Monthly Archives: March 2017

Communication over the years has not always been easy. Before mail service, the people sent messages via horse and riders, called post riders. I’m sure that messages were only sent in this way when the message was really important, because it would be silly to pay someone to send a simple letter, or notes like our text messages of today. Just imagine that cost if the messages went back and forth as much as texts do. Nevertheless, post riders were the only way to get a message out in 1791. Inventions happen at a time when they are least expected, and just because it was 1791, doesn’t mean that the next year couldn’t bring something amazing. In this case, that is exactly what happened.

After seeing the problems there were with communications, Claude Chappe of France invented a system of communication that he called the Semaphore Machine. In reality it was an early form of the telegraph system we all know about. The machine was used until the nineteenth century when the telegraph was invented. The Semaphore system was much faster than post riders for conveying a message over long distances, and also had cheaper long-term operating costs, once constructed. The system worked by conveying information by means of visual signals, using towers with pivoting shutters, also known as blades or paddles. Information is encoded by the position of the shutters. It is read when the shutter is in a fixed position. The lines were a precursor to the electrical telegraph. It was also considered more private, which seems odd to me. How could a message relayed from the top of a tower be private? Of course, not everyone knew how to read the messages, but it would seem like there would be a few people who learned the codes and so could read the messages. Still, I suppose that the people who translated the messages were sworn to secrecy.

The system did have its drawbacks. The distance that this optical telegraph could bridge was limited by geography and weather. It could not be seen in rain or snow, and could not be seen over a hill. That limited its practical use. The solution was to use relay stations to reach longer distances. Of course, the system couldn’t cross expanses of water, unless a convenient island could be used for a relay station. While the system had its problems, it did serve a useful purpose in its time. In some forms, it is still used today. One modern version of the semaphore system is a flag semaphore, or a flag relay system. Another is the heliograph, which is an optical telegraph using mirror-directed sunlight reflections. I think anyone who has watched a movie about ships might recognize that one. It was how they signaled from one ship to another. Maybe the Semaphore Telegraph system wasn’t so antiquated after all.

These days, my husband, Bob Schulenberg and I, and a few other people we know, have become an anomaly. Our marriage has weathered the test of time, and we are well on our way to growing old together. I say that not so much with a sense of pride, although I am proud of my marriage to Bob, and happy that we are still together, but with almost a sense of awe. Many people who everyone just knew would make it didn’t, so why did we make it? I have never been sure, except that we usually didn’t let things bother us very much. The old saying, “Don’t sweat the small stuff” comes to mind, as does “In a hundred years, who’s gonna care.” Those sayings remind me to focus on what is important…us. Things will come and go, storms will dissipate, seasons will pass, but as long as we are on this journey together, we are going to be blessed.

When I met Bob, I was a senior in high school. I didn’t know what love was. I just thought he was cute. Little did I know that from that day forward, he would always be a wonderful part of my life. Now, I can’t even begin to imagine my life without him. We are so connected…so well suited for each other. My mom, Collene Spencer commented one time that we had even begun to look alike…taking on the same facial expressions and mannerisms. I thought that was a strange comment at the time…at lease twenty years ago, when she said it, but she was right. As I watch us in our daily life, we can finish each other’s sentences, crack the same jokes, and think alike on world issues…all of them!! How amazing is that? Bob knows what to do or say in any situation, to bring me comfort. The Bible says that in marriage, the two become one. That is so evident in our lives, and we couldn’t ask for more. Ours is a beautiful life. We are so very blessed.

It’s not that we are spending lots of money, or traveling to exotic places, but we might someday. It’s just that we like doing the same things. I don’t think it matters where you go, as long as you go together…at least most of the time. More important than money and things though, is loving the person you have chosen to be your life partner, and that is what we have done. We just couldn’t imagine being with anyone else. There is no big secret, or magic formula, we just love and respect each other, and we love just living our life. Happy 42nd anniversary to the most wonderful husband ever!! Forty two years and still going strong. I love you Bob…forever and ever!!

Leap Day Babies, by definition are numerically challenged…not age challenged or mathematically challenged, although both of those things come into play…simply numerically challenged. Things just never quite add up for them. They start off behind the rest of the kids born that year, because when that first birthday rolls around, the other kids turn one, but a Leap Day Baby only turns ¼. It’s because the 29th of February only happens every four years. I call those other three years nano-birthdays, because the birthday arrives somewhere between 11:59:59pm and 12:00am. It is a nano-second in time, and that is when that missing birthday occurs. Even their younger siblings pass Leap Day Babies up. The Leap Day Baby is pretty good at fractions, however, because after their first year of life, they are ¼. After their second year of life, they are ½. And after their third year of life, they are ¾. It isn’t until their fourth year of life that the Leap Day Baby turns 1. This is a fact of life that my granddaughter, Shai Royce has had to live with since her birth 21 years ago. She wasn’t always sure she liked it, because the boys, her brother, Caalab Royce, and cousins, Chris and Josh Petersen loved to tease her by saying, “I’m older than you” and it was true in every way except the number of years each had spent on the earth.

Nevertheless, Leap has it’s privileges. While the boys had to wait until they turned 16 to get their driver’s license, Shai got to get hers at the age of 4. She got to graduate from high school at the age of 4½. One of the biggest privileges Shai has as a Leap Day Baby is the fact that she can celebrate her nano-birthdays on either the 28th of February or the 1st of March…or both. Her grandpa and I have our anniversary on March 1st, so we liked sharing our anniversary with her on those nano-years, but often it seems that Shai likes to celebrate it on the 28th of February. That has been a distinct advantage for Shai and every other Leap Day Baby…the ability to honestly have an early birthday. This birthday has been a particularly cool one for Shai…especially in the early birthday department, because how many kids say that they actually got to legally drink the day before their 21st birthday? Only the Leap Day Baby. And since the government doesn’t even know what to do about the matter exactly, they even made it legal for her to cheat the system and start legally drinking the day before her birthday.

I guess that while Leap Day Babies only get a birthday once every four years, Leap really does have it’s privileges. For now, Shai might like being older sooner, but some day she will seriously appreciate the fact that she only ages every four years. Today is Shai’s Nano-21st-Birthday. Happy birthday Shai!! Have a great day!! We love you!!