Thursday, June 14, 2012

Two Brains Converged By Genes

My sisters and I never played those problem solver type games that they have nowadays where you have situations you have to figure your way out of or you can't move to the next level until you figure out xyz, etc.  Maybe they played them together, but I never played them with them.

As illustrated here, I did not get the gene that does math the way the two of them did.  I got the gene that really WANTS to do math but not the one that really GETS why it is what it is.  But that's OK, I tell myself, because I got the gene that lets me talk in front of groups of people day in and day out without batting an eyelash, which most of my family could not do.

And I'm not teaching those people math, so all is well.

However, 2 situations have recently come up wherein my sister e-ster and I have been elected to solve a problem.  Not really of the math type, per se, but problem solving that probably does require the math gene.

Situation #1:

How to make e-ster's iphone work in her fancypants new car.  She has a super nice car with the option to put an ipod/phone in the glove compartment (I always say glove compartment, do you say glove box?) and play it from there with a fancypants hookup.

We are smart enough to know that there are buttons on the steering wheel to control the radio and all sorts of things, but there seems to be no way to control the iphone when it's hooked up.  It's really weird, you can see on the little dashscreen that there is a song playing, but there seems to be no way to change the songs.  So you're stuck listening to whatever song comes next out of your million songs on your iphone.

That seems pretty outdated for a fancypants car.

Especially when another option on that display lets you talk directly to the president.  Or maybe it lets you get current weather.  Something like that.

So, we fiddled.  We pushed buttons singly, together, in sequences.  We tried an iphone and an older ipod to see if there was a difference.

And YES we got out the owner's manual.  I have a degree in reading, remember? That was my first suggestion.  But it didn't really address the whole ipod thing beyond saying "plug it in here".  Not much about scrolling or changing the volume or anything.

So, e-ster hit upon the magic when she accidentally clicked on the right sequence of buttons.  Or as I like to call it, the scroll button....  and it worked!  Now she can scroll through her songs and pick what she wants to listen to!


We were pretty surprised that they didn't write this information down.  I guess they figure all fancypants car drivers have phDs.

And do you know where we eventually found this information was written down?

No, not in the owner's manual.  I already told you we looked there.  In the booklet that fell out of the owner's manual called "how to make your i devices work" or something equally offensive to two people who spent 30 minutes trying to operate the radio.

Situation #2

Now, this one is really difficult.  I will bet that 97% of you do not have the slightest idea how to do this either.

How to make a graph (which I now know I should probably call a CHART) out of information you put into an excel spreadsheet.

I asked e-ster to help me with this because:

a) she was a business major and I imagine that somewhere in some econ course or some other course that we teachers dont' have to take (still thanking God for that every day) she must have had to be skilled at taking numbers and manipulating them into charts, graphs, percents and whathaveyou

b)  she is pretty tech savvy (disregard the first situation) and works for a tech company

c)  she likes to figure things out and usually does (again, disregard the first situation)

So, I had some data that I needed represented in what I would call a bar graph.  You know, like little thick lines showing that this number of people got this score on the test.  I also know that it's totally possible to do this with excel and I'm pretty sure they learn that in like 6th grade in my school.

But I was at home and needed to make the data like 3 days ago, so I didn't have a student to help me.

I tried.

I tried everything I knew how to do.

And excel just laughed at me.

It made me charts/graphs but they were not representing anything accurate.  They could represent one piece of the data but not the other.  Round and round I went.

So I called e-ster.

She told me about a cool website that you can go to that allows you to get a password to remotely visit someone else's computer and help them work through something.  Yes, for all of you whose parents get lost trying to find pictures they just downloaded, this could be a GREAT way to help them remotely without punching them when they are sitting right beside you and still don't get it.

Anyway, so I closed all the secret files and let her into my computer from her house, oh a whole 15 minutes away.  But it was supper time and we had things to cook, so we couldnt' just drop over each other's houses.

I explained what I wanted and I let her go to work.

And I watched her do the same damn thing I'd already done for 25 minutes yesterday.  Do you have any idea what patience it takes to let someone who isn't sitting beside you manipulate your cursor?  I was on the phone with her while she did this and I kept pointing to things with my finger like she could see them.

Then I realized I could also manipulate the cursor to show her things.  Or to fight with her and undo what she was in the middle of undoing because I forgot she was actually in my document.  Wow, the 21st century is really amazing, isn't it?

Anygraph.   So we futzed around (wow, spell check actually believes that futzed is a word.  Not a single red line under that!)  and fooled around and took turns doing the exact same thing over and over and still not getting the right results.  That's the definition of insanity, right?

After a whole hour, we had somehow cobbled together enough brain power to get it right.    When she tried one thing, I noticed something she didn't see and vice versa and eventually we did one completely correct graph.

Talk about the blind leading the blind.

The real test was in creating the second one.  Eventually, we made two accurate graphs that actually represent real information that can be read and interpreted by the masses.  And right now, I could probably do it for you again, but a week from now, we will both have forgotten we even made graphs, let alone how we made them.

One whole hour. Plus the 25 minutes I had already spent.  Plus the amount of time she spent when she learned how to do this a long time ago and hasn't done it since.

I suppose someone would say that we should work together because we'd make a great team, figuring things out.  Sure, if all you ever wanted from us was the completion of one, single thing.  Forget mass producing anything.  We like accuracy in our problem solving.  Even if by "problem solving" we really just do what the other one did to see if it works better for us.

I continue to live in secret horror that someone, someday, might actually bear witness to our ineptitude or worse, that we might be in a situation with a-ster too and have such moments as described above.  She likes to figure things out too.

But then there'd be 3 of us trying to control the cursor.

The internet is definitely  not ready for that.

Sharing with Finding the Funny and Saturday Laughs.


  1. LOL on #1. I can never figure out manuals- ever! You would laugh at me! Funny!! I am glad you guys figured it out:) Not sure I would!

  2. Well at least you didn't have her telling you she knew exactly how to print out envelopes and to leave the room! Only to come back 10 minutes later to find her with her head and her arms (up to her elbows) inside the opened printer saying 'this isn't as bad as it looks, Mom! Damn, I think I jammed something in this @!@#@@! thing' and all I could think of is how am I going to tell her father what she'd done to the printer!! She finally figured it out and if he doesn't read this he'll never know!!!

  3. too bad he reads it religiously lately. maybe he doesn't read the comments.


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