A Foolish Interview with ngg Add to My Favorite Fools Add to My Penalty Box

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The Fool: Tell us an amusing anecdote about your childhood.
ngg: We traveled a lot. And I mean a LOT. My dad was in the service and routinely was transferred from one side of the country to another. Wanting to be sure we got to see the wide range of beauty that exists in the U.S., we took different routes each time. Some were more interesting than others, of course, and as children we were generally oblivious to scenery. "Yeah, trees. Yeah, mountains. Can I go back to reading my book now?"<BR><BR>This was back in the days before seat belts were de rigeuer(sp?), and my brother spent most of the time hunkered down on the floor of the back seat, his nose buried in a comic book. My dad would say "Hey, kids, look at THAT!" and several minutes later, having finished his reading, Scott would get up and say "Look at what?" or "Where?" Totally frustrated my dad.<BR><BR>But I digress. On one trip we were going through the Black Hills of South Dakota, and my father had hyped the fact that we might actually get to see some buffalo. In an effort to get us to pay attention to something outside the car, he'd advised us "but you'd better be looking out the windows, because they're NOT going to come walking down the road to meet us!"<BR><BR>Well, as fate would have it, we drove around a few more curves, and traffic suddenly came to a complete and sudden stop. There, meandering down the road, was an entire herd of buffalo, walking down the road to meet us. We just sat there in the car as they passed by, close enough that we could have touched them if we'd had the inclination to put the windows down.<BR><BR>To this day, my father has never lived down his statement, a lesson to parents to be careful about making statements about events they really have no control over, unlikely as an event may be. Like the buffalo, it can come back to haunt you!
The Fool: What's one of your special talents?
ngg: Have a hard time choosing between two: my sense of smell, and my spacial relations abilities. I can tell that a cucumber has been cut in the kitchen from two floors away, or that Hubby is cooking pasta for dinner. Sometimes this is a pleasure, sometimes a curse, however. All depends on the smell.<BR><BR>As for spacial relations, I can fit more dishes into a dishwasher than you might think possible. And I'm the one who gets the job of trying to fit a ridiculous amount of luggage into a car's trunk. Usually I can, too. ;-)
The Fool: Is there someone to whom you'd like to say 'Thank You,' but never had the chance?
ngg: This was a tough one, a question I thought about for a long time before I felt I had an answer. There have been many people who have touched my life, affected it in different ways. But the one that keeps coming to mind is my high school biology teacher, Mr. Yeager. He was "old as the hills" when I was 17 (perhaps close to 60? the older I get, the younger that seems, and the less able I am to guess ages), but he made a great impression on me.<BR><BR>In his class, I held a tarantula in my hand, terrified as I was of spiders, and learned that they are really timid little beasts, more scared of me that I was of them. (And, as I've since pointed out to youngsters who were dealing with "insect-phobia, they have a LOT more reason to be afraid of you than you do of them!)<BR><BR>I learned that King Phillip Came Over For Green Stamps, which was helpful to me in my college Phylogenetics course (Kingdom - Phylum - Class - Order - Family - Genus - Species).<BR><BR>But probably the part of Mr. Yeager that impressed me most was his willingness to admit that he DIDN'T know something. Someone in the class would ask a question to which he didn't have an immediate answer. He'd pause, think a while, then say, "I don't know... I'll look into it." A couple days later, he'd remind the class of that question, and let us know what his research had turned up. I don't remember any of the specific questions, but I do remember that he had no shame in admitting that he didn't have all the answers. His humanity in this touched me more than any other teacher I can remember, and helped me adopt more open teaching skills. Being able to show those you're teaching that you don't know all the answers and that your own knowledge can be improved can be a "freeing" experience on both sides. It leaves you open to new interpretations, and new ideas and pathways to knowledge to you're trying to teach.<BR><BR>So thank you, Mr. Yeager. You impacted my life in more ways than you'll ever know.
The Fool: Okay Gilligan (or Ginger), you're stuck on a deserted island. What one material possession would you hope to have with you?
ngg: At first blush, I'd have to say my laptop computer, equipped with a solar battery so that I'd be able to stay in touch with the world. However, if that were possible, it would be foolish (if not Foolish) to stay stuck on that stupid island for very long!!!
The Fool: Is outer space teeming with life? Or are we alone?
ngg: How very narcissistic of us to assume that of the possible mutations of life that might exist in the universe, we are the apex. We kill each other over physical borders, religious beliefs, no apparent reason or just for fun. There's an awful lot of space out there, and only so many chemical permutations (that we are aware of, anyway...), so it seems ridiculous to assume that in the vast arena of the universe, there is no other form of life that is equal to or more advanced than we are.
The Fool: What's your biggest pet peeve?
ngg: I'm only allowed to pick one? It really depends on what day it is, or what side of the bed I got up on this morning. But I can off hand think of three that really tick me off.<BR><BR>1) People who don't spay/neuter their pets! Particularly those who don't take responsibility for the consequences. I foster kittens, and last year I had four that were literally left in a box by the side of the road. GRRRRRRR.<BR><BR>2) People who don't use their turn signals!! Here they are, propelling thousands of pounds of metal down the street, yet they feel no apparent need or inclination to let anyone else know what their intentions are. Grrrr...<BR><BR>3) Oh, yeah, and let's add the morons who use their cell phones while driving, holding it to their ears, madly yakking away as they wander between lanes... Hey, they have important business to conduct, don't need to bother with checking rear view mirrors, signaling or other common courtesies and safe driving techniques. Don't even get me started.
The Fool: Describe the most embarrassing personal moment you'll admit to!
ngg: A number of years ago, I did a lot of business travel. I was returning home, had arrived at the Minneapolis-St.Paul airport a little on the late side, and rushed to the gate to catch my flight. When I arrived at the gate, there was one door open, so I rushed through it, handing my ticket to the gate agent. On board, I settled in, only half-listening to the standard, pre-takeoff announcements. I heard the word "Milwaukee" go by, and thought it was odd - I didn't remember the flight to Detroit having a stop in Milwaukee... So when the flight attendant made her final walk down the aisle, checking to see that everyone's seatbacks and tray tables were in their original upright positions, I flagged her down, saying "excuse me, but what flight did you say this is?" When I informed her that my destination was Detroit, she turned and literally ran back down the aisle toward the cockpit. A couple minutes later she returned and told me to get my things, because they were taking me off the plane.<BR><BR>The plane had already left the gate, so they brought one of those mobile staircases out, took me down and across the tarmack on foot to the plane bound for Detroit (which fortunately had not already left but was now late taking off). The passengers on that flight had obviously been informed of the reason for the delay, and when I came on board, they BOOED me.<BR><BR>Most embarrassing. Since then, I carefully check that the flight I'm boarding is going to the destination I had planne
The Fool: Share with us your best money-saving secret -- cutting coupons, sneaking candy into the movies, shopping on Wednesday and pretending you're over 65?
ngg: For a number of years, I've followed a rule: the only thing I'm allowed to put into my checking account is my paycheck. All other checks I receive - a rebate, reimbursement from a friend with whom I've shared an expense, income tax refund, whatever - go into my savings account. Even if the money I receive is replacing money I've taken out of my checking account, <i><b>the rule is the rule.</i></b> I've managed to save a tidy sum this way over the years, and imposed my rule on my husband when we married. He's become a fan of this technique, especially since it enabled us to pay cash for his new va
The Fool: Given a second chance, what financial decision would you like to do over?
ngg: I would start investing for retirement a LOT earlier than I did, and be much more aggressive with my selections! I would not have moved my IRA from the mutual fund I had it in when the market crashed in 87 into an ultra-conservative, principal-cautious instrument - an IRA annuity (Department of Redundancy Department). I was stubborn enough to wait until it had recovered its lost value before transferring it, but I rue the gains I subsequently missed in doing so.
The Fool: Which celebrity or public figure (past or present) do you most look like?
ngg: In years past, different people - sometimes complete strangers - told me I looked like Jane Fonda. I never did see it.<BR><BR>Now, I'm inclined to say Annette Benning, or at least her sister. I have a picture of my sister and me at her wedding (my sister's, of course, I wasn't invited to Benning's ;') ) in which we look like we could both be Annette's sisters.
The Fool: When you aren't working or sitting in front of the computer, what occupies your time?
ngg: You mean there's something else you can do except sit in front of your computer?? ;'D<BR><BR>Seriously, when I'm not surfing the Net (my very favorite pastime), and it's warm enough outside (a couple months out of the year), I enjoy gardening. Ripping weeds out of the flower beds is a wonderful outlet for my frustrations, and planting flowers and watching them add splashes of color to the world soothes my soul.
The Fool: What's your favorite Fool message board?
ngg: Well, that's a tough one. There are SO many wonderful boards here on the Fool. I think Pet Lovers is probably my favorite, the one on which I spend the most time. It's a wonderful place Fools can go to talk about their "children," get advice on problems, share sorrow in the loss of furry friends. I laugh, I cry, I enjoy!<BR><BR>And then there's The Gestalt of Cooking (shameless self-promotion; it's a board I requested). It's a venue for discussion of food - food preparation, food consumption, food nuances. Sometimes we share recipes, but most of us use them only as "general guidelines." The gestalt is the wide range of topics on how cooking and eating fit into our lives.
The Fool: What's the best restaurant you've ever been to? (Include name, location, and average bill for two.)
ngg: That's easy. I LIVE at the Best Restaurant in Ann Arbor. My husband has been evolving into a remarkable gourmet cook, and every night is a culinary delight. (Well, most nights anyway!) He's very creative, delicately balancing textures and tastes of the meals, presenting them beautifully. He's challenged by the fact that I'm NOT a good left-over eater. ("Thank you, I ate that last night, I don't want that any more...) He's capable of preparing a meal entirely of "previously prepared" foods in such a way that I actively enjoy them. There's really no place I'd rather dine! (I'm SO lucky!!)<BR><BR>The cost? The price I have to pay is listening to details of the meal preparation, decisions he's made about combining different ingredients, and bestowing copious compliments and appreciation. A very small price, believe me!<BR><BR>If you're ever going to be in town, send me an email. It may be possible to make reservations. :'}<BR><BR>P.S. Some of his recent creations include Grilled Vegetable Ratatouille (sp?), Seafood Salad Soup, Fruit Salsa (sometimes Roasted Fruit Salsa, dressed with a Balsamic vinegar reduction), Ten-Layer Tortilla Torte, and Southwestern Garbonanza. Yum! Hungry ye
The Fool: Give a short description of your best and/or worst vacation.
ngg: The first vacation my husband and I ever took together, a drive up the coast of California from San Diego to San Francisco. We decided to be free spirits and not bother arranging accommodations en route. Much to our dismay and chagrin, we learned that the Central California State Fair was taking place at the time. We arrived in San Luis Obispo to see sign after sign reading "NO Vacancy," "Sorry," all variants of "No Room at the Inn." Worse, we learned from people who were travelling south that the lodging was booked up all the way to San Francisco. As we retraced our steps driving 40 miles south to Santa Maria in the dark, barely speaking, I found myself considering whether or not I could stand to spend the night in the car. I decided that I could not and suddenly announced that if we were not able to get a motel room, I was going to run out in the highway and get hit by a truck. An ambulance would come and take me to the nearest hospital, where at least I'd have a bed for the night! The ice was broken, and we laughed over the idea of "getting trucked."<BR><BR>Fortunately, we found a motel that didn't say "NO" and were able to get a good night's sleep before continuing our trek northward the following day. We carefully arranged our travel plans so that we'd arrive in Monterey early enough in the afternoon to find lodging. Or so we thought. About 40 miles south of our destination, we found ourselves in bumper-to-bumper traffic travelling at PERHAPS 15 mph. By the time we finally reached Monterey, we encountered the same problem as the night before - sorry, sorry, no. <BR><BR>Grimly, we headed toward Salinas, John Steinbeck's old stomping grounds, and site of several of his novels. And grim it was. After checking into and immediately checking out of one motel (there was mildew on the ceiling and bathroom walls, eee-yuuwww!), we found another that seemed acceptable, then headed back into Monterey for dinner. When we returned several hours later, we were astounded to find the sleepy little town had turned into a teenage playground. For the last several miles back to our room, we felt like we'd stepped into a reprise of American Graffiti, with kids lining the streets, just hanging out, or slowly "dragging Main" (which is apparently all there is to do in small California towns at night). Back at the "ranch," we discovered to our horror that our motel was one of many high school party locations. Until the wee hours of the morning, the music blared and the party-ers noisily came and went (presumably on forays for more beer).<BR><BR>The next morning we gratefully left Salinas and continued to San Francisco, where we had arranged to stay with my brother-in-law and his wife, who were fighting. Their apartment was tiny, and our bed was a futon couch in the living room. Zero privacy and hosts who really wished we weren't there. What a good time. They had "forgotten" what our travel plans were, and had planned to leave on a trip of their own the day before we were scheduled to leave. We ended up taking them to the airport, and we spent our last night on the journey at a hotel nearby.<BR><BR>Without question, this was the worst vacation I've experienced. Oddly, it may also have been the best, since we discovered that we could spend several days together in "hell" and still wanted to be together. That's the true magic in a relationship, you know - being able to stand to look at each other after a really awful day! ;') <BR><BR>BTW, we got married two years later.
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