In Geometry, we sometimes talk about extending a line segment by multiplying it by some constant greater than one. Alternatively, one can shrink a line segment by multiplying it by a constant between zero and one. I thought of this concept recently when my daughter noticed that the summer was quickly coming to its end. What she proposed was, in essence, to multiply the time remaining by a number greater than one. To do so would give her a few more weeks of summer.
The idea began with a simple realization on the part of my daughter. She noted that, if there had been an unusual number of snow days used during a school year, the school year would have been extended to account for that. She pointed out the fact that this summer has been cold and rainy, even including many flooded basements and a tornado in mid-July. Indeed, there have been several evenings that the public pool has closed ahead of schedule because so few people were there swimming, and the cost of the lifeguards made keeping it open a bad business decision. I had to laugh at the number of times I told my husband that we had been kicked out of the pool- as if we had been misbehaving and had been singled out for poor behavior.
My daughter reasoned that, since the summer has been so cold and wet, we have not had as many summer days as we should have. She proposed that the same logic that would extend a school year because of too many snow days should also dictate that the summer break be extended, too. She therefore proposed a letter that she felt we should be receiving in our mailboxes soon. It read:
Due to the unusual number of cold and wet days this summer, your principal and your city has decided to extend the summer break by two more weeks. We feel that this would help to make up for the many days of poor weather that we have all dealt with this season. We will therefore see you back in school in the middle of September. Details will follow. In the mean time, please enjoy the rest of your vacation.
I am sure that many school children would love for their parents to receive such a letter in their mail. However, I suspect that such letters are not currently on their way. I do know that my own college classes will not be delayed for such a reason, and we were the ones who got hit by the tornado! However, I have to admit that I would really appreciate some extra time for a summer that seems to be rushing by at breakneck speed. And so I ask a question that is often asked at this time of the year; how is your summer going, in your part of the country?
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Anthropology Open Rank (Assistant, Associate, or Professor) of Anthropology in the College of Liberal Arts