Sunday, September 24, 2017
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General Electric Research Laboratory in Schenectady, New York, United States (Photo credit: Wikipedia) What Is It About February and Suicide? I have long believed people have some control over the exact date of their death, short of a tragic accident. It may only be a day or two, or a week or two if they have some event they are trying to live to see. So, when my father died of a hemorrhagic stroke on February 12, 1991, four days after the stroke hit him, I thought he was trying to spare my mother the grief that would have marked Valentine’s Day the rest of her life. And, perhaps he was. But,... (Read More ...)

Is 98.2 Degrees Fahrenheit the New Normal? Glass Thermometer Although Carl Reinhold August Wunderlich (1815-1877) introduced body temperature into hospital charts and believed that a high fever was not a disease but a symptom, his analysis of the average oral body temperature is no longer believed to be the 98.6 F he reported. Allowing for a healthy normal range, and the fact that body temperature is affected by time of day, and whether someone is hungry, sleepy, cold or jet-lagged, to say nothing of where the temperature measurement is taken, oral, internal or ear, since the 1990s scientists have... (Read More ...)

When Did We Start Teaching Babies Sign Language? Learning sign language (Photo credit: daveynin) Both my grandchildren were taught to sign as infants and toddlers. They learned simple words, like “Milk”, “More,” “Hug,” “Teddy Bear,”  and “Sleep.” Modern parents believe that early language training with sign language reduces a baby’s frustration and speeds up and enhances their language ability. How Did This All Get Started? A graduate student, Joseph Garcia, an interpreter in American Sign Language, reasoned in his 1986 graduate thesis that even hearing... (Read More ...)

Uncles. Coaches. Priests. Joe. Joe. Penn State Coach Joe Paterno, 2006 I believed Joe Paterno, beloved coach of Penn State’s Nittany Lions, when he said the reason he turned over the allegations about child sex abuse made against his friend and former employee to university officials in 2002 was that he didn’t know what else to do. I think we are way more sensitized to the cruel and common reality of this behavior because of the Catholic Church’s having had to wrestle with it publicly in recent years. The Penn State community was told, several times, about Sandusky’s behavior and underreacted. So,... (Read More ...)

Image via Wikipedia We had just finished a light lunch. The young mother, whose daughter is friends with my granddaughter, said, “How come we never have to wait after eating to go swimming anymore?” Good question. How many hours did you spend waiting impatiently the 30 minutes to an hour that used to be required by all responsible parents before children were allowed back in the pool? When did this requirement stop being enforced? Apparently, after at least one survey of deaths by drowning, the myth we were brought up with regarding cramping because of blood flow being diverted by digestion... (Read More ...)

A Burr Velcro was invented in 1948 by a Swiss electrical engineer, George de Mestral, after returning from a hunting trip. Patented in 1955, it was manufactured a few years later, after replacing the early cotton threads with nylon, and eventually introducing polyester. Mestral’s inspiration came from noticing the burrs that stuck to his clothes and his dog’s fur after a hike. Looking at the burrs under a microscope, he saw that the burrs had hooks and his clothing acted like loops to catch the burrs, which then also released easily. Copying a process in nature using manmade materials and... (Read More ...)

Vacuum cleaner Every time a grandchild visits, as our grandson did last week, I am reminded of the parenting strategies that still work, in the face of the many ways parenting has changed. Though sleeping on backs instead of tummies, sitting in car seats until the age of eight, and entertaining themselves with DVDs makes it look like everything about parenting has changed, much has not. Here are three examples: Slow response. When a child asks for help with something they are trying to figure out, it is an automatic response. They have learned that if they get stuck, they can always ask... (Read More ...)

Service Station How Much Does It Cost to Drive a Car? When I was little, back in the day when you pulled up to a gas station and they filled your tank for you, I remember the attendant asking my father how much gas he wanted. “Five dollars,” he said. I thought this meant he could decide how much he wanted to pay for gas. I had missed entirely the fact that he meant five dollars’ worth, or however much five dollars would buy, not that he had decided he only wanted to pay five dollars for a tank of gas and the attendant agreed. Children often misunderstand adult talk. When I asked him about... (Read More ...)

Image via Wikipedia Friday, March 27, 2011, was my 200th post! Lots has changed since we raised our children! What would you like your grandchildren to know about life when you were growing up? When you were raising their parents? The most popular post this week was: How Do You Build a Strong Popsicle Bridge? The most popular post this month was: How Do You Build a Strong Popsicle Bridge? Coming up next week, look for: Monday, March 28: Second cousins, Barton paddle, pig farms, and college Tuesday, March 29: Breakthroughs, smallpox, polio, malaria, hand-washing Wednesday, March 30: Genealogy,... (Read More ...)

Image via Wikipedia Apparently, it’s not if, but when. Needless to say, when I was growing up, we not only had a dial-up landline, we had only one telephone, installed just off the kitchen, so anyone walking by could overhear whatever you were talking about. Now, that’s parental control. The only time I got in trouble over using the phone was one late afternoon when I was on the phone for more than an hour, talking to a friend I had spent several hours with that same afternoon. My father was annoyed that I was tying up the phone for so long, and could not understand how we might still... (Read More ...)