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Entry 29 Aunt Aliza Does Economics

"Oisin, what are you doing down here?" asked dad who was fixing an offset printing press that had gone awry.

"Studying econ."

"You should be in bed."

"I work at night too."

"You'll be a ghost tomorrow," complained Aunt Aliza.

"No I won't," I protested.

"Let me see what is so interesting about that book." It was pretty clear Aunt Aliza had gone as far as she could no her night runs because everything was bottle necked due to the broken printer that dad was trying to fix.

I ended up giving Aunt Aliza an economics lesson. I explained about the slopes of supply and demand curves. I hoped Aunt Aliza remembered her algebra but she made it through that part OK. I also explained how different demand curves and supply curves effect each other because everybody knows you don't just buy one thing at the supermarket. If there is lovely veal neck for $2.50 a pound and beef or $2.00 a pound, veal neck at $2.50 a pound is a better buy and it will displace the beef stew meat any day of the week. It will even displace sirloin tips according to Aunt Aliza who supplied that example.

No, it's not politically correct to eat veal, but Aunt Aliza buys the best food we can afford. "If we are going to get fat, we are going to do it right," she told me once.

Then I explained about elasticity of demand and also supply. I also explained how perfect competition for undifferentiated products doesn't exist in the real world and how the curves were probably curved and bumpy rather than flat smooth oblique lines. The only reason they were drawn that way was you needed calculus to take the slope otherwise.

Aunt Aliza laughed. "How would you like to learn to do economics on Excel?" she asked. That was how I found myself making graphs on spread sheets. I could even make the bumpy ones but Excel would not take derivatives or even regular algebra slopes. It was after all a spread sheet and not a fancy calculator.

Dad stopped working on the broken press long enough to watch Aunt Aliza and me for a while. Then he shrugged and smiled. "That boy is going to work without getting his hands dirty," he said of me.

"You forget, he fixes bikes too," offered Aunt Aliza.

"Yes, but printing presses are fucking bitches." No my parents can't tell me not to curse because their own language is filthy.

"At least I think I got this one going. Aliza you'd better send those jobs through. I don't want to be here all night." That meant of course that I had to get off the computer and I headed upstairs to watch Stasch who did not need watching because he was asleep.

Tuesday morning there was strong ice tea at breakfast so I could stay awake in school. I didn't really need it, but I drank it anyway. The hardest part was riding my bike all alone. Aunt Aliza left later and took Stasch in the truck. I told her I hoped her bike worked well this afternoon and then I thanked her for showing me how to make graphs on a spread sheet.

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