July 31, 2008 question

The man of the forest is the orangutan. Yeah, that’s right, the “orang” in his name has nothing to do with his color. It’s just the Malay word for man. Of course, the Malay people are typically very round and juicy, so you can draw your own conclusions. But I’ll allow no such flexibility on today’s question, which branches off of yesterday’s in a “rhymes with orang” kind of way. Here’s the question:

According to Merriam-Webster’s dictionary, the primary pronunciation of orangutan rhymes with:

A) Tan
B) Tang
C) Ton

And orange-flavored kudos to Andrew, Heather M (the M stands for Malay Is My Fourth Language), Karen M (the M stands for Misty Gorillas), and Charles for knowing all about the sometimes orange, sometimes reddish, and sometimes maroon orangutan.

July 30, 2008 question

An Andean Condor can fly three (and a half) miles high (or about 18,000 feet). That is really high. If you’re not a condor, you don’t want to be caught alive that high (being caught dead there would be fine . . . I mean, you’re already dead, what’s gonna happen?).

Anyway, I think I have a question or two left from my visit to the zoo, so let’s see who really reigns supreme in the animal trivia kingdom:

What animal’s name is derived from the Malay word for “man of the forest”?

Oh, and I can’t forget to give credit to those who knew the condor’s altitudinous limits:

Frank
Andrew
Heidi

Your brains are soaring. . . . You, um, might want to get that checked.

July 29, 2008 question

The only mammal parasite is the Vampire Bat, although Karen H pointed out that in some cases a conjoined twin is classified as parasitic. But since that doesn’t really span an entire species of mammal, I’ll give sole credit to Andrew, who really knows his bloodsuckers.

Speaking of bloodsuckers . . . geez, I could put just about anybody here and really deliver a knockout insult. But I’m going to refrain, because I’m really not that vindictive of a person. Some of you may be wondering that as you’ve seen your name accidentally left off of the trivia winners list when you KNOW you got the answer correct. Well, let me assure you: I didn’t mean to withhold credit from you. And even if I did, I wouldn’t tell you. I’m not that upfront of a person, either. Be that as it may (and believe me, it may) here’s today’s zoo question:

How many miles high can an Andean Condor fly?

July 28, 2008 question

I’m not sure why I worded the question as I did, but as a result of the confusion, I’ll accept 0 or 1 month as a right answer for Friday’s question. Adolf and Eva were married for about a day until self-inflicted death parted them.  Here’s who knew it wouldn’t last:

Heather M (the M stands for Matrimony Has Never Been So Unholy)
Elena
Mike K (the K stands for Knot Not Tied Very Long)
Karen M (the M stands for Marriage Made In . . . A Bunker Way, Way Down There)

And on that cheery note, we segue seamlessly into the trivial world of stuff I learned on my trip to the zoo. Here’s the first in what promises to be a very short series of questions:

What is the only mammal considered to be a parasite?

Pressure

Colin and I went walking yesterday through the subdivision to the south of ours. It’s called “Abercrombie Woods,” which implies the appropriate amount of neauveau riche pretention. The houses are quite impressive and nice looking, but not to the point that you feel like you need written permission to stroll along the sidewalks. The houses are arranged quite pleasantly in a manner that at least gives the appearance of preserving the natural state of things. It’s a very quiet neighborhood with a lot of tall trees and a manmade creek that traipses clumsily into twin ponds separated by a somewhat steep, heavily wooded embankment. All in all, it’s a great place for a walk.

And although I have absolutely nothing against the people who live there (eveyone I’ve met seems genuinely delightful) a feeling of uneasiness struck me about halfway through the walk as I noticed for the 342nd time how almost every landscape is so impeccably maintained. The word that came to mind was pressure. What immense pressure every resident must feel to uphold the standard of outward perfection. How their hearts must backfire with terror when a weed infiltrates their rose bushes or a brick gets dislodged from its pristinely paved settlement french curving around the patio garden. Going on vacation must induce immeasurable stress, never knowing if the neighbors are keeping too close an eye on your browning, dissheveled lawn while you and your family are trying to relax in Bermuda. That can’t be fun.

It soon hit me that the unyielding pressure for perfection is not at all confined to one neighborhood or even one type of neighborhood. It’s everywhere. Last Christmas I discussed the idea that a big and boisterous Christmas is perfectly wonderful despite the common theory that it represents materialism and self-promotion at its worst. And here in the middle of July I knew for certain that the holly jolly excess of Christmas is a miniscule novelty compared to the proud perennial peacock parade of everyday life. This, the daily struggle to show our just-right status (never too low, but also steering clear of too grand) is the true definition of a garish display of depravity.

It’s just never enough to be God’s creatures that enjoy where we live and who we are. We have to spend all our time eliminating anything that would expose us as imperfect and compiling all the stuff that renders us superficially special.

I was saddened to be a part of the problem (even though I’m especially terrible at playing the game . . . perfection does not become me) until I came across the first of the two Abercrombie ponds. I looked for a crane that is always bathing leisurely in a watery spot set far back from the walking path but still clearly visible to even my nearsighted naked eyes. I forgot about society for a second and decided to lift Colin out of his stroller to get a closer look at one of the coolest birds I’ve ever seen in the wild.

Carrying Colin, I gingerly stepped over the rocks that covered a big black corrugated plastic pipe connecting the twin ponds, and tried to silently step along the steep grassy bank. As I broke out my phone/camera and neared the large bird, it sensed my presence. It wasn’t startled, but it was too proud to be photographed by a commoner like myself. So it reared its graceful head high, pointed its slender dagger of a beak toward the sky and unfolded its wings like two sails. The take off was far from effortless. The force exerted by each powerful wingstroke was audibly impressive as I heard the air disturbance echo off of the surrounding trees. The crane didn’t go far. It glided away for just a moment and then swooped back to the lofty top of a tree overlooking the pond.

From its haughty perch, the crane looked down at me as if waiting for me to leave it alone. It wasn’t afraid of me, it just preferred not to mingle with the likes of us. And then a little ray of truth connected us in a gaze of realization. This crane, a graceful picture of regal elegance, didn’t have to manufacture its status. It was beautiful in its own right. It didn’t need a lawn or a patio or a brick-faced house. It didn’t need designer labels, cute shoes, highlights, power tools, muscle cars, or witty words. It was awesome as it was. And it felt no pressure to be anything more.

So I’ll keep trying not to pretend that I’m anything better than what I am. I’m God’s kid, a sinner, redeemed by His grace. Anything I add to the picture will only cheapen it.

July 25, 2008 question

Man, I can’t sneak anything past you. Here’s who knew that the mystery couple was Archie and Jughead:

Paul C (the C stands for Cutting Room Floor)
Heather M (the M stands for Maybe Betty)
Andrew
Karen M (the M stands for Maybe Veronica)
Steve T (the T stands for Teenage Wasteland)
Micaela
Mathias
Jacqueline
Karen H (the H stands for Hey, Meathead)
Charles

Today’s duo is slightly less comedic. Here it is:

For how many months were Adolf Hitler and Eva Braun married?

July 24, 2008 question

Ken Carson and Barbie Roberts became just friends in 2004 shortly before Aussie/Cali surfer dude Blaine shot the curl into the world of plastic leggie doll-o-dramas. Islem, Kristin, and . . . Kyle? knew that tidbit about Ken. You should be proud.

Really. Don’t be ashamed. Not at all.

. . . Anyway, before the next gruesome twosome question, I just thought I’d take a moment to ask this political sidebar question: Why is Barack Obama already acting like he’s president? Here’s my political sidebar answer: because, setting aside whatever feelings anyone may have about his politics or his stances on the issues or the favorable media bias, the guy is good. It’s gonna be real hard for John McCain to beat Obama in this battle between Scottish and Irish. Obama is convincingly playing the part of president, and John McCain is convincingly playing the part of Bob Dole.

Please don’t interpret this as endorsement (and don’t interpret that as a denouncement), but I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: Barack Obama is the next president of the United States. Here’s today’s question:

What are the more popular names of Archibald Andrews and Forsythe Pendleton Jones III?

July 22, 2008 question

Dick Grayson was the first Robin. Anybody could have told you that. And by “anybody,” I mean:

Paul C (the C stands for Caped Crusader And Star Of The Dark Knight)
Islem
Robbie

Well done, dynamic . . . trio. Unfortunately, we have no time to celebrate your glory (or the fact that Paul C really is in the new Batman movie and is therefore linked to Kevin Bacon by two degrees–Paul C was in The Dark Knight with Gary Oldman; Gary Oldman was in Murder in the First with Kevin Bacon). No, we have to react to the story that Mattel won their case against the makers of Bratz, since the designer who created these darling Barbie-trouncers was a Mattel employee at the time the dollz were dreamed up. So, here it is, in honor of the victors, the next question in the series of famous duos:

What is the last name of Barbie’s ex-boyfriend Ken?

Women

Dear Adam,

Is there anything we can do better?

Thanks in advance for your help,

Women, Everywhere

Dear Omnipresent Females,

You’ve GOT to be kidding me. I won’t even ask if this is a trick question. I won’t marvel at the fact that you all seemed to come to such a simple consensus. I won’t suggest that you did so on that not-too-rare occasion when all the women in the world made a trip to the ladies’ room together. I won’t fall victim to one of the classic blunders (nor will I get involved in a land war in Asia or go in with a Cicilian when death is on the line). I won’t make the mistake of lumping all women together in a single criticism. I won’t take the bait and expose myself to ridicule from half the world. I won’t make the lethal assumption that a request for constructive criticism is anything but an opportunity to say how much I love everything about you.

Not this time. No thanks. Not now. Not ever. I hope that helps,

Adam

P.S. Wait. I just thought of something. Here’s one thing: I’ve said before that I don’t think people should talk on their cell phones while driving. You and your male counterparts aren’t listening to me, and I’ve come to grips with that. What I don’t understand, however, is what happens when the drive comes to an end before the call does . . . women are unwilling to get out of the car until ending the conversation that began while driving. I’ve seen it time and time again.

I’ve seen women who feel comfortable zipping around a triple-trailer semi while talking on their mobile phones. I’ve seen women texting while merging into 70 mph traffic. I’ve witnessed the phenomenon of eating and putting on makeup while talking on the phone and dodging falling boulders. But I’ve never seen a woman get out of the car before ending her call. It just doesn’t happen. Y’all can be racing to get to your destination, but you’ll go no further than taking off your seatbelt before saying goodbye and depositing the cell into the cavernous recesses of your purse.

I presume the conversation goes something like this: “Okay, I’m here. I should go.” And if you’re talking to a woman, she says, “Oh, okay. I’ll let you go. Bye.” Because she understands your predicament. You’re caught behind the wheel, and there’s nothing you can do. You have to end the call before you die of residual carbon monoxide poisoning. She’s a good friend.

So it’s safe and kosher to talk while driving, but it’s altogether reckless and/or improper to get out of the car before ending your call? I think not. So here’s my advice. Go ahead and get out of the car. Tell your friend you’re doing it before it happens, just so she can be on the alert in case your worst fears are realized. I don’t know what fears those are, but whatever it is has kept you immobilized. Fear not, women of the earth. You don’t have to hang up to get out of your cars.

Thanks for asking,
Adam