Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Welcome, Freshmen!

As has been pointed out a few times in the last few years, the Beloit Mindset List (aka the how old are you compared to college freshmen list) often has weird statements.  One year it included the tidbit that Beethoven has always been a dog, which, first - Beethoven the composer has been dead a really long time.  And my knowledge that there was a movie where a dog was called Beethoven has never impacted my ability to understand there is a composer with that name and suggesting that college freshman would have that issue, well, it doesn't say much for your admission standards. 
But, nonetheless, let me offer my entirely unsolicited thoughts.
The good:
-'"Don't touch that dial!"….what dial?' - I would make fun of this, but, I recently heard someone explain where the phrase "in the can" comes from as if it was novel information, so, clearly there are things in the zeitgeist that people have no idea of their origins.
-"More Americans have always traveled to Latin America than to Europe." Okay, I actually didn't even know this, but very interesting.
-"Public schools have always made space available for advertising." This is an interesting change, although I'm guessing the average college faculty or staff member had a front seat to this.
The duh:
"Grown-ups have always been arguing about health care policy." - In fact, I'm going to guess this has been true much of my life too.
-"They won't go near a retailer that lacks a website." - I worry a little about such things myself.
The huh:
-"American tax forms have always been available in Spanish." Um, I made it to college without ever looking at a tax form.  I'm sure there are plenty of kids far more involved in their family's finances, but I have no idea why this is interesting, or how this helps you relate to today's youth.
-"We have never asked, and they have never had to tell." This, I recognize is supposed to refer to the policy which has been in existence much of their lives.  But it annoys me, because it doesn't really reflect reality or the likelihood of any student's experience, even if that student was in the military. Now this one, is useful: "Women have always been kissing women on television."
-"Unlike their older siblings, they spent bedtime on their backs until they learned to roll over." - I personally have no recollection of my sleeping habits in my babyhood, so, thanks?
-"New kids have always been known as NKOTB." - which assumes that a decent number of college freshmen know who that is at all.
-"Women have always been Venusians; men, Martians." - Do people still talk about that book?  Really?
And the now I feel old:
"Ferris Bueller and Sloane Peterson could be their parents."

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Advice For Fictional Twins

So, in noticing that this fall our TV's will be offering both "The Lying Game"  and "Ringer" in which twins are mistaken for, well, their twin, I thought I would offer some advice.  I am not a twin, but as a fan of a cheesy movie or two about twins, in addition to considering myself somewhat well read on the subject of twins, I feel qualified to discuss this.  (Yes, those are all fictional twins.  Yes, I do know real life twins.  But my expertise is in the subject of fictional twins.) 
1. No matter how close you thought you and your twin were, she* has a deep dark secret she has failed to tell you. 
2. Someone in your twin's life will immediately recognize you as an imposter.  If this person is also tall, dark, handsome and single, this may be your love interest.  (Congrats!)
3. Someone will hate you (or really, your twin) for no apparent reason. 
4. You will invariably screw up - because your twin has gone vegetarian without telling you, or because you forgot your twin hated or loved something that you don't.  It's okay, cover well.  Most people do not assume you are not who you say you are. (In fact, it helps if you have failed to tell lots and lots of people that you even have a twin.)
5. It's a good idea to gather a band of allies with skills in things like hacking and protection. 
6. Oh, right, that's because part of your twin's deep dark secret, will likely put your life in danger.  (I know.  She should have warned you.)
7. If you have a twin sense, do not rely on it too much. Those things always seem to go on the fritz when the bad guys show up.

*It always seems to be female twins who play these games.  Come on, somebody, where's the story about the guy masquerading as his brother?

Monday, August 29, 2011

Oh, Irene

Well, Irene smacked the East Coast this weekend, she was fairly nice to the DC area, but I imagine that all depends what side of the power grid (or downed tree) you are standing on.  And, of course, other areas were not quite as well treated by the storm.  I made a tactical error, in that I did not plan ahead well enough for the week of the hurriquakeapocolypse and had some essentials that needed to be purchased this weekend.  (The fruit snacks and cheddar bunnies were a bonus.)  I know better. So, this is how I found myself at Giant Friday evening, which on a normal Friday is pretty hopping.  I tried to take a picture of the line, but it didn't really do it justice.  I have a water filter and empty bottles, so did not need water  - which was good because reports were trickling in that morning that it was out across town.  I held myself to the express lane limit because I have just me (well, and my cat) to feed, so really just need a few things. 
The lines were insane.  Every register was open, additional express lanes had been opened.  The lines were still stacked to the end of each aisle.  I got in the self-checkout line because I figure four express registers was better odds (although sometimes lines lead to the self checkout newbies who don't know what button to press next.) I confess, I peeked at the college kids in front of me who seemed to have an overflowing basket.  It turns out they had four whole rotisserie chickens, and some side dishes, so twelve things, just some of which were very big.  In the insanity I probably wouldn't have made a big deal either way, but I might have festered. 
The line was long, but moved fast.  Everyone seemed to be operating a peak efficiency levels (and I was there about seven, so I can only imagine how long those employees had been operating at such levels).  I got through that line in thirty minutes, which, yes, in any other circumstance would be a tragic time, but given the madness seemed quite reasonable to me. 
I still went out and about Saturday, in part because I was planning ahead for a day of nothing on Sunday.  (I also charged all the things.)  I was sad that Columbia Heights Day/DC State Fair had to be postponed, although hopefully the new date will have better weather.  (Also, this means all the competitions are back open, hint, hint.) 

Thursday, August 25, 2011

DC Crafty Peeps, And Other Locals

Hey, it's not (quite) too late to enter the DC State Fair contests, craft and otherwise - a few first round deadlines have passed (next year guys) but most are open until midnight tonight, so if you live in DC have some bike accessories, a DC portrait, a vegetable sculpture, or stuff that fits into the vegetable, baked or prepared goods (jam!) contests, get your form in!
This is the second annual DC State Fair, and it's occurring in conjunction with Columbia Heights Day this Saturday.  Even if you are not from DC, feel free to come by the music, the pageant, the animals and the food trucks!

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Dear Folks: The Apology Edition

Dear Folks,
One of the things about life is that some of the stuff they made you learn and do as a kid or teen seems so dumb, so ridiculous, it could only have been designed by bored teachers trying to come up with new ways to torture kids.  And then some (not all, just some) of those things turn out to come up later in life, and well, one can only send an apology out to the universe that, okay, that turned out to be not as crazy as you might have said.
One was hyperbolas which I spent forever working on calculating the area of, sure that this was useless information, and in fairness to my teen self, I have never been asked to calculate the area of one, but I did end up participating in this, so we could call that not entirely useless.
And then, during my stint in Civil Air Patrol there were disaster scenarios.  Now, I confess, I am sort of cheating since I wasn't at this one (I went to the downed plane one) but there was one where the scenario was an earthquake.  And, so I hear, many of the participants moaned that that was stupid, because when would that ever happen here in the DC area.  (Yes, I know there was a little one last year.  This was before that.) And they pulled out this really timely example: 1811-1812.  Yes, from 1811-1812 a series of earthquakes known as the New Madrid earthquakes, adjusted the course of rivers and caused churchbells to ring in New England. 
Well, now we have a new one to add to the list.  (Oh, and Earth, I think this makes an excellent list, by the way, good job.  Feel free to stop now.) 
Former Jaded Teen

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Call Your Parents

My final year in college I went to Ireland for spring break. This was prior to the supposed cease fire, but I was planning to go to the Republic of Ireland rather than Northern Ireland, but no matter how many conversations I had with my mother about the difference, she was still convinced I was going to end up blown up.  She suggested she could purchase for me a lot of American flag themed clothing so that I would hopefully be less blow-up-able.  (I countered that would mark me tourist.)  So, the compromise that we finally arrived at was that I would call every other day to report my non-exploded state.  (Conversely, I think I called before and after my trips to places like France, Germany, England, etc.)
I also once drove up to Connecticut for a visit after my mother had decided to embrace cell phones (but before they decided it was terrible to talk on them while driving, although I did have a hands free device) where my mother called me four times for a report on my progress, before I finally suggested I call once I hit the state line (since the trip after that point, while it had another forty exits to go, tends to be more predictable).
A young adult I worked with, did a trip to South Africa and set up a blog, to update family and friends about the trip.  And certainly various forms of social media have meant sending those still alive, still having a good time messages much easier.
Of course, all those things work great, until, say, you end up in some place where there's no service.  Sometimes it's just you who can't get a signal, sometimes it's everyone.  So, I think anyone who has experienced the nervous person (be they parent or otherwise) awaiting an update can sympathize with the challenges of getting to enjoy and experience the trip and keeping everyone apprised of your alive-ness. So, when a student went on a multi-day hike through a park in Malaysia, he apparently forgot to mention that that meant he wouldn't have access until he got through.  So his parents kicked off a huge search on Facebook and Twitter and a day later, park rangers found him.  So, the good news is he is fine.  And he will probably remember to warn people (ie his parents) the next time he goes off grid while traveling.

Monday, August 22, 2011

Banana Peels for the Win (Maybe)

The banana peel.  The things that makes the banana so portable and then, yest leaves you with this limp thing to discard.  I confess I have never tried slipping on a banana peel, but since I, you know, exist, I am aware of the comedy trope. Well, now it turns out that banana peels may be useful in dealing with water pollution.  No, really.

Thursday, August 18, 2011

In Defense of the Push Up Bra

Recently the morning TV news ran a story along the lines of people are trying to make your teens to sexy with push up bras.  (So not kidding.)  Now, I take these scare stories with a grain of salt.  I remember reading articles about things I was supposedly doing as a teen that were putting my virtue, my innocence, and my safety in question, and they were right sometimes, wrong sometimes, mostly exaggerated most of the time. 
However, I also know that some parents or other adults don't have time to parse out the real from the exaggerated.  (Witness one relative telling my cousin that she was risking being murdered by being on MySpace.  Again, not kidding.)  Sure, in a perfect world, adult caregivers of teens would have responsible and meaningful discussions about these things with their teens, but it doesn't always happen that way.  (And sometimes that's the teen's fault too, not trying to place the blame solely on adults here.)
So, that leads me to the push up bra.  Now savvy shoppers will note that the push up bra has been around for a while.  And the argument that before it was only marketed to adults, is flimsy at best, since teens who wear bras are going to consider themselves the target of any bra advertising. I can't ever remember pausing to consider the age of the bra model in making my shopping choices.  Now certainly there are some styles that are, ahem, less about support, but let me assure you in this case we are talking about a full coverage push up bra. 
Now some folks seem concerned that it adds cup sizes and that perhaps teens are not ready for that.  These folks are apparently unaware that teens have never needed a push-up bra to increase their cup size, it's just more convenient for that padding to come pre-packaged, rather than a personal aftermarket addition.
I am assuming that everyone can understand that some people (be they teen or otherwise) may need to wish to appear a little more padded.  And sure, we can argue that we're giving in to the notion of what you're supposed to look like, rather than appreciating what you truly look like, but as a late developer, I can also see the appeal of just knowing what you might look like with a little more.  (And I think, generally, most people discover that two cup sizes doesn't make quite as much difference as you might have imagined.  Or in some cases, just looks ridiculous.  )
But, the advantage of a well constructed bra with a little (yes, two cup sizes is two inches, so it is more than a little) padding turns out to be, in addition to support, that one garners an extra layer of protection from environmental and physical incursions.  We all know that certain external conditions can lead to physical responses in the breasts, and while again this is totally natural, I think it is entirely understandable to not wish to share that reaction with the entire school.  (Or office.)
Also, should someone commit the accidental (we are going to assume accidental here) boob brush, it's a little easier when there's some padding between you and the brush.  Breasts stick out, these things happen, but it's still weird, especially when they are a newer body part. So, things that help with this discomfort, are all good to me. 
And, in the end, my bra has never been responsible for my life choices.

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Acting it Out

My sister participated in the youth jobs program one year.  She helped with a day camp for a few weeks at a park in our neighborhood. She liked it well enough, got paid a real wage, but pretty much just did it that one summer. (Although it certainly wasn't the last day camp she worked at.) But this program, at the National Portrait Gallery, where the teens take on personas of the portraits sounds really cool.  Next year, I'll have to make sure to stop in and check them out. 

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Curse You!

So, in knitter circles there are tales of the sweater curse.  (Perhaps in crochet circles too.)  The story goes that if you knit a sweater for someone you are dating, the relationship will end around the time you finish.  So the knitter is (assumedly) broken-hearted and either in possession of this sweater that is now one more physical reminder of this relationship, or left to ponder that all that knitting is now off with someone who doesn't deserve it, or to possibly wonder if they hated the sweater that much.  Supposedly marriage inoculates one from the curse.  (My favorite part of the Wikipedia entry about this is this quote: "No controlled studies have investigated this phenomenon, and the available evidence is largely anecdotal, which is generally of low reliability due to cognitive bias. Particularly important in this effect may be confirmation bias, as knitters may remember breakups more clearly after giving a hand-knit sweater, which represents a significant investment of money (typically over $100), effort (~100,000 stitches), time (as much as a year) and romantic imagination."
However, there is a solution (other than first securing marriage or choosing not to believe in curses, which sure, you could also do). One woman has a sweater imbued with chili which will then cause the recipient to itch and burn.  That will show them.

Tuesday, August 02, 2011

Don't Speak

After seeing someone complain about people telling the they look tired on Twitter, I had a little epiphany, saying, "You look tired," is like saying, "You look pregnant."

It is generally established that telling someone they look pregnant is not a great idea unless you actually know they are pregnant* because either: they are but you have now stepped on their announcement, they are but they didn't want to tell you yet, or they aren't and now you have made them terribly self conscious about their waistline. 

You look tired (or it's friend  - you look sick) is really the same thing.  Now, possibly you happen to know that this person was up all night with a teething or ill child, went to a midnight showing of a movie, and/or was partying til the break of dawn.  Or maybe you don't and now you have made that person terribly self conscious that they look old, or tired, when up until then, they thought they were having a pretty good day.  And if they are in fact tired, you have burst their bubble about how well they were faking it. 

I recognize that generally, you look tired is meant in a sympathetic manner. And I'm not trying to tell people to stop being nice.  I am suggesting that this is not the way to go. 

*Except, of course, for that one woman from "I Didn't Know I was Pregnant" who says she wishes her co-workers had told her she was looking bulky about the middle.