Do You Use Math Much?

by saacnmama

You’ve Been Cutting Your Cake Wrong All Your Life

We talk about calculus enough in here, and have made a few jokes about its use beyond the classroom. At my undergrad university, either calculus or formal logic could be used to fulfill one of the liberal arts requirements. In other words, the value of calculus was seen not in being able to derive anything, but in following steps to make an analysis. How do you use your math background? Using simple algebra to calculate exposed area per volume of remaining cake could be one way to test out this method of cake cutting. Where else is math handy for you, and what level math do you use most often?

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204 thoughts on “Do You Use Math Much?

  1. I use it a lot, but I’m an economist. Two examples that might be useful/interesting: First, assuming a 1″ crust, two 12″ pizzas have the same toppings as one 16″ pizza. Second, one can algebra to do some multiplication problems quickly in your head. For example, 58 * 62 = 3596, since it equals (x-2)*(x+2) = x**2 – 4.

  2. I think the simple solution would be to put the cake in a sealed container (i.e. Tupperware), so that it wouldn’t get dried out. No math necessary. ; )

    I use addition/subtraction/multiplication/division/percentages daily in my job. However, I cannot think of a time when I’ve used more sophisticated math.

  3. Houston–I think the simplest solution is to eat the whole cake in one sitting.

    I use simple four-function math, but that’s it. I never took calculus, and I’ve never needed it. Statistics has been much more useful.

  4. I’m with Houston, although I never took calculus. I play Monopoly a lot with my seven year old, otherwise I use a calculator.

  5. Like Houston, I use basic math in my job every day. Surprising, since I never considered myself to be a math natural, rather someone who has to take the time and effort to go through problems step by step. My kids get impatient when I am reviewing their homework as I will go through each step. Actually, use of math every day at work means I have improved in the subject since I left college ;-).

  6. I liked the cake cutting video and will try that method instead of cutting a round cake like a pie.

  7. The most complicated I get is interest calculators in Excel (say, for a promissory note) and then I just have to look up the formula for interest compounding semi-annually, say. Otherwise the calculations I do have to do with marginal rates of tax, etc. No algebra or anything more complicated.

  8. I do unit pricing all the time — am frequently penny-wise, pound-foolish on Amazon figuring out what is the cheapest iteration of some generic food-type item (their published unit pricing is frequently inconsistent across sizes and brands). I also do it periodically baking or in MyFitnessPal — ie., where I don’t have the right pan size for the recipe and have to decide which alternate pan size is the closest in area, or when the posted entry is for 1/3 of a 12″ pizza and I am ordering a 9″ and need to figure out how much I should eat to correspond, etc.

    But it really doesn’t get much more complicated than that. DH will do more complex things in Excel or on the computer (i.e., last week he computing turning circles, creating arcs of the appropriate size to scale, and plotting them on a scan of our lot) — but this is more at the nexus of math and computer skills vs. “pure” math.

  9. BL & Houston, hahaha. But wouldn’t it be great to just have birthday cakes just waiting for you to cut them up as you chose?

    I like algebra and geometry proofs, but rarely use them in their pure forms.

  10. Oh, and speaking of math: both kids just finished their first go-round on the PARCC tests (the new common-core variants of the old state required tests), and for the first time DS got a little bit blown out of the water and didn’t finish the last question. I was glad to see it — things tend to come easily for him, so getting knocked back to earth a few times will be good for the boy. But what surprised me was the test: it was not the typical scan-tron with 100 questions, it was 11 questions in 75 minutes — and half of the question was to get the answer, and the other half was to explain the answer. His issue, of course, was with the latter half (he apparently wrote up his explanation on one question, then realized that the question had asked him to explain how he could figure out the answer using the number bar — but he hadn’t used the number bar, so he had to erase his explanation and then rewrite it the number bar way, and then ran out of time). I’m glad to see them focusing on fewer questions that make the kids think their way through, vs. the simple stuff that they can just knock out by memory.

  11. exposed area per volume of remaining cake

    The most important factor is the frosting to cake ratio. If you cut it like a pie everyone enjoys the same frosting to cake ratio. However, if you cut it like they suggest the frosting to cake ratio varies.

  12. I don’t think I have used “pure math” since engineering school and a few finance & statistics courses in business school. However, all of the equations used in civil engineering were derived at some point in history by someone, and that type of research continues today by very smart people. It was important to know where they came from in order to tell when a computer program gave you a junk answer – which was most likely cause by user error such as input in the wrong units. These days, I’m more likely to be calculating net present value/future value, rate of return, and just basic percentages, usually with Excel.

  13. Rhett – is your ideal ratio high or low? I like a very low ratio but the kids are often the opposite. :)

  14. answer using the number bar — but he hadn’t used the number bar, so he had to erase his explanation and then rewrite it the number bar way, and then ran out of time).

    So there’s this guy at church who is homeless and disabled. He started taking some remedial classes at the local community college, including remedial math. So I met him at the library to try to help with his homework. He’d been getting bad grades because he’d just been solving the problems. The instructions insisted that you solve each problem three different ways — number line, and then two other ways that I’ve blocked from my mind. It was terminally boring. I suppose I understand why they insist on that, but I had a lot of sympathy for my friend who just wanted to solve the damn problem the way he learned it in the 70s. It took hours for him to grind through 50 problems, solving each of them three different ways.

  15. The cake video is nonsense. Get some saran and call it a day. Who wants nasty rubber bands on their cake, plus if it isn’t fondant, it won’t work so well. I don’t use math a whole lot, just basic algebra and such for things around the house. How many bulbs to plant in a bed. Dimensions for shelves etc… It is not my forte and as for helping the kids with their homework – I’m completely out. Wait for Dad or try that Khan Academy fellow, unless we are talking geometry which is simple and amazing and so logical. ; )

  16. Moxie, I agree that rubber bands do not belong on cakes. Additionally, I thought the guy in the video is somehow obnoxious.
    My ideal cake: frosting ratio depends on the type of frosting. Some buttercream is really yummy, some is garbage, and fondant is cardboard.

  17. I’m homeschooling my daughter in precalc, so I use math all the time. Otherwise, I use it to check callibrations on fertilizer applicators, program equations in excel. I never memorized the net present value formalae, so I derive it when needed. When we remodeled the house, we put in a number of arches and, although our general contractor was a math major, we would sometimes do the calcs together. DH is putting together a corral/arena for the horses, he drew out a geometry/algebra analysis to make sure the set up was big enough and to determine how many panels to order.

    I kind of get why kids should learn multiple ways to solve a problem, because sometimes, given the data, one way is easier than another. Although a lot of the math homework my 6th grader gets seems to be focused on time killing instead of learning.

  18. What has helped is teachers alerting parents that kids will be shown a number of ways to solve problems, so to hold off on showing the kids the parental way till later. Also, older kid has been helped by teacher showing step by step examples of how a problem is solved – which is brought home. These reference examples have helped kid with the homework, instead of “I don’t recall how we did this problem in class”.

  19. L – Whenever I make a cake, I frost it with a home-made cream cheese frosting (I make it from butter, cream cheese, vanilla, and powdered sugar). I will admit to eating a few spoonsful of the frosting before it even makes it onto the cake. I love the stuff. DH isn’t big on frosting, so whenever we have cake, the kids and I will split up the portion that he scrapes off his slice and add it to our slices.

    On topic, like many of you, I use the basic functions in my daily work, and build some simple spreadsheets, but nothing more. I was good at most math subjects when I was in school, but the one thing I struggled with was geometry — sometimes no matter how hard I looked, I just couldn’t see the steps that I needed to do a proof.

  20. “and fondant is cardboard”

    The only valid purpose of cake is to serve as a substrate for frosting.

    Ergo, fondant defeats the purpose. It should be burned at the stake (assuming it is even combustible).

  21. Fondant is edible modeling clay.

    I do a lot of mental math (mainly arithmetic) and the occasional algebra, but it’s not usually work-related. It’s usually just based on something from everyday life or something I was curious about. Oh, and figuring probabilities because it’s fun. Geometry/trig, only when looking at homework or tests or going over SAT/PSAT test answers with my oldest. We had a pleasant dinner discussion about imaginary numbers and their practical applications (turns out they do have one!) the other night.

    Calculus I haven’t touched since college. It is now a shadowy realm full of terms I recall using but no longer remember the meaning of. As the kids move into precalc I will either have to do a refresher course via Khan to keep up, or give up looking at homework/tests.

  22. I use math daily, especially percentages/ratios and present value formulas ;) Also option pricing and bond pricing. Business math. Quite a bit of math necessary for DD insulin dosing – good thing she is a math whiz.

    Frosting is key – NOB – when I would take DD to bday parties where parents stayed – she would scrape off the frosting, eat it and pass the cake to me, I would happily finish the cake. First bday party with DS – when he was done he passed me a plate of scraped off frosting – which I promptly threw in the garbage. Although I do like some types of frosting, especially cream cheese – just not soooo much please.

  23. My end goal in cutting the cake is to make sure that I get a corner piece. It not only has the most frosting, but sometimes I can snag a flower as well.

  24. just not soooo much please.

    Too much frosting? That’s like being too rich or too thing. As if such a thing were possible.

  25. @Rhett – Americans don’t like marzipan but the Europeans do. Also, from what I have seen cakes in America are usually iced with buttercream not fondant. I have found it difficult to get an ordinary bakery to do a fondant cake.

  26. I have found it difficult to get an ordinary bakery to do a fondant cake.

    That seems more like a feature than a bug.

  27. I use marzipan in cinnamon rolls. I may have to figure out how to put it on a cake with frosting.

    I like how a topic on math has devolved into a frosting versus cake debate. Usually half the time we go from the topic to calculus.

  28. Murphy — Why are you homeschooling precal? Just that one course, right?

    I used to use math a bit in my first job as a geologist, slope, angles, etc. But not calc-level. In another job I was a giant among dwarfs, being the only STEM major among marketing and other types. I’d whip out an annual average return number on my calculator and impress people. I think the only other people who could do that were the actuaries.

  29. The only upper math teacher at my daughter’s high school is abusive, long story that I went thru a little over a year ago. I don’t know if homeschooling is the completely accurate term. She is taking the course online and I am supervising. This is my third semester homeschooling. So far so good. DD is no longer dropping weight, she is happier, she is covering more material than her classmates. Next year, I may help some of her classmates do the same thing, when we do calculus.

  30. Murphy, totally agree re the direction of conversation.

    Rhett/Louise, European (at least German and Swiss) marzipan is soooo much better than what grocery stores here carry.

  31. @Louise: I am utterly lost here. Even the best cake is only marginally tolerable, because it is dry and crumbly and, just, meh. Just. don’t. get. recipes where the cake sits around for days, at which point it has to be just as dry and nasty as the fondant. Or is that the plan: to make the fondant taste better by comparison?

    OTOH, DH *loves* marzipan. Especially the European variety, where they mold it and color it into all of these great shapes (I recall entire families of pigs and mice and such) — the artistry of the corner baker was pretty impressive.

  32. Murphy — So glad it’s working out. Online courses figure prominently in the future of public high school, for better or worse. Our local high school explicitly prohibited allowing credit for online courses, much to the dismay of the guidance counselor who saw students who could benefit, sometimes in cases like your daughter’s.

  33. I spent way too much time calling up bakeries for a fondant cake. I had a picture from Pinterest. They were like “we can do this in buttercream” – yes they can, but it will not look like the fondant picture. Anyway, I will let y’all know how the cake I ordered turned out.

  34. COC…we had a fairly solid case. The teacher lunged at my daughter in front of the principal. He did nothing. Letting her take the course online was an easy way out for everyone. And, I suspect the principal thought she would fail and come back to high school. I don’t know that he understood my academic background. It was really hard in the beginning and it is still really stressful. I am tired of being my daughter’s teacher. I am also tired of having to relearn precalc/calc, although it is easier this go round. One thing I have found amazing is that I can recall the emotional state/feeling I had when learning the stuff the first time. Geek that I am, trig brings back feelings of warmth and nostalgia. One thing I absolutely cannot forgive that teacher for is denying my daughter the camraderie of trig/precalc with a warm, caring teacher.

  35. ” just got freon added to the AC. So much better!”

    I can vouch for that. It’s gotten cold again here, and I definitely thought that the heat upstairs was better after the refrigerant addition.

  36. When I was getting married, my one and only requirement for our wedding cake was buttercream frosting. No fondant allowed! The wedding cake bakers often want to do fondant, since I guess you can do fancier decorations with it, but I wanted people to actually enjoy eating the cake, not just looking at it.

  37. RMS, yes she does. She plays sports and is very active in a school club. She uses on period per day to access the course online. There are some glitches, the internet doesn’t always work, and since she uses the counselor’s office, if the counselor is absent, she either wanders the halls or finds another classroom to hang out in.

  38. Wow, Murphy. I feel for the remaining students in that teacher’s classes, or hopefully he has reformed himself. We had a case here where a teacher threw a chair at a student, and it took years to resolve the case. I believe that teacher finally retired early with a nice pension.

  39. We have California tenure laws. That teacher has no incentive to change. Other parents/students have told me that they are hoping that she will follow through and retire this year as she said she would. I can homeschool my oldest and youngest. I don’t think it will work with my middle one. She and I are both to alike and hardheaded.

    Many years ago, my own high school was on 60 minutes about an abusive teacher/coach. That teacher threw clipboards at students, used racial ethnic slurs, was a truly nasty person. I understand that the person was a problem was I was in elementary school. I think it was resolved when I was in grad school. I think the district paid him a quarter million to retire.

  40. LfB, I suspect you’re not eating good cakes. If you dislike cake you’re probably not making it yourself or going to the effort to find a good bakery (good in the sense of makes tasty cake, not in the sense of can created a scale replica of the Colosseum in fondant), so then when you have cake it’s something from the supermarket bakery that someone brought in to the office.

  41. LfB – ditto to HM!!! Cake is the BEST. Supermarket cake is the WORST.

    NoB – okay, so cream cheese frosting is the one kind that I really do like and would eat by itself. :) It’s not too sweet! I like the Flour cookbook one, but they are probably all pretty similar.

    Murphy – that is awful!! Hope your daughter doesn’t have to see that teacher at school otherwise!! Shouldn’t there be automatic exceptions to tenure in case of abuse????

  42. Not really math related, but just it involves numbers and complaining, so still on topic.

    Closing on a new house today! Woo-hoo. About 10 days later than planned — so many last minute loan disasters. According to the mortgage broker, the new regulations have made the lenders have to verify even more information. Such exciting questions: can you provide documentation for each retirement account’s withdrawal protocols (saying, “standard 401k” was insufficient)? why is there a difference (of approx 1%) between the value of stock your company says it issued you and what $ got deposited in you account? Why are you paying the IRS in December from your account that 1099 income goes into (uh…we have to pay quarterly taxes?)? Why does your hourly income vary year to year (essentially, can you document that you are not having more babies)?. Who pays for your housing when you travel? (needed signed documentation from my employer– wouldn’t even accept my contract that specifically states how my travel is paid.)

    The level of scrutiny for each deposit in our account was crazy — we were under contract twice in January to buy a home, left after inspection both times. That means we had a checks for $X3,750 $X2,475 leave our account for earnest money. Two weeks later we had deposits for $X3,750 and $X2,475. It is amazing the amount of documentation we had to provide (and our real estate agent, and our bank) to show that those two deposits weren’t loans from shady sources that we were using to make our down payment. Our agent said she had a house close recently from a young newlymarried Chinese couple. The amount of documentation they had to do for all of the cash gifts into their bank account was way worse than our travails.

    Compared to previous house purchases, it seems as though there is the assumption that we are actively working to defraud the lender. (For what it is worth, this is a standard, primary residence, conforming-loan with 20% down). But, fingers crossed, we will have keys in a few hours.

  43. “Shouldn’t there be automatic exceptions to tenure in case of abuse????”

    There should be, but there aren’t. As several teacher friends have told me, they have to catch a teacher having sex with a student in the classroom to fire them. There was a fairly notorious case a few years ago here about an early elementary school teacher taking children out of his classroom and molesting them. He was not fired.

  44. Murphy – you are a mom rock star! I feel for the kids who are stuck in that class. I’m amazed at how it always seems like we have the inmates running the asylum. There is a hooligan on my daughter’s bus who is simply a terror and a menace and we cannot get him removed permanently so many parents are taking to driving their kids. I thought, hmmm, there’s something wrong with this scenario. My daughter is not like my son and kind of a badass. He doesn’t give her any trouble.

    Rhode, where are you? How is baby? How are you?

    Anon from yesterday – still keeping you in my heart and sending good vibes out to the universe for you!

  45. L – try a Wegmans cake. Probably does vary some from store to store, but I’ve had many of their (1/4, 1/2 full) sheet cake cakes over the years. People always seem to comment how good they are.

    Milo and others interested…Yellen speaks and today the stock market turns strongly positive.

  46. Fred – I will do that next time someone we know has a store-bought cake. ;) I tend to find all commercial cakes too sweet. For our wedding, I gave the baker my own cake recipe but allowed her to put different flavors of buttercream in it instead of the whipped cream and hardened ganache that it normally has.

  47. (For what it is worth, this is a standard, primary residence, conforming-loan with 20% down).

    Ah! there’s your problem. Article in this past Saturday’s WSJ saying non-conforming (jumbo) loans are actually easier to get, and at lower rates, and with lower % down, because banks can’t sell them to Fannie/Freddie, so they keep them on their own books and have a lot more discretion/leeway on requirements of lenders.

    Congrats for surviving the ordeal! Enjoy the new place.

  48. Rhett — that would imply that any of the hoops we had to jump through make any difference in the risk that we would default. Or that the additional documentation means that we are not buying a house for far more than it is worth. People defaulted because they didn’t have income to support baloon payments – and perhaps because they signed contracts they didn’t understand. People defaulted because they had houses that were underwater and it didn’t make any financial sense to keep paying.

  49. Ada, if it makes you feel better, we bought a used car last fall and the amount of paperwork was astounding. DH and I put together much less paperwork for an operating loan for several orders of magnitude greater amount of money. For some reason, we financed the car, but I don’t think we will do that again.

  50. Actually, Murphy, it does make me feel better. Every one says, “Oh! it’s always a lot of paperwork!” – but this isn’t my first rodeo, and there was more than I had ever expected.

  51. Ada – ugh, hassle x1000! Self-employment also makes it harder – last time we bought (not refinanced) I was the only applicant for the mortgage, since DH’s self-employment was “too variable”. FWIW, the documentation needed for a HELOC is much less (esp if it is with the same bank where you bank normally).

  52. that would imply that any of the hoops we had to jump through make any difference in the risk that we would default

    The fear is that you are borrowing your down payment or that it’s a gift. If you’re borrowing it then your actual post purchase spending on housing will be higher. If it’s a gift, then it means you didn’t actually have the financial discipline to save up the 20%. In both cases that would impact the likelihood of default.

  53. Cakes from Japanese-French bakeries tend to be lighter and less sweet than a typical American cake, for what that’s worth.

  54. Oh, and since that last post is insufferably arrogant, note that the used car value was on a par with replacing a heating unit in the house.

  55. “…it means you didn’t actually have the financial discipline to save up the 20%”

    or you didn’t have to. How many times does it just go like this: “kids, for your wedding present, we’re going to give you $XXk toward your first house when you get ready to buy.”

    So you just factored that in and saved the difference.

  56. Fred,

    While true, the bank has less evidence that you will be capable of saving in the future than if you saved up that 100k out of your own earnings.

  57. Murphy: I’m surprised you had a hassle getting a used car loan. When we bought our car in October, I applied online to a couple of different places and got approved pending income verification (most recent pay stubs) instantly. And no, when I checked back then our credit scores were not 840+.

  58. @Cake: Nope, sorry. Do not like cake. This is like the vegetable conversation: as I do not like how vegetables taste, my opinion of them is unlikely to improve when they taste more like themselves. I also do not like croissants, danishes, most commercial muffins, and other dry/flaky things — I’m always the one that wants the slightly undercooked/gooey cinnamon roll from the middle of the pan (I *adore* Bob Evans banana bread because they always slightly undercook it).

    Believe me, I have tried (I believe the technical term is) zillions of cakes over the years. I’m a decent baker, but the only cakes I can tolerate are more like quick breads that justify the liberal application of butter (there’s a Joy of Cooking buttermilk tea cake thingy that I made with banana and chocolate chips that bakes in a loaf tin like a pound cake; slice, toast, butter, yum); or on the other end the more fudgy-brownie ones (e.g., flourless chocolate cake that’s more like a brownie, or molten chocolate cake/chocolate pudding cake that’s more like a pudding, or — best of all — sticky toffee pudding).

    We also have an outstanding bakery two blocks away. I can tolerate their cake, but largely because they make a real French buttercream frosting that is to die for, and the cake is an adequate substrate. The only cake I actually like is a really nice, moist carrot cake, but even that is largely about the cream cheese icing. Not coincidentally, our wedding cake was a carrot cake with cream cheese icing.

    For obvious reasons, I have simply never gotten the appeal of the innumerable cupcake shops that have sprouted right and left. Although I do generally appreciate both the ratio of frosting to cake and the ease with which the former can be removed from the latter.

    Now, pie, on the other hand. . . .

  59. Rhett — citation needed. I would love hear that people who get gifts to help with down payments have a higher likelihood of default. Or that a significant number of loan defaults involve people with secret off-the-books loans for their down payment.

    And, as a responsible homeowner, I don’t need to save money. I spend $X thousand per month on housing now and I should be able to continue to do that after we move. And, a better surrogate for my ability to save is the balance in my 401k.

  60. “BR ice cream cakes have a good frosting/cake/ice cream ratio.” — Murphy, ITA. And the ice cream melts into the cake and makes it more gooey/less dry. That was my go-to birthday cake as a kid, before I got old enough to learn to bake my own birthday pie.

  61. I also do not like…danishes

    Even cheese danish? The king of all breakfast treats?

  62. I do not like ice cream cakes. This is mainly due to the consistency and texture of frozen frosting being repulsive.

  63. Mmm corner piece covered in flowers all the way!

    And fondant is awful. We saved so much money on our wedding cake by getting buttercream, and IMO it tasted so much better than all those $1000 fondant creations.

  64. Fred,

    In thinking about, it may have been just the overwhelming amount of total paperwork. We even had to sign a form we were acknowledged that not all tires could be used with snow chains or maybe it was snow cables. We had to sign another form where we acknowledged that the car had to have a license plate on the front and back of the vehicle. I just recall this huge number of WTF forms.

  65. Rhett,

    No marzipan, no ice cream cakes, you want to retire someday, is this the week all the secret Rhett comes into view?

  66. Speaking of that – I’ve never been able to find a cheese danish with a high enough cheese to danish ratio. I think I may have to make them myself. I will have to discuss it with the Google.

  67. @Rhett — blech. I will admit those are usually the best of the Generic Business Meeting Breakfast Tray selection. But I usually eat the middle and toss the rest.

    The other thing is there’s some flavor that goes along with a lot of generic bakery pastries that turns me off, and it seems especially strong in the various breakfast pastries. I will happily eat a homemade cinnamon muffin, or even one of the ones from the tube at the grocery store. But take me to a bakery and give me one of their versions and blech.

  68. “Cakes from Japanese-French bakeries”

    These do not exist in my universe. Fusion Japanese-French bakeries?!

  69. I hate all those Generic Business Meeting Breakfast Tray selections. I agree with Laura that the dry flaky stuff is pointless. Not wasting calories on those. And those giant muffins always have a weird aftertaste. And the strawberries are usually rock hard. Blurg.

  70. I went to a PTA meeting and could not understand the budget – mainly because of how it was presented/formatted. It was created with some software for non-profits, and I’m guessing, geared towards people who “aren’t good at math.”

  71. Ex’s whole family and I went to visit his relatives in Japan over 20 years ago and I was astounded by the number of French bakeries – almost one a block – like Starbucks here now. Should have thought of that.

    Also – second night in town the relative took us to a German place. We also went to Chinese when were there. EX and I had to venture off on our own to get Japanese.

  72. “Cakes from Japanese-French bakeries”
    – we need one here. What we do have is chefs aplenty but no good pastry chefs opening their own places.

  73. Yes! Corner piece with extra frosting is the best. DH eats the cake and passes me the frosting. Perfect partnership happening.

  74. “Cakes from Japanese-French bakeries tend to be lighter and less sweet than a typical American cake, for what that’s worth.”

    It’s not just the cakes.

    It’s also not just the Japanese-French bakeries, it’s Japanese desserts in general. E.g., the Beard Papa cream puffs are lighter and less sweet than coco puffs.

  75. Japanese-French bakeries, like the ones BAM mentioned: Japanese interpretation of French pastries.

    There used to be several Japanese-Italian restaurants (Japanese take on Italian food, many aimed at tourists from Japan) here that I liked a lot.

  76. I love dry and flaky croissants, etc., but I don’t consider cake in that category. A good cake should not be dry! But if LfB doesn’t like cake, that’s more for the rest of us. Homemade cake, buttercream or cream cheese frosting. Or some sort of ganache topping. Fondant is terrible. Marzipan has its uses, but is not a favorite.

    Murphy– I think that whole situation sounds terrible. I know tenure rules, etc., but I suspect all it would take to get more movement would be the right threat of lawsuit to the district. I don’t know that it’d be worth it unless you *really* wanted to push a teacher out, but I always figure the one thing that might outweigh the district’s fear of an employment suit from the teacher is another suit from a parent (potentially joined by other community members.)

  77. LfB – aha. You are like my DH. He hates all bread products, particularly the dry ones. Also, I think the flavor that the commercial bakeries use is something like Fiori di Sicilia – that vaguely citric flavor is AWFUL. I prefer vanilla only. http://www.kingarthurflour.com/shop/items/fiori-di-sicilia-1-oz

    Generic Business Meeting Breakfast Tray – uggggggggggggghhhh. I usually swipe all the nicely sliced strawberries that are used for garnish and some coffee and call it good enough (since I always have eaten before).

    HM – we have one bakery in the city like that – will have to try it. No parking though!

  78. Yeah, French food and French bakeries are really big in Japan so there are a bunch of Japanese French bakeries here, and I’m sure you can find them on the West Coast. Google says there are a few in the Boston area, but I’m not seeing any hits for Charlotte. The bakeries tend to have a lighter touch with the cakes and pastries than their French-French or American-French equivalents. And breakfast pastries will include fillings like anpan or tuna or curry, not just the usual fruit or cream cheese.

  79. I ate at an Italian restaurant in Japan. It was good. We found very little ethnic (non-Italian) food in Italy.

  80. We have those Japanese bakeries here. My kids often get invited to birthday parties for Japanese kids – the birthday cakes are amazing!!! They are so beautiful

  81. I also never saw the point of dry baked goods. I do not like crisp cookies or biscotti or pound cake. When I go to Cinnabon, I get the tubs of extra frosting, and eat the middles dipped in extra frosting.

  82. the Beard Papa cream puffs are lighter and less sweet than coco puffs

    Both sooo goood in their different ways. For the benefit of those of you not familiar with these fine pastries, Beard Papa (Japanese in origin) coats the choux pastry shell with sort of a very thin pie dough so it’s really crispy, and then the creme patissiere is mixed with whipped cream, and for the strawberry ones there are pieces of strawberry inside too. Whereas coco puffs (local innovation) go sweeter and heavier than a traditional cream puff: instead of creme patissiere they’re filled with chocolate pudding, and on top is a swirl of chantilly frosting (a rich butter frosting).

  83. I do like chocolate mousse cake as long as it is heavy on the mousse. Carrot cake is good because they usually slather a lot of that yummy cream cheese frosting on top. Thick, gooey, undercooked brownies are the best.

  84. Sorry about the unclosed tag. I lay down my humble intellect at your feet, everyone!

  85. One of the fun memories I have of that Japan trip is the cadre of sumo wrestlers we ran into one night as they were coming out of Tony Roma’s Steak House in Tokyo. We used to eat at Tony Roma’s quite a bit, closed years ago here though.

  86. Beard Papa has some locations on the continental US (one in NYC, a bunch in CA, one in OR…) so you don’t need to come here or go to Japan to try them.

    But you need go come here for the coco puffs; I highly recommend them to anyone traveling here. Make sure to get some napkins too.

  87. NOB, our bakery also wanted us to do fondant for our wedding cake and I would not have it. We chose whipped cream frosting and they were super concerned about whether it would look right. Personally I didn’t care about how it looked, I just wanted it to taste good. It tasted great, everyone loved it, and it looked lovely. I like cake but like many here the whole point of it to me is to serve as a frosting vehicle.

  88. When we bought our new car, the process was painless. They had a desk that looked like a big ipad and enabled electronic signatures. It generated a whole set of original documents and emailed us a set all while we were sitting there. We started at 3:45 and left with the car by 5:30, including the time it took to test drive the car. We did promise not to ship the car out of the country.

  89. “Whereas coco puffs (local innovation) go sweeter and heavier than a traditional cream puff: instead of creme patisserie they’re filled with chocolate pudding, and on top is a swirl of chantilly frosting (a rich butter frosting).” — this is OMFG territory right there. WOW.

    @L — Yes! I bet you anything that is it!!! I always wondered why something like a pecan roll would have this weird faint-but-super-sweet citrus flavor to it, figured it was just my hyperactive taste buds making stuff up. I had no idea that was a real thing!

  90. Bakeries that make good cakes make terrible bread and vice versa. And nothing is more delicious then buttercream frosting made with real french butter and high in fat. Melt in the mouth yumminess.

    I also avoid all generic breakfast pastry trays. Panera, Corner Bakery, and the like make for good lunches, not good pastry items.

  91. Count me among those who didn’t know French-Japanese was a thing. Yum! I’m usually not much of a dessert eater, but you guys are giving me cravings.

  92. My mom, who made great desserts, used to make a frosting that was, IIRC, basically melted butter, melted semi-sweet chocolate, and powdered sugars. She’d let it cool a little, then spread that over a moist chocolate cake, when it was still liquid, but quite viscous, and once it cooled completely, the frosting was soft enough that a fork could easily pass through it, but solid enough that it held its shape.

    I loved licking the spatula after she finished applying that frosting.

  93. LfB, I have the same sweet tooth as you. I don’t necessarily despise cake, but I view it primarily as a vehicle for frosting. I’d rather have a gooey brownie or chocolate chip cookie any day. And if you ask what kind of cake I want for my birthday, the answer is pie.

    If you like coconut, you might like my family coconut cake recipe: Mix the drained milk and grated flesh of one coconut (or defrosted frozen coconut + a little canned coconut milk work too), 16 oz. sour cream, and 1 cup sugar. Bake any yellow cake mix in 2 round pans and slice each round into 2 layers. Apply 1/4 of the coconut mixture to each layer, letting it drip over the sides. Store in refrigerator or cold garage, allowing it to soak in for at least 24 hours. It’s not pretty, but yummmm. . .don’t eat it all at once.

  94. LfB – I’m with you on the cake. Don’t get all the carrying on about cake and cupcakes and the like! I do love a good croissant though! I do not cotton to bread and fruit and sugars mixed – (like fruit danishes etc…) fruit on its own is lovely and bread with possibly a little butter or cheese but that’s it. I don’t do pain au chocolate either.

  95. @SWVA: your recipe follows exactly the same approach as our family cake recipe: do xyz and abc to make this fantastic gooey filling/icing stuff; then bake the cheapest box cake mix you can find to put it on and call it “cake.” I bet your recipe gets some of the same yummy gooey-ness you get from tres leches.

    Which, btw, spell check just corrected to “tres leeches” — now *there’s* a cake for you.

  96. Btw, besides loving yummy pastries, I also used to really like all those drying bread things, like biscotti and shortbread. Still haven’t found a replacement. They are just so good!

  97. I’ve heard leeches are making a comeback in spa/clinic type places for people with too much money. Yelch!

  98. Saac – I love the Biscoff cookies they serve on Delta. Luckily I can buy them Target and save myself the pain of flying Delta.

  99. I love almost all sweet stuff, including cake but curiously not so much cupcakes. I used to (and sometimes still do) mush up the cake and frosting together to make a kind of pudding cake. Yum. I’ve made cake milk shake, which is pretty good.

    Stop and Shop grocery store here has pretty good cakes, and delicious doughnuts. We have a French/Italian/Israeli bakery close by. They have delicious and beautiful cakes and cookies, but pricey so usually only for special occasions.

  100. I have thought about it, but never tried it. I’m hesitate that it would be too sweet.

  101. “I also used to really like all those drying bread things, like biscotti and shortbread. ”

    My elementary school cafeteria made amazing shortbread. Nearly all the food they made there was good, but the shortbread was just amazingly tasty, especially considering everything they served us had to meet nutritional guidelines.

  102. Back OT, when I use math beyond basic arithmetic these days, it’s mostly to help the kids with their homework. Knowing statistics has allowed me to recently help DD with her science homework. Calculus recently came into play when se was studying the laws of motion, and DS will have calculus soon.

    My current job doesn’t require a lot of math, although I do use geometry from time to time. My previous job was more technical, and I used a lot more math. Statistics was used on a daily basis, and things like log, log-log, and Arrhenius plots were also used regularly. Calculus wasn’t often used in terms of actually solving differential or integral equations, but was used qualitatively.

    More recently, I’ve used excel’s regression analysis functions to create best-fit lines to estimate the value of real estate based on comps. For one property my family was selling, it meant listing, and ultimately selling, for $several thousand more than if we had accepted the real estate agent’s guesstimate.

  103. “citation needed. I would love hear that people who get gifts to help with down payments have a higher likelihood of default. Or that a significant number of loan defaults involve people with secret off-the-books loans for their down payment.”

    I think that borrowers who have parents that are affluent enough to gift a down payment tend to have parents who are likely to cover mortgage payments that might otherwise be missed in times of financial difficulty.

    This would be less likely for those whose “shady” down payments came from a credit card advance or a loan from one’s employer. The latter option is what the sellers of our house brought to closing in order to get out from their mortgage.

  104. Milo & ADA,

    Couple A: They make $150k a year and have, over the past 4 years, managed to save $100k.

    Couple B: They also make $150k but have no appricable savings and are relying on gifts from parents for their $100k.

    Your theory is that couple A is more likey to run into financial difficulty and default than couple B?

  105. But, it looks like what I was told isn’t correct. It seems that the banks primary concern is shady loans. But, why does that matter? I thought that all loans secured by real property had to be registered at the registry of deeds? The bank knows it’s a first mortgage holder…right?

  106. Regarding math use – Of course the daily basics of calculating tips, converting recipes, balancing bank statements. One job I had was daily math, but more percentages, growth rates and seeing the relationships between numbers. Most recently, it is calculating the cost of a proposal. Logic to figure out what costs to include then figuring out how much detail vs how much ball park will do. What amazes me is that many people have no idea what the ballpark number should be. At a simple level knowing that 2x is greater than x.
    Gave up helping kids with math. In part, the teacher wants it done their way, but I don’t have access to enough material (no text) to be able to figure that out.

  107. Regarding cake. I like buttercream. Fondant is the rage, but I hate it. Also hate that cool whip type icing a few stores use. Agree with the gooey brownies.

  108. While I have not altered my general pro-nut stance, I do not put walnuts in my brownies. (And that recipe does say they’re optional.)

  109. I use math extensively. Stats, algebra, and yes, calculus. Though my calculus isn’t solving problems, but understanding instrument output. Like chromatographs. Or basic fluid dynamics- but that’s rare and I phone a friend for that one.

    Moxie- we are surviving. DS is up to 7lbs and growing out of his newborn pants. He’s got colic but it’s not suicide-inducing yet. We are trying a probiotic treatment so we’ll see how that goes. His cleft palate treatment is going well too. I return to work after Easter and looking forward to it and not at the same time.

  110. I, too, have a generally pro-nut stance. However, this stance does not extend to walnuts in general and walnuts ruining a perfectly good brownie specifically.

  111. I LOOOOOVE walnuts in brownies. Boy brownies rock. Girl brownies not so much.
    Oh and real brownies are frosting-free.

  112. Rhode, Baby WCE is my happiest baby, but since our babies were due the same week, I will observe that typical preemie colic peaks at 6 weeks and then decays with a half life of roughly two weeks.

    Except with one of my twins, where the colic lasted till 8 months. Mr WCE suggested we see if CPS wanted him…

  113. 6 weeks corrected? ‘Cause that’s where we are headed now. He’s 4 weeks corrected/9 chronological. I hoped his colic was 6 weeks chronological but I was wrong. Sigh.

    I’m not complaining though. Monday was fantastic, yesterday and today were ok. One day at a time…

  114. Rhett and Rio +10. Nuts + brownies = abomination. Not quite fondant-level, but close.

  115. Rhode– I could only ever tell the peak of colic had passed after we got past that half life period WCE refers to.

    LfB & Rhett– I’ll joint the choir about the fondant, but I can’t hate on the brownies. I’ve made plenty of batches without them, and I like those too. I’m an equal opportunity lover of most sweet things.

    The current dessert thing we’re working on is a Chocolate Irish Whisky Cake that is awesome. (And that I don’t have to share with the kids. Because while I know the alcohol mostly bakes off, they don’t know that….)

  116. Rhode, Baby WCE is 5 weeks now and the 6 weeks is corrected age- my babies slept and struggled to feed till their due dates.

    In a sign of how things have changed since my first 3, Baby WCE was fussing on Mr WCE’s chest tonight while I took care of DS1 and a twin- Mr WCE is reading his iPad, patting Baby WCE and wearing his noise-canceling headphones.

    I recommend noise canceling headphones…

  117. There are walnuts and then there are black walnuts- ugh ugh ugh!!!! English walnuts chopped in cookies and brownies -ok – and better without to me – but black walnuts in anything is disgusting.

  118. Rhode – you are doing so, so well – perspective is something I wish we could give each other but it’s only really granted through experience. What I wish I could go back and tell myself through the many literal and not so literal “colicky” times of my life is – you will get through this – and be surprised on the other end how well you did. I keep telling myself that one day I will get to have as much sleep as I want – but based on my parents I won’t appreciate it any more then than I did as a 20 something.

  119. I think the thing with the epidemic of secret loans that lenders are vigilant about ferreting out is that it means that you have too much debt burden. If Hailey and Tyler make 10k/month and the mortgage company approves them for total debt burden of 3.5k per month, it all falls apart when the super-sneaky secret down payment loan costs them an additional 1k per month. Now H&T are paying 45% of their gross income towards debt, which was exactly what the mortgage company was afraid of. How will they pay cell phone bills, mortgage, Netflix and Super Secret Loan???

    In any case, they spent a lot of effort trying to find our Super Secret Loan and Gigantic Down Payment Gifts. Which we promised from the beginning didn’t exist.

    And it is all closed!! We have keys! And a yard!!!

  120. Rhett– your link brought back memories of walking home by myself after my first day of kindergarten. Of course, I wasn’t alone– nearly all the kids walked home, so for the first several blocks the sidewalk was full of kids, thinning out as I got to our house.

  121. WCE- did I ever tell you how I hate that chronological/corrected age thing? He’s either X age or he’s not. I never know what ‘schedule’ to look at.

    Every time I think of how old DS will be chronologically when colic should end, I get so upset. He’ll be nearly 5 months old. I found the only way I won’t jump off the roof is if I take it episode by episode.

    Sleep would also help. DS is snoring away and I’m wide freaking awake at 3:40a EDT.

  122. Rhett – your link was interesting. On schools banning kids from walking home….this is the general assumption parents make and won’t even ask the school whether it is possible. I spoke to one Dad and he was surprised that my kids school had allowed it. Meanwhile, he was walking the kid to school every morning…
    Second, in the article the OP mentions confining her kindergartener to the yard….why ? If you live in a safe neighborhood why can’t kids walk down a few houses and play with their friends ? I have to applaud my neighbors who started sending their 4/5 year olds down the street to play.

  123. Congrats Ada! Enjoy

    WCE- wish I had those headphones back in the day.

    Rhett – walnuts in brownies are WRONG. As undeniably wrong as murder.

    Rhode, glad he is doing well. Sorry about the colic. One thing you might want to ask about is reflux. Both of mine had it. Due to the prematurity sometimes the sphincter at the top of the stomach isn’t quite up to task. My son was diagnosed in the NICU because he would have Brady events when he refluxed. My daughter was not – but we recognized the symptoms and brought it to the attention of the doc. A little bit of Zantac and Reglan and our lives were so much better. So I’d just recommend asking the doc.

  124. @ Rhode – one thing that people do in the home country is to start giving kids water. It helps with digestion and forms a lifelong habit of drinking enough water to aid digestion.
    For many kids not drinking water catches up later on.

  125. Congrats Ada!

    Rhode – get the noise canceling headphones (or construction headphones, which are cheaper). Also, what Moxie said. Reflux can make colic quite a bit worse. If he cries right after eating, esp if you recline him, then chances are that’s it. Get baby Prilosec! Our #1 child had colic (she was also a near-term, so not quite preemie but close) made worse by reflux, and sad to say, it did not go away until 5.5 months. After that she was a model baby!

  126. Congrats, Ada.

    All three of ours needed Zantac prescriptions for, I don’t know, 6 months or 8 months or something.

  127. Math night at my DD’s school tonight! And I can’t even go because I am teaching a grad night course.

    On a related note, the moms at the bus stop were all grousing about Common Core this morning, saying that they were so upset that the kids aren’t doing “authentic projects” in math any more, and that they are just learning facts. So funny because when I hear conservatives complain about CC, they say that the kids are learning fuzzy math and need to go back to facts. Which is it? The bus stop moms definitely want the arts and crafts projects back, and keep saying that Common Core “ignores the whole child”. When I brought up the infamous “journaling on your feelings about math” assignment that my oldest had to do in middle school, and which has now been eliminated, the moms all said they thought the kids SHOULD be doing that assignment in math class. “We need to respect their feelings and not be so narrow”, said onel.

    They want to go back to fuzzy math. Seriously.

  128. I never answered the question about using math. Since I am about to teach a class on complexity analysis of the quicksort algorithm, I guess I am using some math. In this class, though, I am not going to slog through the details of how the analysis is obtained. I just want them to get the idea of how algorithm performance increases as input size increases. That is a mathematical concept that is really important for software developers at all levels.

    When I worked in industry, I didn’t use much math on a day to day basis (aside from understanding concepts like the one above, and also being able to follow and design algorithms, which is a related skill). My DH, though, uses tons of very advanced math in his work, even though he does software development too. It totally depends on the industry sector.

  129. @Mooshi – they want to go back to Crayola projects, expressing their feelings about Math….vs. Math facts ? I am floored. Then we want to compare our kids math scores to children in Singapore, whose math scores probably reflect the fact that they have their math facts down cold.

  130. “they want to go back to Crayola projects, expressing their feelings about Math”

    No, they just want to complain. Lots of people are like that, about everything.

  131. Milo, we are having a backlash against CC in NY, and much of it is driven by parents like these moms, who want the projects back. A lot of their identity was tied up in those glue-gun projects.

  132. One of the moms said she went and met with our superintendent a couple of nights ago to complain about the projects going away, and to tell him that the new standards are too hard. That is beyond mere grousing, IMHO

  133. That’s why I like school choice. Let those moms choose projects and I’ll choose math facts.

    (Yeah, I know rich people already have school choice, but I want choice for everyone.)

  134. I generally hate walnuts, and I particularly hate walnuts in cookies and brownies. But, inexplicably, I love baklava. Maybe the honey and butter sufficiently drowns out that walnutty taste?

    Congrats on the house, Ada!

    Rhode, I hated the newborn stage with both my kids. The lack of sleep nearly killed me. It will get better (even though I know that’s hard for you to believe right now when you’re in the thick of it).

  135. Nobtotebagger is North of Boston. I’m on a different device this morning.

  136. @Mooshi – I was surprised at the negative tone many college educated mothers displayed towards math. It is a subject just like any other. If you say – I HATE this subject – kids pick up on that and decide that since my parent doesn’t like it, it must be too hard and I don’t like it either.

  137. Our district isn’t big enough to support the two choices, and the arts n’ crafts school would end up with 2/3 of the kids, leaving the other to go under for lack of enrollment. To make choice viable, we would need to merge with surrounding districts.

  138. “we are having a backlash against CC in NY”

    to the point, apparently, that there’s a bill in the legislature which would codify the right to opt out of common core testing for your kid

    I don’t know enough to say whether common core is right or wrong, or better than whatever the schools had before, or better than nothing. What I do know is if colleges started demanding submission of CC results, a certain subset of people would all of a sudden embrace the hell out of it.

  139. What, ask for the results of the state tests? But I don’t think they do the testing in HS. I think it is just grades 3 through 8.

  140. No, they just want to complain. Lots of people are like that, about everything.

    Chuckle…

    But, seriously, I thought math facts weren’t inportant, it was all about being able to grock the deeper mathematical meaning of 8×7.

  141. “They want to go back to fuzzy math. Seriously.”

    Just shoot them.

    We had more math studying fun last night. I am SO glad we have an ADHD checkup Friday, because getting her to engage on anything beyond an inch-deep level is like forcing together the south poles of two magnets — her brain skitters away like a waterbug. She did her test prep packet and missed close to half of the problems; several she didn’t even try, because she looked at them and didn’t instantly know how to do them. But half of the ones she missed were things SHE KNEW — she just refused to engage long enough to realize she knew it. And the other half she missed were basic arithmetic errors (no, 96 divided by 2 is not 49). Because she refuses to write the equations down or work through long division on the paper — she wants to do the entire multi-step process in her head, then is surprised when she loses track of where she was or messes up the arithmetic. ARGH. I think this may be a Kumon summer. She needs to learn how to focus on this stuff long enough to work though it instead of panicking and running away at the first sign of difficulty, or HS is going to be extremely painful.

  142. Any nut in any dessert = gross except for when already incorporated in things like nutella or almond flour.

    There are some in Georgia who are now railing on the AP History course because the course material is “anti-American” and presents our history in too negative of a light with a “leftist slant”.

  143. Mr.Dell will be hugely disappointed of the baby is not good at math. He is known to have jokingly said that he would not have married me if he had known how bad I am at algebra and calculus. (Wait! Am I married to that certain poster who thinks that people have no value if they don’t know calculus?)

    Then I just calmly point out to him that I started out my career making more money than him as a Big law attorney.

    Even so, i too will be disappointed if baby is not good at calculus and cannot fathom people who will complain that school work is too hard or math should be toned down.

  144. Congrats, Ada!

    Hang in there, Rhode! I have no wisdom to offer but it sounds to me like you are doing a great job.

    Have we heard anything from MidA since she announced the arrival of her DD?

    I join the chorus re: no walnuts in brownies. In other applications/by themselves, great! But I am a brownie purist. I will accept chocolate chips/chunks but otherwise keep it away.

  145. Congratulations Ada!

    Rhode, some things to try are gripe water, tummy massage, making sure that baby does not have reflux etc. I have no experience with colic,but baby a reflux and all digestive aids helped. Hang in there!

  146. Mooshi – those women should be tarred and feathered! Why can’t we bring that back?

    @Louise – I think the reason a lot of people get down on math is that it is so easy to get behind and then never catch up so it feels like it is always hard. Most of the other things you learn in school it is much easier to catch up if you have a bad year, but in math, that will haunt your for the rest of your academic career. I am not naturally good at math. Never came easily to me (except Geometry – did I mention how wonderful and logical it is?). I had a terrible Algebra 1 teacher and I just kind of made it through, which made all my high school math just a real slog. I have never spoken ill of it in front of my children, but they quickly figured out that I was not the “go to” person in our family for math help.

  147. @Moxie, my experience is exactly like yours. I never recovered. Sad but true. This is where extra, timely, coaching would have helped kids like me a lot I think.

  148. My mom’s family home had a black walnut tree, and we dutifully peeled and cracked them throughout my childhood. We had to hose off in the yard so that we wouldn’t get black handprints all over grandma’s house. There was always a container of them in our freezer, ready to go into any recipe. My mom always put the black walnuts in the chocolate chip cookies AND overcooked them to hard/crispy. When I was old enough to make the cookies myself, we finally had good ones – exactly following the Nestle recipe (mom used to reduce the choc chips by half!), no nuts, and just barely cooked. No nuts in brownies for me either, but choc chips are OK.

  149. Rhett, I do think deeper understanding is important. The bus stop moms are actually conflating work that teaches deeper understanding with drill and kill – because there are no pictures or feelings journals.

  150. I don’t have a problem with the CC in NY, but I dislike the tests. DD was sent home with a test prep fifth grade math test during Feb break. I thought it was very challenging.

    It’s great that they’re learning so much, but the standardized tests are much harder now.

  151. If we want to find out what they are truly learning, than any tests need to be harder. The tests don’t count towards their grades, so I tell my kids to not worry, just have fun. I do totally disagree with Cuomo’s plan to base teacher evals on those tests, and I don’t undertstand why he is being so antagonistic about it. I also think that the test prep that our district always has done (back in NCLB days, most of 4th grade was devoted to test prep) is ridiculous. And if teacher evals are based on those tests, it will get worse

  152. Rhode and other parents who need C and D batteries, I recommend Tenergy rechargeable ones- I prefer the low discharge NiMH ones- available on Amazon. The C ones are 4000 mAh; the D ones are 5000 mAh I think. The mobile, aquarium soother and bouncy seat all takes C’s and some swings take D batteries. We are still using the ones I got with DS1. These are similar to the Eneloop AA and A low discharge ones (available at Costco) but have a lot more capacity. Quality and longevity-wise, Eneloop are a little better than Tenergy. I also recommend a carpet cleaner- we’ve had the Hoover Steamvac, available on sale on Amazon, but its gears seem to be clogged/worn and if it’s not fixable, I might upgrade to one with slightly better water extraction, since not having carpets wet for a long time is important here. Steamvac is currently on sale for $120 shipped with Amazon coupon. I had a Bissell before and didn’t like it.

    I think the grading of the common core tests needs to say more than meets, not meets or exceeds. DS1 periodically is “Not Meets” on his homework because he forgets to label his graph or the units of his answer. But failing to label an answer that took addition to get to shows a different level of math understanding than failing to label an answer that took algebra to get to. I’d like to see individualized tests that adjust the level of question difficulty to the child’s previous (probably year’s) performance- computers could do this now!

    Mooshi’s algorithm point is how I think of math- calculus was pretty pointless. I’ve observed that most of my engineering classes were hoops to jump through. But some people see math concepts more than others. For example, I have essentially mini ovens that need to cool from 110 C to 65 C between lots, and other ovens that cool between 135 C and 90 C between lots, so the delta in both cases is 45 C. But they cool based on ambient air temperature so the one cooling to 65 C cools slower because it’s closer to the ambient air temperature than the one cooling to 90 C. (Ambient temp is about 21 C.) I had to choose which hotplates cooled from Temps A, B and C to Temps D, E and F to minimize overall cooling time. I remember writing differential equations to describe stuff like this and could probably do it again with the help of a textbook. But the tech I was helping (he needed different temperatures for a characterization) liked my non-calculus explanation and setup just fine and was pleased at how much faster the equipment cooled down with my setup than the previous one, which didn’t consider these factors. LfB would probably make similar choices about insulation vs. cost based on how much space she has for insulation in her walls/attic- she might pay for more expensive, better insulation because she doesn’t have enough space in her walls for cheaper insulation- she might be space limited and find it worthwhile to pay for insulation with better properties.

  153. MM, I’d drive my kid for a while, out of fear of blurting something that would get us ostracized from the neighborhood group forever.

  154. “That’s why I like school choice. Let those moms choose projects and I’ll choose math facts.”
    “if colleges started demanding submission of CC results, a certain subset of people would all of a sudden embrace the hell out of it.”

    I’ve read that the changes to the SAT were in part to align it with CC. Among other things, this means that within school choice, the number of choices available that aren’t aligned with CC will go down.

    One concern is that privates that do a good job now will feel compelled to move to the CC so their students can continue to excel in SATs, to the detriment of the overall education of the kids.

    We’ve already discussed how the new SAT will enlarge the gap between the haves and have-nots.

  155. WCE, I also like the Eneloop batteries. They are by far the best rechargeable AA and AAA batteries I’ve used.

    For C applications, I’ve used the adapters that came with a set I bought from Costco, and have also made my own adapters from PVC pipe and masking tape. However, applications that call for C cells typically have high current draws, and thus the batteries need recharging frequently.

    What kind of charger do you use for the Tenergy C and D cells? The only NiMH chargers I have are for AA and AAA cells.

  156. “calculus was pretty pointless.”

    That wasn’t my experience. What I learned in calculus was pretty quickly put to use in physics, then engineering, classes. The RF classes used a lot of calculus.

  157. I have a Tenergy charger I bought from all-batteries.com a few years ago. It works for everything including my 9 V’s, though you can’t charge 9 V and C’s and D’s at the same time. I’ve never thought about the current draws of my baby stuff, though most of it has motors and so likely has high current draws- I’ve focused on mAh and been happy when I can go several days without charging batteries. I haven’t tried Eneloop batteries in a C size holder.

  158. My charger is similar to this. http://www.batteryspace.com/ch-v9688computercontrolledsuperfastuniversallcdsmartchargerforallsizenimhcellswithusbplug—celisted.aspx And calculus was necessary to take more engineering classes, but it was pretty pointless for the work I’ve done mostly. I worked a couple jobs that involved cell modeling software where understanding differential equations was probably good, but the software did all the math work and solved iteratively, which I could never do as a human.

  159. HM – that piece was too funny. I was trying to answer the questions….hey I passed the citizenship test, so that counts for something.

  160. In the link HM posted, the writer’s taking of the AP US History course is driven by Oklahoma banning it from its curriculum. That and the fraternity incident are probably doing wonders for OU’s aggressive NMF recruitment.

  161. Louise, the sad thing is that the question I got wrong was the one on Reagan’s “tear down this wall” speech, i.e. the one on an event I lived through and remember. I went with the ‘expand free trade’ answer since I recall it being viewed not so much as bellicosity as an invitation, given the context (ongoing glasnost), and freer trade being a motivation or at least a big talking point for the loosening restrictions in the Eastern Bloc as well.

  162. HM – I didn’t think the test was biased. I think if a student pays attention to current events, school history units, reads (historical fiction ;-)) – they have a good chance of passing the test.

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