Math 1050 Transportation Cost Project

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This was a great project that taught me how to apply math to my every day life. Sometimes we think that math is too hard to apply to our daily lives but this was actually quite simple. In this project we learned how to calculate fuel efficiency which is very important to anyone who drives. By learning the math behind fuel efficiency we can learn to save money, who doesn’t want to save money? Great project!

The idea behind the project was to teach us the principle of optimization of resources, in this case fuel was the example. This concept relates to be as human labor  is a resource that I deal with at work; learning how to optimize the time and effort of those that I oversee is key to being efficient. I also like to cook and I often have a minimal budget to work with so learning how to optimize my resources (ingredients) I can make more food and save money.

By graphing the function it helped us SEE the optimal potential, seeing makes it easier to recognize the benefits. I took a microeconomics class in the which we focused a lot on optimization, usually referring to production. We used similar graphs to provide a visual of what factors affect the reaching of the optimal place on the graph.

Again I really enjoyed this project because it seems to make more sense than most of the other projects I have previously done where the goal is to help us see how math can be applied to our daily lives. I plan on starting my own business some day and I know that I will be making graphs often in order to calculate how to get the most out of my resources.


2,200 miles in the Barney Booster


About 10 years ago my family and I drove all the way from Greensboro North Carolina to Salt Lake City Utah.  The trip carried us through about 8 different states and 2200 miles of great fun!  I don’t know if it’s obvious or not but the word “fun” may have been an exaggerated optimistic point of view.  We embarked on this journey in an early 1990’s purple Ford mini-van.  The reason we drove was because my parents had the goal of saving some money and they also wanted to give all the children the chance bond with each other. Boy did we bond! 

                        There was a total of 8 of us at the time, my parents, 5 boys and 1 girl, bless her heart. The purple mini-van we were driving was awarded the very fitting nickname, “The Barney Booster.”   This nickname was justified because it looked like Barney had fallen over and someone put wheels on it. It is always said that mini-vans are supposed to be compact on the outside but spacious on the inside, but let’s be honest with 8 of us and only 7 seats the term “spacious” was far from reality. I should clarify that it only had 7 seats when we bought it but once we wedged a cooler in between the middle seats it became an 8 seater.  My mom used the cooler to her advantage by making it the time out seat.

Up to this point I have described the driving conditions pretty well, but wait it gets better.  To save time we drove through the night. We drove 2200 miles, 36 hours strait without sleeping in a bed.  Our attempts to take naps in the car were not very successful. When you look at it in days, one night without a bed might not sound so bad but being in a very uncomfortable position for 36 hours you tend to long for a bed.  Being very determined, my parents would only stop to use the bathroom. One thing about my mom is that she is always prepared. She packed enough food to hold us over for the most part of the intense car ride even when eating seemed to be a frequent activity to pass the time. 

I feel like I am on an infomercial because I have to keep saying “but wait there’s more.”  A week prior to our trip my eldest brother and I were exposed to poison ivy to which we are highly allergic so we were both on medication that unfortunately had the side effect of frequent bathroom trips and a constant itch.  Sometimes while driving through the slow empty parts of our country we would just pull over on the freeway so that my brother and I could hop out and you know… One time while pulled over for a bathroom break another mini-van pulled over with the same idea and 5 girls hopped out. You can imagine how embarrassed we felt as those girls headed into the same group of trees we were in…

Most people after hearing this much of the story immediately say “you have crazy parents” and it’s true I do have crazy parents but in a good way.  Taking 6 children under the age of 13 across the country for a two week stay in Utah is definitely crazy. We were a little rowdy and rambunctious for the first portion of the car ride. The arguments were usually over what, at the time, seemed to be important. Things like who is taking up more space on the back seat and whose turn it was to play with the “Game boys.”  My mom is famous for the “reach around and snap.” This was when she would be driving and reaches back towards us and snaps her fingers as if that was going to stop us from arguing.

Part of the reason we had embarked on this journey was because my dad was really sick at the time with cancer and so we were headed to Salt Lake to see his family that lived there. This presented another obstacle because his left arm would go numb quite often, this made it hard for him to drive and that meant that my mom had to drive the majority of the way.  We have a family rule that is whenever we are in the car the driver gets to pick the music. When the distance you are traveling is not far-off then it doesn’t really matter what music the driver picks because it will only be on for a few minutes.  My mom had a CD that she made for the trip with the same 5 songs from the movie “A Walk to Remember” on there twice… we listened to it the whole way. We had those songs memorized to the point where we could not only sing along with the music but also sing them perfectly a cappella. Even now, 10 years later, every time we hear those songs we turn them up and sing along and think back on the long drive we once made.

After that long journey we were able to spend some good quality time with some of our relatives in Salt Lake City. To be honest I think I remember the car ride better than our stay in Utah.  Countless hours were spent playing the “Alphabet game” and “Slug Bug” during the drive. As for my parents I don’t know if the trip was a success in their eyes or just a disaster. All I can say is that the drive home was a little different; we stopped at a hotel.  My parents were happy to have made it that far so they decided to “spoil” us with a one night stay.






Reflection: This was an assignment for my english 2010 class at SLCC. We we asked to prepare a memoir and this was the story I chose to use. Writing this memoir was fun because its a genre that allows you to be creative. Although the story needs to sound true it doesnt necessarily need to be true. In my case the story I chose for my memoir is already entertaining so I didnt need to beef it up with exaggerations or false information. Once I learned that the purpose of a memoir is to relate an essential human experience, I was able to organize my story so that it fit that criteria. Overall it was a fun paper to write and rewrite and rewrite again.

2,200 miles in the Barney Booster About 10 years

The Cinderella Man

The Cinderella Man

The Story of James J. Braddock


          James J Braddock, the heavy weight boxing legend, was a true American hero when an American hero was needed.           The movie “The Cinderella Man,” produced by Ron Howard, accurately presents the story of James J Braddock as a boxer and a family man during the great depression in the United States of America. As a very fitting title, the phrase, “The Cinderella Man” refers to how he “took the most adverse conditions and lifted himself out of it.”[1] (Mike Delisa, Boxing Historian) Ron Howard, the producer, does a great job of accurately depicting the harsh living conditions during the great depression in the United States as he shows it from a common family’s perspective, James J Braddock’s family.

            The film takes place during the late 1920’s and early 1930’s, covering the boxing career of “The Cinderella Man.”  James J. Braddock was born on June 7, 1905 in New York City, New York.  He married and had 3 kids. When the film starts it first shows a short clip of James with his family in a nice house, obviously showing his life after having become a successful boxer. After only a few minutes of the happy scene of James with his family in a prosperous situation it flashes back to 1933, just a few years earlier. I think the producer does this in order to really emphasize the work that went into coming out on top. He, the producer, wanted us as viewers to see that some of the commodities that we take advantage of were really hard to come by during that time.

The difference between his living conditions before and after is the difference between night and day. It shows the family living in a small apartment. The three kids all sharing a bed. The family eats a simple breakfast of ham without even enough to go around. James goes out to check for the daily milk supply and finds nothing but empty bottles with a note saying that they were behind on their payments. With the little milk left over from the day before James’s wife makes it render a little more by adding water to it, something that to most Americans now days would not drink even if they were paid to do so. That morning James goes to the dock hoping he would find work for that day and they don’t give him a shift. That kind of work was hit or miss, due to the large amounts of unemployed Americans looking for a day’s work.

We ask ourselves, how did the prosperous America fall into the great depression? Although the movie does not explain how this happened in the United States, I think it would be important to give a little back ground and talk about what exactly caused the great depression. It’s important to remember that it was not only a hard time for the United States but was actually worldwide, a hard decade during the late 1920’s to the late 1930’s. In 1929 the stock market crashed causing investors to stop investing. This reduced overall spending and many companies had to lay off workers because it was losing customers. By 1933 some 13- 15 million Americans were unemployed.[2] That is just a brief overview of what happened. It was also the over production on the farms that led to this problem.

Focusing again on the film we can now understand a little more of the cause of the great depression and understand why times were so tough. At this point, James is already a fighter but cannot get by just on the purses he would receive for winning a fight. The more he wins, the larger the purses but it took a lot of wins before the purse actually became a substantial amount of money. James’s first fight shown in the flash back to 1933 was for a purse of $50.  James breaks his hand in the 5th round leaving James only with his left, which he had never really developed because his right hand was always his stronger hand. The fight became sloppy and the referee ends up calling the fight a “no contest” meaning neither fighter gets the money and they stop the fight right then and there.

The producer does a good job of showing how the boxing environment was. Boxing, as were other sports, was a chance for people to gamble, place bets on who would win. Having so much riding on each match, it kept the crowd very lively and on its toes. Not only was it an opportunity to gamble but also a popular source of entertainment so when people went to these fights they expected a show and when they didn’t see level of entertainment they wanted they would become very frustrated.

The following day after James’s drawl he meets a man working at the docks and they talk a little about what they used to do before the great stock market crash of 1929. They had both worked as stock brokers and had lost almost everything. James, trying to be optimistic says “we’ll work our way through this.  FDR, he’s gonna handle it.” His friend responds by saying “screw FDR.” Although President Roosevelt was well liked by most Americans there were some that had simply lost hope in everything and everyone, even the well liked president. Later we see how important President Roosevelt’s time in office was for the United States of America; he did in fact help the United States come out of the great depression.

In almost every scene there are small clues of how life was during the great depression. An example of this is how he shows that some people lost faith in God. James at one point says to his wife “I’m all prayed out.” Some people left their spouses. Others sent their children off to live with a relative.  The priority for everyone was simply to stay alive. Many people relied on welfare; James himself relied on welfare at one point in his life.  However as soon as he had earned enough money he gave back to the government all that he had barrowed.  That’s shows what kind of guy he was and that’s why he was so well liked among the poor class because that shows humility and gratitude.

A large portion of the film are fighting scenes and my focus is not on each individual fight but rather the overall success of James J Braddock and the living conditions of the great depression. That being said I want to talk a little bit about the “hoovervilles.” James’s brother in law ends up living in the “hooverville” in Central Park so James, knowing the dangerous living conditions of “hooverville” goes to see if he is doing ok. This scene shows briefly what it was like for those thousands of Americans who had lost their homes and had to live in small shacks in what was called “hooverville.” The name “hooverville” was given to these large neighborhoods of small shack houses because the people who lived there said president Hoover was to blame for the loss of their home. James’s brother in law was killed when the police were attempting to contain a few rioting Hooverville residents.

A New York Times article from September 22, 1932 states: ”The raid was staged on the orders of Deputy Parks Commissioner John Hart, who explained that the Park Department, much as it regretted it, intended to raze the settlement this morning.“ ‘We don’t want to do it, but we can’t help it,’ Mr. Hart said, adding that although the men had maintained good order, had built comfortable shacks and furnished them as commodiously as they could, there were no water or sanitary facilities near the settlement.”[3] The Hooverville settlements were all destroyed in the 1940’s.

            After winning many fights, James J. Braddock took on the defending heavyweight champion of the world, Max Bear.  Max Bear was a man who was the complete opposite of James J Braddock as far as personality goes. James was humble and fought so he could earn enough money to provide for his family. That was not the case for Max; he was prideful and was known for throwing cheap shots in his fights. He had actually been the cause of two deaths in the ring. The crowd and all those that were listening in across the nation respected James for going into this fight as the underdog.

            The championship fight went the full 15 rounds without a knock out, each round being the standard 2 minutes.  People could not believe how well the “Cinderella Man” had done against such a fierce opponent. Having not had a knock out during the 15 rounds, it was up to the judges to decide who won. Excitement filled the air when the referee walked out to the middle of the ring and said “the winner… and new heavyweight champion,” thus indicated that Max had lost. With the winnings from the fight James bought a new house in New Jersey and lived there with his family until they passed away. His life had suddenly changed forever.

            Like I mentioned before, Americans needed heroes at that time, as they do now, and that’s what James was.  Although Braddock only held his position of the world’s heavyweight champion for 2 years he will always be remembered as a hero.  He later served honorably in World War II, proving yet again his desires to protect that which is important to him. The film does not go on to show how the United States overcame the great depression by I feel it would be important to explain that now.

            Despite the many plans and ideas carried out by Roosevelt, it wasn’t until we entered into World War II that the unemployment rate dropped substantially. When we entered World War II millions of Americans were enlisted in the war and millions more were hired to work in the defense industry working to provide the necessary war supplies. That took care of our unemployment problems but we were left with an enormous debt. However the economic growth was greater than the growth of the debt making it easier to pay off.

            In conclusion we ought to remember the hard times of the great depression and recognize those heroes that motivated many Americans to keep on fighting to survive. “The Cinderella Man” is an accurate film in portraying the hopelessness and struggle of many Americans during the great depression. It is also accurate in reflecting the success of heavyweight world champion James J. Braddock. If we are aware of what it was like in those days and what caused the great depression we will be better involved in avoiding such problems today and “The Cinderella Man” is a great way to open our eyes to these problems.








National Geographic


Library of Congress

History Channel

Burton Folsom What Ended the Great Depression


Help! The Beatles

The Beatles “Help”

The movie “Help,” is a humorous English film stare the 4 members of the famous 1960’s rock band “The Beatles.” Although the plot is someone random and unrealistic it is a very funny film and the Beatles play a handful of their great hits. The setting continually changes throughout the film because the Beatles are always on the run. Their turn out that Ringo Starr receives a special ring from a fan that is more than just an ordinary ring. The Beatles were always on the run because a lot of people chased them trying to get the ring from Ringo Starr.
It’s funny to watch as the Beatles are chased by many and helped by many. The Beatles randomly perform songs throughout the film without really having relevance to what’s going on. However the music added more entertainment especially because of all the great array instruments played in those songs. For example the sitar is played in the first scene and as background music. There are a few scenes where you can hear a version of “Hard Day’s Night” played on the sitar accompanied by some sort of flute playing in the background.
The first song played in the movie is “Help.” This song is performed with a couple of acoustic guitars, a bass, the drums, and Ringo even plays a little tambourine. The second song was “You’re Gonna Lose that Girl.” In this song Ringo is smoking a cigar rete while playing showing that lose “whatever” personality that he portrays throughout all the film. George plays a short electric guitar solo with a quiet drum accompaniment. The best aspect of the song is that you can hear a soft rhythm in the back ground made by bongo drums. There was call and response singing between Paul, George, and John. Paul plays piano as he usually does.
As the Beatles are being chased there is a Middle Eastern woman who constantly helps them get away from the other groups of people that are trying to steal the ring. To this women the Beatles sing in their house “You’ve gotta hide your love away.” Interesting instruments played in this song is the flute and the tambourine. This is an all-acoustic song. 2 of the people trying to get Ringo’s ring are a scientist and his assistant. They are 2 English guys that are constantly talking about how poorly made the brattish and basically all non-English made products are.
“Ticket to Ride” was played while the Beatles are skiing in the Alps. Again we hear the tambourine. In this song there is a very constant beat, very little change to the drum beat and piano melody. “I need you” was performed on a battle field. You can hear some sort of cow bell in the background. “The night before” was the next song, also performed on a battlefield. At one point Ringo finds himself stuck in a cellar with an escaped tiger from the local zoo. All the people watching tell him that all his has to do is sing Beethoven’s Ode to Joy and the tiger wont attack him. The funny irony is that Ringo didn’t know how it went and everyone in town started singing it. Here we have a big time musician who doesn’t even know the tune to “Ode to Joy.”
“Another Girl” was performed on the beach, again a song that doesn’t really relate to what’s going on. In “Another Girl” you can really hear bending of notes on the guitar. “Help” is played again as the grand finale beach as all those that were chasing the Beatles fought each other the famous ring that had fallen off Ringo’s finger and the Beatles just walk away. That is how the story ends, as for the moral I’m not sure there is one but it made for great entertainment. I think a few unique things about the Beatles is their use of many different instruments and the 2, 3, and 4 part harmonies often found in their songs.