Sign(s) of the Times

Karen and I watched the James Brooks movie Spanglish last night together. The movie explores a multitude of relationships, but the overall joke is how the Spanish-speaking mother struggles to learn English over the course of the movie.

Karen began telling me how her niece Rebecca LOVES the cartoon Dora the Explorer. Apparently the little girl is getting pretty adept at speaking Spanish just from watching cartoons. We both laughed and said these cartoons should have been around when I was growing up and I would have never failed Spanish class. Things are so much better now. If I had Bob the Builder as a kid, my house would be so much nicer because I would know how to use all those tools in my garage collecting dust.

And what's up with the ice cream truck merrily rolling though my neighborhood each night at 6:30 with the annoying "Hello!" jingle? I never had that luxury when I was a kid. If I wanted a popsicle or an ice cream, I had to open up the freezer or wait to be taken to Friendlys for a special treat. I never just had it delivered right to my front door with such occasion.

These days kids have it too good and I feel like such an old person for saying it. They learn sign language in daycare so they can demand a cookie, can speak Spanish by the age of three from cartoons and expect cell phones by the fifth grade for their growing social web. The only way I could communicate in elementary school was to figure out how to fold those maddening origami- type things to ask questions if a boy liked me and depending on how many snaps of the paper, well--you get the picture. Today it's all about text messaging and ring-tones.

As Dora might say by the time she reaches the tender age of 35, "Soy tan viejo"

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  1. At Quinsig, we have a very diverse, multi-cultural and multi-lingual (occasionally barely lingual) population--particularly in our Facilities crew. Last night, there was a little Fawlty-Towers-esque vaudeville routine broadcast over the radio featuring the head of the Facilities crew and one of his mostly Spanish-speaking minions. It started as a fairly simple request to empty a trash receptacle in Parking Lot 1 next to the emergency sign--not something usually found in the Spanish-English phrase book. A-la Manuel, the minion simply asked, "Que?" and the head kept repeating the request in English only slower, more pronounced and louder. Strangely, that didn't seem to function as a translation for our Spanish-speaking friend. Before the radio conversation could degenerate into the head adding an "O" to the end of every word, Public Safety chimed in with one of our truly bi-lingual folk telling Manuel Mark II what the head Spanish. It pays to watch those children's programs--especially if you want to get your baskets emptied! :)