Friday, December 21, 2018

To Perseverate or not to Perseverate

Train of Thought
Writers are by nature collectors of words, consciously or unconsciously.  When Carol is reading and comes upon an unfamiliar word and can't discern its meaning to her satisfaction through context, she asks "Do you know what ------ means?"  Being normally umbilically connected to a computer, I look it up.  Most recently the word was Perseveration

 Querying the omniscient Google, I discovered the answer.  I present its verb form below.

Perseverate - Repeat or prolong an action, thought, or utterance after the stimulus that prompted it has ceased.

The verb apparently was coined by German Psychologists circa 1915— need I mention names? But it is the noun that Carol asked about so ...

Perseveration — early 15c., "duration, quality of persisting; will to persevere," from Old French perseveracion "persistence, stubbornness" (13c.) and directly, from Latin perseverationem (nominative perseveratio), noun of action from past participle stem of perseverare (see persevere).  

Note: A synonym is Stubbornness.

Well now we have a familiar word to look at ... 

Persevere – to Continue in a course of action even in the face of difficulty or with little or no prospect of success.

Which brings us to another familiar word ...

Persist – Continue firmly or obstinately in an opinion or a course of action in spite of difficulty, opposition, or failure.

Both words have PER as part of their etymology, but in Persist it is translated as Thoroughly and in Persevere as Steadfastly.  Not quite synonymous.

Perseveration is kinda fun!  

Until next time,

Thursday, December 6, 2018

River Pebbles and Glitter

These two dissimilar items came into contact when Carol, a very creative and loving 'class Grandmother' for seven and eight year old Hebrew School kids, decided that for this month's project each of them would make a functioning menorah!  They were meeting in the middle of Chanukah after all.  This idea germinated about two weeks before the scheduled project so time was short to assemble materials, especially when there was no materials list - because there was no design.

Undaunted, my loving wife searched our brains (she uses mine as a supplement since it is very rarely engaged elsewhere) to come up with a solution that would engage five youngsters for an hour or so and not burn the building to the ground.  It had to be small enough for them to take home, safe enough to be lit with supervision, and inexpensive enough to satisfy Carol's inbred frugality.

After trips to the local hardware store and the town reuse building at the recycling center, she went online to Amazon and found a solution - four ounce aluminum foil soufflé cups, minimum order 150.  Carol needed 54.  After another day of searching: the large chain hardware store, the large chain hobby store, she ordered 150 soufflé cups.

Next?  Mounting them on a stable base.  I came home from breakfast with friends to find an eight foot long piece of half inch plywood on the front walk. Inside the house were wood scraps of varying sizes, shapes, and thicknesses - including an old lap desk that had been sleeping in our library downstairs.

The optimal size turned out to be 12x15 inches so I cut one that size from scrap plywood that Carol could use to model the finished product.  How to attach the cups? Glue! I assembled the varieties we had in the house, then we strained our eyes to read the VERY fine print on each.  Carol decided to try them one-by-one.

Knowing I'd have to cut the other five pieces from the eight footer on the walkway with the handheld circular saw, I decided to buy a new blade with a finer cut to minimize sanding.  As I perused saw blades in our local True Value, my phone rang.  "Gorilla Glue works.  Get more so we don't run out."  Adding an eight ounce bottle to my blade purchase, I made for the checkout then realized we needed five individual containers for the river pebbles. I included five small paint buckets.

Carol's idea included having the kids pour river pebbles around the candles as they held them steady in the soufflé cups.  In order to make sure she had enough pebbles, she purchased two forty pound bags.

The evening before the project we glued eight cups in an arc onto each board.  The cup for the Shamash candle was mounted on an inverted cat food can (well scrubbed and unlabeled) glued at the approximate midpoint of the interior of the arc.  The finished product actually looked pretty good.

In order to be as gentle as possible with her creation, Carol decided that all the assembly would be done in separate cups that would then be dropped into the permanently mounted set.  150 cups didn't look like an over-purchase anymore.

With five miscellaneous containers of river pebbles (I returned the buckets), bottles of blue and silver glitter, clear washable Elmers Glue, and the five skeleton menorahs, we set up a table before the kids arrived and covered it with a cloth so they wouldn't see it.  I left to do some organizing of my photos.

Carol learned several things that afternoon: Gorilla Glue cannot hold soufflé cups against the eager attention of a seven year old, Glitter gets into everything, and some kids have to be reminded that candles - especially the Shamash candle - should not be glued into the river pebbles.

The following morning we thumbtacked the cups to the base, cleaned up the bulk of the glitter and the stray river pebbles, and stabilized all the candles straight and neat in their cozy little cups in  preparation for the Chanukah Party when the kids will retrieve them for the lighting of the eighth candle.
Carol's Demo Model

Carol's assessment? "Next time I'll do something a little less ambitious."

Oh, does anyone need seventy-five pounds of river pebbles?