I lost my marbles today. Well, not so much marbles as my ability

to do math. Which would have been OK, I suppose, if doing math

was just a hobby, like collecting marbles, and sometimes taking

them to your grandpa's basement and putting a coffee can of water

on the gas burner of that stove he kept down there to boil his work

clothes on, not to eat, silly, but to get them clean, because to the

best of my recollection, he worked in the lead mines, but so did my

other grandpa, although he didn't boil his clothes, but washed them

in an old ringer washer, not him, but my grandma, who was also

good at swinging a chicken and popping its head off, not in the

basement, but just outside, though she didn't have a stove in her

basement to cook marbles, which is what I did, boiled those

suckers for a few minutes, then poured cold water on them,

which caused them to make snap/crackle/pop noises, and whee

doggies, wasn't I lucky that I didn't burn the place down, or have

an eye put out by flying crackling marble glass while I performed

my totally unsupervised marble-cooking act at the tender age of

ten or so, which would surely lead to a DFS intervention these

days, but by cracky, back in the day, a child might as well be

cooking meth for all those agency people cared about them,

what with letting them ride untethered in the back windshield

ledges of automobiles, swing their legs willy-nilly off the tailgates

of pickup trucks traveling down the highway at 75 mph, passing

motorcycle-riders without helmets, on their way to buy cigarette

brands they'd seen advertised on TV.

But doing math is not exactly a hobby for Mrs. Hillbilly Mom,

who is not a real teacher of math, but plays one at school for

three hours each day. So this morning when she first sensed that

she had broken her math bone, it was with a bit of scorn that she

told the students, "Well, I've been showing you this for two years

now...don't you think you would have learned some of it by now?

What do YOU think we should do next." To which a little devil rose

to the challenge, walked to the white board, and said, "Put that there,

and that there, and it will work." And he was right, by cracky! For

Mrs. Hillbilly Mom had forgotten how to do a problem with unit

multipliers, precisely:

Convert 20 meters to feet, using 3 unit multipliers.

Oh, she could get the correct answer, all right. By using 2

unit multipliers, or 4 unit multipliers.It was just the doing it

in the proper manner that was her Achilles' heel. Or perhaps

that was her Achilles' big toe, because it was actually the

second of her math moments this morning in which she could

not perform. The first was in finding the volume and the total

surface area of a solid that had a base shaped like a house.

Mrs. Hillbilly Mom tried to divide that sucker and make two

right triangles out of the roof area, when she should have only

made one regular triangle and used the old standby 'Area =

1/2 Base x Height'. But no. She tried to make it too hard,

and was thankful when Mabel arrived to save the day. As

were the DoNots.

And then, in Lower Basementia, Mrs. Hillbilly Mom's math

impotence reared its ugly head yet again, when she was asked

to use the Pythagorean Theorem to find the missing measure

of a hypoteneuse. Which Mrs. Hillbilly Mom could have done,

in two steps for this evil book-torture problem, except that

Mrs. HM pronounced "One squared plus one squared equals

one, and the square root of one is...well...one." Au contrair!

Seems there has been a new development in the math world,

and Mrs. HM did not receive the memo. One plus one is now

TWO! Who knew? The regular Mathie, that's who, who

bailed out Mrs. HM in place of Mabel.

Which perhaps explains that $600 checkbook faux pas.

## 3 comments:

One plus one

isone... for very small values of one. (Hey, it was good enough for the Pentium 2!)You lost me at hypoteneuse.

Finding you've got an extra $600 is not a math faux pas-- realizing you have $600 LESS than you thought? THAT is when it's time to call a tutor!

I think I would like to teach lower math, like 7th or 8th grade math. I think it would be easier to explain than some of the more subjective things in English. Fortunately for the children, I will never be certified in that area.

Stew2K,

I'll take your word for it. But this is the last time.

Miss Ann,

But I had you at 'preposition'.

I always thought that I would like to teach math myself. It's not too bad. I'm pretty good up to the second semester of 10th grade.

By cracky, this English stuff ain't all it's cracked up to be. By cracky. Yesterday I argued with 7th graders who declared my answer sheet was wrong, because in elementary school, they had been taught to ALWAYS capitalize Mother and Father. They were havin' none of my explanation. Only if it's used as a proper noun, like BOB or JANE. Not if you say 'my mother' or 'my father'.

Kids. Can't live with 'em...can't learn 'em.

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