The Challenge: Spend at least 15 minutes immersing yourself in a field you know nothing about.
It was made obvious to me a few weeks ago on a trip to Milwaukee after a near death experience that I would like to learn more about cars. As we were on the side of the road in the snow with car problems, I faced the humbling fact that I wasn’t quite sure how to even open the hood of our Pontiac. “Our hood is tricky,” I rationalized. This is embarrassing for me to admit but a harsh reality.
So, I sat down with a “Fix It Yourself” book from Reader’s Digest and some very helpful websites (about.com and howstuffworks.com) and spent my 15 minutes learning Car Parts 101. I have to admit that 15 minutes was not nearly enough. I am still curious about the other parts under there that I didn’t get to. I really only got through the basics of how the car uses the gasoline to accelerate and the chain of command that happens with the parts in this procedure. Combustion, cooling, pistons, exhaust…lots of familiar words that are now clearer with some handy dandy animations. This challenge shined the light on my "perfectionist" side that gets too overwhelmed and often fearful to learn something new. It forced me to become curious and take the risk of looking foolish. Kids just naturally ask hundreds of ‘why’ questions and they are learning new things everyday. It is good to be reminded of that feeling. It was fun! I bookmarked those websites and I’ll be back.
Today I immersed myself in an alien world right out of a Star Wars movie (at least to me.)
An oriental grocery store.
I know from watching those behind the scenes Star Wars documentaries that the artists take great efforts to create each planet from scratch, with its own native language, look, and culture. After only a few moments in Lee’s Oriental, surrounded by produce I’ve never seen and labels with words I couldn’t read, I half-expected to hear George Lucas step out from behind the aisle saying, “And cut."
I started checking out the jars and jars of sauces; peanuts, soy, and whatnot. Then I came across an interesting package that seemed out of place. The product inside was almost black, and it looked like a small folded Hobbit blanket. It said “dried laver” on the label. Before I could finish asking myself the question, “What’s dried laver?” I noticed another similarly stuffed package with the subhead “seaweed.” Cool.
The three shelving units in the crowded store were a feast for the senses: packages of dried anchovies, broiled ferns, and lots of cans of lychees (not sure what those were but they looked like skinned eyeballs.) I almost laughed out loud when I saw, amidst the exotic jars of pickled this and dried that, a few cans of Spam (perhaps the most inedible thing in stock, in my estimation.)
I scanned a spinner of packaged snacks, delighted to find an assortment of dried squid, right above bags of party mix. The squid reminded me of beef jerky — chicken jerky I suppose — and the back of the bag touted it as a great on-the-go snack and perfect for parties. Indeed!
On my way out of the store, I came across a row of giant bags stacked near the wall. “They sell potting soil in oriental grocery stores?” I asked myself. “Must be for rare, hard-to-maintain Asian flowers,” I answered confidently.
Upon further inspection, I learned that they were actually bags of rice. It made perfect sense, of course, but I couldn’t help but fancy the idea of my mom trying to jam a 10 pound bag of rice in the pantry next to the pancake mix and egg noodles. All in all, a pretty neat 15 minutes. Now, if you don’t mind, I need to go find out what lychees are.
So, who was most creative with today’s challenge? Who went beyond the comfort zone and put the biggest hammer on Adultitis? Who did a better job of capturing the spirit of childhood, Kim or Jason? Cast Your Vote!
Tomorrow’s Challenge: Audio Sneak Peek