Wednesday, June 28, 2017

Wednesday morning things

* Just found out this morning that Michael Bond has died.

He was the author of the Paddington Bear books (and also the Olga da Polga books, and I had forgotten until one of my Twitter friends brought it up that he had written those. I had a small stuffed-toy guinea pig when I was a child that I renamed "Olga" after reading one of those books). He also wrote the "Monsieur Pamplemousse" series for adults and I think I read one of those too.

But it was Paddington I really remember, who was a big part of my childhood. I read all the books our local library had. (The television series came later, here in the US, but I remember watching it). (I haven't seen the recent movie, out of fear that they went the "easy" route of gross or mean-spirited humor, which has become all too common in modern "revisits" of things beloved of earlier generations)

I liked Paddington's seriousness when I was a child. I liked that he could level a "hard stare" at someone who displeased him. I liked that he was fundamentally polite to adults - he was polite to Mr. and Mrs. Brown even as his misunderstanding of how life worked or his slight clumsiness made a lot of problems for them. I liked that he was friends with Mr. Gruber, the antiques dealer (it was implied, but I don't think ever really said explicitly, that he had been a refugee from WWII - presumably, a German Jew?). He was even polite to Mr. Curry, who was often rude to him.

I think part of the reason I liked Paddington was his politeness - I was raised to be polite and I liked to see a character who managed to triumph, even over rude people like Mr. Curry, through being polite.

I've read that Paddington was based on the evacuated refugee children Bond saw during WWII, wearing tags giving their names. Of course, Paddington himself came from "darkest Peru" (it was only recently I learned he was supposed to be a spectacled bear (a species of short-faced bear found in the Andes).

When I was a child, a lot of the books I read were British books - I realize that now. I don't know if it was the things the local librarians picked, or if there were more good British children's series (I liked series books when I was a child, where the same characters reappeared), or what.

I wonder if kids still read the Paddington books.

* I tweaked my back yesterday mowing the lawn. I am beginning to wonder if one of the medications I am on makes me more prone to pulling muscles (especially working in the heat). It's not BAD, but it's enough to be noticeable, and I have to fight the hose today to water the research plots, am not looking forward to that.

* I've been working on Grasse Matinee but it's not very photogenic right now as I am just knitting the 15" or so (in fingering weight!) that is necessary to make the body of the thing below the armholes. I like fingering weight sweaters - in some ways, they are cheaper to make (sockweight yarn tends to be good value for the length) and in this climate, they work better (not so suffocatingly heavy) and they look better on someone with my figure (you have to be really tiny to wear a bulky-weight sweater well). But they take a LONG time to knit.

* I am debating taking the rest of today off after I water. I've kind of hit a wall on the environmental policy stuff and maybe need a day off of it. Right now, I'm reading through lots of detailed information on how statutes get made, how things are challenged as to their constitutionality, how the court system works to enforce environmental statutes, and all that. Yes, I am going to go into a lot more detail about it than the previous professor but (a) I am teaching this as an entirely face-to-face class so I have more time for discussion and (b) I don't know a lot of this stuff and I attended a good school system in the 1970s and most of the people taking the class are 25 years younger than I am so I assume they got even less of it. And I think that civics type stuff, it's important to know it. (Like: what is a pocket veto and why would a president use it). I will say it's making me even a little more cynical about how government works because there are so many dodges to get what you "want" without perhaps following approved technique.

And yes, I am going to show the old Schoolhouse Rock "I'm only a Bill" thing because it does kind of show how stuff winds its way through Congress. And I tend to figure the more different ways you cover something, the more likely people are to remember it. 


purlewe said...

One of the reasons people have to hire lawyers is b'c things are so complicated + the way things are written in legal language = people don't understand how things work. It gives them work to do. And it is really truly a pain in the butt for folks who like to read and understand things. I salute you for wading into the pool of legalese.

kbehroozi said...

Kids still read Paddington! Mine does, anyway, and I think the recent movie (very well done, BTW, and enjoyable for parents too) has probably helped prolong interest in them.