I argued with a friend about politics while she waited for her egg, sausage, and cheese English muffin at work on Thursday.
I know. I’m so far removed from politics since my media purge in October, but now and then, a news story works its way to my attention, between audiobooks and Matchbox 20 on Pandora and Yahoo! Sports updates on Colorado Rockies games. Much of current events are foreign to me.
The subject of our disagreement isn’t the point.
It’s the fact that our belief systems can feel right as rain and can change and sometimes can’t be changed. Where does belief even come from? It’s in conviction, what we know to be right, but what if others know it to be wrong? That doesn’t change it for us.
We stood divided and acknowledged neither would budge on the belief, nor the reason behind the belief for each side.
Isn’t it best to acknowledge the existence of the belief that contradicts our own? Understand its merit? We can find things to agree on, and she and I did. Breakfast sausage, for instance. Even though she’s for turkey, I’m for pork.
Go Ask Daddy is a Friday feature. I pick five questions my kids have asked at random and do my best to not destroy the answers.
1. Did people believe the earth was flat because of maps?
If they tried to find the Orange Julius in the mall from a directory board, I bet they did.
“You Are Here” doesn’t help much. When a dad wants an Orange Julius while shopping with his girls, he shouldn’t have to commission three ships to do it. Maps aren’t the cause of the flat-world theory. There doesn’t seem to be much of a flat-world theory at all.
Map representation of the globe distorts Greenland as a top-heavy island, and Antarctica as the longest most jagged shoreline ever.
By popular myth, Christians in Christopher Columbus’ time warned him he’d sail right off the edge of the world if he took this voyage.
Aristotle, Columbus, Pythagoras, and hell, even former NFL defensive end Bill Glass all knew the earth was round. The question was, how big was the damned thing? Evidence mounted that we were dealing with a world shaped like a donut hole, not a pop tart:
The earth’s shadow on the moon during an eclipse? Round.
Ships that sailed away would disappear over the horizon, bottom first.
Mountains on the horizon seemed to stick up out of the ground as you approach.
Constellations changed position in the sky as you moved farther north or south.
A round earth has been the right belief for centuries.
2. Why did Madison come to school here?
When you look for a college home, and you find it – you just know.
Well, for most people. I didn’t visit anywhere. I applied to UNC Charlotte, the hometown university, and nowhere else. I’d wanted to go back ‘home’ to Colorado State, but I’d have to pay out-of-state tuition. It was UNC Charlotte or the Air Force for me.
I also considered the seminary.
UNC Charlotte accepted me, which was fortunate. Just after I started my first semester, the U.S. went to war in the gulf. My friends in the Air Force fought. I stayed home, never turning off the international news on my Walkman, between class, after school, on weekends.
Elise’s path was less war-torn.
She’d begun her college search too late for most major schools. They’d completed her recruiting class at least a year ago. One school – Converse College – expressed interest, and her first visit was a hit. She loved the facility and program and got along well with the coach.
The second visit? Different story.
She slept on the ride to Spartanburg. She awoke just before we arrived, and stumbled through a conversation with the prospective coach just before the Valkyries were to kick off. Elise had been invited to spend the game on the bench with the team.
I felt an offer might come, too.
The coach said, “you’re welcome to stay and watch the game. I think we’re done here.” I asked Elise what she was thinking, and she said, “I don’t want to go here. I want to go to Warren Wilson. Watch them in this game and you’ll see.”
I won’t get specific, but the tone and demeanor of the team decidedly weren’t Elise’s.
A couple of weeks before, I’d arranged for Elise to visit Warren Wilson, a small private school in Swannanoa, N.C., with her mom and sisters. Coach Lydia Vandenbergh, a former star at Clemson, invited Elise to train, have lunch, and go to class with the team.
It turned out to be a perfect match.
Elise had told me, as Converse emerged as her only choice, “just find me a school in the mountains where I can play soccer.” Mission accomplished. And that’s why she went to Warren Wilson.
3. Why would you vacuum under your couch?
You might find something that would make Chris Columbus say, “hot damn! What the hell is that?”
Not vacuuming under a sofa can be compared to other silent killers, such as not cutting back on salt, or thumbs-upping too many Shania Twain songs on the Pandora: Eventually, it’ll bite you in the ass.
Imagine inviting friends to help you move, and discovering something evil lurking.
I asked a few Facebook friends for items they’ve found under the couch while vacuuming. The results might shock you.*
- Almost full bottle of vitamins (thought my daughter was taking them daily but didn’t like the brand)
- Barbie head (still haven’t found the body)
- Best: the portal to Narnia; Worse: When it was gone
- Bowl’s worth of popcorn
- Cat toys
- Dead lizards
- Dead millipede (literally 5 ½ inches long)
- Desiccated orange quarter (I thought it was a giant cockroach and freaked out, until I remembered a toddler in the house liked to hide half-finished snacks (for later)
- Dog hair
- Dog vomit
- Grandpa’s wedding ring (fell in between carpet and wall behind the couch a decade before we found it
- Half-full sippy cups
- Hard-boiled egg hidden during Easter (and found a couple of months later)
- Lost sippy cup
- Mummified anole (small lizard)
- Nothing but a penny (man, I’m boring)
- Pajama pants
- Petrified chicken nugget
- Petrified fruit roll-ups
- Plate of plantains
- Store credit worth $100!
- We’re supposed to vacuum under those things??
*identities withheld per local and state governance.
4. How long do sharks live?
Longer than it takes to identify these things under the couch.
In the wild, a shark can last 20 to 30 years. In the shark world, as in baseball, corporate America, and the British Invasion for rock music, there exists an outlier who defies all odds. (Like Nolan Ryan, the Old Farmer’s Almanac, and Keith Richards.)
This shark makes the tortoise look like a mosquito by comparison.
Meet the Greenland Shark. He lives to age 400, downright Abrahamian. It won’t even reach maturity until age 150, which raises suspicion he’s related to human man. The chilly waters of the north Atlantic and Arctic oceans reveal the shark’s longevity secrets.
That, and organic cold cream.
5. What is organic?
Glad you asked.
Around here, it’s Latin for “gross-tasting.” It conjures taste memories of taut, flavorless (or gamey) chicken, earth-toned “treats” for which not a single prairie dog’s feelings were hurt in the manufacture thereof. We tend, around here, to equate it with the far left.
The U.S. Department of Agriculture says organic farming is to “integrate cultural, biological, and mechanical practices that foster cycling of resources, promote ecological balance, and conserve biodiversity.”
How about in English?
The USDA organic seal goes on food 95% or more certified organic, which includes:
- Free of synthetic additives (chemical fertilizers, dyes, and pesticides)
- Not processed using genetic engineering, industrial solvents, or irradiation
Toss a label that says organic, and really isn’t, and you’ll get tossed back a fine of as much as $11,000. It’s tough to catch because the market’s been flooded with everything from kale guacamole to camel’s milk. I’m serious.
I’m open-minded and might root for the Seattle Seahawks under the right circumstances. For breakfast, I’ll stick with the sausage, egg, and cheese English muffin.
Pork sausage, that is.