June 27, 2007

how not to become president

Americans like their Presidents to have a dog. They also like their Presidents to treat the dog well. George W. Bush's approval rates may slip, but his love of Barney does him credit. May I predict that this story doesn't bode well for Mitt Romney?
Before beginning the drive, Mitt Romney put Seamus, the family's hulking Irish setter, in a dog carrier and attached it to the station wagon's roof rack. He'd built a windshield for the carrier, to make the ride more comfortable for the dog.


As the oldest son, Tagg Romney commandeered the way-back of the wagon, keeping his eyes fixed out the rear window, where he glimpsed the first sign of trouble. ''Dad!'' he yelled. ''Gross!'' A brown liquid was dripping down the back window, payback from an Irish setter who'd been riding on the roof in the wind for hours.

As the rest of the boys joined in the howls of disgust, Romney coolly pulled off the highway and into a service station. There, he borrowed a hose, washed down Seamus and the car, then hopped back onto the highway. It was a tiny preview of a trait he would grow famous for in business: emotion-free crisis management.

So this story is supposed to highlight some of Romney's better qualities? It makes you wonder about the lesser ones.

June 17, 2007

wiiitis, not wiitis

How many words do you know in which a letter occurs three time in a row? A vowel? You can't think of any word? Don't worry, even The New York Times can get this kind of thing wrong:

A graphic last Sunday about health and safety issues misspelled the name of a new diagnosis for the shoulder pain caused by playing tennis on Wii, the video game console. It is acute Wiiitis, not Wiitis.

And just in case you're wondering about how to pronounce this new ailment: It's "wee-eye-tis".

June 16, 2007

construction work

Construction work is very annoying. On top of everything else (water turned off, noise, dust, roads blocked) it messes with a shy dog's morning walk routine.

What happened to my sidewalk?

What happened to my street?

What happened to my hydrant?

However, there are also some chances to get playful. With a little bit of coaxing (and a handful of treats...) Brandy actually ran through this water pipe:

Who needs agility classes when you have construction work going on?

June 11, 2007

dogs at the farmers' market

Only service dogs are allowed at the Farmers' Market. But if your dog is small enough, you can smuggle him in. I don't think anybody complained about this dachshund puppy.

Some doggies, however, are too big to be smuggled. What kind of dog is this? A giant schnauzer with uncropped ears? The poor guy looked as if he was really hot.

This dog was too big and too vocal to be smuggled. Children wanted to pet him, he got all excited and barked incessantly, so his owner had to leave the market square.

And, finally, some doggies turn out not to be doggies at all. When I saw this little furry ball on the lawn, being petted by a bunch of children, I was sure it was a puppy. Well, it turned out to be a kitten (on a leash).

June 10, 2007


Dog in crate! Relaxed! Well, dog in half-crate. Looks like dog in full crate isn't happening any time soon. As soon as the lid comes on, the dog takes off.

June 07, 2007

they tell me i'm going on an airplane

  • Step 1: Sell wire crate on craigslist and order airline-approved crate. Easy.
  • Step 2: Get dog to like new crate. Very difficult.
To be continued.

June 05, 2007

accent reduction

If Henry Higgins met Eliza Doolittle today, it would be at an Accent Reduction Institute. From an article in the New York Times:
Mr. Petukhov, a Moscow native who works for the law firm of Kaye Scholer as a scientific adviser, [...] is one of many educated non-native English speakers working in the United States who take voice training and accent reduction to improve presentations, workshops and everyday conversations with their American-born co-workers.

Mr. Petukhov’s accent coach, Jennifer Pawlitschek, [...] contended that the term accent reduction is a misnomer. “Accent reduction is learning an accent. It is learning an American accent.”

Another coach, Brian Loxley, [...] said speaking English correctly allows “people to look at you like you’re a leader and your ideas count.” His clients, he explained, are “educated and brilliant people but they’re having trouble making themselves understood.” [...]

Often trained as actors, some coaches use techniques they learned to reduce regional American accents or to affect foreign accents. Ms. Pawlitschek teaches clients jaw exercises and muscle relaxation to reduce “a tightness in the jaw that nasalizes the sound.” Her exercises focus on mouth muscles, and her clients listen to themselves from recordings and practice speaking in front of mirrors. Mr. Loxley uses similar techniques. [...]

Training fees and duration vary. At the Accent Reduction Institute, group training begins at about $40 an hour a person, and individual training at $100 an hour, with additional fees for materials. What Ms. Ravin calls Webinars can cost as little as $20 an hour, and clients “can dial in from anywhere in the world and have a live presentation.” She believes “people should expect results quickly, after 10 to 15 hours.”

Ms. Pawlitschek charges from $75 an hour for semiprivate lessons and $100 to $125 an hour for private. Some clients have seen her for years, and she says she believes that developing the proper “kinesthetic skill” takes time “so the muscles will default into position.” [...]

Of course, not everyone sees an accent as something negative. Ms. Pawlitschek said that particularly for her clients from the United Nations, “there is a lot of strong feeling there about the validity of all accents and dialects,” and the emphasis is on “pronunciation.” Mr. Loxley said that people once viewed accent reduction as “an attack on heritage,” but that is less the case now.

Fortunately, in my line of work, you can speak with an accent and still have your ideas count.

June 03, 2007

national language? official language?

At the Democratic contenders debate in New Hampshire tonight one of the questions posed to the candidates was whether or no English should be the "official" language of the United States. Only one candidate, Mike Gravel (who is he?), said it should be. Here's what Senator Obama said:
This is the kind of question that is designed precisely to divide us,” he said. “You know, you're right. Everybody is going to learn to speak English if they live in this country. The issue is not whether or not future generations of immigrants are going to learn English. The question is: How can we come up with both a legal, sensible immigration policy? And when we get distracted by those kinds of questions, I think we do a disservice to the American people.”
And right he is. Declaring English the official language will not make a single individual who doesn't speak English learn the language. It could be just a cosmetic operation -- but it could be also be the first step to taking away minority speakers' right to obtain government services in a language other than English. It would not empower anybody, but could disenfranchise many.