Saturday, February 24, 2007

How Math Affects a 46 Year Old Brain

Thanks to GingaJoy ( for this ... I laughed out loud this morning.  Good thing I had finished my coffee.  You see, next Tuesday I am taking the GRE (Graduate Record Examination).  On the way down to New Orleans last week (more on that later) I was studying my Kaplan's GRE practice book.  The vocab stuff isn't too bad, I recognize most of the words, but the Math stuff is giving me a nervous breakdown.  My eyeballs, literally, went into spasms.  I only get more freaked out when I ask David a question and he says, "Oh, EASY!  All you do is multiply this by this and then that by that, and there ya go!!"  Heh ... easy for you maybe, you're a freakin' SCIENTIST.   I, on the other hand, am steeped in Liberal Artism.  Let me discuss the ramifications of the German invasion of Poland, or the British parliamentary system, and I am right at home.

I am very hopeful that the Powers that Be at UNC-G will know that I am going to study Library Science (think: words, books, reading, literature) and NOT Rocket Science, so my miserably low Math score on the GRE will not be a factor.  (Factor?  Did you say Factor?  As in Factoring Polynomials???  AGH!!) 

It is a CAT ... "Computer Adaptive Test", which means that the exam is given on a computer.  If you answer an easy question correctly, it will then give you a hard question.  If you miss that one, back to the easy ones.  Then score you accordingly.  There is a writing section too ...well, we all know I can put together a coherent sentence (Right?  RIGHT?) so I'm not too worried about that.  And argue?  Yep, I can certainly argue a point.  I'm a woman, after all ...

No more No. 2 pencils.  No bubbles to fill in.  Just point and click the mouse.  Thank goodness.  When I took the SAT all those millenia ago, I remember stressing more about getting No. 2 pencil marks outside the bubble than the actual test itself.  I can't remember what my scores were, but they were good enough to get me into a pretty decent, competitive school (Trinity University, San Antonio, Texas).  But ya know, today, my qualifications would never have been enough to get in.  Now you have to have 1,000 hours of community service, volunteer in the bush of Africa, start your own business at the age of 16, and participate in at least 20 clubs or extracurricular activities.  Sheesh.  When I was in high school, the most I did was participate in the school play because it got you out of school early for rehearsals, and smoke behind the gym.  And get invited to the best parties, held by the kids with the fanciest houses and most lenient parents.  Doesn't that count for something??

So, wish me luck ... and that Academia will welcome me back into its fold with open arms.

Tuesday, February 6, 2007

In Defense of the Much-Maligned MiniVan

Vintage minivan: Lloyd LT 600What the heck?  Why in the name of unleaded gasoline, are so many people such virulent haters of the minivan?  I read a few blogs on a regular basis, and many of them are fessing up to (hanging their heads in shame) "crossing over to the dark side" by buying a minivan.  They bemoan the fact that their "cool factor" has bitten the dust, and gnash their teeth that it has come down to this.  No more cute zippy sports cars ... we have <gulp> CHILDREN now, and so we have to drive this monstrosity that they call a minivan.  Heavens to murgatroyd, how far they fall.

Granted, I chuckle to myself when I arrive at a function (be it a baseball game, or school orientation meeting) at the row after row of almost identical minivans in the parking lot.  It's kinda humorous to me .. but denigrate them?  Why?  I have driven a minivan since 1993 (after trading in our BMW that had a standard transmission .. ever try to give a baby a bottle and shift at the same time?  Yes, this was back in the Stone Ages when it was okay to put the baby seat in the front) with a short period of time during which I coveted my neighbor's Suburban.  I whined and pleaded and hinted to David that I really really wanted a Suburban, it was so cool -- the cool factor was ratcheted way up for Suburbans!  I was ready to step out into the cool zone.  So, we bought a Yukon XL.  At first I felt like I was piloting a bulldozer, but I thought, I'll get used to it.  And the first day I tried to load the kids into it, with the REAL (not sliding) doors, that actually stick out from the sides of the car, I knew that this was going to be a gigantic pain in the butt.  But since I had gone to such lengths to get the thing, I felt I had to suck it up and be happy.

Then I kept hitting things.  Parked cars.  Parking garage ticket booths.  Garage doors.  (I told David one time, "I'm so tired of having dents in my car!"  His answer:  "Then stop hitting stuff!"  Thanks hon.)  The thing was just HUGE.  I never got used to the sense that I was taking up two lanes (or more) and I was almost embarrassed that I was head & shoulders above everyone else on the road.  "Look at me!  I can afford to pay $75.00 to gas up this thing!  I can squash your Audi like a BUG!  TAWANDA!"  That just wasn't me ... I was ashamed at the damage I was doing to the environment with the behemoth.

Fast forward 18 months.  David no longer has a company car.  We're in the market for a new vehicle.  After checking out all the dents in the Yukon, David decides that we really need a minivan again.  We bought a 2006 Honda Odyssey, which I love love love.  It drives like a sports car, very tight turning radius.  Low to the ground ... I no longer need a catapult to get Melanie into her car seat.  The automatic sliding doors are ... just too cool for words.

So what?  I have kids!  I am a (fingers making the quotation marks) MOM.    Should I stick with a (more quotation marks) cool car just because it's cool?  or should I have a vehicle that is functional and easy to load up and operate?  And that gets good gas mileage? 

So come over to the bright side, people!  Minivans are not Darth Vader reincarnate.  They are the vehicles that we use to shuttle the future around.  Is there any shame in that?  I think not.

**Editor's Note:  I should mention that the Yukon is now David's truck.  It is a manly type mode of transportation better suited to him than to me.  It is, however, a blessing on long road trips due to its cavernous luggage space.  I have been known to drive it from time to time, including part of the trip from Mississippi when we were pulling Colin's new car on a trailer.  Through Atlanta, no less! 


Friday, February 2, 2007

Yikes! Long Time No See!

What they say about January being the longest, most depressing month must be true.  What a cold, dreary time it was; hence the lack of posts in a while.  Add that to the death of the batteries in our camera, and you have true doldrums.

David and I did get away to Naples, FL, the 2nd weekend in Jan., like last year at the same time.  (Business meeting).  If you flip back through the old posts you will be reminded of how sick I was last year, with food poisoning, which led me to swear off all seafood for the next decade.  This year was perfect, and since we were at the Ritz Carlton, I felt confident enough to sample the sushi.  And the lobster.  Ah, all systems are again a go in the seafood department.  One day I drove the golf cart while David and his boss played; the next I sat on the beach with a book (the biography of Walt Disney ... very interesting!  Not such a nice person, old Walt!)  I had a chair and an umbrella, and a little flag pole.  Flag pole?  For what is this flag pole?  I raised the flag and here came a lady to grant my every wish.  Okay, it was only a sandwich and a drink.  How decadent, indeed!  It was about 78 degrees, and I napped.  I read.  I napped, I read.  Utopia.

This month I made the momentous decision to try to go to graduate school this fall.  I am hoping to get my Masters' in Library and Information Science.  Not very sexy, I agree, but books are my life, and this is a dream I have had for nearly 10 years.  Now that Melanie will be in kindergarten, the time is right.  I take the GRE on Feb. 27.  Been studying vocabulary like a fiend.  Never knew that my kids were obdurate.  Some days I can be very truculent with them.  When I make aspic, I need to macerate the gelatin.  HA ... got you reaching for the dictionary, didn't I?  Now the math part; that may be a lost cause.  Wish me luck.

My degree (should I suceed in all matters educational) will be from UNC Greensboro (1 hour north of CLT) but I can attend classes here in CLT through teleconferencing.  I only have 1-2 classes per semester, so I'm hoping I'llbe able to pull it off.

Today is Melanie's 2 hour craniofacial clinic with Dr. Matthews.  Long day.  I'm packing the portable DVD player, some snacks and a lot of patience. 

We actually had snow yesterday!  About an inch, but we'll take it.  Got the kids out of school anyway.  It's all gone today.

Hope it won't be another month  before I post again!