Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Words of the Week

Thing 1 is getting quite tall. She is, in fact, only about 5 inches shorter than me, if that. She's been agitating to sit in the front seat of the car since this summer, when I let her sit in front just one time because we had three of her friends with us and she was the tallest and heaviest one of the bunch.*

Today, we picked up some supplies I needed to put up some shelves in my kitchen in my never ending battle against the household clutter and disorganization that will one day be the death of me. Our car has one of those nifty backseats that are designed so that part will fold down so that you can put larger things in the trunk. We were indeed transporting large items, so I folded down the part not taken up by Thing 2's car seat, and let Thing 1 sit in front for the very short ride home. She was very excited that she could put a CD in the player herself, and so she did. Then, she looked around the cockpit a bit. Which led to our words of the week:

  • odometer: an instrument that indicates the distance traveled by a vehicle; from the Greek hodometron, from hodos, road + metron, measure
    "That little button is to reset the trip odometer, which is the top number here. The bottom one can't be reset. It tells how far the car has been driven since it was made." (Response: "Wow! That's how far we've driven?!?")

  • tachometer: an instrument that indicates the speed of rotation of the engine shaft; from the Greek takhos, speed + metron, measure
    "The tachometer is more useful if you are driving a manual transmission where you have to shift gears yourself - it can help you figure out when to shift." (This was followed by some discussion of how to use a tachometer to gauge when to shift on a manual, and what use it might be as a diagnostic for an automatic.)

This whole discussion caused me to feel a bit queasy as I imagined my 10 year old driving a car someday.

*It is not illegal for me to do so in the state in which we live. But the backseat is still the safest place for all children!

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