Saturday, July 28, 2012

The Homework Audit

When I was around eleven or twelve-years-old my primary school implemented a homework audit process. You were required to copy a list of homework tasks off the board and into your homework book. Once the homework was completed that evening one of your parents would sign and date the bottom of the list and you would then show this to the teacher the next day. The system was flawless.

I have a brother that's a year younger than me, let's call pick a random name for him and call him Mike, and another who is five-years-younger, let's call him Pat. At our school there were another three siblings who shared our ages and were in our classes. Two girls and a boy, let's call them Sandra, Wendy and Ian Hooball, for wont of better names.

The Hooball's parents decided to go on a long vacation to Europe over a number of weeks and it was decided that their kids would stay with us because we pretty much did the same things and there wouldn't be any extra effort with school pickup/drop-off.

The problem started on the first evening after school. Sandra and Wendy, I should add were diligent students and consistently scored As in everything. My brothers and I got by with the absolute minimum amount of work we could. If 50% was the pass mark and we got 53% then that was 3% of goofing around we'd missed out on, an attitude I'm still paying for decades later.

We were all in the living room and Sandra and Wendy quickly finished their homework and took their homework books over to my father to sign. I remember watching from the sofa and when I realized what they were doing a knot formed in my stomach and I started to feel slightly unwell.

"What is this?" My father asked.
"It's our homework book for you to sign," the girls sang in unison.
"What do I need to do?" My father asked now looking somewhat surprised.
"You need to check that we've done our homework and then sign it," one of the swots said.
"Why don't Guy and Michael have to do this?" Father now looked as confused as I had ever seen him.
"They do," was the girls reply.
"Guy," my father said looking over at me, "bring me your homework book."

Dragging my feet I took it over to him. He opened it and examined the forgeries I had perfected. In order to get Michael on-board I'd had to execute the same in his homework book.

"I didn't sign these did I?" My father asked me.

This was a tough question. It let me know that the forgeries were perfect and that he was questioning his own memory. It could have gone either way at this point. I could have insisted that he'd done them or come clean. I came clean.

To my surprise I wasn't punished. I was told how wrong it was and to never do again. We also had to do our homework until the Hooballs left and we managed to work out another work reduction program. We couldn't do that while they were there because there was a cross-audit problem between what they had done and what we were doing. The Minimum Viable Product (MVP) only became possible once they had left.

Sunday, July 22, 2012

Backward somersault did not qualify for Olympics

Here was my entry for the Olympics.


Unfortunately I did not qualify. Although the judges (my children and wife) all gave me 10s the submission was deemed to be invalid because the noodles floating in the pool behind me were not Olympic colors.

Saturday, July 07, 2012

How to dunk a baby

This is the second baby I've tried to dunk and I've discovered that the first and most vital ingredient in "dunking the baby" is a willing baby.

A couple of years ago I tried to do this with our now-three-year-old and then one-year-old and she screamed blue murder when she came out the water. I tried it again with her when she was two and then again this year at the age of three. She hates being dunked so I'm rarely do it and only to see if she's got past that stage. This year she watched me dunking the one-year-old and asked to be dunked but it turned out not to be as much fun being committed and we ended up with the same screaming.

So the technique that I use (I did not invent it) is to:
  1. Hold the baby under the armpits with both hands.
  2. Tell the baby that you're doing to dunk it. Use the word dunk (or pick a different keyword if you don't like dunk) several times when talking to the baby about what you're doing to do.
  3. Count to three in as many seconds.
  4. Blow into the baby's face.
  5. Dunk him or her below the surface and immediately pull them back up again.
It'll be obvious how much the baby likes or dislikes being dunked. If he or she doesn't enjoy it then there's not much point in pursuing it. Wait a few weeks and try it again. There's always next summer and no point in traumatizing them.


Thursday, July 05, 2012

The Citrus Tree Project

I have 5 citrus trees in my yard. First names are Harry, Fred, Tom etc. with employee numbers of one through five and Common names of Mystery, Mystery, Mystery, Grapefruit and Lemon.

The three mystery citrus trees bear fruit that looks like this:

(Update 11-July-2012: According to the guy from the nursery the fruit from trees 1, 2, and 3 are small because the trees haven't been watered for a long time.)

Tree One, fruit is about the size of a golf ball:
(Update 11-July-2012: Most probably a Valencia Orange.)

Tree two, fruit is about 3/4 the size of a golf ball:
(Update 11-July-2012: Most probably a Tangelo.)

Tree three, fruit is about 3/4 the size of a golf ball:
(Update 11-July-2012: Most probably a Valencia Orange.)

Tree four is a grapefruit tree, most of it has been cut away at the base but there are a couple of small branches/trunks left and the are extremely fruitful considering what the base of the tree looks like:

Tree five is a lemon tree.

The first part of my project is to identify what types of trees number one through three are. I have tasted the fruit from all of them and it is terrible. Probably some of the sourest most disgusting citrus I have ever tasted. If anybody can identify this fruit I'd be most grateful.

The second part of my project is to replace these trees with consumable fruits. I'm thinking a Navel and Valencia orange, maybe a Cara Cara Orange, and a lime tree. Tree number five, the lemon, will stay.

My initial thought was to cut down and dig up the old trees but I have since started to read up on grafting. If I can, I'll leave the trunks as they are, remove all the branches of the current tree and then graft on branches from tastier citrus fruit trees.

So I'm looking for advice on how to do this? Also, I need the tastier citrus branch to graft on, does anyone have a citrus tree with really tastier fruit in the greater Phoenix area that can spare me a couple of buds, branches or scions from these trees?

Tuesday, July 03, 2012

Tuxedo Chocolate Mousse Cake

Costco make a cake called the Tuxedo Chocolate Mousse Cake. It is very good. If you like dark chocolate I can't think of anything tastier than this delicacy.

I've been trying to work out what makes it taste so good. When reading the ingredients I came across the leavening: Sodium Bicarbonate, Sodium Acid Pyrophosphate, Sodium Aluminum Phosphate, Monocalcium Phosphate.

Digging a bit deeper I see that the Sodium Aluminum Phosphate is synthetically produced from aluminum, phosphoric acid and sodium hydroxide. As a food additive is has the E number E541.

It has to be the Sodium Aluminum Phosphate that gives it that thick, dark, creamy rich texture and taste...

Monday, July 02, 2012

The Mystery Drawer

We've moved into a new house and in the bathroom there's a tall narrow draw with six shelves and metal rails to "hold" items in it. I'm trying to work out what the purpose of this drawer is. i.e. what is it suppose to be holding?

The rails are too ineffective to hold anything I've tried so far and also extremely awkward and inconvenient to pull items out of. The few things I've tried to put in there have rolled out when I open the draws making the unusable for roundish objects that can roll.

Ideas? Do you know what this could or should be used for? Do you know if this type of drawer has a name?

Sunday, July 01, 2012

Ovulation Negative

When I went to pee this morning I noticed my wife's pack of ovulation sticks and so I thought I'd try one. You'll be ecstatic to know that I'm not ovulating.

What surprised me though is that the control line showed up in pink. I would have expected that a man like myself with oodles of testosterone pumping through his veins would have caused the control line to show up in blue, a manly color.