Time Is Math

, , , , , , | | Learning | May 15, 2019

One of the disadvantages in teaching in my part of Alaska was that when spring finally rolled around, most of the boys — and some of the girls — would prefer to be out on the tundra shooting at the amazing plethora of recently-arrived ducks, geese, and cranes — and hopefully not shooting any swans!

Because hunting was a skill that was very important to the Yup’ik culture — and useful, too — I understood that they were learning some practical skills even outside my classroom. But on the other hand, if I reported too many absences, I’d be catching some flack from our district admins.

So, on whatever day that class attendance had dropped unacceptably low, I’d announce a lesson in ”money math.”

Some background info: over the course of that year, my students had been very active in fundraising, mainly showing movies for the village multiple days each week, at which we also sold a lot of popcorn, drinks, and homemade “ice pops.” So, by the end of the year, we had a lot of buckets full of coins. This money would usually follow them to the next higher grade the following year, but unfortunately, my predecessor had taken his classes’ money with him when he’d left the village two years earlier. To prevent that from happening again and to give my attending students some “real-life” math practice, I’d bring out one of the coin buckets and place a big handful of coins in front of each pair of “money math” partners.

They would then need to sort them into appropriate piles — quarters, dimes, nickels, and pennies — and then use multiplication to find the total value of each type of coin — e.g. “7 quarters x 25 cents each = $1.75.” Then, each pair would need to add all of their total coin values together and write that amount in a list up on the blackboard. As a class, we then needed to add all of those amounts into a grand total of all the handed-out money for the day. And last, we needed to do on the board the most difficult division problem we’d ever done in order to figure out how much each student would be getting — and later giving them some additional practice at counting out their “shares.”

Hey, who says math needs to be boring?

As a pleasant, and very planned-upon consequence, attendance the following day would almost always be at or near 100%… even though “money math” was almost never offered two days in a row. I guess just the possibility that they might be missing out on a “money math” lesson gave them some extra motivation to not skip.

Penny Dreadful

, , , , , , | Working | May 13, 2019

(I am at the drive-thru of a large fast food chain. After ordering my food, they tell me my total will be $3.26. I have some change in the tray, so I pick up 26 cents so I can get rid of some of it.)

Me: *reaches the first window*

Worker: “What did you have?”

Me: “The [breakfast sandwich].”

Worker: “That’s $3.25.”

Me: “$3.25? I was told $3.26.”

Worker: “$3.25.”

(I put the penny back into the tray and gave her $5.25. She gave me $1.99 in change.)

Using Her Microbrain

, , , , , | | Friendly | May 13, 2019

(I have this one coworker whom I love to death, but she can be kind of ditzy. Our work recently got these new candy-covered nuts, and we keep them warm under the heating lamps. They’re still really good cold, but they’re best warmed up a little. Said coworker likes to buy a bag of the nuts, but she only eats half of them before they get cold. Last time we worked together, she asked if I wanted the rest of the bag because she doesn’t like them cold.)

Me: “Why not just heat them up in the microwave?”

Coworker: “It’s just not the same as buying them hot.”

(This I get, but I’m trying to make a point as she always throws half a bag away even though she loves them.)

Me: “I don’t see why? I mean, the only difference is either being heated by light waves or micro waves.”

(Cue the stare of slight confusion slowly morphing into understanding.)

Coworker: “OH, MY GOD! That’s why they’re called microwaves? Because they use micro waves?!”

In The Future Cars Will Run On Carbs

, , , , | | Right | May 10, 2019

(We host an annual fundraising dinner for our high school band, and we serve a lot of spaghetti. My dad’s a longtime supporter and one day stumbles across something interesting. About a month before the dinner, one brand of spaghetti goes on special at local grocery store, and at the same time there’s a coupon that can be used in conjunction if you also buy the same brand sauce. With both, you can get extra “points” on your card for the purchase, which can be redeemed for gas. Because of this, if you get the spaghetti and sauce and then donate it, you actually end up with a slight profit in gas savings. The only issue is that there is a maximum of six boxes of spaghetti per customer. A few calls later, and everyone associated with the marching band comes and buys six boxes of spaghetti and some of the sauce, donating it to the dinner, and earning their free gas. My dad is checking out when the manager comes over.)

Manager: “Excuse me, but you’re the tenth person today who has bought just spaghetti and sauce and used the same coupon. May I ask if there’s a reason?”

(My dad explains it, and then with pen and paper does the math to show how it works out. The manager thinks this is great and says they will gladly hang flyers for the dinner, then leaves. But the cashier is gobsmacked.)

Cashier: “Can I take that paper where you did all that math? I want to give it to my kids to show them when they ask why they have to study math in school. Imagine, free gas for spaghetti!”

“Percentages & Assault” Coming This Fall On CBS

, , , , , , | | Right | May 5, 2019

(It’s Black Friday, so the store is busy and I have more than my fair share of customers. I’ve been called down to handle one such customer, who is red-faced and screaming throughout this conversation.)

Customer: “This is supposed to be free!”

Me: “Why do you believe that?”

Customer: “It’s marked 10% off and I have a 10%-off coupon! That’s 100% off!”

Me: “Let me show you how our computers will calculate the math for this, sir.”

(I write the numbers down and show him the math on my phone. I’m helped by a passing customer who says I am right. He is still fuming and angry, but seems to accept the math.)

Customer: “That isn’t right! You should put signs up that that’s how you do it!”

Me: “I apologize if this is confusing. Do you still want the item?”

Customer: “Yes. It’s a g**d*** scam you have here.”

(He turns and flings his credit card at the waiting employee, like a throwing star. It hits her, bounces off of her, and goes down a crack between the register and the counter. The crack is only an eighth of an inch wide.)

Customer: “What the h***? Get my card!”

Me: “Um, I’m not sure how.”

(Both counters are bolted to the floor and a piece of flashing means I can’t dig it out with a wire. Meanwhile, the customer is yelling even louder about getting his card out, while pulling his shoulders like he wants to fight. He is screaming threats against us if we don’t get his card out now. I’m about to lose control of the situation when a police officer comes up behind the angry man.)

Officer: “How about you calm down there? I’m sure she is getting your card as fast as possible.”

Customer: “They were trying to scam me! The cashier b**** dropped my card down that crack!”

Officer: “You know I saw you throw it, right? How about you take a seat over there and calm down, buddy. If you don’t tone down the language, I’m going to put you in cuffs.”

Me: “I’ll have maintenance down to unbolt the counter soon.”

Officer: “Tell them to take their time. My one-year-old is learning not to throw things at people right now. I’m going to have the same conversation with my buddy here while we wait.”

(Maintenance was able to unbolt the counter and retrieve the card while I heard the cop explaining percentages and assault to the guy. When he came over, he finished his transaction silently, looking pale and cowed. I checked out a gift card to a coffee shop out of my own money and gifted it to the cop. I don’t want to think how bad things would have gotten if he hadn’t interceded.)

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