12 October 2010

How to make a peanut butter sandwich

7 Small Shawls: T - 79 days and counting down.

When I was a kid, we moved twice in the middle of school years. The second time, when i was in 5th grade, I landed in a combined 5th/6th grade class taught by Mr. Glose. I remember his favorite green polyester leisure suit (sounds worse than it actually was), and his big mustache. I also remember an assignment he gave us: write the exact instructions for making a peanut butter sandwich. When we had written up the assignment, he paired us off. Each pair switched instructions and we all nervously sat and waited our turns. Out came loaves of Wonderbread and jars of Skippy peanut butter. I was overjoyed. At my house, we only ate Laura Scudders natural peanut butter and Oroweat whole wheat bread. I couldn't wait!

The first pair started out poorly. Since there was no specific sentence saying to open the jar of peanut butter, the boy who had written the instructions was forced to try to complete the next instruction: put knife in peanut butter jar. We all found out how very tough a jar lid could be, and then we quickly went over our own instructions trying to make sure we had included everything. After that initial disaster, things went smoother.
But why am I telling you this? I've been thinking about it every time I work on a pattern, and particularly this one: Shawl #4. It's an incredibly simple beginning. So simple that I didn't actually see the instructions when I wrote them out. I thought I did, but in reality, I was seeing what I knew to be the correct way to knit the shawl. I automatically corrected the pattern in my head so that it made sense. :sigh: Thank the FSM for test knitters who see what is there. :) And back to editing for me!

Oh, and the Wonderbread and Skippy? Yuck and double yuck. It stuck to the roof of my mouth and I never ate it again!



Blogger norabrown said...

And what do I walk away with from this reading....How cool that you grew up in a home that ate whole foods back when few knew about them. Where you parents part of an elite group that was into the whole "natural" movement"?

That's how I raised my kids and for the most part they left home and rebelled and eat mostly junk. One of my 4 still eats very healthy.

5:37 AM  
Anonymous Lisa E. said...

My 5th & 6th grade teacher (also a combined classroom) did the same exercise, for a peanut butter and jelly sandwich. However, she collected our instructions and followed them herself in front of the class, so we didn't have a chance to make any corrections. Mine was one of, I think, 2 actual, complete PB&J sandwiches in the class -- and I don't even like peanut butter. :)

I found this to be quite useful in my days as a tech writer, too. Amazing what simple steps an 'expert' will miss in writing their own instructions for an application, simply because it's become second nature to them.

7:09 AM  
Blogger Lanafactrix said...

Once, when I was very small (probably three), I sat on a loaf of Wonderbread at the grocery store. This was partly because it was so comfy, but also, I wanted to eat it. (All we ate at my house was whole wheat.)

Of course my mother bought it, and of course I thought it was gross!

10:01 AM  
Anonymous Fae said...

Love your analogy!

btw, it was the Wonderbread that caused your trauma, not the PB. All normal grocery store white breads stick to the roof of my mouth. :-P

5:36 PM  
Blogger Yarnhog said...

Note to self: be sure to specify "open the jar."

6:49 PM  
Anonymous lv2knit said...

You are so right and such a great analogy!!

5:27 AM  

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