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When my daughter Christina got to law school in Philadelphia, she wanted a kitten. She got one from a friend’s parents in upper Pennsylvania, who already had 17 rather inbred cats. She named it Chairman Meow and true to its name it was dominant, vocal, demanding and was a voracious eater. Christina often commented that it’s full button appeared to be broken. When she returned for her first visit back to California, she took her kitty to a cat boarding facility in Philly. Upon announcing its name, they calmly informed her that her animal was the 11th such feline they had boarded with the name Chairman Meow. She was crestfallen.

Chairman2

I think everyone who names a pet tries to go for something unique and descriptive. Secretly many are hoping their pet will be the next Grumpy Cat. Many are looking for that one name that will help their pet capture the imagination of the masses, cat-apult their cat to stardom and maybe even lead to some form of monetization. Thus the rise of the evil dictator cat names, the Chairman Meows, the Kitlers, the Pussalinis, the Catsros and even the Meowseph Stalins. It has been noted that dogs have masters but that cats have servants. So before you decide to name your cat after an evil dictator, try and decide whether you want to be your cat’s servant or possibly its slave.

Kitler

When it comes to our present election season, it seems there are a lot of cats vying for power. How about Hillary Kitten, Gato Rubio or Purrney Sanders? When it comes to Trump, what seems to work is “Clump” but I wouldn’t want to litter your mind with any bathroom humor. People may point out that someone with a feline disposition already has a huge influence in the White House…could that be Meowchelle Obama? You Cat to be Kitten Meow as we say in our house!!!!

Truth is one of the human race’s first tasks in the Garden of Eden was naming the animals. It seems like Adam had no problem coming up with appropriate names. I mean elephant, cheetah and hippopotamus all seem to fit. I think since eating from that tree, our skills seem to have deteriorated. A Google search of cat names yielded such choices as Catastrofee, Jaspurr and MeowColm X. When it comes to going celebrity in our cat naming one can only begin to cringe. How about Catrick Swayze, Brad Kitt, Fuzz Lightyear and Leonardo Dicatprio.

Bottom line is we need cats that are appropriately named and that we can live with for four, eight or 14 years to come. One tip that may help you in making a good choice and enable you to be more like Adam in the Garden is just to name what you see. Christina bought Chairman Meow home and dumped her (in a weak parental moment) with her unsuspecting parents. She then went back for a second year in law school and found another inbred Pennsylvania kitten. This time she just named what she saw and got Patchy.

Patchy2

Patchy or Patch Patch, as we call her, has the most pitiful meow and is skinny as a rake. She has none of the dictatorial tendencies of Chairman. A look at the top 100 most popular cat names on cuteness.com reveals that this “name what you see” strategy may truly work. In those top 100 you get names like Oreo, Mittens, Ginger, Boots, Snickers, Rusty and Socks. So the moral of the story is to be careful how you name your next kitten or leader. You may just get what you choose.

This Facebook posting tonight just begged to be put into a blog. It jogs my early memories as a child growing up in South Africa. Those radio commercials were always so confusing (we didn’t get TV until 1976). Well things aren’t much different here in California a generation later and a continent removed as one Dad posted the following:

“I’m watching TV with my boys and a commercial comes on. I was really not paying attention to what the commercial is all about until one said “dad what’s a reptile dysfunction?” Well at this point I became very much aware of what the commercial is about THEN the even bigger question was asked. “How does one catch it? and if you get it do you turn into a reptile?” I am very proud of my answer to this very awkward question. I said, “Son, you have nothing to be concerned about because kids your age don’t turn into reptiles.” AWKWARD!!!”

Talk about confusing, I don’t think many adults appreciate how befuddling some of our commercial messaging can be. I even have a hard time following the logic. Just regarding the commercial being referenced here, can someone explain how a product promoting intimacy and a cure for reptile dysfunction has two people in separate bath tubs holding hands watching a sunset outside? It seems like this product would only really work if they ended up in the same bath tub and hopefully one larger and more private than those narrow single bathtubs out in a field? I digress. I’m just trying to point out that if these ads are confusing to even us adults, just imagine what they are to kids.

I mean look at those pharmaceutical commercials showing some tablet that’s supposed to help you to sleep or that has some other supposed benefit. As you watch it, they often show smiling people playing in slow motion with their children or grandchildren. All this fun stuff is happening while the announcer rattles off all the horrific side effects, often including “death” or how about that lady with the elephant on her chest? Think how a kid would interpret that image.

My childhood in South Africa was filled with such confusions, chief of which was how Santa’s sleigh was somehow going to make it to our home in 104 degree heat as we singed on the other side of the earth in mid summer. One year when the gifts came late we were told it was because Santa’s sleigh had derailed on those rocks far in the distance. No wonder Rudolf’s nose was red, what with all that blazing African sun and all that rock crashing! But back to those confusing radio commercials. Ours in South Africa were for things like Black Cat Peanut Butter, two items that had nothing to do with each other or for the underarm deodorant MUM for Men!!! That commercial always ended with the question “hasn’t your Mum always looked after you?” Well of course she has but what has that got to do with stuff under your arms?

I close by inviting my readers to give what your answer might have been if your boy asked you “what’s reptile dysfunction and how does one catch it?” Remember you only have 8 seconds to think before giving an answer and please no snake references!!! Also what was your most confusing commercial as a child?…Have fun sharing your insights and memories!!!

Just this past weekend I was contemplating how confusing it must be for foreigners to grasp the nuances of the English language. We have certain rules but sometimes the exceptions to the rule comprise a longer list than the rule itself. Take a word like “bear,” which can mean a large fuzzy animal, a verb (to grin and bear it) or pronounced the same it can mean a cupboard is empty or a naked person. There are literally thousands of such confusions in the English language. I also lived for three years in Germany and understand a little of the precise manner in which the Germans view everything. When they follow a rule, they really actually follow it. It was therefore hilarious to me to read the following attempt by the Europeans to fix the problems in the English language in order to make it, instead of German, usable on the continent – enjoy:

Euro-English Instead of German

The European Union commissioners have announced that agreement has been reached to adopt English as the preferred language for European communications, rather than German, which was the other possibility.

As part of the negotiations, Her Majesty’s Government conceded that English spelling had some room for improvement and has accepted a five-year phased plan for what will be known as Euro-English (Euro for short). In the first year, ‘s’ will be used instead of the soft ‘c’. Sertainly, sivil servants will resieve this news with joy. Also, the hard ‘c’ will be replaced with ‘k.’ Not only will this klear up konfusion, but typewriters kan have one less letter.

There will be growing publik enthusiasm in the sekond year, when the troublesome ‘ph’ will be replaced by ‘f’. This will make words like ‘fotograf’ 20 per sent shorter.

In the third year, publik akseptanse of the new spelling kan be expekted to reach the stage where more komplikated changes are possible. Governments will enkourage the removal of double letters, which have always ben a deterent to akurate speling. Also, al wil agre that the horible mes of silent ‘e’s in the languag is disgrasful, and they would go.

By the fourth year, peopl wil be reseptiv to steps such as replasing ‘th’ by ‘z’ and ‘W’ by ‘V’. During ze fifz year, ze unesesary ‘o’ kan be dropd from vords kontaining ‘ou’, and similar changes vud of kors; be aplid to ozer kombinations of leters.

After zis fifz yer, ve vil hav a reli sensibl riten styl. Zer vil b no mor trubls or difikultis and evrivun vil find it ezi tu understand ech ozer. Ze drem vil finali kum tru.