Taking care of business

Tonight at dinner, I was entertaining some friends with tales about a strange job interview I’d had shortly after moving to Tulsa. It occurred to me later that weird interviews seem to be my specialty. For your amusement, I present a roundup of the weirdest interviews of my life:

Sweet emotion
During one interview, I was asked a series of bizarre questions that I’m pretty sure weren’t entirely legal. The weirdest: The manager asked if was “emotional.” Emotional? Emotional how? After a rather circular conversation, I figured out that he was asking whether I would be likely to sue any of my colleagues for sexual harassment. I won his respect — and the job — by assuring him that as a martial artist, I preferred to settle such matters in an alley, not a court of law.

A filly they named Wildfire
I once interviewed at a newspaper where the publisher and the managing editor spent two hours trashing an employee I would be supervising. I was, they said, her last great hope: If I couldn’t control her, she would be fired. “She’s like a wild filly that can’t be broke,” the publisher explained — to which I deadpanned: “That’s OK. I’m the boss mare.” I was hired on the spot.

Butt darts
During an interview with another newspaper publisher, my list of references — which included author Michael Wallis — prompted a question about a drinking game mentioned in one of Michael’s books. I think this may have been the only time in the history of journalism that a reporter was hired for her familiarity with the rules of butt darts.

Perhaps strangest of all was the interview in which I spent two hours enumerating all the reasons I shouldn’t be hired, while the interviewer spent two hours trying to convince me to come and work for him. The more I told him about my own failings, the more he liked me. It was exceedingly weird, but in the end, he knew more than I did: I took the job and turned out to be way better at it than I’d expected.

If anybody else has a weird interview story, please share it in the comments.




Plan A was to make a psychedelic lawn gnome (think Janis Joplin’s Porsche meets J.K. Rowling) inspired by some crazy earthy-hippie-celestial stationery I have … but then I noticed that my little concrete companion’s beard and bangs had kind of a leafy texture … and you know how I love the Green Man … so of course I had to scrap my original plans and go for a more mythical look.

The metallic paint on his hat, legs and feet sort of overpowered his face, so I added just a little iridescent glitter paint to his beard and eyes after I finished. Now he looks like what you’d get if RuPaul gave the Green Man a makeover. Not that there’s anything wrong with that.

He still needs a coat of lacquer before he goes outside to keep an eye on the garden. I’m also thinking of picking up some crazy-looking ceramic mushrooms from Garden Ridge for him to tend.

Does anybody else* find it pathetic that I used a perfectly good snow day to turn an innocent lawn gnome into an English-folklore-inspired drag queen?


*Besides Ron, I mean. His response, upon seeing my new friend, was: “Oh, my God. That’s just scary.”

Free entertainment

As we wrap up day two of Operation Bring Tulsa to a Screeching Halt and begin to close in on day three, I am beginning to feel mildly bored. School is out today and will be out again tomorrow. Church has been canceled for this evening. I feel an overwhelming temptation to take Gretchen to the hardware store down the road, which I am pretty sure I should not do without adult supervision.

I could be using this time to rewrite the abysmally confusing grammar section of our composition textbook, but I don’t have any brilliant ideas at the moment. While I wait for inspiration to strike, I am rationing my math homework and trying to suppress the urge to either renovate the bathroom or sand and paint the kitchen cabinets while Ron is at work.

I am also revisiting a Web site that gets funnier every time I see it. I’m sure I’ve posted it here before, but it’s still the funniest thing on the Internet, and an excellent way to kill an icy afternoon. Page Nine is my favorite. Enjoy!

When you finish that, check back here. I feel a creative outburst coming on. God only knows what you’ll find here this evening. Probably a lawn gnome or a sock monkey, but I’m going a little stir-crazy, so there’s no telling what else I’ll come up with before the day is out.



I just checked the online gradebook for my math class, and this is what I learned:

I scored 24 out of 25 on the quiz the other day — meaning I missed part of one question — and 98 out of 100 on Sunday’s test. So far this semester, I’ve scored 225 out of a possible 230 points, which translates to a 98.

Not bad for the girl who scored so abominably on the placement test that she had to sign a waiver just to get into college algebra. Heh, heh, heh….


Snow day

We’ve had freezing rain, sleet, and a little snow in the past 30 hours or so. Today was a snow day, and by early afternoon, the superintendent had already called off school for tomorrow as well.

I’ve used the time to catch up on some sleep; cuddle with Scout; clean the kitchen, bathroom, living room, and hamster cage; make a pot of pinto beans on top of the woodstove; pork down the better end of 3,000 calories; and put captions on about 50 photos for this freelancing project we’re doing.

I’ve also managed to keep the fire going continuously all day long, and I think I’ll have time to do my math homework before Ron gets home from work.

My next order of business will be to design my February lesson plans and rewrite about a fourth of our composition book to give the kids a fighting chance at understanding grammar, because the exercises in the book are getting them nowhere fast. I don’t know who wrote the grammar section of this textbook, but I suspect it may have been the same non-native speaker who called me up today to try to sell me a product he couldn’t pronounce, much less pitch. (Seriously: I understand the benefits of outsourcing an inbound call center to India — their geeks work cheaper than ours — but outbound? Not so much.)


Imaginary numbers

“A mortal, corporeal, or finite conception of God cannot embrace the glories of limitless, incorporeal Life and Love.”
— Mary Baker Eddy

As I’ve mentioned before, I am utterly thrilled by the concept of imaginary numbers. An imaginary number is defined as the square root of negative one, which is an impossibility, because any number squared has to be positive.

During algebra class a couple of weeks ago, I caught myself literally choking back tears of joy over the fact that such a thing could exist. I realize this makes me the biggest geek in three counties, but really: How could any thinker fail to be delighted by the existence of something that can’t exist? The mind reels.¬†

More wonderful was my instructor’s explanation. He told how imaginary numbers got their name: The word “imaginary” was a derisive term used to ridicule the theoretical mathematicians who had come up with the concept. The name stuck — a circumstance my instructor found unfortunate. An imaginary number, he explained, is just as real as any other number; the problem is that we simply haven’t figured¬†out a practical application for it.

His explanation delighted me almost as much as the concept itself. I couldn’t put my finger on why I liked it so much until a few days later, when it came to me that imaginary numbers are perfect expressions of God, who is sometimes mistaken for (or derisively — and inaccurately — described as) a figment of someone’s imagination simply because our limited human perception hasn’t yet expanded sufficiently to grasp the nature of infinity.

Like God, an imaginary number is incorporeal. We can’t see it, touch it, or offer tangible proof of its existence. Matter can’t define it. Yet when we use it correctly in a problem, it always leads us to the right answer.

Isn’t it wonderful to think of such a thing?


Eight miles

I ran eight miles with the Fleet Feet crew this morning. The temperature was awfully cold when we headed out — something like 21 degrees, with a windchill of 7 — but it really didn’t feel that bad. We ran from Fleet Feet to the river and back at a nice, leisurely pace.

I’ve got another busy day ahead of me, but Ron and I took a couple of hours to relax this morning with one of my favorite Saturday activities: breakfast at Ollie’s and a stroll through a greenhouse.

At the encouragement of an administrator who thinks every classroom ought to have plants, I’d bought a palm tree (which one of my boys named “Payton,” in honor of Walter) and a pothos a couple of weeks ago at Riddle Plant Farm. They proved popular enough that I seized the excuse to spend part of this frigid morning in the warmth and light of the greenhouses at Southwood Nursery, where I found a $10 plant with pretty blue-and-white flowers and a sale-priced $5 rubber tree plant that’s nearly two feet high. I’ll repot the rubber tree this weekend and take it and the flowers to school on Monday.

What I really want in my classroom is a hamster, but I’m not sure I can convince Zaphod of the merits of introducing a rodent into an English class….



I finished my math homework this morning during my planning period, knocked down the backlog of grading to something manageable while the kids were taking a quiz this afternoon (I cheated a little bit and gave them some free time to talk quietly after they finished), and e-mailed my editor the second edits on our freelance pieces a few minutes ago.

I’d love to celebrate, but I have an eight-mile run at 7 a.m., so I think I’ll confine my festivities to a spirited game of “What Is Making That Unholy Smell in the Crisper Drawer?” and call it a night.