Friday, September 16, 2011


I think I can safely say that this comic, by the Impertinent Daughter, nicely sums up what the past three days have been like for the two of us.

Add in a phone call that left me wanting to spork myself, and yeah, it's been FUN.

Saturday, September 10, 2011

Another Math Rant in the Making...

Yes, you were spared my math rants last school year because of the Incredible Mr. Knickerbocker™, the most Awesome Math Teacher in this district. He, unlike most of the other teachers here, actually makes it his business to find out what the kids that will be coming into his class are learning at their previous schools. And this is why he is rarely surprised when they come to him with little or no math skills.

I wish the other teachers at the freshman campus and the high school would do this. It would reduce the amount of eye-rolling that happens whenever they say, "You should have learned this by now..."

This goes for every single subject they take, by the way.

Anyhow, the Impertinent Daughter's current Algebra teacher is completely unaware of what they have and haven't learned before coming to his class and... he doesn't care. He started his class with, "I don't do subtraction or division. I don't like it."


Yeah, we're in trouble.

Because his "explanations" are... horrendous. I have no doubt he can do the math. Problem is, he understands it so well, he takes all these shortcuts, and expects his students to understand them. Problem is... if you don't have a grasp of how the equations work in the first place, if you don't understand the "long method " (his words) of doing them!

She understands how to do this. However, the wacky explanations she's been getting over the last three weeks have completely thrown her, so when she had to take a test yesterday, well... she didn't do well. And was so very upset when she got home. 'I know I know this stuff!" she wailed, "but I'm so confused!!"

She wrote out one of the problems she remembered for me and said, "I have no idea how to do this!"

I looked at it and was stunned.

x - 5 > 7

"You do know how to do this," I said, shaking my head.


"Honey, you treat the greater than sign like an equal sign," I said and did the problem for her.

x - 5 > 7
x - 5 = 7
x - 5 + 5 = 7 + 5
x = 12

Her jaw dropped. "I do know how to do this! But... why didn't he say that??"

I shrugged.

"This is how he showed us how to do this," she said, and grabbed my pencil. "You just turn the minus sign into a plus."

x - 5 > 7
x + -5 > 7
x > 7 +5

And... he didn't go past that point in the notes.

Okay, that's great, and that works... if you already know how to do it the way I did it! If you don't, or if you don't remember it because you didn't spend your summer holiday doing algebra and math, you'll be completely lost!! You want to teach them shortcuts, great. Do it after you've taught them the standard forms!!

It looks like the Husbandly One and I are going to be algebra teachers again this year. As well as chemistry teachers. Because, yeah, I had to spend some time learning how to do dimensional analysis so I could teach the Impertinent One how to do it, because her chemistry teacher can't. And she admitted it, too! "If you can't understand my explanations, go to the teacher next door and ask her. She's better at it than I am."

And this woman is the Advanced Placement chemistry teacher!!!

In better news, I got the Impossible Son through a misunderstanding in multiplication. It seems one of his previous teachers, in teaching him how to multiply large numbers, taught him to add... oh, geez, let me just show you.

This is, of course, completely wrong!! Because the answer is actually 125.

So... I did it both ways, side by side and right next to each other, explaining what I was doing on every step, and asked him which answer made more sense.

"Um, 125," he said, frowning. "And the way you did it makes more sense, too. Because the way I was doing it just... felt weird."

Yeah, tell me about it! And I got him through long division again, too, which normally he breezes through, but for some reason, he wasn't getting it. Took me a while to figure out he'd never been taught to use trial and error to figure out where to start. You know, taking a scratch paper and multiplying different numbers against your divisor to get close enough to starting the actual dividing?

Okay, I know that made no sense whatsoever, but it's something we all do. Once I got him past that, he sped through his homework. I'm going to have to chat with his math teacher and point out what's going on so she can reinforce what I've already done. Fortunately, she's a good math teacher, once she knows what the problem is.

It's enough to make me want to scream. And absolutely dread the years he'll be in junior high, with the absolutely sucky math teachers there. It's almost, but not quite, enough to make me want to go back to school and change my major to mathematics so I can teach it. But not quite.

GAAAAAAAAHHHH!!!! *tears out hair*

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

That's what weekends are for, right?

It has definitely been a tumultuous weekend for Central Texas, let me tell you! I mean, we finally got a break in the temperatures, seeing the low nineties rather than the triple digits, but... we can't go outside because of all the smoke from wildfires! There are three currently going that I know of around us. First, the Bastrop Fire, which has burned over 30, 000 acres and destroyed close to 600 homes. That one, as I mentioned earlier, is about 30 miles away from us, but is still affecting us, as we are wreathed in smoke and everything smells like ashes. And it's not even close to being contained. The Delhi fire is about 15 miles away, and of course, sending smoke this way, and according to the map, is only 45% contained. The Pettytown fire is supposedly 90% contained, but... well... if the wind picks up again, who knows?

Saturday, when this whole business started, the Husbandly One had gotten the ambition to clean out the garden shed, which needed it badly. Basically, we had pretty much just shoved things in without so much as a "where should this go?" And when we started, it was lovely and windy, and we had no idea what was going on around us. We noticed it was hazy, but figured that after a summer of blasting furnace heat and no rain, soil was being picked up and blown around, plus whatever pollen had survived to this point. And we knew there was a fire warning on, so hearing sirens didn't alarm us unduly. And I figured the breathing problems I was having was due to dust and pollen being blown around.

And when my daughter said, "Hey, look, is that a thunderhead?" we looked and thought, "Oh, thank goodness, rain on the horizon!"

It wasn't. It was this...

That's the smoke cloud from Bastrop, by the way. It was huge.

We didn't find out about it until after 9 o'clock, when I'd gone to sit out on the back deck and saw this weird orange glow on the underside of the "cloud" we had noticed earlier. I was sort of idly checking Facebook on my iPod Touch and saw a post by a friend who lives close by worrying about the fires coming close to her home and thought, "Huh?" So I checked local news and nearly had heart failure!!

She and her family are okay, for now. They live close to the Pettytown fire. I'm keeping my fingers crossed for them and offered a hidey hole for them if they need to bolt. I sincerely hope it isn't needed, not because I don't want them here, but because I don't want them to lose what they've built.

This is what I saw this morning, when I left to pick up the kids...

That's from the front yard.

That's from my back deck.

It's not any better right now. Just... lighter. And everything reeks of burned soil. I'm staying indoors, but I have to tell you, the Asthma Monster is rearing it's ugly little head again, after an absence of nearly eleven months. Major. Suckage.

Oh, by the way, InHumane Care called yesterday. They used a robo-caller, because I guess they didn't want to give me the chance to chew them out. Anyhow, this robot calls and in a happy, cheery little perky voice told me that my prescription request has been denied, and that I should try alternatives and have a nice day!! MAJOR. SUCKAGE.

So, yeah, back to Dr. Tummy and the Pharmacist Who Won't Quit. I hope we can beat this, I really do, because I have to tell you, this is as depressing as hell. And I'm FURIOUS.

SO. That was MY weekend! How was yours?

Monday, September 5, 2011

Fear, Fire, Foes!!

First off, let me reassure anyone who might have been worried, we're fine. The Bastrop fire is 30 miles to the east of us, so mostly, we're just getting a lot of smoke. The Delhi fire is about 15 miles away, and again, lots of smoke. There are three other fires in Caldwell County, which is where I live, and one of them is listed as being 90 percent contained. That being said, at the moment, we're not in any danger.

Most of this is because a cold front blew through and has decreased the humidity greatly while hitting us with wind gusts of up to 40 miles an hour. Plus, we're basically sitting in a Texas sized tinderbox, thanks to the drought and triple-digit temperatures of the summer. And we have many idiots living among us who do stupid things like throwing cigarettes out the car window, pull over on the side of the road where the long grass is, or maybe they decided to burn trash in an area with a burn ban and a red flag flying.

Of course, there are some of us who think that this is in answer to Governor Rick Perry's prayer event, and you know, I have to say, I'm thinking the Almighty has just given him a huge flaming sign that says, OH, HELL NO!! I mean, seriously, when you pray for rain, and instead of getting rain, your state catches on fire, I'm thinking that's not exactly a ringing endorsement for your presidential campaign. But hey, what do I know?

Anyhow, aside from the Asthma Monster rearing its ugly little head, we're all fine, if a little stir crazy because we can't go outside!

I'll keep you updated!

Friday, September 2, 2011

Extreme Geekiness...

Yesterday, on the way home from a trip into San Marcos, the Impossible Son and I sang the Moosebutter Star Wars song at the top of our lungs all the way home.

It was awesome.

He's still recovering from chickenpox, so he had to accompany me in to San Marcos for a trip to Dr. Tummy to get samples of my acid reflux med while we wait for the drama over my prescription to get resolved. Who will win? InHumane Care, or the intrepid and determined Dr. Tummy, with assistance from Mr. W., the Small Town Pharmacist Who Could? Tune in next week for an update!!!


Well, yesterday was full of little trips. I took Mr. Impossible in for a followup with the doctor about his tests, yes to chickenpox, no to Lyme, and to check his pox out. Most of them are crusting, so he should be good to go back to school next week! Then the trip into San Marcos for the samples, and then a stop by his school to pick up his makeup work.

The trip home was a blast, actually! I mean, there were were, walking back to the car, him skipping along next to me while holding my hand and chattering on cheerfully about any and everything, and I have no idea why, but I just started randomly singing, "Nobody cares if you upset a droooooid, 'cause droids don't tear your arms out of sockeeeeet..." and he chimed in with, "I suggest a new straaaaategy, let the Woooookie win," and we both sang loudly and badly, "Because nobody caaaaares... if you upset a droooooooid!"

And yes, there were lots of other people in the parking lot, and yes, we got stared at, and no, we did not care at all!!

After that, it was a foregone conclusion that I would select the song to play on the CD in the car, and would hit repeat, so we could sing it over and over again on the drive home, complete with gestures and faces. I am sure the people on the freeway in San Marcos enjoyed our emoting, and I'm also sure the people at the light before heading down the state highway thought we'd lost our minds.

I especially enjoyed the Impossible Son's faces during the section of Luke whining. The pathos! The utter dejection! The extreme sulkiness!!

It made my heart swell with pride!

I love moments like that with my son. I don't often get to see his extremely silly side like that, and I have discovered that he has inherited my, and my dad's, extremely elastic face. He's got a pretty wacky sense of humor that I truly do appreciate, and is developing a wit as sharp as his sister's. Pretty soon, their verbal sparring is going to take a whole new level, and I'm going to find it harder and harder to out-geek them.

I look forward to it with great enthusiasm!

Because... nobody caaaaaaaares if you upset a drooooooooid!!