Detective Dad [Memory Lane]

This week we’re going to take a trip down Memory Lane! Each day this week I’ll be posting one of five of my favorite stories ever published here. Some are taken from books and others (like today’s) have only been published online thus far. These are some funny, some sad, some heart-warming moments from the life we’ve lived. I invite you to enjoy them with me, too.

Today is Cameron’s birthday! So this day’s Memory Lane will feature two Cam-centric posts! This is the second post for July 30th. Enjoy! (And happy birthday, again, to our littlest boy!)

Detective Dad

February 13th, 2012

Sometimes as a Dad, you find yourself in the role of detective. The cases are often thrust upon you quite circumstantially. There may not necessarily be a victim, who comes to you asking for the mystery to be solved. Often, the clues lie before you and it’s up to you, Detective Dad, to solve the unexpected puzzle.

Today was such a day.

This time I found myself sorting through the various clues in reverse order. I had dismissed them previously, as just a normal part of the managed chaos of a home with a two- and a three-year-old. With such folk around it is not uncommon to find a toy here, a puzzle piece there, an article of clothing pretty much anywhere. Very easy to think nothing of such “clues”—missing the fact that they point to a great, unsolved mystery.

The final piece of the puzzle today was the sugar bowl spoon.

As I began to prepare some yerba mate this morning, I opened the sugar bowl to discover that the spoon was coated in sugar. This happens, of course, when the spoon has gotten wet and then is placed once again into the sugar bowl. Being quite fastidiously against this action, I knew instantly that my sugar had been “disturbed”.

A quick recall of (many) past events allowed me to quickly piece together the evidence and reach a(n easy) conclusion. Pieces of evidence like the cars discovered in the hallway… the sugar bowl on the floor, rather than in its proper place—which I had overlooked before, since on occasion in my haste I have left it there, not properly replaced to its comfortable home amongst my various beverage supplies. Everything was pointing convincingly to the obvious culprit.

You see, a while ago Cameron discovered that there was a quite readily available supply of the white stuff just a staircase away. And often, it was completely unguarded! What more could a two-year-old sweet tooth as for???

Now it seems he has gotten a little better at covering his tracks, though. Previously I would find the sugar bowl, lid off, sugary spoon on the carpet, surrounded by piles of white crystalline evidence everywhere. (Plus, stray crystals in and around the various mugs that surround its normal resting place.)

Once—and only once—I found the lidless bowl ON my comfy reading chair, much of the contents all over the cushion, the footsool, and the surrounding floor are.

As I said, that only happened once. 🙂

Another time, the sugar bowl evidence—coated with dampened sugar—hidden around the corner in a narrow storage alcove, well out of view of any who might stumble upon his enjoyment of the “forbidden” treasure.

He’s no dummy. And he sure loves his sugar!

So today, thankfully (I think?) there was only the mess of a wet spoon returned to my sugar bowl. Otherwise all is well. Not sure how much he ate, but the bowl is only half-full now … could he have eaten half?? Hopefully not, for his sake!

When I next speak to Cam, I’ll remind him again that this delight is off limits. Again. Not sure what effect it will have. I’ll just have to keep a vigilant eye towards all those small evidences of crimes against my beverage stand.

And for now… remember to lock the door. 😉

100 Miles Per Gallon?

Came across an article in my news feed today talking about a new engine that is based on a concept from a 1930 engine that could increase automobile gas mileage up to nearly one hundred miles per gallon! That seems pretty crazy, but the article references the different structure of the piston chamber reducing weight and allowing more space (for more pistons I presume) as well as firing on both sides of the chamber?

Here’s an excerpt…

The unusual configuration results in several advantages. Gas mileage can be boosted by 40 percent to 50 percent, when a two-module engine is compared with a standard diesel. The engine also can be made 30 percent lighter. Because the engine modules are horizontal, cars can be more aerodynamic.

(I do not presume to know what they are talking about, but it was interesting enough for me to post the link here.) 🙂

Perhaps I have a subconscious fascination with the automotive industry as my Dad spent 30 plus years of his life working for them? 🙂

Rubber-Necking, Heroes, and We Just Don’t Get It

Car Pile UpThere was an auto accident right in front of our house today. Thankfully it did not involve any of us. Actually, it only involved one person – the driver of one vehicle, who collided with a parked car on the side of the road. But this story involves several different folks, and a peek into our human nature.

First there is the driver. For whatever reason she was obviously distracted, and not paying attention to the road. It’s a 30MPH road in front of our house… close quarters, with cars, people and other random things to watch for. She missed the car that was parked right in her path. Well, and then she did not miss it.


I jumped from my chair and saw the accident out my 3rd story office window. Two cars… one driver. “Is the other driver unconcious? Or… dead???” I thought. The driver of the first car was pretty shaky, but managed to get out of the car without a problem. She did look very emotionally shaken up, and was holding her right wrist. (Later it was her left, so.. that was a bit confusing.) She was a middle-aged woman… but did not seem to have been in this position before. Crying, and obviously shaken.

Then there is me. I was in the middle of stuff that, compared to such a traumatic incident, seems a bit trivial. But, I was in the middle of it. I was working on trying to get some PHP and Javascript code to play nicely together. But my perplexing task was interrupted suddenly, rudely, by a loud CRASH outside my window. I got up, saw what happened… saw another guy come running to help… and was about to pick up the phone to call 911 when I heard that same guy say “M’am, please call an ambulence.” I figured he wasn’t talking to me… so I was just going to sit down.

Then I felt like a heel. How could I just sit down? Someone was really hurting right outside my house, and I was going to try and figure out my PHP puzzle… as if nothing happened?

Needless to say, after only a few seconds of debate in my own head… I got up and went downstairs to see how I could help.

To my surprise… Jen was there… and she was the “M’am” that the dude had asked to phone for an ambulence! (She was gone on some errands last I knew… so that was a bit of a shock. After a quick, disoriented conversation with her where I found out she had only moments early returned from her errands, I quickly was very thankful that she had not been in the street for this woman to run into.

Very thankful.

And, a bit impressed as my wife had jumped right in to a crazy situation… helping where she could help. Nice one, Jen! 🙂

So, with the situation seemingly “under control”, I did go back to my office to resume my scripting work.

But, it was hard to focus. After a few moments, I arose from my chair to check on the progress. This time I saw a few more people.

First there was the hero. This was the somewhat athletic-looking guy who hurried to the scene within moments of it happening. He took charge right away and was compassionate to the woman who was driving, and equally in control and helpful to others who were attempting to help. He was definitely the on-the-spot leader.

Then there were the police. They came in and had a similar leadership, but actually… their leadership was due mostly to the clothes they wore. Not that they were not good at their job, or not helpful. They were definitely that. It was just a bit different than the first guy to arrive.

Then there was the main “victim”. The owner of the other vehicle. At this point, as the driver of the car that did the damage was sitting on the side of the road in obvious physical and emotional pain, being tended to by the ambulence crew who had just arrived, one of the police officers was assessing the damage to this lady’s car. In the brief seconds that I saw her, she had two or maybe three very visible reactions of anger and disgust. Seemingly aimed at the incompetent driver who had just dented her bumper!

This was the saddest picture of human nature today. Our amazing capacity to miss what is happening around us. We are so good at seeing every event for how it affects us. Somehow, though another human being was clearly hurting only a few dozen feet from her, this car owner could only think of the damage done to her car, and I guess, what that meant to her. I can’t know her heart, but her body language was pretty clear.

I guess I would be mad too. (I know there are logs in my eyes…) But really. Couldn’t the very present reminder of the sobbing woman on the curb have jolted her into realizing there is more to life than a pristine bumper? Couldn’t she have thought about someone else in that one brief moment?

Maybe she did later.

But anyway… that short 5-10 minutes today was quite a fascinating look at multiple sides of our human nature. We’re easily distracted, yet compassionate. Selfless and quick to act on another’s behalf, yet selfish and completely oblivious to the condition of those around us.

It was a pretty interesting break to an otherwise ordinary day.