Have you noticed how many ads there are on Facebook recently for foreign language instruction and translation software? There's also a popular article circulating that argues that when we speak a different language, we become a different personality. Apparently failure to communicate affects even the world's cats.
I've been wondering about the validity of that finding, and it occurs to me that the change may work in the opposite direction.
Since I started writing full time, I've developed a whole new vocabulary--one that may be fairly meaningless or hopelessly confusing to others. For example:
- I talk about arcs and ARCs, but I'm not talking about mathematical curves or geophysical phenomena, or even a biblical boat.
- Today I've been creating a bookmark, with lots of talk about trim size, which has nothing to do with the way my clothes fit, and bleeding, which does not call for a bandaid.
- I'm waiting for a proof, but I'm not looking for incontrovertible evidence or a geometrical argument.
- Spine width has nothing to do with a backbone.
- Trade paper does not mean I'll check yours and you check mine.
- Smashwords is not nearly as violent as it sounds.
- Twitter can sometimes express profound truths.
- Cloud computing does not require a bird-like ability to fly.
- Scapple is not a badly spelled version of a surgeon's knife.
So, the next time you complain that your friends and family do not understand what it is like to be a writer, maybe it's because you now speak a different language.
Can you think of other examples? Feel free to add to this list.
Yesterday's post on Memphis's snow leopard proved more popular than I could have ever imagined -- 1432 hits from readers in a single day. That was an all-time one-day high for this blog, so I've decided to indulge all my fellow cat lovers one more time. My logical, left-brain side continues to scold me for my anthropomorphic comments. No, animals aren't fuzzy people, I know, and giving them human characteristics is scientifically improbable. But my other side, the right-brained one, keeps whispering "Aw-w-w-w-!"
So sue me. I talk to my cats all the time -- not baby-talk, but conversations about what's going on, what I want them to do about the mess of cat toys in my office, and why I'm once again displeased at finding my kitchen rug in a pile. And when they look me in the eye and meow back, I not only believe that they are maintaining their side of the conversation, I'm also likely to say, "Why don't you learn to speak English?" I believe they are capable of understanding when I tell them to get off the table. When I say "No!" they stop, and when I announce it's nap time, they line up for their space on the futon. Cats are definitely little furry people in my book.
But when it comes to the big cats, I'm less likely to react with the warm fuzzies -- probably because of all those teeth and claws. Still, when I look closely at the big cats, I see the same sorts of quasi-human reactions as the ones that appear in my living room. Here are a few more Memphis cats who just might be commenting on the state of their world -- or ours.
"Yawn! Rough night last night! And what's that bright light in the sky? Oh, well, might as well get on with the day. Doesn't look like anyone is going to change things just because I'm sleepy. Ho-hum. Wonder what's for breakfast?"
"Have you heard the latest news? I'm telling you right now. I've about had it with the folks who are governing this place. What do you say we get together and throw them all out? I'm sure we could run the zoo better than they're doing at the moment. Just follow my lead."
"Just when you think everything is going the way you want it, some know-it-all comes around predicting an ice storm and everybody panics. I just heard the keeper say he was doing a grocery run to stock up on milk and bread just in case. Why is it everyone in the South needs to make French toast every time it snows? Meh! Whatever!"
Yep, there's some real wisdom in Cat Country. They're expressing my feelings exactly.
A cartoon showing the difference between cats and dogs keeps
cropping up on Facebook. I smile every
time I see it because it is so accurate.
My imagination even animates it sometimes and extends the
conversation. The picture shows a cat
and a dog in the back of the family car.
In my animated version, the dog dashes back and forth across the back
seat, sticking his head out of the windows, letting his ears flap in the wind,
drooling with excitement, and barking, “We’re going for a ride! A car ride! Oh, what great fun! Go faster! Where are we going, huh, huh,
huh?” The cat stands on her hind legs,
terrified, claws firmly implanted in the upholstery, pupils wide, and howling,
“Stop! Stop now! We’re all going to die!”
The cartoon is funnier when you realize that people are just
like cats and dogs. Some love change.
They eagerly set out to try something new, looking for adventure, knowing that
there’s a pot of gold just around the next corner, never looking back. They are just like their doggy friends. And
some people are cats. They hate change. They look backward at the known and
familiar with longing for the good old days.
They won’t try anything new, ignore the latest technology as a fad, and
sing a constant refrain of, “That’s not the way we’ve always done things.”
But don’t misunderstand me.
This difference has nothing to do with whether a person has a dog or a
cat as a pet. It’s all about how one
looks at the world. Often, a person’s
pet balances the owner’s temperament rather than reflecting it. I’m definitely a dog when it comes to change,
but I have a houseful of cats. And I
know a lot of dog-owners who are positively cat-like in their clinging to the
This afternoon I am facing an important meeting. As the
newly elected president of a four-state charitable organization that provides
eye care to the needy, I’m going to have to answer the question of how we pay
for treatment for our ever-increasing client load. I look at our current practices and see that
we’ve been using the same fund-raising techniques for the past twenty years,
with ever-decreasing results. I may be an old dog, but I’m still bouncing
around in the back seat, barking in delight if we are heading somewhere new. Several younger pups in the group are going to
agree with me, and we’ll set up a chorus of “Yips.” But the cats in the group--those
who have been around for all of those twenty years—are going to be yowling, “Stop!
We’re all going to die!”
It promises to be a cat and dog fight.
It's Friday! I'm swamped with banquet preparations and book production, so I really needed a laugh this morning. This post supplied more than its share of chuckles. Thought you might enjoy it, too.
The Bloggess writes: "Paraphrased email between me and a marketer. The sad thing is that this is only slightly paraphrased:"
Them: We would like to buy a text ad on your blog.
Me: Ok. It’s $75.
Them: We will write a guest post on your blog with 4 embedded links to our product. We will give you $15.
Them: We will give you $18.
Them: You will put 4 links to our product pages on your blogroll page. We will pay you $2 per 1,000 click-throughs that result in sales.
Me: Wow. Does this usually work for you?
Them: You will write a review about our product. We will send you high quality photos of the product if you agree.
Me: That sounds great but the electric company just stopped accepting high-quality photos as forms of currency. I will send you a high-quality photo of me saying no to you.
Them: We are not currently paying for marketing but your readers would appreciate learning about our product.
Me: Nice try, Obi-Wan. Your Jedi mind-tricks won’t work on me.
Them: This is no trick. We can offer your readers a 10% coupon if they tweet about our product. Your readers will thank you.
Me: You will send me $1,000 and I will send you a high-quality photo of me spending it.
Them: This would not benefit us at this time.
Me: You will send me a dog as big as a pony and I will send you a high-quality photo of me riding it.
Them: We have many other bloggers interested in being in this exclusive program. If you are not interested in this program please let us know so that we can move on to our next choice.
Me: You will send me a cloak of invisibility and I will send you high-quality photos of me being invisible in it.
Them: We are sorry that you are passing on this valuable opportunity to help your readers. We will keep you in mind for future products which meet your requirements.
Me: You will send me four dead cats in a shoebox. I will send you high-quality photos of them as marionettes.
Them: Thank you for your time. Your blog is not a good fit for us presently.
Me: So you aren’t interested in placing your links on my blog?
Them: Yes. Please notify us when the links are active.
Me: You will send me a large Sasquatch. I will send you high-quality photos of me playing Chinese-Freeze-Tag with it.
So far I have received no response.