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Thursday, September 20, 2007

6-year-olds can play cards

Our little girl likes to play Crazy 8's. I have to say, this moment was none too soon. We usually play a little bit of cards most nights. Sometimes it is just Ellie and me. Sometimes the whole family plays.

Anything is better than those imagination games that kindergarten kids play.

Monday, September 17, 2007

Gifts that keep giving

I had a dream today that Linda and I were getting married again. I don't know what prompted it, but in the dream I was working on getting things organized. My mother asked me to take a moment aside and accept a couple of gifts that had come.

So this girl (who I have never met) hands me a game. She's explaining that some of the parts are wrapped up separately so that I don't lose them. When I check, I discover that part of the game is a mousetrap as big as my fist. Apparently, the game is trivia-based. If you miss a question, you have to tempt the rat trap, and if you are too slow or too uncoordinated, it snaps shut on your hand.

The girl was going on about how it was her favorite game as a kid. I just smiled, looked her in the eyes, and said, "thank you." Really I'm thinking, "Oh, Linda is going to love that."

Monday, September 10, 2007

Did you nice that school started

We've noticed in our family. Life is busy now, but we are finding our routine. Linda and I go to the gym once a week to work out. Well, so she can work out. I just taunt her and tell her she's a weakling. Last week we took her forearm crutches and she used those instead of the wheelchair, so she was more tired than ever. I'm pretty sure Linda's old PT saw us from the other room; she was busy with patients and didn't have time to visit, but I expect we'll hear something about it this week.

I probably shouldn't have to say, but if Linda was getting a good workout before, adding the crutches really added to the challenge.

Ellie seems to be enjoying Kindergarten, but it is very challenging for her. I think I'm doubly glad that she didn't start until she was 6. She is pretty much tired all of the time now. After the first week she complained, "They expect us to sit in one place and work. My bottom gets tired." I just told her that her endurance would improve and it would get easier.

I love the language she has picked up in school. If she doesn't like my behavior somehow, she'll say, "That's not showing Tiger Pride Dad." She was explaining to Linda the concept of sharing warm fuzzies with a friend, "If you're showing Tiger Pride, ...." I know it's indoctrination, and I'm sure some of my academic friends find it offensive and revolting. But it's just so damned cute! And to tell the truth, it is exactly the kind of thing that speaks to Ellie; for the most part she finds it pretty easy to be good and get rewarded for that.

My own classes are very busy. I'm teaching an interdisciplinary course that I've never done before. So in addition to game theory (which is mathematics, and I have some background in) I am reading lots of books and articles on economics. At one time I would have guess that economics is boring, but it is actually fascinating. We've read great articles, with surprising but apparently-correct conclusions.

I suspect it will be a favorite class of many of my students this semester. We discuss lots of great topics and what economics and game theory have to say about them. One of our first articles explained why mandatory installation of seatbelts in cars should lead to more accidents occurring. We have articles coming up about prostitution and gun control and nuclear armament and religion. There are paradoxes to relish in. It should be fun.

Unfortunately fun pretty much equals lots of work. So I expect to feel perpetually on the move.

Today my task is to get the deer to quit eating all of my plants. I was beyond sad to see yesterday that the local deer ate all of the branches and half the bark off the apple tree I put in in April. I've watered that tree through the whole summer drought, and it has flourished until yesterday. Last night they ate my roses. They will recover, that's how roses are.

Deer season opens soon, and in a retribution kind of way I'm glad. Hopefully a few hunters can remind my deer that they are afraid of humans. I've been reading on the internet for strategies to dissuade deer from eating your plants. Mostly it is not an easy task, but I found one thing that looks promising. According to one orchard, you can place wire fence on the ground around your trees and deer get alarmed when the step on it; kind of like cattle guards. That sounds reasonably inexpensive and believable, so I'm going to try it. At least there's a chance I can keep them from eating Linda's apple tree tonight.