Tuning Up

How can you tell if it is National Science and Engineering Week?

Here are some helpful pointers:
1. Students arrive to your afternoon lessons wearing a suspiciously large amount of custard.
2. Plants disappear mysteriously when an overexcited science teacher spots an opportunity to dip them in liquid nitrogen and smash them to bits.
3. Your regular customers disappear from your lunchtime ICT club. They reappear later looking very sick after attending a marshmallow and spaghetti tower building eating event.

Tonight it was my turn to actually contribute to the fun and games. We held a STEM* Club Superstars event where teams of parents competed against students in a series of challenges. The challenges included building towers, constructing model cars and making marble runs. There was a surprisingly difficult chemistry challenge in which an acid and alkali were mixed to make a neutral (or not-so-neutral) solution. My bit involved making gigantic Mobius strips. It was brilliant fun and the parents and kids were unbelievably competitive.

My list of jobs for the STEM Superstars was pretty simple:
1. Be there (easy)
2. Bring stuff for Mobius strips (also easy, it took seconds and seconds to sort that out)
3. Provide cheesey music (easy – I seem to own a lot of music that answers to this description)

Now some people might take umbrage at being asked to provide cheesey music, but being slow on the uptake I never even noticed the implied slur on my lack of musical taste until someone pointed it out. I diligently performed task 3, I ripped music from CDs onto my laptop and created a nicely cringeworthy playlist. Actually it was quite nostalgic, it reminded me of all those terrible compilation tapes I used to make as a teenager.

So that was it, job done, mentally ticked off. Except of course my bloody laptop died on Tuesday, taking my STEM Superstars compilation with it. I didn’t even think about the cheesey chunes until this morning, if I had remembered earlier I could have sorted it, but this morning was really too late. Oh no. Pants. Large pants. Very large pants. No music. Fortunately St Dellboy of the iPod came to the rescue and we went mad at lunchtime with her rather extensive music collection. Suddenly I seem to have iTunes and I’m feeling very modern, quite 21st century in fact. Woo hoo.

I’ve never really got into downloading music, partly because I like record shops, but mainly because I don’t have an iPod. It’s the earphones that have stopped me from buying one. I can’t stand the in-ear things, they just don’t fit my ears, they are incredibly uncomfortable and they fall out. I thought I was the only person in the world with weird ears, but it seems I am not alone. I used to wear hilarious cyberman headphones when I listened to my old CD player, but that was before I started wearing glasses everyday. Cyberman headphones + glasses = bloomin’ uncomfortable. Silence is golden, so they say.

Anyway, I arrived at tonight’s event with my shiny new laptop, with my shiny new iTunes software and my hastily assembled compilation of cheesey old songs. I felt very proud of myself. I stepped back and waited to be congratulated.

“Why have you done all that?” said N, “Sorting the music was my job. It’s all set up already.”


* STEM = Science Technology Engineering Maths. Yes, yet another acronym.

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