13 December 2008

Watch out for flying erasers

Sally Quinn was one of my favorite all-time teachers, even though she taught chemistry, a subject that was not among my Top 100 Preferred Topics. Botany, sure, biology, yeah, even plant pathology was more interesting (Hey, Dr. Yoshimura! I have some phytophthera with your name on it!).

But Sally Quinn made chemistry fun through her sheer force of will. She loved the subject and her self-described mission was to turn students into chemistry majors. She brought every kilowatt of her considerable energy to teaching. Being in the room with her was like being in the audience of a Tom Jones show - you knew you were witnessing someone who really loved their work.

She showed up and she expected you to show up with the same attention she did. She assigned homework, lots of it, and when you came to class, you had better have done the work because she would quiz you aloud and hold a blackboard eraser in her hand. The more you fumbled about for an answer, the further her arm would cock back until *bango* you suffered the indignity of a chalky eraser blow to the noggin. She was a good shot, too.

Her other deal was that she did not take late work. She explained how simple and relaxing this made life.

"If you're not going to do it, quit worrying about it," she said. "You don't have to think up and excuse or calculate how many points you have lost, because you CANNOT turn work in late, ever."

She would let you miss an exam however. There was one simple requirement: a note from your doctor. Stating that you were in the hospital at test time. That's all. Otherwise, no flood, fire, or earthquake was supposed to keep you from chemistry.

Even back then, as a dissolute community college student, I admired how seriously she took her work. She showed her respect for us by coming to class fired up and ready to teach. Her toughness did not come from being mean. It came from a determination to teach us chemistry and to not let us wiggle out of it with our usual stupid excuses.

It really affected me. Sally Quinn made me a better student and a better person. I wish there were more like her.

11 December 2008

High from the highest tree

Dang me, that was a cranky ass post yesterday.
My family when I was a baby

I blame the menopause. Srsly, mah people, it is kicking me up one street and down the other.

First I had three months without a period. I did not have a moment of mourning for my lost menstruation. My one thought was "YAY!"

Then last month I had a normal period. Boo.

And now this month, I have had a period that has lasted...12 days so far. An extra-special SuperPeriod.

Uncle, I cry. Uncle. I give up. Can I just have my regular old 5 day period back? I'd settle for that.

10 December 2008


I belong to a group that I will call Club Dumbass. They have never had a membership roster, so I offered to put one together for them at last month's meeting. They passed around a sheet and put down their info. I compiled an Excel sheet and emailed it to everyone for correction.

Woman 1: Thanks for emailing me the roster
Guy 1: I didn't get a roster emailed to me.
Women 2, 3 and 4, in a shocked and dismayed fashion: Neither did we!

Guy 1 had given me the wrong email address. Women 2,3, and 4 were not at the last meeting. So they wouldn't be on the roster, now, would they? COULD THEY HAVE PUZZLED THAT OUT FOR THEMSELVES?

Ok, I am passing a new roster sheet for those of you who weren't at the last meeting. I already have everyone else's information.

So Club Dumbass passes the sheet and 15 out of 20 people sign it, including 12 people who had already signed it at the last meeting and both halves of a husband and wife team who have the same exact contact info. IS NO ONE CAPABLE OF FIGURING THIS STUFF OUT BUT ME?



Unloading groceries at the market for my weekly Mom & Dad shopping adventure. There are so many items that they fill up the whole rotating belt thingy. I get Dad's carton of Budweiser out from under the cart and put it at the very end, on the metal piece at the back end of the belt.

I have to move my cart up and begin fotzing with coupons and Club Cards. The checker checks groceries.

Suddenly, from behind me, the woman next in line points to the beer, which has been left by itself at the end of the belt.

"Do you want this beer, or not?"

Hm. Let me see. I clearly took the beer out from under my cart and put it at the end of the belt following $178 worth of other groceries. What are the chances that I DO NOT WANT THE FREAKING BEER AND JUST PUT IT ON THE VERY END OF THE BELT FOR THE HECK OF IT? HM?

"Oh, yes, please," I say politely. I suck.


Tell me your stupid human story.

09 December 2008


Tuesday caught me perving on him tonight.

Pretty much ever since I have been taking an aqua aerobics class three times a week at the gym, there has been a cute guy who shows up on Tuesday night to lift weights. But on Tuesday and only on Tuesday, thus his nickname.

There are four big windows that separate the pool area from the weight room and Tuesday always begins his workout by doing some bench presses. A lot of bench presses, really, maybe 10 sets, and the bench is right outside window #3.

I noticed him because he's just like I like them. Probably 35, with curly dark hair, dark skin, muscular but not bulky, thin...ok, he's a little short to be perfect - almost a foot short, really, since he is about 5'8" and nothing sets off my hormonal alarms like a man over 6 foot 5...but still, he's definitely the best thing going on the weight room floor on a Tuesday night.

So for the past year and a half, I have been watching him work out and I must say it passes the time quite nicely - breathlessly, even - while I bounce around in the pool in my raspberry colored tank suit and lime green water shoes like a total dorkass.

And for the past year and a half, he has stuck to his workout and never looked out at the pool.

But for some reason tonight he looked, and I was, as usual, staring. At him.

He turned back to his workout. Came back to the window. I was still staring. I couldn't help it. That's what I always do on Tuesday nights, but usually it is at his back.

And again he looked out. Um, I was still trying not to gaze, but I was totally caught in the act. Crap. I couldn't help the smile that was creeping around my face by then.

He came back a fourth time, just to make sure what he thought was going on, was going on. Yes, it sure was.

Our class ended, I showered and packed up my stuff. When I went out across the weight room floor, he had moved on to one of the ab benches. I put my head down, grinning like a fool, and dashed out into the cold black night, feeling my wet hair against the back of my hot neck.

07 December 2008

Just fairer than death

Announcement: The Holiday Sweater Photo Contest deadline has been extended. There is still time to send your photos, new or old, to me at suebobdavis at gmail. Thank you!
When I was back visiting my sister Laura in Illinois the summer I turned 14, she gave me a book by William Goldman. Well, it said it was edited by William Goldman, but it was actually written by someone named "S. Morganstern."

The book did not thrill me. It took me a long time to get around to reading. She kept asking me about it but I put it off and put it off. Then, suddenly, one day I started reading and could not stop.

That book was "The Princess Bride" and, as the opening says "This is my favorite book in the whole world..."

I have read it so many times that, even though I haven't read it again for 15 years or so, I can probably name every character in it. Much of the phrasing of sentences that I hear in my head comes from that book. It has become woven into my DNA (another reason to not reproduce).

Oh, the movie is great, probably the best movie adaptation of a book ever. Goldman wrote the screenplay and did it perfectly, keeping everything that needed to be kept, removing all the bits that would not translate to the screen. Sheer genius. Should have won Best Picture.

He had a bit of experience doing screenplays - you might remember some of his work like "Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid," "All the President's Men," "Marathon Man" (also wrote the novel) and "The Stepford Wives" (the first one, the one that did not suck).

But the Princess Bride book - you really oughta read the book. In addition to wonderful back-stories for Inigo Montoya and Fezzik the Giant, it has some of the wisest life advice I have ever read.

Want to hear it? Are you sure? It isn't easy to handle.

Ok, here it is:

Life is not fair. It is just fairer than death, that's all.

Ah. At 15, that hit me like a freight train. And at 47, sometimes it still does. That advice has saved me from so much despair, truly.

Life is not fair. Meditate on that for a while. How much of our misery comes from thinking life should be fair?

I used to work with someone who spent most of her energy trying to make sure everything was fair, mostly to her. If a co-worker got another filing cabinet drawer, she wanted one, even if she had nothing to put in it. To be fair. She spent most of her time enraged at just how unfair everything was.

It is not fair. The rich get richer. The poor get poorer. Really nice people get hurt and sick and lose their homes and families and dignity while jackasses get penthouse apartments and drink fine champagne.

And do you know why? No? Neither do I. Because that is the way it is. You can get used to it and do what you can to help out, or you can make yourself miserable worrying about it. Your choice. But you should probably realize that no matter WHAT you do, life still is not going to be fair.

I have saved you from reading the whole book by giving you the very best part, but I think you should still go out and get it, or else you will miss out on snow sand and the Duchess de Guiche and Miss Roginski. Go, buy, read. Thank me later.
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