29 August 2008

Should we root or 'rowt'?

When Australians take journeys, they follow routes and they pronounce them 'roots'. It's widely understood that Australian men in particular are always looking for quick ones. Why then do so many Australians insist upon calling their networking devices 'rowters'? Are we really so infantile that we can't pronounce a perfectly decent word correctly without descending into toilet-humour titters? Surely the defence that 'it's just too embarrassing' is a pretty feeble one.

Then there's the oft-heard 'American pronunciation' defence. Interestingly, though, plenty of Americans do in fact use the British pronunciation, and no less authority than Merriam-Webster's Online Dictionary gives both pronunciations, but the British one first.

And of course, there is already a device pronounced 'rowter'. It's a woodworking tool, and its etymology is very different. So unless we are planning to carve channels in our networks, can't we just call them 'rooters' and get over it?

1 August 2008

Never bond with chickens

Late last year, junior brought home two chicks that had been incubated as a class experiment, and they grew into chickens in the backyard. They were extremely free-range, wandering the garden by day and sleeping in a tree by night. I started building a coop, but didn't persevere as they seemed content in the treetops and I am naturally poor at finishing things around the home that I start.

One of the chickens, an Ancona, was a capable flyer and displayed mind-boggling intelligence on several occasions, then crowned off the display of intelligence by escaping a few weeks ago never to be seen again. The other, a New Hampshire Red, stayed and, whilst not as bright, was nevertheless a friendly, almost affectionate bird with whom we have been bonding over the last several weeks.

But all that came to an end this morning when I found her brutally decapitated and distributed over the back lawn. Despite my creating sheltered accomodation for her in her tree, she still insisted on sheltering and laying at ground level, and something had found her there overnight and attacked her. Might have been a fox, but more likely a cat. A rather gruesome and depressing sight in itself, but also one that reminded me of the perils of bonding with animals. We're always told of the positive mental health outcomes of pets and animals, but like many people I create very strong attachments to creatures feline or feathered, and find myself inordinately affected by their loss and often guilt-ridden as a result of the things I might have done to prevent that loss.

Over many years of caring for pets, for one doesn't really 'own' them, I have had responsibility for couple of cats, a guinuea pig, a turtle, a rat, several fish and birds aplenty, including budgies, galahs, parakeets, African Grey parrots and a cockatiel. I remember each one fondly, but in each case was deeply impacted upon by their demise/loss/escape. Am I one of that plethora of people who bond with animals to avoid bonding with humans, or was Gandhi right when he said "The greatness of a nation and its moral progress can be judged by the way its animals are treated"?