Tuesday, March 17, 2009

A cautionary tale

Since it's St. Patrick's Day, and since St. Patty is the patron saint of Ireland and all, I thought I would give you a little parable. I'm not sure what St. Patrick did, I think it had something to do with snakes and all. Okay, okay, so sue me. I'm Polish, not Irish. St. Casimir* I know, St. Patrick not so much. But I digress.

Back when I was teaching, I used to try and do a lot of activities in my classroom. Part of it is that I myself am a bit ADD, and sitting makes me stir crazy. I hated to inflict that same torture on my students. Another part of this is that when you are learning, activity is fun and interactive and just better in all ways. So anyway. We're learning about Acids and Bases (I taught High School Chemistry. I'll give you a moment to recover your swoon ...) and a big part of that is indicators....how do we know when something is an acid or a base... Many many plants have pigments in them that act as indicators, one of the better known is red cabbage. So I'm all about boiling a cabbage in my house to make indicator.

The procedure is simple...you boil the cabbage for, oh, awhile. Timing is not important. When you get done, the water is this lovely purple color. You pour the water into a container, and use it on all matters and sorts of things to watch it change color and "indicate" (hence the name) the presence of acidic or basic properties. You can do this at home...it's an easy thing to do and lots of fun.

I get done with the boiling and pouring, and I have this cabbage now. I don't mind cabbage, so I butter and salt a little of it and eat it. But I cannot eat a whole cabbage. You may be able to eat a whole cabbage. You are more of a man than I...and you are someone I don't want to spend a lot of time around post-cabbage, if you get my drift. I had to get rid of this cabbage, and so I put it down the garbage disposal.

Now, I WAS thinking...despite all the evidence to the contrary. I thought to myself "yeah, I know I'm not supposed to put fibrous stuff down the disposal, but this is cooked, so I'm all good, right?" Grind away. I don't know why I didn't just throw it in the garbage. Silly question. Obvious, but silly.

The next morning I awake and the first thought in my head is WHAT IS THAT STENCH? I look over at hubby, make a face, mentally note to have a speak at him later about his diet, grab my bookbag and container of red cabbage juice, and trot off to work. When I get home that day, however, the stench is still there. It is worse, if that is possible. That's when I get the idea to look in the basement.

Coming out of the drain in our basement floor is this amazingly beautiful little fiber sculpture made of cabbage....okay, not quite cabbage, more like what is LEFT of the cabbage. It's a pretty lavender color because the cabbage was once red. The rest of my basement floor is COVERED in some unspeakable black goo which has backed up out of the drain (the sewer drain, that is).

24 Hours and $50 spent on a power snake later, I had learned a valuable lesson. One I am sharing with you now. One that comes back to me every St. Patrick's day when I make Corned Beef and Cabbage dinner. A lesson that we all should hold dear to our hearts and never forget.

Never, NEVER, put cabbage down your garbage disposal. If you feel the urge to learn how to play with dangerous and exciting power tools (see above, re: power snake), rent one and play with it. Do not feel as if you must create a situation which requires said tool in order to justify the rental. Just rent it. You don't need a reason.

*St Casimir is the patron saint of Poland and Lithuania. He refused his father's order to lead an army to overthrow the Hungarian empire, and was imprisoned. He died of consumption and his tomb has been the site of miracles.

**Want to look up your favorite saint? www.catholic.org. I kid you not....

1 comment:

Jocelyn said...

I love you Kym...Miss Corliss
(this post totally makes me want to call you Miss Corliss).

Cheers to my favorite Chemistry teacher!

xxoo Jocie