Monday, May 28, 2007

More Math Poetry

Son was struggling with the math poetry assignment. I helped him out a bit by explaining limericks and haikus in great detail.

da DA da da DA da da DA
da DA da da DA da da DA
de DE de de DE
de DE de de DE
da DA da da DA da da DA.

First five syllables.
Then come seven syllables.
Then back to the five.

He thought about it, and decided to do two poems on pi. I taught him how to do a quick poor man's rhyming dictionary by going through the alphabet to find rhymes (bye, die, fie, guy, hi, lie, etc.), and he came up with these.

There once was a number called pi.
The end of it never is nigh.
It starts out with three.
It's confusing to me.
To think about it makes me sigh.

A long number: pi.
They say it goes on forever.
Where does it all go?

The math poet - not quite the warrior philosopher, but...

Friday, May 25, 2007

Math Poetry

Son brought home an assignment last night to write math poems. What fun! I'm trying these.

Obtuse Angle
An obtuse angle
Greater than ninety degrees
Cooler than acute

The number under the line
Making things smaller

O, were that I a proper ray,
From here, I’d start and go that way,
Never stopping, once I’d start,
Never veering, off I’d dart.

A triangular shape called a prism
Caused the light to divert in a schism.
The spectrum we see,
Or “rainbow” to me,
Contains red, as in Red Communism.

Wednesday, May 23, 2007


Son had a friend over the other night. I took the boys out to get a video game hint book for Pokemon, Diamond Edition, and then to a local Mom & Pop Mexican restaurant. At one point, the friend, who doesn't yet have an assigned Thing number, said, "You really say random things."

I like this kid.

Tuesday, May 22, 2007

Petroleum Products Today

So Son has strep throat. I'm really surprised I haven't gotten it from him, because I tend to get strep if anyone within 50 feet of me has it. He was off school yesterday and today. GPop watched him yesterday and this morning, and I watched him this afternoon.

I needed to get an oil change. It's the first one for my Civic Hybrid, and I needed to go to the dealer, because it uses 0W-20 oil, which is nowhere to be found at any quick oil change place, nor any car parts/supplies place I checked. It is also, as the dealer said, "practically water." However, the car didn't claim to need an oil change until about 7000 miles, so life is generally good. The car now tells me when it needs maintenance and what maintenance it needs. It is smarter than I am, apparently.

Son and I went to the dealer, and they told us that it would be about an hour. At around 45 minutes, Son proclaimed, "I'm bored. How long has it been?"

"Ten minutes."

"Really? It's taking forever."

We went to look at new vehicles in the showroom. I was regaled with a chorus of "Will you buy this car for me when I turn 16? Will you buy this car for me when I turn 16? What about this one?"

On our way home, I noticed that gas was $3.15 at a station on the way home. As I passed that station, I noticed that the next two stations had their prices for gas at $3.49. I swung around in a parking lot, and zoomed over to the $3.15 place. I don't know if any of you remember the gas shortages in the 1970s. I was very young, but it was really bizarre. People would sit in line and wait for pumps to come open; fights would break out. This was almost to that extent.

After I filled up - 8.2 gallons (thank you, hybrid) - I realized that I had saved about $2.75. Weird.

As we were leaving the parking lot, a hapless worker was changing the price to $3.48.

Monday, May 21, 2007

Guys Read

Every night, I read to Son for about 15 minutes to half an hour. Son doesn't really like to read, I think for a variety of reasons. I hope every night that my reading to him will awaken more of an interest in reading for him.

We've spent most of the winter and into the spring reading Jenny Nimmo's Charlie Bone series, and we've recently been reading Daniel Pinkwater's The Snarkout Boys and the Avacado of Death.

Son seems to like this routine. If he's still awake at 9:30, when I usually stop, he begs for more. I usually relent and add two more pages. Sometimes, he falls asleep before I get done.

I just found a web site that is relevant to this. Guys Read is a project to encourage boys to read. Check it out.

Poor Richard

I made it a rule to forbear all direct contradictions to the sentiments of others, and all positive assertion of my own. I even forbade myself the use of every word or expression in the language that imported a fixed opinion, such as "certainly", "undoubtedly", etc. I adopted instead of them "I conceive", "I apprehend", or "I imagine" a thing to be so or so; or "so it appears to me at present".

When another asserted something that I thought an error, I denied myself the pleasure of contradicting him abruptly, and of showing him immediately some absurdity in his proposition. In answering I began by observing that in certain cases or circumstances his opinion would be right, but in the present case there appeared or semed to me some difference, etc.

I soon found the advantage of this change in my manner; the conversations I engaged in went on more pleasantly. The modest way in which I proposed my opinions procured them a readier reception and less contradiction. I had less mortification when I was found to be in the wrong, and I more easily prevailed with others to give up their mistakes and join with me when I happened to be in the right.

-- Autobiography of Benjamin Franklin


People will accept your ideas much more readily if you tell them that Benjamin Franklin said it first.

Sunday, May 20, 2007

New Hairstyle

Yesterday, we went to see Spider-Man 3 at the mini-Imax theater near our house. This screen is big for a regular theater, but it's hard to call it an Imax with a straight face. They don't even do the sound test at the beginning of the movie, which detracts a bit from the experience of Imaxishness.

In any case, Spider-Man 3 is not a movie for those with a big thirst and small bladder. It's long for a summer action movie, and it's easy to drink enough that you have to leave during one of the many action scenes. The trick is to pace yourself.

On the way home, Son was being a bit more ADD than usual, and he suddenly cried, "Ow! Ow!"

I was driving, so GPop turned around to see what was the matter. Somehow, Son had managed to get the nosepiece of his glasses caught in his hair. Let me repeat that. It was caught in his hair.

Every day, many questions about my job, my family, my finances, the state of the world, the mysteries of the universe, and what I'm going to have for lunch pass through my mind. Never before have I thought, "How does one get one's glasses stuck in one's hair?" In fact, it may be possible that this is the first time this has ever happened in the history of mankind.

Son was trying hard to get them out. (Yank. "Ow!" Yank. "Ow!") We told him to sit quietly, and when we arrived home in TWO MINUTES, we would get the glasses out of his hair. His HAIR.

So, one minute later, we hit a bumpy part of the road, and the glasses fell out of Son's hair without any loss of structural integrity for either the glasses or the hair. I think I'll submit this to Hints for Heloise.

Friday, May 18, 2007

Spam, or Gene Wolfe?

I found this text in an unsolicited commercial e-mail. The weirdest thing I see about these e-mails is that the URLs embedded in them rarely lead to actual web pages. Not only are people or bots sending things I don't want to read, but the links are broken.

forth in their steel-caps and bright breast-plates, as if starting scene as the final one. Amid this unearthly show, the wretched brother multitude; he looked to Heaven and trod lightly up the hill. laughter, by which he had been interrupted. I was deceived,

But the years came and went without bringing the careless boy; and to devils what love is to the blest. At times, the features of those tomb, because there their treasure was, were bent on one another on, that theyd let Dinah stop in the house if it began ordering
this; for it might end, you know, said Alice to herself, in my Brome, and shuddering with a deeper sense of some unutterable crime, supply, I called back hoar antiquity, and bade my companions imagine inhabitants suited to such a town, glittering in icy garments, with

This am I, Smiling...

Doesn't that sound pretentious?

Speaking of, my Honda Civic Hybrid has 100+ miles on this particular tank of gas, and I'm getting over 45 miles per gallon. Mmmm....

Thursday, May 17, 2007

Haiku for Today

Drink Pepsi or Coke.
Which one is more refreshing?
It doesn't matter.

New Political Party

I was reading old e-mail archives, and I came across an idea I had from 1999. Ah, the good old days...

I have decided to create a new political party. The working name is the Apathetic Liberals. The reasoning behind my action is that there are a lot of people who see that social issues in this country haven't been addressed as well as could be, but that there's not a lot a single person can do, so why bother ourselves with it?

If a person answers most of the following questions in the affirmative, then he or she is a good potential member of the Apathetic Liberals Party (ALP).

  1. Do you feel bad about the fact that there are homeless people?

  2. Would you rather watch TV than volunteer at a soup kitchen?

  3. Does the idea of politics seem to be a bit unpleasant?

  4. Would you prefer not to have the likes of the Republicans, the Democrats, the Reformers, or the Miscellaneous Wackos running the country?

  5. Have you ever avoided giving money to a panhandler by refusing to make eye contact and muttering some excuse under your breath?

  6. On those occasions when you do decide to vote, are you mildly surprised by the number of candidates and issues on the ballot?

  7. Do you think that political ad campaigns on television should be limited to the week before the election, if they are allowed at all?

  8. Should news media coverage of candidates be pre-empted with stories about more interesting things, such as where to find the best deal on your mortgage, or how the local sports teams are performing?

  9. Did you quit answering this questionnaire before reaching the end?

***Possible slogans for the ALP***

  • It's more of a whim than a philosophy.

  • Who cares?

  • What can I do about it?

  • It's not my fault; I didn't vote for anybody.

  • No thank you. I'm not interested.

If you know of potential members of the party, please invite them to join. If we get enough grass roots support, we might be able to put candidates on local or national ballots next year, except that the best candidates won't care enough to run.

I thought about introducing the concept of the Apathetic Conservative Party so that the slightly right of center would have something to do, but frankly, they would have exactly the same platform, and additionally, I don't really care.

Have a great day, and remember, early to bed and early to rise, something something whatever.

Monday, May 14, 2007

New Technology

I saw a Pontiac Torrent in the parking lot at work last week. I thought that would be funny - getting a car by torrent. You'd get it for free, but you'd only get random parts at a time.

"What did we get today?"

"A steering wheel, a lug nut, and one engine mounting bracket."

Running Off to Join the Circus

We went to see Corteo, Cirque du Soleil's latest touring show. The problem with Cirque du Soleil is that there is so much going on, you don't know when to clap.

Wednesday, May 9, 2007

Are There Still People Like This?

We always take my car cause it's never been beat,
And we've never missed yet with the girls we meet.
None of the guys go steady cause it wouldn't be right
To leave their best girls home now on Saturday night.

As I wrote before, I discovered, much to my chagrin, that I like some boy bands, like the Beach Boys. The songs on the greatest hits CD in my car has a number of songs from their albums that evoke a simpler age, where life was easier, because the world had fewer shades of grey. The good guys were the good guys, and the Commies were the bad guys, or whatever.

I was getting gas for my car the other day at a fairly crowded gas station. On the other side of the pump I was using, a young man, maybe 18 or so, got out of a beat up car. A moment later, a young woman, maybe about the same age, but a bit worn, perhaps a few years older, got out of the passenger seat. The man was about 6'2" and skinny as a rail. The woman was maybe 4'11", and if she were wearing heavy shoes and a dripping wet sweater, she might have been 90 pounds.

They were very obviously an item. They were all over each other, in a not-yet-needing-a-private-room kind of way. The lad was wrapping his arm around his gal, and she was fawning over him.

I was less than three feet away from them, and I was minding my own business, but I overheard their conversation. The young fellow was very carefully explaining how to remove a gas cap, how to put a debit card into a gas pump card reader, how to enter a PIN, and how to pump gas. The young woman listened very attentively, and she followed the steps he outlined.

I glanced up at them, and I noticed that the young man was wrapping his arm very possessively around the young woman. It was almost as if he were marking her as his so that competing males wouldn't have a chance to mate with her. Given that possessiveness, and the fact that a late teen/early twenties woman claimed no knowledge of how to pump gas in a state where I last saw full service pumps more than 15 years ago, I was just sort of creeped out. The guy's tone wasn't condescending, but his manner and content of his words were really treating this woman as though she weren't able to function on her own. Her response indicated that she either was unaware of how to do this simple task, or she was playing along with the illusion that she was completely helpless.

I have never really been a big fan of that he-man-provider-helpless-barefoot-pregnant-woman paradigm. I've had any number of strong women role models. My maternal grandmother, for instance, was a formidible woman when I was a child, and still is intelligent, witty, and strong. Once, when I was a kid, Brothers and I were watching the teevee box, and we saw some kid refer somewhat condescendingly to an old woman as, "Granny." Brother 2 said, "If we ever called Grandma, 'Granny,' she'd kick our teeth in."

The Beach Boys song was playing in my car right before I filled my tank. The lyrics posit that the guys are in the controlling role over the girls in their relationships. After seeing a real example of that, albeit perhaps an extreme example, I don't think I'll ever hear quite the innocence in that song that I once heard.

Recipe for Disaster and Cookies

The school has assigned another social studies project for Son. This time, the class has to work in small groups to produce a scrapbook on ancient India and China. Son has decided to work with Thing 1 and Thing 2. The teacher told them that they would have class time, but they may have to work at home if they can't get it all done in class. Because of either poor planning or, I don't know, a Martian invasion, the teacher decided to give them an extra day. Son and the Things could use an extra week. Son isn't in any outside activities, but Thing 1 and Thing 2 have been busy with judo, baseball, and whatever other organized activities kids do these days that involve irate parents and lots of driving.

As I am writing this, Son and the Things are running around trying to get this scrapbook done. The Things are reading some information on ancient India and trying to do an imitation of Apu Nahasapeemapetilon. Son is yelling at the Things to tell them to stop doing that and start working. As the deadline approaches, tempers are wearing thin, and the kids are getting a bit frazzled.

Last night, Son told me, "This would be a lot easier if I could just do all the work myself." Given that he had tried to pawn off much of the work from his ancient Egypt project on Thing 3 a few weeks ago, I believe this to be a great stride. I hugged him when he said that.

That Horrible Dawning

I've always pooh-poohed boy bands as simply sugar candy for the ears and eyes. The music seemed to be too banal and formulaic to get too attached to, so I've really not paid attention to such music from the time I was in high school, and the New Kids on the Block were popular, to the later Backstreet Boys and N*Sync, etc. I defined myself musically as "someone who doesn't like boy bands."

So, I'm driving in my car. NPR is talking about Iraq again. Bleh. Time to listen to the mix CD I made.

I'm gettin' bugged driving up and down the same old strip.
I gotta finda new place where the kids are hip.
My buddies and me are getting real well known.
Yeah, the bad guys know us and they leave us alone .

I sing along. I sing in the baritone range, so some of the melody of Beach Boys songs is painful or impossible for me to reproduce. No matter, the music is really interesting, especially as the season turns to a beautiful spring and summer.

Day after day,
Alone on the hill,
The man with the foolish grin
Is keeping perfectly still.

The song is weirdly fascinating. I sing along to this one, too. I marvel how the Liverpudlian accent seems to fade when the Beatles sing. I've always wondered about that.

Oh. My. God. I like boy bands.

Today's Haiku

Daily list of blogs
Each one a unique flavor
Yet many the same.

How Did You Know That

Last night, as I was helping Son with his homework, I ran across an assignment that his class is doing. It appears that the kids are split into groups, and each group is to perform a small skit based on a children's book. I saw the title page of the play, and it said Tikki Tikki Tembo. I immediately blurted out, "Tikki Tikki Tembo No Sa Rembo Chari Bari Ruchi Pip Peri Pembo."

Son was a bit surprised that I a) had ever heard of this, and b) remembered the whole name. This is the kind of thing that gets me in trouble. I remember this sort of thing from my childhood, and yet I must have the rules of Euchre explained to me every time I play it, and I have trouble remembering which team in a given city is the football, basketball, or baseball team.

Saturday, May 5, 2007

Let's Make a Movie..

I found this on the Internets. It's pretty darn funny.

Wednesday, May 2, 2007

Department of Redundancy Department Folder File Folder

I was in a meeting the other day where I heard these phrases.

"Right now, that is, today..."

"I find personally, myself, that..."

It was a lawyer who said these things. I think (s)he loves language so much that (s)he loves to add these little filigrees.