Peace Like A River

It was a wide river, mistakable for a lake or even an ocean unless you'd been wading and knew its current. Somehow I'd crossed it... Now I saw the stream regrouped below, flowing on through what might've been vineyards, pastures, orhards... It flowed between and alongside the rivers of people; from here it was no more than a silver wire winding toward the city. - Leif Enger, Peace Like A River

Friday, December 31, 2004

I just took the kids to McDonalds, so they could climb off some energy. About nap time for Hanna.

Among the things we saw in St. Louis: the impressive Arch, the St. Louis Zoo, and an impressive light display at a Catholic Shrine.

No year-end review would be complete without some math jokes...

Q: What's huge, white, swims in the ocean, and has only one side?
A: Moebius Dick.

Q: What's brown, furry, runs to the sea, and is equivalent to the Axiom of Choice?
A: Zorn's lemming.

Q: What's yellow, linear, normed, and complete?
A: A Bananach space.

Q: What does an analytic number theorist say when he's drowning?
A: Log-log, log-log, log-log,...

Q: How many number theorists does it take to screw in a light bulb?
A: This is not known, but it is conjectured to be a prime number.

Q: How many light bulbs does it take to change a light bulb?
A: One, if it knows its own Goedel number.

Q: Why did the chicken cross the Moebius strip?
A: To get to the same side.

***Excuses for not doing math homework:
---I accidentally divided by zero and my paper burst into flames.
---I could only get arbitrarily close to my textbook, I couldn't reach it.
---I have the proof, but there isn't room to write it in this margin.

***Set-theoretic campfire song:
Aleph-null bottles of beer on the wall
Aleph-null bottles of beer,
You take one down and pass it around,
Aleph-null bottles of beer on the wall...

Joke: Some students came upon their math professor kneeling by his bicycle. Looking closely, they saw that one of the tires was flat. The math professor was pumping air into the *other* tire. "Excuse me, Professor," said one of the students. "You are pumping air into the wrong tire." The professor stopped what he was doing and stood up, looking perplexed. "But... do they not communicate?"

and finally, a Lithuanian Yiddish herring joke...

"What's green, hangs on a wall, and whistles?"

"I don't know."

"A herring."

"But a herring isn't green."

"So, you paint it green."

"But a herring doesn't hang on a wall."

"So, you hang it on a wall."

"But a herring doesn't whistle."

"So, it doesn't whistle."

Happy New Year!

Thursday, December 30, 2004

Back home again. Had a very nice time in St. Looey with all. A busy with so many people and kids in one house! The drive home was about 10 hours. Ugh. Went well though. Kids were very good.

John has been watching Pinocchio, and he likes to laugh like Stromboli, kind of a deep, evil guy laugh. It's funny when he tries to do it. Also, he watched 101 Dalmations at his cousins' house, and he likes to talk like the bad guys, Horace and Jasper. It's so funny when he tries to talk in an English accent.

Tuesday, December 21, 2004

Well, it's Tuesday, must mean I have another sore throat. Arrgggh. Woke up this morning with an achy throat. It doesn't feel like the kind that leads to a full blown cold, though. Just a super annoyance.

We're thinking about maybe leaving for St. Louis tomorrow. I'd leave work a bit early, and take off in the afternoon, going as far as Iowa City and stay the night there. Just to break up the trip a bit. That's a long ways to go in one shot with the kids. Dad will get here this evening, we'll see if that's something he'd like to do.

Just to revisit the (don't make me say it) Scott Peterson trial once more, and then never again. (Except to rise up in support of the death penalty if and when 40 or 50 years from now California actually gets around to executing him.) What bothers me about the coverage is this syrupy first-name familiarity with the people in the case. This breathless talk of "Laci" and "Conner" and "Amber", even "Scott", etc... Bleh. As I said before, there are many murders, just as heinous as this one. Where's all the sugary concern for those victims?

Monday, December 20, 2004

Here it is, in all its gory detail, the Great Pop vs. Soda debate...
It's official, the world is ending. God has determined humanity is just too odd to warrant any further consideration...

In other news, it only took me an hour and a half to get to work this morning. AAAAUUUUGGGHHHH. Had a nice little freezing rain. Does wonders for rush hour.

All done with my first semester! Yay! Send in my takehome final yesterday. Saturday's database final was alright, some will depend on grading, I suppose. Some tricky questions, and just didn't have time to study that last week like I should. But, certainly did ok.

We opened some presents over the weekend. We had got John the Thomas Down By The Docks set, with Cranky. So I set up a nifty track layout, with Cranky, the dock piece, bridge, etc... It also came with a plastic mat, with an image of a dock area, that I laid down on the table, and put everything on top of that, so there's an interesting background. Both John and Hanna like playing with it. We also got the mountain tunnel piece of ebay, and put that on the track. It makes sounds when trains go through the tunnel.

Hanna got a little high chair for her dollies. I put that together for her, and Hanna promptly sat a doll in it so she could feed it breakfast.

Vikes won one they shouldn't have yesterday. Only because Detroit is so inept they couldn't execute an extra point.

Friday, December 17, 2004

John did so good in his preschool Christmas program last night. What a sweetie. He sang, behaved well, had fun with his drum in their Little Drummer Boy number. Rhonda dressed him up in his ring boy tux, and he as most handsome. His teacher tried a couple times to put him in the middle of the front row, so people could see his tux, but he had always practiced in the back row, next to Maya, the girl who lives next door, so he kept going back there. His teacher said that John said to Maya, "Maya, your dress is really red!"

I had to leave before John finished his last number, had a deacons mtg, sigh. They had cookies and treats afterwards. Rhonda got a picture of the kids with Santa there. You'll notice I put it on my main page. (I didn't have handy the software to remove the redeyes.)

Thursday, December 16, 2004

I have a dream... (well, we would miss all the museums and history and pretty countryside...)
In centuries past, people tended to be known by their occupations. It's interesting to see that many last names today reflect those occupations, that they have carried down after all this time. Just some examples...

Mr. Glover (made gloves)
Mr. Tinker (sold pots and pans and other household items)
Mr. Potter (made pottery)
Mr. Mason (worked with stone and brick)
Mr. Carter (sold use of his carts to carry things around)
Mr. Smith (the blacksmith)
Mr. Miller (milled grain into flour)
Mr. Sawyer (cut timber)
Mr. Brewer( brewed beer)
Mr. Fuller (worked with cloth)
Mr. Hooper (worked with barrels)
Mr. Porter (door keeper)
Mr. Thatcher (worked on roofs)

(here are some particularly obvious ones)
Mr. Carpenter
Mr. Baker
Mr. Bishop
Ah, the Web is a many-splendored thing. Merry Christmas.

And, here are a bunch of TV commercials from the 1980s.

Wednesday, December 15, 2004

Here is someone with way too much time on their hands.

I took a day off yesterday so I could go to the staff meeting at church. Afterwards, I went to see National Treasure. Pretty good, overall. A bit silly on some points of logic, but the romp through history was fun. Makes me want to start planning a family trip to Washington D.C. when the kids are a bit older.

John's preschool Christmas program is tomorrow night at 6:30. I'll go to that, and then on to the deacons mtg. I'll probably get to that a bit late. John seems excited about it, hasn't been saying he doesn't want to go, like with the church program.

Monday, December 13, 2004

OK, the jury in the Scott Peterson case has recommended the death penalty. Fine. Now can this case go away, never to be heard from again? I don't understand the fascination with this. There are lots of murders in this country, why the intense soap opera focus on this one? I can go a long time without ever seeing Greta Van Susteren on FOX again.
I know you've been waiting to see it, so here it is. Watch a frozen wood frog thaw out.
The last couple Sunday mornings I've done something I haven't done in ages, I fried me up some eggs for breakfast, along with some toast and coffee. Only thing missing was some cooked pig flesh, but I settled for some turkey lunch meat. Mmm.

Vikes lost yet again, to yet another mediocre team. Sigh. And looks like Twins third baseman Koskie is going to Toronto. Sigh. There's not much left on this team to get excited about. It'll seem like they're playing their B-team next year.

Finals are this week. yay. One's a take home. And a couple meetings at church on Tuesday. I'm going to take a day off so I can go to the staff meeting, then I'll go the Trustees meeting in the evening. Too much to do. Rhonda will probably take the kids by herself to their swimming lessons then.

One of the coldest days of the winter so far today. The wind has been howling since yesterday, as a cold front blows through, so wind chills are quite nippy.

Sunday, December 12, 2004

I took Hanna to her Christmas program tonight. She did really well. I taped it. She sang nice and loud. She did have one distraction, when she discovered the wooden part of the platform made nice hollow sounds when she jumped on it, but the teacher steered her back, and she was most cute.

We decided to keep John home. He was feeling pretty pressured about going, and we figured it would probably do more harm than good to make him go, so Rhonda stayed home with him, and I think it was the right decision. He felt much better and more relaxed. Those kinds of situations are hard for him, and it's best not to push him beyond where he's at right now, it only makes things worse for him.
Last night went to visit a person I work with, they just got back last week from Russia with their two new kids. Was lots of fun to see them. They didn't seem too terribly upset by all the commotion, they I guess they didn't eat their supper like they usually do. The boy is about a year old, but he is about the size John was when he came home at about 16 months.

John was a little zooey at times with all the hubbub. At one point he was banging a hammer and I took that away, and he wanted back and started in on babbling about something, and at one point he said "you're acting undignified". rnnnhuh? undignified? Holy cats! Where did he get that word? I'd never heard him say that before. I wonder if he heard on one of his Thomas tapes.

The kids' Christmas program is tonight. I watched their practice this morning, mostly to help keep John in line. Hanna did great! Sang loud and clear.

Thursday, December 09, 2004

John got up about 5 am and threw up a bit (which of course means we got up about 5 am). Don't know what was ailing him. Got him cleaned up, we all went back to sleep, and about 7:30 or so when he got up he threw up again, and I guess has been a little sluggish all day today. Rhonda gave him some 7-Up, and that seemed to help. Rhonda has been running around all morning getting the brakes on the van fixed, so she's had her hands full with the kids in waiting rooms, etc...

I had a dentist appt this morning. Hermey was kind to me, no cavities this time. Whew. I was beginning to wonder if I was falling apart in my old age. I had a cavity my last two times there.

I might go to the parents meeting at Family Resources tonight, to see what it's like. Rhonda usually goes to the moms meeting.

Wednesday, December 08, 2004

Last night we went swimming at the Y. Hanna did something she hasn't done before, she stuck her whole face in the water, lots of times! Also, John asked for the first time to go down the water slide by himself. He's growing up, sniff. Alas, he's not tall enough yet to do so.

Hanna still likes to do her baby act. We brought a playpen up from downstairs so she could put her dollies in, but she likes to get in and act like a baby, i.e. lay down and kinda kick and squirm and coo. When we say grace at mealtime, lately she'll say prayers like a baby. She'll kinda babble in babytalk and then say "Amen". It's funny, I gotta keep from bursting out laughing.

Still very little snow here, and odd year. It hardly makes up for our ridiculously cold August though. Temps are mild now, yes, but we can hardly go to the lake. (Which John asks about from time to time. I gotta say no, you don't really want to go to the lake right now, trust me.)

Tuesday, December 07, 2004

Here are some links to a host of fan films in the Star Trek and Star Wars worlds...
Swimming lessons again tonight. Since we paid for them, might as well finished, especially for Hanna. But we go too so we can stay after for open swimming, and that's where John really excels. He can practically swim! He can motor around and he kicks his legs, and swims with one arm. He does kinda leave the other arm still, so we gotta work on coordinating both arms, but he's doing so well. He looks cute just paddling and kicking away.

Santa came down our street last night! He came by on a fire engine. They've been going through neighborhoods around Blaine, last night was our turn. They blasted the horn, and gave candy canes to kids who came out. Last year John was quite scared when they hit the sirens, but was fine this year. Hanna was scared at first, but I held her and saw that Maya, the neighbor girl, was out too, so after that she was fine.

Then, we went inside and watched Rudolph. John really likes it. Hanna doesn't sit still for all of it. John likes it when the scary snow monster comes out and chases everybody.

Monday, December 06, 2004


There is a wide body of knowledge detailing how the brain learns by recognizing patterns. Kids can learn to read by recognizing the image of words, not necessarily by learning each letter in the word and the sounds they make. I thought about this after looking through that link I posted a few days ago on optical illusions. These illusions work like they do because the brain automatically tries to figure out patterns and imposes them on what it sees.

Why do I bring this up? Because I often wonder why we as humans are such a story-telling people. Why do we tell stories? Why do we take time out of our lives and gather in rooms to listen to one person up front talk about something, or tell us about something? Why do we try to explain something by making up a word picture for it?

I think it all comes down to patterns. Stories give us a pattern that help us recognize and make sense of other parts of our lives. For example, take the story of the Three Little Pigs. From that, we see a pattern that tells us that investing time and work up front, and not skimping, can benefit us in the long run. We can use that pattern to interpret other things in life, like succeeding in college. We can make sense of the demands of homework by recognizing a similar pattern.

At a larger scale, why do tales like, say, Anna Karenina and David Copperfield speak to us today? Why does any work of classical literature speak to us today. Because at their heart they all form patterns that help us make sense of our own lives. We see how characters act and react to situations in their lives, we overlay those patterns on our lives, and life doesn't seem as chaotic and random. We see the pattern in things.
This morning on the way to Sue's house, the kids were listening to Fox and the Hound. Towards the end, Hanna starting singing "All board! Let's go" from Dumbo. She does that often lately. But as she started singing, the song "When You're The Best of Friends" at the end of the FATH starting playing, and she sort of starting singing the Dumbo song to the tune of the FATH song. Ha.

I cleared out some room in the basement so the kids could play with their plastic Fisher Price train set. It does hang together too well on the carpet, so the flat cement down there is a better place. They've had fun with that. I've gone down there with them and just messed around with the stereo while they're playing. I played some CDs I don't think I've played since we've moved here. One I played was a banjo/bluegrass cd. When I started it, and the banjo started plinking, John started laughing and said "what is that funny music?" hee.

John had a bit of a tough time in sunday school yesterday. Was fine at first, but later they went out into a lobby area to practice their songs for next week's program. It's hard for John to be in less structured environments like that, where physically it is not as closed in, and with all that added stimulation of music, bells, etc... So, he didn't stand quietly in his spot, and later was apparently tackling kids back in the room. I don't know exactly how to help him through that. He does need practice in these situations, but other kids around him don't like that. He's been like that lately, not sure if he is going through some phase or not. He says he is scared to go to sunday school, or to Sue's house, so not sure what he means. He says he'd rather stay home, so not sure if he is just saying it's stressful for him.

Sunday, December 05, 2004

Was there any doubt the Viqueens would lose to the Bears today? The Vikes were playing: on the road, outdoors, in chilly weather, against a bad team. With all those factors stacked against them, the Vikes had no chance. The Bears do have a legitimate, high-quality defense, but their offense has been horrible. And of course, the Vikes defense made it look like a Super Bowl winner. The Bears had a QB named Hutchinson. This guy was so good, he was the *third* choice to replace after the Bears starter after he went out with an injury earlier in the season, behind future Hall of Famers *snort* named Quinn and Krenzel. Sigh. Just, sigh.

Friday, December 03, 2004

Christmas Prophecies

First Promise of Jesus

Genesis 3:15 - “And I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your offspring and hers; he will crush your head, and you will strike his heel.”

Promise of a Prophet

Deuteronomy 18:18 - “I will raise up for them a prophet like you from among their brothers; I will put my words in his mouth, and he will tell them everything I command him.”

He would be from David’s family

II Samuel 7:12-16 - “When your days are over and you rest with your fathers, I will raise up your offspring to succeed you, who will come from your own body, and I will establish his kingdom. He is the one who will build a house for my Name, and I will establish the throne of his kingdom forever. I will be his father, and he will be my son. When he does wrong, I will punish him with the rod of men, with floggings inflicted by men. But my love will never be taken away from him, as I took it away from Saul, whom I removed from before you. Your house and your kingdom will endure forever before me; your throne will be established forever.”

Psalms 89:3-4 - “You said, ‘I have made a covenant with my chosen one, I have sworn to David my servant, I will establish your line forever and make your throne firm through all generations.’”

Isaiah 9:6,7 - “For unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given, and
the government shall be on his shoulders. And he will be called
Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince
of Peace. Of the increase of his government and peacethere will
be no end. He will reign on David’s throne and over his kingdom,
establishing and upholding it with justice and righteousness from
that time on and forever. The zeal of the Lord Almighty
will accomplish this.”

He would be born of a Virgin

Isaiah 7:14 - “Therefore the Lord himself will give you a sign: The virgin will be with child and will give birth to a son, and will call him Immanuel.”

He would be born in Bethlehem

Micah 5:2 - “But you, Bethlehem, Ephrathah, though you are small among the clans of Judah, out of you will come for me one who will be ruler over Israel, whose origins are from of old, from ancient times.”

He would travel to Egypt

Hosea 11:1 - “When Israel was a child, I loved him, and out of Egypt I
called my son.”

He would live in Galilee

Isaiah 9:1 - “Nevertheless, there will be no more gloom for those who were in distress. In the past he humbled the land of Zebulun and the land of Naphtali, but in the future he will honor Galilee of the Gentiles, by the way of the sea, along the Jordan.”

He would live in Nazareth

Isaiah 11:1 - “A shoot will come up from the stump of Jesse; from his roots a Branch will bear fruit.”

His coming would be announced by an Elijah-like herald

Isaiah 40:3 - “A voice of one calling: ‘In the desert prepare the way for the Lord; make straight in the wilderness a highway for our God.’”

Malachi 3:1, 4:5 - “See, I will send my messenger, who will prepare the way before me. Then suddenly the Lord you are seeking will come to his temple; the messenger of the covenant, whom you desire, will come, says the Lord Almighty.” “See, I will send you the prophet Elijah before that great and dreadful day of the Lord comes.”

His coming would cause a massacre of Bethlehem’s children

Jeremiah 31:15 - “A voice is heard in Ramah, mourning and great weeping, Rachel weeping for her children and refusing to be comforted, because her children are no more.”

His mission would include Gentiles

Isaiah 42:1-4 - “Here is my servant, whom I uphold, my chosen one in whom I delight; I will put my Spirit on him and he will bring justice to the nations. He will not shout or cry out, or raise his voice in the streets. A bruised reed he will not break, and a smoldering wick he will not snuff out. In faithfulness he will bring forth justice; he will not falter or be discouraged till he establishes justice on earth. In his law the islands will put their hope.”

His ministry would be one of healing

Isaiah 53:4 - “Surely he took up our infirmities and carried our sorrows, yet we considered him stricken by God, smitten by him, and afflicted.”

Christmas Fulfillment

Luke 2:1-20 - “In those days Caesar Augustus issued a decree that a census should
be taken of the entire Roman world. (This was the first census that
took place while Quirinius was governor of Syria.) And everyone
went to his own town to register. So Joseph also went up from the
town of Nazareth in Galilee to Judea, to Bethlehem the town of
David, because he belonged to the house and line of David. He went
there to register with Mary, who was pledged to be married to him
and was expecting a child. While they were there, the time came for
the baby to be born, and she gave birth to her firstborn, a son.
She wrapped him in cloths and placed him in a manger, because
there was no room for them in the inn. And there were shepherds
living out in the fields nearby, keeping watch over their flocks
at night. An angel of the Lord appeared to them, and they were
terrified. But the angel said to them ‘Do not be afraid. I bring
you good news of great joy that will be for all people. Today in
the town of David a Saviour has been born to you; he is Christ
the Lord. This will be a sign to you: you will find a baby wrapped
in cloths and lying in a manger.’ Suddenly a great company of the
heavenly host appeared with the angel, praising God and saying,
‘Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace to men on whom
his favor rests.’ When the angels had left them and gone into
heaven, the shepherds said to one another, ‘Let us go to Bethlehem
and see this thing that has happened, which the Lord has told
us about.’ So they hurried off and found Mary and Joseph, and
the baby, who was lying in the manger. When they hadseen him,
they spread the word concerning what had been told them about
this child, and all who heard it were amazed at what the shepherds
said to them. But Mary treasured up all these things and pondered
them in her heart. The shepherds returned, glorifying and praising
God for all the things they had heard and seen, which were just
as they had been told.”
In keeping with the Star Trek theme, I've been watching the Deep Space Nine episodes pretty much straight through. SpikeTV started showing them around April. I hadn't seen the first five or six seasons, so it's been fun catching up on what I missed. I'm about all the way through. But, since I've been watching them all in such a compressed amount of time, I've noticed something odd.

When there is a mention of some period of time in days, like one day, two days, ten days, whatever, an awful lot of time the reference is to "three days", more than you'd think if it were just random. Some day, I'll go back through the show and record how many such things there are. Like with the names I talked about, I think the writers were just making stuff up, and weren't aware that they were often settling on the same thing. It's been rather obvious.

John came into our room this morning. He said "I have a fishing pole", and wanted to sing the fishing pole song.

Here is a nice essay about Kipling, a writer I've always wanted to dive into in more depth.

Thursday, December 02, 2004

A Theory of SF and Fantasy Linguistics

I've noticed in the names SFF writers come up with for their various races,
places, etc... that a preponderance have either an -ar or -or sound in the second or third syllable. My question is why.

To give you some examples, I'll list some of the races present in the
various incarnations of Star Trek, as that is what first set me onto this. I am taking these names from the Xenology section of the website. It's the first somewhat comprehensive list I came across, but I know there are other names, as for instance I jotted down the Klobari and Wyngari from the dreadful
Voyager episode Q2, and those races are not listed in this catalog. And, really the very first race that sparked me thinking about this is the Ilari, from the Voyager episode Warlord, also not included in this catalog.

Acamarian, Algorian, Altorans, Amaros, Andorians, Bajorans, Beneriam, Briori, Bynars, Coverians, Cytherians, Dokkarans, Dolbargi, Doosodarians, Dopterians, El-Aurians, Galadorans, Ilari, Ilidarians, Jem'Hadar, Kanarians, Klobari, Komar, Kressari, Ktarians, Legarans, Lyaarans, Malcorians, Menthars, Miradorn, Mizarians, Ornarans, Petrarians, Pygorians, Rakhari, Saataran, T-Rogorans, Takarans, Talarian,
Tamarian, Teldarians, Tellarites, Tellurians, Tygarians, Velarans, Wyngari, Yaderans

Are you beginning to see the pattern? And this is just from Star Trek, and
not all of them at that. I can think of other examples from the worlds of Sci Fi and Fantasy. For instance, Babylon 5 has the Centauri and the Minbari, although those names were chosen for a reason. There is Kate Elliott's Wendar, Lawrence Watt-Evans' Ethshar, David Eddings' Belgarad. The MST'd movie Space Mutiny had a race called the
Belarians. Doctor Who has the Sontarans. And these are just to name a very few off the top of my head.

Why do so many names sound so much alike? I am deliberately leaving out
Tolkien, who maybe started this all, with his Gondor, Mordor, Isingard, etc... but his writing is chock full of them. I leave him out because he was at
least an expert in languages, and so presumably had some rhyme and reason to
choosing the names he did.

But for the rest, what is it about the English-wired brain that gravitates
to these syllables? Is it that when writers try to come up with a name, they basically spin syllables around at random like a slot machine, and there is
something fundamental to our language process that the second or third
wheels come up with -ar or -or?

It is getting to the point where it almost irks me. It in a sense seems like
laziness, that names don't have quite the diversity that our planet has, but I wish I knew more about how writers chose their names.

If I look around our planet, and the English names for countries for
instance, this phenomenon does not seem to exist to any great degree. I think of Russia/Russians, China/Chinese, Mexico/Mexico, France/French, India/Indians, Japan/Japanese, and again the list goes on and on. The names that fit what I'm talking about seem to be in the minority. All those names come from roots trailing back into the past, they were not chosen by people putting syllables together Granimals style, and that "nonrandom process" did not lead to names such as I've described.

This theory could even be expanded to include an -er sound in the second or
third syllable. Or, an -ar, -or or -er sound in the first syllable.

With the myriad of writers out there, it just seems odd to me that there is
a sizable chunk of names that can be distilled down to very similar sounds.

And, I understand, and agree, that simply bringing up Star Trek may be a bit like
bringing pork rinds to a caviar and brie party. I was simply using it as an
example, and indeed if what I noticed had stayed confined to Trek episodes,
I probably wouldn't have given it much more thought.

However, it got me thinking about the wider field of written speculative
fiction, which is what I am more interested in, as I hope to write a lot of
it. It's that larger question of why a lot of names sound alike and why they
sound like they came from the same language, an incongruity considering they
are denoting wildly different people, places, etc...

Some more examples I thought of. Terry Brooks' Shannara. In Robert Jordan's
world, there are Andor, Kandor, Shienar, Altara, Elmora, Amador, Bandar, and

I contrasted that with the wonderful richness of our real world. For every
Maori you throw at me, I'll give you Cossack, Inuit, Pashtun, Mau Mau, Inca,
Apache, Hmong.

I've been there, I've struggled with coming up with good names that fit the
story. I've tried sounding out syllables, like Steve Martin's character in
the jail cell trying to remember the name of Michael Caine's character in
the movie Dirty Rotten Scoundrals.

Names chosen for a reason are one thing. My point is that if we are coming
up with names through a more or less random process, and there is something
about language that drives us to a lowest common denominator, then perhaps
we need to be aware of that, and we can turn that around and make the reader
feel like they are truly in a world unlike any other.

Perhaps it is because the easiest vowel sound to make is to just drop the
jaw a bit and say "aaaahhhhh". From there, it is rather easy to get to -ar
or -or. I don't know, maybe it is nothing, but there is a lot to this craft of
wrenching other worlds from the mind and getting them on paper.
This morning both kids came in and plopped into bed with us while we drowsed. When John first came in, he said "We need a cowabunga!" And then he said, "We need a Johnabunga!" Later, Hanna was doing the little LeapPad in her room, and John said he wanted to do the little LeapPad, and I said well, Hanna is doing it right now. And John said "But I'm a little kid. Hanna isn't growing." Ha. (He was trying to convince me that since he was little, he should have the little LeapPad.)

Last night at snacktime, John slipped and fell down, bumped himself and cried a bit. (He was supposed to be sitting down and eating.) I comforted him a little, but Hanna wasn't about to let me take her job. She came over and sat on John's chair, clapped her hands together a couple times and said "come here", and held out her arms to John. He came to her and she gave him a hug. Awwwww.

Wednesday, December 01, 2004

Had swimming lessons again last night. I don't know that John gets a whole lot out of it. With 6 kids or so, he's not really doing anything while the teacher is working with the other kids. I think in the future if we do lessons they'll have to be private ones. Otherwise, he gets plenty of time in the pool when we swim on our own. He is steadily improving. He can't really do swim strokes, but he can paddle and turn himself in the water with his hands and feet. Hanna loves to dive in the shallow end. She's not quite ready to dive in deeper water, but she is a water bug too.

The last few times we've come to the pool, when we're walking in, John pulls up his pants legs and runs giggling to the building. I mean, it is rather cold out, and he thinks it is quite funny to have bare legs in the cold.

I usually play some of our Disney story tapes in the car when taking the kids to Sue's house. I have Fox and the Hound, Peter Pan, and Cinderella right now. This morning, Hanna was sort of telling the story along with the tape. Cute. "You'll walk the plank!" When we go to the Y, we have the Dumbo/101 Dalmations tape in the van, and they like those. On the way home last night, we watched the Thomas dvd. One of the stories is about how Oliver gets off on a wrong track because someone switched the points, and runs into a barn. John likes that one, and kinds say "oh no!" when Oliver takes the wrong turn. Hanna hears this, so on one of the other stories, not the Oliver one, she started saying what John does during the Oliver story, not realizing I guess she had the wrong story. ha. She's trying to keep up with her brother!

For a long long time now, John has seemed more and more like a boy. Much more aware of himself as a person, more complex thinking. Sometimes when I play with him I'll hold him and say "my baby boy!" and he'll say "I'm not a baby!" Lately one of the things he likes to joke about is he'll say "the boys go in the ladies room, and the girls go in the mens room!" He's becoming more aware of gender differences. Rhonda went to the agency mom's meeting on Monday night. One of the things they talked about is how orphanage kids will always have this anxiety, if even just subconsciously about abandonment issues and it can lead to antsy behavior, etc... They were talking about maybe that's why John gets more wild sometimes. Like last night, at his swimming lesson, all the other kids were sitting quietly on the edge of the pool while the teacher was with other kids, and John was splashing, kicking around in the water, etc...

This morning as I was getting their breakfast ready, John said in a scary voice "now you're mine" and then laughed in kind of an evil guy cackle. heh, I wonder where he got that from, what he saw. Don't think anything I've let him watch.

Here is a rather odd game!