Welcome back to the mailbag, 2012 version. I hope I’m not too rusty after taking last week off. I think the break allowed some really great questions to pile up in the mailbox, though, so I don’t want to waste any more of your precious time. Read on to learn how to live…
Q: So, I’m just sitting around the other day and I look down onto my coffee table and see a Ziploc bag. And, I think to myself, Ziploc? Really? Why not Ziplock? Where’s the damn ‘K’? Is cutting off one letter really that big of a deal? Wouldn’t it be better to spell the word correctly? Why do companies do this? Kay Crusader, Pottstown, PA.
A: I’m going to need to think about that for a second, but I see your point–the misspellings are becoming epidemic. Look at the photo above. There is a chain of convenience stores in the Midwest called Kum & Go. That’s not a real flattering name. But, it’s SHORT. And, it gets people TALKING. The stores used to be called Git N’ Go. Which is even more troubling. Why spell “get” wrong intentionally? Well, WHY NOT? I think it just plays into the simplicity of phonetic spelling. People out in the Midwest say “Git” not “Get” so when they see “Git N’ Go” their eyes light up with recognition. It reminds me a bit of this thing we had to do in Kindergarten. It was called Writing to Read. There were all these workbooks you had to do to learn how to read only they used phonetic spelling for some words. It was crazy, because it you happened to know the real spelling of a word you had to spell it incorrectly (the way they wanted you to) to get it right in your workbook. It was the birth of text message spelling. Anyway, getting back to Ziploc, it probably has to do with patenting and branding. You can’t patent the words Zip and Lock. They’re just words, so you mash them together to form something that doesn’t exist “Ziploc” and you’ve got your brand and some new made-up word that none of your competitors can use. I don’t know if that’s true, that’s just the answer I got when I fed your question into the common sense machine.
Q: So I was at dinner the other night, there are 5 couples at the table, some Americans and some Aussies. One of the guys from the US, who by first impression seems like a jovial and nice guy takes a huge turn for the worse. He starts imposing his knowledge on the table via US history lessons and then he corners one of the girls from Australia in a heated political debate. Here’s just a sampling of the outrageous statements he makes during this debate: “the US is wasting tons of money catering to the growing Spanish speaking population. If you come to the US you should know English”, “Martin Luther King Jr. set the civil rights movement back by about 20 years.” The debate gets more and more heated and ends with him screaming “that is liberal bullsh*t – that is total bullsh*t” I find myself getting baited in to the convo a couple of times but other than that I’m just sitting there embarrassed and apologizing to the other Aussies saying that most Americans aren’t like this. I think this just brings up the rule of never bringing up politics or religion, but what would 3PT have done in this situation? Luis Angel Lopez, El Paso, TX.
A: Wow, you had dinner with ponytail guy from Good Will Hunting? Lucky you. Ugh, that sounds like a nightmare. Another blow to the worldwide reputation of Americans. I loathe all serious conversation in a group social setting. Dinner isn’t a classroom or a lecture hall. There’s a good chance that no one at the table is interested in a debate and they’re probably not that interested in your job or any other minutiae you want to walk people through with a heavy hand. If you want to bitch about your job, or get up on a pedestal, you have to save that stuff for only your closest friends. They’re invested enough to slog through the muck and mire with you. This guy, quite simply, is a haughty asshat. The problem with people this clueless and abrasive is that they’re almost impossible to ignore. Anyone with any sense of right and wrong (like your Australian friend) is going to be compelled to participate in the argument, because you can’t believe someone is saying things that are so ridiculous. What would I have done? Well, there’s only a few ways to shut someone like this up. First, you just leave, which obviously isn’t an option during dinner. Second, you could out sharp-shoot them. “You got that from Vickers. Work in Essex County. I read that too. Were you going to plagiarize the whole thing?” I probably don’t have the academic background for that option, though. So, that leaves me with option three. Which is: make a joke. Make the person the butt of the joke. Embarrass them. When everyone at the table starts laughing AT you it breaks your momentum. QUICKLY. Considering my skill set, that’s what I would have done. And, my apologies to Australians around the world as well.
Q: Any thoughts on when the Andy Reid tenure might end? After Jeff Lurie’s press conference yesterday I can’t come up with any football scenario that would result in his ousting. Kelsey Mathis, Philadelphia, PA.
A: Reid seems more likely to leave on his own terms at this point. Meaning, he sees an opportunity to go somewhere he finds more appealing (like the now dead San Diego rumor) or honestly for a guy of his proportions he needs to step away because of health concerns. The Eagles seem fully committed. He’s got two years left on his deal, so you’d have to think that after the 2013/4 season would be the absolute earliest Reid could leave town. The question becomes, if Reid does not have any real success in the next two years, would the Eagles decline to bring him back? Again, after listening to Lurie yesterday, I’m inclined to agree with you. I think the Eagles would have to suffer two miserable seasons for Reid to be dismissed. Here’s how I see it playing out. The Eagles rebound nicely next year. They end up winning a playoff game (maybe even two) and have their best run since 2008. This placates some people and the Eagles decide to tack another two years onto Andy’s deal. No one wants a lame duck! Then, after the 2015/6 season when Andy still hasn’t won a Super Bowl, after 16 or 17 years at the helm…they’ll finally go their separate ways. As always, though, the takeaway point is, the Eagles ownership doesn’t give a horse bleep what the fans think.
Q: You know when you have a really vivid dream, or you are spending the night in a new place, or you were just really out of it and when you wake up it takes you a few seconds to process where you are? Do you think that ever happens to dogs? I mean, they obviously dream, but do they ever wake up and think, “Where the bleep am I?” Willie Blackout, Fresno, CA.
A: First of all, I’d love to know what dogs dream about. I bet it’s similar to humans. Some good. Some bad. That’s a really interesting question. I know what you are talking about. That happens to me on occasion. Where am I? What day is it? I used to work a schedule where two mornings a week I had to get up at the ass-crack and the others I could usually go alarm-free. Every once in a while, I’d wake up and have to convince myself it wasn’t one of my early days. I’m going to go out on a limb and say this does happen to dogs. You can definitely startle a dog that is sleeping. And, on occasion they might jerk awake and stare you down and I feel like there’s definitely a moment there where they are figuring out who you are, etc. Moral as always, let sleeping dogs lie. That saying had to come from somewhere.
Q: Does the Rosetta Stone actually work? I feel like it doesn’t. My contention is the only way to really learn a language as an adult is to go somewhere it is spoken. Rosetta Stone probably relies on people being too lazy/ashamed to return their gimmicky product. There’s no way I could learn a language off my computer or from tapes or whatever the hell they use. Noah Abla, Houston, TX.
A: When I got this question I meant to refer it to the only person I know who has ever purchased a Rosetta Stone product, but it slipped my mind. So, we’re left with unfounded speculation, which is pretty much the subtitle of this blog. All I know is, learning a language is very hard. I took Spanish for six years. My teacher certainly wasn’t Mr. Cleary in School Ties, but she wasn’t a pushover either. At my Espanol peak, I’d say that I could get a real GENERAL idea of what someone was saying if they were speaking slowly, or I could get a GENERAL impression from a piece of text, but my speaking was always terrible. It was good enough to place out of language in college, but I certainly couldn’t drop in to Mexico and start spinning yarns with the locals. Put that in contrast to a kid in my Spanish class who went to South America for six months after graduation and came back fluent. Bottom line, I’m inclined to agree with your thoughts. Rosetta Stone may be a great way to get started, but I can’t imagine it makes you fluent.