"wait...isn't hawaii next to alaska?"

Yo blogstaz!

So, I was just checkin' my tweets and noticed all these links that start with "tinyurl..." and until today I thought this was some new fangled website with a growing cult following. Then I figured out that its just an abbreviated version of longass urls. I felt a bit foolish, but the embarrassment was short lived because it reminded me of one of my favorite phenomena.

Childhood logic - rediscovered.

Let me explain. I heard a podcast of This American Life awhile back titled "A Little Bit of Knowledge." This episode is about "the pitfalls of knowing just a little bit too little." The entire episode was pretty good, but my favorite part was the first Act. Producer Alex Blumberg explores the common experience of discovering that a basic fact of life that you had worked out with your elementary mind, is actually....not quite accurate.


In the show, Alex interviews a woman who remembers growing up and seeing signs indicating railroad crossings or school crossings that were all marked with the same abbreviation "Xing." She decided that "Xing" was obviously a word and she pronounced it "Zing." When she was in her twenties, she was walking into work with a co-worker, when she noticed a bunch of geese lingering near the road. She turned to her co-worker and said, "They really should put a Zing sign there for the geese." Her co-worker paused for a long time before replying, "You know.....'zing' isn't a word."

Another girl on the show describes the moment when she realized unicorns weren't real. She was having a conversation at a party. She was in her twenties.

Listening to the radio show made me think back to experiences like this in my own life. I couldn't remember any moments as publically humiliating as the ones in the show, but I did remember the time I saw a rare species of oversized birds inhabiting my front yard.

I was about 7 or 8 and I remember being terrified of these birds that were about half as tall as me. They were enormous, black and scary. As I grew up, I developed a debilitating fear of birds. I would often explain to people that as a child I had a number of traumatizing experiences with birds, one of which was walking home from the bus to discover these strange black birds all over my yard. I remember thinking to myself as an adult, "I wonder what kind of birds those were? They looked like crows....but they couldn't have been crows because they were SO big!" It wasn't until after I had told the story many times that I realized that the birds must have seemed so large in my mind because I was only about 3 1/2 feet tall when I first saw them.

One of my good friends from college once told me that for a very long time she thought that Alaska was located next to Hawaii because they are always featured next to each other on maps.

Another friend recently told me that she grew up thinking that the word "pedestrian" was a curse word. When riding in the car with her father, her father would often shout at the annoying people traveling on foot that got in his way, "Pedestrian!" (usually in a strained, frustrated tone - probably trying to avoid using actual curse words). My friend, however, assumed that the word was, in fact, a naughty word. So you can imagine her shock when her elementary school teacher used the word in class one day. When she got home she confided in her mother, "Mom....the teacher said 'pedestrian'."

I am now convinced that everyone has a story like this. Come on, admit it! You should go ahead and share your story in the comment section. And you should listen the the podcast.


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