My awesome nephews

I want to give a shout-out today to my three siblings. These guys really raised a bunch of good kids. I have seven nephews, who range in age from 29 to 47. They are all good guys, good dads (those who have children), and accomplished professionals. They are

–a civilian logistical engineer with the Air Force.
–a former missionary to Ethiopia, now the headmaster of a private school.
–an Iraq war vet, now a civilian intelligence specialist with the Army.
–an Iraq war vet, now the Athletic Director for a public school system.
–a pastor.
–a computer engineer who owns his own company.
–an ER doctor.

And going back a generation, shout-out to my parents. You don’t raise kids like the above without parents who raised you right in the first place.

Respect.

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Time Steals Away

When I started thinking about this topic, which so often happens due to an etymology I’ve seen, I found many expressions and quotes related to time being a thief.

The most common thing that came up was the first line to John Newton’s poem “A New Year’s Thought and Prayer” It reads, “Time, by moments, steals away.” Despite the poem’s unfortunate closing lines – “Let our prayer thy bowels move, Make this year a time of love!” – we can relate to its basic theme, which is that we should take advantage of time as it steals away our hours, days, and years. For a long list of “Time is a thief” quotes, check out this page.

I often come to English etymologies indirectly, through the Spanish etymologies I read on La palabra del día. Today’s word was clepsidra, a water clock that works on the same principle as an hourglass to measure time. Rather than sand running through it, water drips consistently, and the hours are marked on the sides of the bowl or glass. One of the advantages of it is that it can be used, unlike the sundial, when it’s dark. And until the development of the pendulum clock in the 17th century, it was the most accurate timepiece available.

I had never heard of this device, so I went to see if I could find the English equivalent, which I learned was spelled “clepsydra.”

You can easily see the etymology if you look. “Clep” comes from the Greek “kleptein,” meaning “to steal,” and the “ydra” element comes from Greek “hydor,” water. You’ll recognize those from “kleptomaniac” and the many words related to water, like “hydrate” and “hydroelectricity.”

Here are two examples, a photo from Jeremy Norman’s historyofinformation.com page, that shows the type where one bowl sits in another,


and an illustration clipped from hydrojing.com, a hydraulic engineering consultant firm in Spain. (Though it appears their consulting relates to more modern topics.) In this type, water flows from one vessel set higher into one below it.


I wear an analog watch, which chiefly serves to tell me that I’m almost late, though I’m almost always, almost on time. But time is a thief equally with a pendulum, the running of sand, the dripping of water, or a read-your-texts, count-your-steps modern contraption.

A few days ago, I asked somehow how he was, and he said, “Older than I’ve ever been.” I answered, “Just wait until tomorrow!” Because time steals away.

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Earworms and Beyond

I almost always have an earworm, that phenomenon where some song or other, often from the distant past, plays in your head over and over, sometimes for days.

I woke up with a particularly interesting one today. It harkens back to high school Spanish class, and I’m pretty sure I’ve never heard it since then. It goes…
“Eva María se fue, buscando el sol en la playa, con su maleta de piel, y su bikini de rayas.
Translation: “Eva María left, looking for the sun at the beach, with her leather suitcase and her striped bikini.”
This one is by the Madrid ’60s-’70s pop group Formula V (English). It is highly recommended listening. It will make you happy, regardless of the fuzzy old video and whether you can understand it or not. Their cute bow-tie tuxes and the lead singer’s dorky dancing will put a smile on your face, guaranteed.

My earworms are almost always a partial song, picking up at a random spot or tapering off into nothing. Another I had recently was
“…Rooms to let, 50 cents…Man of means by no means, KING OF THE ROAD!”
Go figure. How long has it been since I actually heard that one?
Roger Miller’s screaming, maniacal fans and his well-placed finger snaps are also worth a listen!

But the most prominent recently, having appeared consistently, or at least when some other song isn’t playing, is a hymn from my childhood called To God Be the Glory. It’s the most complete one I think I’ve ever had, and it gives me a fresh dose of evangelism every time it pops up:
To God be the Glory, great things He hath done;
So loved He the world that He gave us His Son.
Who yielded His life, an atonement for sin,
And opened the lifegates that all may go in.

(chorus)
Praise the Lord! Praise the Lord!
Let the earth hear His voice.
Praise the Lord, praise the Lord,
Let the people rejoice…

Considering that I haven’t darkened the door of a church in decades except for weddings, funerals, and visits to my parents (some overlap there), that is pretty phenomenal! Which tells you that I must have sung it hundreds of times back when. Here is a lovely rendition of it by a quartet, accompanied by only violin, cello, and piano. It starts with the history of the song, but you can pick the music up at 1:40.

Whenever I have an earworm, The Professor attempts to dislodge it by singing ABBA’s Waterloo to me. It never works. Good try though.

I wish I had control over the earworms. Music I might select if I did:

Dvořák’s New World Symphony
This 3-minute version by the 1960’s all-white, all-male Berlin Philharmonic captures the part that does go through my head the few times that I’m privileged to land on it. It is so energetic that you will not even NEED coffee if you listen to it upon awakening! For a beautiful, more colorful, more modern, complete version (50 minutes), check out the Frankfurt Symphony Orchestra‘s.

Melissa Etheridge, I’m the Only One
Ignore the captions – oddly, they are from another hit of hers, Come to My Window. I might put it on the desired earworm list, too.

Karen Carpenter’s version of Desperado

Barry Manilow, pre-out, pre-bizarre plastic surgery, Weekend in New England

The Eagles, Hotel California
Seems like this one could persevere for weeks!! They also did Desperado, but the Carpenters version is so wrenchingly heartbreaking.

Dolly Parton’s iconic Jolene.
Perfect earworm candidate. When she sang it on The Porter Wagoner Show over 50 years ago, who knew it would still be making the rounds now! As a testament to its staying power, listen to her goddaughter, Miley Cyrus, sing it.

As a note, I draw the line at Led Zeppelin’s Stairway to Heaven, unless perhaps this Kennedy Center Honors version sung by Ann and Nancy Wilson from Heart, accompanied on drums by John Bonham’s son Jason. Also, note cameo by Stephen Colbert!

And earworms aside, here are two more of my favorite Kennedy Center Honors performances:
Adam Lambert singing a lovely, poignant, slowed-down version of Believe to Cher, and

MY FAVORITE OF ALL TIME, the incomparable Aretha Franklin, in a floor-length mink coat with train, singing A Natural Woman to Carole King. She becomes so incredibly, thrillingly into her performance that she doffs that mink coat right onto the floor and brings the crowd to their feet! Including the Obamas, who are rocking out in their box. If you listen to nothing else from this post, you can make your day with just this one. She was 73 at the time, and what a set of pipes!!!

It’s morning and I’m not even done with my tea (not being an a.m. coffee drinker). That’s a lot of music! One of these might crowd out Eva María. We’ll see what pops up next. I’ll keep you posted!

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Happy Birthday, Dad

Today would have been my dad’s 94th birthday. I think of him every day. It’s hard to believe he’s been gone 4 ½ years already.

I ended my last blog post with “Maybe the moment to show that you care won’t come again. Because you never know.” The best example of this in my life is my siblings’ and my decision to celebrate Dad’s 89th birthday. When we were thinking about it, I said to my sister, “There’s no guarantee there’ll be a 90th.” And sure enough, there wasn’t.

One of the highlights of our time together was all of us going to buy Dad’s present – a birthday suit, which he thought was pretty funny. He always had a great sense of humor.

My dad always liked to look nice, especially for church. He wore a suit and tie every week. Over the years, as he lost muscle mass and height, his dressy suits no longer fit him. So we decided it would be a great birthday present to take him to a men’s store and have him fitted for a tailored suit. We all hung out at the store while he got measured, and when he was finished he said to us, “You kids are going to bury me in this suit.” And indeed we did, only seven months later.

So this is another reminder to love the ones you love, now. Because you never know.

We wanted a commemorative photo, and we chose this colorful tie display at the store for our background. Left to right – Lars, Bryan, Dad, Vassie, and me. Happy Birthday, Dad!

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Honey, Your Tea Is Ready

For years and years, we had a triple timer in the kitchen. Handy if you’re cooking and more than one thing has to be timed at once. One of those three timers, though, was always set to 4:30, the amount of time I steep my tea every morning. Alas, that favorite timer of ours finally gave up the ghost. You had to press the buttons so hard that sometimes it hurt your thumb. Sometimes the alarm sounded like a wounded bird in a distant forest. It was definitely time to move on.

The Professor couldn’t find the same timer for sale anymore, and we ended up buying this fancy-schmancy one with four (!) timers instead. We set one, of course, for 4:30. (For those of you playing at home, it’s a Thermoworks Timestack.)

One reason it’s fancy-schmancy is that it has a unique feature – you can actually record something to play when time is up, rather than having an alarm sound. I guess this would be handy if you wanted to differentiate between “Rotate the pan!” and “Add such-and-such an ingredient now” without having to remember that the first timer was the rotate instruction and the second, the add-the-ingredient one.

One morning soon after we got it, I was steeping my tea, and when the 4:30 had passed, I heard The Professor’s voice saying, “Honey, your tea is ready!” Isn’t that about the sweetest thing you’ve ever heard? She tends toward considerate things to do, knowing me, and this is a good example. In the past, if I walked up to the timer within a few seconds of it sounding the alarm, I would just turn it off. Not anymore. I let her tell me my tea is ready every day.

I recently had a conversation with a good friend who had reminded me that no future is guaranteed. That was in the context of not putting off travel, because maybe you’ll never have another chance to see that destination. But really, it can apply to anything. The timer voice recording was such a small thing for her to do. But I want to let the conversation with my friend inspire me to do small, kind things often for those I love. Or maybe even for acquaintances. Or strangers.

Maybe the moment to show that you care won’t come again. Because you never know.

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