Friday, April 24, 2009

Another Earth Day, Come and Gone; A Series of Questions (Friday Roundup)

A full week has passed . . . since my last post, and the only thing of any consequence to share is that Earth Day 2009 has come and gone. So I offer the folowing recap . . .

How I Celebrated Earth Day
and Now My Carbon Footprint Is As Big As Texas

* washed and dried four loads of clothes

* answered "you betcha' " when the grocery bagger asked if plastic was OK

* ate lunch with a friend and brought the leftovers home in a styrofoam box

* once home, I stacked the styrofoam box on top of yet another styrofoam box carried out from a restaurant the previous night and put them both on the top shelf of a refrigerator that is probably less than energy-efficient because it is 19 years old, but the way I look at it, we've saved space in a landfill by not tossing it in a trash heap and replacing it with a more energy-efficient and fashionable stainless steel model

* ran the dishwasher when it wasn't fully loaded

* replaced plastic bags in trash cans throughout the house

* took two showers -- one in the a.m., one in the p.m.

* didn't bother to turn off the kids' lamps before I turned in for the evening, and my bedroom TV remained on throughout the entire night

My sister is a college professor . . . and whatever it is she teaches has something to do with counseling. And that can only mean one thing: her extended family is a series of case studies paraded before students who will one day take our experiences and use them as a measuring stick of Things Not To Do, or Oh Yeah? Well, I Can Top That Story or Stop Your Whining; You Don't Know Crazy.

But that's OK because I have my own ways of publicizing the weirdness and absurdities that make our family what it is. I just don't have a captive audience of college students. So, why is it, Amy, that you continue to take the bait? The bait being, of course, questions and conversations that provide some sort of insight into why I am the way I am -- and why everyone else is the way they are and MY GOSH why can't they just see how wrong they are and straighten up?And then the questions and conversations are undoubtedly charted, graphed and summarized and posted on a SmartBoard and analyzed to death while young people sit in her classroom and shake their heads.

The latest question came in the form of an e-mail and pointed me to an online assessment. It was loosely disguised as the basis of a "genogram," which sounds like a psychological chart useful in studies, but it's actually Latin for "Your family is crazy, and we'll show you just how bad it is." But I'm nothing if not helpful and willing to serve the greater cause of higher education, so there you go. I responded to questions in totally contradictory ways, just to skew the score and make her and her students want to bring me in as a guest speaker and provide me with a boxed lunch in the Student Union.

Her request: When you have a minute and just feel like taking a personality assessment, take this test http://www.humanmetrics.com/cgi-win/JTypes2.asp. Send me your 4 letter code. This is a real personality assessment (just a short online version). I'm trying to do a genogram as a class example and I need you and Daddy to do this for me because I think you two probably will get similar, if not the same, results. I think mine will be similar to yours with a slight difference.

After tallying my results, which were nothing more than a four-letter code with corresponding percentages, I e-mailed my score and tacked on a few questions: "Why did they misspell extrovert? Where did you get this? The student health center?" My second response was "This thing is wrong. I'm so much more judgmental than it says I am."

I didn't point out the other concerns I had with this particular assessment, but they bear mentioning here (statements required a "yes" or "no" response):

"You are consistent in your habits." Isn't that what a habit is? Consistent behavior?

"You prefer to spend your leisure time alone or relaxing in a tranquil family atmosphere." Maybe I don't understand the question, but these seem mutually exclusive to me. And I'm not really sure what "tranquil" has to do with "family atmosphere." The middle of the night? When everyone's asleep? And if you're alone, can you be in a family atmosphere?

"You often spend time thinking of how things could be improved." Like this test. I was inventing all sorts of ways this test could more accurately assess my personality and therefore be an improved model of psychological evaluation.

"You prefer to read a book than go to a party." That depends on the book -- and the party.

"The more people with whom you speak, the better you feel." I'm not even sure what this means. Which people? Some people can make you want to drive off a bridge; others, you leave the room dancing on your toes. So the variables are just too numerous. Generally, however, talking can be fun, I guess. Does it lift my mood? I suppose it depends on what the other person says. "You look really thin in that dress" would make me feel better than, say, "Huh, I thought you were so much older."

Yippee! Friday! Cool stuff going on this weekend. And no, I'm not talking about Talladega. Full report to be posted early next week . . .