Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Web Wednesday: (Literally)

On Saturdays, I often hike with my friend, Pauline, and my dogs at Charleston Falls. It's an ever-changing landscape, and never more interesting than on foggy days, when the beauty and complexity of the spiders' webs becomes visible.

Some are like cups

The spider who spun this one was a real dare-devil. I can just picture him, swooping out over the water, wiping his brow with one of his eight legs every time he came safely to rest on the wooden deck.

Some aren't much more than a few strands of gossamer, connecting leaf to twig.

This one looked like a bow-tie.

A thing of beauty is a joy forever.

(Note: Just realized that today marks the three-year anniversary of The Raisin Chronicles. This is my 417th post. Some people just don't know when to shut up, do they?)

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Please, Mr. Postman

On Sunday I realized my my daughter-out-law's (she'd be my daughter-in-law, but in Ohio we don't allow that) birthday is Thursday. None of the cards in my current inventory were appropriate (because she wants to be neither a pirate nor a princess, for some reason), so I picked one up at the college bookstore on Monday and brought it home for Old Dog to sign.

Mistake #1: Because Old Dog hates writing checks to the kids (because they hang onto them for months before cashing them) I put cash in the card.

So now it's Tuesday morning and the card still has to travel to another city and get delivered on Thursday. Knowing that on-time delivery was a long shot, I stopped by the main Post Office and dropped it in the mailbox there.

Mistake #2: As the card was leaving my fingers, some reptilian portion of my brain registered that while the middle of the envelope bore a neatly printed address and the upper left corner of the envelope had a return address label (because everyone who wants a donation sends us labels and it's just wasteful to throw them away), but the upper right hand corner of the envelope was pure white.

As in, no postage stamp.

I'd just dropped an unstamped card with fifty bucks in it into the mail. I've seen sitcoms where people tried to retrieve letters from the Post Office mailbox (was that Lucy? Brady Bunch? anyone remember?) and it never worked. And even if it had, I wasn't going to try it right there in their parking lot.

So, I went inside and threw myself on the mercy of the postal clerk. Who took my contact info and money for a first class stamp and promised to retrieve it, stamp it and send it on.

Seriously, where else can you get that kind of service for 44 cents?

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

In Honor of My New Grand-Nephews


and Spenser

who were born yesterday, I'd like to offer this guest post on sign language for babies, provided by Mey Lau.

BSL translates baby talk and bridges generational gaps

The benefits of baby sign language may start with baby, but they reach to all the extended family! Learning to communicate with a child, grandchild, niece or nephew delivers all the language development perks to baby, while building relationships and bonds outside of just mommy and daddy.

Children can be difficult to understand when their verbal vocabulary is just developing, but even verbal communications that are easily understood by parents may prove difficult for a less familiar family member to decipher. Does ba mean bottle, bear, bye-bye? And if it is bottle, is baby requesting milk, water, juice?

Signing with a grandchild, niece or nephew allows for quick connections, communications and builds confidence for baby and adult. Imagine not feeling left out or left behind by having to turn to a parent to ask for an interpretation - “what is she saying?”... “what does he want?”. Sign language for babies allows the flow of interaction to remain focused between baby and adult rather than being dependent on parental translations or requests to repeat something.

Then, there is the common complaint that grandparents are missing out on interactions with their grandkids because they can’t hear what is being said in that soft child voice. Teaching signing to extended family members - - as well as teaching baby to sign - - can clarify the words that are heard while also substituting for words that are missed. Signing for babies is a fun way to build bonds and break down the generational and communication gaps.

Grandparents, aunts and uncles often time receive the honor of teaching the fun life lessons. How to make one giant chocolate chip cookie by using an extra large pan and an entire roll of cookie dough, for example. How to jump on the bed. And who can forget the relaxed bedtime during the week at grandma’s house. With all the fun things grandparents have to teach, why not start as soon as possible by learning to communicate earlier and easier with the little ones in your family.

Grandparents, aunts, uncles and many other family, friends and caregivers can study and learn baby sign language through books and online avenues in preparation for all the baby talk (signs) that await them. With free online video dictionaries and printable baby sign language flash cards, the information is more accessible than ever.

Outings with grandchildren can be a wonderful opportunity to practice signs - - a trip to the zoo to learn animals, the botanical gardens to practice colors, and so on. Another great option is to play the role of student; let the toddler in your life be your teacher and guide. Maybe the tot can even take control of the flashcards and really quiz grandpa!

This article was created with tons of love for The Raisin Chronicles by the team at in celebration of upcoming twins. Congratulations Carla. You are so lucky to have an awesome sister and so very blessed to have double-grand-joy on the way!

Monday, September 5, 2011

On Privacy and the Public Employee

A couple of weeks ago, my local paper, the Dayton Daily News, did a story on what area college presidents earn. As an adjunct to the story, they published a link to an earnings search website.

On this site, you can enter part or all of someone's name, their position and the college they work at and the site will return their earnings last year.

In case your curiosity was sufficient to make you track down the website and look me up, I should note that I started mid-year, so the figure listed is not an accurate reflection of my salary. Likewise, a couple of guys I work with teach one or two classes each quarter, so their numbers would be inflated.

But this story wasn't about providing accurate information. It was about pandering to the current sense of public outrage over how our tax money is spent. It was about emphasizing that, as a public employee, I am accountable to every Tom, Dick and Harry who pays taxes. (Especially the Dicks.) It was about reminding me that one of the things I give up to be a public employee and work for what I believe to be the greater good is the privacy taken for granted by people who work for the private sector.

I feel a little like a policeman must when he pulls someone over for speeding only to be read a lecture on how the driver pays his salary.

And it fascinates me that the very same people who are screaming to reduce the size of government are simultaneously screeching about how unemployment is growing.

What did they think would happen?

I don't mind being a public employee. I'm even willing to put up with the lack of privacy that's part of working for the public.

But I'm not crazy about having so many bosses.


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