2011.04.13 My mind is your mind

Written by David Green.

By COLLEEN LEDDY

For several weeks now, I’ve been reading Malcolm Gladwell’s book, “What the Dog Saw: and other adventures.” It’s probably been more like several months that I’ve been flipping through its 400 pages, but I only pick it up sporadically. (I’m a slow reader, but not that slow.) It’s a fascinating book that explores the most intriguing of topics.

The book is a compilation of essays that previously appeared in The New Yorker magazine where Gladwell is a staff writer. Gladwell gives the inside story on more than 20 ordinary topics such as hair dye, the Showtime Rotisserie and the Veg-O-Matic, dog training, job interviews, pit bulls, and ketchup. 

Ever wonder why our grocery stores have loads of offerings in the mustard department and not so much for ketchup?

In 20 pages, Gladwell will have you riveted and more interested in ketchup than you’d ever want to be. Without even knowing it, he’ll offer the key to understanding why your daughter Maddie went from eating everything as a toddler, but then became an incredibly picky eater.

And he doesn’t go into it, but his ketchup article makes you realize why we have a mustard museum in this country—it used to be in Mt. Horeb, Wis., but now it’s in Middleton, Wis., and called the National Mustard Museum—but not a ketchup museum.

Although...there was this one link on a Google search that had me going for a minute...

Planetpasadena.net, the joke website of Mildred and Violet Planettino, mentions the Pasadena Museum of Ketchup, the Tournament of Ketchup Parade, and the Young People's Ketchup Social, sponsored by St. Didley’s Parish Church.

Gladwell researches everyday kind of topics, ones that most people can relate to, ones that even if you haven’t ever wondered about them before, you are now intrigued by them. He has an amazing curiosity about such a diverse array of topics and his writing just pulls you in.

But the second paragraph of his preface just shocked me. I didn’t read the preface until I’d read about a third of the essays. I often don’t read the preface or introduction of books at all, but this one started with “When I was a small child” and I just figured if Gladwell was so interesting as an adult, he must have been quite a kid.

But he was just working his way up to explaining how his curiosity about the interior life of human beings developed. 

Gladwell explains that “One-year-olds think that if they like Goldfish Crackers, then [their parents] must like them too: “they have not grasped the idea that what is inside their head is different from what is inside everyone else’s head.”

When kids realize that others might not necessarily like what they like, “that moment is one of the great cognitive milestones of human development.”

Two-year-olds are so terrible, Gladwell says, because they are “systematically testing the fascinating and...utterly novel notion that something that gives [them] pleasure might not actually give someone else pleasure—and the truth is that as adults we never lose that fascination.”

Arrested development? That’s what explains my over-protective mothering instincts? I’ve mentioned before that if I’m cold I think my kids must be cold so I want them to wear hats and gloves, but it never occurred to me that my reasoning is rooted in a lack of adequate brain development.

I pretty much think if I like something, others will too. I kind of have a vague inkling that I am sometimes weird and that my mind operates differently, but I still think people will embrace ideas and thoughts with as much enthusiasm as I do. And, I’m always left shaking my head when they don’t. 

And, now, I know, thanks to Gladwell’s explanation of a two-year-old’s brain, there’s no cause for the head shaking—unless it could shake some sense into my deluded brain.

  • Front.train
    WRECKAGE—Morenci Fire Department member Taylor Schisler walks past the smoking wreckage of a semi-truck tractor on the north side of the Norfolk and Southern Railroad tracks on Ranger Highway. The truck trailer was on the south side of the tracks
  • Front.sculpta
    SCULPTORS—Morenci third grade students Emersyn Thompson (left) and Marissa Lawrence turn spaghetti sticks into mini sculptures Friday during a class visit to Stair District Library. All Morenci Elementary School classes recently visited the library to experience the creative construction toys purchased through the “Sculptamania!” project, funded by a Disney Curiosity Creates grant. The grant is administered by the Association for Library Services to Children, a division of the American Library Association.
  • Funcolor
    LEONIE LEAHY was one of three local hair stylists who volunteered time Friday at the Morenci PTO Fun Night. Her customer, Aubrey Sandusky, looks up at her mother while her hair takes on a perfect match to her outfit. Leahy said she had a great time at the event—nothing but happy clients.
  • Shadow.salon
    LEARNING THE ROPES—Kristy Castillo (left), co-owner of Mane Street Salon, works with Kendal Kuhn as Sierra Orner takes a phone call. The two Morenci Area High School juniors spent Friday at the salon as part of a job shadowing experience.
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    IN THE FIELD—2004 Morenci graduate Kayse Onweller works in a test plot of wheat in Texas. She’s part of Bayer CropScience’s North American wheat breeding program based in Nebraska, where she completed post-graduate work in plant breeding and genetics.
  • Front.winner
    REFEREE Camden Miller raises the hand of Morenci Jr. Dawgs wrestler Ryder Ryan as his opponent leaves the mat in disappointment. Morenci’s youth wrestling program served as host for a tournament Saturday morning to raise money for the club. Additional photos are on the back page.
  • Front.bank.2
    SHERWOOD STATE Bank opened its Fayette office at a grand opening Friday morning, drawing a large crowd to view the renovated building. Above, Burt Blue talks to teller Cindy Funk, while his wife, Jackie, looks around the new office. The Blues missed the opening and took a quick tour on Tuesday. Few traces remain of the former grocery store and theater, however, part of the original brick wall still shows in the hallway leading to the back of the building. The drive-through window should be ready for customers later in the month.
  • Front.make.three
    FROM THE LEFT, Landon Wilkins, Ryan White and Logan Blaker try out their artistic skills Saturday afternoon at the Morenci PTO’s first Date to Create event. More than 50 people showed up to create decorated planks of wood to hang from rope. The event served as a fund-raiser for miscellaneous PTO projects. Additional photos are on the back of this week’s Observer.

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