Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Eleven Answers

Awhile back, Tragic Sandwich pinged me to answer 11 questions. She's had a stomach flu, so now seems a good time to write a post that is specifically a distraction for her! Also, I want to write a post, but the other topics I have in mind feel too exhausting right now- I am at the tail end of goals and budget season at work, which has left me feeling a bit mushy-brained.

Anyway, here we go- answers to Tragic Sandwich's 11 questions:

1) What was your favorite after-school activity?
I didn't do many in elementary school- I remember one cooking class and one sewing class, and almost taking a Mexican dance class but wimping out because my two best friends wouldn't join me. Mostly I walked home with my older sister, we let ourselves in, and then watched Gilligan's Island and Three's Company and other educational programming.

My main extracurricular in junior high and high school was orchestra, which was during school hours (except for the concerts).

2) What’s one fact or skill you remember learning from your favorite teacher?

Hmmm. I got my favorite quote ("Everything works out well in the end. If things aren't going well, it is not the end yet.") from a college physics professor, but he wasn't really a "favorite teacher."

I really liked my high school chemistry teacher. What skills did I learn? How to use units cancelling as a double check on your work when solving problems. That was a useful thing. He also gave me some really good advice about college- namely, to take the honors classes if I tested into them, because they would be smaller.

3) What’s the most valuable piece of criticism you’ve ever gotten?
That I needed to work on making sure I didn't get too far ahead and lose slower team members work. I still struggle with patience in this regard- but I have gotten better, and try to remember to slow down and explain things to people who might be a little lost.

Actually, the person who gave me this advice- on a performance review, no less!- sometimes reads this blog. Hi, Susan! I don't know if I ever told you how useful that feedback has been. I guess now I have.

4) If you could only eat one vegetable for the rest of your life, what would it be?

Oh boy, I hope I get to eat some meat and starch, too! I am not a big veggie fan. If I had to pick only one, it would probably be spinach, for salads. I like a spinach salad with a nice balsamic vinaigrette!

5) Who is your favorite fictional character?
Elizabeth Bennet. What can I say? I am an Austenite and Elizabeth is the best heroine. Although I also like Anne Eliot. I look forward to introducing my girls to the joys of Jane Austen.
6) What color shoes are you wearing right now?

Black flip flops. What little lobsters on the band. I bought them in Newport, Rhode Island, when the shoes I had with me rubbed a blister.

7) What is your favorite vacation spot?

Muri Lagoon, on Rarotonga in the Cook Islands. Which is also where we got married.

Mostly, though, we don't do return visits. We like to see new things. If I picked the place we returned to most, it would actually be Costa Mesa, in Orange County, because that is a favorite spot for a quick night away from the kids.

8) What’s the worst thing you’ve ever done to your hair?

I got an asymmetrical cut in junior high. About the same time, I used to perm it, too. It was the 80s.

9) What time do you usually eat dinner?

6 p.m. This has started to creep later now that I have two separate pick ups to do before I come home to make dinner. And when it is my husband's turn to cook (on weekends), it is always later- he sucks at estimating the amount of time it takes to do things. No one's perfect, I guess.

10) What’s the best moment of your day?
Day care pick up. Petunia comes running over with her arms out for a hug, yelling "Mommmmeeeeeeee!"

Second best moment is picking up Pumpkin and hearing about her day. She's not quite so demonstrative these days, though- no running, yelling hugs!

11) What’s your favorite breakfast food?

Ooh, I love breakfast. Favorite is probably really good pancakes. Most frequent is oatmeal.

That's it! I am supposed to write my own list and tag other people to answer my questions, but... it is time to start the morning routine. Budget spreadsheets await me....


  1. Your after school activities were very much like mine (Gilligan's Island, etc..) That was definitely a different era, in terms of scheduling kids and kid enrichment activities!

    1. Anonymous8:58 AM

      I dunno, when we moved from big city to small town, my after school activities went way up because my mom felt like she had to make up for the opportunities and advantages we were missing. (I swear I did everything the town had to offer except martial arts and golf/tennis.) I'm rebelling a bit with my kids-- no way I'm going to sacrifice my career to drive them around for after school activities. However, oldest is getting a longer school day and gets some extras there at a private school and he gets summers at the local museum program which is much easier on parents than the kids community college classes I went to.

      Maybe my mom was just ahead of the curve.

    2. @nicoleandmaggie - Your mom would fit right in today! It is shocking how having kids in loads of activities all the time is the new middle class norm. When did we all agree to this? ;)

      The castaways on Gilligan's Island pretty much babysat me for years.

    3. Anonymous2:24 PM

      I was only allowed to watch tv on Saturday mornings.

      But maybe it all worked-- My sister and I jumped up to upper middle class from lower middle class in a generation. My children, already being upper middle class probably don't need those advantages. (I can hear my mom now, "advantages that *I* never had growing up." She also walked to school uphill both ways. Of course, so did I.)

    4. I was about to chime in and agree with you guys about the different era of enrichment activities, and then I remembered that I did gymnastics, ballet, French (6th grade), and piano. Not all at the same time, but probably gymnastics and piano at the same time, and then I played sports in middle school. We took horse back riding lessons for a while and some other stuff. My mom was super into enrichment, but in an '80s kind of way, not in a "soccer mom" kind of way.

  2. Thank you! This is a wonderful distraction, even if I'm back at work and no longer curled up on the couch in misery.

  3. My HS Chemistry teacher gave similar advise. When he prepped the class for the AP Chemistry test, he told me that I shouldn't take the exam because I am going to Berkeley. I asked why that made a difference. He replied that AP gets you OUT of taking Chemistry, and I shouldn't miss the honors accelerated Chemistry sequence at Berkeley.

    He'd studied Chem undergrad at Stanford and left the PhD program at Berkeley with a MS and then got a teaching credential. He also told me that I made the right choice to attend Cal over Stanford because Cal's science classes were much more rigorous. He said that part of the reason he left with a MS was that he was overwhelmed with the high standards at Cal after coasting at Stanford.

    He loaned me a book about hydrogen bonds, a phenomena I investigated in depth in my PhD thesis.

  4. mom2boy8:07 AM

    I loved day care pick up when he was Petunia's age!!!! This is my last week of being gainfully unemployed and they are having a Halloween costume parade at 9:30 and I am going up to watch. I'll really miss being able to do little things like that so easily.

  5. (another) former academic12:51 PM

    Hear! Hear! for 'dimensional analysis' aka unit cancelling in high school Chemistry. I use it all.the.time. and I haven't set foot in a lab for years.


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