Tag Archives: Couple Of Days

Turning Dracula Into A DayTripper

It was a scheme only a college student could concoct.

Well, one only a college student could concoct and then seriously contemplate following through on.

And, oy, dude, did our latest college student give it a try.

Zippy the College Boy has been home from school for the summer. When he first came home, his mom and I made clear that he was to either get a job or start volunteering at some worthy charity. Which gave him some weeks while he “searched” for a job and tried to “find” a place to volunteer.

Eventually, we grew disgusted enough that we simply went ahead and signed him up to volunteer for Habitat for Humanity, and it wasn’t even in the construction field. All he had to do was hang out in the ReStore, which is like a Goodwill thrift store, in that it sells donated goods for very low prices.

Not a difficult gig, to be sure.

Which meant that Zippy the College Boy spent most of his time like most college students on vacation do. In other words, he stayed up all night and then slept all day. Seriously.

The young dude would wake up around 4 pm (this is, of course, provided I didn’t grow disgusted with his behavior and “accidentally” wake him up), shuffle into the kitchen, grab something to eat for breakfast, then get his head together, then start trying to get some things done. And he’d complain because there was never anyone in the offices when he called.

It was difficult for him to get through his head that not everyone woke up as the sun went down and then stayed awake until the sun rose once again.

Still, it worked — mostly — for Zippy the College Boy.

Right up until a couple of days ago.

Zippy the College Boy realized that he’d be headed back to University of North Carolina Wilmington in a week or so and he’d have to rearrange his whole sleep-wake cycle to more closely accommodate the vast majority of humans steaming around under the relentless rays of the sun.

So, what did he do? Did he begin going to bed earlier? Begin waking up earlier? In an effort to slowly realign his circadian rhythms to the standard diurnal mode?

Of course not. Don’t be silly.

What he decided to do was to simply stay up all night, like normal, and then continue staying up all day so that when night arrived he’d be ready for bed and back on track.

The first I knew about it was when I got up at 8:30 am to walk Buzz, the garbage disposal that walks like a dog, and found Zippy the College Boy already up and moving about. After I got over my shock, I simply took him on face value. Maybe he really did get up early.

During the day, though, he started drooping and I twigged to what was going on. When I confronted him about it, Zippy the College Boy woke right up and started proudly detailing his scheme. I’m pretty sure he thought he was the first person to ever consider this particular pathway.

By around dinner time, though, all his pep done popped. He was pooped out and seemed glued to the couch, with a blanket over his shoulders and his eyes steadily moving into darkness.

He was out. And when I tried to go to bed around midnight, he woke up and smiled brightly at me, thinking it was morning and it had worked.

Not so much.

I was tired, though, so I went to bed. Him? If you believe him, he went to bed, listened to music for an hour or so, and then went to sleep, only to wake early the next morning.

If you believe him.

I’m not so certain. I thought I spotted a certain maniacal gleam in his eyes that was there the first morning he’d stayed up all night. Still, he did manage to stay awake that day and went to bed at a relatively normal hour.

So I guess maybe it worked, but not quite like he planned. It’s one of those things that needs to blind faith in one’s own abilities and a complete ignorance of physical laws to pull off.

In other words, something only a college student could do.

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The Now You Versus The Future You

“Do I contradict myself? Very well, then I contradict myself, I am large, I contain multitudes.”

For Walt Whitman, astonishingly erudite poet of years gone by, it was a sign of intelligence, of passion, of an attempted understanding of the world’s infinite variations.

For most other people? Eh, not so much.

How many times have you had to defend yourself when you suddenly have a different opinion than one you previously held? In a politician, that’s called flip-flopping and it’s considered a bad thing. Not sure I understand that. I mean, if you continue researching a problem, come up with new information, why is it a good thing to hold to an outdated opinion, rather than reassessing what you do based on new information?

And that’s what I wanted to talk about today. How it’s likely that you as a parent are going to run afoul of you decreed as a parent years, months or even days before. And how, really, that’s all right, even though you’re going to have to fight the little dudes and dudettes about it.

There’s two concepts I want to include in this: Present bias and generalization.

Present bias is something we covered over the last couple of days when we talked about procrastination with David McRaney, from You Are Not So Smart. It’s the inability to understand that your desires will change over time. That what you want today is not necessarily what you will want next month.

The now you may see the costs and rewards at stake when it comes time to choose studying for the test instead of going to the club, eating the salad instead of the cupcake, writing the article instead of playing the video game.

The trick is to accept the now you will not be the person facing those choices, it will be the future you – a person who can’t be trusted. Future-you will give in, and then you’ll go back to being now-you and feel weak and ashamed. Now-you must trick future-you into doing what is right for both parties.

In this case, McRaney was talking about how the people who acknowledge that they will procrastinate and find ways to work around it are better prepared to counter that tendency to put off until tomorrow what needs to be done the day after tomorrow.

In dealing with the little dudes, it comes into how we set the rules. For instance, you might decide that it’s all right for the little dudette to stay up later for a week because there’s a great educational series on Discovery that you want to share with her, as a sort of father-daughter bonding experience. So you guarantee that she’ll be able to do it all week.

However, two days into it, you come down with a cold and decide you both need to hit the hay early, taping the show to watch later. When you promised up late every night, you didn’t conceive that the future you might want to change things.

So even though going to bed early is a perfectly reasonable thing to do, considering the circumstances, your little dudette is not going to be happy about it. Here’s the thing: You can’t beat yourself up about it. She, or any little dudes involved, will be more than happy to give you grief, you don’t need to heap any more on your own shoulders.

It’s important to know that, while you must do everything you can to keep your promises, to make sure that future you does what now you says he will, sometimes life makes other decisions when we’re not looking.

We can’t predict the future, but that doesn’t stop us from assuming that we will always be the same as time goes on. And when you add that to the idea of generalization. . .

Well, that’s a story for tomorrow.


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Standing In The Company Of Giants, Instead Of Only On Their Shoulders

Our society envisions success as a ladder: Those who climb to the top do so one at a time. I think that’s bunk. I’d like to see success as a wide road to a mountain top, with room enough for everyone to come along.

Over the last couple of days, I’ve been talking about an African philosophy that’s being used in Awesome Elementary School by a fifth-grade teacher there, Mrs. C. She’s been helping her students understand that success can only be measured in a group basis. Individuals can go well, but, if they are the outliers rather than only the leaders, if they do not use their skills and knowledge to aid those behind them, then those dudes and dudettes haven’t really succeeded at all.

Ubuntu, the philosophy Mrs. C has been spreading through her class, is one that encourages people to help those around them do better, while also helping them realize that they also can accept help from others without being ashamed or worried. Personally, I think it’s done some wonders in her class, having observed it in action.

In talking to Mrs. C about Ubuntu and her class, I wondered if this kind of thing might help out little dudes and dudettes who aren’t using this to make their school day better.

“One of our class goals is to be better people! We practice and talk about it every day. A child is not educated if you forget the human aspect of their lives. I always tell my kids that you cannot be perfect, but we must try to be the best we can be. We are all on a journey and practicing Ubuntu can help us make good choices and treat others with compassion.”

There’s folks all over who get onto schools and teachers for not doing enough to turn the little sociopaths who enter schools into well-behaved worker drones who have the right skill sets to step into menial, low-wage jobs. Although, looking back, I might have mixed up a couple things in that last sentence. Let’s just say that teachers and schools get a lot of flack. Some people think they do too little. Some think they do too much.

Helping parents to mold the little mushy minds is, I think, one of the most important jobs for which a school or a really good teacher can strive. Stuffing a little dude full of facts doesn’t help him develop the love of learning necessary to succeed in academics further up the line. Training a little dudette to be compliant, but only think of her own success, won’t help many people aside from her own self.

Mrs. C is doing a great job in helping to bridge that divide between strictly academics and some sort of feelings retreat. It’s a lesson we adults can learn as well. Helping others does not mean we hurt ourselves.

Who wouldn’t want to live in a world where spontaneous acts of kindness were the rule instead of the exception? When everyone succeeds, we are all winners.

“I am who I am because of who we all are.”

Words to live by.

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