The Missing “r”

Ascending and Descending - M.C. Escher
Ascending and Descending – M.C. Escher

Several years ago I was fortunate to attend a viewing of M.C. Escher’s original works. As a draftsman I have always found Escher’s drawings fascinating because he is able to change the perspective in subtle ways that trick our minds into seen something that is really not possible. For those of you who are unfamiliar with technical drawings, perspective drawings have depth as opposed to isometric drawings. In a perspective drawings you create a horizon, vanishing points and a vertical line that becomes your perspective, or view, of the object being drawn. From this frame of reference you begin the process of creating the drawing through the use of many construction lines that are very light in weight (thickness and darkness) until you end up with the object you are drawing (object lines are about as thick as a dime and the most prominent features on a drawing).

Staircase Perspective - Wikimedia Commons
Staircase Perspective Drawing – Wikimedia Commons

With these two examples you can see the difference in Escher’s stair case as opposed to one base on a true perspective drawing.

If you have made it this far into my post you are no doubt asking “what does this have to do with a missing “r”? Well, I have this writing error that happens every time I type the word “your” (except now). For reasons I have yet to figure out, my fingers type the word “you” instead. Knowing I have this anomaly, I try to catch this error but my mind sees the “r” when I am proof reading and I don’t see it is missing until after I have posted a comment, sent an email, etc. In one training class I attended, an exalmpe of a duconemt taht mxies up the ltetres bewteen the fsirt and lsat cahrcatres was uesd. For smoe of us, our mnids are sltil albe to raed waht is wttrien eevn tohrugh the wdors are not selpled croretcly wehn all the correct letters are there. This was a clue that helped me to understand how I can see characters that are not there when proof reading a document.

Chicken CheckerI started my drafting career when everything was drawn by hand on a drafting table with vellum, pencils, ink, all sorts of tools and erasers. Once a drawing was thought to be complete, it was given over to the drawing Checker. The Checker, who is the most frustrating person in a drafting room, uses three colors while checking a drawing. Yellow shows that it is correct. Red is used to show errors. A regular pencil is used to make notes, calculations or suggestions. Sometimes suggestions end up as red marks and this is known as “chicken checking” because some Checkers feel they have to leave a red mark somewhere (I have my special stamp I put on the check prints when this occurs). The most common error the Checker saw when we were still using traditional drafting methods was missing arrowheads. The goal of every drafter is to get a check print back with no red marks and arrowheads were our nemesis.

Yesterday I stopped by one of the blogs I follow, fog up the windows, and left a comment and after clicking on “post comment”, the missing “r” suddenly appeared, or did not appear, once again in “your”. I concluded I’m a hopeless perfectionist who can’t see the letter “r” in you.

I am now a drawing checker. I have learned that it is easier to find someone elses error than it is to see your own.

7 thoughts on “The Missing “r”

  1. How very true, Patrick! I experience this all the time in my field, as well. When I write articles for work, I am so bewitched by the concepts, ideas, structuring of my words that their spelling can go completely unnoticed. My supervisor loves to use his red pen on my work. : )

    I think another interesting aspect about this is how – especially when we communicate so much through text (via web) – our attention to detail and grammatical accuracy become signaling devices about us. If you cannot spell, are you actually an idiot? Should someone trust anything you say?

    At any rate, I’m glad to see that that rogue “r” has spawned this thoughtful post. : )

    – Jaclyn


  2. Anonymous

    “proofing reading” (instead of proofing or proof reading) and 2 lines above the chicken it should be “letters” not letter. Not all the letters were there and i noticed!


  3. I always have to check my spelling more than once and I know mistakes still slip through. 🙂 I find Escher’s drawings fascinating too and even though I am not a drafter I do have an Art History degree. Love art, can’t draw…


  4. How interesting. First I was sure that I wasn’t going to understand anything you were talking about because I duly fall into the category of the “unfamiliar with technical drawings” but then surprise, surprise — I actually followed. This post helped me to understand you better.. meaning, why you are so smart and connect truths so well.

    by the way, I have that same exact problem with the word “your”. it happens to me ALL the time. good to know I’m not alone… and great post!


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