Six LDS Writers and A Frog

Wednesday, February 07, 2007

Use It or Lose It

by Stephanie Black

Today while I was driving my daughter to school, she was musing about her AP History class. “Now, Ackbar was a Mughal, right?” she said. “I thought he was the admiral from Return of the Jedi,” I said. She then started rambling about Ottomans. I thought of furniture. I was a dang good student when I was in school several eons ago, but man alive, I’ve lost it all. Can’t remember a thing. Of course, even my agile-brained young high-schooler can’t always come up with the right bit of information at the right time. In one of those tip-of-the-tongue moments, she was fishing for a word she wanted. “What’s that word? Barbarians? Ombudsmen?” Finally, triumphantly, she came up with it: cannibals. Don’t ask me how we got on a subject where “cannibals” was a word pertinent to the conversation.

I’m pretty good at helping my first grader with his homework, but beyond that, I’m lost. When my fourth grader got stumped on his math the other week, I helped him . . . by taking the paper to my eighth-grader and saying, “How do you do this?” If my high-schooler ever gets math-flummoxed, we’ll either have to Call a Friend or ask Dad. He’s an MIT guy and people with advanced degrees from the hallowed halls of the beaver aren’t intimidated by, you know, fractions and stuff.

By the way, if you ever want to cheer on an MIT team, here’s one of their chants:

I'm a Beaver, you're a Beaver, we are Beavers all.
And when we get together, we do the Beaver call.
E to the U du dx,
E to the X dx.
Cosine, secant, tangent, sine, 3.14159.
Integral radical mu dv
Slipstick, sliderule, MIT.
Go Tech!

Gets your blood pumping, doesn’t it?

I was a history major in college, but I’ve forgotten it all. Every last exploration, war, treaty, and squirelly little international incident is gone with the wind. The only Manifest Destiny I know anything about is the way that dirty socks, toys and school papers are destined to spread from the east side of the house to the west by sundown each day. But in the years since graduation, I have learned lots of new things, most importantly:

How to sneak the last ice cream bar without getting busted by the kids.

Actually, I’m not completely hopeless in the homework department. I can help my kids edit essays. And I’m very proud to report that my niece used The Believer for a recent book report. That is definitely the ultimate in cool—to write a book report book!

But in honor of my in-name-only history degree, today's goal is: use the phrase "Fifty-Four Forty or Fight!" in conversation. Extra credit if I can relate it to Admiral Ackbar and the Mughals. (As humor columnist Dave Barry would say, that would be a good name for a rock band).


At 2/07/2007 4:04 PM, Blogger FHL said...

Don't click here, it's a trap!

"I don't care if you're arguing my bill, Cletus. Pay me my $54.40 or fight!"

At 2/07/2007 4:27 PM, Blogger Stephanie Black said...

This totally cracked me up, FHL. You made my day.

At 2/07/2007 5:01 PM, Blogger Evil HR Lady said...

That ice cream sneaking trick is darn useful. I'm not very good at it yet, but I'm working at it. You gotta have goals, you know!

At 2/07/2007 9:30 PM, Blogger FHL said...

Sorry I couldn't get the extra credit. =)

I took a speech class in which we were given three random words and told to speak for two minutes, somehow tying all three things together. The teacher was amazing at it, but I'm sure he had lots of practice.

I've been toying with an idea that ties several things together... I'll have to see if I can craft it into the next LDS Publisher short story contest. =)


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