Men’s Issues

Nothing causes men to latch up quicker than a discussion or article on “Women’s Issues.” We are, by definition, not included. More to the point, it almost certainly is going to stray into something we’d rather not hear about in the first place given that it’s almost certainly going to make us feel brutish, inadequate, or queasy.

Don’t worry guys, this is not about menstruation. This is about the stuff we can actually do.

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Cat Language

If I told you what was going on in my life, you wouldn’t believe it.  Pushing the “reset” button isn’t easy, but it’s time to do it.  A detailed explanation will come later.  In the meantime, please enjoy this piece from 5 years ago.

Is there anything cuter than when your cat “talks” to you?  Cat people all love that cheery “Brrrup!” first thing in the morning (ideally after dawn) or the hearty “Ma-row!” when they first get home.  Or when the food dish is empty, depending on your li’l one’s personality.  What does it mean, exactly?  If you are a veterinarian or other expert on cats you’re probably pretty sure it means … nothing.  That’s right, cat people, just about any felinologist will tell you that your furry box dweller is simply meowing and chirping for no real reason at all.

I don’t believe it, either.  In fact, I’m pretty sure that the domestic feline has some limited vocabulary that means something, even if we aren’t smart enough to understand it.  I doubt they are planning to kill us or report back instructions to an invading army back on the cat planet, so perhaps I am a bit naïve after all.  But here’s what I’ve found.

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¿Dónde Está el Baño?

Another bizzy day calls for a repeat, this one with a travel theme from way back in 2009.

The train between concourses in Atlanta Hartsfield airport is full of the heat, sweat, and silence any traveler comes to expect.  There are three electric signs explaining the situation – one in English, one rolling between French, German, and Spanish, and the last one the more artful display of Arabic, Japanese, and Korean.  Whichever one made the most sense to any particular traveler was unclear as we all kept our language to ourselves.  Certainly, for many of them, English would have been enough – and not just because we were at the portal to Atlanta.  To many people around the world, the language of the new globalization is the youngest one of all.

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Cocktail French

Sorry to use another repeat this week, but our Robotics team 2491 No Mythic won the regional championship and is on its way to the World Championship in St Louis!  Needless to say, I’m bizzy.  Enjoy this rather valuable piece, IMHO.

Comprenez-vous? Since language is equal parts communication of ideas and status, conversational bits of French have long been a handy way to say, “I am educated.”  French was used as the court language of England from the Norman Conquest in 1066 until Henry V in 1413 (which, as the father of high English, has a lot to do with why Shakespeare gave him a good treatment).  An estimated 28% of English words are French in origin, but the words and phrases absorbed directly are the ones that set you apart.  They’re still used in the UK, at least in high-toned magazines like the Economist, but in the US it’s more likely to come off as obnoxious.

I call this “Gentlemen’s French”, or what you have to know to read old or educated books.  Naturally, fine ladies can use them for the same purpose. You may prefer to think of these words and phrases as “Cocktail French”, so pour something into stemware and grab a piece of cheese to get into the mood.

I have promised my kids a list of these for a while now so that, in my daughter’s term, they can sound “smarticle”.  Here is my list of French words I think every English speaker should know – for the fun, if not the hoity-toit.

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Gentlemen’s French

Comprenez-vous? Since language is equal parts communication of ideas and status, conversational bits of French have long been a handy way to say, “I am educated.”  French was used as the court language of England from the Norman Conquest in 1066 until Henry V in 1413 (which, as the father of high English, has a lot to do with why Shakespeare gave him a good treatment).  An estimated 28% of English words are French in origin, but the words and phrases absorbed directly are the ones that set you apart.  They’re still used in the UK, at least in high-toned magazines like the Economist, but in the US it’s more likely to come off as obnoxious.

I call this “Gentlemen’s French”, or what you have to know to read old or educated books.  Naturally, fine ladies can use them for the same purpose. You may prefer to think of these words and phrases as “Cocktail French”, so pour something into stemware and grab a piece of cheese to get into the mood.

I have promised my kids a list of these for a while now so that, in my daughter’s term, they can sound “smarticle”.  Here is my list of French words I think every English speaker should know – for the fun, if not the hoity-toit.

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Cat’s Pride

This summer re-run is a sad one.  Since this piece ran two years ago Munchie moved out with his Mom and, just recently, passed on over the Rainbow Bridge from kidney failure.  Like any loved pet, Munch will be missed for both his cuddliness and his mischief equally.  Consider this a tribute to him and all our fur children no longer with us.

Munchie wasn’t a bad cat, but he had a reputation. His name probably came from his habit of jumping up on counters and tables, eating anything that was left out. Bread, crackers, you name it – all for Munchie. When his second or third family were moving, Munchie was handed off yet again. He found himself in his fourth home in about as many years, suddenly  living with cats who didn’t know him at all. They weren’t exactly thrilled. Neither was Munchie, who had a tendency to be crazy all night long, running and yowling.

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