Lesson #304: Lefthandedness

Sometimes, I learn things that if I’d ever stopped to consider just for a moment, I could probably have deduced on my own.

Today, I learned that lefthandedness is genetic*, and therefore, hereditary (which I’d never thought about, but is totally obvious).

Of course, in thinking further on this, I’m struggling to remember who my lefthanded friends are** and am therefore having a hard time remembering whether their parents/siblings/children are also lefties.

More about the lefthandedness gene here and here.

*Which, if you’ve taken a biology class past grade four, duh.

**Autobiographical note: oddly, though only 10-15% of the population are lefties, there was a point in my life where slightly more than half the guys I’d dated were lefties. I’m not sure what that says about me. 

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Lesson #284: The Third Anniversary

Today, my (totally awesome) cousin in a major Canadian city and her (almost equally awesome) husband are celebrating their third anniversary. Their wedding remains one of the best parties I’ve ever attended.*

I learned by accident from one of her friends that the traditional gift for the third anniversary is leather.

Don’t think our friends and I aren’t puerile enough to make completely inappropriate jokes about this.

That said, a very happy third anniversary to the Cheesedoodles. CHEESEDOODLES 4EVA!

*It’s really fun to play dress-up sometimes! There’s a particularly entertaining (and totally classy) picture of me in my maid of honour ensemble dancing with one of our friends/their groomsmen in which I’m holding a bottle of beer behind his back that is still one of my favourite pictures of me ever because it’s pretty much the definitive “me” photograph. The wedding was a very classy affair at a very nice private venue, but this was taken towards the end of the night when my cousin and I had given up all pretense of being classy for our (much classier) parents!

Lesson #261: The Sibling Digression

A college friend of mine (whom I visited in Amman in the spring, but is now living in Cairo) sent me a link today that I found wholly timely given the post the other day about my brother’s and my divergent sports fandoms. But there’s more than just that. Our personalities are shockingly different.

The article addresses exactly that. Despite growing up in the same family, siblings are not that much closer in terms of personality than if one were to pick two random people out of a population. There are three theories for this:

1. Divergence. Based on competition. When we were kids, my brother and I both played soccer football. I was good. He was better. When we moved to the US, the soccer and swim seasons were the same, so I had to choose between them and since I was always a much better swimmer than footballer (and probably to some degree because my brother never particularly took to the water), I chose swimming.

2. Non-Shared Environment Theory. The idea behind this is that because siblings have different ages, things happen for them within the family at different times. Like a death or divorce or a particularly hard time. In all honesty, the only way in which I can speak to that (given that I have two parents who are less than 6 months away from their 35th anniversary) is that my brother’s severe asthma made things more complicated for him when he was younger. There were times when he got very sick. I was a healthy kid, so I had absolutely no shared experience in that regard.

3. Exaggeration. Essentially, comparisons between siblings exacerbate a minute difference. My brother is as smart, if not smarter, than I am, but I always did better in school. We’re both introverts, but I’m far more social.

Anyway, the  full article is here and it’s very interesting.

Lesson #155: Russian Royalty

Sometimes my lessons come out of conversations I have with friends. Today’s lesson comes out of the fact that a sportswriter friend of mine in the Texas capital watched The Queen today and started the conversation — as conversations between us are wont to do — practically in the middle of it. “The fact about Charles at the bottom blows my mind.”

He sent me the wiki link to the list of monarchs by age. Elizabeth is the oldest monarch in British history. Well, in modern British history, but the likelihood that she was outlived by some medieval king is pretty low.

Anyway, this got us on to the length of time for which a monarch has ruled.*And the next thing I know, we’re reading about who is in line for the throne. King Olav V of Norway is 63rd in line. We decided it would be kind of awesome (though probably a conflict of interest) to be King of both Norway and the UK. The King of Sweden, King Carl XVI Gustav, is 195th in line. Queen Margarethe of Denmark is 224th.

Best of all was the discovery that Russia still has royalty. His comment, “I knew some of them had gotten out of that basement.”** The Russian royalty,  Her Imperial Highness The Grand Duchess of Russia and her son His Imperial and Royal Highness The Grand Duke of Russia (who is also, apparently the Prince of Prussia), are 112 and 113th in line to the throne. Apparently their claim to royalty is disputed (understandably, one feels), but for some reason it all strikes me as pretty awesome. But take that with a grain of salt…I have a weird fascination with Russia.

All told, Wiki lists 1500 people as heirs.

*Victoria wins that one for the next five years.

**That comment pretty much sums up why we’re friends.

Lesson #138: Families in Wadi Rum

Bedouin moving camels in Wadi Rum*

We decided to head down to Wadi Rum and camp out in a bedouin camp overnight. We met some fellow travelers (a Dutch guy, his French girlfriend and a South African guy) at the hotel in Petra who were going our same direction, so we decided to give them a lift, which made that bit of drive even more fun. It’s always nice to have a bit of variety…and a break from the people you’ve been traveling with for a week.

Wadi Rum is one of the most beautiful places I’ve ever seen. It’s this gorgeous former river valley cum desert of unique rocks and red sand. I climbed one rock bridge in my bare feet at the insistence of our Bedouin guide!

Unfortunately, though it was sunny in the morning, it got cloudy in the afternoon and just after dark, the thunderstorms rolled in. Personally, I love thunderstorms in the desert, but my campmates were less enthusiastic. However, the storms meant that we missed seeing the fire sand of the sunset. Next time…it’s definitely a place I would go back to.

Anyway…the whole point of this post is how much we learned about the modern Bedouin culture from our hosts. Now, they don’t speak much English, so our whole conversation with them was run through my friend in Amman who is fluent in Arabic. They loved her! They taught us about slow cooking meat in a pit covered in a blanket and sand and told us about what it’s like to grow up in the Wadi** and mostly about their family lives.

The guy who was serving us our dinner said that he’d been out at the camp all day and hadn’t seen his family and that he was very lonely without them. We, all of us being westerners who are a. much more embracing, as a culture, of the familial diaspora and more importantly b. all individuals who seek out new experiences and don’t live all that close to our families,*** were shocked by that. Twelve hours without his family and he was missing them so much that he had to put a phone call in to them after dinner. But we also understood how different a culture we were raised in. His family have been driving camels across the desert for thousands of years, so he hasn’t had the luxury of turning up in the desert and making new friends with whoever just randomly happens to be there. His friends are his family in the literal sense. I get lonely without my friends.

*Please don’t steal my picture. By which I mean, the picture is mine and you have no rights to it, so keep your mitts off it!

**I could live without the internet access (I think) but not having access to a library would kill me. But then again, if I’d grown up in a culture where the focus is less on learning and more on survival, I imagine my impressions would be different.

***The Dutch guy, French girl and the South African we picked up in Petra live in Israel, my friend lives in Amman, I live in Europe somewhere for the time being and even when I didn’t, was still living 1500 miles from my family. Even the Devastatingly Gorgeous Dutch Guy and his girlfriend, who were born and raised out on the border with Germany, live in Amsterdam now.