Monday, September 28, 2009

Good judgment comes from experience, and experience comes from bad judgment.

The title quote has nothing to do with anything today, but I thought it was fun.

Today, I just wanted to share with you a few links to other blogs that I found via a Newsweek article about some of the best photo blogs on the Internet. So, without further ado:

Awkward Family Photos--Who doesn't look at some old family pictures and think "Oh my God...I hope no one ever sees these!" This is where you can find them. I haven't found any of my family on there, but that doesn't keep me from checking every so often. (And laughing really hard at other people's families.)

Cake Wrecks--We've all seen the photo circulating with the cake from Wal Mart where the baker has written out something along the lines of "Congratulations Mary! Under Neat That Best Wishes" This is an entire website of baking mishaps and misfortunes like that. I laughed so hard at some of these photos, and even harder at some of the author's captions.

Engrish--A very funny site where people take pictures of signs/packaging in English that just doesn't quite add up. It may not be totally politically correct, but I sure laughed hard. Especially since I see some of this stuff on a daily basis at work. I especially like the "Paper Urine Trousers" sign.

Item Not As Described--Ever wanted to buy a leaky door refrigerator? How about some free fish heads? A used coffin? All the random stuff for sale (or free) on the web. Who wants this stuff anyway?

And the All Time Best: People of WalMart--This is why I don't shop at WalMart. But it sure is funny (probably because it's true).

Sunday, September 27, 2009

The Amazing Race....Again

Some thoughts from watching tonight's Amazing Race premier:

  • Every reality TV show should have a pair of Harlem Globetrotters on it. They make things so much more entertaining. Plus hearing Phil say Flight Time and Big Easy makes me laugh.
  • Eliminating one team at the start weeds out the most stupid team. Thank you PTB for not making me watch the Yoga teachers for an entire hour.
  • US games shows need to be more like Japanese games shows......Eaaaaaat Wasabiiiiiiiii!!!!!!!!!
  • Why do people think that they can lie their way through the race? The other teams are stupid. They will know that you don't work with homeless kids in LA.
  • How do the girls not know that the brothers teams is gay? Those guys are two of the most gay men I've ever seen....they even have matching orange passport holders.
  • Everyone needs to shovel mud at some point in their lives. Spreading it on fruit trees is optional.
  • Yelling at animals has never made them do what you want. Come to think of it, yelling at people doesn't work either.
  • I could watch angry, frustrated people herd ducks all day.
  • I love that the Asberger's guy handled the challenges so much better than most of the people on the race.
  • People, if you are going to run the Amazing Race, please learn to read a map. And to drive a stick. And also to look at the details. Those are skills you will need at some point during the race.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

When you read a book as a child, it becomes a part of your identity in a way that no other reading in your whole life does.

With all the publicity surrounding the release of the Where the Wild Things Are movie, I've been thinking about some of the books I read (and loved) as a child.

Now, I can't say that I really got all that attached to many so called "Children's Books." I of course read Where the Wild Things Are, as well as others like Goodnight Moon, the Madeline series of books, and, if you talk to my Dad, What Do Smurfs Do All Day.

But the books that perhaps made the biggest difference to me growing up were the books I read as I got slightly older--the chapter books that I read early in life. Here are some of my favorites:

  1. Black Beauty by Anna Sewell--I loved this book. In fact, if I'm being honest, I still do. I'm pretty sure this is the book that is responsible for starting my love affair with horses. I remember that after reading this, I spent months giving anyone who would listen a lecture on the evils of the bearing reign. I'm sure my parents were thrilled.
  2. Little Women by Louisa May Alcott--Another of my favorites. I still read this one about every two years or so. As a kid, something about these girls struck a chord in me. I loved spunky Jo, gentle Beth, prim Meg, and pretty Amy. (But I loved Jo the best and wanted to be just like her.) And I still want Laurie to end up with Jo every time.
  3. The Babysitter's Club books by Ann M. Martin--I have no idea how many books there are in the series now, but I know for a fact that I read (and owned) at least the first 25 or 30 books and a few of the "Super Special Editions." They may not have been high quality literature, but they certainly gave me plenty of ideas for when I started baby-sitting on my own a few years later. I owe many a saved evening to the girls of the Baby-sitter's Club.
  4. The Thoroughbred Series by Joanna Campbell--Another series of books that has continued to expand. I loved horses as a kid and these books fed that love. It also made me want to be a jockey, that is until I had my growth spurt at 10 and ended up being 5'8". Still, little did I know that 15 years later I would be living in Lexington and seeing the places mentioned in the books every day.
  5. Tales of a Fourth Grade Nothing by Judy Blume--This book is responsible for me having a turtle. The little boy in this book wins a turtle at a birthday party and I always thought that was the coolest thing. I wanted a turtle too and when I mentioned this to my sister a decade (and a half) later, she went out and found me one. And now I have Dean.
  6. Black Star, Bright Dawn by Scott O'Dell--I loved this book about an eskimo girl who races in the Iditarod with her father's dog sled team. I loved the sense of adventure that this book had and the information it gave me about dog sled racing. In fact, for awhile I wanted to move to Alaska and race dog sleds. That phase passed as soon as I figured out that it was dark for 6 months up there.
  7. My Side of the Mountain by Jean Craighead George-There was something about orphan books or books where the parents were absent that I loved as a kid. I loved this one and dreamed of running off to the wilderness and living off the land. The only problem was finding a falcon to hunt for me. And I wasn't sure I could find a hollow tree big enough (and I looked).
  8. Where the Red Fern Grown by Wilson Rawls--There are only 2 books I've ever read that made my cry. This is one of them. The ending gets me every time. This was also one of the first books I read for school that I really really loved. Sadly, there were not that many more in the future.
  9. A Wind in the Door by Madeline L'Engle--I'll admit, I never read A Wrinkle in Time. But I did read this sequel and loved it. It was a perfect mix of fantasy (which I still love) and science (which is now my career). It also introduced me to mitochondria, and I still can't help but think of this book every time I sit through a lecture on mitochondrial dysfunction.
  10. The Education of Little Tree by Forrest Carter--Possibly the only books that held my attention as well as books about horses were books about Native Americans. There weren't many of them for kids to read, but this was one of them.

Monday, September 21, 2009

A Great Man

The world lost a great man today. He was not rich, unless you count the lives he touched. He was not famous, although almost everyone in Glasgow knew his name. He was not a powerful man, but he influenced more lives than most people could ever hope to do.

Mr. Foster (for that is how I will always think of him) came into my life when I was 7 years old. I was in 3rd grade he was my new Principal. Now, the man who held that position before him was a mythic person. Like Sauron in The Lord of the Rings he was a presence often felt, but rarely seen. I’m not sure that, had I been forced to, I could have picked him out of a lineup and I’m almost positive that he had no idea who I was.

Mr. Foster, on the other hand, greeted me by name (first, middle, and last) out in front of the school that first morning and every morning after. Rain or shine he was there to open the car door and start my morning with a hearty “Good Morning Kimberly Marie Carrico, my neighbor!” I had lived down the street from him almost my entire life, but until that first morning I had never spoken to him and the fact that this very important adult knew my name (my name!) made me feel important too.

By the time I left his school I had read almost every book in the school library, I could multiply (sort of anyway) and divide, I knew the basics of US and World History, and my life long love affair of science had begun. I had learned a great deal about a lot of things, but the most important lessons I learned didn’t come from a book. He taught me about respect by showing respect to everyone. He taught me about responsibility by always taking responsibility for his actions. He even taught me to work hard by constantly being the hardest working person I knew (and the best whistler too).

But the most important thing I learned from him in my 3 years under his care was that, despite my young age, I was important. He was the first adult that spoke to me like I was his equal. He was the first adult to treat me like my opinions were just as valid as his. He was the first adult to make me feel like a person.

Over the years he was always there with a smile and a hand when I arrived at school. He never failed to buy a box of Girl Scout Cookies when I (or any other girl) came knocking. Every Saturday morning I knew to look for him washing his Corvette in his driveway and whistling away. And no matter when or where I saw him, he always spoke to me and called me by name. Always.

My favorite Mr. Foster story is from the summer after my Freshman year in college. A few of my new friends from school had come down for the weekend and I was taking them over to Mammoth Cave. I knew, due to the last minute nature of our trip and the fact that it was high summer, there was no way we were going to get tickets for a cave tour, but I figured we could at least walk down and look at the entrance to the cave. But first, we went into the Visitor’s Center to grab a couple of maps. Who did I find behind behind the information desk but Mr. Foster.

He, of course, greeted me by name, asked after my family, and then proceeded to question me about my first year at school. When he found out who my friends were, he insisted that they see the cave. After I explained that we didn’t have any tickets and all the tours for the day were sold out, he leaned over the counter and smiled. That was no problem he assured me, he was giving a tour in a few hours and if we met him outside then, he would take care of us.

And take care of us he did. We met him outside at the appointed time and he folded us into his tour group. We walked with the group down to the entrance to the cave and stood in line at the gate as the other guide took up tickets. When our turn came, Mr. Foster simply smiled at the guide (who was probably not much older than we were), patter his chest pocket, and said “I have these ladies’ tickets right here.” The other guide nodded his head and we walked in.

I have been to the Cave enough times to recite every tour along with the guide, but I had never been on a tour like that one. He picked on me, of course, because that’s what he did, but I didn’t mind. And my friends left the cave that day as much in love with it as he was. Once again he had made me feel special.

That was his gift. He made everyone he met feel special. Important. Loved. He was one of those rare people who seemed to have an infinite ability to love. And to know him was to be loved by him. Every child who passed through the door to his school (and their siblings and parents) became important to him. He learned their names. He learned their likes and dislikes. He took the time to get to know them. And by doing so, he made each and every one of them feel special.

Yes, the world lost a great man today. He wasn’t rich or famous, but the wealth he left behind him is priceless. Because he lived, an entire generation of children learned to see themselves as important. Because he lived, the world is a better place. And that is worth more than all the money in world.