Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Shackleton Speaks VII

Shack's strong suits do not include reading and writing. Given an assignment to choose five of his ten weekly spelling words and write sentences, he goes for brevity. Also, he doesn't worry too much about the spelling aspect of spelling practice. This week's list included "flake" and "public". So, he told the teacher: "I like con flakes." The other sentences were similarly structured and short. My favorite, however, was "Not in public!"

We learned this week that our wireless internet connection is sufficiently robust to support downloading Netflix movies through the Wii. Amazing. It works great. We now have a 30 day free trial so, naturally, we spent a half a day last week watching movies. We saw the gorgeous movie Babies. You've heard about that. It's that fly-on-the wall (well, fly with a super hi-def movie camera) documentary that follows four babies from four different parts of the world through their first year. Lots of amazing photography and lots to think about. One of the babies lives in tribal Africa. He's a lovely little guy who gets through his first year with no baby equipment, toys or diapers. In one scene, he leaves a deposit of baby poo on his mother's knee. She grabs a corn cob and cleans herself off.

Shackleton turned to his sister and I and asked, "Anyone want some corn"? We shouldn't encourage him, but we can't help ourselves.

Maybe some con flakes?

Hope all is well with you usual stoppers-in. Thanks for continuing to come around. I haven't been out there much lately but I hope to catch up soon. Happy Halloween.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

File This Under "The Flight Goes On"

I signed in to read my email tonight and was distracted, as I so often am, by the AOL news headlines. This one was: "What Happens When a Flier Gets Sick Midair?

I have wondered about that, so naturally I read the article. I was relieved to know there's a protocol - even for that worst case scenario:

And when a passenger dies, [the airline representative] says, there are clear procedures to follow. "If they don't respond, we move them to the floor for possible CPR," he says. "If after 30 minutes, there's still no sign of improvement and they're dead, then we have to go ahead and put them into a seat." Standard airline procedures dictate the person is to be secured in the seat, says Gailen, "so we move the person to a seat -- preferably where few customers are nearby -- and ask for volunteers to assist in moving the person, if necessary."

Directives also require that the deceased not block an exit row, that the eyes are closed, that a blanket is placed under the body, and that the body is also covered with a blanket.

I don't know which would be worse. Being the dead guy or the passenger who has to finish a full flight next to the corpse?

What's the etiquette around being seated next to a corpse anyway? What if it lists? Can you give it a little shove? What if the face blanket slips down?

What if it slips down and you see the eyelids are open? Do you ask the flight attendant to get those lids back down? I doubt, somehow, that she would welcome a reminder about the eyes-shut protocol that you read about on America On Line.

Would it be permissible to use the tray table in front of the dead body for that last little plastic cup, snack bag, and crumpled napkin that seems to take forever to get collected? Hmmm. And what of, the, er, loss of bladder and bowel control that generally accompanies death?

I am betting that if you are the passenger tagged for seat mate with a corpse, especially a leaking one, the flight crew would promise you the sun and the moon and the stars, or at least one free round trip, to be a good sport about it.

And what, I wonder, if I were the unlucky one who transitioned mid-flight from valued (or at least potentially repeat) airline passenger to most unwelcome cabin cargo?

I heard once that Oscar Wilde's last words were, "Either this wallpaper goes or I do." I am no Oscar Wilde, but I would like to think I might manage, what? "If I don't get a lie-flat seat right now, I am out of here!" or maybe, "No, I won't wait for the plane to come to a complete stop at the gate or for the damned seat belt light to be turned off"?

Oh, I know this isn't funny. But, well, you know.

May all your travels be happy and healthy.

Monday, October 18, 2010

Shackleton Speaks VI

Shack and I went up to the middle school just after dark today to wait for the Understudy to return from her field hockey game in the wilds of Montpelier. It is cold here in northern Vermont tonight and very clear. The taxpayers of the school district object to seeing lights on in or about the school at night with the result that it was very dark as we waited for the team bus. The stars were twinkling over the parking lot.

"Make a wish," I said to Shackleton. (He's nine now).

He did, and I did. Then he asked me what I had wished for. I said I couldn't tell him or it wouldn't come true.

"Did any of your wishes ever come true?" he asked.

I told him I couldn't exactly remember, but I thought so.

"Cool." He said. "It's like a lottery ticket, but it's free and it's in the sky."