So here's some of my incomplete pearls, some rocks that haven't bounced around in the rock box long enough, some suckers that still have the Tootsie roll buried way down deep inside. Basically, they're just some thoughts that have been flatfooting around my head for a while.
On the importance of shoes
Shoes matter. In flights of fancy I sometimes think about going barefoot, getting back to nature. Yeah. Then I see the signs posted about lab safety.
About a month ago I decided it was time to get a new pair of shoes. I got a comfortable but thin pair of shoes that were sleek, tan, and lightweight. The only problem was, with no support, I was soon finding every excuse I could to grab the one stool in lab to sit on. (Or, even worse, just sitting at my desk all the time!). I now realize why supportive shoes were invented! When I went back to the store and shelled out the cash for the standard tennis shoes, my feet rose up and called me blessed. Well, almost.
When something's going wrong, find out what's making it go wrong. Without this crucial step, all the heeing and hawing in the world will do no good. Case in point: our printer is a little weird. About one month into working with the little guy, I just decided he was eccentric and stopped listening to his error messages. I mean, when eight of nine times he tells you his drum's bad when he's really got a paper jam, you start patting him on the tray and rolling your eyes a little. At least I do. Anyway. When he started telling me -- in his wheezy little way -- that his toner was low, I figured it was just another delusion. For the two weeks (time periods may be exaggerated due to sporadic recordkeeping) leading up to his new self- diagnosis, he refused to print anything unless I pressed the "Go" button for each page. I joked that he felt attention-deprived. When the toner light came on, I figured it was more of the same eccentric behavior. Until he collasped in a spasm. So a guy in lab figured out what was wrong. It was the toner. What I've learned from this is 1) you've got to know what the proper diagnosis is so you can take the proper action, 2) even when a patient sometimes mis-self-diagnoses, it's doesn't mean he'll always mis-self-diagnose, and 3) the guys in my lab are better at printer troubleshooting than the girls are.
It's kind of curious. I always saw it as a positive thing if somebody didn't date much before they got married. It's been kind of a shock to find out that's not how a lot of people see it. If you haven't dated much (or at all!), it's almost as if questions like "what's wrong" or "are you lezzie" seem justified.
When guys are better than girls
That last point is so amusing, and so neglected in today's society that I'm going to take it up as its own section. Did you know that, on average, guys are better at some things than girls are? Shocking, I know, but true. If I was studying this phenomenon scientifically, I'd have several groups of volunteers -- say, three guys in one group, and three girls in another group -- enclosed in a room with a slightly outdated computer, a stack of slightly rumpled paper, a busted but fixable printer, and a deadline of fifteen minutes to print a 10-page document of my choice. And I'd see what they'd do. If my experience with the printer in my lab, the two guys and two girls I worked with, and my own bent are any indication, the guys would approach the problem much more confidently than the girls. The girls would probably check the printer timidly, more with a "well, I sure hope something I do will help this printer," while the guys' actions would probably speak more of "Hey! Awesome -- watch me fix this!" I'm not saying that the average guy will always know more about fixing a printer than a girl will. I'm just saying that I think a guy often approaches a problem with a Bob-the-Builder mentality. And that's cool.
While we're on the topic of confidence, I've got to say that many guys are just more naturally gifted in this area than girls. So girls, learn from the guys. At a recent Bible study, we were asked to share our spiritual gifts. There was some silence, but then the two guys present shared what their gifts were. Several minutes later, the girls were still gulping and trying to disappear by a mere act of the will. I was one of those girls, but looking back at it I'm ashamed of how I wasted time. It really isn't any more spiritual to delay like that. In the future, I want to be more like those guys were. As one of them pointed out, they're spiritual gifts aren't about them anyway. They're about God.
One of my favorite stories about CAP (Civil Air Patrol) is one my brother told me. They were drilling when their officer (I don't really know if that's the correct terminology!) shouted out "Who's the best?" Most of the cadets (I'm really making up names now!) trumpeted back "I am!" The rest of the cadets looked bewildered. The ones who were convinced they were the best got to rest, but those who weren't yet convinced were told to continue. And it "just so happened" that all the guys yelled "I am" while all the girls stood by bewildered. I love that story. I think it shows a lot about how girls and guys think differently, and I can totally picture myself turning sheepish when "Who's the best?" came ringing out. I'd probably start thinking about whose name would be most unobstrusive to yell. Right about then I'd heard the guys yelling "I am," and then get even more sheepish because I'd recognize that as the right answer. As much as I like this story, I've found that I have to be very careful who I share it with. Back in undergrad a friend of a friend mentioned she'd been in CAP. I related the story, thinking she'd laugh like I did when I heard it. But no. She got visibly angry and demanded to know the names of the people involved. I fortunately had no idea, and wouldn't have told her if I had known people's names! I decided then and there that this person and I understood things very differently, and I'd have to watch my cards very carefully around her.
Not that I ever saw her again, anyway! It just gets me when people think it's something heinous to point out the differences in how girls and guys think. As if you needed another example, I'll belabor the point with another -- in my opinion -- funny story. I was helping pass out food, and I was stationed next to two brothers. The older brother was 11, and the younger brother was 8. The 11-year-old's job was to put a shrink-wrapped package with three green peppers and an onion into each person's basket. The 8-year-old was originally given the foolproof job of putting a bag of tortillas into each person's basket. He soon tired of that, however, and edged himself into my post: the quart of milk and dozen eggs section. I didn't mind. The older lady at the next station scowled, though. Boy, she looked mad! So anyway, we had about 1.5 hours to work. I didn't have a chance to get bored, because the brothers sang me a song the older one had written about a fish named Bob. This fish had a ballcap on his head, not a beard but a 'stache, a mole on his cheek, a cat named Sue, and enough other distinguishing characteristics that if you ever fished him out of the Nile, you'd know who you had. During this time the 11-year-old also declared himself "The Pepper Man," and signified his status by placing a shrink-wrapped package of peppers on his hat. I might have worried about them falling off and getting bruised if he hadn't kept them balanced for the duration. Then, suddenly inspired, he started relating the way in which every vegetable in the sun could be morphed into a lethal weapon. It was high entertainment, and only a boy could of thought of it. By the time the 1.5 hours was done, he'd hatched ideas of mashed-potato quicksand, launching tomatoes, and a spiky booby-trap made out of sharpened carrots (okay, so I might have helped with that one a little bit). It all started when
And at the end of it, the older lady who'd stood by getting a heart palpitation every time the 8-year-old put the eggs or milk into someone's case, jetted
Potential titles of future, thought-provoking articles
Colonialism, Imperialism, and the Enduring Popularity of the British Accent
Inertia and the Research Schedule (Or "She Who is Efficient Will Become More Efficient, While She Who is Not Efficient Will Become Less Efficient")
(Originally written 8/14/09)