Friday, March 19, 2010

Terrorists, vasectomies, and March Madness

The St. Paul Pioneer Press has a long-running feature called "Bulletin Board," where folks call or email anecdotes, cute kid stories, dumb-things-my-spouse-just-did, and other little ditties about daily life. It's a forerunner of the blogging community. They even have memes. Like for a month people will send in lists of "simple pleasures," before moving on to "strange foods our family used to eat."

A really big deal is when somebody gets a certified B-M. It stands for Baader-Meinhof, and more specifically the Baader-Meinhof Phenomenon. If you never heard of it before, maybe you will again, really soon. Which means you'll have had a B-M of your own!

Translation: Baader-Meinhof Phenomenon refers to hearing about something noteworthy and previously unknown to you, and then encountering it again very soon, from a completely different source. The newspaper's Bulletin Board feature is moderated, so someone decides whether your reported phenomenon truly qualifies for B-M status or whether it's just a coincidence.

Tonight, a local TV station reported on 10 babies born all about the same time in a local suburb. One of the new moms said, "I wonder whether there will also be a boom in vasectomies, just in time for March Madness." Huh?

Two minutes later I was reading my newspaper and there it was: it seems that a lot of men choose to schedule vasectomies (presumably they were going to get them anyway) during the NCAA basketball tournaments so they can get a pass to watch college basketball!

Eureka, I thought. A clear case of B-M. Then I had second thoughts. If the TV story was taped just today and the woman simply saw this story in the morning paper, then we have a coincidence, not a B-M.

Short of calling the station, I have no way to know. Sigh.

The name of the phenomenon comes from the Baader-Meinhof Gang, a media term applied to the Red Army Faction, a violent German left-wing terrorist group active from 1970 to 1988. There. If you never heard of them before, watch to see how soon you come across their name again. The Pioneer Press says a second occurrence must come within 24 hours to qualify as a B-M. Their rule, not mine.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Snowdrops...and snow mold

First flowers of the season are always the snowdrops. They peek up while there is still snow on the ground. Our recent warm days melted all the snow but left a bumper crop of snow mold (upper right, looks kinda like insect webs).

Sunday, March 14, 2010

Will the real Matt Nokes please stand up?

It's all about kids today; grownup stuff returns later in the week. Sometimes at Wild Rumpus Daycare for Grandkids, we find ourselves remarking on (or marveling at) new things that the kids seem to be doing. Some show new skills or levels of thinking; some are just funny or heart-warming.

Vi has a new obsession: Matt Nokes. The real Matt is a former major-league player we got to know when he joined the St. Paul Saints. When he came back into the league as a manager and coach for a few seasons, he'd always visit with us. We mentioned to Augie that Matt was both a catcher and a pilot--two of Augie's favorite things. (Matt once made an emergency landing on a California freeway.)

When the Duplo airplane came with a pilot that wore a cap, he became "Matt Nokes." Vi fell in love. She runs into our house singing out, "Matt Nokes, where are you?" She hugs him, pretends to change his diapers several times a day, and drops him into the pack-and-play for her naptime. Now her mom reports with considerable amusement that Matt Nokes resides at their house, too, where he is a little Fisher-Price girl in a yellow dress and a lei.

Augie and Vi are making up their own songs, or at least their own lyrics. Vi's: A B C E D F G H I J K Matt Nokes Matt Nokes Matt Nokes Matt Nokes! Augie and Pa will take just about any song and start singing a new story, trading off to add ideas. And on Thursday, a neew variation. Augie came in all primed: "Grandma, here's how Mali would sing Happy Birthday: 'Meow meow meow meow moew meow....'" When he finished, Peter picked up the idea, "A dog would sing 'Woof woof woof woof woof woof....'" With that, we were off. We did oinks and baahs and clucks and quacks and moos and roars and growls. Vi began singing "Neigh neigh neigh neigh neigh neigh" and I came up with "Chickadee dee dee dee." It was uproarious fun, verse after verse of animal Happy B'day (along with banana muffins that Augie and his mom had just made that morning because they are Grandma's favorite).

The kids' attention spans have really expanded as they play with the Duplos we got for Augie's birthday couple of weeks ago. The bus, train, and airplane sets invite them to make up scenarios, and we use the big sets of plain blocks to build garages, airport towers, city buildings, and sometimes just the tallest stack of blocks they can manage. Their manual dexterity seems to improve a little every day.

On Friday we went to story hour at Barnes & Noble. The place was packed--32 kids and their grownup companions--but Augie and Vi very independently found spots at opposite ends of the little benches and sat through about 20 minutes of storytelling before coming back to sit by us. Augie was content to continue listening, while Vi pulled a book off the shelf and thrust it at Pa: "Read it." She's very direct.

After the kids' swimming lessons Saturday, we all met up at the indoor playground. Augie ran for a bit, and then sat quietly between his mom and me. "Mom and Grandma," he said solemnly, "I am very sorry to leave you sitting when Daddy and I came from swimming lessons and you and Pa and Vi were waiting for us here." What? He carefully repeated it. Apparently he'd gotten sidetracked on the long walk through the halls and his Daddy pointed out that they were meeting us. Nothing dramatic. But Augie processed it and made a point of apologizing. It really makes us wonder what else he thinks about in the long moments when he goes quiet and chews on his lip. Sometimes when he does it, Pa says, "Look, Augie's being introspective." Sometimes he just stays deep in thought. Other times he gives a little grin, as if to say, "Old people are so cute, I have to humor them."

And because I don't have pix of the stuff I wrote about, I'm including these of the fleece blankets and pillowcases I made for naptime--teddy bears for her and baseballs for him, with a plain color for the blanket back and pillow edge. They seem to be a hit.


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