Tuesday, June 22, 2010

"Saving Grace"

I've been a fan of that series from the very first show. But perhaps not why you'd think.

Earl was everything I've been brought up to believe an angel wasn't. So, a little mind-stretching is good: it's why I enjoy select science fiction/fantasy. It's that genre enjoyment that allowed me to enjoy this show without actually believing in angels or an actively interfering deity.

I finally am a fan of Holly Hunter. I didn't appreciate her earlier stuff, but this was different, and her acting skills were up to the part. Grace was hard to like at times, but the complications in the plot and the dogged pursuit of the bad guys kept me interested. Mystery/crime fiction is my other favorite genre. But I learned to care about her character, whether or not I approved of what she was doing in her personal life. I came to appreciate the change, however hard-fought-against, in what she believed.

I watched the two-hour finale last night, and it kept me from sleeping well all night. I knew it would as soon as I hit "off". It still rides with me, hitching along behind my thoughts as I go through my day, popping up in "mind-free" moments. The thing is, I can see why it ended the way it did, why she made the choice she did, why the writers had to finish it that way. Sometimes the ultimate sacrifice is the only way to achieve your goal, and Grace was shown that when she gave up and took a breath under water. So, in order to kill the personification of evil, she had to allow herself to be killed as well. (Hey, did anybody else notice that the bags of letters survived the explosion intact?)

It was the final moments, where each character saluted her body as it was carried by, that told the story of what was happening to each of them. That usually has me in tears, but not last night. Last night I was struck by the last moment, when Ham threw away the ring, and Earl just watched. This is what I kept reviewing in my sleep. I still haven't decided why it ended just that way. Or why that particular moment sticks with me the way it does. But it does.

Monday, June 21, 2010

Storm Damage

Were I a superstitious person, I might think that saying the following would jinx it, and the string of good luck would be over. However, I'm going to say it anyway: we live in a relatively storm-free zone. In 19 years here, I've watched storms go north of us, south of us, stay west of us, or head east into Wisconsin. I'm not saying we never get any, but the biggest, rainiest, lightningest, heaviest hail producing storms go around us.

I blame the heat island effect. Since most storms come out of the southwest, and the metro area lies along that path before they get here, they seem to either get diverted or weakened before they arrive. I'm not sure how that makes everything go elsewhere than up here, but it's a handy excuse.

In a way, it's a disappointment. I love storms. Favorite memories involve watching storms from a place of safety. I built a screen house attached to my house with a west view so I could sit outside/inside and watch them roll in. That screen house has even helped my granddaughter get over her mother's fear of storms. Yes, I said that right. When she first started visitation with me, Jordan was afraid of storms, particularly lightning, not from any personal bad experience but because her mother fears them. On one drive up here, a storm overtook us and she was huddled scared in the back seat. Since I was driving, I couldn't stop and comfort her, so I devised a little game instead. I asked her to watch the lightning (since I had to drive and couldn't do it myself) and tell me what color each flash was: yellow? green? purple? She quickly grew interested, and once up here, spent time in the screen house during various storms with me checking out lightning colors. I still go out there to watch storms roll through. Or, more often, roll past.

Last Thursday this state had a line of tornadic super cells move through, stretching from Lake of the Woods to Albert Lea. They of course split and weakened once they hit the metro and came past us. But the weird thing was, once the skies had cleared, the tornado sirens went off. We were actually watching live TV at the time, keeping track of the weather, and there was absolutely no reason we could see for the alert. Nothing mentioned on the weather crawl at the bottom of the screen, no colored section of the state near us.

I found out later there was a sighting up in Rush City, at the far opposite end of the county. Nothing further was said about it, with Albert Lea and Wadena rightly getting all the attention. I nearly forgot about "our" storm for a couple days, until Steve called me. He'd planned on going fishing from Franconia Landing, where last week he'd parked his car on a sandbar along the shore of the St. Croix and pulled in several small bass to toss back. Friday the river was much higher and his spot and the way to it were under a foot or two of water. Somebody upstream had obviously gotten a lot of rain.

I knew just who to ask about upstream rainfall. My friend Lynn lives just outside of Grantsburg, WI, about 30 miles north and a hair east of me. So I called her today to ask how her weather had been last Thursday. Did they get a lot of rain?

She said they had, then casually mentioned she was sore all over. Of course I asked why. It seems she and her husband along with some neighbors had spent a long weekend cutting up trees. That tornado that skimmed the northern bit of our county crossed Hwy. 70 as it went on into Wisconsin, aiming itself just to the north of Grantsburg, and incidentally through much of the back of Lynn's ten-acre wooded lot, before heading over to Crex Meadows wildlife refuge. By her count, 50 trees had been felled and/or ripped apart on their land, and as of the end of the weekend they had managed to cut up five of them. One of them had been a 100-foot oak.

Luckily their buildings had all been missed, one by just ten feet. (Thank goodness for the fickleness of tornadoes!) She and Dave had huddled with the dog in their house's central hallway listening to the house shake as the twister passed. They just got inside in time to find that amount of shelter, and not enough to try to locate the cat. It seems they had been watching the storm roll in, since their power had gone out earlier. As far out of town as they are, no sirens are audible, but one of the neighbors had a better view than they did and took a few pictures.

Lynn tells me that Dave is generally reluctant to share the wood he cuts up, since they use it for bonfires in their back yard for entertaining company. He has just now started informing friends that they are welcome to what they cut. In light of last week's events, Dave now has decided to get a NOAA weather radio for next time.

Oh, and the cat's fine, thanks for asking.

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Confusion Envy

I hate shopping! Especially I hate the walking through a store these days, and really appreciate being able to use an electric cart, but even so, there comes a point of end of tolerance. My brain starts screaming at me to leave the store, it doesn't matter what's still left on the list, GET OUT!

That's on a good day.

Lately there's been a whole lot of shopping to do to get ready for vacation. We need to restock RV supplies, stock food, replace that missing sleeping bag, all on top of normal groceries and prescriptions and cleaning supplies and.... At least I know enough about myself to have started early and plan to just take chunks out of the mega-list on any given trip. It should be fairly simple.

Of course, those things never work out that way.

The WalMart in Forest Lake, my most common route home, is converting to a super center. This means the parking lot is a complete mess. Nobody has bothered to re-stripe the parking lot for the new main entrance for construction, so the handicap parking spaces are either under concrete barricades or four aisles away from the door. Inside, everything is in a new location, short-stocked, and otherwise unfindable.

The Target next door to it is just fine in the parking lot department, but apparently feeling a need to compete with WalMart in the move-everything-around, add-groceries, and short-stock-everything-else department. Of course, I only find that out on the rare occasion when they actually have a working electric cart for use. There are about 18 handicap parking spaces by the door and only two carts - if both are working and one is available at the time. Complaints do not seem to help, even when I explain that I came in with a list that I'll take to WalMart if there are no electric carts. WalMart at least gets that part right.

If I'm already home before I start shopping, I'll go across the border to St. Croix Falls to their WalMart to shop. They moved and expanded to a super center a few years back, but apparently they've been having confusion-envy recently. Everything in the store is getting relocated, short-stocked, and generally turned into chaos. They're taking whole shelf units apart, leaving stacked parts in the middle of aisles, and if you time it right, you can catch four of their employees with brooms raising a dust cloud that covers a quarter of the store. I can't believe how much dust accumulates under a shelving unit! I thought you had to have two messy sons, a pair of dogs and three cats to make that kind of a dust pile! (I should know.)

For some unknown reason, they're moving everything in the grocery aisles to other aisles. Everything, that is, except the signs. Canned fruits look suspiciously like pickles. Rice resembles canned corn and peas. The Mexican aisle is empty. There's a long row of cleaning products now with names like Pepsi, Coke, Shasta, Canada Dry. Somehow I doubt their effectiveness at removing the dirt I had in mind to get rid of, and it seems an awfully expensive toilet bowl cleaner. I usually treat my bowl to that stuff after a bit of processing. Maybe I'm just cheap that way.

At any rate, I got fed up and left the store even earlier than my usual shopping limit kicks in. Or maybe it just took so much longer to find a little bit that the internal clock stayed the same but the basket didn't fill.


They say they'll be done by the end of July. I'm not sure I can last that long.

Tuesday, June 15, 2010


I'm feeling a bit less rushed and pressed for time before the trip now. Sunday Paul and I did the complete RV inventory. I took out the list I had prepared of stuff I thought we needed and stuff I remembered being in the RV, as well as the things that needed to be done to it before leaving. Then we compared that to our on-site inspection. What we found was interesting.

There was a lot more stuff in there than I had remembered. Some of it came out. (There's no way we're going to cram in, or use, an electric space heater. I doubt we can use more than one roll of duct tape, and now we had an explanation for the continuously disappearing rolls from the basement, the storage shed....)

Some stuff was replaced. Plastic picnic dishes are fine if all you need to eat are cold items and you can forever keep them away from hot stove burners, but there's no need to have seventeen of something. We have 5 of each kind of dishes now, in graniteware. The folding-handled frying pan is a cheap piece of camping crap, replaced by a good teflon one from the kitchen. Two-year-old spices turned out to be both flavorless and caked, and got replaced with fresh(er) ones.

Some things were re-engineered, if you will. Small like things were combined into large ziploc bags, such as the drink mixes. This aids in both locating and eyeball inventorying them. The bathroom is almost too small to pee in, much less shower in, so the shower curtain was tossed. A piece of rope strung through 7 rolls of toilet paper and hooked on the shower curtain holders now decorate the doorway: duck as you enter!

Some things vanished into the ether. We used to have a hatchet, not only for reducing firewood but doubling as a hammer for tent stakes, etc. I had to purchase a new sleeping bag because my perfectly good 30-degree bag no longer appears to exist. Anywhere! But while expensive to replace, my new Eddie Bauer bag has two layers, and will be more comfortable in hot weather.

I corrected our list, first by adding items we left in the RV from before and had forgotten but were good ideas to have along, saving that expanded list for future trips. Second, I deleted all the items already packed or taken care of, and have a new "still-to-do" list. It looks and feels much more manageable. Computers can be great!

There is a tremendous amount of shopping left. Since I'm one of those people who on principle hates shopping, even when there is an electric cart in the store to ride, I can only tolerate shopping for so long before it's time to get out of the store and go home. So there will be a whole bunch of days ahead knocking items off the list and drawing it down. I may not get the whole 15 gallons of distilled H2O in a single trip, just because it seems ridiculous to do so. (While the RV carries a supply of water, the fact of adding antifreeze every winter after draining just means we prefer to use it for washing and flushing, not drinking. Even though it's safe after flushing the system. Whatever "safe" means. ) But each shopping trip means shorter lists, not just for camping but stocking up the house for while we are gone for things like supplies and food for my dad and brother, who'll be here taking care of him. And the dog.

It's progress.

Friday, June 11, 2010

Keep On Reading. Really!

The "Final Update" got emailed to Jordan for her trip and forwarded to me. I figured it was the usual old boring confirmation we're-ready-to-go, be-happy-to-see-you crap, so wasn't really paying attention at first.

Earlier this month, Rustic Pathways canceled its first four departures of the month for Thailand.

Oh yeah, heard about the unrest, wondered what they were going to do and whether it affected the kids. But cancelled? That would be the elephant program, the piece that made the whole thing worthwhile for Jordan! Yikes! Oh wait....

Almost all students who were booked on Thailand programs scheduled to operate in June have...

Whew! Not affecting us, then. Her trip starts in July. It's still on, but what did they do with the program? Are they planning that the unrest will be over by then?

While we operate almost exclusively in very rural areas of Thailand that were unaffected by the Bangkok protests, we believe that the most prudent course for us to follow at this time is to cease virtually all of our Thai operations north of Bangkok for the balance of the summer and continue with what has become a successful program of moving all of our students onto parallel programs in neighboring countries.

OK, they've planned for the whole season. Good thinking. But what about THE program? There followed a long list of all the programs operating in Thailand and what decisions had been made and what the options were. Sort, sort, sort....

This program has moved to an elephant camp in beautiful Luang Prabang in Laos. ...Students will wear the same uniform, undertake the same training and have the same wonderful experience here as they would in Thailand.

OK, cool then. Oh wait, how about the southern coastal Island Hopping and Diving experience? That's also Thailand, her next scheduled two weeks.

...will run as originally scheduled in Southern Thailand. The only change in the program is that students will now fly from Singapore directly into Phuket (Southern Thailand Islands Area) at the beginning of their trip, and fly out of Phuket to Singapore at the conclusion of their trip. Otherwise the program is the same.

OK, that sounds fun. Problem solved. Enough reading for now. Time to go about the rest of my business, and there is certainly enough of that to keep me busy right now.

Of course last weekend while she was up Jordan raised a couple of logistical questions about the flying part of the trip, trying to get it all together in her head so she's prepared for her first completely solo flying experience. She'll get on the light rail near Steph and Ben's house and ride to the airport on her own in the wee hours, find her airline check-in, and do all the usual to get to LAX. And then what?

I promised to find out for her, and sent both an email query and made a call earlier this week to get some info. Yes, she needs to claim her bag herself at LAX, then head to .... and join her group, all of whom will be wearing the same shirts as she will have on. It's all in the packet sent out with her shirts - she did get them? I confirmed she had, since she mentioned that they were a bit large which was just fine with her.

I called Jordan and let her know she already had most of the info she needed to answer the questions she'd raised with me. Just read it! Again, job done, get on with life.

Then I got the email info in response to mine, saying they would send a repeat of her flight info from LAX onward, with a quick query: was she taking the Laos option? She needed to tell them ASAP. A quick email to her with a heads-up, job done. Move on.

Yeah, well, not so quick. This time she called me, just tonight, letting me know that there will be an extra $150 charged for the change in countries, with them absorbing half of the cost change. In other words, it was a $300 change. I went back over the email Jordan had sent me detailing the trip change. Sure enough, there it was, down at the bottom, a bit after the point where I'd stopped reading. Yep, me this time. No biggie, I'll send off a check. Oh yeah, and continuing further, it was due to be confirmed by June 4th!


Thursday, June 10, 2010

A Little Assist

Stillwater, Minnesota has its hospital about a mile north of the highway along Greeley Street. It's posted for 30 mph, and if you don't remember that, there are cops in abundance who will help. I got my own indelible memory assist in the matter years ago on a very sub-xero night when I was late picking up my daughter after a school theater function and drove that same street with my mind on the image of her stuck outside the school waiting for me, not on my speed.

Luckily for her, she wasn't stuck outside, since the wait turned out to take a few extra minutes.

What's tempting on that road is a dip that runs past a park and between lakes. With no houses and only the one turn-off, 30 mph seems terribly slow. But sometimes it's just not slow enough.

Yesterday, I drove through that area on my way to pick up something from the hospital. Traffic was stopped at the bottom of that dip, backed up about ten cars when I arrived. There was a squad car at the front of the line, holding everybody up. No lights, no siren, just patiently sitting there and by its presence keeping everybody else from moving.

There on the street in front of it was a big, mossy-backed snapping turtle, slowly making her way across the road either to or from her busy day of egg-laying. Traffic stopped until she was safely up on the curb and crossing the sidewalk, and we all went on our way, smiling.

Tuesday, June 8, 2010


It started out as just a casual conversation among friendly acquaintances. A little how-are-you, a little what's-happening, a little what-do-you-think-of.... But then she decided to get a bit more personal, and pass on some information she thought I needed to know. She wanted to warn me, and took the risk of hurting my feelings to present me an unpleasant truth.

Someone I've considered to be a friend for years, that I've been supportive of and shared personal news with, has been telling others behind my back nasty things about me. This acquaintance gave me two more names of people who've heard these statements and would be willing to confirm them if I wanted to check them out further. We didn't have a lot of time right then, but I was invited to drop by sometime and get an earful of details. In parting, she apologized for hurting my feelings, saying she hadn't wanted to speak out before but things had gotten now so that I needed to know what was going on. It was starting to make a difference with some other people.

I thanked her, assuring her she wasn't the one who hurt my feelings. I'm not even sure that hurt feelings are an accurate description of what's going on. Had she told me I was awful because of ______, that would have hurt my feelings. But this was different. This was informing me of a betrayal.

Now I have some decisions to make.

The obvious one is to pull back from my two-faced friend, and in fact, I haven't talked to her since this conversation. I'm not sure whether I want to pretend everything is just as before, but be very careful what I share with her, or whether I want to be more confrontational. It seems to me that in order to be fair, I should get more details from the people who can share them with me. Imagine a conversation where I challenge her with the awful stuff she's been saying, and when she asks "What?" all I have to come back with is, "I dunno, just stuff." Real helpful.

There's also the possibility that what's being said is true, and I'm unaware that I need to clean up my act. After all, the way I judge my own actions is not necessarily the way others do. Perhaps I need an attitude adjustment. That's certainly been true before.

It may be true that this friend is simply poisonous and needs to be shed for my own health and wellbeing. Some people show that up front and are easy to avoid (unless they're close relatives). We've all met them. They could be the blame-everybody-else folks, the I'm-such-a-martyr types, the only-me ones, the need-need-need kind, the I'm-good-you're-awful folks, the I-can't-tell-the-truth people, the all-I-can-get-away-with ones, or any of a dozen other permutations of warped personalities.

The ones who go behind your back are harder to spot until something comes back to you. I must be naive. I honestly didn't think I knew any of those. I suppose it must be common: gossip is a very active pastime. But betrayal is very hard to digest when it's just not how you see the world. My own integrity is very important to me, having had my share of struggles with it, and I demand it in my true friends.

So: decisions to make.

Monday, June 7, 2010

Slow Children

It was an old sign being offered at the auction: "Slow Children". Most of the yellow paint was still there, but a corner was bent a bit and the holes to mount hardware were a bit rusted. It had served a long time.

You see a lot of different signs in neighborhoods these days, trying to slow traffic down to protect our little ones. The laws of the state are not particularly helpful. They adhere to the idea that 30 mph is plenty slow enough, when it's really way too fast to avoid the darting child chasing a ball or just his own imagination. Even less helpful are the drivers who insist 30 mph is a mandate, not a limit over which common sense should be applied. Nevertheless, we're not allowed to change it to something slower even where there are lots of young children playing.

Parents come to city council meetings asking for help that can't be given. Even speed bumps are problematic when it comes snow plowing time, damaging equipment and leaving icy slippery residues. The bandaid fix is putting up a sign. Having a special needs child in the neighborhood might justify placing a "Deaf Child" sign on the opposite ends of the block as if that will inspire drivers to do what they won't do for ordinary children: slow down. I've often wondered what those deaf children think about being singled out that way. Are they grateful for the extra attention? Or does it embarrass them once they're old enough to understand what's going on?

These days the regular sign alerting drivers to the presence of children will say something like "Children at Play". The message has been changed. Maybe in the near past someone started wondering what the neighborhood thinks about telling the world that this is where the "Slow Children" live?

Sunday, June 6, 2010

List of Lists

I need to make a bunch of lists. Time suddenly is getting very short. I just finished the what-to-pack-for-camping list. But that was easy. Now I need to sit down and figure out all the rest of the lists of what needs to get done before we leave in OMG! THREE WEEKS!

First, Jordan leaves before I do, to summer camp before heading to SE Asia. The trust is going to be turned over to her before we part the last time, which is looking like this next weekend. First, there's the list of information I need on paperwork and fees (!!) before turning it over, or I wind up paying those fees myself and not the trust.

Then I offered her a suitcase to use and scads of paperwork printouts on flight information, etc. That's list #2.

There's my niece's impending delivery, and the desire to run down there with my daughter and a bunch of stuff for the baby, including old Rosa family stuff, so there's the collecting and coordinating of that. Complicating things is her cell number no longer is her number, so I need a new one.

There's the list of what needs to be in and done for the RV before we go, and that needs to be done with my son and notepad and pen, going through each drawer and cupboard and every bit of memory and imagination we can bring to the task.

Then there's the list of what needs to be done for my dad that I need to prepare for my brother for his two-week stint here. Oh yeah, and the dog and cat and houseplants and yard and.....

Then there's my list of what to print out for the itinerary and detail maps for the trip itself. I bookmarked everything way back but if my computer crashes.... HELP!!!!!

Then there's the actual packing, which needs its own separate list of what needs to be done before packing, like finding stuff, and charging up batteries, and last-second removing from the car, and making sure all the lists are made and read and folowed through on and.....


Thank goodness supper is ready and I can quit worrying for the moment now.

Rush Rush Rush For...

It was turning out to be a good day: three fast (pays more) runs from the same place in St. Paul going to Burnsville, Lakeville, and best of all, Faribault. Of course, they started at 10:00 and the farthest had to be completed by noon or the person wouldn't be there to receive it.

I had a few minutes before they were ready, and got my ducks in a row. The first two were to residences, unfamiliar addresses, so I checked them out on the map book. If I could drive straight to them it'd save time.

Pick-up: no problems except stressing to me the noon deadline. Burnsville drop, no problems. Nobody home but had the Ok to leave in the door. Lakeville, no problem, ditto nobody home and leave in door.

Then the fun started. The map showed several streets going from where I was to a main cross street south of me connecting to the freeway. Unfortunately, all the streets thought otherwise, conveniently marked after heading several blocks down them that here was a dead end. It wasted under 10 minutes all told, not major but certainly annoying in terms of pressure to make the deadline.

Finally I rolled into Faribault at 11:30, thinking this was going to be a piece of cake. I did my usual when I hit a town where I have no map to guide me: I checked into a gas station and asked directions. Usually giving just the address - how I navigate - just confuses the people I ask. They just do not know street names. So it's typical to add the company name as well, if it's a company and not a residence, because they do know how to find the businesses. This time it was a Catholic Church, and the lady at the counter was more than willing to stuff my head with information. None useful, however.

"_____ Church? I don't think it's there anymore. All the Catholic churches just consolidated and moved way out on the edges of town over there" (Pointed.)

OK, but if I just wanted that address, assuming that whoever sent it knew something of what there were doing and that my person was supposed to be there until noon? Then how would I find it?

The directions were on the order of "go to the next light, turn right, go down to the grocery store and turn left". Now, if you have lived in the town long enough to know where the grocery store was or even what it looked like, this might be helpful. I just hoped that by the time I got near the street that names and numbers would start to make sense. Unfortunately, I was looking for a SW address, and had been directed to go more and more NE.

Ahh, but up ahead was another gas station. I decided to ask again. This time I received a bit more useful help. They pulled out the phone book, and informed me that what I was looking for was on an avenue, not a street, and of course they ran crosswise to each other, so I needed to go down to the 2nd light, turn right, and it should be two blocks on my right.

I actually passed the grocery store on my way. It was, after all, easy to recognize despite the chaos of other commercial buildings surrounding it. It just wasn't where I needed to turn. Upon actually making my turn, I was finally on the right avenue, but while there was in fact a church two blocks down, it was not my church. And by now it was twelve minutes of noon. I kept driving, letting the addresses guide me, because I figured out I needed to go another 5 blocks. I was still in NW, and needed to cross over into SW addresses.

Here it was finally, ten minutes ahead of deadline, street parking right in front. I took the package in, gave them the name of the recipient, and stressed that the sender said he had to have it by noon. Had I made it before he left?

"Oh, he's not in at all today. But we'll see that he gets it."

Saturday, June 5, 2010

A Whole Lotta Stupid

There's a whole lotta stupid floating around out there. Life is short, so I'm only going to deal with two cases today.

First, there's the idea that a fur coat will not only insulate you against cold, but works equally well to insulate you against the heat. Insulation is insulation, just like in your attic, right? So maybe you don't have to pity long-furred dogs out in the hot sun all day: they're just fine.


If you really believe that, put on your fur (real or fake) coat next 90-plus degree day and go sit in the sun for a few hours. Let's see how long it takes before heat stroke sets in. Heck, I'll even come over and time you. (Note I didn't say I'd call an ambulance. If you're really that stupid....) That's why you actually are out there - if at all - in shorts and tank tops and flip flops. Lack of fur isn't your problem on hot days.

So what is?

Everybody who propounds this bit of nonsense is forgetting one key word: metabolism! We are mammals. We produce heat as we burn calories. That's what the word calorie means. It's a unit to measure heat produced, not fat set aside. If heat doesn't have a chance to escape, we will die! Simple as that. Fur keeps our self-produced heat in, a great thing for cold weather. Not so much in summer.

Right now everybody's opining on the BP oil spill and how to fix it. The most often repeated bit of stupidity is to just blow it up! Boom Baby Boom!

This seems like sound advice. It happens all the time after well explosions on dry land! It puts out the fire by sucking up all the oxygen, turning your flaming gusher into a simple gusher, where now people and equipment can approach and cap it off.

So what's wrong with this picture? First, there's no fire to put out, the whole point of using explosives. Second, what's down there on the sea floor is about a thousand feet of mud. Blowing that up is just going to kick a whole lot of mud into the water along with the whole lot of oil that's pouring into the water, and that's just not going to do a thing but raise a cloud. Well, unless you are one of those folks who thing if you make it so you can't see the problem any more means it isn't there. That works when you're one or two, but only in your head. We need grown-up solutions here.

Let's say we did get the explosive down to the bedrock that's covering the pool of oil and blew that up. How exactly did you imagine that would help? Sure, some pieces might go down instead of up or sideways. We're not closing an entrance to a coal mine here. Making a whole bunch of tiny holes along the top of the area is not going to keep the oil in place. The stuff is pressurized (part of how it's made, heat and pressure). It's also lighter than water, wants to float. It's full of methane, a gas that's also lighter than water, really really wants to float, wants to float so bad it came up the pipe and caused the explosion in the first place that sank the rig. Lots of tiny holes are just what this stuff wants to escape its underground underwater prison. And if you've just blown up its covering, there's now nothing to secure any kind of topper in that would seal off its escape, not to mention the hundreds you'd now need.

So stuff your boom-baby-boom ideas with your drill-baby-drill ideas and start being useful: think of and start implementing ways to begin using less oil in your daily lives and using more renewable enery like wind and sun. A windmill falling over does not destroy thousands of miles of ecosystem for decades or longer.

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Old Joke, New Joke

I was reminded today of a joke I heard and loved years ago:

Some people are like slinkys: they're not much good for anything, but they sure bring a smile to your face when you push them down the stairs!

And then there's the Granny Serenity Prayer:

Grant me the strength to stay away from all those people I never liked very much anyway, the time to spend with all the friends and family near and dear, and the good eyeglasses to tell the difference!

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Michelle, and First Words

I gave our daughter the middle name of Michelle. It made sense to me since the Stephanie came from the feminization of my brother's name Stephen, and this was the feminization of a close cousin's name, Michael, and a pretty name besides.

So far as I know, she always hated it. I think it started at six months of age with the first Michelle she ever met, one of my first day-care children. Both girls were at the sitting up stage of development, both first children, and babies love other babies, so I sat them on the floor next to each other to get acquainted. Michelle moved first, reaching out her hand to touch this other baby, and poked her right in the eye! This resulted in our recording Steph's very first word, "Ow!"

I don't think the girls ever actually fought or anything, but they were two different personalities forced to be together five days a week for several years. Pretty much they just weren't interested in each other. There were of course other children in the day care family, including brothers for both girls later, and lots of toys, activities, and room for them to ignore each other.

When Michelle was exactly eighteen months old, her mother, beaming, announced to me as she dropped her off that she knew 18 words! This meant that she was exactly on tract developmentally. Perfectly average, no worries. I congratulated her - I hadn't ever thought to count and keep track - and off to work she went, no doubt thinking the fact that this was news to me was somehow an indication of neglect. In fact, neglect of both our daughters, since I had no idea how many words Stephanie knew at that time, at 16 months, and had admitted as much to Ginny when she asked.

It did get me thinking. So I started counting and writing them down over the next week. Steph talked a lot, showing she knew what words meant by using them appropriately, not just repeating or babbling. In fact, she was starting to string them together in 2-word combinations, something I was very well aware of as a sign of developmental progress. By week's end, there were 116 words! Definitely not average!

I did choose, next time Michelle's mom inquired, not to share that number with her. Michelle needed someone to be proud and encouraging of her perfect averageness, and I wasn't going to throw Steph in her mom's face. (Just gloat in private.)

But Steph's verbal skills did get ahead of us as parents. She learned what "burp" meant, and we taught her "rump" as a polite word when she wanted to name a certain body area. (None of those nasty words for our kid!) But we were startled into silence about what to call it when she farted. We certainly didn't want that word coming out of her young mouth before she learned any discretion - time enough for that conversation later, we thought. It escaped us right then that we could use the term "break wind" if we wanted genteel. But Steph wasn't waiting, and before a week was out, announced proudly to us that she had just burped her rump!