What I’ve Learned in Four Weeks

I’ve learned that I can still work for 10 or 12 hours at a stretch. Hurray!
I’ve learned – again! – that I’m not very sharp after I do. Boo!
But all is not lost, even for a slow learner.
Herewith, my other learnings from the last month.

I’ve learned that it’s remarkable what you can learn from sitting in front of a TV in a semi-stupor. I mean, did you know that there’s a National Sleep Foundation? And that they have an official pillow?

I’ve learned that you should never run for President of the United States. Pretty sure that’s an absolute truth.

But if you don’t believe that, at least trust me on this one: Do not ““ I say again, Do Not ““ participate in any televised debates. Those moderators/interviewers/interrogators are brutal. 

“In 1994 you proposed ‘X’ but today you say ‘Y.’ What changed?”

Yikes. In 22 years? Are you kiddin’ me? What hasn’t changed?

But it isn’t all big national learnings: Some of it is local.

I’ve learned that Horry County is pronounced “Orry” by those who live here.

I’ve learned that it’s not as much fun as you might imagine to see the name of your county, however you pronounce it, on a tornado warning message on the TV.

I’ve learned that South Carolinians who serve the public are remarkably engaging: The nicest people you could hope to meet anywhere.

I’ve learned that sometimes local learnings highlight the national ones. For example, I’ve learned that guys from New York and New Jersey aren’t quite as engaging as the locals around here.

Donald Trump + Chris Christie = An overload of obnoxious

And although it seems like it, it isn’t all TV-based learning: Some of it is from outdoors.

I’ve learned that South Carolina is warm and wet, or cold and dry. At least in February. At least this year.

I’ve learned that there are turtles in the artificial ponds beside our rented apartment. They come out when it’s warm and dry. I’ve seen them twice.

And some of the learning is indoors, but from the printed word.

I’ve learned that The Lord of the Rings is still great, even in the small bits I read before I fall asleep.

“Always after a defeat and a respite, the Shadow takes another shape and grows again.”
“I wish it need not have happened in my time,” said Frodo.
“So do I,” said Gandalf, “and so do all who live to see such times. But that is not for them to decide. All we have to decide is what to do with the time that is given to us.”

And I’ve learned that Darwin was sometimes harsh, back in his time. Of the marine iguanas in the Galapagos, he wrote, “It is a hideous-looking creature, of a dirty black colour, stupid and sluggish in its movements.”

Two marine iguanas rubbing noses.

Hideous-looking, eh? I dunno. They seem to get a kick out of each other.

Maybe Darwin was feeling a little cranky.

Maybe he needed an official pillow.

Maybe he just needed a little more time with the one he had.

I can relate.



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8 Responses to What I’ve Learned in Four Weeks

  1. Tom Watson says:

    A lot of interesting learnings, Isabel. You mention being able to work for 10 to 12 hours at a stretch, but at the end you’re not all that sharp.

    There was a very interesting segment on CBC TV’s program Marketplace this past week. It had to do with many medical residents in Canadian hospitals working 22 to 24 hour shifts, and the effects on them by the end of those shifts. It can be found at

    On another subject, if you want my vote The Hobbit and The Lord of The Rings trilogy is, arguably, the best literature ever!

    Okay, taking your lead and not wishing to wear myself out, I am reminded that not long from now, a nap summoneth!

    Cheers, Isabel.

    • Isabel Gibson says:

      Tom – Yeah, I don’t want a doctor deciding what to do to me if they haven’t had enough sleep. It seems like a crazy way to run a hospital. Enjoy your nap!

  2. Jim Taylor says:

    Ye, I’ve done those 16-hour days, when the printer’s deadline loometh, and everyone else hath either worn out or taken sick leave. You have to become a plodding, methodical, machine — not unlike computer coding, but much slower. I’ve done it………. but I’d rather not have to do it again………..
    Jim T

    • Isabel Gibson says:

      Jim T – I have no excuse. I know better than to push past 10 hours (or, these days, more like 8), but deadlines loom.

  3. Jim Taylor says:

    Maybe I should add a PS. It’s possible to do long shifts — whether 16-hour days or four-week intensives — without making mistakes. But it’s not possible to do them and retain inspiration and creativity.

  4. Marion says:

    I’ve also learned recently that I can still work for 10 or 12 hours at a stretch; but also that I cannot sit (or sit/stand, to forestall the standing desk recommendations) for the requisite period. I imagine a future where I can do some yoga stretches or a treadmill session, if a stroll about the neighbourhood isn’t possible, while writing and editing on a Google Glass sort of setup with voice commands. Now THAT would be productivity.

    • Isabel Gibson says:

      Marion – Yes, at the end of the day I had to pull myself out of my decidedly unergonomic dinette suite chair. I wonder about those super slow treadmill desks, but have never even seen one, much less tried it.

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