Precious Cargo

It is devastating to see so much destruction over the past few months due to a rolling wave of natural disasters. The un-relentless forest fires in Canada, the onslaught of hurricanes in the US, the massive earthquake offshore Mexico have caused much pain and sorrow in their wakes. Seeing looting occurring in small Caribbean islands is heart-breaking. Reading stories of muck-out teams in Houston is heart-warming. The intersection of natural forces with human forces, some for good and others for bad, causes a natural barrage of questions to a power above : why this God?

I now have roots in three countries affected by recent events. I was born outside of Miami, spent my early career years in Houston, and lived our first years of marriage and child raising in Calgary.

A storm chaser I am not, though I profess the geophysicist in me is bizarrely fascinated by these natural occurrences that appear to be examples of the earth trying to blow off some stress and strain.

How fragile we are.  The one and only human race, no match to the massive forces of this planet we call home.  What irony that we are living in a place so hostile and yet so hospitable at the same time.

Is there not something special about this planet? Do you see the aspects of its design, its forces, its strength, its grandeur and its danger to our own human kind?

These recent events cause me to think that this world is in fact just a temporary abode, a pressure cooker of natural forces in close proximity to humanity, God’s precious cargo in its temporary hold, on a life journey of great importance.


Hazards of the Trade

“Have thy tools ready. God will find thee work.” Charles Kingsley

As I sat down at my desk last weekend ready to tackle the task of entering a summer’s worth of receipts and expenses into a spreadsheet, I enlisted the able-bodied Jacqueline to aide me in the important job of glue-sticking. Glue-sticking (unlike the penalty of high-sticking) is only permissible in the Engineer’s Process Flowchart if the glue is well applied and the receipt corners are neatly mashed down such that they do not jam the Engineer’s Scanning Apparatus and therefore cause much Engineering Consternation and Frustration.  To be transparent, I have been warned in the past about said glue-sticking practices and reprimanded (sent home without pay in fact), and gently suggested that perhaps next time scotch tape might be a better tool of choice.

But no, this woman says, I carry on with the stick. The elegance of its form, the fluidity in which it flows in +30 degrees Celsius, I tell you, it is a beautiful thing to watch a tool such as this perform in this climate like a figure skater on a slate of clean ice. Like butter on warm toast.

Normally, the gluing of receipts on pieces of recycled paper is one of my favorite parts of the eighteen hour process of expense submittal, but this time I made a judgement call to outsource this particular procedure to a very handy and well-equipped seven year old.

She came to the task with great joy and anticipation for the temporary employment. She was thrilled with the price I was willing to pay, one peso per receipt. An heiress in the making she was.  She promptly went to work, seated in the department cubicle for glue-people.

I didn’t look up when she told me that her stick had run dry, and instead carried on with my data-entry task, responding, ‘Well, just go get another one.’

Perhaps that was a mistake.

Several accounting runs later I looked over and noticed that the receipts that were glued since the tool-change looked a bit different.

Then I picked up a sheet. To my dismay the five little pink bus ticket receipts in illegible two-point font slid off the page and on the floor. Then the Westjet bag receipt did the same. Something had gone very wrong either in the Glue or in the QA/QC department.  Then to my horror, I noticed that all of the fallen receipts had turned transparent. The printed numbers were completely erased. Vanished. Like disappearing ink but more mysterious, and more disappearing. Almost …. oily.

Desperate for answers I turned to my glue technician. She shrugged and said, “You told me to glue them down lady.”

With glue that makes the thing disappear and become even less legible? I said to myself.

And then it dawned on me. There might have been a problem with the tool selection. With trepidation I asked to see what was in the technician’s hand.

And there lay the culprit. Banana Boat Sport SPF 50, albeit a decent counterfeit, makes a pretty nasty glue. Don’t try this one at home.