Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Spreads Like A Virus

Melina has the coxsackie virus. She is pretty miserable when not under the influence of Ibuprofen. And, she is contagious. So taking her to the pool today -- the only really good pool day we've had in a very long time -- was out. Thankfully, we joined the same pool that many of our friends have also joined. One mom called and said she'd watch Zoe, Talia, and Aaron at the pool as long as I dropped them off. Done deal.

When I went to pick them up, I ran into a mom with whom I am a casual acquaintance. She asked how Melina was doing. I spoke briefly with her, and moved on to find the kids. Next mom up, same thing. And the next mom, she also inquired about Melina. Apparently, word spreads as fast around here as the virus might! I know these ladies, and they all have kids older than Melina, and I know they were just concerned. But it reminded me not to mention my deepest, darkest secrets to them anytime soon!

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Favorite Phrase

From Melina, with respect to a Scooby-Doo episode:

This is the one with the villains!

Don't they all have villians, Melina?!?

Friday, June 24, 2011


The kids have constructed a crime scene investigation in our living room. Therefore, the doorways that lead to the living room -- all three of them -- are blocked by police lines. To get to the kitchen from the family room (and vice versa), I still have an outlet. I can go by way of the back hall.

But I am a creature of habit. So each time I try to walk from the kitchen to the family room, I forget about heading down the back hall and try to go by the pantry and bathroom. Doh! How many times do I need to do this before I remember NOT to do this! Apparently, a couple of hundred times.

Give you a good laugh?

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Math Practice

This afternoon, while Melina napped, the other kids worked on math pages. The girls had some review work to do -- more advanced addition, subtraction, and multiplication. Aaron was working on pretty simple addition math facts. Apparently, Aaron's work was not interesting enough for him. About halfway through he says, "Mom! Come look!"

This is what was on his paper:


So proud of that child I am!

Saturday, June 11, 2011

How to Choose a Wife

This is sort of a response to our friend Kelsey's post about marrying a good husband. It's also a fun math problem, so I can't resist writing about it. Here it is: how does one choose a wife?

We'll begin with some rules:
  1. You'll meet N eligible partners, in random order, over your dating lifetime.
  2. You don't know beforehand, during, or even directly after the date, who your best partner is, but you can judge each date relative to previous dates.
  3. You can date from the total population of N partners until choosing one to marry, or exhausting the population -- at which point you're stuck with the last one.
  4. After each date, you have to decide whether that person is the one. If so, you marry. If not, you resume dating from the rest of the population, but cannot date that person again.
So, it's kind of like barbering: the trick lies in knowing where to stop. It should be pretty obvious that you don't want to marry the very first person you date, because the odds are that she'll be, on average, average. Similarly, you don't want to run through the whole population, because, in addition to the reputation you'll develop, the last date will be on average, just average.

The strategy then, goes like this:
  1. Go on some number, R, of trial dates to sample the population, and remember which of those R dates was the best. You can't date her again, but you can use her as a reference for comparison with the rest of the population.
  2. After the R dates, there are N-R eligible partners left in the population. In the subsequent N-R dates, marry the first one better than the best of the R trial dates.
Now the problem becomes this: what is the optimum R for some given N? Make R too small, and you won't have a good sample of the population. On the other hand, if R is too large, you stand a good chance of discarding your best partner. It turns out -- and although it isn't difficult to show, I won't do the math here -- that if your goal is to maximize the odds of winding up with the very best partner, then the R you should choose is R=N/e. Yes, it's that 'e', the base of natural logarithms, 2.71828...

However, if your goal is to maximize your chances of happiness, and let's say, for the sake of argument, that you could be happy with perhaps any partner in the top ten percent of your eligible population, then R is quite a bit smaller, approximately 0.1 times N. This one is more difficult to calculate, but the rules and strategy are simple enough to make it an easy problem to model, which is what I've done here. The code below is for Matlab, Octave, or your favorite Matlabish computational program and performs a Monte Carlo simulation of our situation 20000 times for each R from 0 to 99, with N=100. If you know me, then surely you're thinking that for me personally, N=100 is a seriously overly optimistic number, but firstly, it's an easy number to calculate with, and secondly (and more importantly) I am irresistibly charming, in a geeky sort of way, so get over it. At any rate, here's the code, uncommented because I'm lazy:
for t=0:n-1
z=0; p1=0; z2=0;
for i=1:tr
for k=1:t
while (x >= mx) && (~isempty(m))
if x==1
waitbar(t/(n-1),h,'Still calculating')

If we rank the best partner as 1 and the worst as 100, the average value of the selected partner's rank as a function of R (still with N=100) looks like this:

You can see how it bottoms out around R=0.1N. Now, for those of you who are more difficult to please, here is a graph showing the probability of winding up with the very best (rank=1) candidate as a function of R.

In this case, when R=36 or so (100/e), the odds for selecting the best partner are maximized. At this point, I'm probably supposed to say something about winding up with my optimum partner. I'm sure that's true because she's probably the only person capable of putting up with me for these past 10+ years. N=1 is, as we like to say, trivial.

Friday, June 10, 2011

Random Wrap-Ups

I completely forgot about posting the end of the year pictures of the kids. I love looking at the differences between the first day of school and the last. This year, the girls didn't change as much, but I think Aaron matured over the course of the year.

First day:

Last day:

Aaron might have matured in the looks department (and let his hair grow out) but he clearly has not matured emotionally!

Another wrap-up of sorts occurred with the girls' spring recital. This year, like last year, they girls each had a short piano piece and then a small vocal performance. The girls were confident in their piano pieces and did a great job. I don't remember hearing any mistakes. Good job, ladies! The church lighting isn't the greatest, so the pictures are very dim. In fact, they are really bad. But at least the kids can't say I didn't post them.

Can you tell who is who?!?

The girls sang two pieces. One was with their friend and I don't have a good picture. The other piece was with a small group. They dressed up as adults, hence the large shirts they have over their dresses.

And this isn't a wrap up. Just something funny.

The other night, Melina was walking around saying, "Good night. Good price." And the image that kept popping up in my head was the red-light district. Sorry.

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Go Figure

The day after I say I am taking a summer hiatus, I post something. Go figure. I haven't used that term in a long time. It reminds me of my high school days. Speaking of which, my high school is having a very informal 20 year reunion in June. I looked at the people who were not attending. Those are the people I would like to see. Therefore, I think I, too, will decline. For those of you not in the know, I did not enjoy high school. I had a handful of good friends, and more than a handful of good times, but I had a tough time walking into that school every day. But that is another story.

The reason I logged on is because Melina is singing at the top of her lungs in her bed. She is supposed to be napping. We'll see where it goes. Right now, she is making me laugh. I sort of hope she doesn't sleep so that I can keep listening to her over the monitor. What is she singing?


I don't know why. Again, go figure.

Melina has (as usual) also been making me laugh during the day. She puts together a quadruple scoop ice cream cone with her play food, sets it on the table, puts a spoon with it and says, "Mommy. Go ahead. Eat your full stocking pantry." This is not a go figure moment. She of course means fully stocked pantry, an idea she got from a Scooby-Doo book we have (The Cupcake Caper, in case you are interested). Apparently, she really doesn't understand what those words mean. On the other hand, perhaps she does. In my ideal world, a fully stocked pantry would include a load of ice cream.

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Summer Hiatus Alert!

I can already tell that I might be taking a summer hiatus from the blog.

I still enjoy writing and recounting what occurs, but by the time I think to sit down and write it, the thought has escaped my brain. And with all the kids home, I don't have the time to sit down until nighttime, and at that point, I am just too tired to do it. So, like your favorite TV shows, I might be on hiatus. Disappointed, aren't you?

Speaking of TV, the girls informed me that Aaron, who watches Scooby-Doo with Melina and the girls, doesn't even like Scooby-Doo. I asked him if that was true. He said yes. Talia wondered why he watched it then. I said, "Any TV is better than none at all, right Aaron?" He agreed. I then thought about my TV viewing. Unlike Aaron, I don't think that any TV is better than none at all. I can't even stand to watch something I don't want to watch, even if I have clothes to fold (a task often done in front of the tube). In fact, last night, instead of watching something less than desirable while doing the laundry, I read my book. Zoe watched something with Tim and she folded the laundry. Yes! I'd be willing to farm her out. You just have to ask. And remember, we have two of them. We could loan them both!

Next week, the girls have basketball camp in the morning, and perhaps by then I will have settled myself into the routine of summer vacation a little better. If so, I'll post as often as I can. Especially if I have cool pictures to share. If not, I'll see ya in the fall.

Saturday, June 4, 2011

What To Do?

That is what the kids were asking. ON THEIR FIRST DAY OF SUMMER VACATION. It is going to be a long one, I say.

That is also what I was asking, yesterday, at the library. When we all came out of the building, we noticed a car pull up along side of us. A mom and her child got out, locked up, and headed into the library. Once I got everyone all settled in their seats and all library books in the front, I went ahead and turned to put my seat belt on. When I turned my head, I noticed something about the car that had pulled up next to us.

There was a child sleeping inside of it! He wasn't an infant, but he was still in the same size seat that Melina uses. In my estimation, he looked to be about 2 or so. It wasn't an absolutely hot day, but when we came out of the library, our car was plenty hot from having the sun streaming on it. I took another glance, just to be sure I was actually seeing a child inside of a car. Haven't we all heard the horror stories about this?!?

I checked the car windows -- the front one was down about 3/4 of an inch. Not enough, in my opinion. I knew the car was locked, so there I was, in the moment. What to do? Do I go find the lady? Do I wait for her to come back?

My common sense won out. I opened both side doors of the minivan and the front window for the kids, so they got a pretty decent breeze coming through. It told them where I was headed (I had parked in a spot that I'd be able to see them pretty clearly, at least most of the time, and the girls are pretty responsible at this point with respect to dangers and all of that). I then headed back into the library.

The lady was at the reserve desk. Her daughter was talking to the librarian. The conversation was stilted, to say the least.

Me: Excuse me. Would you like for me to open your car door and stay with your son while he sleeps?
Her: I was just going to be in here for a minute. My daughter wants to sign up for the summer book club.
Me: I know. I would be happy to sit with him. It is quite warm in a closed car.
Her: No, it's okay. [Said in an annoyed tone.]
Me: Okay.

I left after that, hopped in the car, and waited until she came out. I could tell that she was aggravated by my boldness. Perhaps she was just embarrassed. I don't know. I can only imagine that she might feel as though some stranger was trying to tell her how to parent, and I can appreciate not wanting to feel that way. What I do know is that I couldn't live with myself knowing that a child was inside a hot car on a summer day, no matter how short of a time the lady had planned on being inside.