Wednesday, October 13, 2021

Square math and the middle-aged mind

[Continuing my theme of revealing things to undermine what little confidence the world has in me...]

The other day my second grade son was watching a cartoon about blocks that do math. It was on Netflix I think; he has mastered all the streaming apps on the TV, and when he has free-viewing time (when Mommy and Daddy need a break) he is more than capable of selecting a show to watch, so I was not paying much attention to how we go there. [Wow, I'm really knocking it out of the park with this introductory paragraph! How can the reader not want to see where this is going?] In this instance, it was something that seemed more toward teaching pre-schoolers or kindergarteners about math--well below where he is in school, but maybe he gets nostalgic for that period of his life; it was at least educational, and certainly far less bad than a lot of shows he could have selected.

As I noted, I was only vaguely paying attention and likely because of that seeing the blocks make square shapes made me think about squaring numbers--1x1, 2x2, 3x3, etc.--and remembered that a number squared is the only way when represented with blocks that it creates a literal square; the units on the vertical axis and horizontal axis obviously must be the same or it's merely a rectangle. [Finally got to the topic, proving that first paragraph was a digression before I even started. Readers love that.]

Squaring numbers is a concept still a few years in the future for my son, but obviously way from way back in elementary school (probably) for me. Still, I hadn't thought of it in such rudimentary terms since... well, probably since I was in elementary school over four decades ago. [Yowza! I am old.]

I then paused and thought about the results of those squared numbers:

1, 4, 9, 16, 25, 36, 49, 64, 81...

And how they incremented in a pattern--by 3, then 5, then 7, then 9, then 11, etc. 

Saturday, October 09, 2021

Whatever happened to my (demented) brain?

The other morning a song popped into my mind, seemingly out of nowhere. I've written about this phenomenon before, so this is not new, but the song in question was not a radio staple... unless you listened to a particular radio show back in the day. What was it? 

Eddie and the Monsters' 1983 novelty track, "Whatever Happened to Eddie?" (sung by Butch Patrick, who played Eddie Munster on The Munsters TV show back in the mid-'60s).

(There's also a full music video they apparently made, if you dare.)

Where would I have heard that? Why, the Dr. Demento Show, of course. For the uninitiated, Dr. Demento was a DJ who spun comedy and novelty records on his weekly program, and each Halloween he'd have themed episodes where "Whatever Happened to Eddie?" would be a mainstay (at least during the period where I was an avid listener; more on that in a moment). I suppose with Halloween coming and us putting up decorations, that may have triggered something there in the recesses of my grey matter, even though I had not heard the song in many decades.