Thursday, December 31, 2015

Top 5 Secret EPP Levels

We asked top players for their favourite little-known EPP levels, and compiled this sweet Top 5 list from their comments. Which ones have you conquered, and which ones have conquered you?!

Section 31.0: Grandmother Protection Plan

The GPP describes the protective and mitigative measures to be employed during the pre-adolescent and adolescent years of the Frecklepelt Eldest Child Project.

Section 32.0: EPP Contradicts Itself

This Section describes the protective and mitigative measures to be employed when the EPP contains incompatible, inconsistent or downright contradictory mitigation. Includes challenges such as:

- Tables 11-1, 11-2 and 12-1 vs. Alignment Sheets
- Sketchy Consultation Results
- To Silt Fence or Not To Silt Fence

Section 33.0: EPP Contradicts Reality

This Section describes the protective and mitigative measures to be employed when the EPP basically fails to align with the world, like, at all. Includes challenges such as:

- Alignment Sheets vs. Construction Drawings
- They Called THAT a Wetland but Not This?
- Three Foot Deep Mulch Layer  

Section 34.0: Failure to Follow EPP

This Section describes the protective and mitigative measures to be employed when some aspect of the EPP has been contravened, whether inadvertently or intentionally. Includes challenges such as:

- None of These People Have a GPS
- What Does the Purple Lath Mean?
- Finger Pointing 101 

Section 39.999: Complete Shitting the Bed on Following the EPP

Challenges vary widely but suffice to say that when you encounter this Level, you'll know it. Successful completion can be achieved by various means, including:

- Not Going to Jail
- Shoot, Shovel and Shut Up: the Alberta Way
- Collecting Paycheque and Going on a Loooong Vacation

Wednesday, December 16, 2015

Nipple Height

Everyone's job is hard in its own way. Part of that is undoubtedly related to personal growth - when you're shiny new to the employment scene, probably most everything seems like a challenge. Take, for instance, this conversation I overheard at the grocery store a few days ago:

Gangly young produce employee (nervously): "Umm, how tall should I stack these mandarins, sir?"

Shorter, middle-aged produce manager (with booming confidence): "Nipple height!"

See how difficult things are when you're new at a job, and how easy they are when you're not? When you are new, you don't even have an expectation of what the expectations might be. Can I, should I make even the most basic of fruit display assembly decisions on my own? What if there is a Mandarin Stacking Standard I'm not aware of? Let me not be a mandarin Icarus, flying too close to the fluorescent glare above! Help, I'm paralyzed with indecision!

And the manager - oh, the authority with which he spoke! All those years of experience culminating in this glorious demonstration of prompt and confident decision making, really showing those young pups how it's done, whipping out those tried and true and not terribly sensible Stacking Standards like a pompous-ass gunslinger...

"... Umm, your nipples or mine, sir?"

Touche, young pup! I had the same concern with the manager's glaringly non-standard standard as soon as he said it. Unfortunately, I was laugh-choking to death on my coffee and didn't catch his response.

I worked at a neighbourhood grocery store in my late teens, and the produce department was one of my favourites to help out in. If only my mandarins were stacked as tall and proud now as they were back then... They were truly a sight to behold. sigh

It was surely the height difference between the two men and not the relativity of this measurement over time on his own person that caused the young fellow to question the nipple-height Stacking Standard, but I still felt a bit of solidarity with him for bravely noting the obvious flaw in his boss' statement. I decided to circle back around with my cart a little while later to see how our lanky hero was faring with his boxes.

The two were nowhere in sight, but I had to reach over my head to get a box of oranges down so I guess we know whose nipples prevailed over logic that day.

Wednesday, December 9, 2015

Butterscotch Soul

I was about 12 years old the first time I heard the word recalcitrant. I had to look it up.

I won't judge if you had to go Google it yourself just now, but I would like to point out that back when I was 12 one had to store up words requiring definition in one's head until a dictionary could be consulted. Or I guess maybe some people would just ask what something meant, but I was not that sort of kid. I stored puzzling things in my head until I could solve them, preferably in secret so no one would know that I didn't already know what "from the mailman" or "recalcitrant" might mean. Google would have really helped me out back then. 

One more thing I need to point out is how useless it is to tell someone who asks you how to spell a word, to go look it up in the dictionary. I remember my Grade 1 teacher saying that to kids (not me, of course, because I never would have asked) and feeling angry that it was so unfair to say that when obviously you needed to have at least an inkling of how to spell something before you could look it up in the dictionary. One of my earliest subversive acts was helping other kids spell words. Psst, it starts with a C, not an S.

So. Back to age 12. I saved up recalcitrant in my head until I got home, then got out the dictionary - secretly - and looked it up. On the page was one of those uniquely satisfying discoveries that neatly crystallizes something you knew but couldn't quite put your finger on - ah, that was the word I was looking for all along!

The image that sprang to mind was a tub of butterscotch ripple ice cream: a vein of recalcitrance is woven through my soul. 

Someone asked me once, if I could choose any trait of my own to pass on to my kids, what would it be? I said a good sense of humour, because being able to laugh about things has gotten me through so much. That is a solid answer for polite company, and it really is how I feel. But it's also true that I mine that vein of recalcitrance when I need to not just get through, but to get far. Many of my big leaps in life have been fueled by the power of Oh yeah? Just watch me

Recalcitrant not typically being a complimentary term, I've considered revising my initial mental image to something less universally appealing - say, a black licorice ripple - as if in preemptive apology to anyone who happens to look inside my head and find this trait distasteful. Ultimately I decided to stand by butterscotch: not only do I not need to apologize for it but I contend that, if existing in correct proportion and judiciously employed, recalcitrance can be a delicious addition to any personality. 

Thursday, December 3, 2015

They've Both Got Layers

Medium Fry didn't really care about money when she was little - I'm still not sure she really does - so money has been pretty useless to me as a motivational/parenting tool for a long time. Having been thus trained for so many years, it didn't even occur to me that Small Fry might have a different perspective on the matter. It actually took me quite a while to figure out that he was really interested in money. Really interested. Like, desperately-racking-his-little-brain-trying-to-find-ways-to-get-money sort of interested. I don't know how long I was missing out on this, exactly, but it took several separate incidents for me to piece it all together:

First, he kept pestering me to let him take his big U-magnet to the park.

Then, he kept pestering me to let him "look at" vending machines and payphones.

Then, he kept pestering DH and I about whether we wanted to drink any more beer or wine.

In retrospect, he had obviously thought long and hard about potential fundraising avenues, but as I've said before, it sometimes takes a bit of interpretation before his motives become fully clear. He has apparently had success with both the magnet and vending machine searches in the past (something I was not previously aware of), and he gets the proceeds from sorting the refundables out of the recycling so it was pretty obvious to him where the big bucks were coming from on that front.

Now that you know these were ways he was trying to find more money, it all makes perfect sense, right? But it was only when Small Fry became visibly frustrated over DH declining to have a beer one morning that it came together for me: Oooohhh! This kid needs an allowance!

There is a ton of advice out there for how to give your kids allowance. As with most things in life, I have ignored it and done what I thought was a good idea instead. I'll spare you the details, except to say that I developed what I'm calling the "Slurpee Index" for how much allowance I decided to start the kids out with: after savings and donations, it's nice for a little kid to be able to buy her/himself a Slurpee. That's a pretty tangible benefit every week when you're seven. Bonus: the philosophy roughly parallels my own spending, which is allocated based on the "Pedicures and Nice Lunches Index", so it's totally defensible.

Small Fry was thrilled with the magical concept of allowance. ("You mean I get this EVERY WEEK?! Squeeee!") I explained what allowance was and that he would be able to buy a Slurpee if he wanted to, then I handed him his money and figured he would be off to 7-11 like a shot. But once again, he surprised me with further revelations from his onion-like little soul: he wasn't going to buy a Slurpee at all. He was going to save his money. The real reason he had racked his brains for ways to get money - his one true motivation in life and dedicated savings goal - is not Slurpees at all...

It's Lego.