Thursday, February 28, 2013

High Octane Logic

Here's one more recent remark from boy genius Caleb. (As I noted in my last post, he's really good at five-year-old math.)

Who says consumers don't have much choice?

I'm about to fuel up the minivan, and I'm thinking out loud because I know he's watching me.

"In goes the debit card, and we punch in our zip code. Eight-four-oh-one-five. There we go! Now, let's see, I guess we'll go with 89 octane," I say as I take the nozzle off its hook, wondering if we can qualify for a third mortgage to pay for this.

His curiosity never resting, he asks, "Dad, what's that?"

"What's what?"

"Those numbers?"

"Oh, they have different grades of gasoline you can buy. It's called octane. See, there's 87, 89, and 91. We're getting the 89 octane, because that's what makes our car run best."

And then he comes out with: "89 is the most important number of all."

"Oh, yeah, buddy? Why is that?"

"Because without it, we could not count to 100."

His argument is perfectly sound, but completely invalid. Or maybe it's valid but unsound? I'm not sure which. I took some classes covering this stuff, but it's been a while, and my memory is not as sound as it once was--probably about 89%.

All I could say was, "You're right, buddy!" and, mumbled under my breath, "At least on that second part."

Sunday, February 24, 2013

Insect Algebra

My boy, Caleb, is a five year old entomolog-... an etymol-... enty-... he's a bug expert.

Recently (in this post right here), I told you about his observation on bees. Here's a chat we had not long ago showing more of his knowledge of insects, and also of math:

Caleb: Dad, what's four plus four?

Me: Eight.

Caleb: What's a hundred plus a hundred?

Me: Two hundred.

Caleb: O-Kaaay. How about... a bug plus a bug?

Me: Hmmm. Two bugs?

Caleb: Nope!

Me: Alright, Mr. Smarty Pants. What is a bug plus a bug?

Caleb: A double bug.

He really got me with that one. I should have thought through it more carefully before giving my answer. And this is one more piece of proof (in Caleb's mind, at least) that I'm not as smart as I think I am, and he's a genius on all kinds of stuff.


Did you like what you just read? Why not join Unintimidated by Convention? There's no membership fee, you don't have to attend any meetings, and I promise not to send you annual renewal notices. Just click on the right where it says "Join this site" and then type in your stuff that it asks for. Do it now!

Thursday, February 21, 2013

Don't Look Now, But Your Modifier is Dangling

This might be one of those things that only I find funny, but I'll share it anyway. Check out the sign that recently appeared on the men's room door at my work:

 I swear this is an actual photo, unaltered, and that I did not make up the sign. Apparently, the janitors did.
I'll promise to heed this request and wait until I'm all done being cleaned before using the restroom. Although, that seems like kind of a backwards approach--shouldn't we do our thing in there first, and then get cleaned? Wait a second... who's being cleaned around here, and even more puzzling, who is doing that cleaning?! And WHERE are they doing it, if not in the restroom, forpetesake?!!

I think they meant for us to keep out while the ROOM is cleaned, but just to be sure, I'll stay away when either the room or my body is having anything done to it.

Now, here's the part Paul Harvey would have called The Rest of the Story. I noticed that sign a few days ago and thought I should share it with the world (in case anyone else gets a kick out of this kind of thing). Today I remembered to take my camera to work, so I returned to that restroom, hoping the sign would still be up. On my way there, I saw a similar sign on the ladies' room:

Also a real, unaltered photo

This brings up some questions, like Why is the ladies' sign so much nicer? Do they really deserve a prettier restroom sign, in this age when we are supposed to be striving for equality? Also, since this one is worded more clearly (to us English majors, at least), is there really an error on the other one? Maybe it reads just as intended. I guess it's not important. After thinking about it for a while, dangling modifiers are really no big deal.

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Somebody Call Henny Penny!

Many moons ago, I posted a tip for you, my loyal readers, about a weather forecast that called for a 99% chance of space junk showers. Whenever something like this happens, I don't feel the mainstream media are effective at encouraging us all to freak out, so I do my part in that effort.

Well, folks, it's officially panic time again! All kinds of stuff is falling from the sky. Consider the following:

- Last week, we were warned by NASA (or whoever it is that warns us about this stuff) that a gigantic asteroid would pass by at frighteningly low altitude. I think they predicted it would not actually impact the ground, but they told people who live in high-rise apartments to stay off the roof that day, and suggested NBA players should be ready to duck. Thank goodness their calculations were right, and we didn't go the way of the dinosaurs. However...

- On that same day, a gigantic meteor exploded over some little Russian town, busting all the windows and Vodka bottles. The experts say this was totally unrelated to the asteroid, and it's purely coincidental that they came blasting toward Earth at the same time. Right, I'll buy that!

- About this same time, gigantic spiders from space started raining down in Brazil. (Okay, so maybe they weren't gigantic, but there were millions of them. And I'll admit I made up the part about them coming from space, but come on... seems pretty obvious, given the context here.) Click this to read the details as reported by Utah's quaint, semi-professional news outlet, KSL.

These are just three examples, but I'm sure there are many more. I'm really going to regret spending money last Fall to have new shingles put on our roof if they now get torn up by a bombardment of, I don't know, Martian missiles or something. Please be vigilant, people. Keep your eyes on the sky, and let me know if it starts falling over your city.

Monday, February 18, 2013

Inter-species Warfare

"This derriere is loaded, and I'm not afraid to use it!" 

Holy procrastination, Batman! I just checked my last blog entry and noticed it is almost a YEAR old! The gist of it was some nonsense about how I'd not been writing enough, and a recommitment to post more frequently... now, February two thousand-thirteen, I'm ready to get going again. (As I've said before, I'm nothing if not unreliable. It's one of my endearing qualities.)

So today, I give you an ingenious little observation from number-one-son, Caleb, who's almost six now. He recently noted:

Bees are like flies with weapons. And the weapon is their butt!*

You have to hand it to him, that's pretty insightful.

We've had some minor skirmishes with hornets around our place. These usually start when one of us humans makes an unauthorized incursion into the airspace surrounding their little paper fortress--a completely innocent mistake. They send an immediate tactical response in the form of a stinging frenzy, no doubt claiming this is a reasonable, defensive move. Knowing this attack was unjustified, not to mention overreaching, and being keenly aware that I sit about nine steps up the food chain from these nasty vermin, I run to Lowe's for a weapon of mass destruction:

I've studied law of armed conflict, and I realize this violates the principle of proportionality.
Don't judge me. That only applies to human vs. human conflict.

That's right, I resort to chemical warfare and annihilate their entire colony. Right now the score is something like me: 10 or 12, horrible little stinging insects: 0, although one of their special ops commandos once succeeded at his mission to sting me in the shower. (That incident ended with me yelling some words I'm not proud of, and him drowning in our drain. My nakedness did not leave me unarmed, because I had a loofa!)

* People make similar statements about yours truly when we're in a confined space together an hour or two after I've eaten a big bowl of chili.