Posts Tagged ‘size’

90th Percentile

12 October 2009

Dear J-

One of the terms you keep hearing as a parent is percentiles — the first twelve months is spent shuttling back and forth to the doctor for regular checkups and vaccines; the child is measured and charted against peers and the sizes (head girth, height, and weight) are dutifully reported. figgy’s been a 50th percentile kid where most of the other babies we know seem to have been 0th or 90th percentile kids — towering giants of 12 month olds or teeny little 3 year olds. As we sit at nifty fifty, some times we wonder if everything else is just as normal as size.

Because the weather was cool enough, we went to the Wild Animal Park today — the WAP is infamous for being the place where high temperature records go to die; we were there last year on Labor Day and ended up sweating our way across the park; with the day off it made perfect sense to head out for a long walk and questionable food. Last time we had a backpack and carried her when she got sleepy; this time, knowing that neither backpack nor stroller was an option, we spent a fair amount of time stooping and scooping up to the point where she’d wriggle out and run off, often in the opposite direction we intended to go.

Decisions 2834 -sm

In fact, on the bus tour today, we spent part of the ride restraining her from kicking other people (we got a rear-facing seat) unintentionally as she squirmed around, ever-antsy and only peripherally interested in the antics of the various animals we encountered, including two of only eight Northern White Rhinoceroses in the world — you can’t explain why she should pay attention. We also spent some time watching other kids, though; either we have no control over figgy, or most parents have much less crazy kids. Perhaps that’s what we’ve been looking for as the 90th percentile — if every child is unique, figgy’s niche in the world is her exuberant nature; life with her has been a battle of wills and an amazing journey I wake up excited to continue on daily.

Mike

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Too Big

29 June 2009

Dear J-

Car advertisements lately like to play up superlatives; it seems like every car leads its class in one way or another — most horsepower, fuel economy, interior room, towing capacity, payload, warranty, etc.  Call it the commoditization of America, where we evaluate food ad gasoline based on unit cost rather than quality or other criteria; so long as you feel full at the end of the day, whether wallet, stomach, or fuel tank, so much the better.  Consequently we’re faced with both overarching envy and more than we actually need.

Consider the Camry we grew up with — a 1984 LE hatchback, automatic; the only real fault was a lack of power on hills (climbing out of Spokane west on I-90, we almost had to use the hazard lights and rub elbows with the tractor-trailers), but aside from that, it was plenty big enough for four adults, five in a pinch, stingy on gas, reliable (aside from exceeding the recommended timing belt life).  While not exactly stylish, it was in keeping with the designs of the times, but two years later, there we were stuck driving the old model, smaller and slower.  My parents upgraded after eight years, and then again ten years after that — bigger and more powerful every time, even though we were both out of the house by then.

How do you reconcile it?  The ___ (let’s say car) you want is not the ___ you need; it’s the advertiser’s job to sell you on the utility of a pickup, even if you’d only drive it with the bed unloaded, or the need for your typical three hundred horsepower sports car (guilty here; the new Camaro seems so cheap for so much; advertising works).  Recognize and separate your needs and your wants; I’m not saying that you don’t need that burly V-8, but unless you plan on driving somewhere other than the realistically 80-85 MPH-limited freeways around here, you’re far better off investing in nicer seats and a stereo system to keep you sane in traffic than a burbling monster you keep in check with your right foot.  Be smarter than the ads, that’s all.

Mike

Motive and Motivation

17 February 2009

Dear J-

It’s pretty easy to de-motivate a workforce:  fail to acknowledge hard work, demand more output, and continue to circulate vaguely-threatening propaganda which never gets followed through on.  In one stroke, you’ve managed to anger everyone:  the diligent go unrecognized, the overworked get more, and the slackers keep skating on by.  Whoever said that you can’t keep all the people happy all the time didn’t realize the corollary — keep everyone unhappy all the time — could be so easily proven.

Outside of work, though, we see how our tax dollars go to feed the executives who couldn’t keep their companies in order; we watch countries struggle against each other in one contest or another:  medals and money two ways of keeping score if not outright blood and numbers.  The more I hear the more tempted I am to draw a circle around us and contract in on our family.  When we focus on our small pieces we lose perspective on the world:  our place in it, how we affect it.

We see how huge the world is every day; the ocean stretches out beyond visibility, our commute consumes hours of our day and past the vanishng point.  Our concrete world is indeed vast, but just as large is the mind’s span:  from philosophy to ingenuity.  Ideas travel with frightening speed; words take on their own lives and have reached ages beyond our fragile flesh.  It’s why I’m disappointed tonight:  not in the content, but the lack of thought that underlies the messages passing through our minds.  We rise to noble ambitions and sink to the lowest demoninator.

Mike