Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Perspectives Gained by Searching

    Sometimes I start an aimless Internet search when I'm feeling curious. I was born about 5 miles from the village of Esk,  Sask. In it's hay day Esk had a peak population of 50. Now it's population is probably zero. I Googled this village last night because I knew there were several websites about it. None of these sites had much information because no one has contributed to them.

    My search did lead to a link on cemeteries. There were two cemeteries for the village. Think about it ? Two cemeteries for a village of 50 people. First , I went though the list  in the Baptist cemetery. It's a walk threw history. There were people who were elderly when I was a child and those who have  died since I left the area. One thing I noticed was that an Aunt and uncle were not buried there so now I will have to look for them.

    The Lutheran cemetery is larger and that's where my relatives are buried. My Great Grandpa donated the plot of land for the cemetery. Again, I was just going through the names and not concentrating.   All of a sudden a name popped out at me and it was my Mom. Why did the name pop out? I haven't heard my Mom referred to by her name for a very long time as we always talk about "Mom" and her friends who would use her first name are not here anymore. By this time I was awake and I knew what name would be coming next...my sister who passed away when she was eleven yeas old. 

   So coming across these two names got me thinking. Mom died in 1973, My sister died in 1953. So this year there are two anniversaries. My Mom passed away 40 years ago and my sister passed away 60 years ago. I started to wonder how these family members will be remembered. There aren't very many people who are living who knew my sister. Her memory is carried by very few people. My Mom is in a similar situation. If my Mom was living, next year she would have been 100. Very few of her acquaintances are left. Very few people are left who knew her. 

   So time rolls on and generations spend their time here and pass away. Grave markers will remind people of who was here. Slowly over time the markers will also disintegrate and we will be forgotten. 

Friday, February 22, 2013

Communication With Children on Health Issues.

     So my previous post on communication with children was setting the stage for talking to children about their health conditions. Most of the time we do a good job of communicating with our children. Sometimes we could do better. When it comes to health issues it is crucial that we get it right.

     My story is this.   It happened a long time ago...in the late forties. The world was a different place. When I was seven or eight years old I began having "spells" as my mother called them. I was taken in to the old country doctor and he diagnosed my condition as epilepsy. I'm not sure if he explained to my mother what the condition was . I'm not sure if my mother understood what was going on. I certainly didn't understand and had many misconceptions that frightened me. I thought I had something that I would die from! My mother was warned to watch that I didn't swallow my tongue. I thought the condition I had related to my heart and even little kids knew that heart attacks kill people. I also sensed that there was a great stigma related to this condition. People had strange ideas about it and thought those who had epilepsy were somewhat deranged. This adds to a kid's anxiety.

    I was given medication. I was given responsibility for taking the medication. Often I didn't take the medication so had more seizures. 

    So my example illustrates what I have to say. It is extremely important that we explain to children what medical condition they have. Children understand much more than we give them credit for. Sometimes the child's anxiety and loneliness is worse than the condition itself. Yet, people still do not take the time to fully explain conditions to children.

    Fortunately I had what is known as juvenile epilepsy and when I hit puberty the epilepsy stopped. 

   Now three years ago I was diagnosed with seizures again! Of course, I thought the diagnosis was wrong because after all I had experience with seizures and these seizures were not remotely the same as what I had as a child. So I came home and immediately went on the Internet and found that my specialist was right. 

    It's now known that in many situations a seniors forgetfulness and confusion is caused by senior epilepsy.

   So maybe communication has to be carefully done with older people too or at least with this elderly person.

   I am doing well. I do not have any seizures. I take my medication but the medication has side effects. It bothers my balance.

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Communication with Children

    Since all the years of my career were spent with children , communication with children is extremely important. There's no one right or wrong way to talk to children...there are many ways. Each child is different as each adult is unique and so there will automatically be variations. 

    Basically all we have to do is focus attention on the child and make sure that we are speaking to the individual. We are talking to a human being so just because the person happens to be a child doesn't mean we have to change from our normal pattern of speech. Sometimes we see people using exaggerated baby talk to communicate with little kids . It may be cute and fun but the kid doesn't learn much when things are dumbed down.

    One of my favorite short stories was about a boy who went to the store with his Dad to buy a pair of shoes. The clerk talked to the Dad and the Dad relayed the clerk's message to the kid. When the kid answered he spoke to his Dad and his Dad relayed the message to the clerk. It's a well told story and is a good illustration of what not to do. If anybody knows this story , tell me the author and a title as I can not remember them. 

    We don't have to over simplify our speech. Speak to the kid's level. Kids know when we're dumbing things down and we lose some credibility 

     Sometimes we have to catch a kid's attention. Most people yell and they do get the kid's attention but the yelling raises the stress level so, you have the kid's attention but have increased the stress. A stressed conversation usually doesn't go well. Patience helps. Take a deep breath. Lower your voice an octave. It usually catches their attention and doesn't cause any side effects. 

    Talking to kids is sometimes a challenge that increases our stress and things can get complicated in a hurry. I know. I've been there. I just know that if you can discipline yourself the conversation can be beneficial and fun. I like talking to kids on our street. It's always a pleasant part of my day and I usually learn something in a very interesting way.

Monday, February 18, 2013

My Last Request

    A few days ago I attended a small memorial for Joseph. I first met Joseph more than thirty years ago when his children attended the school I taught in. When I retired and started volunteering at the Nature Center Joseph was working there in maintenance so I got to know him quite well.

     The memorial was a simple family run affair. A eulogy was given and prayers read. Prayers ran seamlessly from Christian to aboriginal. I'm cool with that as I've experienced it many times before. Many people told of their experiences with Joseph and you learned much more about him from his family and friends. Many times they referred to Joseph being in heaven to reunite with his parents and some siblings.

     Listening to this I began thinking about the place and journey my spirit might take when my life is over. I began to wonder about things. I wondered if my spirit could go to several different places. Could part of my spirit go to heaven and I could be reunited with my parents and little sister? Could part of my spirit be released in the Great Sand Hills where many other spirits roam. Since I like being in the peaks of the Rockies could part of my spirit forever roam among to lofty peaks?  That would be my last request. 

    I'm not sure if I make this request to those who send me on journey or wait until I get to some other more appropriate place.

    Now I don't know what I've achieved with this post. Have I established a new genre of fiction? Have I succeeded in embarrassing myself again?  Have I ostracized myself from my relatives again? How many rigid religious rules have I broken?

    Well, am I worried? Of course not! If my readers have not already closed their eyes and put their hands over their ears and gone off to another blog, I will get interpretations guidance and opinions from my followers.  After all, I have to trust my blog  followers.

Saturday, February 16, 2013

Bring Me Back a Present

     When I taught middle school I had a newspaper unit for one of the grades. We looked at all the parts of a daily paper starting with the header and ending with classified ads. We looked at headlines, first sentence of a story, editorials ..absolutely everything. The assignment was to make a scrapbook with about 10 different examples from the paper. The assignment was easy but it made the kids look through a newspaper. I killed a few birds with this stone. It got the kids reading and had them look at writing for a purpose. We did the crossword as a class and generally rooted through the whole paper. For a fine finale we took a field trip through a daily paper and saw how the paper was produced from start to finish.

I think I might need some new glasses

   I hope that some people found newspapers. I know the odd one is working for a newspaper but not likely from my newspaper unit.

   When  someone would tell me they were being taken out of school for a trip, I would look them in the eye and say, "You have to bring a present back for me!" A nervous distraught look would come over their face which said, "Is this guy for real?" I would give them a few seconds to be uncomfortable. The odd one would say ,"No way." Others might say, "Well , what do you want." Usually I got them off the hook and said , "Bring me back a newspaper." A look of relief  flooded across  their face and they enthusiastically said , "Oh sure!" I told them they didn't have to actually buy a newspaper. Their would be newspapers that they could pick up.

    So when they came back with their newspaper , I would make a big deal over the paper and we would briefly go through the paper and pass it around. Later on when they were going away they would ask me if I wanted a paper. Then they would come and say , "My Dad's going to Russia. Do you want a paper?" Some time later they would proudly come in with a paper. 

   I made a lot of mileage out of this gag. Quite a pile of newspapers built up over the years. Sadly there wasn't a lot of storage space so I had to clean out the closet from time to time. When I retired I disposed of all the newspapers that were left. Many memories went with the newspapers I collected. 

    "Bring me back a present" was a lot of fun.

Thursday, February 14, 2013

Star Gazers

    The other night when I went out for my walk I found my 12 year old neighbor, Kenny, standing on the sidewalk with her dog. She was supposed to be walking her dog. Instead she was standing two doors from her house and looking up in the sky. I asked her what she was doing. (Dumb question.) She was obviously looking at the stars and she told me she liked stars.

   It was one of the clearest evenings we've had for a long time. She told me, "That's Orion over there." I said, "No way! Orion is in the southeast." Kenny bought her ipad out of her pocket and started fiddling around. Then she said, I have an app to show me Orion. Kenny pointed her ipad skyward and all the stars, constellations and planets were named as she pointed at them. I was completely blown away. I am familiar with star maps and charts ,but never imagined these things would be refined into a computer map. Papers used to have star charts once a week and maybe some papers still do.

    So we forgot the dog. I forgot my walk and we looked at stars. It was clear so we'd point and say, "I wonder what that one is?"  In a second or two the app would give us a name. Jupiter is now very bright almost above us and to the south. Take out your field glasses and have look.

   So half an hour goes by in a hurry when you're star gazing. I think the app is called Star Rover and it's free.      

   Kenny is one of he best twelve year old neighbors you could have. She's a "yakker" and she knows how to talk to adults, even old ones. So had a few pluses in a short time...star gazing, visiting and being outdoors.

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

An Elderly Challenge

    The other day when I went for my lab tests there was a very elderly lady dealing with the next clerk. This lady was well up in the nineties and her eyes were level with the counter top. In our system we must show our health care card and driver's license. She told them she didn't have a driver's license and wanted to know why they wanted it. They told her they just wanted to check her age . Her reply was, " I used to always be three years older than my brother. " I had a tough time not to roar with laughter. I like comments like that.

    Then I started thinking. Here's very elderly lady on her own in a large , sprawling hospital. She walked with a cane. Why doesn't someone assist  this senior with some of the basics. I'm sure she was very much with it in her head but physically she was challenged.

    She had been dropped of by a bus service from her senior's residence at 7:30 AM. What time did she have to get up and be ready to wait for some bus? 

   A volunteer had offered to get my paper work done and take me to another part of the hospital. I refused this aid as I had been through this routine before.This poor little lady was on her own. 

    I have a hard time to feel fortunate when I see someone who has to struggle on her own to get things done when there should be some help. 

Monday, February 11, 2013

Lab Challenged

      In preparing for my annual physical check up I was sent to a lab for the many routine tests.

      I arrived very early and so they sent me for my EEG because the lab wouldn't be open for 20 min. The EEG went fine and I went back to the lab. I waited two minutes and I was in. They took the usual vials of blood for the necessary tests. This went great as they hit the vein dead on.

    When I finished the blood work I had one test left. I was handed a small extremely cheap plastic cup and a vial with a centimeter diameter(7/32 in.). You guessed it . The last stop was at the wash room. Now I don't think you could find a more flimsy plastic cup. Most paper cups would be more substantial. I was to make my deposit in the cup and then pour enough of the deposit to fill the vial. Now it doesn't take much imagination to know what might go wrong. Yes, cheap little plastic cup and small vial...an accident waiting to happen. And it did. Next there's a blue plastic cap to go on the top of the vial. Put the sucker on and check to see if it's right. Well , it's not . So push harder. Still lopsided so really push and finally the lid went on. 

     Now here's my point. What are these people in the labs thinking when they set up such a system?  You can see this little old guy and many more rocking back on his/their heels and trying to pour liquid in a very small tube . We shake a bit and can't see too well. It doesn't work. It will be messy! So what do I do next time? Smuggle a little funnel into the lab! Take in a drinking straw to use as pipette?  What if they quit giving you the cheap plastic cup? I hate to think of that one!

    I'm going to have to check with my brother who has  health care kind of job. He's going to have to check into what can be done to help his elderly brother with a lab test. 

    So I hope for everybody else that other areas have not gone on such a cheap test and that nobody has to go through this ordeal. 

Sunday, February 10, 2013

A Fine Winter Afternoon

    This afternoon I went for an hour's walk through a nearby natural area. It was minus 6 C (20 F) and very sunny. These days the sun has come back and the rays are a little more direct.

Into the woods

Sunshine finding it's way into the trees

Sun reaching into deep woods

Spruce trees catching some rays at the edge of a clearing

Water flowing up on a stream

Still lots of shadow

My trail takes a hook to the left
      So it was a very peasant afternoon to be out in the sun and shadow.

Wednesday, February 6, 2013

My Close Call in Theft.

     Most followers know that I was a Middle School teacher all my career. Most people know that middle schoolers can be full of mischief.

    Every year there would be a large incident of kids shooting paper wads. Some busy teacher would leave an unguarded box of rubber bands and after that all the bandits would be well armed and war broke out all over the school. You could confiscate rubber bands all day but unless you found the mother lode of rubber bands , paper wads flew for some time. I can remember getting "tips" and I would find somebody with a pocket full of rubber bands and I would make a major confiscation. That usually ended the paper wad fuss. Every year there would be a water pistol event. Usually a couple of stores had brought in a case of water pistols and every little beaner bought a water pistol and of course took it to school. Again , as with water pistols, these were very cleverly hidden. There were wet spots in the class room . Kids complained. There was extra traffic at the water fountain. Either enough armor was confiscated or became unserviceable and the activity ceased.

     For one outbreak of water pistols, the principal became completely frustrated and read the riot act on water pistols. He did announcements just before dismissal on a Friday afternoon. He told kids to take their weapons home. He told the teachers to disarm every water pistol armed kid. After dismissal I was supervising in the hall and a little guy came by with his weapon in his hand all the while admiring it. My jaw dropped. 60 seconds ago this kid had been told to get rid of his weapon. I had no option but to make a confiscation. The kid was a good jail house lawyer and put up a strong argument. 

    Early Saturday morning, before I was up, there was a loud knock on my apartment door. The kid's Dad was there with another guy I knew well and he went ballistic. He wanted his son's water pistol back and he yelled at me and told me what a disgusting human being I was. Since I'd turned the device in to the principal I could not return the goods.  I was shaken up by this encounter. I phoned my principal right away to give him a heads up on what had happened and to let him know what he might expect.

    The guy who accompanied the wild man contacted me later in the day and said he was completely unaware as to what was going on and he wanted me to know that he was no part of it.

    We had a police administration center in our town and the top guy was a superintendent. A few weeks after this incident when I was chatting with him he said, "Say , what was going on with the thing about a water pistol in school?" He said, "The guy came to him and created a big fuss as he wanted the superintendent to lay theft charges on me." He said, "I had an awful time with the guy." the supt. thought it was odd but not serious. So the guy had gone not to a constable to lay a charge but to the very top.

    So this was the only time in my life I came close to being charged with anything. I have often said that I appreciated  the  support I received in all the communities I taught in. However , this was one of the exceptions.

Saturday, February 2, 2013

Who Makes the Rules

   Sometimes you bump into a series of events that make you ask a question related to these different happenings. This happened to me recently. Here are the three events. There was an obituary of a former student in the paper this morning. I read a blog post this morning which ended with "We need a system." I heard a radio piece this week that dealt with Dr. Martin Luther King's well known civil disobedience stand.

    Chrissy, the former student, died at age 57. I had her in middle school and she challenged me, the principal, all other teachers and students. She pushed every body's buttons. She was part mischievous, part mean and very bright. Now some people might say that Chrissy was incorrigible and throw the book a her and throw her away and that would do some good and solve the situation.. Was Chrissy, in her unhappy way, telling us that our school rules left something to be desired? Many school rules are made for the comfort of the organization rather than for the students.

    The post I read this morning was humorous and made a good point. How are people supposed to behave? Is a set of hard and fast rules needed so that everybody knows how to play? My reply to the post was, "Can you make rules for a little random, chaotic, quibbler like me? Would your system bring out the rebel in me?" 

    Dr. Martin Luther King lead a civil rights movement that fundamentally changed a country. King had to work years to bring about change. King brought about attention to problems by civil disobedience. King had stringent guide lines for civil disobedience. He would break unjust laws and expect to be punished and accept his punishment. 

   So all of this made me ask the question,"Who makes the rules?" Now before I go any further I'm all for honesty, goodness, peace, order and respect. But sometimes I have to wonder about rules which impose some group's stringent rules on others. This week in Mali we found out that Extremist Islamists tried to impose Shia law on a group of people without their consent. Not too long ago Christians burned witches. These religions are also divided into many denominations which sometimes disagree with one another to the point of violence. The Irish situation is a perfect example of religious turmoil. Political systems disagree and go to war.  The world suffered a Hitler who in his demented mind thought some people should be exterminated. Political parties in governments argue to the point of bringing paralysis to their country. Type of clothing is sometimes directed by others. Men require women to be covered in a precise manner in parts of the world. 

    Why do people have the need to impose their idea of rules and regulations on others?  I hope all people will question proposals for rules. It is our responsibility to question proposed rules so that we get the rules we deserve. In many cases we have far too many rules and regulations...red tape. People have not been thinking about making things efficient for a society to function.

   Okay, there's my rant! By this time some of you have  closed your eyes and put your hands over your ears and gone on to another blog! My rules make it so that you can leave my blog and go somewhere else. I won't be offended. I hope you won't be offended but will go away and think about things.

    Serendipity. A Beatle's song just came on called "All together Now."