What I learned in October


It is report card time for lots of local schoolkids following their first quarter of learning about the ABCs, exponents, photosynthesis, and the three branches of government. I won’t be receiving a grade report of any kind, but my brain has been stimulated by what I have learned in October: tidbits, useful skills, historical data – gleaned from a variety of sources and all quite fascinating. Here are examples of my recently-acquired knowledge from across the curriculum:

MY ROKU TV IS A SMART TV WITH SAP AND DVS OPTIONS: Early in the month, a wayward driver knocked down a nearby pole topped with a transformer, the collision leaving me without power for several hours and without Wi-Fi for even longer. But during that unfortunate incident, I actually learned some things about my TV. I know it is a smart TV, meaning it is smarter than I – and therein lies the root of my ongoing technical problems. In the month of October, however, I finally figured out how to stop my TV from broadcasting football games and movies in Spanish: just by making certain the SAP is turned off. SAP stands for Secondary Audio Programming, which enables foreign language narration. Another option in SAP is DVS, Descriptive Video Service, verbal narration of action for the visually-impaired. DVS was providing such narration on Law and Order, House Hunters, and The $100,000 Pyramid. I am pleased that such a service is available, but the voiced-over descriptions were distracting for my sighted self. I am proud finally to be in complete control of my SAP. Yes, I am still enrolled in Technology 101, but baby steps are better than no steps at all!

BRUSSEL SPROUTS GROW ON VERTICAL STALKS THAT MAY YIELD 60-80 SPROUTS IN ONE SEASON: As much as I love a good sprout, I seldom indulge because of the effect of this veggie’s Vitamin K content on my medicinally-thinned blood. But October’s biology lesson came to me via a PBS grilling show. When I tried to visualize the natural garden appearance of these tiny cabbages, my brain registered only boxes and bags marked Birdseye and Green Giant presenting the tasty morsels in a variety of sauces. Thus, I was astonished to see an entire stalk of sprouts being grilled during that cooking show. By the way, I checked on the Kroger website where I saw pictured an entire stalk of Brussel sprouts for $3.99 — right here in Urbana. Who knew?

PRESIDENT FRANKLIN ROOSEVELT READ ADOLF HITLER’S MEIN KAMPF IN THE ORIGINAL GERMAN: I was seriously impressed to discover this little-known fact of history during the recent PBS airing of Ken Burns’ documentary, The U.S. and the Holocaust. Born to privilege, the eventual Harvard man received his early education from a series of governesses. In preparation for boarding school, he spent time in Europe with his German governess and his French governess, leading to his fluency in both languages. Even so, the political autobiography Hitler dictated to his fellow prisoners in 1924, replete with antisemitism and a clear outline of his future plans must have been challenging for FDR. Just as interesting is the fact that the 32nd POTUS was one of the last chief executives in our nation’s history to be fluent in any language other than English.

FOLKS BETWEEN THE AGES OF 25 AND 40 ARE EXPERIENCING MILLENNIAL NOSTALGIA: And we Boomers thought we had cornered the market on the good old days. It seems, however, that psychologists and sociologists are observing a trend in which Millennials long for the simpler days of their childhood – back when they might have found Lunchables and Dunkaroos tucked into their lunchboxes. Little Millennials might have played with Polly Pockets or read The Rainbow Fish. Bigger Millennials drove high school dress code enforcers bonkers when girls paired low-rise jeans with thong underwear and guys let their trousers sag. I myself experienced more than one class period interrupted by the “cry” of a Tamagotchi. But in their defense, the Millennials did grow up post 9/11 and watched the Columbine tragedy unfold on their TV screens. I imagine the pandemic sent them searching for the memory lane leading back to their carefree days of kidhood.

ABRAHAM LINCOLN’S DOG WAS NAMED FIDO, FROM THE LATIN WORD FIDUS , MEANING FAITHFUL OR TRUSTED: I learned from JEOPARDY! about the Latin origin of this once-common dog’s name. It was when I went for extra credit that I discovered Abe Lincoln named his faithful, trusty yellow mongrel Fido.

WHEN PRONOUNCED, THE NAME OF ARBY’S RESTAURANT SOUNDS AS IF THE LETTERS R AND B ARE BEING SPOKEN – FOR ROAST BEEF: I don’t remember the source of this information, but I am glad I did another extra credit assignment to verify its accuracy. According to the company, R and B stand for the Raffel Brothers from Georgia. Leroy and Forrest founded the fast-food chain (We Have the Meats) in 1964.

JULIA CHILD’S MOTHER ONCE ANNOUNCED, “I PRODUCED EIGHTEEN FEET OF CHILDREN”: Julia Child at 6’2” had a similarly-tall brother and sister. I have no idea the source of that factoid, but the concept is fun to consider.

Although the nonstop Medicare commercials and ridiculous political ads continue to clutter my TV screen, I consider October a winner of a month based on all that I learned. I am anticipating just as much positivity on the knowledge front in November. Wish me luck!

Boomer Blog

Shirley Scott

Shirley Scott, a 1966 graduate of Graham High School, is a native of Champaign County. After receiving degrees in English and German from Otterbein College, she returned to GHS in 1970 where she taught until retiring in 2010. From 1976-2001 she coordinated the German Exchange Program with the Otto-Hahn-Gymnasium in Springe.

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