Jul 23

Post-Vacation Blues

Bushkill Falls

Bushkill Falls

A few days ago my family got home from a week-long vacation in the Poconos. My parents have a time-share villa there that belong to my grandparents for over 30 years. I went there many times as a kid, so it’s associated with a lot of good memories. Between those memories, new ones made with my kids and their grandparents, and a few days spent with my sister and her kids, you’d think that I’d come home feeling good. And I did – sort of. Ever since we packed up to go home, though, I’ve been in a funk.

It started as I did my paranoia check, walking from room-to-room, double- and triple-checking to make sure we aren’t leaving anything behind. As I checked my parents’ room, the usual meloncholy associated with good things ending hit. Then, before I’d left the room, I was suddenly overcome with sadness from ...

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Jul 22

Civil Whorl

If clockwise means righty and counter-clockwise means lefty or ambidextrous, what does a pair of whorls mean?

Anyone know the prevalence of double parietal hair whorls?

When my first child, Alex, was an infant, I read a study about a possible relationship between the rotational direction of one’s hair whorl and one’s handedness. When I checked Alex’s, I discovered he actually has two. I have no idea what that might portend for his handedness, but he seems to be pretty strongly a righty. My second child, Joel, has a counterclockwise whorl and seems to be a left-leaning ambi. Number three, Lily, has a clockwise whorl and is almost certainly a righty.

I was discussing all this with my parents and sister recently when I made an interesting observation. I asked my father to lend his head for a simple demonstration of whorl rotation, and I was startled to see that he has a double whorl pattern like Alex! Lucky for him, though, his rotate away from ...

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Jul 03

A Model for Apologies

Round 1, fight!

Does this conversation sound familiar to you?

“Say sorry to your brother.”

“But he’s the one who–”

“Say it!” you insist, an edge of warning in your voice.

He huffs, rolls his eyes to the side and says flatly, “Sorry.”

“Say it like you mean it,” you demand.

“Sorrrrry,” he repeats, dragging out the word slowly with bulging eyes and dripping insincerity.

You sigh in defeat and turn to #2, “Now tell him you forgive him.”

It sure seems familiar to me. The author of a blog post entitled “A Better Way to Say Sorry” used that exchange to demonstrate how forcing apologies from children is counterproductive. I’ve read more than a few articles to that effect lately.  However, unlike some other articles on the topic, this one doesn’t suggest some goofy hippy solution like a peace circle. Instead, a simple script is presented as replacement for ...

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Jun 16

Ko Rule!

Ko’s a no-go in Go.

“Yes you are!”

“No I’m not!”

“Yes you are!”

“No I’m not!”

And so on, ad infinitum et nauseum.

Every parent hates back-and-forth fights like that. There’s no resolution, and everyone loses – including parents. I now have a name for that kind of nonsense, though, and naming is the first step toward taming, right?

OK, that cliche might be a bit naive, but I do hope that having a handy name that can be referred to in the heat of the moment will help end those fights more quickly and without parental yelling.

So, what’s the name? It’s “ko rule”. It’s a rule in the ancient game of Go.

ko is a shape (an arrangement of stones) where one player is able to capture exactly one of his opponent’s stones with one move, but after capturing the stone his opponent ...

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Jun 14

It’s a Neighborly Day in This Beauty Wood

Won't you be my neighbor?

Won’t you be my neighbor?

I’ve complained recently about folks being nebby (here and here). It’s only fair that I also mention folks being neighborly, which is something that happened today.

I took all three kids on a walk to our church for St. Anthony’s Day mass and brunch – a distance of approximately 2 miles. Naturally, we also walked back. It was a bit warmer by then, and we were all tired and sweaty. About halfway home an older woman standing outside her house noticed us, greeted us, said something about being hot, and asked if we wanted water. I thanked her and said we were only home. She emphatically repeated her offer, word for word.

I know a mother’s no-nonsense “offer you can’t refuse” when I see one. I chuckled inwardly, deciding she’d expressed just the right level of interest and concern, and accepted. She invited us to ...

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