14 January 2008

Driving Lessons

My oldest took her written drivers' test on Monday, and she passed, so she now has her "graduated driver's license", what used to be called a learner's permit when I was a kid in Tennessee.

On the same day that my oldest took her driving test, my youngest started high-school-level algebra. It's hitting me hard that the girls are really growing up. They are making fun of me, but it's more difficult than they think.

09 January 2008


In early December, one of the pastors at the organ church told a joke that went something like this:
A young man is sent to a maximum security prison for larceny. As in many jokes and movies about prison, the young man ends up sharing a cell with an older, veteran prisoner who takes a liking to him.

The first night in the cell block, the younger man hears something strange. Someone calls out, "Sixteen!" All the prisoners laugh, except for the new kid.

"Twenty-five!" More laughter.

After a several more numbers and much more laughter, the new guy asks the older prisoner to explain what everyone's laughing at. The older man says, "Well, at night, we've got nothing better to do than to tell jokes."

"But they're not jokes," the younger man says. "They're just numbers."

"That's all you know," the older man replies. "The thing is, we've all been here so long that we've heard all each other's jokes so often that we've memorized them. So rather than tell the whole joke again, we've numbered 'em all. Now we just remind each other of the joke by calling out the number."

"Really? Can I try it?"

"Go for it, kid."



The young man turns to the older prisoner and says, "I don't get it. What's wrong?"

The older man shakes his head. "Some people just don't know how to tell a joke."

The only thing that made the joke funny in church is that the person telling the joke messed it up so badly that people were really confused and no one really laughed --- some people really don't know how to tell a joke.

But I had heard the joke before, a long time ago, and this time it reminded me so much of my friend Kathy that I was laughing at the joke long before Pastor Tommy started getting confused, and long before he told the punchline.

When Kathy and I were working together at Census, several years ago now, the division chief of our division back then sent an email to the entire division that said, "There are 10 kinds of people in the world - those who understand binary and those who don't." We had heard the joke before, and we thought it said 11 when we'd heard it before. My friend John said that he though it was supposed to be 11 instead of 10. So Kathy and I sent a message to everyone in our address books on our home email accounts and asked them which number they thought was funnier, 10 or 11. We also starting asking people in person or on the phone. Several of our relatives wrote back that they weren't sure which number was funnier, but that they thought the two of us were crazy and/or insane. I remember my dad thought that 10 was funnier because it was a nice, round number, and Mr. West, the guard at the front desk thought that 11 was funnier because it was closer to midnight, and he got off work at midnight.

After that, there was a SpongeBob episode were Patrick goes with SpongeBob to boating school, and the kids and I happened to see it on TV while were were shopping for batteries at a Radio Shack. Kathy happened to see the same episode. Patrick gets nervous and tells the class his name is 24, and the class laughs. SpongeBob says, "You know what's funnier than 24? . . . 25!"

And there were times when someone would say a number, and Kathy and I would just start laughing, like the time we went to Bojangles for lunch and Kathy had ticket number 24 and I had number 25, or the other way around, and we both looked at our numbers and just started laughing. The lady who took our money asked what was so funny. I told her that I was doing my SpongeBob impersonation. She said, "Yeah, I like SpongeBob, too," but she still looked at us like we were insane.

My oldest and I were at the county seat the other day and had to take tickets to talk to the ladies. We had numbers 10 and 11, and we both just started laughing.

It's not exactly like the prison joke, but there are some numbers that remind me of people or of other jokes, and they just make me laugh.

So when I saw this speed limit sign, I had to take a picture, even if it was hard to take a picture of a shining sign in the dark. Where else was I going to see a speed limit of 24?

You know what's funnier than 24?

04 January 2008

A New Year

I have had several inquiries for my consulting business --- some really interesting seasonal adjustment work and some SAS program debugging. All of the potential clients seem to be easy to work with at this point.

I'm also trying to work out a way to get some of my courses on-line for people who want to pay. I need to talk to my computer support people about this again and see if he has any suggestions. I really also need to do a mailing, but I don't know when I'm going to find the time. I have some programming projects of my own I should be working on also.

I also found out this week that I will be teaching again at Belmont for the Spring semester, which starts next week. I need to redo my syllabus and get ready to teach again. I know it will be easier this semester, but right now it seems a bit overwhelming on top of everything else.

And I have a pile of tests to grade by the middle of the month when we need to send in the next batch of work to my oldest daughter's correspondence school.

I hope everyone is having a great 2008. Go Ohio State!