Here we are at the halfway point of what is passing for winter this year. When Pennsylvania’s favorite rodent showed up last week, lots of humans interpreted his shadowless appearance as evidence that spring will be arriving in the next few weeks. Phil and the gang might be right – with a few exceptions, it has seemed pretty spring-like all winter. I keep thinking, however, that Mother Nature is just toying with us: April will probably be cold and snowy!
Be that as it may, here in the middle of the muddle of winter, my brain has also become a bit muddled and sort of spongy – to the point that sometimes I am not exactly sure what day it is. A Facebook post the other day by one of my teacher friends reminded me of those weeks in the classroom when I completely lost track: “Nothing messes up my Friday like realizing it’s only Tuesday!” I still occasionally lose track, but for totally different reasons.
I do, however, have my own personal way of checking my day-awareness. I use two different kinds of toothpaste on alternate days and store the tubes in a cup in my bathroom: the Monday/Wednesday/Friday/Sunday brand stands cap-end up with the Tuesday/Thursday/Saturday one cap-end down. Each morning as I prepare to brush, I declare aloud that it is either an “up day” or a “down day.” Hey, it works for me!
I also had to remind myself that on February 8 – last Saturday for those of us keeping track – we had to start dialing the 937 area code in front of all phone numbers, even local ones, so as not to accidentally connect with people who have the new 326 area code also occupying this region. The irony of the situation occurred to me when I called a friend in Germany, which involved pressing fifteen numbers to ring in on a telephone 4224 miles away. As of Saturday, a call to my sister on the other side of Urbana, just eight minutes away, now necessitates dialing ten numbers.
Similarly, that same sister – the one who lives eight minutes and ten telephone keypad numbers from me – described a detailed e-mail she sent to a fellow employee in the next office. Her electronic message arrived five minutes later on her cohort’s computer in a room a mere twelve steps down the hall. I am not surprised. Occasionally I send myself an e-mail, and the message often takes a full ten minutes before popping back up. Where it goes during the return trip remains a mystery.
Dialing phone numbers and waiting for e-mails underscore the very basicness of my true comprehension of most things technological. A friend had to show me the location of the paper tray in my new wireless printer as well as the hiding place for the little “do-hickey” that controls my new wireless mouse. So I pretty much busted my buttons with pride last week when I solved a computer glitch all on my own.
After a month of laptop ownership, I suddenly found several features of my new computer obscured by the toolbar. I did lots of muttering while typing last week’s column: I could not see the word count, I could not zoom in or out, I could not even find the “thingy” along the side to move the page up or down. Immediately after I submitted my article, I turned to the Internet for help. I am proud to say that the toolbar has been relocated, and my favorite features-of-convenience are once again fully available. Hooray for me! Note to myself: how did I ever manage to type footnotes at the bottom of the page on my college research papers?
Although it embarrasses me to admit it, spongy brain syndrome often leads me to completely random viewing of my TV and computer screens. I happened to see a professional bowler, Tommy Jones, win a tournament by bowling a perfect game just a few hours after his induction into the PBA Hall of Fame. I also took note of a lady on some PBS show who inserted a light in a globe and then drilled holes to mark all the places she had visited during her travels so that those locations can light up.
But I was shocked back to reality by a photo showing the mangled automobile of the German teacher at Graham. Fortunately, she herself was not similarly mangled: she suffered only aching muscles after a young driver missed a stop sign but did not miss her car.
Her experience reminded me of the time many years ago when one of my students rear-ended my car as I was turning into the driveway at Graham South. As luck would have it, his father owned an insurance agency; but the poor boy checked on me the next day every time he passed my classroom. And another set of students also expressed concern. While waiting for me to return from the elementary building for a meeting in my classroom, they saw my car being towed past the high school!
Whoops! I guess I spoke too soon! As I am preparing to submit this article, several inches of snow lie on the ground while names of closed schools crawl across the bottom of my TV screen. Hey, Phil, where’s your shadow now?
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.