>our Halloween

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Well, this year's Halloween didn't go quite as I wanted it to.

Yesterday Sammy went missing. Today I spent all day walking around with Brennan passing out flyers. I spent so much time doing it that when it was time to go trick or treating I was exhausted.

We went to Publix's Halloween kid's festival as planned. However, I didn't have the energy to walk around any neighborhoods and it was too hot for Brennan's costume, so we didn't do any real trick or treating.

Despite not going trick or treating, Brennan had a blast at the kids festival. He watched other kids finger paint for a while, watched them play golf, tried his hand at some ball toss games, and even helped out by giving the balls to other kids to toss, LOL.

The bad thing is I was so tired I forgot to take a picture of him in his costume. So tomorrow I will probably be cheating and dressing him back up for some pictures. He went as a lion and we drew little whiskers on his face... he was so cute and quite a few people commented on what an adorable little lion he made. Of course he just pranced around and ate all the praise up. :P LOL

When we got home we watched (and are still watching) the Ghost Hunters special and the live cameras on the site. It's became a cheesy tradition of ours to do this every year.

Even though things didn't go as planned, it's been a pretty decent Halloween. Everyone is having fun and that makes me happy. :)

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>The largest common factor is I just don't get it.

math disasterImage by the mad LOLscientist via Flickr

College math. Blehhhh.

I've been having a hard time with it. Right now my grade is hanging at a 69. Ouch.

In a way though I am thankful for it. College math has forced me to re-evaluate my problems with math. I have found out exactly where I have been going wrong all these years. Well, in reality it looks like my problems are random and all over the board. However, when a certain lens is applied to the situation, things suddenly become a lot more clearer.

I seem to have dyscalculia.

The problems this learning disability presents are different for each person, but the root cause is the same. We just don't get numbers. I mean really get them.

The basic multiplication tables are considered to be 1-12 or 0-12 depending on how you look at it. I don't understand why 11 and 12 are tacked on there, so I forget they even exist. To me the tables should be 1-10. The only numbers I feel like I "understand" are 1, 2, 3, 5, and 10. I have tried for years to memorize 4, 6, 7, 8, 9, and 12 multiplication tables with no success. I also have problems working with these numbers. They're easier if they're combined with one of the numbers I "understand" but if they are combined with each other it often takes me a while.

I understand most mathematical and geometrical concepts easily. However, complicated algebraic expressions elude me and I easily forget the formulas. I also have problems computing numbers. I will grasp a concept but ask me to work it out on paper or in my head and I only come up with the correct answer like 65% of the time. Formulas get confused, numbers get confused, and I even have issues understanding what word problems want sometimes and not only give the wrong answer but work out the problem completely wrong.

I started reading up on dyscalculia, really reading up and not just reading the symptoms and going "Well I might be and I might not be..." I was shocked at the level I found myself relating to people on. Everything from the severe math anxiety to the explanations of numbers being more like words than real concepts clicked with me. I asked around and a lot of people said it sounded like I may have the learning disability. I started checking out resources on how to learn math with dyscalculia. The methods listed not only seemed like they would work, one of them actually demonstrated that it did work. A combination of colors and shapes with a series of numbers helped me memorize a string of numbers that I would have never been able to memorize normally (black and white, no shapes).

I've also been playing a basic math game designed for kids with dyscalculia which has been causing me to really see how my perception of numbers is faulty.

This is what I have discovered so far: When I see a number on paper, like the number 7, I don't connect it with seven separate things. I actually read it more like a word than anything else. On top of that, if I see 7 dots: ....... I don't really see seven dots, I either see a bunch of single dots or I see one single section of the page that equals 7. Notice I said equals 7 and not is 7. I also don't really connect those dots: ........ with the number on paper: 7. So... ask me what 7 x 8 is... and I have a hard time just visualizing that first set of seven objects... but ask me what 7 x 2 is and I instantly latch on to that 2 as a lifesaver, reverse it so that I'm doing 2 x 7, and spout out 14. But beware if that problem is on paper... I may mistake that 2 for a 3. If you use more than one number at a time I'm likely to mix them up, too. 838445 becomes 828454 or something crazy like that. I proofread my work and still don't realize that the numbers don't match.

It's hard for me to explain because it doesn't really seem all that weird or abnormal to me. I'm just now discovering that it is abnormal to read 7 as just 7 and not visualize seven objects. When I picture 7 in my head I picture it as just that - 7.

I don't really like the idea of having a learning "disability" though. It's not like I'm unable to learn math. Despite my problems with it in school my math teachers were convinced I was mathematically gifted and pushed for me to go in to gifted classes for it (I remember feeling upset that so many of them thought I was just being lazy and needed more challenge instead of listening to me when I told them I just couldn't understand it). I just learn math differently than most people.

So I have set out on the mission to learn my multiplication tables again utilizing the new things I know about the way I learn. So far I have color coded a multiplication table to focus on some key numbers I have problems with and made a list of some number combinations to focus on for the week (3, 5, 7, 9, and 11 - all highlighted in purple on the chart). Tomorrow I am picking up index cards so I can make colorful flash cards to practice with on this week's material. The numbers are going to be combined in every way possible. That means I'm not only going to cover 3 x 5 but also 5 x 3 and 15 = . The reason I color coded the chart the way I did was to force myself in to seeing the pattern formed by the answers (which is the way I learned the multiplication tables I know). Colors will be further utilized in the flash cards to help me memorize the numbers. The placement of colors on the table will change as my numerical focus changes. Right now the focus is on purple, yellow, blue, and white (lower right corner). Red marks off primes "unofficially" (two is not included). Green "unofficially" marks off even numbers (some of the other colors overlap the green marks).

I will let you know how it works out! :)

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>Are you a young child under 5 years old? A senior citizen? If not, then the swine flu will most probably NOT kill you!

Pork influenza / fluImage by hulk4598 via Flickr
With the president announcing a national emergency and there being a new swine flu vaccine made available, I'm betting a lot of people are panicking about the swine flu.

First of all, let's get something straight. At the time of the president's announcement, the swine flu had killed about 1,000 people. That seems like a lot until you take the following in to consideration:

  • Millions of people have had the swine flu.
  • The seasonal flu kills an average of 36,000 people a year.
When you read up on what the swine flu really is, you find further evidence that it's not nearly as scary as the media would like you to think it is. The swine flu is a combination of swine, bird, and human flu strains. That makes it super potent, right? Wrong. It just makes it the first time a single flu virus has been able to infect humans and animals. Other than that it is just your typical flu strain.

So what got the government so worried about it? First of all, it's very easily transferable. Second, over half the people that have gotten infected with the swine strain of the flu virus have died. The only thing that kept people from getting it was that it was hard to transfer. Now they're worried that with the swine flu virus people will start coming down with the swine version of the flu and they will be able to catch it more easily than ever. Then there's Mexico.

Mexico has suffered a very high death rate from swine flu. Scientists are puzzled as to why so many in Mexico are dying in comparison to the U.S. where the swine flu has barely made a dent in the population even though it's gotten a lot of people sick. I can take one pretty good guess at that. It all comes down to income levels. I don't think a lot of Americans realize exactly how poor a lot of Mexicans are. You know when you see those third world countries on T.V. where everyone is living in hovels and there's no running water or electricity? That's what a lot of Mexicans deal with on a daily basis (and is a big reason as to why we end up with so many illegal immigrants). Anyways, when you're that poor, you're not very likely to have the best health to begin with. My guess is Mexicans are having a harder time fighting the virus off due to weaker immune systems and more than likely poor medical care as well.

This is also a brand spanking new virus. Viruses have an amazing ability to mutate in order to ensure maximum survival. This means they may become more contagious, broaden the number of the types of hosts they can infect, reproduce faster, become immune to current treatments, or even increase their "potency" (create new symptoms and/or make the symptoms they already produce worse than they were before). This makes anti-viral drugs and vaccines only effective for so long - they have a shelf life before the virus mutates so much they're rendered ineffective. The government has put tons of money in just keeping seasonal flu vaccinations and treatments up to date. With the swine flu in the picture, now the government not only has to worry about keeping up with another virus, they also have to worry about what this virus is going to become. It's already shown itself to be a lot smarter than your average flu strain by showing the ability to infect 3 different types of hosts. The government is more than likely worried this virus is not done with its bag of tricks quite yet.

Anyways, now there is a vaccine. We're all saved, right? Think again. This vaccine has mercury in it. Mercury is not only toxic to humans, it can cause all kinds of problems in the types of people that would need this vaccine the most - children under 5 and senior citizens. At least one doctor has came forward to say that he does not trust this vaccine.

I'm not saying that people should not worry about the swine flu, or that they shouldn't get this vaccine. I am saying that they should carefully consider everything before choosing to receive or not to receive this vaccination. I personally will not be getting it because I'm not one of those likely to die from the virus and I don't particularly like the idea of pumping any amount of mercury in to my body. I'm not really sure yet as to whether or not I will look for Brennan to get the vaccine. That is a decision that needs to be heavily weighed, because Brennan is in the age group likely to experience fatal complications from the virus but he's also in the age group likely to experience complications from getting injected with mercury. Right now I am leaning more towards taking precautions against infection and taking him to the hospital should he show any flu-like symptoms so if it is the swine flu it can be treated with anti-virals early in the game.

Am I being paranoid? Hardly, considering I have to look someone in the face all the time that was crippled for life by a polio vaccination... Speaking of polio, it has been found that the people receiving that vaccination also seem to have ended up with a monkey virus strain that causes tumors and cancer. This viral strain evidently has been passed on through the population as they're finding quite a few cancer patients that never got the polio vaccine that have this particular virus. This happened because the government was developing the polio viral strain on monkey's kidneys and did not realize the monkeys were infected with this other virus.

When you culture a virus on a living being, you run the risk of culturing any other viruses that living being may have.

How are they making the swine flu vaccination? They're culturing it in chicken eggs...

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>toddlers do the darnest things


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