It’s All English, or Is It?

Tomorrow Today I have a paper due for college.

Let’s read that one again…

Today I have a paper due for college.

WTF?! Once I get over the initial shock of that (mind you I did take 3 courses in the summer of ’08 that required some essay writing, so it hasn’t been THAT long) let me also point out that this is my first paper due in a college in the United States of America.  This means my Canadian usage of u in words such as favourite, neighbour or colour, and spellings of theatre and centre and so on with ‘re’ instead of ‘er’, have to be thoughtfully altered to fit the local spelling criteria. There are many other examples. Thankfully the ‘red squiggly line’ of spell checkers usually highlights the Canadian ‘error’, but I’ve taken to ignoring them or even adding them to my dictionary. It’s a piece of my identity, and I quite like it. It’s hard to give it up. I told my husband of my woes and he said something along the lines of telling them to suck it up and don’t drop the u. Easier said than done when you want to be graded fairly on a paper and not marked for spelling “errors”, even if I think it’s not right.

I don’t really understand the purpose behind the spelling differences, but a little Googling reveals some rumours that Benjamin Franklin had something to do with it, by altering some spellings to further differentiate America from Britain after the Declaration of Independence. *eyyyye roooll*. However, that may not have been the only reasons, since he really wanted to change (majorly) the spelling of the English language. See herehere and here for some info. This is also a really interesting guide to differences in American and British English. As a Canadian it’s even more confusing because we use a combination of both U.S. and U.K. spelling and language variations. I mean, the English language is screwed up enough as is, but I am glad it’s not as crazy as Ben Franklin wanted it.

So, back to the topic at hand. Most people wouldn’t realize that there’s a small language barrier, if we can call it that, between these two countries (Canada and the U.S.), but I guess other than a few spellings, terms and accents, there’s really nothing major. It’s not much different than someone from the southeast U.S., or northeast even, moving elsewhere in America and having to adjust to weird foods and new terms. Or, someone moving from the Maritimes to just about anywhere else in Canada (Quebec not included, since they’re a whole other world anyway). Moving from the U.K., NZ or Australia to America or Canada (or the other way around) would be a more drastic change, despite not learning a ‘new’ language entirely.  I think that showcases even more why I feel that I am an ‘invisible‘ immigrant here.

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When You Can’t Ride The Waves

As I begin to type this, a minor tsunami is supposedly hitting our shores as a result of the unthinkably massive and horrific earthquake in Japan last night/this morning. The largest recorded earthquake in Japan, ever!? I can’t imagine what people are going through over there. I can not imagine. My heart and thoughts go out to them. It’s crazy to realize I found out about this via Twitter when I had, from bed, checked on with my phone just to update to remind people to ‘spring forward’ their clocks this weekend. Seems a trivial matter now.

In south/central California, we are under a Tsunami Advisory (which is different than a Warning: read here for more info). For us this means people sort of flock to the beach (but don’t go in!!) or more likely a cliff’s safer view of the beach to check out the wave patterns and effects. Local news is showing folks gathered around watching minor surges of water (much stronger than normal) pushing the waves up the beaches, but nothing farther than it would go normally on a very high tide, and mostly just to the north of us, where the coast faces west (keep reading for more info). I don’t have a car today, but I wish I did so that I could go and check this out. How strange to feel this tiny blip of connection of something happening in what still seems like a world away. It certainly makes it feel more real, and closer to home.

Where I live is a unique part of California. The coastline faces south, not west. Check out this map (click on it for a bigger version).  I’ve added an arrow pointing towards the area I am talking about. You’ll notice that there are some islands off the coast as well. Both of these factors shelter us from large tsunamis from any direction. Watching some of the footage of the devastation caused in Japan only hours ago, I can’t help but be extremely grateful for this geographical cushion.

That said, the San Andres Fault runs just behind us, forest fires are a frequent danger, heavy rainy days always mean some sort of flooding (which could get out of hand), and so on. This takes some getting used to. In honor of those who lost their lives last night, and those who may still not make it through, as the clean up only begins, I am going to discuss with my husband the need for an emergency kit and plan (which we’ve only put together half heartedly so far).

Please check your local Red Cross, and Disaster Relief organizations for ways that you can help those affected by these events. They don’t just need ‘money’, they need support in SO many ways. I think if that happened to me, I’d want my family and friends, and my kitties, and a hug. 😐

Hugs also to my friends and family in Ontario who are apparently facing some furious weather today. Hang in there. *hugs*

UPDATE: Found a couple of great related links:

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We Can All Talk About The Weather

Being a Canadian living in California, I encounter one of two reactions when people find out where I’m from.

a) they know someone who lives in Canada (do you know Joe in Saskatchewan?)
b) they ask me about the weather (hyuck hyuck, must be cold up there… eh?)

It’s windy here (in California) today, kinda ‘cold’, and I’m forcibly reminded that it’s March. In March the weather seems to do whatever it damn well pleases, no matter where on the globe you are (though maybe it’s specific to the northern hemisphere, but I doubt it). This was definitely the case ‘back home’, and is definitely the case here!  Case in point: they received 10 cms of snow or something last weekend, followed by rain, and somewhere in there was a warm spell, and some flying monkeys I’m pretty sure.

Here in the last couple of weeks or so we’ve also had snow, rain and sunshine, and this is southern California! Snow is a rare sight here, and I miss it dearly. Locals, us included, were so excited when we had some up in the mountains recently that they flocked to it in droves for a fun-filled snow day! Conveniently it was on a weekend, because the snow only lasted 2 days.

Anyways,  no one believes me when I say that it’s cold here. I get it. It’s nothing like ‘back home’, and we’re a bunch of whiners here. I used to laugh when Californians complained about the cold too, but now I feel it. All things considered the weather here is nice, but it’s not all sunshine and beach days every day like everyone thinks! Once in a while we have to bundle up with scarves and jackets too. Everyone (except me so far) has super cute rain boots too, because we get several days of rain in the winter, and when it rains it doesn’t joke around about it. It’s still just another random thing to adjust to in a new place.

You’ll hear more about the local weather here, because we all love to talk about the weather. Regardless of how the weather is, it’s something we can collectively agree on (or not), have an opinion on, and generally relate to. We all share the weather. People joke about the mindlessness of talking about the weather, but I really think it’s a brilliant topic which opens doors to in depth conversations or just a nod of the head.  Whatever the conversationalists are in the mood for. Rain, snow, and sun makes up the small talk monarchy. We talk about our current weather, I talk about the weather back home, some talk about ‘that storm’ back in the 90s (you know that one), we all reminisce about something related to the atmospheric conditions of any given day.

Whether the weather conversation seems to wither depends on whether the weather is wonderful and worthy of words.

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