Sunday, February 23, 2014

Crying out loud

Saturday I drove Susan and Ellen back and forth to Pittsburgh to attend Julia's shower.  The memories of Jenna and Ellen as infants flooded into our conversations with family and friends.  As parents, you always remember those events.  It's an exciting time of life's journey. 

The challenge of attending to the needs of a crying infant is both experience and detective work.  Jenna had colic and we tried all types of techniques - running the vacuum cleaner, midnight drives, radio static, baby carrier on top of washing machine, etc.  For Ellen, it was how to become an expert in burping a baby. 

A baby's cry penetrates the soul and can't be ignored.  It is one of the greatest transfers of stress.  I can remember sweating from the pressure of the unsolved continuous cry.  Like a siren in a public setting, everyone focuses on the baby's situation and your actions to resolve it.  It's a hit or miss solution - black or white.  Like a light switch - the answer creates an immediate tranquility of peace.

Actually the checklist applies to adults emotional states also (just less noisy):

(1) Hungry or thirsty
(2) Discomfort surroundings (e.g. diaper, hot, cold etc.)
(3) Tired
(4) Scared
(5) Sick
(6) Bored or irritable

and finally -  (7) just growing pain. 

Monday, February 17, 2014

Idiotic or Dumb

As I decide whether enter the black hole project of researching genealogy, I previewed my free single document access of the 1880 census page listing my great grandparents - Charles Wisner and Mary Jane Castanien with their two children Harry and Dwell living in Blue Springs, Nebraska. 

As a statistician I was most interested in the data collected across the 26 columns that first day of June in 1880. 

(1) Personal Data - Name, Race, Sex, Age, Month born if in Census yr
(2) Relationship (for parties in same household)
(3) Civil Condition - Single; Married; Widowed/Divorced; Married during Census yr.
(4) Occupation - Description; # months unemployed during Census yr.
(5) Health -Sickness or Disability Description; Blind; Deaf/Dumb; Idiotic; Insane; Maimed/Crippled/Bedridden/Disabled;
(6) Education - Attended School during Census yr.; Can't Read; Can't Write
(7) Nativity - Place of Birth; Father's Birthplace; Mother's Birthplace

Wondering what "Idiotic" meant to the enumerator (Census taker), I looked it up:

What is Idiotic?

Enumerators were not just sent out with a bunch of forms to fill in. In typical federal style, they were supplied with an abundance of record-keeping rules. As the census forms increased in the number of questions asked, and the information desired, so too did the directions given to the enumerator.

Enumerators were given a specific definition for a person who was blind or deaf and dumb. They were also given a specific definition for the term "idiot." An idiot was "a person the development of whose mental faculties were arrested in infancy or childhood before coming to maturity." For us, in a more enlightened age, a number of known disabilities would have fallen under this category, including Downs Syndrome.


I was going to say I was a dummy - but that would mean (e.g. the enumerator's definition of dumb), I could not speak.

Monday, February 10, 2014

Laugh, Think, Cry

Seemingly random connections can connect suddenly in life.  I was coaching Covington Partners in their three minute presentation at SVP Cincinnati Fast Pitch (coming Wednesday night).  I mentioned a presentation I remembered from Jim Valvano at the Cincinnati 100 event (sponsored by Arthur Andersen) back in the 90's.  One of the stories Jim related was about a benched player that given the chance turned a pivotal game to the win column.  The inspirational line was that at the end of the game the benched player related that his father (who was blind) had died the night before and that this would be the first time he would be able to see him play.

Amazingly in the Sunday evening fellowship J.B. referenced Jim Valvano also as we discussed how an individual can deal with suffering (Jim Valvano died at age 47 of cancer).  Jim's ESPY speech - "Don't give up .... Don't ever give up" still continues to be an inspiration to many people with cancer. 

In eleven minutes he is able to capture your attention and deliver on his three rules of living life to the fullest:

(1) Laugh - "You should laugh everyday"
(2) Think - "You should spend some time in thought"
(3) "You should have your Emotions moved to tears"

Thursday, February 6, 2014

How are you feeling?

S.S. made the point, " You can't feel anger and guilt at the same time" in our lunch discussion today.  I wondered if this applied to all feelings? Are we single threaded emotional machines?

There was a recent study that involved trying to distinguish your state of mind.  How often and how specific could individuals differentiate various emotions. The psychologists had a group of 106 people record seven negative emotions (sad, anxious, angry, frustrated, ashamed, disgusted, and guilty) and four positive emotions (happy, excited, alert, and active) on a scale from one to four at 56 random times daily over the course of one week. 

Here is there conclusion:  "The ability to identify and distinguish between negative emotions helps us address the problem that led to those emotions in the first place. But while some people can tell the difference between feeling angry and guilty, others may not be able to separate the two. Distinguishing between anger and frustration is even harder."

This study implies that we mix emotions regularly but the ability to step outside yourself and analyze the specific feeling can help you circumvent the feeling and improve your life.

Mom always taught me that the emotion of anger only hurts yourself.  I suspect this might apply to all the negative emotions.  That does not mean you can avoid these feelings.  However it does mean the earlier you can distinguish you are having the specific feeling, the sooner you will be able to cope with the cause.

Maybe it is the cause that is single threaded.

Wednesday, February 5, 2014

Iced In

Snowfall crystallized last night and a hard two inch layer of icy snow appeared everywhere this morning.  Plowing through the dual layer of ice an powder was a difficult task for the John Deere riding mower with snow blade attached. 

This winter has broken all the records and continues to deliver more.  Even this evening a gentle fall of white flakes adds a new powder on top of the frozen tundra..  The dog tracks are not even visible across the yard. 

Propane costs have nearly doubled ($3.15/gal from $1.80/gal) and our provider is rationing (filled our tank up to 60%).  The is a shortage of propane in the Midwest and it's reported that if the polar vortex continues that supplies could run out in mid-February.

Sunday, February 2, 2014

Superbowl 48

It's Superbowl XLVIII or for the non-Romans - number 48.  The use of Roman numerals is appropriate for Today's Gladiator spectacle.  The Superbowl is a defining event of my generation since I can say I've seen all 48 games.  This year I will watch the game with the family, Paul and his brother (usually, I'm at Rich's house see: Heaven Board Entry #5). 

I will cheer for Denver mainly because of I like to watch Manning (and his legacy with the Colts)..  My most disappointing memory was Superbowl III on January 16, 1969 with my favorite team - the Baltimore Colts vs the New York Jets.  I was living in Berwyn Pa. (suburb of Philadelphia) and saw only part of the game since I was playing pond hockey at a church youth group event. It was good I had the conflict since the Colts lost and I didn't have to sit through the entire misery.

I was a big fan of Johnny Unitas (I shook hands with him at a Cincinnati Bengals game 11/19/1972 after the Miami Marching Machine's half time performance) who was injured and did not start the game but was put into the game late to try to change the Colts lethargic play.  That game proves that the overwhelming favorite (a team with only two losses in 30 games) can get beat.

Other Superbowl memories are only distant images as compared to my teenage years of cheering for the Colts.  Clearly the Bengals two losses in Superbowls to San Francisco were also disappointments.

Now - I just hope for a close game and a fun family gathering.