Monday, September 06, 2010

Algebra book review "Hot X: Algebra Exposed"

Now that everyone is finally back in school, I have a book review for you guys. For the record, we are starting the 5th week of school here. We've already received the first round of grades and have adjusted priorities as required ;)

Meghan is now a Sophomore in High School, but it seems like 10 years ago that she was taking 6th grade math and asking for help. And I couldn't remember how to do about 20% of it (one day out of five). Back then I found a couple of books by Danica McKellar targeted at Middle School girls that helped both of us figure it out. First book "Math doesn't Suck", second "Kiss My Math". Through middle school and part of Freshman year I was able to keep up with Meghan either by memory, or reviewing one of the books. Of course I made her read them too! Second half of High School Algebra 1, though had me doing a lot more research to remember how to do thing!

Throw into the mix Courtney as a 6th grader last year and we were doing a lot of math in our house!

Danica released another book over the summer "Hot X: Algebra Exposed". This would have been great last year. Between reasonable explanations of FOIL (come on everyone, say it with me! First, Outer, Inner Last!. Anyone else remember their freshman math teacher saying that over and over? Hi Ms. Elias!) Polynomials and graphing, this book is pretty good. While I didn't work through all the problems (that sounds like homework Mom!) I did review each of the sections and it is pretty good.

I even read several of the sections for teenage girls. Many of them are from successful women who struggled with math or school in general and how they succeeded! Probably the best one is Danica ripping on Twilight. From page 26: "And, oh yeah, if a guy says he might hurt you or that he's "dangerous" - seriously, run! ... You are way too smart to let you hormones make important decisions for you, little missy." I think this is great!

As I pointed out with the other two books, even if you have boys, get the books. You can read them and help them (come on, when was the last time you heard FOIL before this review?) or they can. Just tell him you promise not to tell anyone you have them ;-)

And I'm sorry that that FOIL song will be going through your head the rest of the day.

Wednesday, September 01, 2010

25th Anniversary of Hurricane Gloria

With the East coast of the US getting ready for a major September Hurricane, I was reminded of another hurricane that hit the east coast 25 years ago: Gloria.

In 1985 I was a 17 year old high school senior. My parents had left a few days before the storm to go to Hawaii for their 20th wedding anniversary, leaving my brother Patrick and I home. Pat was a freshman in HS at the time. Our older brother John was away at college, and apparently my parents told several of our neighbors that if they saw John, Ed Lizak or Jason Ross to call the police since they weren't supposed to be there. Makes you wonder what they expected to happen?

My aunt was supposed to be staying with us while they were away, but something happened and she wasn't there the day of the storm.

The storm came through pretty quickly and was over. It was surreal that a few hours after the storm was gone it was sunny and clear. Pat and I started surveying the damage and found a few downed trees and a lot of leaves and limbs around. We lost power during the storm and it wasn't until the next morning that we got it back. Somehow our phone line was hit by flying debris so we didn't have a phone for several days.

Once the rain and wind stopped I drove down to Country Inn Pizza to see if they had any pizzas. Yes, in hindsight that was a stupid thing to do. Luckily the roads were fine. I figured they had natural gas ovens so they should have been okay. Apparently several dozen other people thought the same thing and by the time I got there they were out of dough! So I went to the 7-11 and used a pay phone to call Deb and my Aunt. Yes kids, this was before cell phones and the internet.

When I got back home it was getting dark and Pat and I were hungry, so we broke out the camping gear, including a Coleman lantern, and started eating all the frozen food so it wouldn't go bad. As it got darker I remember hearing many of our neighbors trying to find charcoal, flashlights etc. Pat and I sat on the deck eating and listening to the radio. It was fun to listening to them curse and yell while he and I were relaxing making sure Dad's beer didn't go bad. At some point after dark one of the neighbors came over. At first I thought he wanted to see if we were okay since he knew our parent's weren't home. Instead he wanted to know if we had another lantern!

The power came back the next day, but it took a few days to get the phone fixed.

Looking back, I don't remember being scared or even worried about it.

Living Houston during the summer of 1989 was a different situation though ... And a topic for another blog!