Thursday, July 12, 2012

To Infinity and Beyond!

How do we manage to have such dorky conversations at the dinner table?!

Tonight, we were talking about how Brussel sprouts, cabbage and broccoli are all cruciferous vegetables (don't laugh yet-- it gets dorkier), even though they seem so different.  What makes them cruciferous, Princess wondered.  I explained that they are all related because the flowers on the plants have four petals that resemble a cross, thus "cruciferous", which is Latin for cross-like.  Princess didn't like this explanation.  "A flower shouldn't make them RELATED.  Broccoli rocks, but cabbage and Brussel sprouts suck!  I mean it!  That's just dumb."

He does look dumb...
"You want to talk about dumb", said Birdie, "then let's discuss Buzz Lightyear for a minute.  (So she was the one that left the Toy Story DVD lying in the floor earlier... hmmm.)  That idiot likes to use the phrase 'to infinity and beyond!'  Like there is anything beyond infinity!  It's infinity because we don't know where it ends!  Duh."

(I warned you it would get dorkier.  Doesn't everyone talk about cruciferous vegetables and infinity with their little ones?  I say make each moment a dorky teachable moment.)

This was not the first time the subject of infinity has come up at the dinner table.  About three weeks ago, the whole family had discussed the idea of infinity to some extent over dinner.  The whole conversation made my brain hurt, and I was glad when it was over.  I should have known it wasn't over for good.  Things have a way of getting repeated again and again around here.  I'd say it's like deja vu, but it isn't as baffling as that.  My kids just cannot let things go.  Ever.  Even when you think they finally have.  It takes very little to revive a long-forgotten topic-- like seeing the Toy Story DVD, for example.  That was all it took to set my expert conversational-track-jumper into action, making the leap from cabbage to infinity in a single bound.  

Our previous conversation on infinity included Hubby, and started when Princess made the comment that she could "count all the way to the biggest number in the world-- a googol!"  Hubby was quick to point out that any number you could count to could always be made bigger by adding +1 to it, such as googol +1, so no one can count to "the biggest number in the world".  Well, Birdie couldn't help herself and chimed in with "you can't count to infinity!"  This started a very long and drawn out conversation about infinity and how it behaves in your average math problem.  (Yep-- still dorky.  We're deep in the heart of Dorkland, folks.)  Like, for instance, how infinity plus any number is still infinity.  Or infinity times any number (except zero) is still infinity.  Birdie was quick to point out that zero and infinity behave very much alike in many ways, even though zero means "absolute nothing" and infinity means "absolutely more than I can explain".  Both numbers, when in a math problem, often lead to the answer of the problem being either zero or infinity.  (I found this statement to be very insightful and delightful.)  Once we got to the division and subtraction of infinity, our math got a little fuzzy.  Birdie had a hard time believing that infinity divided by any number except itself is still infinity, but she was more willing to believe that to be true about subtraction.  After saying the word "infinity" about a gazillion times (like my "technical" math term in the midst of all this math jargon?), Birdie finally seemed stymied enough by dividing and subtracting infinity that she had no choice but to shut up leave the topic alone for awhile.

Well, tonight, after Birdie's tirade about Buzz Lightyear, Princess decided to chime in on the whole infinity conversation.  "Infinity looks like a lazy number eight."  Princess said this almost like a taunt, and Birdie looked decidedly annoyed by the comment.  After all, she was discussing the meaning of infinity, not its appearance.  Princess went on "Of course, it probably lays down because it is so heavy from being worth more than you can count!"  This was followed by peels of maniacal laughter from Princess.

Birdie was still a little miffed, but she thought she could totally shut down her sister with a few "tough questions" on the topic of infinity.  Princess quickly dismissed the question Birdie asked about dividing with infinity by saying "I haven't even learned about division in school yet!  And besides, you wouldn't know if I got the answer right, anyway!"  (Yes, she was using her outdoor voice to say this.  As usual.)  Then Birdie, in a very snarky manner, said "Well you know how to subtract, so why is infinity minus any number still equal to infinity, huh?"  Princess looked at her sister, then donned her "thousand yard stare" for a few moments.  When she finally returned to reality, she told Birdie that she didn't know for sure how to answer her question, but she did figure something out.  "If I take infinity and subtract one, and then take the answer I get and subtract that from infinity, my final answer will be one.  I just know it.  Now, can I please have more chips and less infinity, Sissy!"

Finally, it was Birdie's turn to sit and stare dumbly at Princess for a change!  LOL!

I don't even know if technically their arguments are sound, but who really cares?!  They are eight-- and Birdie has finally shut up about the whole thing!  I am usually quite patient with the non-stop commentary about whatever the topic de jour is, but I am beyond OVER the infinity crap discussion.  Can't we go back to obsessing over something fun, like dragons, or dog breeds, or animal feces?  Man-- those were the days.  I could actually keep up with those conversations!


  1. LOL - we have these kind of "infinity" arguments all the time. Those really do give me a headache. Thanks for sharing your fun dinner-time conversations. That could be a weekly post for sure! Have a wonderful weekend,

    1. Glad you stopped in! The mental acrobatics our kids put us through sometimes is fun AND challenging. LOL! Enjoy your weekend too!

  2. So sweet and very well written. Happy to have found your blog :)

    1. Thanks so much for hopping on the Crazy Train!

  3. Very cute!

    Greetings! I'm doing my hopping (from the TGIF BLOG HOP) and just hopped on yours - I'm a new follower now and hope you will follow me back. Have a great weekend.

  4. Ha! Such a sweet story! Love your blog, so glad we found each other! Thanks so much for stopping by mine earlier, I put you on my list! Keep up the great writing--I will keep stopping by!

  5. Blog Hopper here :) As soon as I saw the title of your blog, I knew I had to follow :)

  6. Great moniker for your blog - popped in on the blog hop ...

    Give me a visit some time at ~