Ebb and Flow

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, September 7, 1999

DEBORAH CORRAO / L’Observateur / September 7, 1999

Help! My brain’s on overload.

First of all, I wasn’t quite ready for summer vacation to end as abruptly as it did. There are three students in my house now, my son, my daughter and my granddaughter.

While I’m happy about their quest for knowledge, I don’t want to be so intimately involved in it. I have been inundated with everything fromsecond-grade spelling words to college chemistry.

I can get through the spelling words pretty well, but the chemistry has me baffled. Now I got through high school chemistry with a “B” solely by thegrace of God. I got help from Pam, who understood atoms and moleculesand probably makes a lot more money today than I do.

I decided to major in journalism in college because chemistry was not among the required courses.

Yesterday my daughter was doing chemistry homework, which consisted of converting meters to kilometers, etc. Now I don’t know what that has todo with chemistry, but I’m good at math. I figured it the old-fashionedway – figured there were 1,000 meters in a kilometer so just multiply the meters by 1,000 and voila! kilometers! Wrong! It’s more involved than that, a matter of exponents, like 10-25. Well, nowI’m typing along on this column and realized when I got to that number I didn’t know how to type an exponent in Wordperfect. But Inez, our graphicsexpert, came to the rescue with a suggestion to look for a function called superscript. As you can see, it works.And despite a few college math courses where we worked with exponents ( and I got “As” in, by the way), I still don’t know exactly how they work.

In high school a couple of the kids carried a slide rule (predecessor to the calculator), but I never used one of those either. As an aside, my colleagueLenny Gray is looking for a slide rule if any of you have one you’re willing to part with.

Enough about chemistry.

My daughter’s also taking an English class that involves me reading a lot of short stories and novels on the pretense of being able to discuss them with her. Of course, as she’s already come to realize, my interpretation ofliterature differs from her professor’s and even common logic.

After a pseudo-pop quiz in class last week, she came back saying, “You were wrong. Good thing we didn’t get graded.” Good thing, indeed.Meanwhile, Carley probably got an A on her first spelling test. I think I’lljust stick to helping her.

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