Thursday, February 26, 2009

Google, the hamster

Mr Coogal was searching the Internet again. Tomorrow he was going to buy a hamster for his fourth daughter, Mary, who was really keen on them. It was supposed to be a Christmas present, but because the pet shop was closed on Christmas Eve, he had to buy it already the 23. He was lucky - and the pet shop owner was unlucky. Soon he would have to change the shop he had rented for twenty years for a smaller one - or leave the area. The mall was being rebuilt, and the landlords were not understanding the needs of a pet shop. With the smaller shop (only half the size) he would not be able to keep the pets, only foods, collars, cages and such - and considering how cheap pet food was in the supermarket nearby, he couldn´t live on selling pet food. So, he had to sell pets quick and cheap to raise the money for buying a shop the other ens of the city. And that is where Mr Coogal came in.

Now, Mr Coogal was a Catholic, Irish father, German mother, wife from Mexico - and though a Protestant might have lived rather comfortable with his wife and three children on his wage, he was hard put to it by the effort of supporting his wife and eight children - and a ninth on the way - on the same wage. Therefore his older children did not get any pets - and well they understood it.

Only the other day he had said: 'Even if we could buy a hamster, we couldn´t afford keeping it.'

'Excuse my disagreeing, but we could, Pa.' Mary interrupted. 'All that vegetable waste when cooking cabbage food and cutting out the hard roots and veins - instead of putting it on the compost, we could feed it to a hamster, you know.'

'Well, but still we couldn´t afford to buy one - unless God gives us a special providence.'

'I´ll pray a Rosary for that!'

The next day he walked by the pet shop and saw the 50% off notice. So he had a day to prepare the hamster´s cage, and tomorrow, dec. 23, he would buy the hamster.

In the evening he was looking for a much more serious thing on the Internet. He was looking for a Penny Catechism, the Catholic Catechism, that had raised generations of Catholic children in England and Wales - but he misspelled it 'Penny Cathechism'. It upset the Google, so he only got 15 hits, one of them to TAN books, but none to the Catechism as Internet shareware.

Then he thought again. Catechism is Greek, and if an aspirate like 'th' is followed by another aspirate like 'ch' with a vowel or more in between it turns into a tenuis like 't'. Greek is really strong on that rule. He blushed and rewrote the search mission as 'Penny Catechism'. Now he got somthing like it. A thousand hits or so. Most of them to quite other Catechisms, half or more of which were not even Catholic...but he found what he sought. He was going to give his old ma the Penny Catechism for Christmas present, and he could only afford the 44 print outs it took on the library computer.

As he came home, he told of the incident, and when he came to the words '...and that upset the Google...' his children started giggling. Anne, the fifth daughter, nearly fell off her chair.

'What´s so funny?' he asked.

'You make it sound like a sensitive creature,' said Lewis.

'As if you had to walk on eggshells not to upset it!' laughed Mary.

'Google the hamster!' shrieked Anne.

'Now, don´t you see that a computer engine is just like an abacus, the beads of which can be upset by a jer...' he didn´t finish the word 'jerk'. He did not wish to be one. 'Did you say Google the hamster, Anne?'

'I did por ciertos, Pa.'

'Mary, do you find that name good enough for a hamster?'

'Yes Pa. It rhymes with bugle - and hamsters look as if blowing a bugle, when they stuff all the food into their cheeks.'

So it happened. It was in other respects a jolly Christmas too, but nothing beat the laughter, when Pa said his limerick:

Sweet Mary, the daughter of Coogal
Had a hamster and called it 'The Google'
Now don´t you upset it
Or you will regret it

When its cheeks are like blowing a bugle.

And the Penny Catechism? That´s another story.