My daughter Shannon hasn’t decided what she wants to be when she grows up. She has time — she’s only a freshman at Auburn. She’s moved past wanting to be a garbage truck driver (age 3) and a “modeler” (age 6), and even a veterinarian (age 14).
She is now officially “undecided.”
I’ve always encouraged her to think of professions that might not be listed in the college handbook. You know, ice cream taster or a non-attorney spokesperson.
But now I’ve discovered a career that seems both easy and lucrative. Not too many of those around these days.
I’ve decided she should be a researcher. I know what you’re thinking — that I want her to be like me. Sure, she could have a head filled with interesting tidbits such as the world’s oldest chicken (Matilda) lived in Bessemer and the world’s largest bubble gum bubble was blown by a man from Haleyville, Alabama in 2009. Trust me, there is nothing more entertaining then having me as a dinner guest (Yes, that’s a hint).
Shannon might have fun doing that kind of research, like I do. But lucrative? Only if she gets accustomed to a Raman-noodle diet.
There’s another branch of research I’d like Shannon to try: The world of studies-to-determine-things-we-already-knew, which are funded by, you guessed it, federal grant money, i.e., our tax dollars.
It’s this type of study that told the world that sword swallowing can be hazardous to your health – possibly savings tens of … well, tens of people. A $1.2 million study informed us that woodchucks prefer to breed with – wait for it – other woodchucks (as opposed to, say, wooly mammoths).
More recently, a report by Cambridge University students seductively titled, “The evolution of sex-specific immune defences,” alerted us females that men aren’t simply whinier when they are sick. In fact, they are simply sicker than we are. Yep. Of course, the study placed the blame back on the male when it found that “men were more at risk of disease due to adventurous behavioral tendencies” that led them to “develop lower immunocompetence over time than women.” In other words, wearing nothing but body paint to wintertime football games or macking indiscriminately could lead to illness.
Hmmm. I can buy that theory. After all, didn’t Dionne Warwick warn us: “What do you get when you kiss a guy? You get enough germs to catch pneumonia …” That’s all the research I needed, and I paid only the price of an eight-track tape.
Then, on Friday, the Associated Press reported the results of a study from Cornell University researchers who studied people’s Twitter use to determine when they are happiest.
What they found was astonishing: People are happy in the mornings, get crankier as the day wears on, and then are happiest on weekends.
“Scientists” needed to study the tweets of 2.4 million people to determine this? Even then, they used a computer program to search for words that indicated a positive mood. What, then, were the researchers doing? Probably tweeting their friends about how bored they were.
This is why researching could be the perfect job for Shannon. Apparently, though there is not enough federal money for everyone to get proper medical care but there is money to have a bunch of students monitor a social networking site.
Earth to grant-granters: That’s what college students do anyway. They’d do it for free.
But as long as somebody’s getting paid, it might as well be my baby. After all, she has an aging mother to think of. When she graduates, she’s going to need a house with an attached apartment for me — so I don’t have to do maintenance but I can butt into her life as needed. I’ll probably need a new car by then, too.
So she better decide. Right now, the only thing she’s going to be when she grows up is her mama’s roommate.
I bet that will help her make up her mind.