Today’s post is from Barbara in Rivertown

I just made a list of activities for the next several days, and made a copy in case I lose track of it. We are preparing our friend – I’ll call him Will – to move from a 3-bedroom house (with full basement and 2-story studio out back) to a 1-bedroom apartment in downtown Winona. He has Parkinson’s disease which has progressed over the past year, so there is a core group of six friends who are helping with this project, and a son arriving on Saturday.

Having just moved ourselves over a year ago, we’ve at least had practice, and remember (most of) what needs to be done. Of course there are differences, and a few wrinkles, like a bed delivery, in addition to the usual phone connection transfers and truck rental. Since Will is pretty slow moving, there is still a lot of sorting to do before stuff can be packed. And once he’s in, we need to seriously get going on house selling. It feels like we are juggling a lot of balls in the air, and I just hope I don’t drop one.  I used to be able to juggle three balls, wonder if I can still do that.

When have you had a lot to juggle, either figuratively or literally?

Promises, Promises

Husband and I are in Minneapolis attending the Association for Play Therapy annual conference.  It is a very well attended conference with typically wonderful workshops. This week we will attend 25 hours of lectures related to all aspects of play therapy, and browse the terrific vendors of  therapeutic toys and supplies.

Today we sat through 6 hours of a lecture that was quite disappointing, and not at all what was represented in the conference prospectus.  The presenter had a very ambitious agenda, and was very knowledgeable,  but wasn’t feeling well, and got off track and was distracted by questions from the audience. There were five objectives listed, and only the first two were addressed by the end of the day.  Husband and I were drawing funny cartoons for each other  by the end of the presentation.

I have higher hopes for tomorrow.  My workshops go from  8:00 am until 6:30pm. Husband gets off easier,  and only goes from Noon until 6:30pm.  I hope we won’t be misled like we were today.

When have you been disappointed by false advertising?

They All Fall Down

I found this on You Tube yesterday – got to it from one of my favorite science blogs.

This is amazing to me for a couple of reasons. First off, it’s not just the work of laying out all the dominoes.  You don’t just come in one morning and start randomly setting up dominoes.  Something of this complexity needs to be mapped out ahead of time and I means seriously mapped out.  You have to know exactly how much space you need, you need to know how much time it takes for domino trails to fall, you need to know how many of each color, you need to know how to set them up so you know what they’ll look like when they fall down… a pretty long list.

But I think one of the most amazing things is that you don’t really get to test this. It took a team of 19 individuals from around the world a week to get it all set up.  There is no test-run.  You pull the first string and then you hold your breath for the 12 minutes it takes.  You really have to have confidence in your abilities to take part in something like this.  I’m not sure I have enough obsession or emotional strength for it!

What feat of engineering do you admire?



Today’s post is from tim.
i was 4
my bed was the one by the window
paul’s was the one by the wall
mom brought home the record of the new play called oklahoma
the songs are all so wonderful but that one about the surry with the fringe on top made me dance in my sleep
with eisenglass windows that roll right up in case there’s a change in the weather.
mom comes in
what’s wrong

what are you yelling

i didn’t realize i was singing i thought it was in my head
what are you singing
with eisenglass windows that roll right up in case there’s a change in the weather
we just got that record today
i like it
go to sleep you’ll wake up your brother

wha do you got for childhood flashbacks?

Ship Ahoy!

Today’s post comes from  Steve Grooms

When I was a boy the most romantic and impressive form of transportation was the train. I grew up listening to the lonely nighttime screams of passing trains. A kid in my school was so involved with trains that he memorized data on all the train travel in Iowa. You could ask him any kind of question about trains. He’d barely pause before reciting details of train schedules.

I’ve never had that kind of mind. I’m a “big picture” guy, not a detail guy, someone more attuned to forests than to individual trees.

The closest I ever came to developing an esoteric interest was when I fell in love with a hand-carved carousel built a century ago. I was smitten to the point of reading a lot of background knowledge about carousels. It is a topic I can talk about at length. But in the end, I could not work up enough interest to become an expert about all the various makers of carousels in the country. A true lover of carousels would be fascinated by obscure little carousels that just look garish and cheap to me. My deepest affections were for one splendid carousel, not the whole category.

This comes to mind because my daughter is in the early stage of becoming immersed in a new interest for our family: ship watching. My son-in-law grew up in a lovely old home on the US bank of the St. Clair River. The St. Clair is deep enough to host the biggest ships sailing the Great Lakes. The river is, in fact, the only connection between the upper lakes (Superior and Michigan) and lower lakes. Any ship traveling far in the Great Lakes must pass close to John’s home, “close” meaning about a hundred yards. Now that our family lives in Port Huron, Molly has become fascinated with the ships we see here.

The photo heading this column is one I took in late September. The ship is the Federal Seto, a particularly lengthy “saltie.” It is owned by a shipping company based in Montreal. Since I took its portrait the Federal Seto steamed through Lake St. Clair, passed through Lake Erie, and then through Lake Ontario. After running the length of the St. Lawrence Seaway, today the ship has just entered the Atlantic Ocean on its way Rouen, France.

The major distinction between different bulk freighters on the Great Lakes is between “salties” and “lakers.” Salties are shorter than lakers and have higher sides. They move freely from lake to lake but also across oceans. Lakers, many of which are about a thousand feet long, cannot fit in the locks that connect the Atlantic Ocean with the Great Lakes. They work hard but always within the Great Lakes. In addition to being shorter and taller than lakers, salties are younger. The salty water of oceans is extremely corrosive, so salties rarely live longer than 20 years. By contrast, because lakers are not subjected to all that salt they can live many decades, even longer than a century.

Ship watching is popular hobby in this area, and there are many resources. Web sites track the movements of these ships. Many museums educate visitors about the shipping trade. There are books on ship watching, and newsletters. If you want to know the precise location and sailing plans for individual ships, “there is an app” for that. There are, in fact, several apps for smart phones that track these majestic ships at all times.

I was surprised by my daughter’s surge of interest in shipping. She has always had an active mind, but this is the first time she has immersed herself in a topic like this. Molly knows a great deal about Great Lakes ship traffic. She has favorite boats that she tracks with interest. She is highly excited by the fact a new ship being built in Europe will soon join the fleets of freighters already working the Great Lakes, and she will be sure to be on the porch of her mother-in-law’s home the first time it travels the St. Clair River.

Have you ever developed a fascination with an esoteric topic?

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