Because a somewhat obscure romance language is exactly what he needs to make his emails easier to understand

This past weekend my parents were in New York City so J and I took to the train in to hang out with them for the weekend. Over brunch Sunday my father took out his Blackberry and said, as he so often does, "My Blackberry is messed up," and then handed it to J and immediately started muttering under his breath about how "there is no point him studying science at Yale if he can't fix my Blackberry!"

J, being the good soul and inquisitive fixer of all things electronic that he is, immediately got down to work while my father expounded on what was so "messed up" about his little email machine.

He told us how when he typed certain words, the Blackberry would take over and finish the word or phrase in a strange language, which explains why I got this email from him recently in which he was telling me how he understood the difficulties involved in our choosing the perfect house to buy where he said, "It's so hard when there are pt no pot down sides."

So "no" obviously became "pt no pot." Which, of course, I assumed was one of his typical spelling mistakes.

Other, simple words would become long Spanish phrases, he said, and he couldn't stop it. "As though his emails weren't ALREADY hard to read," my mom said, who, like me, was getting a big kick out of this.

After a few minutes of careful study, J turned the Blackberry back over to my father. "Try it now," he urged.

He did, and was forced to stop complaining about the scientists at Yale who couldn't fix a simple Blackberry because the problem was gone. He asked J how he did it, and J told him that he'd gone into the options menu and switched the default language from Catalan to English.

How my dad accidentally made the original switch - from English to Catalan - I don't know, just like I don't understand how every time he answers his cell phone, without fail, my father automatically sets the phone to "speaker" so whether he's home in bed, or at a really nice restaurant, he's holding the thing close to his ear but everyone around him can hear the caller clear as day.

However he does these things, he's really got a knack for it. Because I got another email from him today, in which he was asking me for someone's number, that said, "Honey, do you have his phone pt no pot?" and was quickly followed by another email that said (and I could almost hear him scowling through the typed words), "I think my Blackberry is messed up again."