It Must Be Nice…

…to like Christmas so much that you can’t stop yourself from putting up your decorations immediately after Hallowe’en. People in a house on Brunswick Street here in Halifax go completely to town with decorations each year, and early, too. It’s quite garish. And although much more subdued, other people down the hall from me have had their decorations up since the weekend. But as much as I’m no fan of Christmas, I have to admit that the pretty lights do serve a purpose during this time of year when it’s so grey and the days are so short. This evening we’re on the mild side of a nasty storm that’s bringing tons of rain and winds gusting to 100 km/h (62 mi/h), and somehow the pretty lights seem like the equivalent of putting your hands on your ears and singing, “La, la, la, I can’t hear you!”

English, Though Germanic, Isn’t German

I’ve had it with people who uppercase all their nouns and noun phrases in English to make those common nouns seem more important. Except possibly in legalese — and even there I’d argue uppercasing is overused — there’s no need to uppercase nouns in English. The uppercasing of nouns is the practice in German, not in English. And don’t get me going on some lawyers’ insistence on having full clauses in contracts in uppercase letters! I’ve read somewhere that practice is the only reason why one still encounters such passages in contracts today. The irony, of course, is that the attempt to emphasize in such cases backfires badly: such passages are in fact more difficult to read!

But I digress…

The worst culprits of needless uppercasing of nouns are business/marketing types and academics. For instance, business types might write, “Thank you for your Cooperation,” as if the uppercase C was meant to signal to me that they value my cooperation so much that they’re compelled to emphasize it with that lousy (and incorrect) uppercase C. Another example: recently I received a notice about a job opening for “a Sessional Instructor to teach the Department’s Advanced Studies Classes.” The only uppercase letter that’s marginally acceptable in that phrase — and even it could be dispensed of — is the D. Or if the department’s name hadn’t been mentioned yet, then one could have written “a sessional instructor to teach the Department of Noseblowing’s advanced studies classes.”

Don’t ask me why such insignificant Details drive me Nuts as much as they do. 😉


After supper tonight I just had to have a nap. It’s the first time I’ve done this since I’m in my new place, and I must say that napping in my new bed is as heavenly as sleeping a full night in it. (I have a draft posting waiting completion in which I elaborate on my recent move downstairs.) But for whatever reason, the first thought through my mind as I woke up was “whosbetterthan” — Michael in New York.

While I’ll grant you the man’s a hottie, it wasn’t that kind of thought I had when I woke up. He simply came back to mind, so while my evening coffee was brewing, I thought I’d check to see if he’d decided to resume blogging. He hasn’t, although he promises he might once he’s done grad school in May. I don’t remember how I found his blog, but I do remember how compelling I found what he had to say — right down to the time he lost his job, fell into a kind of depression (as one would under the circumstances), but finally, well into his 30s, built up the guts to do what he always wanted and went go back to school.

I hope he does decide to blog again this spring. He’s not the kind of guy I’d likely “meet” weren’t it for blogs, and I suspect we probably wouldn’t be friends “in real life” even if we lived in the same place. But that doesn’t take away from the fact I think he’s a very decent human being.

Five Weird Languages

I dropped a line to Damian, the Australian guy I mentioned in my previous post, and he certainly has quite an order on his hands. Of the five languages in which the site in question has to be published, only one uses the alphabet we all know and love.

As he put it, that’s one of the joys of living in Oceania. But it got me thinking, though, about how being anglophone in that part of the world mustn’t be dissimilar to being francophone in North America. I believe there are fewer than 10 million francophones in Canada and the United States, which is less than 5 percent of the continent’s population. While English is spoken in countries around Australia, the fact remains it has 3 of the most populous countries in the world nearby — China, India, and Indonesia — where English is not the primary language.

Talk about being dwarfed!

Five Languages

Just as I’ve been feeling pretty good lately about the massive progress I’ve been making on my TextStyleM CMS, I come across a post in the Hosting Matters discussion forums that makes me think that perhaps I haven’t thought of all the possibilities. Indeed, I’m pretty happy that I started off thinking about having TextStyleM be able to publish the same site simultaneously in two languages — an imperative in this part of Canada, really. But then some guy comes along and inquires about how we might handle a site that has to be published in five languages!

The worst thing is that:

  1. I immediately started thinking about how much work might be involved in going over my code and database structures to accommodate a five-language website, and
  2. I wished the guy who posted to the forum weren’t in Australia.

I think I would consider some kind of arrangement, but I’m weird about my code. Not only do I fear giving it away and/or losing control over it, but — dare I admit it — I’m not sure how it would measure up if someone who has had formal programming training were to poke around in it.

Call it the Impostor Syndrome. I’ve always suffered from it. And add a dash of Control Freakness for good measure…