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.
It’s great that Elise knew exactly what she wanted. A school in the mountain where she can play soccer. It’s even greater that she made it happen. I knew which school I wanted to attend and it was the only one I applied to. Out in Appalachia Maryland. Had they rejected me who knows where I’d be today.
I’m glad Elise knew what she wanted in a school, even before she knew the school, Eric. Very proud of her.
I’m with you, putting it all into one school. Big game-changer. Hopefully you’d have found your way to the blog world no matter what.
Writing has always been an interest of mine since a young age. I’m sure (just as you would have) I would have found my way here eventually. Though perhaps I’d be blogging about something else entirely different!
Me too, Eric. Maybe your blog would have been about nuclear power plants or Loulis, the chimpanzee who learned sign language.
Great conversations here!!
Organic is by far one of the most over rated trends today I believe. I went into Sprouts with a friend for an avocado and she said “let’s look at the organic section”, Confused – I asked “isn’t the whole store organic? I thought that was their appeal? ”
Shook my head and carried on.
Happy Friday my friend!
It’s good stuff, isn’t it? The conversation, not the organics. Maybe there’s organic, and there’s super organic – which probably tastes twice as bad.
Loved your story about Elise knowing which college was right for her. It reminded me of when I found mine. I ended up choosing Curry College (a small private college outside of Boston) because it was close to home, the beautiful suburban campus with lots of nature / open space, the professors I met during my visits, and the financial aid they offered me (which, stunningly, made it less expensive to go there than to a state college). It was the right place for me in the end.
How did you know I haven’t vacuumed under my couch for… um, a while? *blushes* I do clean my condo, but only when it’s really a priority…
Thanks, Sara. Picking a school can be one of the most important choices we ever make.
Curry seemed to have it all for you. The Colonels, right? I’d wear that shirt from there.
Under-couch cleaning seems so far down the priority list. Like, past picking up my socks, cleaning the fish tank, and recycling all those animal cookie boxes.
College…such a hefty choice at such an early point in life. Glad she found the perfect match. I went to school near home – in fact lived at home – and it was the best choice.
Love the under the couch list. Too funny.
Hope you’re well. I haven’t been over here in far too long. April was kind of crazy here.
Yeah, at age 17 or 18, the tough choices had been what to get at the mall food court, before college. A home away from home, that’s what a college should be.
My Facebook buds came up big on the couch list – and there are more, too, that came in after I published.
Great to see you here, as always. I hope May has a tad less crazy (but even better weather and snacks.)
College can be such a tough decision! Of course the world is round, how did anyone ever think otherwise? Mind baffling. And you found the portal to Narnia under your couch? That’s pretty damn awesome. I have a black hole in my house but I have yet to find its location 😉 Oh, and seminary? You are way too good looking 😉
Choosing a college with your heart seems the best route, Kristi. I remember rhymes about a flat earth, and people being afraid of falling off the edge.
The Narnia portal was under my friend Jamie’s couch. How cool is that? Mine has dried out markers, candy wrappers, and Star Wars figures (yes, mine.)
I just saw that part about seminary and being good looking! haha. Thank you, but I always said i had the perfect face for newspapers when I was in the biz (as opposed to TV!)
First, turkey sausage is gross.
Second, kale guacamole? What? No. Guacamole is perfect as it is. Nobody touch my guacamole.
Third, people seem to find a lot of interesting stuff under the couch. All I ever find is crumbs and dog hair. So much dog hair.
Turkey sausage ranks as an abomination, AJ. Kale guacamole, sacriledge. Why ruin perfection?
There’s a balance, a harmony in guacamole that kale should never touch. Ever. I’m glad I’m not alone in feeling this strongly.
Is it enough dog hair to constitute another dog?
I’m for pork too, Eli. It’s such a sensitive word here where the majority are Muslims. Haha…you never know what you’ll find under the couch. ヾ(＾∇＾)
Yes for Pork, Pat! I do realize the religious implications, and am thankful to have it quite separate in my world.
I hope we don’t find pork under the couch, though!
Stick to what you believe is right while keeping an open mind and trying to understand the other point of view.
Columbus thought the earth was much smaller around than it is. The argument against him was that his supplies would run out long before he could get all of the way around the world. They were right, if there hadn’t been another continent they didn’t know about that he happened to run into.
… and understand that no amount of Facebook posts or mean tweets is going to change anyone else’s mind, right Mimi? I’ve stopped listening to news when I can, too.
I think I would have just packed more ginger snaps and gone around the world anyway, were I Chris Columbus. And then anyone could have become the Indians.
Elise did real good in choosing her college. Your girl has her head screwed on the right way, Eli 🙂
Here in Australia there are only 43 accredited universities, comprising 40 Australian universities, two international universities, and one smaller private specialty university. Our choices are so much more limited than what you guys have.
I don’t have a couch, only two recliner armchairs, so no problem with dead anything 😮
A shark that lives for 400 years??? Not in my private world they wouldn’t. Nor snakes. As far as I’m concerned, the only good snake is a dead snake 😀
I think she did too, Lyn. I’m proud of how hard she’s worked there, and emersed herself in college life.
There might be 40 colleges in North Carolina alone.
I imagine a 400-year-old shark not to exactly be a steatlhy killer. Picture one with no teeth, puttering along with its turn signal on and not knowing it.
1. It sounds like you have very smart girls.
2. Did you know that even the Bible refers to the earth as “the circle of the earth”. Interesting. They also refer to the ant as a she, even though all other creatures are referred to as he, and as it turns out, many ant species are all female.
1. Thanks, April – I think they (mostly) make the right choices (except for when they paint their fingernails on the carpet).
2. I didn’t know that bible fact. Huh. Lots of wise stuff in that book.
I picked the college I wanted to apply to based on the following factors:
1) Must have more than 10,000 under grads (I wanted to disappear for awhile. I had 28 in my graduating class and my parents both worked at my school.)
2) Can not have any relatives in the city or town. (I had a really sweet offer from Hartwick…but I’m related to 1/4 to 1/3 of the city it’s located in by blood or by marriage.)
3) Cost less out of pocket than the money I had in my account.
This left me with several SUNY schools and a couple of science based programs who heavily recruited me and were willing to give me some serious $ (including one called Harvey Mudd, but that was in CA and way too small.)
I was slated to go to Drexel (in Philly) but my grandpa got sick again and my gut said to go to UAlbany. I think it worked out okay even if I didn’t become a doctor…(bet you didn’t see that last part coming)
Valid reasons, all. Elise thought about Wingate University because they had good pizza. I was on board with that.
I wouldn’t put it past you to be all PhD or whatnot. Harvey Mudd would have been a cool T-shirt, though. I love that they combine with two other schools for an athletics program (and how cool is the mascot Athenas? Very.)
I like her reason there. Pizza is important. Oneonta also has great pizza. (Hartiwck, also a great soccer school)
Nah, too lazy/ADD. I won’t even go to law school because I don’t have it in me to learn about tax law etc. and it’s too expensive for what I’d want to practice anyway.
HM was super tempting, but it was just too small.
There should be a national championship for campus pizza.