Friday, October 2, 2009

What's Really Wrong With Education In America (Zombie Edition)

As I mentioned before, the college near our house has begun construction of a huge building. Initially, I was concerned about obvious problems: my house shaking; a jackhammer assault on my eardrums; massive earthmoving machines making noises like BOOM (I dropped something!), BEEP BEEP BEEP (I'm backing up!),  and SQUEAK (Oilcan!).  But after the first few days, most of the equipment and related noise moved behind my neighbor's house, and since it happens to be the house of the one neighbor I actively dislike, I have mostly been sitting in my nice quiet house and marveling at how divine Karma can be.

But then a representative from the college rang our bell and personally invited us to the new building's groundbreaking ceremony. It sounds great - food from the locally-renowned* catering department! Um, speeches! And, this being Seattle in October, you can enjoy it all in the rain! Two issues prevent my attendance:
  1. The ceremony starts at 3pm on Monday, because there's no place else a suburban house occupant might need to be at 3pm on a weekday. Why don't you just print, "Parents of school-age children not welcome" right on the invitation?
  2. I'm starting to make progress reading World War Z, and, well - before you break that ground, are you sure you know what might come out? Because (SPOILER ALERT) the zombie vaccine doesn't work, and never did.
Normally, I would assume a high-caliber educational institution such as our neighbor would be aware of issue number two, but in light of the whole 3pm on a weekday thing, I'm thinking maybe someone hasn't done their homework after all.

Fortunately, I am doing my homework, and lots of it. I downloaded an audiobook to my iPod to see if I like experiencing books that way. The book I chose is Breathers: A Zombie's Lament, which I began listening to on my morning walk today.

It's a good thing, too. Chapter two explains that zombies live longer if they re-animate after embalming - evidently formadehyde is like a magic elixir to them. Also, formeldehyde is in lots of places you wouldn't expect it to be: lipstick, toothpaste, nail polish, and shampoo, for starters. This strikes me as odd, as zombies aren't known for being great groomers, but maybe it's explained later in the book.

I find this all incredibly useful information, so I decide to share it with my husband.

Him: "Embalming? Like an undertaker?"
Me: "Is there another kind?"
Him: "Well, you walked away before the college rep was done talking. Once she told us where the building was going, you left - you didn't hear what's going in it."
Me: "It's a health science building, what does that have to do with zombies? Are they researching a vaccine that works? Are they training zombie dental hygienists?"
Him: "No. It's only partly a health science building. It's also going to house their new undertaking department."
Me: "Sorry?"
Him: "They're very proud of it. Apparently it's one of the few accredited undertaking courses in the state."

I can see quite clearly that this is going to be a real problem, if I want to continue living in my house, maybe if I want to keep living at all. Undead doesn't sound so good, although I'm marginally more comfortable with it knowing I can keep up my looks.

Fortunately, though, someone else has done their research, too: Specifically, Physics Professor Davide Cassi at the University of Parma in Italy (which I am sure has far nicer buildings than the tech college next door, and yes, I would take my kid out of school early to sample food from their catering department). Doctor Cassi used hi-tech physics modeling to determine the best place to hide when one is being chased by zombies. The answer?

The mall.

Isn't science great?

So, basically, in the event of a zombie attack, I can go shopping, assuming I'm not at the mall aready. Important question: Do I have to pay my Visa bill? I mean, will there even be cashiers that day? Oh, well, I'll keep some cash handy. If I get bit, I'll head for the makeup department. Maybe they'll be having a gift-with-purchase that day.

I'm starting to think the zombies aren't that different from the birds: Once you get to know them, they're really not so bad.

*By locally renowned, I mean, most of the people in the immediate vicinity know it exists.

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