Wednesday, September 3, 2008

“Squeak, squeak” and before you know it, unit calculations

My husband left for work pretty early that morning, so I didn't get a chance to explain.
But the email came through shortly after he arrived at his desk: "The heating/cooling people are coming out to check the furnace in a couple of weeks. It's making a terrible noise. I don't know why, because it's not even running, but for a few bucks, it's better to have it checked out and tuned up before the weather turns."
And while I'm all for a pristine HVAC system, I had to laugh when I read his email. This was my reply: "Uh, well, that squeaky noise is the rock tumbler we set up in the basement. I heard it this morning too, only I thought it was a cricket."
Besides chuckling at the emergency call to fix the furnace, I giggled a bit at myself for the whole rock tumbler ordeal. When I was a kid, an only child, mind you, my dad constantly shoved science down my throat. Example: for my 8th birthday I got one of those electrode kits where you followed a long, complicated series of connections and something like "HELLO" would appear on the tiny screen. I got my own rock tumbler at an early age and created a ton of smoothed out gravel, which never quite made it to gem quality. And then there was the time while studying for a test on cloud types in the fourth grade that he "helped me" by teaching me unit calculations and drilled me on them so much that I forgot all about clouds and got a D on the test.
Too bad there weren't unit calculations on there for extra credit...
You know how when you're a kid and your parents annoy you and you swear that you'll never ever ever do those same things to your own kids? And then you grow up and have your own kids and you end up breaking your promise and you treat them the same dysfunctional way your parents treated you? Yep, I'm doing it to. On a daily basis.
All of that force-fed gadgetry must have worked because I find myself shoving science into our lives all the time. We've always got some experiment running that is way over my kids' heads, and I wish I was kidding, but when I want them to do something quickly I instruct them to be molecules of hot water.
It's rather sad.
But last year for Christmas something magical happened. My then 6-year-old daughter wrote "rock tumbler" as the number one thing she wanted for Christmas. We scoped the toy catalogues and found some good ones. She tore them out and hung them on a poster. It was rock tumbler mania.
And sure enough, her Papa (my dad) came through with the science, and got her the gift of the world's best rock tumbler. Double-barreled, with extra sets of grit and polish. Plus a heap of rocks sure to tumble into something decent. We could barely contain ourselves.
It took awhile to find the time to get the thing set up, but when our sugar crystal experiments were completely solidified and the chipmunk tightrope had fallen down, it was time to get things churning in the basement. Next to the furnace. Where it turns and turns and inevitably squeaks, like all rock tumblers have been doing since the dawn of rock tumbler time.
It all leaves me wondering, could we use unit calculations to figure out how to pay the furnace man in polished stones? And is my first grade daughter too young to learn?
He's scheduled to come out in 2 weeks, and if there are 7 days in one week, that makes 14 days. And if there are 24 hours in each day, that gives me 336 hours to get it down her throat.

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