Saturday, March 30, 2013

Post Honorificabilitudinitatibus

You may remember from Post that my father used to tease us using the phrase "Ichabod did it."  He had another word that he would just spontaneously say when we were small, for no purpose at all that we could see.

It was a long and puzzling word and when the internet and search engines were invented, I was pretty sure that I couldn't remember enough of it to find it there.  I was pleasantly surprised to discover that Google's autocomplete was up to the job.

Honorificabilitudinitatibus.  I only remembered the first five syllables with anything like accuracy. It's an odd word to speak to small children, which would have been the point. 

Friday, March 29, 2013

Post Journal entry from 2006

This is in the 8 category because I found it while sorting my desk.  It's a journal entry that was made on a palm-sized pad of paper, then removed from the pad and stapled together.  It was possibly tucked into a journal at one point, but it is now a journal-less entry.

It reads:


The thoughts hide when I'm armed with a pen.  A pen's line is too sharp.  It can cut ideas like a string cuts cheese.

The Velveeta (tm) weeps at the slicing.

Father mailed a flashlight in a Velveeta box, once.  It was our box [my sisters and I].  We had been using it to hold crayons all our lives.

He laughed, thinking of the person at the other end opening it and seeing all the rainbow net of random marks on the inside cardboard.  But it was the right size.  So the flashlight went in with the letter that their batteries had leaked far too soon and ruined the flashlight and what were they going to do?

He was very happy when the new flashlight came.  It was a triumph and a lesson to us.

I don't know that we did with the crayons after that.  I can remember a tin - a round fruitcake tin that was hard to open and pained the fingers.  Perhaps it inspired us to keep crayola boxes intact longer.

It was a better flashlight.  We liked the shiny silver.  And we were getting old enough to want to throw out crayon stubs.
Engineers are supposed to date their notes.  So I'm getting into the habit of dating every pad as I pick it up, before I forget.
Lillibell, Ferntickle, and Daffed are a three. [This is notes on a story I was writing.]

So are Narnemvar, Satbada, and Livvy.  They represent two distinct kind of magic.  I think there needs to be another three from the middle. [In the story, one group is starting in the north and traveling south, the other is doing the opposite.]

They'll be engineers - the people who have no way to manipulate magic directly, but who need to cope with it anyway. 

Thursday, March 28, 2013

Post Another Daily Dose of Death

I really shouldn't read these things just because they keep coming into my in basket.  Even if I thought the subscription might be useful later, I could just block them rather than unsubscribing.  But I haven't done that. 

So here, from Cal-OSHA Reporter Newsdesk,*
is today's dose of . . . well, maybe it isn't mostly death today.  Let's see.
The cause of the blast in 2008 remains a mystery, but the lawsuit is finally starting. A nineteen year old who was refueling a yacht was killed when it exploded. His parents filed against the marina owner, the yacht captain, and the company that had installed the gas pumps on the dock. The yacht captain is listed as 'company owner', which could refer to the installation company.

The individuals have already settled, leaving the installation company as the only defendant. There was an OSHA fine against the marina because the fuel nozzle wasn't both automatic-closing and without a hold-open latch. Whether this contributed to the explosion is unknown. The lawsuit claims that a generator or A/C unit on the yacht had been left on during fueling, and that leaked fuel had collected under a nearby dock, releasing a pool of vapors.

An initial investigation found no criminal wrongdoing.
It is also not criminal wrongdoing to warp numbers and report them with a straight face, but Media Matters is pointing fingers at Robert Bradley Jr. of the Institute for Energy Research (fossil fuel industry funded) for going beyond cherry-picking when he claimed in a Forbes column that the wind industry has a higher safety risk for workers than the fossil fuel industry, coal mining included.
Ohio plant fined for not following asbestos regulations while removing boiler components. No injuries involved.
Nevada company fined after an employee died during training, falling from a utility tower. Well, the fine has been proposed. It could be contested or appealed.
OSHA investigation in Texas after four were hit by collapsing scaffolding. One was caught under it. The four are listed as 'recovering' but it sounds like only the trapped worker was significantly injured.
OSHA cites NY medical office for using old-style needles and not providing sufficient training or protective gear to employees
It's a truism that a worker is most at risk in the first days on a new job. After the death of a temp worker at a bottling plant, OSHA issued a public warning that workplace hazard training must take place before a worker starts a job, and that this applies to temp workers, too.
NJ Construction worker dies after fall from roof of house. Investigation pending.

That's four deaths in seven articles (second article removed from consideration). Or a 57% death rate. Yup.  These articles are still dangerous to a person's good mood.

*not an official CalOSHA newsletter

Monday, March 25, 2013

Post Updating Post Numbers

I really did intend for the post numbers to be of some use.  I also intended to keep them straight.  The keeping-straight thing was definitely not achieved.  I have therefore spent a few hours creating a spreadsheet with all of the post numbers and notes of what's in each post.

What's in the 5 category has shifted to references to things I've read or watched.  A 9 category has been created for stories about my children, especially stories from when they were young. 

I also went through my compilation document and changed the font color to red everywhere that I said I'd write about something later.  I may actually do that at some point, now that I can keep track of what I've mentioned previously.

Got a few things done this weekend, but, of course, not nearly as much as I wanted done.  The bills and other financial things are the only things I'm feeling guilty about, though.  And the day isn't done.  I might get to them tonight.  It's possible.

Friday, March 22, 2013

Post Dear Son's Dream

Dear Son’s Dream

[As told to his Mother, long ago.]

We were playing in the front yard of our house only it was a different house.  It was black and it was across the street from a factory.

The factory made big donuts that rolled after us.  They were big, big, up to my forehead.  They rolled across the street at us.  Brother and Brother climbed a tree to get away and they wanted me to climb up, too, but I stayed down.

And every time a donut came rolling up I grabbed it and put it in a bag.  And I bagged donuts and bagged donuts while Brother and Brother stayed up in the tree.

They were scared, but I bagged them all.  They were even too scared to come down after the donuts stopped coming so I had to eat them all by myself.

The factory made little round waffles, too, but they didn’t roll because their waffle-bumps stopped them.

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Post Dear Son and the Tomatoes

Dear Son has been dying to find something to give to the neighbors.  These are the South Neighbors we’re talking about:  the ones that let the kids pet the puppies and hold the pheasant chicks – the ones who have occasionally been so negligent as to bake too many cookies or buy too many watermelons.

Dear Son has been dying to give them something, anything.  He’s had the tomatoes staked out (so to speak) as “something to give the neighbors” ever since he found out that those bushes would grow tomatoes.

Well, the tomatoes finally got ripe – three big ones and two “little, tiny, cute ones.”  It took him three tries before he caught them at home and he came back from that last, successful, trip just glowing.

He came up to and hugged himself to me and said, “Wasn’t that good?”  So I bent over and hugged him back and he whispered, eyes beaming, “You know what?  I told them a lie!

“What lie?”

“I told them we had lots of tomatoes and we couldn’t eat them all.  Wasn’t that good?”

He was just so proud that he had the social niceties of giving-to-neighbors down.  Not only was he the one who thought of giving something back, he knew how to do it properly, too.

So I said, “Oh, that sure is good,” and hugged him harder.  It was the first time I’ve ever hugged a five-year-old for telling a lie.  It might be the last time, too.

Monday, March 18, 2013

Post Turning Blue

It’s Clean the Room time, and I am sitting on the freshly laundered sheets of Firstborn’s freshly made bed, drinking ginger ale from an oversized beer mug and supervising the operation.  Firstborn is four and a half.  From the looks of things I imagine I’ll be Acting Supervisor of Firstborn’s room until he reaches puberty.

Clean the Room is one of those things that he could do by himself, and would do willingly, if only there weren’t so many decisions and distractions involved.  I mean, it’s hard to know what to pick up first and even harder not to play with it once you’ve decided what should be first and you actually have it in your hands.

And why struggle against such obstacles when, with just a little lagging and a little mumbling, Mother will come solve all those problems and add a little mutual interaction.

It’s the interaction that’s the clincher.  When I was young, several people kept telling me, very profoundly, that “a child would rather be beaten than ignored.”  And while I’ve never done so far as to actually test that hypothesis, I can tell you from experience that small boys glow like soft pink lightbulbs whenever they can successfully drag attention out of Mother that Mother hadn’t planned to give.  It’s a bonus – a little power surge with a dose of half-concealed elation thrown in.

Clean the Room is almost a tradition, now.  Periodically, I get tired of saying “I told you an hour ago to clean this room.  That doesn’t mean play, that means clean.”  Only to hear, “I did clean it,” without any difference apparent in the room.  I kick, shove, or throw every offending article in the room into a pile and sit on the edge of the bed.  While Firstborn fitfully sorts through it all, I sound an occasional “pick up”, “keep going”, “clean – don’t play”, or “more it” in varying degrees of gruffness.

With these words to prod him along, Firstborn sorts what goes in his toy box from what goes in his bookshelf from what goes in the dirty clothes from what goes in the trash.  He is now about three quarters of the way done and starting to ask questions in hopes of starting a conversation so he can stop, or at least slow down for awhile.

I meet all of his opening gambits with curt answers and the words “keep cleaning.”

Then he asks, “Where are we going tomorrow?”

I growl, “To the library – keep cleaning.”

Firstborn perks up.  Smiling all over his face, he asks, “Are you going to get a book that tells how to turn blue?”

That did it.  I’m laughing now.  He knows he has me.  The conversation has started.  Darn his grinning little hide.

I thought he had forgotten that turning blue nonsense.  I certainly had.

You see, yesterday while I was playing with him, I told him that I could turn blue.  He told me I couldn’t, but his voice and eyes had been unsure.  You never could tell with parents.  Maybe I could.

I said that, yes, I could, and asked if he’d like to see me do it. While he sat, round eyed, I sat really still, to set the stage.  I took a deep breath.  Then I squeezed down hard on it, contorting my face and squeezing my eyes shut.  I held it as long as I could.  Then I let out the breath in a loud rush and said, “There!”

By then he knew it was a game and twinkling, he told me that I hadn’t turned blue.  I expressed disbelief.  Was he sure?  Yes, he was sure. 

I checked in the mirror.  Sure enough.  No blue.  Maybe I’d better try again?  Giggles.

I tried twice more, harder each time, and having failed both times, I conceded that I must have forgotten how.  I said I’d have to read up on it.  Then we’d gone on with whatever we had been doing and it hadn’t been mentioned since.

Well.  He remembered it.  And now we’re laughing about it all over again.  He’s still young enough that it amazes me when he makes a smooth connection to something he’s remembered.  Especially when he makes a connection that I haven’t made.

So I’m laughing and proud at the same time.  I remember that I love this kid.  The conversation he has started bounces back and forth between us as he smiles, pleased the he was able to sneak it in past me. 

The pile fades slowly until it’s gone.  It would have faded faster if a conversation hadn’t been added to slow it, but what the heck.  He needs the attention.  I’m the one who needed a clean room.
- - -

Now he’s asleep and I’m remembering again that I love this kid.  And remembering that I gave him a little piece of nonsense that he had thought was precious enough to save.  And remembering that he won’t be four much longer.

Next time I start Clean the Room Time, I think I’ll bring us both a glass of ginger ale. 

Sunday, March 17, 2013

Post Like vs Care

While consoling Beloved Son one night, we got to talking and I learned something.  Beloved Son was sad because he was having a visit to Grandma sprung on him because I couldn’t find another evening sitter to cover the hours of my second part-time job. 

He was sad because he and his brothers are enrolled in our city’s Rainbow Summer park program (to cover the part time day job) and they really love it.  Going to Grandma’s is nice, but Rainbow Summer has lots of kids in it and that’s better.

As I cuddled him and rocked him and talked to him, I told him that I was glad that he cared about the people he was with every day. He was glad that I knew that  that was important and said that there were even some people who cared about him. 

Rainbow Summer, which was held at every park in the city, ended last week and we are now in Rainbow Summer Extension, which is held only at our park.  The extension is a bridge between Summer and the School Year that was added for parents who use the program for sitting rather than to give their kids something to do (although the paperwork for the program says explicitly that it is not a day care program).

We’re only three days into the extension and the cross-town collection of kids don’t really know each other, yet.  Beloved Son is pleased that some of these new people care about him.

We talk about how nice it is to be cared about.  I was thinking that he felt well liked.  But he went on to talk about people who would play caroms with him even though they kept telling him rules he already knew and about a time that he had told on a boy who had peeked at him in the bathroom stall and the Yard Duty had made the peeker sit on a chair. 

I thought that he was digressing, using the talk about caring to lead into talking about other important events.  Then he said, “And there’s a girl there, and she was a big girl, and once she was carrying three big sticks, hockey sticks, by me, and she dropped one and she turned around and said “Are you all right? Did it hit you?”, and she didn’t like me!”

Whoa!  There was a difference between liking someone and caring about them and Beloved Son knew what the difference was.  And he thought caring was more important! 

Caring was the reason he didn’t want to leave.  The people who would let him play even though they thought he was too young to know the rules did it because they could see that he wanted to play and because his wanting mattered.

The Yard Duty who put the other boy on time out did it because he could see that Beloved Son was upset and because his feelings mattered.

The girl who asked if he was all right even though she didn’t like him did it because she could see that he might have been hurt and because his safety mattered.

It’s one thing to enjoy someone’s company, to like them.  It’s another thing entirely to notice someone’s needs and to act for their welfare.  It’s another thing entirely to care.  And Beloved Son prefers caring.  Beloved Son is glad that I’m glad that he cares.  Not too shabby for a seven year old. 

So we cuddled and rocked and talked and, finally, he fell asleep.  It’s still tow days ‘til the plane leaves.  Maybe a few more calls squeezed in here and there will turn up a permanent sitter and he won’t have to go.  Or maybe they won’t and he’ll have to say goodbye to some new people that he cares about and visit Grandma and Grandpa and the cat and geese and chickens.

Either way, it will be fine.  Either way, he’ll be with people who care.  And he’ll be himself, which is finer.