Wednesday, January 30, 2008

A Second Chance at Life: Part 2

This is a short update to the previous post.  I encourage you to watch this video on MSNBC entitled Life after Dog Fighting.

I applaud MSNBC for being one of the first nationally syndicated media organizations to look at this issue from an objective perspective - both in their previous article and in this video - and really shed some light on the good nature of Pit Bull breed.  These dogs are the victims, not the problem.  The people at Best Friends Animal Sanctuary know that, and are going to incredible measures to make sure these animals are saved.  

Watch the video, look at their faces, look at their scars, and look into their eyes.  Do you see a monster?

If you blog, no matter what your topic might be, please post this video to your readership.  If you email, please send this link to your friends and family.  Please help spread this message in any way you can.  Please help make this message visible to as many people as possible.

Together (with the help of viral technology) we can, and will make a great change.

Monday, January 28, 2008

A Second Chance at Life

This morning, my wife kindly passed on an article posted on MSNBC regarding the dogs confiscated in the raid against former NFL quarterback, Michael Vic, and his underground dog fighting operation.  This is a must read, complete with a happy ending.

The story made my day.  It's good to know that the actions taken by all the good souls involved in this rescue effort have made an extraordinary difference.  Not only will the Pit Bulls from Vic's operation have a second chance at life with loving and responsible owners, but this example (because of  its high profile in the media) will serve as a catalyst to help change the public opinion surrounding this wonderful breed. 

My hope is that stories like this will also provoke legislatures to change the way they address the horrible trend of underground dog fighting - the solution thus far (and a poor one in my opinion) has been to pass breed specific legislation.

Vic will sit in jail for the next twenty-three months for his crimes. Had I been the judge and been permitted to deliver his sentence, it would've much longer.  I'm of the opinion that we should ban stupid people, not dogs.

Sunday, January 6, 2008

Ahh, Forget Sex

When I was young, my mother believed that my brother and I should experience other cultures. So, my senior year, our family applied for, and was accepted as a host family for international exchange students through Youth For Understanding (YFU).

Juan Pablo Sanchez Santacoloma came to live with us for a year from Bogota, Columbia.  Mom was right.  It was a great experience - we had some interesting challenges - but in the end, he became a member of our family.

Juan spoke no English when he arrived in the states.  That made things interesting.  Lesson learned from this?  If you truly want to learn to become fluent in a foreign tongue -- move.  Go immerse yourself in the language.  Immerse yourself in the culture.  Listen to the language every day. Go to school with people who speak it. That's what Juan did.  It worked.

The Christmas Party
Around the holidays, my mother and father always throw the annual Christmas dinner party for family and friends.  The house was packed and my brother, Juan, and a living room full of people sat enjoying holiday cheer, tasty treats and each others' company.

By this time, Juan had been with us for about five months and had become savvy enough in the English language to carry on a conversation.  Not bad at all, since he had literally started with nothing but hand signals and Spanish.  He was a fast learner.

My mother, who future posts will describe in more detail, had adopted certain cultural phrases in her speech over the years.  One of my favorite responses was something she would use when a conversation was surprising or even absurd:
"Oh, for God's sake" was the intended response.

In reality, when she would actually say it, the phrase sounded more like "Oh, for God sakes", switching the "s" from "God" to "sake". This type of modification commonly happens when people use a particular phrase over time.  My brother and I must have heard her say it thousands of times growing up.

Anyway, while sitting at the party, mom, in conversation with a friend responds to a surprising statement with the usual, "Oh, for God sakes!"

Juan, hearing this and being confused, leans to my mom, and the crowd around her, and politely asks (in a heavy Columbian accent):

"Germaine, why for you always say, ah forget sex?  Why do you forget sex?"

The brief second of silence was defining.  Everyone looked up, and not knowing how to respond to an uncomfortable situation, laughter erupted.  I explained to Juan what mom had actually intended to say, the meaning of the phrase, and what Juan had said.  After that, he laughed along with the rest of us.  Juan was a good sport. 

What's the point?
Other than a fond memory and funny story, not much. But there is this: Juan wanted to change the way he was able to communicate by adding a second language to his vocabulary. That's both a brave and admirable change.  

We still have a good laugh at our annual Christmas parties when someone tells the story -- and Juan still calls us every Christmas, and comes to visit our family about once a year.
Do you speak a second language?  When you were learning, did something like this ever happened to you?  I'd love to hear about it...