Monday, July 06, 2020

DUSTY OLD THINGS

Several of my friends are determined to home-school their kids this year, and probably next year as well, because the governments in their necks of the woods are determined to "re-open", damn the consequences. And, if you use your head, the idea of hundreds of little vectors running around getting exposed to a deadly disease and infecting all the adults with whom they come in contact, makes complete sense.


Okay, did that sink in?


We need to get rid of all the grandparents and re-write history as if they never existed. And kids hardly get sick anyway, as everyone knows.


Who the hell came up with the idea that sending kids right back to school during a raging pandemic is a good idea?


Fortunately, I do not have children. Given how many cretins on the street during my first and second ventures out of the house were not wearing masks, that's probably a damned good thing. Because in another year it will be a replay of "Lord Of The Flies" on a grand scale. Epic. Those of us that are still around then will have to herd the small people and make sure that they don't eat us.

Kids can be very sweet. If they're not starving, filthy, and diseased.


And, normally, they are also very accepting of pipe smokers. Curious, and when not crippled by shyness, inquisitive.


"Uncle Stinky, why is smoke coming out of your face?"


Because I'm actually a hell-hound in disguise, little girl, that's the reek of sulphur from the inferno escaping from the same crack in reality that allowed me to invade your world.


"COOL!"


My ex and I never had children. With her cuteness and my brains they would have been terrific. If they had had my looks and her brains, they would have also been terrific, but perhaps a little weird-looking.

And either way, well on the path to full literacy before they entered school. Because naturally one would want them able to understand Dutch and Cantonese beyond a third-grade level, despite the enforced companionship with mono-lingual people. And also able to read at a college level, like their parents, before graduating from high school.

Bear in mind that "college level" in the modern age now usually means diddly-squat, rather than capable of comprehending complex sentences and grasping thought processes. So what is meant is the college level of my parent's generation.


First pipe while walking. Before eight.


   Second pipe. At around ten.

When I was still little, I loved browsing through my dad's multi-volume scientific encyclopedia as well as his old engineering textbooks. There was that wonderful dusty book smell, and a slight tang of his pipe tobacco, and the language on the pages was something old-timey.
It didn't talk down to me, and presumed that if I didn't know what exactly was meant I would use a dictionary to figure it out.


My dad had gifted me with an Oxford Dictionary of the English language, in hopes that it would teach me how the words I encountered in reading might be correctly pronounced. I simply ignored the phonetics, mispronouncing everything until corrected, and went directly for the definitions. Because, after all, many of those words did not occur in conversation with my classmates (who only spoke Dutch). And it's rare that one can throw something like "bi-nomialism" or "apogee" into the discussion anyway. Entirely unlike astrology and hippie mysticism, for instance, hard knowledge and scientific theories are private vices.

The Merck Manual (The Merck Manual of Diagnosis and Therapy) was another favourite read. Fascinating stuff, and, as I learned, not suitable for conversation on the playground at school. Kidney functions? Liver disease? Digestive disorders? We shall have none of that!

Details of chiroptera were only "interesting" to my contemporaries as far as the hematophagous types were concerned, although I believed that the hipposideridae and rhinolophidae were far more interesting, and the noctilionids represented, to me, a fascinating anomily.
Several years of teenage reading.
A private field.

That one of my favourite fiction authors was a keen lepidopterist was not something I could easily mention either.


By my mid-teens I had started smoking a pipe. It helped concentration and induced a certain mood while reading. One remembered more of what one read, in greater detail.


If I had a child, she would not be just like me. But she'd have access to books, and would probably develop in interesting ways.
Inquisitive.

Both my apartment mate and I have books all over our quarters. She still has her college math texts -- a subject in which she exelled -- and I have my drafting and engineering volumes. There are also artbooks, and many cartoon collections (develops the growing mind).
Plus tonnes of "literature".



I've started the third pipe of the day. The door to her room is safely shut, she's at work, and all the windows are wide open. By mid-afternoon this place will have aired out, so that she won't know I broke the law.



TOBACCO INDEX


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