Archive for March, 2016

Idaho for Bernie!

March 23, 2016

Last night, March 22, Idaho held its Democratic Presidential caucus. As one of the most conservative states in the nation, Idaho has not voted for a Democratic presidential candidate since Lyndon Johnson in 1964. Any Democrat running for local or state office holds a very slim chance of winning.

Idaho already held their Republican presidential primary on Tuesday, March 8, supporting Ted Cruz as the Republican candidate for President.

Anyone who voted in the Republican Primary could not participate in the Democratic Caucus. So large numbers were not expected to caucus last night for the Democratic Presidential candidate.

Except Bernie Sanders came to Idaho just before the caucus. He held a rally at Skyline High School in Idaho Falls this past Friday, March 18. The crowd of about 3000 filled the school gym to capacity. People were turned away. Here is a photo of the Saturday headlines from our local paper:

'Feel the Bern!'

‘Feel the Bern!’

Bernie also rallied in Boise on Monday, March 21, and drew a crowd of about 7000 people. Hillary Clinton, on the other hand, never visited Idaho. Okay, so winning our state only netted 27 convention delegates …

My brother Eric, and I caucused for Bernie Sanders in Bonnevillle County, a county with about 100,000 residents. The caucus was held at Skyline High School, in the same gym where Bernie held his rally. The doors closed at 7PM. We got there about 6:30. Wow! No parking left! We had pre-registered and stood in line to fill out pledge cards. Hillary supporters were directed to one side of the gym, Bernie supporters to the opposite side. We found seats near the top of the upper bleachers on Bernie’s side. I took a photo from my seat:

We're settled in

We’re settled in

It took a good half hour for everyone to settle after the doors closed. Here’s a picture of Hillary’s side, across the gym from where I’m sitting:


I climbed out of my seat and walked to the side of the gym to capture the ‘Bernie’ side – to my left …


Just below you see the ‘Undecided’ and again, to the right, the Hillary supporters:


Meanwhile the pledge cards were counted, tallying up the exact numbers of supporters for each candidate:

Bernie – 947
Hillary – 209
Undecided- 82

Then we filled out the first ballots – pink ballots. These ballots were your first vote, but not your official vote. The Democratic party vounteers had made ballot packets except, they were a couple hundred short! The folks on the row behind us got their packets, we, in the row in front of them, had to wait…

Finally all the pink ballots are distributed. Then collected….


Hey, wait for mine!


The Hillary side chanted cheers for Hillary and stomped their feet. Followed by a roar and stomping on our side for Bernie.

Meanwhile, the volunteers had to count those first pink ballots, over 1200 of them, one by one … Sitting around a table on the gym floor below us. That took a while…

People got antsy and thirsty and got up out of their seats looking for restrooms. Parents with infants, filed toward the exits (diaper changing table anywhere?)…

Eric, I’ll take your photo!


Then we heard speeches – three total, one for each candidate and one for the Undecided. Bernie’s speaker was a Cuban immigrant, passionate but difficult to understand. They were all a bit difficult to understand over the din of the crowd…

The Undecideds had to decide which candidate to swing to. The majority appeared to go to Hillary. That side of the gym would break out in cheers as the Undecideds filtered in, four at a time. Bernie won some too, but we were already a raucous horde.

Second ballot, blue. This was your official vote. You know, maybe you changed your mind. Blue ballots were distibuted.


Filled out with pencil, and collected. There was a third ballot, maybe to elect the delegates, but we were ready to go. The crowd had already thinned greatly by the time we got our blue ballots in.

Home again by 9:45 (since it’s about an 8-minute drive from my house to Skyline High School).

I caucused for Bernie!

Bernie Sanders won Idaho by 78%. According to the Idaho Statesman, statewide results gave Bernie 18,640 votes (78%) to Hillary’s 5,065 votes (21%). The enormous turnout in Boise delayed the start of their caucus by two hours. At one point the line stretched more than four blocks with waits of three hours to enter. Over 9000 votes were cast in Boise, making it the largest caucus in U.S. history.

I’m proud to have participated in the political process!

One among the 10% of voters registered as Democrats in ultra-conservative Idaho.

Word problems, Red Lobster and Schizophrenics

March 20, 2016

Part 2 – (‘Siderodromophobia’ and Other Word Problem Woes)

Okay, dear reader, I hate to keep you in suspense any longer as to the solution to the word problem I blogged about in my previous blog….

My hubby, David, solved it. I had also sent the problem out to my kids – all grown, via text on their phones. The discussion went like this:

Solve the word problem

Solve the word problem

“Can you solve this word problem? I
couldn’t. But your dad did. That
second sentence is the foggiest of
any sentence I’ve seen in my 62 1/2 years”

Meredith, our daughter-in-law, answered back within 5 minutes …

“30.333333 for her, 60.333333
for him….?”

Me: “‘A’ for speedy response.
He must have robbed the cradle
for sure..”

Meredith: “Sugar Daddy.
I think my decimals are off tho…
Math gives me question marks.
Oh, duh, 30.5 and 60.5
Wait, no, that’s not it either. I’m
bowing out and leaving it to the scientists”

Me: “I hear you Meredith. I’m into
pulling numbers out of a hat
here and seeing if they fit. Yet,
more inclined to think about this
relationship, why they are
together in the first place and
assuming money is a factor”

Then son, Ben pipes in:

“He is 52 and she is 39.
Pretty simple system of
equations.” (Ben has a Physics degree)

Meredith: “LOL, Jody. I guess we’ll just have
to stick to sparkling narratives”

Ben: “Kind of crazy that they were
born on the same date, and
today is their birthday.” (HUH?)

Meredith: “Maybe that’s what brought them
together … they met at a Red
Lobster where they were both
getting a stupid birthday song
with their all-you-can-eat shrimp.”

Son, Adam (married to Meredith) joins the conversation:

“Nice try, Ben, but it’s a trick
question. He’s actually a
schizophrenic and there is no wife!”

Meredith: “Hahahahaha”
“Oh I love you”

Ben: “LOL”

Okay, so here’s the solution, the set of equations that describe the word problem, per my husband, David, the physicist:

“If you add the age of a man to the age of his wife, the result is 91”

x (his age) + y (her age) = 91

“He is now twice as old as she was when he was as old as she is now” (HUH?)

Okay, since the difference in their ages is a constant, (x-y), when he was her age, y, she was (x-y) years younger.

So mathematically that statement is written as:

x (his age now ) = 2 [y-(x-y)]

To solve:
x = 2(y-x+y)
x = 2(2y-x)
x = 4y-2x
3x = 4y
x = 4y/3

Substitute into the first equation: x+y = 91 (where x = 4y/3)

4y/3 + y = 91
4y + 3y = 273
7y = 273
y= 273 / 7
y = 39

So, …. x + 39 = 91

x = 91-39

x = 52

So he is 52 and she is 39. (Yes, he did rob the cradle.)

And now, somehow, when I think about this problem I can’t get beyond the vision in my head of me at Red Lobster, smelling shrimp, with a bunch of employees around my head singing “Happy Birthday”, surrounded by schizophrenics.

‘Siderodromophobia’ and Other Word Problem Woes

March 8, 2016

I was recently on a 45-minute Delta Airlines flight from Salt Lake City to Idaho Falls. I had finished my book and decided to do the puzzles in the back of Delta’s Sky Magazine. The Sudoku puzzle was just too tiny to mess with. The second puzzle was a word problem:

Solve it before we land!

Solve it before we land!

Yes, surely I can solve it before we land.

I’ve always prided myself, that if I spend enough time with a word problem, break it down, tease out the relevant information, simplify the logic into equations, then I can solve it.

So let me see here…. Uh, his age plus her age equals 91. Okay. Read the problem again. “He’s twice as old as she was when he was as old as she is now.” Huh? “He’s twice as old as she was when he was as old as she is now.” I feel my heart now, beating against my chest. Anxiety? From trains. Remember? Those word problems with trains students try to solve in high school?

Example: Two trains are driving toward one another. The first train leaves Town A at 5am traveling at 60 miles per hour. The second train leaves Town B at 7am traveling at 70 miles per hour. The distance between Town A and Town B is 455 miles. What is the EXACT time the two trains collide head on?

What? They collide? I don’t know! That’s awful. Hope they aren’t passenger trains! OMG! Could exposure to one too many of these train word problems bring on siderodromophobia? Yes, there does exist in humans a fear of trains (siderodromophobia), the single biggest cause of which might be Algebraic word problems.

Here, a similar word problem, involving trains, with a bit of extraneous information, you know, for extra brain exertion:

Three girls shopping for prom dresses board a train and head to the next bigger city 200 miles away where they have a mall second in size to the Mall of America. This first train is going 60 miles per hour. A second train, carrying eight mothers with screaming infants headed to the same mall, leaves the same station 30 minutes later on a parallel track, going 75 miles per hour. How long does it take the second train to catch up to the first train?

Whew. After telepathically signaling to the girls buying prom dresses that the trip really isn’t worth it, you breathe a sigh of relief that at least the two trains are on parallel tracks. Then you wonder how much room in the aisles the diaper bags and strollers are occupying on train # 2, how long before the babies fill their diapers, and whether the passengers on train 2 have thought to bring ear and nose plugs. I dunno. How mathematical is your brain?

Back to the word problem of the day, on my Delta flight. I have 20 minutes to solve it. “His age plus her age equals 91.” x + y = 91. “He is now twice as old as she was when he was as old as she is now.” Say that again? “He is now twice as old as she was when he was as old as she is now.” Huh? Say it out loud. Say it in simpler terms. How? My brain just won’t make any sense of it whatsoever. For those of you who just love this problem, solved it, and you eat this stuff up, here is a link where you will find three more word problems – involving trains and same direction travel, round trip travel and opposite direction travel.

One last practice strategy for solving word problems is to look at the answer and work backwards. Doesn’t work in this case, as far as I can tell, but here – you can have at it:

The answer is: ‘He is 52 and she is 39.’

Yeah, right. Prove it? Is it true, or did those ‘trick’s on you, passenger!’ Sky Magazine puzzle makers just pull those numbers out of a hat?

I don’t know. The plane landed. Safely. Guess that puts things in perspective. Thank you Delta Airlines. I do wish those Sudoku’s in the back of your Sky Magazine were 5 times bigger and, excuse me, but, is that word problem really solvable through any method except trial and error? Is that answer you gave even correct?

In Idaho Falls we do have an airport, but the nearest Amtrak train depot is in Twin Falls, 138 miles away. At least I can rest assured I won’t be involved in any head on train collisions anytime soon.

Please, Delta Airlines, don’t be making up word problems for your Sky Magazine involving same direction travel, round trip travel, and opposite direction travel with airplanes. (Ever heard of ‘aviatophobia’ or fear of flying?)

P.S My husband, David, (a physicist) just announced that he solved the Delta Airlines word problem. What a kill-joy. I guess I’ll have to share his solution now in another blog.

So, never mind. Think I’ll go buy a prom dress or something …