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February, 2009

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Minivans

I heard a radio morning talk show ragging on minivans, insinuating they are uncool. I’ve occasionally heard other people (family, friends, strangers) rag on minivans, and pick on me for driving one — it’s Cowgrit’s vehicle, I only drive it sometimes. Interestingly, I have rarely heard anyone who actually owns a minivan complain about them (as a type of vehicle). Minivans are great. Especially for what they are designed for — families, with two or more children.

Our family had a sedan and a station wagon for the first few years of Calfgrit8’s life, and we did just fine. Loading in and our of either vehicle was not particularly problematic. But we bought a minivan the week before Calfgrit4 was born, and we discovered how much easier travel could be.

We could get ourselves and both children in and out of the vehicle so much easier — no bending over with 10-15 pounds of child and carrier. No more squeezing in and over the kids to buckle belts. Heck, just the automatic sliding doors (both sides!) made getting in and out so much easier.

My brother mentioned, “How lazy or weak must you be to need automatic doors?” Well, he’s never tried to handle an infant carrier, groceries, car keys, and a car door all at the same time. We have a friend who has a minivan with manual sliding doors, and she’s commented, “They’re a pain in the ass.”

I even like driving the minivan. It’s more comfortable than my sedan, and has better view of the road. And oh my God, I can’t imagine how our drive to Florida would have gone if we three adults and two kids had to ride in a station wagon. The minivan is like a bus.

When one of my (childless) friends rode in our minivan one time, he commented, “This is nice. I’d like to have this kind of van. But without kids, people would think I’m a molester out cruising for victims.”

My previous boss said she made her husband drive their minivan, because, “I’m too cool to be seen in a minivan.”

Oh well, I love our minivan. And if you need to rag on it, then you can kiss my big ol’ leg-room, head-room, comfortable-seat, back-seat-folding-down, plenty-of-power, family-hauling butt.

Bullgrit

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Three Digit Subtraction

Calfgrit8 had some homework that he couldn’t figure out. Cowgrit tried to help him with it, but she ended up coming to me: “Can you help CG8 with his homework?”

Cowgrit said she tried to help him, but she couldn’t figure out how to do it. I thought she was probably distracted by Calfgrit4, or maybe she was hurried with cooking dinner. I mean, it’s second grade homework, how difficult can it be?

The homework in question:

Pay the Bill

Solve.
Draw the coins to show the amount of change due.

A. Penny has $2.00. She buys an ice cream sundae for $1.89. How much change will she receive?

B. Percy has $1.00. He buys a small drink for $0.60. How much change will he receive?

C. Pip has $3.00. He buys a hamburger for $2.35. How much change will he receive?

. . . etc.

Looking over each problem, I immediately thought, “11 cents (a dime and a penny), 40 cents (four dimes), 65 cents (two quarters, a dime, and a nickel). . .” etc. Yeah, this isn’t complicated.

I sat down with Calfgrit8 and we talked through the problems a bit. “We haven’t learned how to subtract three-digit numbers, yet,” he explained.

“OK,” I said, “we can do it tonight.”

I wrote down
_200
-189

Then I sat there a minute looking at the equation.

“How do I do it, Dad?” CG8 asked.

“Um,” I answered, “well, ah, give me just a moment.”

I fiddled with the numbers a bit. I marked out the end zero and wrote “10” above it. Then I marked out the middle zero and wrote “9” above it. I thought that was it, but when I did the subtraction from right to left, I got 111 (instead of 011). How did this pattern change the beginning two to a one?

Wait a minute. I couldn’t remember actually how to do the borrowing from one digit to another. How many years has it been since I did subtraction on paper? Twenty years? Thirty years?

I took one of the other equations
_300
-235

I fiddled with the number again, but I couldn’t figure out how the old thing worked. I said to CG8, “You’ve done two-digit subtraction, right? I’ve seen you do that.”

“Yeah,” he confirmed.

“OK,” I said, “show me how you do that.”

He did 20 – 18.

“Great,” I said, “now lets use that to figure out how to do three-digit numbers.”

I wrote down the 200 – 189 equation again, and let him work it out, extrapolating what he knew for two-digit numbers. He did it correctly on his first try. And I saw how it was supposed to be done. Man, but that made me feel like an idiot.

CG8 quickly went through all six of his change problems, getting the right answer each time. Once he saw how it worked, it was all his. I wanted to give him some more three-digit numbers to subtract, but dinner was almost ready, and we still had another step to do on the homework.

I showed him how he could draw the change: I made a circle and wrote “1” in it for the penny, and then another circle with a “5” for the nickel. He got the pattern and used this for writing the change for each problem.

11 cents = circle-10, circle-1
40 cents = circle-10, circle-10, circle-10, circle-10
65 cents = circle-50, circle-5, circle-10
etc.

Afterward, Cowgrit and I talked about the homework. She, like me, could immediately tell the answer, but she couldn’t figure out how to explain it to CG8. “Yeah,” I agreed, “I ended up getting him to figure it out on his own.”

I wonder if helping with his homework will get easier or harder for me as his math problems get more advanced. I think I’m actually looking forward to him needing help balancing equations and solving for X.

Bullgrit

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Mission: Space at Disney World cont.

Continued from here.

It took all my concentration to keep from vomiting, and my concentration was handicapped by spinning vision and throbbing pain. Oh God, make it stop, was all I could think. I felt like I had no blood in my body. For the remaining couple of minutes in the ride, I was sweating and quivering.

When the ride at last ended, and I could exit, I found standing and walking difficult and unsteady. My head wanted to explode, my stomach wanted to empty itself, and my bones wanted to collapse. I’m serious –- I have never experienced such distress. A couple of Disney workers in the ride gave me a look over as I passed them in the exit tunnel, but I guess they figured I was OK since I was able to walk on my own.

I made it out of the ride zone, and through the after-ride entertainment area, and through the gift shop, and finally, outside to the bright sun and fresh air. I found an empty bench and laid down. I wasn’t concerned what people might be thinking of me right then, laying down on a bench, because it took all my concentration just to stay alive.

It was an hour before I could sit upright and not feel like throwing up. A little while after sitting up, an older man sat down next to me, to wait for his wife to come off the ride.

We chatted for a while. He was from England, and he and his wife were in Disney World for his 65th birthday. They had both ridden the less intense version of Mission: Space, and then his wife wanted to ride the more intense version. I related that I had just gotten off that version (I didn’t say, “an hour ago”), and was recovering. I really didn’t feel like talking, but I think doing so helped me get over the ill feelings.

Eventually, his wife came out. The man introduced me, and we discussed the experience a bit. She said it was indeed intense, and she didn’t like it, but she was not ruined like me. I explained that I had lifted my head and looked to the side during the ride.

“The signs say not to do that,” she said, politely.

“Yeah,” I said, “and now we know why.”

They chuckled, and she added, “I don’t think I could have lifted my head. I couldn’t lift my hands to push the buttons.” They wished me a speedy recovery, and went on their way.

Half an hour later, my family returned to the park. I was able to walk properly by then, but my head was still spinning, albeit, slower. I wasn’t dizzy enough to fall down, but it was enough to keep me from fully enjoying anything for another hour. I even felt a little bit of disorientation later that evening.

It’s a shame that my first and only experience on a centrifuge turned out so badly (because I screwed up). I think I would have really enjoyed that more intense version of Mission: Space – feeling the increased Gs, especially when lifting my arms, was very cool. But wow, taking that G force hit to the inner ear totally ruined me. I was reduced to being happy that I didn’t throw up or fall down afterward.

Bullgrit

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