Wednesday, July 25, 2018

Stupid Computer Site

Hello Reader,
Got computer frustration?

Toastmasters International, (TMI) the organization of public speaking clubs world-wide, (scores of clubs in my city alone) has really changed how they do things. 

Remember when Boy Scouts switched from the clear path of Tenderfoot to Queen’s Scout (Eagle Scout) to offering instead a bunch of coloured star paths? Simultaneously changing the age old Scout and Wolf Cub uniforms from green to grey, from insulated shorts and long wool socks to thin grey shorts or grey pants? Adding an impractical red broad shoulder-to-waist sash? (It always had to be removed for games and anything physical) My father had been a long term Scout and Cub master. He quit.

I might quit Toastmasters, as TMI is bringing in coloured “pathways” that all but require members to own computers. As it happens, my club meets in a church. No wireless connection.

For the new “Pathways,” it all begins with doing an on-line quiz to choose your path. Which I did. 

Happily, a club member I had gone to the bar with, after a meeting, had told me of when she had troubles. She got someone from another club to come to her house and show her why clicking on the title bar labels did not work. Turns out that to the RIGHT of each label is a tiny triangle, and THAT is what you click on. “Nice to know” I said.

What bugs her is that some other TMI districts have had the new computer Pathways program for two years now. “Why,” she demands, “aren’t the bugs out of the system yet?” She means why aren’t the computer nerds being supported by a person of common sense such as an English major who knows communication, a person who would know, for example, how hard it is see a teeny tiny triangle.

Here is an e-letter I sent to TMI, re-worded for clarity for my blog audience: An awkward-to-you paragraph is deleted; I broke up a couple paragraphs to fit blog attention spans; and I added a couple italics and bolds

Note: The first speech every toastmaster does, for every path, is the icebreaker speech. I didn’t know what the new-fangled Speech #2 was supposed to be for my new path: I sobbed and whimpered attempting to find out. Figuratively, that is. Grrr! 

Instead of heading with a company letterhead slogan or quotation, I headed with a suggestion, so:
Main Body (Here's My Letter)

Next time you make a web site, please don’t test it on someone who can already program their VCR.

To Whom It May Concern:
Regarding problems in trying to move beyond my ice breaker speech

A man at TMI Supply suggested I send a letter. I would, but instead I am sending this e-mail. Why? Because a blank e-mail, addressed to Supply, keeps showing up in my draft section, even when I deleted it twice. Coincidence? A glitch? Or God’s will that I use e-mail? So here goes.

I did my icebreaker. I wanted to move on. Had problems. At my next club meeting I meant to ask my club pathways person but I forgot.

A speech opening came up, as someone said on our club e-mail. 
“I can do one” I said using reply-all, optimistically hoping I would be able to find my second speech.

Kept trying. Kept up an e-mailing correspondence with my club pathways person, without result, over the next week.

To find that second speech, the first thing I tried was moving my cursor everywhere. I did the drop down menus. Tried different pages. 

Oh yes, previously I dimly knew that after my icebreaker I would do a self assessment/feedback. Then I get an e-mail from TMI asking me to give feedback while using a smart phone camera or a computer camera. I have no such phone, and have never used my computer camera, not even for blog comments, not even on my own blog site. So I wrote an e-mail to say this was just as unfair as if the Olympic biathlon committee was to knowingly choose a rifle that athletes from poorer countries could not afford.  

...This e-mail I sent to the board of directors, because I suspected the pathways guys, like Muslim radicals, were getting an echo chamber of excitement over all their computer skills, and needed some calmer oversight. As it happened, the board secretary intercepted my mail and passed it on to the pathways folks. Better than nothing, I thought, but surely it wouldn’t curb their enthusiasm… …

Never mind, I could simply find my Speech Two and click on it. No luck. I found the trail heads for Base Camp and Navigator and so forth, but those were all the entry level page collections for people who had NOT yet done the "choose a path" thing. Meanwhile, in my correspondence with my club pathway person, I had learned that I had to do the self assessment first. That’s assessment, NOT evaluation. Maybe I had typed in the wrong search term? Maybe if I tried again for the umpteenth time I would get results? No. No-go. No joy. I suspect that search box is all-around useless. 

I didn’t give up. Kept trying different pages and moving my cursor around. At least I was often able to often find my own personal page, with transcripts and things. Hurray! … no, not hurray… for my cursor did not work for anything. My club correspondent asked me which path I was on. My cursor was useless, unable to locate which path my on-line assessment had recommended, (before I did my ice breaker)  “It’s blue,” I said “and it starts with an i… I think.”

In my searching I found something that I bet most people don’t find. A “get help from your club” thing. So I tried it, typing in my problem. Hit send. No help. Of course not! There is no point in pooling ignorance! My club members are all new to this! 

Then, an hour later, in a tone I imagine in my head like an adult talking to child, I get an e-mail from TMI saying, “Did you know you can ask for help from your club…?” I was not impressed.

With my pathway person being absent for our upcoming meeting, and being resigned to doing the stupid assessment before I did speech two, I considered putting my computer in my car, carrying it to the meeting with a page on the screen, and asking someone to put their finger on the screen to tell me where to click. My club does not have wireless, we meet in a church. Problem? Feeling a stone in my stomach, I knew that the odds were that I would bring my computer set to the wrong page. I just knew it.

So I gave up. I called the TMI supply place to fork out for my pathway on paper. “It’s blue,” I said “and starts with an i.” She answered, “What is the product code number?” I stated: “You’re not a toastmaster, are you?” … She put a toastmaster on the line. The path I wanted was not in print. “Oh.” I didn’t want to wait. “I’ll change paths.” And I did.

Angry Afterward

So I’m in the bar after last night’s meeting. (I did my speech, my path person had said it wouldn’t matter what my topic for speech #2 was) 
My speech was on “Inclusion” which fit my path of Team Collaboration. How ironic, as I do not feel included at TMI just now. 

I am beside the lady who had told me to use drop down triangles. She is angry at Pathways computer difficulties, saying “I am not a stupid person.” I said “Me neither. I have a university degree.”  (From Canada, where no one puts the adjective “good” in front of a Canadian university: in Canada they are all good)

You will recall from high school that if, in September, you skimmed through your entire mathematics textbook, you knew more than a classmate who had read Chapter One word for word, because you have an overview. Well, I was looking forward to getting my manual and being able to look all through. With no delays from self-assessment!

“You can’t” my buddy says. (What?) They send it in portions. (What?) They don’t send your manual all at once. (Are you kidding me?) They want to micro-manage you, like a child.”

I can only hope she is mistaken.

Yours truly,
Sean Crawford ATMS

Sean Crawford essayist,
(Advanced ToastMaster Silver)

~Now I have two e-mail drafts addressed to Supply. I’ll have to ask at the Apple Store how to remove them.

“They send it in portions…” They do. The first manual is free, the second costs $25. They sent me two: the first has four speeches, the second only three. Yup, I paid 25 bucks for three speeches. (blank speech outlines and evaluations) And this path has at least three manuals to go.

Meanwhile, at Friday Free Fall, we each read aloud, and so every time my character sings, I have to sing too. Then the others always say I should be in a choir. My friend Judy, who got me into Free Fall, sings on the same night that my Toastmaster club meets, so maybe I’ll drop TMI and go there.

Weekly Blog continuity
Last week was Free Fall pieces, the week before was my Inclusion speech.

I got a reply! Just the day before this blog went to post (to print) So here it is, with anything private, such as name, e-mail and telephone numbers deleted:
Dear Toastmaster Crawford, 

Thank you for your email and I apologize for the delayed reply. 

Thank you for taking the time to submit such a detailed email regarding your feedback and suggestion for improvements on the Toastmasters Education Program. We would not be able to improve our programs without members like yourself giving us feedback. 

Further, to explain the Pathways printed material shipping process, it is sent in three shipments. These shipments are set up as follows:

Shipment One: Levels 1 and 2 are included
Shipment Two: Level 3 + Level 3 Electives (The optional Pathways Mentor Program is also offered)
Shipment Three: Level 4 & 5 + Level 4 & 5 Electives

Printed materials are paced to match the timing of your journey. When your vice president of education (VPE) verifies that you have completed the projects in that shipment you will receive the next shipment. The VPE will use the level verification completion forms, included in your package, to verify the completion of your levels. 

Additionally, I will forward your email onward for review and consideration for possible future updates. Thank you for helping us expand so that we may continue to help our members grow!

If you have any questions or need further assistance, please let us know. We are happy to help!

Best Regards,

(name deleted for this blog)
Education Program Team
Toastmasters International
Where Leaders Are Made
(contact phone and mail deleted)

Wednesday, July 18, 2018

Free Fall Philosophy

Hello Reader,
Got your everyday philosophy?

As you may recall, Free Fall writing is when we get a prompt and then we write real fast until the timer goes off. Then we read aloud. 
Today’s four pieces, from May-June 2017, make me think of my parents:

-they worked too hard, and saw no movies: not at the cinema, not at home on TV
-they didn’t have any tenacity, a lack in them I only perceive now, looking back
-their Puritan binary black and white thinking probably did them more harm than good
-Like Oliver Wendall Holmes, they did indeed take part in a great issue of their day

prompt- unchained melody
You had to be careful, back on the farm. Singing in church was OK, or singing in the fields, but not in the house or the barns. No, because Matron would scream at us. Why? Because it’s obvious: If we had time to sing then we could be using our time off in the fields weeding or stripping younger-berry. Obvious. And if it was near Planet-fall day, well, look out!

Years later, in the big city factories, I always knew better than to sing or smile when The Man was about. No, the best workers were chained workers, with no more freedom than the union and the tribunes allowed them. Chains are good for economy! OK, nobody said that explicitly, but that’s what they meant. I knew full well, because I knew the farm where all our melodies were chained.

And what of when the farmers retired? Now, at last, would they learn to find meaning in daytime soap operas, an afternoon at the cinema, an evening out to the opera? Nope. The opera glasses gathered dust, along with all the other hopes and glimmers of a glamorous life. Chain it all down; life is real, life is earnest, the devil finds work for idle hands. Yes, but if you can’t even enjoy going to church bingo games with the others, if all games are meaningless, then what? Nature shows? No. Nature walks? No. Not when the chains are set in iron on stone, covered in dust, without any slack allowed.

At night, when I am out of beer, and so all I can do is rock on my veranda in the dark with my briar smoke, that is when I strain my ears. Do I hear an unchained melody? At long, long last? It’s getting darker. 

prompt- tenacity
I have a tentacle, it wraps around present time because I don’t want to let go.
I value my tenacity here, in my late of time, because it is of valuable scarcity.
Now I speak with tact, for everyone else is on the same short road.
I look at the world with soft tendrils, trying to take it all in, while I can.
Tender is the day, when I tread tenderly. Let my have all that I have, let me have this moment, now, today.

prompt- any two letters
If Baden-Powell can put his name into Be Prepared, then what could I put Sean Crawford into? Self confidence? Too corny. Self compassion? Better. When I was of the age to be in Boy Scouts, the world was black and white. Hence I would be strict with myself. Not now. Now I have compassion for a world of mixed emotions, mixed reasonings and motivations, mixed results. Of course I want to de-clutter, and I want to go outside. I want to work hard, and I want to drag my heels. After all, who but a chump ever feels energized after cleaning? I just feel down from all the wasted time when I could have been writing. Or else I feel both feelings at once, and that’s OK. Instead of being strict and down, I can be self compassionate. It’s OK. I am fine. Both good and bad. Like all the rest of us normal neurotics.

prompt- lost in two countries
Shall I describe the Pyrenees in words to make you wish you were there? Or among the cultures and quaint natives there? I could. Just like in May when I can make people wish they were part of the world series, or in early summer, when I could write so as to make Canadians wish they were part of the Stanley cup.

Up in the Pyrenees you have snow into summer. Snow that may have been there when the Moors crossed over into France to be smashed by Charles the Hammer, better known as Charlemagne. Snow crossed by gruff sullen smugglers. No, I don’t wish I was there. Not with the wind blowing over barren rocks, a screaming wind, a nice change from the screams of people I left behind. You don’t want to be crossing there in the year of our lord nineteen hundred and— never mind. I could have simply stopped, eked out a living in a rude cabin, subsisting on my small amount of gold, eating bread and cheese until the war was over. I could. But the price would be too high.

My countryman, Oliver Wendall Holmes, who served in the civil war, said that every man must take part in the issues of his age, on pain of—never mind. So I did take part. I lived. I still have both eyes. Now I like to sleep a lot and listen to young people’s songs. I especially like the one about Daniel. I won’t fly again. I won’t risk thrombosis. And besides, I have already seen enough. I have been seeing things again in my dreams. So strange, I thought it was all behind me.

Tomorrow Clara will visit with Donna. I might tell them about the time I was lost in two countries, then on mountains in between, resting in fear, and then how I found myself again. At my age, I can admit to fear. God bless America.

Sean Crawford
At c-Space
Summers of 2017, 2018

Free Fall writing doesn’t have to be “good.” Good we can do at home: It just has to be “done.” (as a fun exercise) I have been chairing the Free Fall Friday meetings, from 10 to noon, at an old sandstone school, called c-Space, in Marda Loop.

Because I vary the timer, the length of the writing varies. People like it when the first ones are shorter, to get us warmed up. For keeping our momentum, each prompt is drawn from a bowl.

We meet as members of the Alexandra Writers Centre Society. Named after the princess from so long ago. If you are passing through town, or if you live here, come join us as a guest; everyone has a good time.

Wednesday, July 11, 2018

Inclusion of Everyday People

Hello Reader,
Got inclusion?

The best advice entertainer Larry David ever received, he said, was from his uncle, who told him, “Curb your enthusiasm.” The example Larry gives is that if you are having a wonderful day in a huge windy, sunny park, and then you go into the Secret Annex, well, don’t gush to tell Ann Frank about the great day you are having. Curb your enthusiasm. 

Another entertainer, movie maker Spike Lee, said “Do the Right Thing.” 

Suppose you are one of three teenage girls walking along, about Ann Frank’s age, maybe a little older. And suppose you are so excited—a friend! And you and The Friend talk excitedly, at length, and for the duration of your outing as the third girl, Sally, is left in the cold. Then you go home, fall back to earth, and say intensely to me, “Why didn’t Sally speak up? I didn’t mean to ignore her!”

My reply: Why didn’t you curb your enthusiasm, and, more importantly, do the right thing? You could have included her by saying, “Isn’t that right, Sally?… What do you think, Sally? …” and looked right at her until she could think of a reply. 

Many teen girls these days enjoy Japanese anime, (cartoons) while from Japan comes a phrase that, maybe, applies to me: “to a fault.” I am “consciousness raised,” as regards inclusion, “to a fault.” I don’t expect others to care as much as I do.

I know I am “to a fault” because one time I was included in a morning meeting of top executives at work. We met in Meeting Room C, around a circular table. Being among the first to arrive, I took the liberty of rolling the chairs around to make as good a circle as possible, for maximum inclusion. I am proud that my company is one where the top executives didn’t mind “little old me” taking such initiative. Two of them chuckled, saying “That’s what Shawna does” (who was absent that day) implying the rest of them weren’t so intent on roundtable inclusion.

That same year I once drove two ladies up the 1A, to the next small town, to see some things. They both used only public transit, so this was a big chance for them to get beyond the city. The two: a friend of mine, and a mutual acquaintance. As we threw our coats in the car, I kept advising the acquaintance to sit up front by me, but she kept saying, “No, I’ll sit in the back,” right up until I pulled rank: “I’m the driver, and I want you up front, in the middle, so that I include you as I am talking over you to Jeannine.” Jeannine backed me up… I forget where we all sat for the drive home.

A few years ago I wrote about going to the theatre to see an anime movie. I mentioned a row of  young men below me where the lad on the very end kept leaning way in, feeling shut out. Had I been a guy in the row, sitting right next to him, then instead of leaning towards the conversation leaders in the middle I would have turned and talked with him. Had I been that poor guy on the very end, if nobody had included me, then—remember those doors on the battleships and submarines? Water tight, with a wheel in the centre to dog the door shut? I would have swung the hatch over, dogged the wheel, and—forget those guys!—turned to watch the show on my own.

When I was younger than those boys, back in the good old days, cocktail parties were common. You would walk around holding a glass stem in two or three fingers. The host, it was understood, had a duty to be inclusive. When she would see person heading towards the wall, she would go up and bring her over to meet someone, saying something they had in common as icebreaker, such as “I’d like you to meet Shawna. She once took the same ceramics course that you are taking.”

One day my university club had a “pop and pizza” party. Maybe we had wine too. Anyways, I made sure we circulated. How? Our club offices were two rectangular rooms along a common hallway. So I said we would have the pop in one room, and the pizza in the other. This took some nerve, and I’m not sure anyone else would have done so, but I was club president, so I could do that. It all worked out. (In my childhood you could put a record player in one corner and vinyl records clear across the room)

Today, instead of a cocktail glass, I’m more inclined to hold a big bottle in my fist, as part of a Bring Your Own Booze party. I remember a young lady named Shaun who was well known for having good BYOB parties at her apartment. We always had a good time at her place. Except for the last party I attended. It was on a nice spring evening, with a Tim Hortons donut shop a couple of blocks away. Of course Shaun’s apartment had no fire place, or camp fire, but I had attended a campfire, back in college. I had done so as part of a college weekend camp (compulsory for my program) My point is this: The professors had taken care to have fewer logs and chairs around the fire than there were people. Not so at Shaun’s.

I should hasten to add that many of us at Shaun’s place were the sort who, in a bar, would order “cranberry soda, no ice.” Picture a vast empty living room, with a big circle of chairs, enough for all. Now, Shaun was a princess, a queen bee, a campfire among candles, and everybody was leaning towards her. And I was just too far away, since it was such a big circle. I simmered, I despaired, and then I collected a few people and mentioned to the air, “We’re going for a walk.” … Not to go smoke, but to go two blocks for a donut and pop or something. We had a nice long visit. 

When we finally got back to the party… there were the same chairs, and the same people still in the same seats as when we left! I don’t think I closed any watertight door, but I don’t think I stayed much longer. I decided Shaun’s previous good parties had been more from good luck than good management.

I used to attend a yearly weekend convention for fantasy and science fiction. At the convention hotel I saw someone else who was inclusive: a beloved author, Lois McMaster Bujold. I met her because I purchased a “breakfast with Bujold” ticket. Early in the morning there were at least a dozen, maybe a score of us, gathered for breakfast. The table(s) was a long rectangle, not like the Algonquin hotel’s round table. Bujold found a seat at the very foot of the table. No one would have faulted her for staying there all breakfast. But instead, as she prepared to sit down, surveying the table, she announced she would sit there for half the time, and then switch to the head of the table. Silly? Embarrassing? No; sometimes, like me as club president, you have to do the right thing. 

I was so touched by Bujold that I decided to share, to self-disclose, even though some of the folks at breakfast were strangers. Bujold had written of a character who had been child-abused into having multiple personality disorder, MPD, so that he could be a spy. You may have seen people with MPD like poor Sybil in Hollywood movies—stupid dam Hollywood. I took a deep breath and told Bujold I knew two people socially who had MPD, and that my best friend had dissociation, (which is the first stage) and so I was glad that Bujold hadn’t exploited the condition. She said with a smile that she had received three fan letters from people with MPD thanking her for being fair… 

A man two seats down, wearing a suit and tie, handed me his business card so I could come and see him if ever I was in his city. A lawyer. I don’t usually hang around with fancy lawyers, but he did courtroom work with Alberta Family Services, so he knew about abuse, meaning: He was a safe person for me. So I became friends with Blair Petterson. I would stay at his place whenever I made a trip up to Edmonton. Saved money on hotels. Good thing I spoke up that day.

Maybe I’m no expert, maybe I’m “to a fault,” but here’s my conclusion: Curb your enthusiasm, and do the right thing. Don’t be afraid to include people, both furniture-wise and verbally, “What do you think?” If you don’t, then people like Bujold and I just might swing shut the watertight door… and you won’t even know we are doing it.

Sean Crawford

Inclusion Thoughts:
~This essay was given as a speech for toastmasters. After my speech, as we cleaned up the meeting room, some fellow toastmasters said to me, “But you can’t be inclusive “to a fault,” can you?” I replied “I meant I try not to be arrogant, I try not to have expectations that anybody else must do as I do.”

~I mentioned the line of boys at the movie in my essay A Night With Evangelion 2.0 archived February 2011.

~When I am doing sign language I will talk out loud as a simultaneous translation: It used to bug me as a boy when my relatives signed silently. If they were signing on a deaf-blind person’s palm and fingers then I couldn’t see what they were saying.

~If my bilingual boss is on the telephone to a bilingual person from his home country when I am not part of the conversation, even if I am only in the adjoining room, then he will talk in English.

~ At my toastmaster club our tables are in a horseshoe. The movie screen is off to the left side, so that folks at the very left end of the horseshoe have more trouble seeing. One night I was one the easier right side. Two experts from toastmasters central were showing us a “new improved reorganization.” (Pathways) 

They sat down right beside me. I asked, “Is it important for you to see the screen as you do your presentation? (No) You could go sit near the blind spot and let folks from this club grab these two good seats.” So they got up and crossed the floor. Offended? No, as they crossed one said, “We should bring you around to all our presentations.”

regarding my disability work, 
without having expectations for other disability workers
When I drive, carrying another staff and two mentally handicapped clients, I put the staff right behind me, I put the more verbal client in the back behind the passenger seat, where I can half see him, and I put the least verbal, a man who understands but can’t converse well, right in the passenger seat close beside me. That’s how I roll. 

… It’s good for folks with disabilities to have “community awareness,” or feel “community membership,” but too often this means walking on the cold sidewalk with a pane of glass between them and the life in the stores. 

I once had a fine “visit second hand bookstore then visit coffee shop” club. (Over coffee I encouraged conversation about our books) I organized it by first scouting for stores with nearby coffee shops, and getting acquainted with the bookstore staff. The clerks in such stores, unlike in the stores for new books, have the time and intention to talk with people. 

So I would be talking to a clerk I had previously met, and then (figuratively, not literally) say, “What do you do think, Sally?” Naturally allowing the mentally handicapped client person into the conversation. Giving the staff a chance to meet a handicapped person. Giving the client a better level of community comfort. As I see it, community membership includes talking with community store people.

The bookstore club went so well that it continued long after I left the agency. Months after I left, the agency director told me how she hadn’t been able to entice a client to come do paid yard work, because he had his bookstore club to go to that day.

Wednesday, July 4, 2018

Anglicizing with My Brother Jim

Hello Reader,
Have you too got a bee in your bonnet?
About anglicizing?  

Here’s the rest of last week’s essay, which began with Doctor Who being polite to any children without nannies by anglicizing a name of a dead white male. 

When I studied scientific Greek and Latin science vocabulary while taking a career major at university—the closest I could come to taking a liberal arts course—I learned many “proper” ways among white lab coat people to make things plural…One octopus, two octopi; one datum, two data; one spaghetto, two spaghetti.
…But when I talk with regular practical people, I normally make a plural by simply adding S.

I suppose “being practical” explains why English speakers use so few syllables compared to everybody else.  (I asked a linguistics major why so few syllables, but he didn’t know) Another word shortener, I think, is the standard default to put the accent on the first syllable. Which has the added bonus of making English nice for singing popular songs. At least, that’s what a famous Swedish group said. They thought it was practical to just take the first letter from each of their names to give their band a nice short two-syllable title.

When I was a boy my brother Jim taught me to say the fuzzy name Jean Val Jean, a name which buzzes on your tongue, sounding fun to say, like the name of Pooh’s friend, Tigger. (Not Teeger) Therefore when I read a children’s story, in English, of poor Jean Val Jean doing years in prison for stealing one loaf of bread, I made an exception for his name… but not for everybody else in the book. And I did not call the author Veectwa Yugo. No. In Victor Hugo’s world I read everyone’s name in English. You hear what I’m saying? I Anglicized their names… according to our traditional default.

Speaking of Jean Val Jean, and practical defaults, our NATO forces, with lives at stake, are eminently practical: In a Quebec army base where I was stationed, “Saint Jean,” was pronounced “Saint Jeen” to avoid mistakes. And to default Anglicize, of course. Similarly, during the Second World War, to avoid any mistakes from confusing Iraq and Iran, the allied forces changed their maps to make the latter “Persia.” 

Of course, in any language, unless you speak Esperanto, there will always be some exceptions… Being polite means not making new ones gratuitously. Call me old fashioned, but it’s only common sense to anglicize everything that’s not nailed down. And besides, as a North American, anglicizing is my culture, my Traditional Culture. It’s a humble culture, as honest as bread and butter: I won’t pronounce Paris as the French do… unless I’m joking, “How do you keep them down on the farm after they’ve seen gay Paree?”

“But wait!” cries a voice from the peanut gallery. “Speaking of Hugo and the classics, ooh, I just loved reading War and Peace, by Tolstoy, and so I ask you: Won’t it hurt those people’s feelings to Anglicize their names?” 

Surely the answer’s obvious: No, not if they overhear me speaking English. Not if they are thousands of miles away in Russia, and hundreds of years away in time, and only fictional characters to begin with… Oh all right, sometimes I will compromise while they’re still alive, but I tell you: Once they’re dead? They’re Anglicized!

Remember that president and war hero “of France,”—“De Gaulle?”—I like the pun—the fellow who wanted Britain kept out of the EU? And France out of NATO? Today no one in London calls him Sharlez De Gaulle. Except folks inside the French embassy, and even they respect British culture, calling him Charles, if they meet you outside in Trafalgar Square. 

Unfortunately, there will always be some who see themselves as being in the “jet set,” the elite, the ones like Canada’s Justin Trudeau who believe in us being without traditions and without roots. Before Brexit, they were the ones in Britain who wanted Britain to replace the pound sterling with the Eurodollar. So they could jet to “the continent” easily. They would be the same guys who now wish to multiply the sheer number of exceptions to memorize. This at the expense of their rural cousins down the highway,  as my brother Jim drives his truck.


I can only guess why. 

I imagine folks who can afford to fly instead of riding the greyhound are carrying a two-sided coin: On the one side, snobbery; on the other, fear. Snobbery of thinking that people who grew up in house trailers or, like my brother, on a little farm, somehow don’t wash enough and somehow, supposedly, don’t realize how foreigners pronounce their foreign words…. Fear of being like my brother, yes, and also a fear of their peers: their fellow guilty white liberals. Fear of not being “Politically Correct.”   

Rubbish! I can remember when PC was confined to Marxist study groups, back when Politically Correct communists would translate Russian directly to English, and then be puzzled as to why the rest of us couldn’t work up any concern about being “imperialist lackeys” or “running dogs.” If you wish to “bring on the revolution,” then you would do best to stick to your roots. To humble Anglicizing.

My own roots? Mom has high school, Dad dropped out before the war to help his family—I am the only one of six kids in my family with a university degree: I guess this makes me an honorary member of the middle class. And that’s fine by me—Except I just can’t do the “guilty white liberal” thing. I don’t mind smart people: Some of my best friends have degrees. I don’t mind wealth: Some of my best friends are rich. Of course they are, since I live in a wealthy oil town, complete with ethnic diversity from skilled workers moving in—who Anglicize, just as I do. 

What I mind is when elite snobs wimp out, giving in to their fear, distorting our traditional Anglicizing culture, committing their “micro aggressions” against honest people like my brother. I don’t like it when they try to make Canada into a place to live that is more complicated and more sexist, less practical and less democratic. 

…Well dear reader, that’s enough writing for today. Maybe I’ll go off to read a children’s book of tongue twisters, The Fox in Sox by that nice Dr. Seuss. Come to think of it, he’s the one who wrote against snobbery in The Star Belly Sneetches….

Sean Crawford
In cowboy country

Nanny Footnotes 
Nanny Sidebar

Today guys like my brother Jim can easily learn about art and science just by tapping on their keyboard. But Jim surely won’t think to memorize all those fancy plurals. He’ll just use a practical “s.” Well then. Should we college graduate-types be scolding Jim? Scolding Jim into being politically correct and proper with his plurals… or shall we let him use his “s” and thereby, as with Anglicizing, open up our language to everybody? …

Nanny Footnotes: 
~ Speaking of nannies, I met a nanny once. In my night school drama class. She was blond, not dark haired like Miss Poppins. No talking parrot umbrella handle. I’m sure nannies are more common back east where, according to rumor, mansions come with a “nanny apartment.”

~On my first literary holiday to England, the one where I traced the Martians of H.G. Wells, I visited the London Zoo. The first thing I asked at the information desk was, “Where would Mary Poppins take the children?”
… They still have an empty penguin slide they can’t get rid of: It’s a heritage site.

Nanny Sidebar:
As I waited to print this, I found an Edmonton (population one million-ish) newspaper opinion piece. It seems a woman—no doubt an ivory tower graduate—wishes to put a wrongly spelled, tongue twisting, aboriginal name on an urban Edmonton street.  

Ostensibly, she wishes to have a street name that sounds like the indigenes folks away over the horizon. But given her scolding tone, I sense her wish is not from any bountiful love of our traditional culture, and not from any sense of tongue twisting fun. 

When I think of her disagreeable tone, then despite her fancy degree, I would never want her as a nanny for my children. Why? Easy: Because she’s no fun.