Friday Four

Friday, January 16, 2015

1. One of the fun things about being a parent is rediscovering all the little wonders the world holds during the process of showing some of its newest inhabitants around. For example, I make it a point to let my kids smell spices when I cook. Sometimes, doing things like this has yielded me the further dividend of amusing results.

A case in point has been what I call my son's beer rating system. As with spices, I give my kids the chance to enjoy the aroma of whatever beer I quaff at the end of the day. Over time, I have noticed that my son has several distinct reactions, which I categorize below, from least to most favorable:

  1. Pushes glass away.
  2. Smiles, and then pushes glass away.
  3. Smiles.
  4. Laughs.
  5. Laughs, and claps his hands.
During a recent visit, one of my brothers enjoyed this so much he sent video of it to the rest of the family.

I recently taught him to raise his cup or bottle and clink it after I say, "Cheers!" His older sister also took to this with gusto at his age, but my happy boy surprised me one day as I picked him up from daycare: He raised his bottle in the direction of his teachers and waved!

2. Although it will probably be difficult for a parent to read, I recommend reading the story of a man who, as a boy, spent over a decade trapped in his body while, for most of that time, he was fully aware of his surroundings:
Eventually Martin found a way to reframe even the ugliest thoughts that haunted him. Like when his mother said, "I hope you die."

"The rest of the world felt so far away when she said those words," Martin says.

But he began to wrestle with it. Why would a mother say that?

"As time passed, I gradually learned to understand my mother's desperation. Every time she looked at me, she could see only a cruel parody of the once-healthy child she had loved so much."

Over time, Martin began re-engaging with his thoughts. And slowly, as his mind felt better, something else happened -- his body began to get better, too. It involved inexplicable neurological developments and a painstaking battle to prove that he existed.
I found this bittersweet, but inspiring.

3. Also inspiring, but a little bit amusing as well is the story of Richard Drew, the inventor of Scotch Tape:
His boss, William McKnight, the same man who'd initially ordered Drew to cease his inventing efforts, still didn't see the potential in this new tape, and refused to purchase a machine that would allow for its mass production. Instead of acquiescing, Drew got creative: as a researcher, he had the right to secure purchases of up to $100, so he bought the machine in parts in a series of $99 orders, then constructed it himself. When Drew's boss later found out what Drew he'd been up to, he rewarded him for his tenacity by establishing a new managerial mandate at 3M: "If you have the right person on the right project, and they are absolutely dedicated to finding a solution -- leave them alone. Tolerate their initiative and trust them."
As Drew advanced to direct a research lab, he also pioneered a policy made famous again recently by Google: encouraging workers to spend part of their paid time conducting their own research,

4. What's life like in the coldest town on earth? Thanks to the curiosity of an intrepid photographer, we can get an idea:
Oymyakon weather played hell with [Amos] Chapple's camera. He faced unending challenges while shooting. "There was a lot to learn, it took several days to figure out some tricks to be able to keep working," he said. "From the moment I left the hotel in the morning the temperature of the camera would begin to drop. Once the guts of the camera froze, that was it for the day."
Needless to say, there are some pretty interesting pictures there, in slideshow form.

-- CAV


John Shepard said...

I enjoy your stories of life with your young children, Gus, among the rest of your posts. Thanks for sharing them.


Gus Van Horn said...

Thanks, and cheers right back at you!

Steve D said...

So how closely does your son's beer-rating system match your own?

Gus Van Horn said...


He seems to think I should stick with hoppier beers, like IPA's or, at least if I'm going to drink porters and stouts, that they should be aged in whiskey barrels.