Oct 12, 2013

I think I was sick the day they taught that

You know that Gary Larson cartoon, 'Medvale School for the Gifted', with the kid straining to push a door marked 'pull' in giant letters?

I think I'm pretty smart (don't we all?). But in day to day things I've often felt stupid. There are things that other people seem to know that I don't know how they know - like there was a group lecture or 'Guide to Life' conference that I missed some day.

I take comfort from the fact (or maybe myth) that Isaac Newton used to regularly forget his own address, and I also often think that I read so much and have spent so many years studying and then learning at work, that my brain is just... full.

I have this feeling a bit less as I get older (finally! some of that 'wisdom' creeping in), but I still get it.

When I was a kid I wondered for a long time, and finally asked my dad, how they bent bricks to make them go around corners.



I have owned one of these mops for nearly 15 years, and only just figured out TODAY that it is much easier to screw the little posts in first, BEFORE you put the sponge on the frame.

I once agonised over a school maths test question "What is the chance it will rain on a given day?" by searching for weather statistics to help me calculate the answer, panicking, and then trying to work out my own statistics on scrap paper involving every kind of weather there might be, and the likelihood of each occurring. The answer to the test question was "Fifty per cent".

I spent ages trying to figure out how to manage the little date button on my watch so it would always be accurate, and worse, expressed annoyance at how difficult it was to try and work out which month it was synchronised with... at which point I was told you have to set it in the morning on the first day of every month. To be honest, this still impresses AND annoys me with its simple genius - I mean, the date changes automatically every day, so why would I ever realise I have to manually set it every first of the month? Who knows these things?

Two skills I would love to master, but have not so far, despite repeated attempts:
  • knowing which way to turn when I step out of the elevator at work
  • remembering which way batteries go into compartments (the positive or the negative side on the spring? And is the flat end or the raised end positive?), instead of having to look for the tiny diagrams

It appears at least one of my kids is following in my footsteps. While coming out of a 7-Eleven one day she looked at the big red 'Push' sign on the door and read it out as if it rhymed with 'lush'. " 'Puh-sh'?" she said loudly, while trying to pull the door open. "What's 'puhsh'?" Luckily she was not offended at the 7-Eleven lady laughing behind her.  Or at my teasing ever since when she has tried to pull a push door, "No M., don't pull it - you have to PUH-SH!"

Had any Medvale moments lately?


  1. My dad always used to say that those with the largest brains and the most book learning had no common sense.

  2. Oh yes. I am appalled at how ignorant I am about so many things. And, serendipity, my youngest brother and I were discussing that very same Far Side cartoon yesterday. And admitted that there are some doors which we get wrong every time.
    Slow leaners unite...

  3. If only life came with an instruction book.
    I used to have watches with the date on them, I found I only had to reset the date 5 times a year. The tiny calendar roll in there has 31 days so on months that have 31 days it's fine, but has to be reset on the morning of March 1st because February only has 28 days, then set again on the first of May, July, October and December, because the preceding months only have 30 days.
    I had to laugh when you thought bricks got bent to go around corners.

    1. Aha, you see - the way you have described the watch date workings is more like how I assumed it went, and I was trying to work out how you get it on the 'right' month. But for some reason mine always seems to fall out of synch and end up a day behind, even when I re-set it on the morning of the first of the month. Probably my watch is completely faulty and I haven't figured out yet that it is faulty!

  4. There is always some logic about the way doors open and whether you will have to push or pull. Unfortunately I have never worked out what it is.

    1. See also: which way to turn a key in a lock. Supposedly there is a system to this too.



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