Der Amerikanische Urlauber

Saturday, April 30, 2005

Fijne Koninginnedag!


Wij houden van oranje... en groote kronen Posted by Hello

In honor of Koninginnedag (Queen's Day), which takes place today in the Netherlands, I'm writing this post in orange instead of my usual blue. Orange is the big national color for Dutch events like this, and since I can't be there in Amsterdam with Kim partying it up, this is my way of celebrating...
Not quite the same as being there, but I've already determined I'm making it there for Koninginnedag in the near future. Don't quite know when, but when I happen to be studying abroad, even if I'm in France or wherever, I'm hopping on a train to Amsterdam.

I love how such a small country literally goes crazy on a day like this. We have displays like that here on Fourth of July, but for some reason I've always found my Fourth of Julys to be relatively boring. We always have some kind of barbecue and then it's a neighborhood contest to see which neighbor blew more money on fireworks (last year the record must have been this idiot down the street who spent $15,000 on fireworks... we enjoyed a Disney-like spectacular for over 45 minutes... Hey, I'm not complaining since I didn't have to pay, but I know I wouldn't have done it...) Some people have so many fireworks that you have to hear them going off nightly for the next two weeks...

I think the best way to spend events like this is to be around lots of other people. There's just something about the atmosphere that lends itself to making everything more festive.

Voor al mijn Nederlandse lezers, een fijne Koninginnedag!


Thursday, April 28, 2005

Finals Week...


Finals week is here... Posted by Hello

Today was officially the last day of the Spring semester for me. The way it works at American universities is that the week following is then devoted to finals. Some schools I guess have even more time... my friend who goes to McGill University in Montréal was surprised to learn we devote only roughly two hours' time to the taking of a final exam.

Compared to last semester, this is pretty much a light finals week for me. I have one final in French, which honestly doesn't intimidate me much because I study French daily and everything on there should be known by now anyway if you want to have any faculty in the language. The other final is actually just a last exam in Intro to International Studies. I need to study more for that one, but again I'm not stressing. I always feel that if you work continuously throughout the semester then a final shouldn't be that intimidating and require a huge long cram session. Of course, some classes are different. Like last semester I had 100 question final exam, in Intro to Public Speaking, a class where we never once covered any material out of the book. Intro to Public Speaking has a "common" final, meaning the department, not the individual instructor, is the one who makes the exam up. So I had to spend a lot of time reviewing for that stupid class.

Anyway, it's just so relieving to finally be done with this semester. Of course, I still am going down to campus both to go to the gym and for Summer session B, which goes from July into August, for French II. Being that French II uses the same book as French I (French I covered Première étape to Chapitre 5; French II covers Chapitre 6-12) I think it would be smart of me to like go through and start studying vocabulary and stuff from future Chapitres in order to have a head start, because we're going to be moving extremely fast to get three months' work done in one and a half month's time, and at least this way it would help it be less rushed for me. Plus, I need to keep my French up somehow in the next two months.

What's so nice though is now I get to devote for the next... oh what is it now, 25 days, intensive Italian studying, but I also can finally get back into progressing in German.

I'm still awaiting the final itinerary for this trip, they said it should be coming shortly after the beginning of May. I'm so curious as to what we'll exactly be doing, because we only had a really rough itinerary when we got our acceptances. I also eventually have to book the accommodations in Rome, but when my mother is ready to, since she's generously paying for it. I really appreciate that too.

I remember a month back when I told this one German professor at USF who I used to talk quite often to until he shot down my aspirations at every turn (including applying to Georgetown, which is a story I'll perhaps touch on at another time) asked me about where I was staying while in Rome. He had previously suggested I stay in a monestary. I thanked him for the suggestion. Anyway, when he asked where I was staying and I mentioned the great deals on some fantastic hotels in Rome, he started flipping out on me, saying I didn't even consider what he said, and he called me a "spoiled rotten American brat"

To this I took great offense. Neither I nor my family are rich by any means. We live comfortably, but with limitations. In other words, we're middle class. I don't see how pretending you're poor and subjecting yourself to staying in crappy hotels makes the experience better. I'm a very strong proponent of not surrounding yourself in luxury all the time, because you experience a lot when you have a diverse travel experience, but I mean heck, my travel experiences are indeed diverse. I've lived in Jamaica as a normal Jamaican does, and I've experienced with it all the joys of third-world living; meaning coping with power outages and taking a bath in a huge shower/tub in my stepdad's father's house, but with a tub of water because the water service was down. When we moved to Florida, we had only one car, which my stepfather had to use for work, so when I got the flu one hot September day I had to walk the mile and a half home with my mother, vomiting along the way and shivering like crazy.

I don't think it's fair to judge someone like that when you don't know their past. And the scorn he had in his voice was just disgusting. So needless to say, I really haven't been in a rush to talk to him anytime soon. That's what happens when you flap your mouth around freely without knowing someone too well. I enjoy a very comfortable life by many means, I always try and remember people that have it worse off, (but of course it's always easier to be jealous of someone with more.) But I don't know why people feel the need to judge like that.

And to his remark about not being able to experience taking a cold shower in Italy, I just merely responded "no, I take those daily at home"




Tuesday, April 26, 2005

Ventotto Giorni...


Firenze Posted by Hello

To keep myself motivated for learning Italian (like I wasn't motivated enough) perhaps I should post a different picture of Italy a day, each day for the remaining 28 days until I step foot on the plane to get out of Tampa... No, that would be excessive, but once every few days may work.

I've gone from feeling so overburdened to feeling accomplished, having managed to get my two scholarship essays done this afternoon, reviewed a lesson of Pimsleur Italian I, briefly reviewed some French vocabulary, and just now sat down and finished a page composition en français. I'm really looking forward to the day when I can pound out a document in French as fast as I can in English. All told, at the moment it takes me about a good 35 minutes to get a really well done page in French, because I still don't have all the vocabulary I always need, nor am I completely sure all the time on proper structure. The big thing seems to be when to use en, dans, and à for places and when to use en for dates. But whatever, I'll figure it out (but if any of you French speakers want to advise, feel free...) Today what hung me up was spending ten minutes on French Google trying to find a map so I could find the correct French names of Caribbean islands.

I have to say, I get so jealous when I read these other sites and blogs online of expatriate students living abroad in like Paris or Austria or wherever. They're in the middle of city life, which I just love, and they're living abroad, which I have always wanted to do again since living in Jamaica (and this time actually being able to live in a country where the water and electricity operate 24/7)

It's going to be extremely new to me, going to a non-Anglophone country. I've traveled internationally before, but since most islands, save for the handful of Spanish speaking and Francophone ones, are Anglophone, I've never had the opportunity to leave my Anglophone bubble. It's going to be so great, I'm really looking forward to it! I just hope I don't choke when it comes to speaking Italian, but even if I do the first few times, by the time I'm on my own in Rome I should actually be able to break out of my self-imposed shell, which should help me in all my languages.

Speaking of which, I need to book my reservations for my hotel in Rome for the three days I'm adding on. I think I know where I'm staying, not quite sure yet though. But it has a fantastic rating, and I'm so appreciative my parents don't mind paying for it. I'm actually more interested in seeing where I'll be staying the ten days we're in the group... they stress it's budget. I'm not complaining, as long as it's clean. I've never seen anything quite like Italian hotels though. Maybe they do it elsewhere as well, but you never see hotel rooms in the United States that cram four twin beds in there! Actually, I saw one hotel online in Rome that squeezes four DOUBLE beds in one room. Eight people in a room...

I'm going to see if I can figure out enough in advance on how to post pictures to my blog via my cell phone, so you can get a wonderfully high quality shot each day! Actually, the shot I sent Kim from Disney back in December that she posted on our other blog came out excellent. I was surprised!

I was thinking also, I need to really buy a book I can actually read and enjoy for entertainment instead of purely for factual basis, which is like all I've read since college has started... Back in high school at least the assigned readings in English class were enjoyable novels (my last novel I actually read was back in January 2004 when we finished Agatha Christie's And Then There Were None) I was thinking of the DaVinci Code because everyone except me seems to have read it, including a friend of mine who I've never seen pick up a book in his life. And he read it in one day. Is it really that good? I guess I'll have to judge for myself!

I also reminded myself last night I need to make more time for entertaining myself. Sometimes I honestly need to just relax and laugh, because if I don't my mind just keeps churning at like a mile a minute in my head. So I watched my Saturday Night Live Best of Will Ferrell Vol. 1 DVD (Volume 2 comes later this week) Oh good times. My favorite recurring sketch continues to be the Culps which he did with Ana Gasteyer... the singing middle school music teachers. Oh god, it's hilarious.

While I'm in DVD mode, I was browsing Amazon and I'm not quite sure what my next DVD purchase should be. If I go French it's between Amélie and Monsieur Ibrahim. But I really think I'll go Italian, in which case since I already own my all-time favorite Ladri di Biciclette (The Bicycle Thief) maybe I'll get La Dolce Vita... Decisions, decisions...

Oh and I also need to buy a travel guidebook for Italy. Amazon.com is going to be seeing a lot of my money in the next week or so...

Monday, April 25, 2005

So much to do...


Yet so little time... Posted by Hello

I had to take a minute out and just stop and gather myself back up for a moment. It seems, with this last week of classes before the Spring semester is over, that everything has fallen on my lap at once. I have so much to do, yet I never seem to have the time to do it.

Ironically, much of the stress is from my own doing. I make so much for myself to do. I mean I'm studying three languages for christ's sake. This shouldn't be stressful, it should be fun. Yet it has been a little, because I feel, particularly with Italian, that I'm racing against the clock to learn as much as possible, and to fit as much in my head as I can within the next month before I leave for Italy. Normally I go at a fun and leisurely pace. When I come back I can resume the leisurely pace, I tell myself.

I've been disappointed that I haven't had enough time so as to continue advancing in German, though I've at least reviewed regularly so that while I'm stationary, I'm not rolling backwards.

So it's kind of like a dual between Italian and French at the moment. I just need to remind myself that once the semester is over, and before I start Summer semester in July, I have two months to actually learn quite a bit in advance. So, with that in mind, it eases the pressure.

Actually, on top of all this I have two finish my application for a scholarship. Especially if I get into Georgetown, procuring as much outside financial aid as possible is a huge obligation. So I can't not apply for an opportunity staring me right in the face. This is for the National Italian American Foundation's scholarships, they give out a lot, actually. I didn't win last year (but in a nice side effect because I did apply and get on their lists, that's how I found out about their scholarship for their Italy program, which I was fortunate enough to be chosen for)

So I have to write two essays for that now too.

I guess what I'm going to have to do is take off now tomorrow. It serves little to no purpose for me to make the commute down to Tampa to sit in a class where I won't learn anything anyway. The only reason I go anymore has been French and the gym. And I can miss shoulder and traps day this week if it means spending one day to actually get everything done and get AHEAD of the game.

Thank God this is the last week, because it really has annoyed me that I have to go, sit in classes where I don't learn anything pertinent at all, when I can spend the time learning things on my own that interest me and are of use to me.

So yes, that means today (when I wake up in oh, seven hours) I get to start work on a French composition, 25 pages of mon cahier d'exercices, two essays for the scholarship, squeezing in like an hour and a half of Italian as well, and perhaps getting French vocabulary and German review in too.

And that's on top of making time to just enjoy myself for at least an hour tomorrow, so my mind doesn't implode.

I sometimes wish I could just press a button and stop the progress of time for a while while I catch up with everything... Like in that movie, what was its name... Timestoppers or something (no, I didn't see it)

En moment je vais me couche... Je suis très fatigué...

Tuesday, April 19, 2005

My Inner European...

Your Inner European is Italian!



Passionate and colorful.
You show the world what culture really is.

Monday, April 18, 2005

Hoje é dia não para mim...


This is probably the only bizarre thing that has yet to happen to me while driving... Posted by Hello

If there's one thing that really ruins my day, it's the drive I have to make every day, four days a week, down to Tampa.

In the 50 minutes (and it always takes EXACTLY 50 minutes, no matter how fast or slow I seem to drive) it takes from my driveway to the entrance to USF I wind up nearly getting in at least one or two accidents. This has ranged from a deranged old man chasing after me in his Ford Crown Victoria for 30 miles on the Suncoast Parkway, flashing his brights at me the entire way for no reason whatsoever, or some idiot who never checks their side mirrors suddenly, without warning, deciding to merge into my lane... as I'm driving right alongside them. And you have to love the people who zip in and out of lanes without signals. I'm an expert and knowing when someone is going to change lanes without a signal. Call it clairvoyance from experience.

The thing that reallllly gets under my skin though are these people who insist on driving in the left lane 10 mph UNDER the speed limit. It's bad enough when they do this in the right lane, but when it's a two lane road and the person on the right is going slow and you're stuck behind a piece of junk that's driving 35 mph in a 50, that's incredibly irritating. Even more irritating still when they cause you to miss a traffic light, where you then have to sit behind the scrap heap for 5 minutes, as black smoke belches out the exhaust. Sitting in the car in the Florida sun with no air conditioning on so as to prevent the smoke from entering the cabin, it's not very pretty. We're the fourth most populated state in the country, yet we don't have emissions tests.

Honestly, I wish I had a car like Queen Latifah's taxi in the movie aptly named Taxi (and where the above picture comes from...) Just hit a turbo boost and go speeding by cops and everyone.

Maybe one day we'll all have FLYING cars like on the Jetsons. That would be cool.

The most amusing sight for me, and this is something exclusive to the South, are these people who just abandon their old cars on the side of the highway. Every day driving to or from Tampa, I pass at least two or three cars on the Suncoast Parkway, abandoned for someone else to tow away, collecting a bunch of bright red citations. One car stayed there for an entire week before someone moved it.

I used to love to drive, now it's become a living hell. I knew I was a city boy. Yes, taking the train or the metro and then walking seems a lot more appealing to me.

Well, in other news, today I registered for summer and fall classes, though if all goes according to my plans hopefully I won't be worrying about fall. But no matter, I always have said that the worst thing you can ever do is take something for granted. Therefore, I made sure I set myself up with some great classes for both Summer and Fall. Here it is, for all of you who are oh so curious to know as to what I will be enriching my mind with the remainder of this year:

Summer Semester B (July into early August)
  • French II- and I have this four days a week from 09:00-11:45, so it's going to be intense. I like to move quickly though. And it's great to be done with Beginning French by August.

Fall Semester 2005:

  • French III
  • French Conversation I
  • Introduction to Linguistics
  • International Issues and Actors

Yes, I'm sure to those of you who know me well, my schedule seems fitting. It's nice because I have French III and French Conversation I on MWF one following the other. I also am looking forward to Intro to Linguistics, should I be there to take it. At least, as I said, if I don't wind up in Washington, DC this fall, I'll have classes I really will enjoy.

Though then I'll still have that commute...

Sunday, April 17, 2005

Écrire avec élégance...


The language has come a long way... Posted by Hello

If there's one thing that bothers me when it comes to written literature, it's the stuff that sounds so overdone that it reeks of heavy thesaurus usage. People seem to think that by throwing in tons of fancy adjectives it makes the paper elegant. Meanwhile all it does, especially if you don't know what you're doing, is make it look like someone's trying too hard.

I've seen so many examples of people doing this, sometimes with saccharine sweet, teeth gritting results. I won't forget one time, coming across this thank you letter au doyen de la fac honneurs that still stands out in my mind as someone who just was trying too much to sound educated that it made this person look like a fool. Every other word was a huge adjective, yet the sentences were incredibly short. People who kiss the proverbial derriere is drive me insane to begin with, but it was so ridiculous to read, and what was more, le directeur thought it was so worthy of people's attention he posts it online for everyone to see.

Williams describes in Lesson 9 of the book Style: Ten Lessons in Clarity and Grace the art of elegant writing. None of the points mentioned included confounding placement of huge words. Instead, he emphasizes the careful balance of words, to create a flow. My favorite new literary tool is the chiasmus, which is derived from the Greek word for crossing. In prose, the chiasmus balances two parts out, in an AB:BA pattern.

I have to be honest, when it comes to my own writing I just write. I don't think of "ooh, did I employ chiasmus here," or "I really should use some balanced coordination over there. However, the point I've taken away from the lessons in this book that you can employ to writing in any language, not just English, is that most of these things come with time and revision. You're not supposed to think of this while you write, you look to these elements to improve your paper when it's being edited.

It's always amazed me how different written language can be from spoken colloquial language. I know I talk in a far more relaxed manner than I write. But I've come across amusing individuals, I guess they think that talking like a robot, avoding contractions at all costs and using every huge word they have stored in their head, makes them seem smarter than they really are. Whenever you hear someone talk like they're writing a thesis, you can just turn your mind off right there, lest you loose it (your mind, that is, or your patience, whichever comes first!)

By the way, it's amazing how specific you have to be when searching images on Google. I type in "elegance" and I got, well let's just say I got images that weren't quite what I was looking for in keeping with the theme of this particular post!

Saturday, April 16, 2005

Getting Acquainted


Cinque Terre, in the Italian Riviera Posted by Hello

Well, yesterday the NIAF head organizer for the trip to Italy I'm going on in May sent everyone in the group a list of each other's emails, as well as creating a Yahoo board so we can all get acquainted, exchange Facebooks and AIM names and such.

It really has alleviated any nervousness I had been experiencing of not knowing anyone. Everyone has been incredibly nice (I mean none of us know each other, so we're all in the same boat) And what's fascinating is the wide spectrum of people that are going. There's a guy from Harvard, a girl who's a member of a rock band in Texas, a lifeguard from California; people who have traveled extensively and speak other languages, including Italian (one guy is fluent in Italian) and then many who haven't even left the United States.

I think I'm probably going to be one of the youngest people on the trip, at 18. Though I'm not at all bothered by this, because I never have paid much attention to age. The youngest is probably going to be this girl, who I have yet to meet, who was born in 1987, meaning she either just turned 18 or is still 17.

I also am so excited because I had no idea, first of all, that one of the cities we're going to be spending a lot of time in, La Spezia, is actually part of the Italian Riviera. Provincia Liguria, which along with Tuscany is the other provice we're going to be seeing, is part of the Italian Riviera. I also didn't know that we're going to be going outside of La Spezia to famous Riviera spots like Cinque Terre (pictured above). Don't worry, I had no idea where Cinque Terre or La Spezia were before this trip myself!

I still have to finalize plans for the three days I'm adding onto my trip. I'm planning on just staying in Rome, since there's so much to see and do there, and going and staying in Florence or Milan or something would be so far out of the way, since I have to return anyway to fly home from Rome. However, many others are doing this, including one lucky girl who's going to Sicily. But I'm throwing some coins into the Trevi Fountain while I'm there, so I make sure I return, to Rome at least! I do plan on perhaps going to visit my Italian relatives in Campobasso, a small city in the center of Italy. I need to get in contact and make plans regarding that. From Rome, by train it takes about 2.5 hours.

I'm definitely excited!

Monday, April 11, 2005

Everyone Gets a Turn


Searching for their piece of the American Dream Posted by Hello

In the United States, we currently at the moment have been having a long and serious debate about immigration, particularly that of illegal immigrants that frequently come from Mexico. Just last week, a group of armed citizen volunteers that call themselves the Minutemen (after the Revolutionary War colonial troops, for a patriotic touch) started patrolling the Arizona border with Mexico, as this is the most easily violated border in the Southern United States now that California pretty much walled theirs shut.

Illegal immigration is a huge problem. However, it's wrong to paint the Mexicans in particular in a certain light. Many do indeed come here illegally, and there are a portion who can't work and just seem to drain our national services like healthcare and education. However, a good portion do jobs that any naturalized American citizen, especially a native-born white, would never touch. Even if they WERE unemployed, I want to see a former GM factory employee go into a field in California and start picking strawberries and tomatoes.

That strays from the point I'm aiming for. Not only are illegal immigrants looked down upon, but it is an unfortunate fact, and has been since the founding of this country, that immigrants of any stripe are looked down upon and discriminated against. Legal or not.

Everyone gets a turn...

It seems that each group has had to endure a painful initiation process into American society before two or so generations pass and the group's children are considered as American as the original Anglo-Saxon WASP community. First came the Germans, whose descendents now constitute the largest ancestral group in the United States. The real wave started with the Irish Catholics who came over during the mid-1800s. Immediately facing racism and de facto segregation, the Irish were characitured as being dirty, looking like monkeys, and had difficulty getting jobs. "No Irish Need Apply" was such a common refrain that it was made into a song.

During the early 1900s, the main groups to come over were Jews and other Eastern Europeans, particularly Poles, and Italians. Again, they all got to endure a painful process of hate and resentment from the native born Americans.

Being that my ancestry itself is so diverse, and it includes Italian, German, and Irish lineage among others (French, Dutch, and Scottish rounding it off) I have personal stake, and I've studied and heard many stories of the discrimination my earliest ancestors experienced, particularly the Italians.

My great-great grandmother, at the age of 7, had to work in a sweatshop making clothes in New York City's Garment District. What she and countless other Italians had to do back then was the backbreaking dirty work no native born American would do.

Doesn't that sound familiar?

And yet in return, each group faced glaring eyes and cries of suspicion and hate. In time, what I have found to be the most disturbing, is that the very descendents of these immigrants have become as bad as the earliest American WASPs who discriminated against their own ancestors. How quickly we forget, right?

When you stop and consider that the "Mexicans" you mock at the corner, who mow your lawn or build the new skyscraper downtown, or are paving the new road, consider that at one time it's very possible your own ancestor did the same thing. Yet, because we all forget history so easily, we forget where we all came from, and so this cycle just continues.

It seems that in the United States, in most countries in fact, the newest immigrant group gives the old one a break, in a changing of the guard where the new one takes over as the society's whipping boy until other hopefuls come along. Everyone definitely gets their turn, don't they?


Wednesday, April 06, 2005

J'ai mon nouveau passeport!


Came pretty quickly too... Posted by Hello

I've never seen a branch of the US Government work so quickly, but today, exactly four days from having submitted my application to the US State Department, I got my new passport in the mail.

I go out to the mailbox this afternoon and pull out this long white envelope emblazoned in the corner with "Official US Government Mail" I, being oh so quick, immediately think "Oh my God, what did I do??" It never even dawned on me until I opened the envelope that it would be my passport.

I also got back my old one, from 1994, which I had to submit for processing purposes. They took good care of it, I must say, though it now has two punched holes in the front cover and on the signature page there's a big red stamp that says "CANCELLED: NEW APPLICATION" If I showed up to the airport and presented it, with a picture of myself from 1994 when I was 7 years old, I somehow don't think they would have let me pass by... at least for the sake of national security I would hope not. You never know...

The State Department has changed the passport quite a bit in the 10 years time between my fist and this one. Now they digitally impose your picture onto the inside cover, instead of before when they used to laminate it on. They also now have all these new holographic things on the inside cover, like what they put on all the new money.

And the biggest change is language. The old US passports used to come in English with French, because French is la langue diplomatique. But now, to keep up with the times, there's a third language. Bet you can't guess what it is!

Si, Español.

In actual news, it seems that Americans and everyone in the Western Hemisphere who wishes to travel here will need a passport soon, because the US government has set a new measure where by 2008 everyone entering the country must present a current passport, including to our border with Canada.

This only applies for re-entry to the United States, because Immigration doesn't stamp it when you depart, only for arrivals. It used to be acceptable to travel to Canada, Mexico, the Caribbean, etc. with a birth certificate and photo ID, including an old passport.

I like the idea, because if you're going to spend billions to ramp up security measures, yet allow entry to the country from other Western Hemisphere countries to be as easy as showing a birth certificate and driver's license, it seems like a waste. Anyone who plans to travel abroad should make the investment and get a passport, I think. Even if now they DID raise the price to $97... those thieves! But, on the bright side, it's good for 10 years. So I get to present this slightly cockeyed photo of myself to Immigration Officials worldwide until April 1, 2015... I mean I'm generally pleased enough with the picture, but it figures of the two they put in the one where I'm looking a little sideways... I'm actually beginning to think the people at the passport offices must get their kicks looking at the assortment of passport photos people send in with their applications.

Tuesday, April 05, 2005

God Save the Queen!


Queen Elizabeth II Posted by Hello

After speaking the language for 18 years, and learning how to write in it for probably 14 or 15 of those, it's kind of amazing how much you can still continue to learn. If you look at it the wrong way, you could throw your arms up in frustration, say "I'll never get it right!" and quit trying. But nobody is the perfect writer, and like any skill, it takes practice to improve. As you'll see shortly, no one is safe from crafting a confusing sentence...

Learning how to compose a good sentence is harder than it looks. Too many people try to get around complexity by writing sentences that read like "See Spot run. Spot runs fast." A well crafted, complex, orderly sentence needs to flow, while at the same time maintaining the clarity and coherence of a simple sentence. I've come across sentences that can run nearly as long as a paragraph in itself.

Williams offers some good examples in his book, Style, Ten Lessons in Clarity and Grace, which I have previously mentioned. In lesson eight he writes about shape of the sentence, including the proper use of modifiers and clauses. It seems that the good people ove at The Herald Sun, a British newspaper, could use to read Williams' book.

What follows is an example of bad sentence coordination in a complex sentence, and also lends itself to a bit of comedy (or horrible prophecy... in which case I hope Her Majesty was duly informed...)


Royal bride to be Camilla Parker Bowles will officially become British queen after fiancé prince Charles takes the throne…Parker Bowles is to marry Prince Charles , who will take the throne once his mother Queen Elizabeth dies, on April 8th…

While not a dangling modifier, it is closely related to the confusion that results when one writes without regard for how it will be taken. It's SUPPOSED to say "on April 8th Camilla Parker Bowles is to marry Prince Charles, who will take the throne once his mother, Queen Elizabeth, dies."Or something like that.

Nevertheless, this just proves there are people in all professions, of all levels of intellgience, and of all ages who exemplify the need to continue to refine our writing.

That, or those guys at The Herald Sun might be trying to give Nostradamus a run for his money...

Friday, April 01, 2005

Those Little Oval Stickers...


Hmm, where was I when this craze hit? Posted by Hello

Apparently I must have been sleeping for the past four years à la Rip van Winkle, because those little oval Euro decal stickers you see everywhere apparently have been popular since 2001. Though I swear I only noticed them about 8 months ago. Maybe the trend took longer to get to Florida, who knows.

Anyway, since I started noticing them, I've noticed these things everywhere. Maybe you have one on your own car.

I had no idea until I looked it up online how crazy it had gotten. I thought these were only made for countries (GB, NL, D, I, etc) but apparently the situation had been hijacked quickly and turned into advertisements for cheap tourist destinations here in the US. Now you can personalize one putting whatever incomprehensible abbreviation you want on it. Like it wasn't bad enough trying to decode people's vanity plates right?

I think the original ones for the countries are still really cool, since it's akin to Euro import car lovers who buy those German replica plates to put on the front ends of their VWs and Audis.

These little oval stickers in fact orginated in Europe as a mandatory badge EU citizens had to put on their cars before the EU nations went over to putting the citizen's nationality on the plate along with the EU star wreath emblem. So they're no longer used. Instead of having to plop a big NL on your car to say you're a citizen of the Netherlands, it's now conveniently located on your tag. Looks a lot better too. I must say, the yellow color in use in Britain, France, and the Netherlands (and other EU nations but these are the ones I know of) are quite an attention getter. Germany, the biggest car loving country of them all, has much more eye pleasing plates.

I just want to know then where the heck I've been if these things have been around for so long.

Well, the stickers have served one useful purpose: they give you something to think about as you try and decode the cryptic message on the back of the Windstar in front of you while in gridlock...