Tuesday, October 27, 2009


Following are three actual e-mail messages from a prospective student inquiring about the graduate engineering program I coordinate. He seems not to realize that e-mail is now considered a virtual means of formal business communication, and that textese is denigrated. It is probably a good idea to write to impress from the outset, especially regarding a graduate program that so highly values publication in refereed journals.

Dear sir/madam,
I was directed towards u by mr. [name of female staff person]. I m highly interested to pursue my masters from [university name].....i want to specialize in welding as i already have a bachlors. So i wud like to know how it wud be possible to take up this course at yr end??

[he failed to sign his message]

As he was referred by an undergraduate advisor, I inferred he was already on campus. Response to my request that he telephone:

Sir i wud have loved to obeyed u but alas i m from [country whose language of instruction is English]. moreover that sound lag on the telephone is something i m very uncomfortable with.

It would be the best for me if u cud explain my chances in the mail. i hope i m clear to wat i meant.

[again neglected to sign e-mail message]

Response to my e-mail in which I corrected his written English and used "(Ms.)" before my name in my e-mail signature to hint at my gender. Note the allusion to shakespeare (sic):

Respected sir/madam,

I am extremely sorry for my dismal electronic mail which supposedly had innumerable errors as pointed out by you. Thank you for correcting me. This is the first time I have been told the correct way to email to a course advisor.

I am aware that I am not perfect in english language so I used , by my highest regards to him, shakespeare's freedom of expression.
Secondly i would like to direct your attention to the fact that in [his native country], we do not have any one language of instruction in schools [not true] as we believe language is no bar for education but is only a medium for education. I have been studied in a medium other than english but still my GRE verbal marks(560) are about your requirement for giving toefl.
Lastly, in attention to your doubts regarding my cognizance in achieving bachelors, i have a grade point of 3.97 (university gold medalist, Prime Minister's scholar awardee) and my majors is not in english but in machines.

However, as my tradition goes, i would still be deeply apologetic for my informal letter content.

My Highest Regards,
Mr. [his full name, which could not be discerned from his e-mail address]

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Rock work

My favorite architectural feature, aside from the wonderful streamline art deco, is freeform rockwork:

Rock work mosaic on building housing an auto repair shop in Vernon, Texas.

Note embedded wagon wheel, among other artifacts.

Corner detail, Vernon, Texas.

Oakdale Park campground, Glen Rose, Texas