Trading Spouses Burgess/Dexter FAQ

I was in an episode of the TV show Trading Spouses that aired in January 2006, and was filmed in July 2005. It's been rerun now and then, in different countrys and recently on the country and western TV channel. I get a lot of email from people asking about the show, let me try and answer some frequently asked questions here.

Are you guys really like that? Is the show real?

No. They did quite a bit of editing and splicing in the production of that show. I'm not that quiet and my wife is not that weird!

Right after the show was filmed, my wife and I separated, but it was something we were planning to do for a while. We currently live separately in different but nearby houses and the kids go back and forth. Sometimes things don't work out and it is all for the best and everyone is happier. That's why my wife and I came off as so cold to each other - or actually they preferentially showed her being distant. We couldn't tell Raegan for fear of jeopardizing the show. It's a shame, Raegan and I had a lot of fun during the show, she is very funny and there were lots of funny parts but they left all that out because they wanted to tell the sad story.

I knew when we signed up (entirely my wife's idea, neither the kids nor I wanted to do it) that they could do whatever they wanted for the show. I was amazed how much distorting they did. Here are a few examples:

  1. The Dead Hermit Crab - Yes, the hermit crab died during the show, but we just threw it in the garbage. No big deal. However, our pet hedgehogs had their first babies during the show too, and we didn't know the dad hedgehog had to be separated during birth or it would eat the babies. The girls were sad about that and that's the funeral we had. Also, during that part, Holly is sad and I pick her up and hold her. That was from a completely different time when the girls were fighting! Amazing, completely taken out of context.
  2. Leaving the party - It looks like I leave the party halfway through and go upstairs and have an anxiety attack or so. Not true! I wen't upstairs to put on my star trek shirt (which I made, and they had to put gold tape over the logo, for copyright issues). The footage of me folding clothes came from earlier in the day when I was getting ready for work. It's true, I don't really like parties, but I don't mind, it's fun for others.
  3. French! - What was up with reading French baby books to the family? Ann went up expecting to find younger kids, and she is learning French and wanted to show them the books she had for her Creole autistic kids in her class (they didn't tell you she teaches autistic kids or volunteers at the homeless shelter). Ann says whe she got there they told her to read the books anyway. You can imagine how weird it would feel going to a different state and with a camera crew and no idea what to do. So they made her look weird.
  4. Laughing! - During the show, it looks like Ann is laughing at me kinda cruelly sometimes. For example, during the reading of how the money is to be spent, it looks like Ann laughs after reading about the Iceland trip, and then I look hurt. The part of Ann laughing came from a different part. The part of me looking grim came from earlier when they read the part that we should hire a professional organizer. Everything completely out of context.
I do have to say, during the filming they never told us to do or say anything. They would program our day, and someone would come say "Tell the family you are going out to dinner at this restaurant." and then we would follow a van wherever they told us to. We went to a park and ut to eat and the kids went and had their nails done with Raegan and they went to the homeless shelter where Ann volunteers. It was fun.

At night, we would be interviewed for a long time, it seemed like hours! They would turn off the air-conditioning because the noise from the air conditioning ruined their sound recording. It got hot fast in the house, and we were in front of hot lights! I am glad they didn't make the kids look bad, Ann and I should have known better but the kids had no choice.

It really was an amazing production, there were dozens of crewmembers just at our house, they rented the house next door and had cables running between the two. The camera crew, a cameraman and a sound person were with us all the time during the day. They woke us up but left during the night, howerver there were a few fixed cameras in the house all the time. They took out about 80% of our pictures for fear of copyright problems and replaced them with generic photos their art dept. made. they changed all the lighting in the house. The crews and everyone I met were very nice, but it's weird, we have no record of them as we couldn't take pictures while they were here. They came and vanished without a trace, very surreal.

The Dexter's are very nice, and we had a lot of fun during Raegan's visit. I enjoyed making it but not seeing the finished product. I'm not too surprised, just disappointed. I guess America want's the drama, no one wants to see a show of people having a nice time. I had never seen the show before we were picked (my wife was the big fan), and I don't see it now. Don't be fooled by television. It is not real. Enjoy it as you would anyone's dirty laundry (!), but don't think it reflects anything in real life.

What's the deal with two plus two no longer equalling four?

I'm really happy that this made the show. Mathematics is a subject I really enjoy!

In mathematics, you can create mathemaical systems and invent your own rules for these systems. Mathematics is created by people and can take whatever form you want.

Specifically I was thinking about mathematical constructs called groups, that figure promenantly in abstract algebra. One place where 2 + 2 does not equal 4 is the three element group of integers under modular division, mod 3. Simply put this means the result of adding two numbers is the remainder of the sum after division by three. The elements of this group are the possible remainders; 0, 1, and 2. SO in this group, 2 + 2 equals the remainder of 4 divided by 3 or 1

2 + 2 = 1 !

Think of this as rotating an equilateral triangle. If you rotate the triangle 1/3 it looks the same. If you rotate it through two symmetrical turns and then again through two more, it's the same as rotating it through only one turn. Modular division shows up everywhere. You use mod 12 division when you tell time. If you go to bed at 11:00 and sleep 8 hours it will be 7:00 not 19:00 (unless you are on 24 hour time, then it's mod 24)

There are other places, like adding vectors, 2 + 2 could be the square root of 8. Two plus two in mod 4 is 0. You may think these things are silly but they acually have uses in Physics and other subjects. There is a whole world of weird math things out there just waiting for you to explore!

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