Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Winter Weather

Although the official start of “winter” is not for several more days, winter is definitely upon us. We got pummeled with more snow starting on Saturday morning, when I was supposed to do a 12-mile run—the last semi-long run before the marathon. I just couldn’t do it, and at this point, I decided that any more long runs would do me more harm than good. I managed about 3 miles into what seemed to be a blizzard and then called it quits. That last 20-miler in the sleet really did a number on me; I’m not sure I’ve recovered yet.

This past weekend was a big one for holiday parties. We had Rob’s work party on Friday night and then a neighborhood block party and Cara and John’s holiday party both on Saturday night, and finally another party on Sunday night After skipping a 12-mile training run, there’s nothing like going to a bunch of parties and loading up on holiday treats to get you into marathon form.

On Sunday, Rob and I borrowed Aimee and Brett’s cross country skis and headed over to the park to glide around on the mounds of fresh snow we had gotten the night before. The only hill in the C-U area is at the park near our house, so there were a ton of kids and families there sledding. I’ll bet Eduardo would have loved it. Rob actually skied down the hill, but I didn’t press my luck. I pretty much suck at cross country skiing (to me it seems more like ice-skating than running), but I sure had a good time. That is, until the sole fell off of Aimee’s ski boot. I feel really bad for possibly destroying Aimee’s boots, but I am hopeful that they can be fixed with some combination of duct tape, super glue, and nails. At any rate, walking back home (barefoot, uphill, through the snow) with a sole-less ski boot didn’t help with my issue of cold feet, but at least I didn’t have to go too far.

At first, Rob tried to ride over to Aimee and Brett's to pick up their skis. That didn't work out too well.

I emailed these pictures to Leda in Ometepe and she replied that she was sorry there was so much snow and she thought that we needed to come back to Ometepe where the climate is much nicer. She thanked me for the photos and said that I looked good and that Rob looked very elegant (“muy elegante”). Bless her heart.

Monday was a big day for me. I went to Cara’s (er… Ms G’s) school and gave talks to 4 of her 6th grade classes about howler monkeys. Or rather, I answered questions. I didn’t even need to prepare anything… the students started firing questions at me the moment they entered the classroom. The best thing about 6th graders is their inquisitiveness. It was refreshing to be in a classroom like this after having spent a semester in a lecture hall of 750 strung out college students who could care less about anything.

My favorite questions that the 6th graders asked:
  • Did you spend your birthday in Nicaragua? (And they were highly amused when I told them that, in fact, I had spent my birthday in a Nicaraguan hospital).
  • According to the theory of evolution… (I don’t actually remember what this student’s question was, but give him a gold star for prefacing it that way. Plus, he actually drew a cladogram, which made me want to give him a big hug).
  • What kind of person would be good at becoming a primatologist? (Good question! I'm not even sure that I'm the right person for the job!)
  • Did you and Ms. G. meet in high school or college? (Not about the monkeys, but compelling nonetheless).
And the best thing by far was that Ms. G had already taught them the difference between a monkey and an ape. When I got there, the first thing I did was put up a big picture of a chimpanzee and ask them whether they thought it was a monkey or an ape. 30 hands shot up in the air and they all told me that it was an ape because it did not have a tail. I was floored. That’s amazing. Ms. G deserves the teacher of the year award for teaching them that. Hopefully they remember it all through their lives. Every primatologist dies a little inside when there’s a TV show or commercial with a chimpanzee and they’re calling it a monkey. There are a lot of differences between monkeys and apes—the one that is perhaps the most visible and easiest to remember is that monkeys have tails and apes do not. We taught this to our class of undergrads this semester—going over the information repeatedly and in great detail. Plus, we told them flat out that it was going to be on the final exam. 37% of them still missed it, which—all things considered—isn’t as shabby as I thought it was going to be.

That’s all for now! Thanks for reading.


Anonymous said...

I always thought that cross-country sking looked like more work than fun???? A good year for any kind of outdoor winter sport. I found out you are never to 'old' to learn. I hope I don't sound to dumb here, but, I did not know the difference between a monkey and a chimpanzee, I guess I never had a teacher that taught me that???????? So, thanks for the information. It sounds like it was fun for you to talk to sixth graders, they can come up with interesting questions at that age. Another interesting story, always enjoy them.
Love, Pat

Aimee said...

Glad you enjoyed the skiing, you'll have to try it on a decent pair of skis next time--those are TERRIBLE and I was thrilled to learn the boot broke because now I won't have to wear them ever again! They really make your feet freeze too. So a good pair of boots and skis will make all the difference next time around!

Logan's Mama said...

I am glad that the 6th graders were more attentive than the apathetic undergrads and restored your faith in the youth of America.
But I have to confess, what is a cladogram? :-(

Anonymous said...

MOM SCHO said...
Well, I am certainly glad that I tuned in to the BLOG today. I learned something about chimpanzees, monkeys, tails, apes! WoW...
Maybe elementary students have opened another window of possibilities for you Melissa. Personally, I've never been happier than when I was around small children. They are little sponges!
and ... Skiing and sledding were two of Rob and his brother Travis' favorite things to do in the winter. It is kind of nice to see him enjoying it again.
Great BLOG...

Anonymous said...

LOVED YOUR PICTURES!!! Snow is soooo beautiful ( at first) but when it becomes GRAY and DIRTY, then it no longer interests me, and I just WISH it would go away-- I'm with Mom Scho. maybe YOUNGER children are more your style... and must confess, monkeys , apes, and TAILS were NOT something we learned in school, so glad that MS G. is giving her students , interesting topics to explore-- sounds like a fun group. SO what IS a CLADOGRAM???????? Hope you get your breath?? and find your marathon. legs, before the 30th!!!!!!! TAKE CARE. and looking forward to finally having you HOME for Christmas. Hope you still know the way!!! luv and hugs,

amypfan said...

Thank goodness.... I came to the comments page feeling rather dumb, because I didn't know the difference between monkeys and apes (although it seems pretty obvious now that you say it), not to mention that I have never heard of a cladogram before. But apparently I am not the only one in the dark here!

On a separate note, I have to say that I wish Rob had managed the ride to get the skis, largely because I would have been very interested to see how he managed to balance 2 pairs of skis and 2 pairs of boots while riding a bike through the snow on the return journey....