Thursday, March 28, 2013

How To Be...

All of us wanted to be something when we grew up. Some of us wanted to be lots of things, and, by that, I mean that what we wanted to be changed about as often as we changed our socks. Or underwear. Granted, for some of us (especially the boys) that wasn't as often as it should have been, but that's the way it is when you grow up on a farm, right, and only change your clothes every three or four days and the water in the tub turns brown when you get in. You know, back in the days when you had someone to guard you from wasting time getting clean, since you were only going to go back out and get completely dirty again, right, by saying things to your mother like, "The dirt is good for him." [And, just, by  the way, that's totally true. Science says so! No, seriously, not letting our kids be dirty is one of the big things some scientists are saying is the cause of the rise in things like asthma and allergies and having a weaker immune system in general.]
But I digress...

I wasn't one of those people that changed his mind a lot. I decided sometime between 3 and 4 that I was going to be a paleontologist when I grew up, and that's the only thing I ever wanted to be. Until I got to middle school, that is, and had to research the field rather than just the dinosaurs, and I realized I didn't want to be one after all. I had already discovered that I hated rocks, so that shoved paleontology right out the window when I came to the realization that I would have to know everything about rocks if I wanted to dig up dinosaurs.

The point, though, is that, as I was growing up, I collected a large assortment of books about dinosaurs. Because, you know, back in the day, that's how you did it. Of course, in any scientific field, books become quickly outdated, which was fine when I was a kid, because all I really wanted to do was read about dinosaurs anyway. But, when you're older, you want the most recent data and discoveries.

Which leads me to my next point...

When I abandoned paleontology, I switched to wanting to go into movie special effects, specifically, stop motion photography. Yeah, you can blame Lucas and The Empire Strikes Back. I'm pretty sure the Hoth battle still stands as the most awesome piece of stop motion work ever done. But guess what. There were no books on that stuff, because it was too new. So it became all about the magazines, and I started buying issues dealing with the stuff I was interested in, which, actually, was kind of few and far between, because special effects magazines all had to with makeup and monster masks and stuff. The library wasn't really any help, because they didn't keep those kinds of magazines, and, even if they had them, people were always walking out with them, so, see, the library didn't have them. It made it difficult to keep up with that kind of stuff.

My own kids have never had to deal with any of these kinds of issues because of the miracle of the Internet. Anything they want to be, anything they want to know about, any information they need is available to them. The most recent data, discoveries, experiments, whatever; it's all available without ever having to leave the house and without having to collect a huge collection of books or magazines that become worthless (scientifically) within a couple of years. It's a great and wondrous thing.

And, so, this is my A to Z topic: How To Be... Because, with the web, you can be whatever you want to be!


  1. I'd wish, as a kid, I'd had all the info that's out there now on the internet. What a crazy resource we have these days.
    I always wanted to be an archeologist, until I realized it involved digging in the dirt for next to no money.

  2. Very creative topic!
    I don't think I wavered too much on what I wanted to be over the years. I did minor in music, just never did anything with it professionally until now.
    When it comes to stop motion, I was always fascinated by those Ray Harryhausen movies.

  3. It is a different world. Yesterday on someone's blog they likened this internet age as rivaling the Renaissance and how lucky we are to be a part of it. Kind of true. :)

  4. I didn't know you grew up on a farm. I did too. I have this picture back home of me so covered in dirty that the only clean part of me is a bit of area around my eyes. My gran used to say "A dirty kid is a happy kid"

    I used to pretend I was an archeologist digging for ruins when I was young, but when I discovered biology I switched to neuroscience.

  5. This sounds like an interesting A to Z approach. Yeah, kids today are lucky to have so much info at their disposal. My world was the Funk and Wagnalls Encyclopedia that my mom bought and anything that might show up on TV. We really had to dig, but I guess that helped stir the imagination. Actually kids today have no concept of how fortunate they are as far as accessing information.

    A Faraway View
    An A to Z Co-host blog

  6. We moved around a lot and based on where we lived I wanted to be something else. A farmer in the country, a teacher in the suburbs, an actor as a city gal.

  7. Winopants: I know! It's amazing. We rarely argue over anything factual in our house, because my wife always says, "Just google it," and we know the answer. Just like that. Scary. Make sure you're here on Monday :)

    Alex: Ah, and that makes me think of Monsters, Inc. My kids still don't understand why I laugh at that joke.

    L.G.: I'm not sure I'd go quite that far, yet, but I could see it. We'll just have to wait and see how things develop.

    Anne: I wasn't 100% on the farm. Technically, we lived in the city, but I spent huge amounts of time on my grandparents farm up until I was about 7. All the summers and most weekends, at least. I have nostalgic thoughts of sitting out on the screen porch and shelling peas, if that tells you anything.
    And catching lightning bugs.

    Lee: We had a 1950's encyclopedia set. That was my research material. 30 years out of date and doing reports for school from them. But I didn't really know any better at the time.
    And, no, kids have no idea. I've tried to explain it to my kids, but they just give me blank looks, because they have no basis of understanding.

    randi: Most kids "try on" a lot of different things they want to be. It's pretty normal. I was one of the odd ones.

  8. What a cool A to Z topic!

    I still think back on how I had to do book reports with the Encyclopedia Britannicas in our family room. The internet is truly a wonder :)

  9. Jess: It is. It actually makes going to the library (which we recently had to do for a report my son had to do) for resources suck. You never have to worry about the book you need being checked out from Internet.

  10. Well, it sounds like April is going to be a very interesting month.

    When I was a kid, I dreamed of being an artist, although looking back what I really wanted to be was a cartoonist because I wanted to make pictures and comics and the like. I always loved dreaming up other worlds.

  11. Jeanne: I'm hoping so.

    I never dreamed of being an artist (although I was very good), because that got squashed out of me at a young age.

  12. Great topic. I had this little book that I had when I was a kid where I got to write down what I wanted to be when I grew up. It started in kindergarten and had a place where I could update it every year. It went like this:

    Kindergarten - race car driver
    1st grade - Astronaut
    2nd grade - Incredible Hulk
    3rd grade - Incredible Hulk
    4th grade - Incredible Hulk

    Um, it goes on like that for awhile.

  13. Fun, Andrew! I wanted to be a paleontologist and archaeologist. Funnily enough, I do enjoy learning about geology now, but it was not an interest then.

    Also, I'm a sucker for a book, so I still buy the books of the things they're interested in. ;-p

    Shannon at The Warrior Muse

  14. Rusty: Well, okay, I wanted to be Spider-Man, but I knew Peter Parker was already Spider-Man. And, even if I had been Spider-Man, I would have wanted to be Paleontology Spider-Man.

    But you've given me an idea...

    Shannon: Geology is not quite the same as identifying rocks. If you show me a rock and ask me what kind it is, I'm probably going to say "the rock kind" or "the hard kind" unless it's one of those volcanic one with holes all in it, in which case I will say "the floaty kind."

  15. Hey Andrew, Great topic! I just signed up for the challenge and have no idea what I'm going to write's so true what you say, our obession with 'clean' is, in a way, killing us.
    When I was very small I wanted to be an 'animal doctor' or a figure skater. After that I wanted to be a special effects make up artist. That would have been a great career, but it just didn't pan out..all along, in the background of my thoughts, I wanted to be a writer..still do.
    I'm so glad we don't have to go to the library and check out books any more...although, I love books (my house is full of them!)..but when it comes to accessing info, the internet is where it's at!
    'See' you at the Challenge!

  16. Eve: See, I always wanted to write, but I never thought of it as "what I wanted to be." I thought I'd "be" something else, like a paleontologist, and also write. Of course, I never did any of the writing when I was busy "being" those other things.

  17. Haha, well that works, too. I actually got into geology, especially the movement and formation of the earth, when I had to take a science lab class in college (which I did as an adult, not straight out of high school). There's just so much around me, like Garden of the Gods, that is visible above ground that signifies all the crazy stuff that happened. So yeah, I became a crazy science geek as a grown up. It happens. :p

  18. Shannon: I'm a science geek as long as rocks are not involved. I always enjoyed chemistry and biology much more than the rest, although I find theoretical physics fascinating. More math than I like at this point in my life, though.

  19. What a great topic! I liked your comment on my blog about force to crush an apple. I love physics too, I can't remember much of it : ) Although, like you said if I need to be reminded of something there is always the internet.

    I wanted to grow up to be a mother and teacher or artist.
    Kids Math Teacher

  20. Lucy: Oh, man, now I'm feeling the need to look up that info. And I'm wondering about dropping apples off of buildings. I've only been involved with watermelons.

  21. What you want to become when you grow up was a tricky question that sometimes made me crazy in childhood !

    Be yourself, whatever you become, this is what I would like to tell everyone now since I have 'grown' up :)

    Or is that becoming something or someone 'big' really important ?

    Good post and a beautiful topic, Andrew :)
    You are a genius !

  22. Rajiv: Yeah, figuring out who you are as a person should be the thing that everyone works on first. I think when you know that you come to know what things you like doing and what you're good at.