Saturday, September 24, 2011


The road block to most people in their education, the thing that separates the sheep from the goats, is algebra. This was announced to my seventh grade glass by my first male math teacher, Mr. Goldberg. He had a beard and being in his class definitely made you feel grown up, if terrified. I struggled through the class, got a D at one point, but went on to redeem myself in the end with a  B. After seventh grade algebra I went on to eighth grade algebra, a breeze. I followed that with geometry and trig. When I graduated from school and was selling hot dogs at Two Guys, I had the satisfaction of knowing I had passed algebra.

To the unsuspecting seventh grader who is given the class schedule in September lies that nasty word, "algebra".  It is the one hurdle that will stand between happiness and misery, success and failure in school. Algebra. It re-emerges in community college, like a bad penny. There it is, the requirement to taking statistics. It isn't just the science majors. You must complete algebra first to be a social worker.

Why is there a shortage of nurses in the United States? Nurses have to show that they've passed algebra. Why does America have a shortage of high tech manufacturing workers? Algebra. Why does your doctor have a weird accent? Americans are limited with their algebra so we have to import doctors from overseas.

Saturday, September 17, 2011

Jury duty

You come home from work and notice you have an envelope from the county. It's a jury notice. Yikes. For some people it's a major catastrophe, for some a minor inconvenience, for some an invitation to goof off from work for a while. Most of us have been called, but few get the chance to serve.

After a long wait in the jury assembly  room, I got a chance to be chosen to go to a court room for jury selection. I couldn't believe the questions they asked. What do you do for a living. How about the other people in your house. What TV shows do you watch. Where do you get your news. What magazines do you read. If you could talk to any one, living or dead, who would it be. What bumper stickers are on your car. It was fun watching everyone try to weasel out of serving on a panel. The judge left most of them off.

Being selected, I got to actually serve on jury duty. It wasn't too bad. We even got to watch a surveillance video. Things have changed since the days when jurors were all male and smoke filled the room. Oh Henry Fonda, where are you when we need you?

Monday, September 12, 2011

Hotel radios

Just finished seeing "Don't bother to knock" with Marilyn Monroe. In old Hollywood movies, it seems de riguer, that the hotel room in a swanky hotel always has a radio where you can flip a switch and hear the goings on in the nightclub downstairs. Of course there usually is a band playing with a sultry singer. I wonder how common it really was to be able to eaves drop on the bar downstairs in hotels in the good olde days.

 I have never been to a hotel that had this feature. It seems like such a nice touch.  "There's nothing on tv, let's see if there's any action in the bar downstairs". And you could find out by turning on the radio.

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Giant crocodile captured

From story on Yahoo News:

About 100 people had to pull the crocodile, which weighs about 2,370 pounds (1,075 kilograms), from the creek to a clearing where a crane lifted it into a truck, he said.

The crocodile was placed in a fenced cage in an area where the town plans to build an ecotourism park for species found in a vast marshland in Agusan, an impoverished region about 515 miles (830 kilometers) southeast of Manila, Elorde said.

"It will be the biggest star of the park," Elorde said, adding that villagers were happy that they would be able to turn the dangerous crocodile "from a threat into an asset."

Despite the catch, villagers remain wary because several crocodiles still roam the outskirts of the farming town of about 37,000 people.

They have been told to avoid venturing into marshy areas alone at night, Elorde said.

Editor's note: I have always believed it to be a good policy not to venture into marshy areas alone at night.

Thursday, September 1, 2011

Baby bump

Okay, it was cute in the beginning but I'm getting tired of the term baby bump. I think we should go back to the term "there's a cake in the oven."