Fun with words and kids

If you were ever a kid who didn’t always like to eat what was put in front of you, then this word might ring true with you:

spreag·gies \’sprej-ēz\  pl n : the vegetables intentionally dispersed about a plate to give the impression that a sufficient quantity have been consumed; esp. : the work of a child desperately hoping not to eat the food that has been placed before him or her at mealtime

Since our good friends at Google have yet to produce search results relating to the description of this ancient, time-honored practice, we decided that it was time to contribute to our culture and language.

This post doesn’t have a huge connection to our present ministry, but we view it as a nice lesson in the flexibility and adaptability of the English language. Anyone can add something to it! (That’s the short lesson on language change, which was an important concept when we were surveying languages for Wycliffe.)

Go ahead and test your ability to change your language … use the word spreaggies and see if the people you know start using it, too!

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Nutty Grace

Last week, we received the results of our younger son’s most recent allergy tests. For those of you who don’t know him, he has quite the laundry list of sensitivities: milk, wheat, egg, soy, peanut and more. Each year his blood is tested for the antibodies that indicate whether or not he is still allergic to those foods.

This year, the doctor added tests for cashew, pistachio, and almond, after our son had a reaction to a snack bar containing those three nuts. You might think, “Shouldn’t he have stayed away from those anyway? He’s allergic to peanuts, right?” Well, peanuts are legumes, not tree nuts, so a peanut allergy is a bird of a different color. People who are allergic to peanuts usually have to stay away from the others because they’re often processed together, and the risk of cross-contamination is high. The bar he ate was from a peanut-free company. He had safely eaten almonds and pistachios before, so we thought he’d be fine. He wasn’t, though. The recent tests showed that our boy is now quite allergic to pistachios and cashews.

Here’s the really nutty part, though: he’s not allergic to pecans. Four years ago, when we bought our house, it did not occur to us that the two, large pecan trees in the back yard might pose a threat to our son’s health. His first allergy test was done two months after we moved in, and Katherine asked the doctor to test specifically for pecans. The result? Negative; the boy regularly enjoys pecan butter on his wheat-free bread.

We don’t know how common it is for someone to be highly allergic to some tree nuts and not at all to another, especially the one that happens to be right above his head. Katherine and I look at it as grace given straight from God to our precious little boy. The next time you see pecans in a bag at the store or in the pie on your plate, take a moment to thank God for such grace!

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How secure are YOU?

Data security is of increasing concern within Wycliffe. From the translation project in a sensitive area of the world to the financial data center, nearly every part of our organization has information to protect. The first word in data security is encryption, the scrambling and obfuscation of data to the point of being unreadable or inaccessible without the right password(s) or key(s). It’s possible to encrypt any form of data, whether it’s your email messages, your connection to a website, a phone call, or the files on your hard drive.

On the Dallas campus, I serve a number of people who need to be concerned about the security of the information that they use and carry with them when they travel. Today, I spoke to a group of Wycliffe counselors who have legal and ethical obligations to protect their client files from prying eyes. Many of them acknowledged that they don’t do nearly enough to secure that information, and they were all interested in what counsel I could give them.

I talked to this group of counselors about two encryption solutions: TrueCrypt encryption software and the IronKey encrypted USB flash drive. The first is free and the second is, well, not so free. Both are excellent. Click on the links to see more information about each. I’ve been practicing using both products lately so that I can be equipped to advise people who need encryption and assist them in putting encryption to use. In October, I plan to present the IronKey product to my peers from around the world at our biannual technical conference. I’ve also been involved in an online discussion about data security with some of those same people. I’m not a security or encryption expert, but I know a good idea when I see it … and use it.

Do you have information that you wouldn’t want someone else to see? Encryption’s not a subject for the timid, but neither’s identity theft. Think about it. If you have a question, post a comment.

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