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Santa Maria Sun / Humor

The following article was posted on January 6th, 2009, in the Santa Maria Sun - Volume 9, Issue 43 [ Submit a Story ]
The following articles were printed from Santa Maria Sun [santamariasun.com] - Volume 9, Issue 43

Word problems

Krider is no mathlete

By Rob Krider

After a long, hard day at work (checking my personal e-mail, trading fantasy football players, and watching old Saturday Night Live skits on YouTube), I like to have a relaxing evening at home away from all of the stresses of my job (like my fantasy players being put on injured reserve). I like to sit on the couch and just chill out. However, as soon as I get comfortable, like clockwork, my kids need help with their homework.
    Homework is a staple of parenthood I didn’t see coming when I bought the package deal. I did my own homework for 17 years of school—all right, 19 years of schooling—and no, I’m not a doctor, but thanks for asking. I feel like I did my fair share. The last thing I want to do after being at work all day (stealing music online) is homework. But regardless of what I want or don’t want to do, my kids end up staring at me, holding a textbook, asking, “Dad, can you help me?”
    Oftentimes, my kids “need” help with their homework because it’s easier to have me just tell them the answer as opposed to figuring it out for themselves. When this occurs—and it occurs a lot—I tell them something that I remember my dad saying to me, “If I do the work for you, then you won’t learn anything, and in the end you will just be cheating yourself.” Realistically, this is an absolute parental cop out. What I’m really saying is, “I’m very busy watching Lost on TV right now. Don’t my tax dollars pay for your teacher to go over this stuff with you all day at school?”
    But sometimes my tax dollars just don’t do enough, and my kids have a legitimate question that they really need help with. Eventually, I turn off the idiot box (when the episode is over) and give my kids my fullest attention to try to solve the question of the evening. Lately, however, due to the advanced curriculum, I have found that I can’t really help them anymore. No Child Left Behind is making schoolwork so technical, it leaves some parents behind. Well, at least this parent, anyway.
    School was never my strong suit. In fact, school wasn’t really even in my wardrobe at all. I only learned a few things during my formal education: my junior high gym locker combination (21 left, 7 right, 38 left) and how to forge my dad’s signature. In college, I learned a little bit more: I memorized my social security number and perfected the art of a keg stand (breathe through your nose). I was by no means the school valedictorian, and that was a good thing because, without a computer, I wouldn’t even be able to spell the word “valedictorian.” To sum it all up, I ain’t smart.
   My daughter recently brought me some math homework while I was being an unproductive slob on the couch. The math was so advanced it didn’t even have any numbers in it, only letters. The question was so complicated, I think you needed an advanced degree in physics just to comprehend what it was asking. Did I mention that my daughter is in the fourth grade? A + B = C and sometimes D? Make sure your answer is an integer? I couldn’t help her.
    I felt terrible. Here my little girl wanted some academic guidance, but her father was such a drunken idiot in college that he can’t remember what an integer is to help her solve the equation. Integer, integer, integer? I couldn’t remember if an integer is when the first letter of each word in a set of words makes a whole other word, like SCUBA (Self Contained Underwater Breathing Apparatus) or if an integer is that thing when you had an idea about something but then you used the scientific method to prove said idea. Or is integer that fancy medical name for dry skin? Obviously, I didn’t know.
    Instead of saying, “I can’t help you,” I said, “Leave the book here and let me take a look at this for you.” Once my daughter wasn’t around, I began to pore over the pages, looking for some clues. Nope, the answer wasn’t in the back of the book. Darn! My daughter’s class was on chapter 8. I was completely lost. I went back a few chapters to see if I could catch on—no luck. I ended up starting on page one.
    To help my little girl, I was going to self-teach/re-teach myself math (if I ever actually learned it to begin with). Looking at the work in the book, I was under the impression that there had been some major leaps in the field of mathematics in the last 20 years. Some really new cutting-edge stuff had been discovered, like cross-multiplying and these things called fractions. I was on chapter 4 when my wife, whom I love, caught me struggling with grade-school math.
    “What’re you doing?” she asked.
    “I’m trying to find out what the hell an integer is.”
    “An integer is a positive or negative whole number,” my wife replied with an uppity tone that said, “Everybody knows that an integer is a whole number, you baboon.”
    “Oh … uh, okay, then what is a whole number?”
    Luckily for my kids, they have two parents, and one of them is actually pretty smart. The other one, well, he can do a hell of a keg stand.  m

Rob got on Wikipedia just to confirm that an integer is in fact a whole number. He also learned that SCUBA is an acronym, a hypothesis is an idea tested by scientific method, and dry skin is called psoriasis, none of which sound anything like the word “integer.”




Weekly Poll
Should the proposed aquifer exemption in Cat Canyon be approved?

Yes—the water from the proposed area can't serve as drinking water.
No—oil containments could still pollute usable groundwater.
Additional oil and gas projects can create more jobs.
We need to move away from oil and gas and look at renewable energy projects.

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