The Decoy Squirrel

I spent most of my free childhood with my nose in a book. I have quite a few now, in numbers approaching the thousands, and historically reread the majority of them in a year.  In childhood this was best achievable by spending every weekday of my summer vacations the same way; motionless in a chair with a book perched open across my knees.  Time becomes immaterial, as you are wrapped in a silent cocoon of concentration, focused on gleaning every last drop of meaning from the words.  I really do love books.

The summer I turned 11 brought no changes to this well established pattern of behavior.

I woke around 9 every morning, put something on toast, and went to search for that morning’s book.

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Louisa May Alcott, you’re killing me.

I love books, be they Harry Potter or The Three Musketeers, and have a special fondness for the classics.  One of my favorite books growing up was The Secret Garden, and it appealed to me on many levels.  Shockingly, our main character Mary is nasty, ugly, and rude.  It’s an incredibly depressing book when you begin, but as we follow Mary, there is a change in her, and she ends up helping those around her.  It is, of course, a morality tale about proper behavior, finding happiness, and strength of will.  I’ve read it many times, as a child and as an adult, and it’s one of the many books I’ve kept my childhood copy of to pass on to the next generation.

This brings us to Louisa May Alcott.  I’m currently in a literature class that assigned a book I’d heard of, but never read, Little Women.  It’s a classic, set in the 1800’s in the time of the American Civil War, and follows a woman and her four daughters.  It’s also a morality tale and coming of age story.  As the family struggles to get by with their husband/father away as a chaplain for the army, each daughter grows older, trying to find her place in the world.

I hated it.

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Need a Car? Speak English.

Once again I was scrolling through the Facebook feed, but I’m beginning to think I really shouldn’t.  This week offerings include:

  1. “Another early morning” as a fascinating status update from someone I haven’t spoken to in at least 3 years
  2. A recipe for bacon pie that looks like death via cholesterol
  3. This video on how to be a TV model from the 80’s.  *Peppiness, big hair, and whiteness a must*
  4. Why you should be planking right now; It benefits every part of your body.  It’s just like prancercise, but with less walking. Like yoga, but with less moves!  Get your fitness on via the plank!
  5. Sorry about number 4, that was probably uncalled for.

Not all Facebook posts are terrible.  I have plenty of perfectly nice friends who post scientific articles, camping photos of their latest Iceland adventure, or funny anecdotes about teaching.   It’s also a great way to keep current on what’s happening with my extended family or class groups, and anytime someone takes a video of the University Choir singing, they post it to Facebook, and it makes us feel awesome.  Have another link to Háskólakórinn, because I like us.

In a third category are posts that you aren’t exactly sure what to do with.  These may include political posts you simply cannot relate to, status updates that create a new level on the scale of awkward, or something that you can’t quite determine is offensive.  The example in question today was a giant meme that I have attempted to faithfully recreate.  This involved googling “How to make a meme”.

Here’s my recreation on the meme in question.

So here is the troublesome meme in question.  Massachusetts actually has 25 languages the driver’s exam can be administered in.  These are: Albanian, Arabic, Armenian, Cambodian, Chinese, Czech, English, Farsi, Finnish, French, German, Greek, Hebrew, Hungarian, Italian, Japanese, Korean, Laotian, Polish, Portuguese, Rumanian, Russian, Spanish, Turkish and Vietnamese.

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I’m Getting Surprisingly Comfortable with Naked People

For the sake of clarity, I’ll say right now that’s not a euphemism.  ‘Getting comfortable with’ is exactly what I mean, and it’s surprising.

There's my super cold Alaska, in pale green.
There’s my super cold Alaska, in pale green.

I’m from Alaska, a state in the US that extends so far North on our planet, a full third sits within the Arctic Circle.  We aren’t as close to the North Pole as parts of Russia, Canada or Greenland, but take a firm 4th, and as you might imagine, we don’t spend a lot of time in the water.  The Pacific Ocean may bring fish and look very attractive, but the Encyclopedia Britannica estimates the average surface temperature in the north at 34° F (1° C).  In water temperatures of 32.5°F – 40°F, you will reach a state of unconsciousness due to heat loss in 15-30 minutes.  So what is the point of all this depressing water knowledge?  Simple, we don’t spend a lot of time in the water because:

At the risk of being over dramatic, it means death.

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One Last Letter


Dear Grandpa,

I wanted to write you one last letter, because this is one of the days it really hurts that you are gone.  I found the postcard I was writing you from Iceland when you got sick, and I remembered how funny I thought it would be to see your face when you saw the picture of this tiny, snow encrusted island in the sea.  I remember your voice on the phone when I told you I was moving.  You said “Whaaaa?  Why would you want to go there?” and then we laughed.  You didn’t talk like anyone else I’ve ever met, with broad vowels, and great exclamations of “Oooh gaaa!” and “Well golly!”.  You are singular, one of a kind, and very much missed.

I wish I had asked you more questions about the world when you were young.  1917 is the time of World War I.  You grew up without electricity or running water, and saw the empire state building rise into the sky.  You lived through the great depression, saw a second World War, and race to space.  Civil rights.  The Cuban Missile Crisis.  You lived the history I read about.

Your cards were always the first to arrive for every holiday.  Snoopy tangled up in colored lights.  Snoopy carrying an Easter basket.  Snoopy holding a shiny birthday cake.  I never had the heart to tell you I’ve never seen Charlie Brown, and didn’t really know why there was a floppy eared dog on all my birthday cards.  You sent Snoopy on every card, to every Aunt, Uncle and Cousin, and loved him enough for all of us, so now I must confess; when I see him on a shirt, or in the comics, it makes me think of you.  He’s growing on me.

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Punishment and Consequences

From Wikipedia, I’m going to call this one punishment.

If you have a Facebook page, you may be familiar with the Facebook feed.  Within this endless supply of…news, you can expect to find an array of baby pictures, recipes for Frito-taco casserole your Aunt Kelly wants to try, and countless Youtube hairstyling videos a girl you were in sports with 8 years ago likes.  I also seem to have a disproportionate number of parenting articles from the high number of friends originating from my Early Childhood BA program, and current teacher friends.

I almost always end up reading them, even in my current childless state.  It’s interesting to see what people think children need for breakfast, or how they learn the alphabet, or the best way to distract them while shopping.  This morning’s article on Creative Consequences looked promising, with the added possibility of making me chuckle at kids who are thwarted during their misdeeds.

I did not enjoy the article.

21 Creative Consequences for Kids is a great topic, and encourages parents to use a different approach to behavioral correction.  After all,

There are only so many times “Don’t make me come over there!” will work.

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