The Lydster, Part 79: Lost & Found; and Just in Time

My job on weekday mornings is to get Lydia to school on time.

My daughter has an innate capacity to find things that I have misplaced. There was a key, the TV remote, all sorts of things. She’s less skilled finding things SHE loses, such as the DVD remote, which she actually DID come across, after four weeks; it was in her art supply box, and I know I didn’t put it there. She also thought it would be fun to hide the mailbox key that hung on a hook near the front door, but doesn’t know where she left it; now I can’t get the mail until the Wife gets home with the only other key.

Note to Wife: PLEASE get another key made, as it’s been three months now and the key is unlikely at this point just to “turn up.”

One of the things I really hate is being late when there are real consequences. For instance, I hate rushing to an airport, train station, or bus depot to try to get on transportation at the last minute. My job on weekday mornings is to get Lydia to school on time, which is 8:03. Now we live a stone’s throw from the school; this is not cliche, this is the fact that I could stand on my front porch with a stone, toss it, and hit the school building. Well, maybe, I haven’t actually tried it. An MLB baseball outfielder or an NFL football quarterback could surely strike it. But it still takes some time to get the coat on, get the backpack on, lock the door, walk a couple of houses, cross the street and walk most of the length of the building to the entrance.

So when we left the house at 7:59 twice last week, it is cutting it way too close for my tastes. To be fair, the second time was Friday, and she had homework to finish, plus her mom forgot to give her some medicine the night before. But she does tend to procrastinate as well. Sooner or later, when she finally is late, when it takes a little bit too long to cross our busy street, even with the crossing guard there, she’ll figure it out. Meanwhile, it’s only my anxiety, not hers.

Congrats to Darrin & Suzy on the birth of Sylvie Grace; the name Sylvie immediately reminded me of this song. I e-mailed this post to Darrin, and he said, “She’ll be having my dozens of dollars!”

F is for Former Names

Perhaps, the greatest area of change involves place names.

The item pictured above used to be called a guitar. Then this item-

-came along. And now the first item is now called an acoustic guitar, to differentiate it from the second item, an electric guitar.

This used to be known as a clock

– until this –

– came along. Now an analog clock describes a clock with an actual face, compared with a digital clock.

There’s a whole bunch of these, called retronyms, a term the late New York Times wordsmith William Safire believed had been around for 30 years, but in the dictionaries for far less time. Here is a list of retronyms.

This used to be known as a stewardess, but now is a flight attendant.

This used to be known as a fireman, but is now a firefighter.

The language has become more gender-neutral.

Perhaps, the greatest area of change involves place names. A lot of this took place in Africa in my lifetime, where locations that used to be colonies are now independent countries. Also, in the Western Hemisphere, British Honduras became Belize, British Guiana became Guyana and Dutch Guiana became Suriname.

Sometimes the local politics or internal struggles affect the nomenclature. Ceylon is now Sri Lanka, e.g. and the Democratic Republic of the Congo used to be Zaire. Cambodia has had a couple of other names.

Some formerly divided countries re-merged, such as Germany and Vietnam. In Africa, Tanganyika and Zanzibar joined to create Tanzania. Conversely, other countries broke into two or more parts. Bangladesh was once East Pakistan. Czechoslovakia, Yugoslavia, and especially the Soviet Union are no more. Egypt and Syria merged to form the United Arab Republic in 1958 but got a divorce in 1961. Here is a list of some countries that have had name changes.

One of the name changes I remember most, though, was a city; Peking became Beijing, explained here; likewise, a description of the change from Bombay to Mumbai, something I admit I occasionally forget. Of course, St. Petersburg, Russia has been Petrograd and Leningrad.

Three of the four schools I’ve attended in my life have changed names. Binghamton Central High School merged with Binghamton North to become Binghamton High School in 1982. Both my State University of New York undergrad school, New Paltz, and my grad school, Albany, have undergone a number of name changes; the former in 1828 as the New Paltz Classic Academy, and the latter as the New York State Normal School in 1844. My first school, Daniel S. Dickinson, has long ago been razed.

Finally, THE song of a name change, first a hit by The Four Lads, way back in 1953. Listen to Istanbul (not Constantinople) by They Might Be Giants.

Feel free to share your favorite name changes.

ABC Wednesday – Round 7


The Lydster, Part 76: Elgar, and Everything

The Daughter “graduated” from kindergarten to first grade in June. Was there any doubt? Actually, if she had missed more than 28 days, there was this threat, and she did miss nine days in one marking period in the fall, for a total of 15 overall.

It was a refreshingly short event, 26 minutes, starting with the kids marching out on stage, yes, to a recording of Pomp and Circumstance, and sitting in chairs. We watched a video of their year, the kids sang two songs, then each child’s name was called, and the kid stood in place. Finally, they got to meet the first-grade teachers. Afterward, there were opportunities for pictures with their teachers in the other gym, with some punch and amazingly good cookies from a local bakery that was peanut-free, important for Lydia. Oh, the caps and gowns are drycleaned then reused.

At the ceremony, some of the younger parents were crying for joy. Really? It’s KINDERGARTEN.

Maybe it’s because she now has had as many graduation events (three, including two from daycare!) as I did (high school, college, grad school) that I was disinclined to get all teary-eyed about it.

She has the summer off, as does The Wife. Mondays, they tend to do chores together, scheduling medical appointments and the like. Tuesdays and Thursdays, Lydia goes to a program at her old daycare. Wednesdays, she takes ballet. And Friday, mother and daughter do something fun together.

The exception to this was Friday, July 16, when I took off from work so that Carol could do whatever she wants on the day after her birthday. Lydia and I went to the state museum, played in the Discovery area, rode the carousel twice, and had what has turned out to be “our” sandwich, a Subway footlong meatball sub on wheat bread; she only likes cheese on her half, but I get spinach, onion, and tomato on my part.

We’re still trying to get Lydia to do some reading and writing exercises; don’t want her to forget EVERYTHING she learned in kindergarten.