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Thursday, October 28, 2010

Hair Today, Gone Tomorrow.

I have recently spent too much time thinking about Hair, not the musical, but both those on my head and those found on other parts of my self.  My head hair needs a cutting and as much as I love the magic fingers of Anne Marie at Bangz, she’s recently raised her prices to $80 plus a tip and I’m feeling not so flush these days.  I will probably succumb anyway because she’s really great at her job and I could use some extra help.

It is at these hair raised times, about once every eight to ten weeks, that I confront my mortality in the form of the stray grays that keep emerging.  I have been blessed with the late gray gene from my mother and even at the age of 57 have predominantly dark brown in the mix.  Some days I feel that my grays are earned, slim badges of a life lived fully.  Other days, particularly after a sleepless night, I just see a reflection of an older much more tired me framed by those very same grays.  To color or not to color, that is the question.

Not a good look for anyone.
I’ve experimented from time to time with a variety of hair transformation products.  A few years ago I added gold highlights.  In retrospect, a decision made in a moment of weakness at a new salon, leaving me feeling and looking like Mrs. Roper…i.e. not a good choice.  I’ve used henna rinses in bold cranberry – a slick 70’s disco inspired look – as well as black – an 80’s ethnic inspired look – but never felt comfortable or ultimately more attractive either way.

Occasionally I’ll ask my husband if he thinks I should cover the gray but he’s grown too clever to fall into that trap, even when I say “ But you have to look at me, I don’t.”  He has learned that the only safe answer is “Whatever makes you happy, honey.”

For men, the hairstory is much more traumatic. They may morph form Justin Bieber to Uncle Fester by the time they hit 30.  These poor men never get to have their Silver Fox moment.  They are faced with the dismay found in the drain, that tangled unseemly mess left behind after morning rituals and a great hot shower.  Men’s hair may also transmigrate to other body parts choosing to relocate to more exotic locales like ear lobes and shoulder haunches.

Even we women may on occasion find a stray hair or two or three, as in the hair on your chinny chin chin.  There are also those charming moments when your innocent toddler may remark on these, including the adorable, “ Mommy, you have a spider coming out of your nose!” Thankfully said in private, now shared shamelessly with my readers.

But women are expected to do something about this irregularity using waxes and potions, painful and stinky to remind us of our own mortality as if the stray intruders weren’t reminders enough.

I googled Silver Fox
When I was younger and more unitoned, I had what I’ll call my hair-related trauma.  Being single through the Eighties had it’s advantages ---unencumbered by a partner’s needs or career fluctuations, baby’s poo or extended family dramas ( although my nuclear group had more than it’s fair share…) -- gave me a certain freedom and nonchalance.  I met lots of potential partners, enjoyed their company for a time and then moved on for reasons both real and imagined. 

One such coupling included a successful young man with a great apartment on the Upper East Side of Manhattan and an insouciance brought on by the sale of his business to a Fortune 500 company for over $10 million dollars by the time he was 30.  He was quite a dashing character, tall dark and handsome and well groomed and mannered.  We had several enjoyable dinners together at wonderful restaurants and one night returned to his apartment to express our mutual admiration.  Sharing a chilled split of champagne on his terrace as the sun set behind the amazing Manhattan skyline, we snuggled and kissed in brisk Autumn air.  As our affections became more fully realized, we moved into his living room for both comfort and privacy’s sake.  At this point, disheveled, he excused himself to use the bathroom.  When he returned, he was missing something.  Yes, his hair was gone.  He had transformed from Alan Alda to Yul Brenner without so much as a by your leave. 

Now I am not typically left speechless or at a loss for words, as this blog frequently demonstrates, but I was Flabbergasted!  Dumbstruck! I think first because I had no idea that the hair was not his to begin with and second, my next thought was – what else is removable?   I readjusted my habiliments, stammered out an excuse about an early morning meeting I had forgotten about and hightailed it out of there.

Not because he was bald, in fact I find bald men attractive – always have – but what kind of person would just spring this on someone else?  Where did he keep it in the bathroom?  Did he have more than one?  How did he wash it?  My mind was aflutter with possibilities.

So on this Halloween Weekend, when little goblins and monsters are ringing for tricks and treats,   consider the hair raising adventures of this Pop Culture Diva living the single life in the Eighties in the city where everything is possible.

Friday, October 22, 2010

Ms. Drew, the Sleuth of my youth

A friend and fellow book amasser recently asked me for a recommendation for her husband and wondered whether there were any books that I had read more than once. A good question, since both of our homes are filled with them. The book I have read more frequently than any other and now given away 4 copies of, is Smilla’s Sense of Snow by Peter Hoeg. It was published in 1992, translated from the original Danish, to great fanfare. I began to reflect on that choice later that evening and realized that part of the reason I am so enamored of Smilla, is that she, the protagonist of this wonderful novel, is much like my childhood heroine: the resourceful, clever, and always attractive Nancy Drew.

With her friends chubby Bess and tomboy George and blond boyfriend Ned standing in the background, no mystery remained unsolved for Nancy. I spent many childhood nights under the covers with a flashlight, long after my sister in the next bed was fast asleep, reliving those adventures again and again. I never tired of those stories and I have never outgrown admiring the clever, fearless, limitless-possibilities heroine. So I dedicate this blog to her, Ms. Drew, who put into motion a life long devotion to searching for, finding, and following this wonderful literary creature.

After Nancy, I found Miss Marple from Agatha Christie but she didn’t capture my imagination. She was an old nosy busybody and I found the writing stilted. I yearned for role models I could relate to. It wasn’t until the early 1980’s that I discovered them.

It began with An Unsuitable Job for a Woman, a novel published in 1972 by the amazing P.D. James. I actually first saw the 1982 British Film. It recounts the story of young courageous Cordelia Gray, the surviving partner in a detective agency who gets her first case after her (male) partner’s suicide. Then came The Skull beneath the Skin,  Cordelia's next adventure and a delightfully gruesome and compelling one. James then went on to write her most celebrated series of literate detective novels starring policeman and poet Adam Dalgliesh. I’ve read them all but really loved Cordelia.

One of over 200
I had also learned in the intervening years that Carolyn Keene, author of the Nancy Drew series, was in fact one Edward Stratemeyer, founder of the Stratemeyer Syndicate book packaging* firm. Stratemeyer was the first book packager to create books for the children’s market and his work included The Hardy Boys and The Bobbsey Twins books – Nan, Bert, Flossie and Freddie! These books were a huge financial success. I felt rather betrayed by this since I had imagined and dreamt of Carolyn as sweet old clever witty doyen. I began to look more carefully for real women mystery writers.

* These are different from book publishers. Book-packaging companies act as a liaison between a publishing company and the writers, researchers, editors, and printers that design and produce the book, combining the roles of agent, editor, and publisher. Book-packaging is common today in books aimed at pre-teens and teenagers. The Goosebumps series is a great example.

After P.D. James, came Ruth Rendell and Ngaio Marsh. Ngaio’s detective, Roderick Alleyn appears in all 34 of her books but it wasn’t until he marries the painter Agatha Troy that I got hooked. She helps Roderick solve crimes and many stories revolve around the theatre. Ruth Rendell’s stories often revolve around women’s issues and how women’s roles have changed in society.

Magnificent Mirren 
On television I soaked up Honey West and her beauty mark, Cagney and Lacey, the great lioness Jane Tennison on The Prime Suspect Series, and skeptical Dana Scully on the X Files-- all modern versions of Nancy and friends.

Today we have female detectives and mystery writers everywhere from all walks of life. There’s Sara Paretsky’s Chicago-based V.I. Warshawski who jogs, has a dog, revels in her Polish working-class roots and succeeds in unearthing corporate corruption usually at some physical peril. These are well written tales as are Batya Gur’s Israeli based stores. Her tales are full of Jews but unlike Faye Kellerman’s Murder in the Mikvah series – as I call them, her detective studied history and literature at Cambridge and his unfinished doctoral dissertation on Medieval guilds remains on his introspective and cerebral mind. Faye’s work is fluff, Batya’s is meaningful literature, but there clearly is room for both.

Is there a 4th one?

Nick, Nora & Asta

There’s Sue Grafton’s spunky Kinsey Milhone, memorialized in the ABC series beginning with A is for Alibi. (I made it to P and got bored.)  Patricia Cornwell introduced me to Virginia’s Chief Medical Examiner Kay Scarpetta who manages to solve the unsolvable in her series.  Steig Larson's gave us the painful and unforgettable Lisbeth Salander in a posthumous series that has captivated the world. I must include Precious Ramotse, a rather large, jovial lady who runs a private detective agency in the Botswanan town of Gaborone using her common sense and strong judge of character, in an absolutely charming series by Alexander McCall Smith. I would be remiss if I didn’t include Anne Perry who writes these wonderfully atmospheric Victorian era mystery novels with detective William Monk and his cynical companion Nurse Hester Latterly or the series with Policeman Thomas Pitt and his wealthy wife Charlotte, the Victorian equivalent of Nick and Nora Charles  -- my absolute favorite duo of dissolute detectives.  

Then there’s Laura Childs and her Chef -- and Sunny Frazier and her Astrologist and for pure cartoon heroism it’s Velma Dinky, the brains behind crew Scooby Doo.  

And of course there is Smilla, my grown up, independent, uncompromising, brilliant and difficult Greenlander with whom I started this journey.  While they all have their place in this pantheon of detection, none rises so high or reaches as deep as my darling Nancy. Ms. Drew was oh-so-resourceful, believed in herself and was my companion under the covers every night, at a time when my world needed to find a girl like me to love. 

Saturday, October 16, 2010

It's The Music, Man

So I was thinking as I pulled into the parking lot of my local A&P, that I didn’t want to turn off my car just yet because my Ipod was in the middle of one of those songs I must listen to until it ends.  I’m sure you have them -- one of those dagblasted songs that conjure up memories and even more frightening, feelings. I have probably spent a cumulative week or two sitting in cars with the motor running, waiting for a particular song to finish, possibly singing along, dating back to FM Radio days listening to the Gods of WNEW  -- Pete Fornatale, Richard Neer and Scott Muni to name a few.  Not a day went by when I didn’t tune in.  Imagine a programmer that could make that claim today.  I remember finding out that John Lennon had been shot and turning on the station knowing they would fill the airwaves with the sounds of my favorite Beatle.  They were certainly the singular source of my driving music. But now, with my Ipod, I can program my own playlists and collections for my drives. I am the DJ of my life and can create musical interludes to suit both my journey and mood.  I feel so musically empowered.

I had 100's 
My taste is rather eclectic but I suspect anyone who’s lived through the 50+ years I have, would say the same. I don’t want to presume or assert that I am up to date or even have the deepest historical breathe of any particular genre, but I will admit to a Broadway Show tunes weakness when I’m alone and in the mood to sing along.

That’s not to say that you won’t find Mary J Blige, Scissor Sisters, Steve Winwood, The Pretenders, Allan Sherman, Motown and even a whole slew of Folk singers in the mix as well.  There is no logic, no rhyme or reason to my collection. I like what I like and I’ve amassed over 2000 songs on two dozen different playlists I’ve created.  Songs are snowflakes – made from the same stuff but completely different and wonderful.  

One of my favorite writers, Neil Gaiman, has this to say about songs,  "Each person who ever was or is or will be has a song. It isn't a song that anybody else wrote. It has its own melody, it has its own words."

The Most Fun place to Work, ever ! 
I think that’s true about the whole of music. We each are our own soundtracks.  Our music is our history.  I really do enjoy categorizing songs and making playlists that work for me.  I even burn CD’s with a particular cluster of songs that are my momentary favorites.  Generally no one else understands or appreciates all of it, but that’s really fine. I’m programming WPOP Culture Diva – for my own listening pleasure.

I think it would be interesting to list our life’s milestones, our special moments and romances with their attendant sound tracks. Each of us might construct a musical biography, if you will, launching a new genre of literature, the musical memoir. What songs would have to appear in your collection?  

I would have to include Leo Kottke in my college years. I had a boyfriend in college from Indiana who played guitar just like Leo. He grew up on a farm, a very big farm with seven tenant farmer families on the property.  One Christmas break we went to visit his family on this farm. We flew into O’Hare after circling for 3 hours in a horrific snowstorm.  His parents picked us up at the airport and we drove 3 hours south to their farm.  I had never seen such flat, straight, long country roads—smooth snow covered ribbons that seemed endless with names like Rural Route 2. 

I rode in this
The next day we went for a ride on their huge green John Deere tractor with wheels that were taller than I. The thousands of acres of soybeans were buried under three feet of snow. The large panes of glass in the tractor cabin became frost covered as we drove through the fields, listening to an 8 track tape of Leo’s 12 string sounds. Stephen was one of four brothers, all home for the holidays.  His younger brother was in prep school, the oldest brother was a math professor at Purdue and the second brother was a Jazz guitarist. It was like Bonanza the Musical. 

I wanted to do something nice for the family so Stephen took me to the “local” mall – about 45 minutes away—where I purchased about a dozen personalized Santa Hats for the entire family for the traditional Christmas Eve Caroling event. We were a fleet of 5 Cadillacs filled with Carolers, both friends and family, driving from farmhouse to farmhouse singing our hearts out. It was for me, a Jewish girl from New Jersey, as good as a trip to a new country where they happened to speak English. 
It was a clear and star filled evening with the snow reflecting and helping to illuminate the occasional streetlights along the two lane highways.  Everywhere we stopped to perform, wildly enthusiastic neighbors welcomed us. We were in the last car, in the back seat with Stephen’s younger brother.  I was in the middle. The Jazz Guitarist driver brother and his girlfriend, a former Miss Indiana were in front.  We were drinking some Christmas tradition in the car and getting alcoholic hot toddies and cookies along the way.

Somewhere after the fifth stop or so, Jamie, the young one started moaning.  This was not good.  As I turned to tell Stephen about his brother, poor Jamie lost it. Stephen tapped his older brother on the shoulder and muttered, “We gotta stop.”  Greg, the driver, pulled over to the shoulder of the road and both he and Stephen got out of the car, walked over to the other side, opened the door and lifted Jamie out.  One grabbed his arms and one grabbed his legs as they placed him face down in the fresh snow. Without a word, they dragged him across the tundra and wiped him clean. They flipped him over, put him back into his seat, resumed their positions and took off for the next stop without saying a word.  

Jamie mumbled a sheepish, “Thanks” and the Caroling journey continued.  I turned to Stephen and asked “What just happened, it seemed so natural, so spontaneous?”

“Oh yeah, when you grow up on a Farm someone is always getting sick from drinking and you have to figure out how to clean them up quick so you can bring them home.”

Hmm. So now, whenever I hear The Driving of the Year Nail or Jesu, Joy of Man’s Desiring as I travel through the suburbs of New Jersey, I’m back in Indiana, eating fresh Ham for Christmas after an evening of Christmas Caroling watching two big brothers drag the little one through the snow because the show must go on.  

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

The Sad Little Halloween

Halloween is without question my favorite holiday. It centers around two things I really enjoy; dressing up in the outlandish clothes and the opportunity to eat chocolate.  I’m not sure how the custom of going from house to house actually began. I remember having read about something like this in the Middle Ages but I have also read that it was a custom practiced in ancient Persia by Jewish children during the festival of Hanukah. The Hanukiah, more familiar to most as the Menorah, was lit and put in the windows of homes in Jewish neighborhoods as a sign indicating children were welcome and would receive a little bag filled with dates, figs and whatever amounted to sweet treats in those days, during the eight night festival. Whether this is the actual derivation of the custom or not doesn’t matter all that much to me, but does make for a very nice story and yearly event. 

The Great Dust Collector

I have had some ridiculously fun adventures on Halloween as a child, as a young adult, and as a parent.  On one of these fine dates I attended a party with some fellow employees of the Home Shopping Network.  Always one with a creative and fashion flair, I dressed myself as a piece of Capodimonte. If you are not familiar with this particular form of pottery, it comes from Italy as evidenced by the ROMA logo somewhere on the piece, is incredibly ornate, usually has roses of some sort somewhere on it, and people collect it for some reason that I cannot possibly fathom.  I called it “Crapodimonte, for people who like to dust. “ 

To complete my ensemble, I purchased a large white tee shirt, constructed roses out of crepe paper with stems out of florist wire and sewed them to the shirt. I bought a pair of white shiny dancers tights and rolls of thick white satin ribbon, which I sewed to the bottom of the shirt and bound them horizontally with bands of ribbons for the sculpted vase look I was after.  I also created a nice ROMA logo for the back of the shirt.  My head was covered with smaller roses I had created and applied to a headband after I sprayed my hair white and applied white make-up to my face.  I was a Home Shopping Club favorite come to life! 

Those interested in the merchandise sold in those early days have asked me; was there ever anything that fell below the Home Shopping Club bar?  This was the place that sold the melting phones, the hairless fur coats (see an earlier blog: Wing Nut Commander, for further details) and rumor was, somehow bought a railroad car of Girl Scout Cookies at a deep discount.  This preceded my arrival there but the story was that the head of the girl Scouts of America flew down to Tampa to meet with the President of the company, pleading for the return of the cookies – the organization’s only fund raising source.  The President insisted she buy them back, at a profit to the company.  Yes, he was a man who would rip of the Girl Scouts of America. He was also responsible for all of the merchandise in the early days. (I am so tempted to tell another tale but I’ll behave.)

So yes, the bar was set really low on several levels, but on one particular occasion, one of the buyers came into my office bearing a gift.  She wanted me to see an example of what was considered below their purchasing and taste standards. 

The rejected object was about 20 inches tall, a spray painted plastic golden flat bottomed pedestal vase filled with plastic velveteen red roses which had tiny LED lights in their centers.  The flowers created an arc supported by little plastic velveteen green leaves.  Is anything velveteen anymore? 

Nancy, the buyer, asked me to pick it up and twist the base to wind it up.  I did, put it back down on my desk and watch it spin and play “Somewhere My Love” from Dr. Zhivago while the lights blinked on and off in time to the music one might hear in an old jewelry box with a ballerina that spun in front of a tiny little mirror. 

Omar as Yuri
I am sure that Boris Pasternak, the brilliant Russian poet and novelist (who refused to leave Russia to receive his 1959 Pulitzer Prize for this wonderful novel, afraid that his Jewish In-Laws and Wife might be arrested in Stalinist Russia) would be turning his grave -- but at the same time, grateful that this particular interpretation was being put to rest by Nancy, the buyer who wasn’t. 

On another Halloween, my then 5 year old son had become transfixed by a new PBS show called Dragon Tales.  Dragon Tales told the story of a young Mexican brother and sister who through the use of a single luminescent magical dragon scale were able to transport back to a world with Cotton Candy colored little friendly dragons who spoke with a latino accent.  What my son like best about the show was a two-headed bright green and pink dragon named Zak and Wheezie who frequently disagreed with one another at the beginning of the show but always managed to work out their conflict by the end of the show.

Naturally, my son, never for one minute doubting the creative skills of his mother announced that he wanted to be a two-headed dragon, a green and pink one, for Halloween.  Well nothing is not possible when it comes to the creative force of Motherhood so I pulled out my ever-ready glue gun collection, needle and threads and headed out to the sadly now defunct Rag Shop and Kmart for all the supplies I needed to pull this off. 

Zak & Wheezie and the Dragontales Gang
To make Zak and Wheezie I bought two pair of sweat pants and sweat shirts – one set in forest green, the other in hot pink.  I cut each in half vertically and then hot glued the top and bottoms up in the center creating a new pair of sweat pants and sweat shirt – both half green and half pink.  The top was trickier because I needed to keep both necklines. The green became where my son’s head would be, the pink side was where I put the discarded pink leg, now remade into Wheezie’s neck and head with stuffing and supported with a thick piece of armature wire.  The ensemble also included big white wings made from a plastic sheeting embedded with gold sparkles which I hot glued on to the back of the top. Each side also had it’s own tail, made from the discarded sleeves of each color. It was truly adorable and completely fulfilled his Halloween fantasy.

It had become our custom to “do” the Halloween thing with our friends Anne and her daughter Rachel.  Rachel was going as Pikachu, the little yellow most popular Pokemon.   If you haven’t experienced Pokemon, either you don’t have children or know any. It is Nintendo’s second most successful brand and according to some quick website research on my part, cumulative sales of the brand’s video games have surpassed 200 million copies. The cartoon show has been running for years and the trading cards are still sold and fought for in tournaments in comic book stores around the country.

Ash and buddy Pikachu

If you know or would like to know anything about Pokemon, do click on the video link to a phabulous fake film trailer.

“What would happen if someone made a dark, gritty live-action Pokémon film? It'd probably look a lot like Pokémon Apokélypse, a fake trailer so spot-on, some fans thought it was real. The last line is what makes it.”

So, there we are, Cartoon characters and mom’s ready to hit the Halloween trail.  I had purchased these little plastic pumpkin with handles for the children to collect their candies.  Our typical route was to a lovely cluster of about 30 homes in a neighborhood filled with other Halloweeners.  Unfortunately, this was one of the hottest Halloween’s in history.  It must have been 80 degrees in the early evening as we left to ring bells.  At the second house, the children ran the doorbell, the adults came to the door and oohed and aahed appropriately.  The kids really looked adorable. My son spoke up, “ Excuse me, but could we get a glass of water instead of candy?”

And so ended the Halloween of the two headed dragon costume. The final tally: one candy and one glass of water. It was the sad little Halloween for the Mom’s but the children were just as happy to go home.

Friday, October 1, 2010


My son is studying Math in his Chemistry class.  They are working on something called Dimensional Analysis. Dimensional Analysis is the ability to transform any unit of measurement into any other unit of measurement.  For example, you might want to turn liters to cubic feet, or change miles per hour to meters per second.  The reason to do this, he tells me, is that often measurements will be taken using different forms, but in order to compare two sets of data, they need to both be expressed in the same units.                                                                                                                
Here’s what I think about Dimensional Analysis. If I give you my American Express card and I receive back that fabulous pair of size 8 Jimmy Choo leopard flats, I will be transforming that which is not mine into that which is mine. I would then compare my feet without said flats vs. with them and know that no matter what unit of measurement is used, they look great on my feet and I am happy. 

Now switch gears with me for a moment --This week I worked with a group of ESL (English Second Language) High-School students. Many are from Haiti; some displaced by the disaster, some arriving just before the hurricane. They are a relatively new population in the school and most have only been in this country and speaking English for a few months. 

My rudimentary French has both delighted and amazed these students. “Misses, where did you learn this”, they asked in wonderment.  Most ESL programs focus on Spanish to English learner, so it’s fun for the students and I to make connections and compare how the words and structure of the languages are alike and different.  

I have asked the Spanish-speaking students for their help.  Many come from Peru and El Salvador.  My even more rudimentary Italian skills -- 2 years in college with a group of voice majors, so I might understand the romantic librettos of Puccini--helps just a little.

We were working on Persuasive Essays.  The issue was Corporal Punishment.  The essay requires them to detail their support or rejection with reasons.  The students had just completed reading a story about a young man in the Caribbean who is severely spanked by his teacher in front of the class. It has no affect on his troublesome behavior.  I’m not presuming that this story or any other story will change what may be ingrained cultural attitudes, but I am hopeful.

To prepare these students for the writing exercise, I wanted to make them comfortable and confident.  I asked them to consider what words they might want to include in their essay that they weren’t sure how to spell or wanted to clarify and I would write them on the board for them and we could talk about them. I didn’t want them hung up on spelling. I didn’t want the flow of their thinking interrupted, especially in an age when once they have more writing fluidity, Spell Check will do much of the correcting for them.  Writing is thinking on paper.  Thinking is not about how to spell the word effective. 

Research shows that a learner’s attitude and emotional wellbeing create a better outcome. Happy and confident students learn more effectively. Students who believe they can learn, will learn. (Now think back on how many of your teachers embraced or practiced this philosophy in their classrooms…hmm )

We began our lively discussion. One student wanted clarification on the word Theocracy. We discussed Theocracy vs. Democracy.  We discussed strategies to use to help with understanding new words; breaking words apart, using context clues, -- even using*--   I asked under which type of leadership would you think Corporal Punishment was more likely to take place and why. Was anyone able to cite an example from history?

The blank stares back at me indicated the students needed some support so I suggested they consider the year 1492.   I presumed that at least the Haitian children would know the story of Columbus and hopefully the background of the Spanish Inquisition.  The blank stares just continued. 

I asked if they had learned about Christopher Columbus and the discovery of the Americas in their schools in Haiti or Peru or El Salvador?  They did not.  Even those growing up on an island less than 100 miles away had not learned anything about Columbus – a subject covered repeatedly in K-8 curriculums in this country. 

So like Dimensional Analysis, my ability to transform what I knew into that which these children could relate to -- to provide the conversion into like data, was sorely missing.  The formula for effective teaching is much more elusive than for Dimensional Analysis.  Who’d a thunk it? 

The more I learn, the less I know. 

* For one of the many papers I wrote for Grad School, I asked my son what he would do if he came to a word he didn't know in a book he was reading. 
"Turn on my computer, Mom" he replied. 
Duh, did I feel old.