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Fish sticks, also commonly referred to as fish fingers, are a processed food made using a whitefish such as cod which have been battered and/or breaded. They are commonly available in the frozen food section of Western supermarkets and on children's menus in family-oriented restaurants.

Thanks Wiki, that I can understand.

I used to live what I thought was a relatively simple life. You know, wake up in the morning, go through the AM rituals of showering and taking care of other bathroom necessities, wake the youngen’, get her dressed, flip a couple of Pop Tarts in the toaster, drop her off at school and make my way to work.

My days, for the most part, were pretty mundane. Oh, there are project deadlines and various office ego’s to contend with but nothing really out of the norm. Yep, my days were predictable. The job paid well and there wasn’t what one might call a lot of heavy lifting.

My end of day included picking up the kid from school, making our way home and the biggest decision that we made together seemed to focus on what to have for dinner. Invariably, the answer usually was fish sticks.

Now, as an adult I can’t say that I was always thrilled with the choice but as any parent of a somewhat finicky seven or eight year old can attest to, whatever you can cram in your kid without them turning up their nose of making that “ooh, ichy” face is some kind of blessing. In retrospect, they were easy to make. How hard is it set to the oven to 475 (Fahrenheit), wait for it to warm up, plop in the fish sticks, set the timer for twenty to twenty three minutes and let time and heat do the rest?

Clean up was easy too. There were relatively few dishes to do and our biggest worry seemed to involve what was coming on the tube or what movie to flip in the DVD player later that evening.

The next day would come and the process would repeat itself. There seemed to be something safe in that.

But then somewhere along the line, without me ever taking notice, things began to change….

A linear equation is an algebraic equation in which each term is either a constant or the product of a constant and (the first power of) a single variable. Linear equations can have one, two, three or more variables.

Linear equations occur with great regularity in applied mathematics. While they arise quite naturally when modeling many phenomena, they are particularly useful since many non-linear equations may be reduced to linear equations by assuming that quantities of interest vary to only a small extent from some "background" state.

Nice try Wiki but that’s way beyond my limited comprehension.

In contrast to the scenario I described earlier, my days now seem to be much more complicated. I still tend to my morning bathroom routine in much the same way but getting the “not so youngen’” ready for school is whole different story. Anybody with a fourteen year old girl and only one bathroom in the house can probably empathize with my plight. What used to take five minutes now takes twenty. There’s fashion implications to be considered on what outfit to wear and where Pop Tarts once sufficed there’s now the look of disdain that seems to demand more variety.

The job is basically the same but with the economy teetering on the edge of a recession or depression and with the threat of layoffs not very far away there’s the added pressure of trying to do more for the same pay. Everybody in my office seems to be more wary of each other and the rumor mill intones a constant reminder that some of us might be a week or two away from getting a pink slip.

My kid no longer needs me to pick her up from school. She takes public transportation home and by the time I arrive she’s surrounded at the dining room table with a mountain of text books and a look of concentration is etched upon her face. I’m barely greeted when I come through the door. She needs quiet to complete her assignments and the times we enjoyed watching old reruns of The Simpsons while waiting for our fish sticks to come out of the oven are now replaced with silence.

Fish sticks, once a staple of our diet, no longer seem to cut it. She’s backed off on eating meat and the simple process of deciding what to have for dinner now seems so much more complicated. I’ve got a couple of vegetarian cookbooks scattered around the house and I consult them to try and find something that will interest both of our palates but damn it, I’m a carnivore and I just can’t help myself from a steady diet of burgers, steaks and pork chops.

I guess there’s always room for compromise. I’ll never forget our early days when life was simpler. I hope I’ll never have cause to regret the dedication to her recent studies because in the long run they’ll pay off with a different kind of benefit. I just can’t touch it and feel it in the same way as I do the past.

As for fish sticks versus linear equations?

We’ll see but I think I’m going to have to call it a draw.