Although my articles for this column usually involve a unified theme, occasionally I patch together a bunch of totally unrelated items just for the fun of it all. I always attempt with my “random” articles, however, to find some humor or helpful information in “interesting little tidbits” that do not warrant an entire 900 words.
Actually, the “interesting little tidbits” I have been squirreling away for a few weeks now seem to pale in comparison with all that is swirling around us as a result of the virus causing the countries of the world such concern. I mean, if I have read one Facebook post about handwashing, I have read dozens. In addition to long check-out lines, there are the local grocery store shortages of toilet paper, hand sanitizer, and peanut butter – yes, peanut butter.
Then we have the cancellations and postponements of sporting events, Broadway, Disneyworld, the parade in Chicago for which the Marching Falcons have been preparing all year, the first GHS trip to Germany in almost two decades. My sister and her colleagues stayed late at work last Thursday to field a flood of phone calls from shift workers trying to figure out how to juggle work and child care after the governor cancelled school for at least three weeks.
But if for no other reason than to distract us from watching the down arrows attached to stock market reports and wondering when our elected officials in Washington will stop trying to make political hay and get around to actually helping the American people to whom they so blithely and frequently refer during any election year – I offer my “interesting little tidbits,” in no particular order.
For example, I scribbled a note to myself during a recent episode of Family Feud. Contestants asked to name words containing “pod” managed only to come up with tripod, peapod, and podcast – while I kept yelling milk pod at my TV screen. Thinking perhaps my reminiscence-meter was on the fritz, I googled the term. After wading through dozens of references to pods containing coffee and milk for those fancy coffee machines, I confirmed my memory of the seed pods of the milkweed plants I remember growing along the side of the road. We used to collect milk pods and let them dry before painting them at school as Christmas tree decorations.
In mid-February I also jotted a note when the Google people commemorated one of the many accomplishments of Larry Tesler, whose resumé listed Xerox, Apple, Amazon, and Yahoo. The dearly-departed Mr. Tesler is known in the cyberworld as the father of “copy-and-paste.” To me, the ability to “transfer data between applications” is one of the major reasons I have a computer. The original maneuver, known as “cut-and-paste,” involved actually cutting paragraphs from paper texts with scissors and pasting them elsewhere. Although I had more than a few corrective discussions in my English classes with students who thought copying entire articles from Google and pasting them into assigned papers was an acceptable practice, I myself find the non-plagiaristic kind of “copy-and-paste” quite helpful in my writing endeavors.
I have been wondering of late why I am receiving a significantly higher number of mail requests for charity donations. Every group sends beautiful materials – address labels, notepads, calendars, stickers – in quantities I could never hope to deplete. The causes are worthy, but I prefer to contribute charitably to local organizations. I am still not sure, however, what has caused the recent increase in requests from the national groups.
After my column about the temperature blanket I made last year, my knitting idol, Becky Jackson, told me about the sky scarf she made. From yarn in sky colors ranging from an array of grays to various blues, she chose the hue most closely resembling the sky as observed during her daily walk. Hmm – a scarf might have been somewhat more manageable than my blanket representing the temperature of every single day for an entire year. Still, I am proud that I stuck with a project that culminated in a nice gift for my sister.
We have all seen the commercials for the companies that test our DNA as a means of ancestry analysis. I am not so interested in family trees or my forefathers, but at least one of my sisters has gone through that process. However, I was totally unaware the same service is available for pets.
It is true. My niece submitted the necessary bodily materials for her rescue dog, purported to be a Siberian Husky. Surprise! Her doggie daughter is 50% Great Pyrenees, 12.5% Australian Cattle Dog, 12.5% Boxer, 12.5% Boston Terrier – and 12.5% Siberian Husky. Whether her pedigree is that of a well-traveled set of relatives or perhaps a multi-faceted mutt family, she is one beloved puppy!
My final “interesting little tidbit” is this somehow-appropriate quotation by Lynn Toler, a judge on a TV court show: “If I waited until I had all my ducks in a row, I’d never get across the street. Sometimes you just have to gather up what you’ve got and make a run for it.”
Suddenly, it seems we have way more ducks than usual to line up. Here’s hoping all of us and all our ducks stay healthy and calm, even if we have to make a run for it – with appropriate social distancing, of course!
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.