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WIT & WISDOM - August 24, 1998

~~~~~~~ THOUGHTS:

I find the greatest thing in the world is not so much where we stand, as in what direction we are moving. - Oliver Wendell Holmes [1]


A few months ago, when I was picking up the children at school, another mother I knew well, rushed up to me. Emily was fuming with indignation.

"Do you know what you and I are?" she demanded.

Before I could answer - and I didn't really have one handy - she blurted out the reason for her question.

She had just returned from renewing her driver's license at the County Clerk's office. Asked by the woman recorder to state her "occupation," Emily had hesitated, uncertain how to classify herself.

"What I mean is," explained the recorder, "Do you have a job, or are you just a . . . ?"

"Of course I have a job," snapped Emily. "I'm a mother."

"We don't list 'mother' as an occupation. 'Housewife' covers it," said the recorder emphatically.

I forgot all about her story until one day I found myself in the same situation, this time at our own Town Hall.

The Clerk asked: "And what is your occupation?"

What made me say it, I do not know. The words simply popped out. "I'm. . .a Research Associate in the field of Child Development and Human Relations." The clerk paused, ball-point pen frozen in mid-air, and looked up as though she had not heard right. I repeated the title slowly, emphasizing the most significant words. Then I stared with wonder as my pompous pronouncement was written in bold, black ink on the official questionnaire.

"Might I ask," said the clerk with new interest, "just what you do in your field?"

Coolly, without any trace of fluster in my voice, I heard myself reply, "I have a continuing program of research [what mother doesn't] in the laboratory and in the field [normally I would have said indoors and out]. I'm working for my Masters [the whole family] and already have four credits [all daughters]. Of course, the job is one of the most demanding in the humanities [any mother care to disagree?] and I often work 14 hours a day [24 is more like it]. But the job is more challenging than most run-of-the-mill careers and the rewards are in satisfaction rather than just money." There was an increasing note of respect in the clerk's voice as she completed the form, stood up, and personally ushered me to the door.

As I drove into our driveway buoyed up by my glamorous new career, I was greeted by my lab assistants - age 13, 7, and 3. And upstairs, I could hear our new experimental model (six months) in the child-development program, testing out a new vocal pattern. I felt triumphant. I had scored a beat on bureaucracy. And I had gone down on the official records as someone more distinguished and indispensable to mankind than "just another. . ." [2]

~~~~~~~ THIS & THAT:

AMAZED & CONFUSED: Part 1 of 3

Kids write the darndest things in essays. Here are some excerpts of sparkling prose from this year's Oregon writing assessment tests - with corrections - courtesy of the Portland Public Schools. - Alicia di Rado, OREGONIAN, 1997

Grade 5:

She was too busy to visit every Saturday. So she promised her mom to visit 6 times a month instead.

I would have got Rooky of the Year and broke Cream Aboljphar's record.

A long time ago when I was 9 years old . . .

I would give almost anything (counting my brother) for a tour to the Pacific.

He wanted to buy a house and all he had is a couple of cheese balls.

I think that I like Banana Skittles more than anything in the world (except my boyfriend.)

And you can get bad breath from drugs too.

It is now the year 3002 and I guess that explains the clothes.

I think hunting season should be expanded so that people have a better chance at killing something. [3]


I heard on the radio that the next tropical storm/hurricane is to be given the name Bonnie. That inspired the following verse:

My Bonnie Blows Over the Ocean
By John L. Hoh, Jr.

My Bonnie blows over the ocean,
My Bonnie blows in from the sea;
My Bonnie blows up in the jet streams;
Oh hold back my Bonnie from me.

Hold back, hold back
Oh hold back my Bonnie from me, from me.
(John wrote several more verses that are not shown here.) [4]

~~~~~~~ TRIVIA:

In the days of Edward I, who ruled England in the thirteenth century, the price of a fairly well written Bible was 37 pounds, or approximately $184. The hire of a laborer was a penny and a half a day. The purchase of a copy of the Bible would have taken such a person 4,800 days, or thirteen years and fifty-five days, of continuous labor. Excluding Sabbaths, something more than fifteen years and three months of constant labor would have been required to compass the price. - By Alfonso N. Anderson, Signs of the Times, November 25, 1930. [5]


[1] (Inspiration a Day! jhinds@technologist.com)
[2] (Merry-Hearts Merry-Hearts@xc.org)
[3] (Barbara Henry)
[4] (John L. Hoh, Jr. john.hoh@mail.mei.com)
[5] (Dale Galusha http://www.pacificpress.com/signs)

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