Tag Archives: communication

Finally it begins to make sense

first man in space

I read somewhere recently the efforts to teach sign language to great apes since the 1970s gave a lot of them vocabularies large enough to allow IQ tests. The lowest a mountain gorilla ever scored was 97. Smarter than a lot of people. And I read somewhere else there’s only a 1% difference between the DNA of a chimp and that of a human being.

All of which suggests to me there might be sub-species of human beings, not quite human but not different enough to identify as an entirely different species. Politicians, genetic engineers, Wall Street bankers, CEOs of multi-national corporations, along with Hitler, Stalin et al might finally be explained that way.

I’d never considered the possibility aristocrats might be merely close relations to human beings without actually crossing the great divide to become human.  That maybe they’re just a smidgen of lifetimes behind on the reincarnation trail, sniffing along trying to catch up, but getting distracted by the fire hydrants others among them peed on as they struggled to gain humanhood.

Sorry, Wrong Number.

I don’t get many phone calls here, so a few days ago when the phone rang and a male voice with an accent said something I didn’t understand about ‘technical support’ and ‘your computer’ I kept listening a moment.  But other than those two phrases I couldn’t cypher out a word he was saying.

Excuse me.  I can’t understand what you’re saying.  What do you want?”

Another long string of words including the two phrases, unintelligible.  My hearing isn’t all that it might be.  I can’t understand what store clerks or waiters are saying half the time when I’m in town, so I nod yes, or no, as the mood strikes me and take my chances.

But this guy had something to say that might be important, and he called to say it.  Seemed prudent to me to focus my iron will and patience on the job of knowing what it was.  I tried several possibilities.

After I’d interrupted him three or four times asking him to speak more clearly, more slowly, though, he said, “Never mind.”  Spang broke the connection.

I’m reasonably certain the man was in India.  I shot a couple of phrase of Gujarati at him I remembered from Peace Corps training and he shot some back at me I couldn’t understand any better than I understood his English.

Remembering it, I recalled a story I read a while back online:

A PACKED commuter train sped hundreds of kilometres across India in the wrong direction before passengers finally realised it was pulling into an unfamiliar station.

The train left the southern town of Tirupati on Wednesday for the eastern city of Bhubaneswar, where it was due to swing north to its eventual destination of Varanasi, a city in northeastern India, The Times of India reported today.

But bewildered passengers noticed something was amiss yesterday when it chugged into Warangal – a central Indian city on an entirely different route some 980km west of its intended stop at Bhubaneswar.

The express train had managed to cross three of India’s railway divisions and travel hundreds of miles without anyone noticing it had lost its way, The Times reported.

The mistake was believed to have arisen because it was given an incorrect destination code, compounded by the fact it was a special service and many of the staff were unfamiliar with the route.


By hindsight, I don’t know whether the guy thought he was talking to someone in the US, Australia, or the UK.  I can’t for the life of me form an opinion about whether he knew something about my computer it was important I know, or wanted to tell some train pilot in New Zealand he was going backwards and another one was coming at him 90 miles an hour the other way.

This brave new world’s getting a bit complex for a 20th Century man.

Old Jules


Today on Ask Old Jules:   Old Jules, what scripture do you use most in helping you fight your demons?

The Ask Old Jules Blog

Jeanne’s migrating the Ask Old Jules feature from Facebook to a blog to be linked to this one.  For those of you who aren’t familiar with the Facebook thing, here’s what it’s all about.

Several years ago I used to amuse myself between doing other things by answering questions on a Question/Answer site.  Over the years I somehow managed to build up 13,000 answers to every sort of question imaginable, many of which were inappropriate or off-the-wall enough to forever have them banning me from the site.

I’d send them an apology promising never to do it again, they’d restore my membership, and in no time at all some pencil-necked stuffed-up questioner would report me again and get me banned.  But while all this was going on, Jeanne was religiously copying and pasting the stuff, saving it for her own incomprehensible reasons.

When this blog came to being and nobody was reading it Jeanne decided to use some of the more inane Q/As in her files on Facebook to point people towards the blog.  But a lot of the Q/As were too long to post on Facebook, so eventually the choice was to drop them entirely, or to continue them on a blog.

She’s been working like an illegal alien or some foreigner setting it up, putting some of her art work as headers, generally creating a pleasant blog site.  Her thought is that people reading it might wish to participate by asking questions there.  I welcome any avenue providing me more opportunities along the lifelong journey of discovery to discover what I think.  Especially in an environment where I’m less likely to be banned than was the case in that other Q/A thing.

So beginning February 1st the Ask Old Jules blog will be up and running.  A link will show up in the blogroll. All the old archives from the whatchacallit, Facebook one, will also be stored there if you want to have a look-see to get an idea what she was doing.

Old Jules

Note from Jeanne: Posts here on So Far From Heaven will continue as usual when Old Jules and WordPress are cooperating with each other.
At this time posts are scheduled on Ask Old Jules for Wednesdays and Sundays. That might change depending on participation.  Comments are  welcome as usual, but if you ask a question, it might be used (without your name) as a new blog entry with an answer.
Shorter Ask Old Jules entries will still show up on Facebook from time to time.
And here’s some Leonard Cohen that I’m fond of, even if he’s not singing:

The Sawmill: Joys and Frustrations

One of the ways Gale makes money for himself is saw-milling mesquite.  There’s a guy with heavy equipment bulldozes cedar and mesquite off ranch land, and he pushes big mesquite off to the side instead of burning it.  We go pick it up in a trailer, haul it back here and stockpile it for cleaning up to be saw-milled.

These are mesquite boles waiting to be sold to a woodworker or for Gale to work them down into something tasteful and useful:

Here are a few larger ones stockpiled by the sawmill waiting for sawmilling.

But when Gale bought the sawmill he din’t actually have an enviable shelter to put it in.

We plotted, planned, watched and horse-traded when they were putting in new power poles to acquire enough for a new sawmill barn:

Even laid out the footprint for the new pole barn and got the holes drilled:

We’ve got the design put together by us two geniuses.  Those poles need to be measured and cut to length, then dragged over to be slid into the holes, set vertical, tamped into place, first off.  Then everything that doesn’t look like a pole barn needs to be removed from that airspace sitting there empty.

But the fact is, Gale’s an old guy.  Claims to be older than me even, by an imaginary year.  He’s got a bad hip and too many other things troubling him to have any business out there trying to do work ought to be reserved for a younger guy, namely me.  I can’t afford to be losing an old friend and the man who owns this place because of some silly notion he might have about getting out there doing any heavy lifting and sweating.

So that barn of the future’s been sitting there waiting to happen for a year now.

If I had my new truck running I’d be up there now, while they’re gone and can’t do anything about it, measuring and cutting those poles, dragging them somewhere they can become something better than what they are now.  I’d be getting those poles up pointing at the sky the way the Coincidence Coordinators intended when they delivered them.

All while they’re off in New Mexico at the Hatch Chili Festival doing what’s best they do and they do best.

It ain’t going to happen this time, because I don’t have anything to pull them with.  But that new truck’s going to be running next time they leave.

On the other hand, I think he might be edgy about me doing it.  They’ve both seen the things I’ve built, or am building down here:

White Trash Repairs: Throwing Down the Gauntlet

Thumbing Rides on Throwaways

News from the Middle of Nowhere

Disclaimer and apologies – I posted this accidentally when I went to save the draft.    But there’s been too much deleting of accidental posts here lately, so I’m leaving it up.

Old Jules

Learn a New Language with YouTube

Hi blogsters:

I rarely talk to young people, though I’ll confess to craftily observing them when I can, watching their interactions reflected in a plate-glass window, sneakily watching them at another table in a restaurant, trying to hear and understand what they’re saying.

The problem is, mostly I can’t understand what they’re saying.  As the years have progressed I’ve noticed that, even in convenience stores and fast-food joints I often can’t understand the simplest thing that’s being spoken.  I tilt my head, ask them to repeat, explain I’m a bit hard of hearing and ask them to repeat again, and finally usually give up and just smile and nod ‘yes’ if that seems it might be appropriate.

I don’t believe it’s entirely my hearing doing this.  I think there’s something new and different going on with language, but more importantly, inside the heads of people who sound as though words should be spoken through a mouth full of something, and really fast.

Mostly I don’t have a clue.  Frequently my curiosity taunts me.  I don’t know who these people are.  I don’t know what, nor how, they think.  To me it would be easy to merely mutter to myself, these kids are incredibly stupid, illiterate, and so whacked-out on television and public school brainwashing it’s a wonder they can function at all.

But I’m trying to insist to myself that the human race hasn’t truly devolved all that much in only a couple of generations.  These aren’t subhumans, though it would be easy to conclude they are, based on a lot of their mannerisms and behaviors in public.  I think these creatures probably think and feel, but that they don’t express those thoughts and feelings in ways that allow me to fathom them.

Enter, the blessing of YouTube.  When they aren’t too long, it rarely takes more than half-hour download on my dial-up.  But it’s a chance to actually decipher something one of those people thinks, feels and expresses, in a way that bypasses the mouth full of marbles and the speed with which the words come to the fore.  Once it’s downloaded it can be repeated until near-understanding arrives.

Old Jules

Steve Goodman– Talk Backwards [Edit: hope one of these links will work better]



(Cee Lo Green) “Fuck You” sign language performance

Note: Thanks to Monique Maes for her photo.