English is for Everyone


In Defense of Hoarders

The past week or so, I have been pretending to be a computer repairman (I guess in this gender-sensitive age it’s okay for me to say repairman instead of something vanilla (is it okay for me to say vanilla? does it matter that I’m white?) like repair person or repair representative, since I am, in fact, despite all the chemo’s and other drugs’s long-lasting emasculating attempts, a man). It’s funny how, no matter how useless they become, old computers, along with old video games, and old phones, and old power packs, and old chargers, and don’t even get me started on unidentifiable old CDs, kind of just hang around in a corner of the basement as if it were a technological sarcophagus — lifeless computers stacked forlornly, purposeless cables and chords twisted madly into an untwistable balled bunch… Yeah.

Anyway, the past week or so I have been Dr. Frankengeek: attempting to restore ancient operating systems, rooting around in old files, deleting an old this, saving an old that.

So, so much stuff tucked away within those old computers. Who really knows how much stuff is really on them? Of course we never should throw them away until the day a gadget is made that possesses unlimited memory and a magical ability to instantaneously copy old files onto it without any user prompting, whatsoever. And not just any old file, no, certainly not those intransigent .dll files or any other annoying and undeletable ones like them, only important old files. And not to worry, this gadget will know what’s what, believe me. Oh, and of course the gadget will be cordless and will have an infinite battery life.

Coming soon to an Amazon store near you…

Until I can get my hands one of those suckers, I promise all my old computers will stay unneatly stacked in my basement and conveniently out of your landfill.

Most of the past week or so has certainly been less than fun. It’s a good thing I’m jobless and have a lot of time on my hands because most of the past week or so has been nothing more than an intimate study of the Ctrl, Alt, Del keys.

If this is what the world is coming to, then I say, go ahead and let the geeks inherit it.

Geek salvation…boring.

However, every once in a while I did dig my way into a stash of old photos, or old school papers, or some other ancient gem that reminded me of how cool it has been to live with my wife and kids these past twenty-five years or so.

Take, for instance, the picture found at the beginning of this rambling post. I found it in a folder of old English lessons.

Back in the last century, I used to live in Japan, and for a time when I lived in Japan, I used to teach English on the side to some very wonderful Japanese folks. To find and attract those wonderful Japanese folks, I used to advertise my lessons as “English is for Everyone.” Quaint, ain’t it?

Those of you who know my family, know how talented my children are. My daughter is an especially talented artist. She always has been, as is evident by the drawing she made when she was, oh, I don’t know…ten? twelve?…and which is found at the top of this rambling post, and which became the logo for those old lessons. I believe we even made iron-ons out of that logo and pressed them on to tee-shirts. At any rate, we truly made a good time out of it, that’s for sure.

Within that old stash, I also found many of my old English lessons, and old worksheets, and old handouts. They all bring back fond and funny and fortunate memories. I miss all my — I hesitate to call them students because it seemed as if I ended up learning more from them than they did from me, so I’ll simply say, I miss all my friends from that period of my life.

What follows is a copy of one of the old handouts I put together to, well, handout to my friends during those old English lessons. It is a list of heteronyms (thank god for google (is that redundant?)) that exemplifies just how crazy and fun the English language is.

Come to think of it, this might be a stretch, but, English is kind of like my old computers… It’s a communication system and storage system and retrieval system, all coded and operated by a language that rarely deletes anything but continually accumulates and assumes bits and bytes of other languages into its own as it constantly and forever evolves and adapts its system to the demands of the times.

Yeah, I said it was a bit of a stretch, but still…

No wonder the English language is so difficult to learn

We polish the Polish furniture.
He could be in the lead if he would just get the lead out.
A farm can produce produce.
The dump was so full it had to refuse refuse.
The soldier decided to desert in the desert.
The present is a good time to present the present.
At the Army base, a bass fish was painted on the head of a bass drum.
The dove dove into the bushes.
I did not object to the object.
The insurance for the invalid was invalid.
The bandage was wound around the wound.
There was a row among the oarsmen about how to row.
They were too close to the door to close it.
The buck does funny things when the does are present.
They sent a sewer down to stitch the tear in the sewer line.
To help with planting, the farmer taught his fat sow to sow the seeds.
The wind was too strong to wind the sail.
After a number of Novocaine injections, my jaw became number.
I shed a tear when I saw the tear in my pants.
I had to subject the subject to a series of tests.
How can I intimate this to my most intimate friend?
I spent last evening evening out a pile of dirt.


0 thoughts on “English is for Everyone”

  1. So, like I said, I’ve been fooling around with old computers for over a week now. Today, I thought I’d go super geek and tear apart my old HP Pavilion notebook just to see if I could take it apart and put it back together again. Prior to this, I had copied all the important files onto a backup drive already, slicked the boot drive and reloaded and updated the OS with Vista, and it was working like new…except for its graphics. I guess I blew out the video card at some point in its past and now everything it renders graphically (if you want to sound like a cool tech geek, you gotta say the word “render” every now and then) looks like what I imagine everything would look like when tripping on acid (no…never have…I use an acid trip as a reference only because I happening to be listening to T. C. Boyle’s acid trip of a book called Drop City, a novel about the 60s counter and drug culture).

    So, I boned up on my tech skills by watching a 13-year-old geek genius on youtube and then went at that notebook like a mad surgeon. It didn’t take me long to surmise that someone who is near blind from GVHD and cataracts and who has over-sized, shaky hands has no business trying to take apart something as intricate as a notebook computer. I had no idea so many tiny screws were needed to hold that thing together. However, after taking it apart, and after cleaning it out with compressed air, and after inadvertently ripping off the housing for the keyboard’s film-like connector strip, I was able to put it all back together.

    Well, kind of… Once I unscrewed what seemed like my googol-teenth screw, I realized that not all of them were gonna make it back in after I was done–there was just no way I would get lucky enough to remember where they all went. But, can you believe that after I got it back together again, and after I booted it up and it worked perfectly again, albeit with the same tripped-out graphics…aaand of course the keyboard wasn’t working because I ripped it’s nerve system out of the motherboard’s brain (I did give it a havard try of a patch job, though, by trying to hold it in place with a strip of electrician’s tape (I hate to solder)…to no avail), I had fifteen orphaned screws leftover. One or two leftover I can see…but 15!

    No wonder so many tech supports dudes (that’s a non-gender specific dude, btw) are so rude and snarky.

  2. Oh how English can confuse, it got awfully confusing to my students when I taught English in Spain. But then I remember all the fun with false cognates, especially between Spanish and Italian.

  3. When I taught English to university students in Slovakia, the toughest thing for them was learning how to use “the, a, an” since they do not exist as actual words in their language, usually understood. For instance, because I always wore hats, my nickname was “Klobuk,” meaning just “hat.” They were learning other languages…..German, Italian,Spanish…..and when I asked what was the hardest to learn, it was unanimous….English!

    • Ha ha…that’s a wonderful story, Professor! I am so glad English is my native tongue or I would be out of luck because I just do not have that gene for learning new languages…or maybe I have it but my laziness gene is just more dominant… Thank you for sharing. πŸ™‚

  4. Another entertaining post. I love how your mind works, and the connections it makes…and that you share them with us πŸ˜‰ It made me laugh (in several places) – I don’t touch computers, but I have a box (or two) of wires, connectors, charges, and plugs that I have no idea where they belong, but, hey…they have to come in handy sooner or later – right?!

  5. “Come to think of it, this might be a stretch, but, English is kind of like my old computers… It’s a communication system and storage system and retrieval system, all coded and operated by a language that rarely deletes anything but continually accumulates and assumes bits and bytes of other languages into its own as it constantly and forever evolves and adapts its system to the demands of the times.” Not a stretch! I loved it!! Could be because I am an English teacher…

  6. Hmm…The SloMan has an old Pentium III Xeon rack server lying around with Fedora Linux on it. Carries a whopping 50GB on two hard drives. He hasn’t been able to throw it out yet because he plans to check the hardrives for stuff he just might need in the future. All the other machines had their hard drives taken out and put into external cases and are still in use as USB external drives.

    He also has notebooks lying around full of scape sequences for CP/M and PC-DOS systems, escape sequences that wondrous things on monochrome screens cursor addressing, highlighting, foreground, background shading and on printers – bolding, underlinng, italics, even reversing the fan fold paper.

    And, yes, English is, indeed, for everyone. For everyone who cares to use proper grammar that is.

  7. I love English; it’s the only language I know. It’s wonderfully dense OR precise or flippant OR scientific OR misleading – not every language is like that. What does bug me is that 99% of Americans have a 10 word vocabulary, but have nothing to say, anyway, so I guess that makes sense. One of the worst habits is redundancy, as in “return back.” And idiot experts on Cable news. I heard this yesterday: “a great amount of consequences” Good Lord! And the failure to grasp absolutes, as in “sort of dead.”



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