Shortest Distance Between Two Points is a Little Black Jeep

This week I was back at my employer’s office location in the greater Sacramento area. I have such a mental block about making the drive up there because the first time I ever went to Sacramento almost ten years ago, I left on a Friday afternoon and it was an awful, hellacious drive.

And ever since, the drive just seems equally hellacious.

When people ask me how far away is Sacramento, I usually say “oh, about two hours.” But that’s not really true.

In the office this week, I was chatting with a coworker who lives there. He’d asked how the drive went, and I told him it was pretty bad. There were three different accidents in varied locations that had backed up traffic in all kinds of directions. So the trip took me three and a half hours.

My coworker replied, “Yeah, I always figure it’s going to be a three hour ride, no matter what.”

Three hours. Just. Ugh.

I can get from Albuquerque to Las Cruces in three hours, I thought to my little self.

Wait a minute.

What’s the distance from ABQ to LC? About 200 miles, right? According to the maps of Google, the distance from my old apartment in ABQ to my best friend’s home is 224 miles.

Then I looked up the distance from the mid-Peninsula to the Sacramento suburb where I was visiting.

125 miles.

Something’s not right here.

So I embarked on some math. It hurt my head and made me wobbly on my pins, but math was necessary.

So if I go 125 miles in three hours, which is 180 minutes, that means I go one mile every 1.44 minutes.

That means:

My average speed is 41.6 freaking miles per hour!

So if that’s an average, that means sometimes I’m going 65 mph, which is the posted speed limit…

And sometimes I’m going squappity mph because I’m at a standstill at Emeryville, moving real, real slow on the approach to the Bay Bridge, or stuck on that freaking causeway staring at the back of a semi-truck that’s belching black smoke and wondering WHY GOD WHY do I have to drive to Sacramento!?


41.6 freaking miles an hour. No wonder this drive is so tortured. To paraphrase that bard of modern times, Sammy Hagar, I can’t drive forty-one.

I like to drive and go. I don’t like stop and go. Go and go, that’s my motto.

I guess it’s a where-you-were-raised issue. In New Mexico, if I go 224 miles in three hours, that is one mile every 80 seconds which means my average speed is 75 miles per hour. Which is the posted speed limit.

Which means sometimes I’m slowing down to make way for other cars and sometimes the New Mexico State Highway Patrol doesn’t really need to know what I’m up to.

Ahem. Anyhow…..

If you listen close, you can hear the sound of all of those drivers pounding their heads on the steering wheel.

Image from The Sacramento Bee.

A Common Language Usurped By a Simple Decimal

Today I went to a workshop to teach me how to properly measure, cut, mat and frame a photo. The end result of the workshop was to be a gallery quality framed photo ready to be hung in an art show coming up in May.

I participated in this workshop last year but was so confused by the process (the volunteer showing me the instructor’s method knew what she was doing, but not how to adequately teach it) that I vowed to pay close attention this year so I could both get it right for the gallery show and be able to cut mats and frame my prints at home.

Ok, so I showed up at the workshop, took possession of my mat board, went to station #1 and got to work.

The instructions said: “measure your image, not the paper it’s printed on but the actual image, and write those numbers in the center of your mat.”

Ok. Fair enough. I measured.

My image came out to be 9 11/16 by 8

So I wrote that down.

Step two said “subtract the larger number from twenty and the smaller number from 16”

(we’re using standard 16 x 20 frames)

So ok.

16 minus 8 equals 8. Perfect. That’s the easy one.

20 minus 9 11/16.



Did I ever mention that I suck at math?

Ok, I was bound and determined not to screw this up.

Might I also mention that I think that our standard measuring units…an inch divided into sixteen units, is really dumb? When I craft, I use centimeters for measuring. The 10 based system makes freaking sense!

Determined not to be outsmarted, I wrote on my mat:

19 16/16 minus 9 11/16 and then I worked that out equals: 10 5/16

Well I gotta tell you, I was feeling p-r-e-t-t-y darn good about myself right then.

Then the next step said: “Divide each number by 2”


Okay. 8 divided by 2 equals 4. Rock on!

10 5/16 divided by 2 equals…..well it equals a string of curse words that I’ll refrain from repeating.

So I paused. I hemmed. I hawed. I considered calling The Good Man who is really good at math.

I considered converting it to decimals and using my calculator. But that doesn’t help…I still needed to know how many of those stupid little 16th hashmarks on the ruler were required to cut my mat to the proper size.

This is not about expressing the math correctly, it’s about counting 16th marks on a ding dang ruler!

So…I wrote on my mat: 10 5/16 divided by 2 equals: 5 2.5/16

Yes, I know that you can’t put decimals in your fraction. I just don’t care. This works for me. I can count two and a half 16th marks on the ruler and mark ’em off and make a cut.

It was about this time my instructor came over. “Let me see what you’re doing” she said.

She looked over my shoulder and saw my mash up of decimals and fractions. Then she rolled her eyes. Then she said “oh…make it 3/16ths!”

Then she did what my dad used to do when he’d assigned me a task but was exasperated by how I completed the job. She took the tools out of my hands, re-measured my print, marked the coordinates and cut my mat.

Hey, no problem here. She is the curator of the art show and she has to approve all prints for show. I know she’s not going to have a single problem with how my mat looks….


I still say there is nothing wrong with my 2.5/16 fraction. I know exactly what it means and my mat would have been measured fine. Cutting it correctly? That’s a whole other story.

Monkey Mind Needs To Dance

Having a hard time concentrating today. Lots of reasons, but it seems that writing coherent sentences is impossible.

So you know what that means. Imagination Prompt madness!

You need other people because…

I can’t be expected to make my own perfect Manhattan straight up with a maraschino cherry all by myself, now can I?

Could you stay in bed all day and think?

%^$@damn right I can! Oh, wait, you said think, not drink.

I could stay in bed all day and think, too. It’s just less of a party.

Describe a typical day in elementary school.

Crayons, recess, paste, lunch, recess, paste, crayons, and something with numbers on a mimeographed worksheet.

What keeps me going?

force x mass

What if you were never born?

You wouldn’t be reading this completely awesome blog. You’d be reading a different and less awesome blog and wonder what was missing in your life.

Why should I be honest?

Because my short term memory sucks and I can never remember which yarn I spun where. The truth is just easier to remember.

List five things you need.

A nap.

A cookie from the conference room down the hall.

The group admin to look the other way so I can steal a chocolate chip cookie from the conference room down the hall.

Tweezers (you don’t want to know why)

Another nap.

My heart sings when…

I eat a huge plate of green chile chicken enchiladas. Later, my esophagus sings too, but it’s an entirely different song.

Write a haiku about today.

Here I sit writing
One day before vacation
No more today, boss


Today, I’m going to pander to the keyword search.

Oh yes I am…pander a go-go.

You know, it’s an odd thing to look at the visitor stats for my little ol’ blog and see what exactly brings folks around.

I’ll have you know, the NUMBER ONE reason people visit my blog is because of a single post I did on the geometric wonder known as the trapezoid.

I’m not even kidding. “Trapezoid” is the number one most searched keyword for Oh Fair New Mexico.

I think I may have helped schoolchildren around the globe by posting a photograph of a trapezoid in real life, my former office building.

Here it is:

There is she is, folks! A trapezoid! In real life! Right there!

Trapezoid, trapezoid, trapezoid (<- Now I'm just baiting the search engines....) What is a trapezoid? (< - still baiting) In case you don't know what a trapezoid looks like, I have something for you:

Ain’t she a beauty! An isosceles trapezoid! That’s HOT!

Why all the pandering? Well, I recently noticed via an image search that some kindergarten class in Washington DC has robbed me of my trapezoid-based SEO.

Oh hell no!

I’m taking back the trapezoid.

Love the trapezoid! Embrace the trapezoid!

If you’re a Brit, enjoy the trapezium!

There…that should do it.