Ann Arbor Rant: Let’s Talk About Math

I’m not sure who decided that Ann Arbor Public elementary schools should teach children Everyday Math, but I hate it.

Recently, I discovered the frozen-over hell that is partial sums. For those who didn’t learn math this way, partial sums ultimately boils down to performing single digit addition from left to right. Which means anytime a number not in the highest number value place exceeds 10, things have to be corrected. For example, if you take the problem 549 + 327, under partial math, your thinking strategy works something like this:

In other words, partial sums boils down to performing the problem backwards, since at the end of the day, you’re doing addition at the single digit level, which also means you have to continually correct your math if you run into a “carry-the-one” situation. It gives the child more opportunities to mess up, since they have to keep going back and correcting the numbers they had already calculated, which were calculated correctly, but actually need to be increased because of high numbers in lesser place values. How is this easier/better than the traditional carry-the-one method?

(… it’s not)

My understanding is that this practice is intended to teach children place values. But that seems like place value could easily be taught via expanded notation, while still solving from right to left so you don’t have to repeatedly “correct” your math:

… see why I hate this shit?

This baby gets it.

The Cat Piss Diet

So… my husband is doing the keto diet. I am so proud of him for working to get healthy. Yet it seems that keto is designed not just to lose weight, which is my husband’s primary goal with this diet, but also for a more active lifestyle.

… Can I do neither? #stayinbed

He began talking yesterday about smelling like ammonia. I didn’t smell anything, to be honest, because I have a terrible sense of smell, but like a good wife, I lurked over his shoulder while he Google’d it. Apparently, some people have trouble digesting the extra protein that occurs from switching to a keto diet. So for someone who is in finals week like my husband, who is pretty much glued to his desk, the protein may build up in the body and excrete from the skin. An ammonia smell is often an indicator that too much protein is being ingested, which can have nasty side effects, like kidney stones, liver damage, and bone damage.

In other words, be wary of the keto diet, because it could, like, kill some of your internal organs and make you smell like piss and no one will want to give you a hug. And if you’re going to do keto, make sure you’re exercising.

Sorry, Y’All

I usually try to post at least once per week, but am currently working through some life changes, and so have been a bit MIA/remiss. I shall strive to do my best to behave again – if you don’t see a post from me next Tuesday, you have my permission to shake your head at me in gentle admonition, and perhaps be slightly cross or reproving.

In other news, I decided to create a Twitter, primarily to amuse myself because other people are fucking great at using their 140 or less characters to make me laugh. But I legit squealed a bit in delight when Mona Awad (yes, that Mona Awad, writing goddess, and if you haven’t read Bunny yet, you need to, like, why are you even reading this – go to the bookstore now) responded to one of my tweets:

Had to share – I look up to this woman so much (and recently got the opportunity to read an ARC of her upcoming release All’s Well, which I will be posting about soon (spoiler alert: also amazing)). Unfortunately, the rest of this week has not been going so well. BUT tomorrow’s Friday, so this week is almost over. & next week is bound to be better.

How are y’all doing? Please share in the comments below! I would love to hear about your highs/lows and in-betweens (or feel free to leave your Twitter handle, so I can laugh at your funny 140 character or less postings).

Pet Peeves: Fucking Marathons

I hate it when people say, “It’s not a sprint; it’s a marathon.”

Please shut the fuck up #petpeeves

I understand what they’re trying to get at, and I think it generally comes from a good place. Don’t kill yourself trying to get ahead when there is always more work to do.

Having said that, my brain always defaults to, But the first guy to run a Marathon… from Marathon to Athens to announce defeat of the Persians… died pretty much as soon as the words left his lips (supposedly – who really knows; Greek historians were drama queens). This mortality is completely counter to what the saying means, since the point is not to kill yourself, by referring to something that the first person to successfully finish the task dropped dead from performing the feat, I feel like it’s not a good metaphor.

Let us Dream

As someone currently living in America, I am increasingly disillusioned and disheartened by the depths of idiocy and pure hatred that streams through the bloodstreams of too many of my neighbors. It makes today even more poignant – in spite of the prejudice, the sometimes willful misunderstandings and callous disregard of other people, it is possible to hold your head high and refuse to be just another such person. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. was an amazing man – an excellent role model, an intelligent, empathetic, caring individual. He wanted to bridge understanding between people in America regardless of skin color – and unfortunately, not only did he die without seeing that bridge develop, but that bridge has never been completed. It’s a partially built construction, hanging over the water, and not safe for anyone to drive or walk across.

There is reason to hope. Things could get better. Let’s hold on to the dream that things will get better in America, and try to be decent people who do not hurt other people and do not stand by while others hurt other people, either. And if you haven’t yet, today, I strongly recommend that you listen to the words of Dr. King.

The Year(s) the Movie Companies Decided to Keep it Real with Kids

Because I have children, one of whom is a toddler who likes all things that roar, I watch Monsters University on at least a weekly basis. For those who are not subject to the whims and tantrums of a two-year-old, Monsters University is a prequel to Monsters Inc. It was released in 2013, and despite being a prequel, is actually a pretty decent movie.

It includes 3 of the main characters from the original Inc movie:

  • Sully
  • Mike Wasowski
  • Randall Boggs

These characters are voiced by the same actors, the very talented John Goodman, Billy Crystal, and Steve Buscemi. In addition, the movie nabbed other very talented actors, including Helen Mirren and Charlie Day.

The three characters we already know well from Monsters Inc are now younger – for the majority of the movie, they are freshmen in college, attending, as you have probably already guessed – Monsters University.

The music is catchy, the jokes are funny, and the storyline is a coming-of-age story that includes learning to believe in yourself and others, but also recognizing your strengths and coming to terms with not being able to achieve your dreams. The movie begins with a tiny, elementary-school age Mike Wasowski, who maintains his trademark positivity despite being ignored and overlooked by all of his peers, discovering that he wants to be a scarer. It is a dream he holds firm in his heart, and it is his plan to do whatever it takes to become one when he steps onto the campus of Monsters University, brimming with the naivete and optimism that often comes when you still have your entire adult life ahead of you. Nearly everyone he meets either overlooks him, or tells him he does not have what it takes to be a scarer – when he is not simply being dismissed or ignored, he is generally flat-out being told he is not scary. But he just puts his head down, and works harder. He doesn’t go to the college parties, preferring to study to make sure he can pass his final and remain in the scaring program. The one thing that does get under his skin is Sully – the innately talented monster who can likely graduate as a scaring major without even trying. Sully is automatically noticed and admired by other monsters, and is a legacy to boot, with a famous scarer father. Mike has to work so hard to even be noticed, and even then, although he knows the scaring information from textbooks back-to-front, and can pass a written test with flying colors, he’s still… not scary. So someone who is frightening without even trying really gets to him.

Hopefully, you’re less bored than Mickey…

The thing is — everyone else, unfortunately, is right. Mike works the hardest, studies the right stuff, and has a can-do attitude throughout his brief time at university, but… it doesn’t matter. In spite of everything, he is not capable of being a scarer, because he is not capable of being scary. He improves his scaring stances, aces his tests, and even uses his knowledge to coach others into being more capable scarers, but he is still, and will always be, unable to achieve his dream. So a large part of Mike’s journey is actually coming to terms with who he is, and figuring out his new goal.

This lesson is actually fine. Most girls want to be a ballerina, for example, but most girls cannot actually become a professional ballerina. Most girls get breasts, or do not want to study dance with the focus required to become a professional, or get eating disorders that make their bones brittle and unable to actually perform, etc.

Dreams die #keepingitreal

The thing is… Monsters University is not the only children’s film made around this time that deals with needing to understand yourself and come to terms with not being able to achieve your heart’s deepest desire. In fact, it’s not even the first film that came out around that time with this thesis. Disney came out with another movie in 2012 about a rough guy just doing his job, and hated for it, and hating being hated for it, who befriended a cheeky rascal in a land made out of dessert. Who found out that his job was necessary, and he should keep doing it, but having friends made it bearable. That’s right, folks, a mere year-ish before, Disney released Wreck-It Ralph. Or what about another movie released in 2012 – Disney’s Brave? It is about more than accepting your position, but although Merida decides to make her role as royalty her own, she does have to come to terms with the fact that she is royalty, and that birthed her into certain responsibilities. In fact, failing to come to terms with this in the beginning of the movie nearly causes her to lose her mother forever because the witch she sought help from seems to only know a single spell (and how to carve, I guess). Then, there’s the 2013 Disney release Frozen, in which one of the main characters, Elsa, has to learn how to be honest with herself and others, and not merely isolate herself like an odd, sexy hermit, because she has responsibilities as a sister and a queen that she cannot, and does not want to, shirk. 2012 and 2013 feel like the years someone at Disney decided to explain to children that you can’t always do anything you want, but you can figure out a way to be okay with your employment, whether it’s glamorous like Elsa and Merida, or blue-collar like Ralph and Mike. I’m not necessarily against it, it just feels a little weird that instead of saying, “Keep making good decisions” or “You can be anything you want, if you only believe/work hard enough,” Disney was like, “Life’s not perfect, but you can settle and be cool with that.”

What do you guys think – am I reading too much into what I interpret as a slew of similarly themed movies? Is Monsters University actually terrible? Or am I a smart, savvy chick who has a point? Would love to hear your thoughts in the comments below!

Americans – Have You Voted Yet?

If not, and if the reason why is anything other than:

  • because you are underage and as such, unable to legally vote
  • living too far from your voting locale to drive there within the remaining time left to vote (which means you should have requested, filled out, and returned an absentee ballot, so now I shall place an imaginary dunce cap on your head #feeltheshame)

Then go vote. Now. Get off your computer. Walk/bike/drive/skateboard to wherever you should be voting, and make yourself heard.

Unless you’re a sexist/racist/evil piece of shit who’s voting for Trump. You can stay home, and… I don’t know:

  • if you’re not wealthy, try not to get sick since you don’t think everyone deserves equal access to healthcare,
  • if you are wealthy – think about the best way to independently pay to fix our infrastructure since you don’t believe anyone should pay taxes, and therefore the government shouldn’t be doing it with taxpayer dollars

Have fun with that.

Here’s hoping there are more decent, civic-minded people voting this year than otherwise left in America.

Photo by Tembela Bohle on Pexels.com

Your ’90s Slang of Choice is Telling

When I first moved to the Bay Area, I was continually assaulted with this word I had not heard since I was… much younger (stop trying to guess my age, asshole): hella. I rolled my eyes, thought, What is this, the ’90s? to myself, and inwardly judged everyone I heard using it.

Hella, in case you haven’t spent much time in the Bay (or other areas of the country that still use it), is somehow able to be used as all parts of speech. It’s a tricky word, sneaking into your psyche until, after hearing and judging its’ spewing forth from the mouths of others continually, there comes the day when, unbidden, it leaves your mouth, and you realize you have been assimilated. I used it just the other day. Yes, I am a hypocrite.

But I also judge people much less for using this word, since I have realized that every area seems to have it’s ’90s slang word that has never left.

In the Metro Detroit area, where I’m from, it’s “bitch.”

Like the unassuming everyman, just blindly going through her day, I was blithely unaware that this was the case, until I had an argument with my husband. This time, it was over his taking the rest of the coffee I had made and not brewing a fresh pot. I had only had 1 cup so far for the day, and for those who incorrectly think I’m a normal person, let me assure you – I am a raging psychotic until I’ve had a few cups of coffee in me. I like to sit in complete silence until the caffeine level in my bloodstream gets high enough, like Christian Bale as Patrick Bateman, but without all the push-ups. So while my flabby arms are in no way, shape, or form at all intimidating, the fury escaping my person as I fumed and grinded fresh coffee beans, got more water, retrieved a filter from beneath the coffee island was ridiculous. So, once I had consumed a couple additional cups of coffee and was once more safe to approach, my husband apologized, saying he realized Terry Tate would have tackled him.

If you’re saying: “… who? … what?,” I was in the same boat.

So we went to the internet, where half of our arguments are resolved (ahem: only one space is required after a period; two spaces is leftover from the days when everyone used typewriters…) or our pop culture knowledge is strengthened and shared. As YouTube will show you, Terry Tate was a football player (actual name: Lester Speight, T-squared is a fictional character) in the ’90s/early 2000’s who did commercials for Reebok where he used football maneuvers to handle common office problems (… like taking the rest of the coffee and not brewing a fresh pot). In addition to having abs for days (… yum!), this character is a funny reminder to, like, not be a dick, and guess what one of his slang terms is…

So, yes, watching old commercials with Terry Tate caused me to have a moment of self-realization and reflection, and I realized that – surprise, surprise, I am an asshole. I mean, I kind of already knew that, but in this case, I am an asshole for judging people constantly (constantly!) using “hella” in conversation in the Bay Area, when I still consistently use “bitch” in my own non-professional conversation with people I trust.

I remember having a conversation with someone from Boston, and asking what their word was – “wicked.” Not, like, “… witch of the west,” more like “wicked awesome.”

As a result of everything just detailed above, I have a theory that, whether you know it or not, your regular vocabulary includes a ’90s slang word that tells people where you’re from. If you use “hella,” you’re probably from the Bay. “Bitch” is Detroit. “Wicked” is Boston. Help me expand my geographical knowledge of America via ’90s slang vocabulary – those of you from other areas of the US, what is your ’90s slang word?

Did Netflix Original Heartthrob Noah Centineo Make the Same Movie Twice?

Noah Centineo (“NC” from hereon out, because typing out his full name every time I reference him in this post feels like too much effort) who made an adorable and endearing love interest in the Netflix adaptation of Jenny Han’s YA novel To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before, as well as Netflix original Sierra Burgess is a Loser, continued to play a high-school aged heartthrob in The Perfect Date, along with the ineffably talented Laura Maurano, and went on to make more movies that I’m not going to list in this post. I often like YA romance movies, so I have seen all of the aforementioned movies.

Then, I noticed another movie, which also featured Centineo, and which also featured a dating app, both of which are components of The Perfect Date. I was intrigued. The movie is called Swiped, and before you leave to go look for it on Netflix, let me warn you – It. Is. Terrible. Almost unwatchable. I put it on, and couldn’t finish it, and I willingly watch Hallmark movies for funsies. Sure, I’m mostly making fun of them, like the years where the costume designers didn’t hem anyone’s pants, the predictable plotlines, or the fact that as I grow older, the protagonist of A Christmas Kiss increasingly seems like an inept she-devil hell-bent on terrorizing her unsuspecting, successful boss who was just asking her to do her job, goshdarnit. But I’m still willing to watch these undeniably slightly terrible movies from start-to-finish. But I couldn’t finish Swiped. So, you know – perspective.

One woman’s Xmas kiss… is another woman’s Xmas nightmare

It kind of fascinates me that NC chose to do both of these movies, with fairly similar concepts, so close together. I mean, there are subtle differences. Although both movies feature technologically proficient teens with the capability to fairly quickly develop an app, The Perfect Date features high school students, whereas Swiped takes place in college. Additionally, although both movies feature teenage characters who are socially awkward, The Perfect Date features that teenage character as more of an intelligent teen girl who is an appropriate love interest, whereas Swiped features that teenage character as a nerdy teen boy who develops the app (I think, again, I could only stand like 20 minutes or so of the movie), seems to have mommy issues, and in reality, wouldn’t get laid (although he’s probably got some love interest in the movie, since I think he’s one of the protagonists). Both movies feature NC, and both rely on his good looks and charm to sway the audience as well as make him seem worthy of redeeming, as well as being a love interest, in spite of his character’s flaws. But only one of these movies work.

The largest differentiator between the two films that I discerned based on my cursory introduction to Swiped was budget. Mainly, The Perfect Date seemed to have one whereas Swiped seems to have been made with considerably less money. Swiped has that noticeable vacuum of sound that low budget films often have, where there is no background noise, which makes the lackluster dialogue that much more apparent. It makes the quirks that the characters should have lack humor, because the person talking to him/her/their-self who would seem odd with the right music playing in the background instead seems more like that homeless guy you walked by the other day muttering to himself and pulling his hair out of his scalp (for some reason, the latter feels a little less cute).

So it’s not the same movie, but it is possible that NC chose both movies for the same reason. My theory*: the idea of developing a dating app with a friend that helps him become a better person and find love so enraptured NC that he immediately signed on to do Swiped (a 2018 movie), and then, when the opportunity to make a strikingly similar movie was proffered, he doubled down, and signed on to do The Perfect Date (a 2019 movie). So why is NC so enraptured by this idea? Maybe he has secret Tinder/Bumble accounts, or maybe his love life is solely arranged by his agent, so the idea of finding love in any other way is intriguing and fascinating, or maybe he wants to be the next Steve Jobs, but, cursed with good looks and a lack of turtlenecks, has to console himself in the arms of pretty ladies in movies and on television instead of becoming the technological visionary he knows in his bones he would otherwise be meant to be.

Those are my rambling thoughts about NC and the mystery of the two similar-but-not-quite-the-same movies. What about you? Have you seen one/both of these movies? Did you also compare and contrast these movies – and if so, did your thoughts coincide with mine? Or, better yet, do you have a conspiracy theory about NC and why he did both films? Please spill in the comments below!

*Completely unfounded and likely untrue.