or shape its product to get a higher market share.  On the other hand, because higher circulation seems to follow front page stories about mistreated animals, we have assigned one person solely to look for mistreated animals.  There appears to be no corresponding reader interest in mistreated children.
I should say that a secret internal memo, which I cannot discuss, appealed to reporters to target “hoofoos,” heavy fast-food users, in order to keep fast-food inserts coming.
¥ ¥ ¥
D. M. of Cape May writes, I notice the Herald almost never uses gerunds. Is there a reason?
Several reasons, D. M.  When I went to school, gerunds had not yet been discovered.  Al Campbell was out sick the day gerunds were explained.  Joan Nash was frightened by a gerund when she was three and crosses the street to avoid them.  And so on.
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T. R. of Goshen writes, What is the most difficult thing about being a Herald reporter?
Good question, T. R. The answer is, home keys.  It is easy for one to place his fingers on the wrong home keys during a telephone interview and not notice it until later.  For example, during an interview I might intend to type: “Freeholder-Director Dan Beyel said Taylor just could wake up with a horse’s head in his bed.”
But, with just one hand on the wrong home keys, I might in fact type: Gtrrholfr-Fitrvyot Fsn Nryrl dsif Ysylot judy voilf eskr up eidh s hotdr’d hrf in hid ntg.”
Two days later, when returning to write the story, some  confusion might result. Forced to choose between calling Beyel and admitting I was an idiot, or winging it, the logical choice would be to wing it. Thus I might write, “For the first time, Judy Fesker held up a bank with a hotdog.”
This is how mistakes can be made, and that is why we have corrections.

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