Good word, cerebrate. Looks like a misspelling of celebrate, but it’s not. It means to “use the mind,” to think long, or just think about something. Perfect place to do that is in the pool, on a pool float, lazily drifting around, cigarette in one hand, and drink in the other. In all honesty, if you were able to look at the sky, it was fixin’ to pour in about 30 minutes. I had been floating around in there for most of the afternoon, Labor Day 2015, so I had plenty of time to cerebrate. (Even “Spellcheck” thinks I have that wrong.)
I didn’t solve any world issues, didn’t even solve any domestic issues, right down to my own domicile, but I spent the time deep in thought. I was drinking alcohol in the pool, smoking in the pool, and I wasn’t wearing any sunscreen in the pool. OH MY GOD! There’s three laws of safe pool usage that I violated from the get go. I probably should have been wearing a helmet.
I saw the usual pictures of veteran cemeteries on “Facebook” leading into the three-day weekend, with the caption “In case you think this is just another three-day weekend.” I always find those posts disturbing, as they should make me feel, but Labor Day is not about veterans. It’s about workers. This day of remembrance, the first Monday in September, is dedicated to the social and economic achievements of the American worker. We are actually celebrating labor unions which are credited for moving along the minimum wage, Social Security, workplace safety, shorter work week, overtime pay, and vacations. It was enacted by Congress on June 28th, 1894.
We also think about Labor Day as being the end of summer. The last three-day weekend before we send the kids back to school. Around here, school started two weeks ago, which just seemed wrong, but that’s what I remember the most about Labor Day as a kid; I had to start school on Tuesday.
Labor Day weekend is cerebrated with putting the garden gnomes away for the winter, packing up the artificial flowers, the only thing I can “grow” in New Mexico, and pruning the gardens. The leaves are starting to fall from the trees, and I need to start thinking about the massive task of raking a quarter-acre back yard and bagging them up. And, of course, I have to think about draining the pool and putting it away for the winter. I’m not looking forward to that for a myriad of reasons.
I floated around trying to estimate how long it was going to take for the storm forming in the Southwest to reach the pool. I didn’t have any of the necessary tools to make that calculation, but I figured I had a few hours before lightning might strike the power line above me, drop into the pool and electrocute me. Yeah, you think about those possible calamities when a storm is moving in. I’m not blessed with the best of luck.
There has been a running dispute over the last 133 years over who first proposed the idea of Labor Day. It’s between a Mathew Maquire, and a Peter McGuire. Mathew was a machinist, and Peter was a carpenter. They are both Irish surnames, from the Gaelic “Mac Udihir” which means, I guess, “son of Odhar.” In fact, they are the same surname, just spelled differently, and Maquire is very uncommon. (As expected, “Spellcheck” wants to fix it.) Maybe that question is in “Trivial Pursuit.” Does anyone play that anymore, or did most of us succumb to the fact that we didn’t know enough of the answers to play the game in an evening and stopped wanting to appear uneducated?
Does anyone think that Donald Trump would make a good president? There’s that argument that Big Government is a business, and needs a business magnate to run it effectively. He’s a real estate tycoon though. I don’t think that really qualifies him, although the US Government is the largest landowner in the country. He’s demonstrated his lack of knowledge of foreign policy, but maybe we shouldn’t put too much weight on that. What am I saying? Bottom line is it probably doesn’t matter. None of them ever follow through with the promises they make in a campaign. You’ll never see a fence on the Mexican border. Why would you want one anyway? There are a lot better uses for those billions of dollars.
I saw the first bolt of lightning and heard the distant rumble of thunder, so I figured it was probably time to get out of the possible death trap in which I was floating. I looked out to the Southwest and secretly patted myself on the back for my accurate weather prediction. Maybe I should have been a meteorologist.
As I’m sure we all know, lightning and thunder happen at the same time, but light travels faster than sound. By counting the seconds from the visible lighting strike and the sound of thunder, you can estimate the distance of the storm. For every 5 seconds between the strike and the thunder, the storm is one mile away. If you hear the thunder 20 seconds (you can just count 1-Missippi, 2-Missippi, etc.) after you see the flash, the storm is 4 miles away. You have no idea how fast the storm is moving, so it might be a good rule to get out of the pool when you see a flash of lighting, and hope the thunder doesn’t happen within a few seconds. And it really doesn’t tell you how close you are to the storm, only how close you are to the lightning strike.
I remember distinctly, and I don’t know why, when I first saw it physically demonstrated that sound took a while to reach your ear. I was running, warming up actually, for a track meet one Saturday in High School. As I was running, I noticed a worker installing a barrier fence on the far side of the track. As I watch the sledge hammer hit the metal post, it was a few seconds before I heard the sound. It amazed me so much, I remember, I stopped and watched for a few minutes. It was one of those “light bulb” moments, and it has stuck in my head.
So, in case you were still thinking that Labor Day is just the last three-day weekend that marks the end of summer, you are now more enlightened, knowledgeable, plugged-in, tuned-in and savvy to the facts.