Thursday, December 07, 2017

Our Trees: In Memorium

Learning By Doing

They're taking down a tree at the front door,
The power saw is snarling at some nerves,
Whining at others. Now and then it grunts,
And sawdust falls like snow or a drift of seeds.
Rotten, they tell us, at the fork, and one
Big wind would bring it down. So what they do
They do, as usual, to do us good.
Whatever cannot carry its own weight
Has got to go, and so on; you expect
To hear them talking next about survival
And the values of a free society.
For in the explanations people give
On these occasions there is generally some
Mean-spirited moral point, and everyone
Privately wonders if his neighbors plan
To saw him up before he falls on them.

Maybe a hundred years in sun and shower
Dismantled in a morning and let down
Out of itself a finger at a time
And then an arm, and so down to the trunk,
Until there's nothing left to hold on to
Or snub the splintery holding rope around,
And where those big green divagations were
So loftily with shadows interleaved
The absent-minded blue rains in on us.
Now that they've got it sectioned on the ground

It looks as though somebody made a plain
Error in diagnosis, for the wood
Looks sweet and sound throughout. You couldn't know,
Of course, until you took it down. That's what
Experts are for, and these experts stand round
The giant pieces of tree as though expecting
An instruction booklet from the factory
Before they try to put it back together.

Anyhow, there it isn't, on the ground.
Next come the tractor and the crowbar crew
To extirpate what's left and fill the grave.
Maybe tomorrow grass seed will be sown.
There's some mean-spirited moral point in that
As well: you learn to bury your mistakes,
Though for a while at dusk the darkening air
Will be with many shadows interleaved,
And pierced with a bewilderment of birds
~by Howard Nemerov

Wednesday, November 01, 2017


For God is in heaven, and you upon earth.
—Ecclesiastes 5:2
Don’t take your eyes off the road.
Accept nothing as given.
Watch where you put your hands.
You’re here and God’s in heaven.
Be careful where you step.
The drop-off’s somewhere near.
The fog won’t lift tonight.
God’s in heaven. You’re here.
That word you wish to say,
That score you’d like to even—
Don’t hurry either while
You’re here and God’s in heaven.
The earth says, “Take the wheel.
But no matter how you steer,
I’ll still go round in circles.
God’s in heaven. You’re here.”
by Mark Jarman

Monday, August 07, 2017

The End of Liars

But the king will rejoice in God; Everyone who swears by Him will glory, For the mouths of those who speak lies will be stopped.
~Psalm 63:11 

Friday, June 16, 2017

Haply May Remember, Haply May Forget

When I am dead, my dearest, 
Sing no sad songs for me; 
Plant thou no roses at my head, 
Nor shady cypress tree: 
Be the green grass above me 
With showers and dewdrops wet; 
And if thou wilt, remember, 
And if thou wilt, forget. 

I shall not see the shadows, 
I shall not feel the rain; 
I shall not hear the nightingale 
Sing on, as if in pain: 
And dreaming through the twilight 
That doth not rise nor set, 
Haply I may remember, 
And haply may forget. 

~Christina Rossetti

Rossetti Grave at Highgate Cemetery, London, April 2016

Monday, March 20, 2017


This blog seems to be becoming "Mostly Math" instead of "Mostly Poetry." Once again I'm posting one side of a "private" math conversation.  Feel free to take it or leave it - or try to figure out what is going on!


Here are copies of a few problems involving the graphing of rational expressions from my precalc notes.  My notes are usually pretty sloppy - work presented on the board being prettier, but, hopefully, this gives you some ideas.

Rational Graph Problem 1:

Rational Graph Problem 2:

And now moving on to math that I think is prettier, but I'm not sure why this image decided to go in upside-down (and no matter what I do they won't flip)!!  This is the beginning of my notes on the binomial theorem, which relates to combinatorics and Pascal's Triangle:

Binomial Theorem Introduction:

And, last but not least, we have Mathematical Induction.  Part of why I think this is pretty is because you often get to use sigma notation in the proofs - see the second-to-last and third-to-last pictures, although there's not much sigma notation there.

Mathematical Induction:

I wish we lived closer!  It would be so much fun to go over these with you rather than just sending pictures.  I also wish I had time to Skype right now, but this semester is TOTALLY kicking my butt!  A good resource for further explanation of these topics is the Khan Academy videos.  The best way to get there (to navigate) is to go to YouTube and then search for the topic and type "khan" - rather than trying to go to the Khan Academy site, which for some reason wants you to sign in, even though it's free, and that makes it a little hard to navigate.

I hope this helps!!!!

Sunday, February 26, 2017

The Poem as Mask

When I wrote of the women in their dances and wildness, it was a mask,
on their mountain, gold-hunting, singing, in orgy,
it was a mask; when I wrote of the god,
fragmented, exiled from himself, his life, the love gone down with song,
it was myself, split open, unable to speak, in exile from myself.

There is no mountain, there is no god, there is memory
of my torn life, myself split open in sleep, the rescued child
beside me among the doctors, and a word
of rescue from the great eyes.

No more masks!  Mo more mythologies!

Now, for the first time, the god lifts his hand,
the fragments join in me with their own music.

~ Muriel Rukeyser (1968)

Monday, October 24, 2016

For My Students Only :-)

Upper Bound Theorem as presented in earlier version of text!

Friday, August 12, 2016


i thank You God for most this amazing
day:for the leaping greenly spirits of trees
and a blue true dream of sky; and for everything
which is natural which is infinite which is yes
(i who have died am alive again today,
and this is the sun’s birthday; this is the birth
day of life and of love and wings: and of the gay
great happening illimitably earth)
how should tasting touching hearing seeing
breathing any–lifted from the no
of all nothing–human merely being
doubt unimaginable You?
(now the ears of my ears awake and
now the eyes of my eyes are opened)
e.e. cummings

Sunday, August 07, 2016


Why do the wicked prosper, growing old and powerful?
Job 21:7 

Monday, March 21, 2016

World Poetry Day

To celebrate world poetry day, I offer Emily Dickinson's 466:

I dwell in Possibility –
A fairer House than Prose –
More numerous of Windows –
Superior – for Doors –

Of Chambers as the Cedars –
Impregnable of eye –
And for an everlasting Roof
The Gambrels of the Sky –

Of Visitors – the fairest –
For Occupation – This –
The spreading wide my narrow Hands
To gather Paradise –

Thursday, January 21, 2016

Seattle Monorail Ride

Well, this is an experimental post.  I don't even know if this video will show up on most computers or phones.  It's with my new camera, which I didn't realize recorded in AVCHD instead of mp4.  I'm checking it out on different computers to see which ones will play it.

It's a very short clip of the start of the monorail ride back to downtown Seattle from the Space Needle, a trip that goes through that very interesting structure on the way.  If you can't see this and really want to experience the monorail in Seattle I would recommend a trip to the city.  It's truly an amazing place that I have fun exploring!

Sunday, November 15, 2015

Lemmens Fanfare in D Major

I was supposed to have played this in my church for postlude tonight but didn't get time enough in the midst of a busy semester to practice with the organ at my home church (and each organ is a unique instrument).  I wanted to capture the level I had gotten this to before I lose some facility with it - with end of semester and finals now approaching.  Hopefully I can pick this up again in the future and get more time on the other instrument  .  .  .

Wednesday, November 11, 2015

Vast Expense

“The evening passes fast away.
’Tis almost time to rest;
What thoughts has left the vanished day,
What feelings in thy breast?

 “The vanished day? It leaves a sense
Of labour hardly done;
Of little gained with vast expense—
A sense of grief alone?

“Time stands before the door of Death,
Upbraiding bitterly
And Conscience, with exhaustless breath,
Pours black reproach on me:

“And though I’ve said that Conscience lies
And Time should Fate condemn;
Still, sad Repentance clouds my eyes,
And makes me yield to them!

“Then art thou glad to seek repose?
Art glad to leave the sea,
And anchor all thy weary woes
In calm Eternity?

“Nothing regrets to see thee go—
Not one voice sobs’ farewell;’
And where thy heart has suffered so,
Canst thou desire to dwell?”

“Alas! the countless links are strong
That bind us to our clay;
The loving spirit lingers long,
And would not pass away!

“And rest is sweet, when laurelled fame
Will crown the soldier’s crest;
But a brave heart, with a tarnished name,
Would rather fight than rest.

“Well, thou hast fought for many a year,
Hast fought thy whole life through,
Hast humbled Falsehood, trampled Fear;
What is there left to do?

“’Tis true, this arm has hotly striven,
Has dared what few would dare;
Much have I done, and freely given,
But little learnt to bear!

“Look on the grave where thou must sleep
Thy last, and strongest foe;
It is endurance not to weep,
If that repose seem woe.

“The long war closing in defeat—
Defeat serenely borne,—
Thy midnight rest may still be sweet,
And break in glorious morn!

~Emily Bronte (1818-1848)

Saturday, November 07, 2015

The Waking

I wake to sleep, and take my waking slow.   
I feel my fate in what I cannot fear.   
I learn by going where I have to go.

We think by feeling. What is there to know?   
I hear my being dance from ear to ear.   
I wake to sleep, and take my waking slow.

Of those so close beside me, which are you?   
God bless the Ground!   I shall walk softly there,   
And learn by going where I have to go.

Light takes the Tree; but who can tell us how?   
The lowly worm climbs up a winding stair;   
I wake to sleep, and take my waking slow.

Great Nature has another thing to do   
To you and me; so take the lively air,   
And, lovely, learn by going where to go.

This shaking keeps me steady. I should know.   
What falls away is always. And is near.   
I wake to sleep, and take my waking slow.   
I learn by going where I have to go.

~ Theodore Roethke

Wednesday, November 04, 2015

East and West

Edna St. Vincent Millay

“The world stands out on either side
No wider than the heart is wide;
Above the world is stretched the sky,
No higher than the soul is high.
The heart can push the sea and land
Farther away on either hand;
The soul can split the sky in two,
And let the face of God shine through.
But East and West will pinch the heart
That can not keep them pushed apart;
And he whose soul is flat—the sky
Will cave in on him by and by.”

-Edna St. Vincent Millay

Wednesday, August 12, 2015


Thoreau somewhat paraphrased:

“  .  .  . I wished to live deliberately  .  .  .  and not, when I came to die, discover that I had not lived. I did not wish to live what was not life, living is so dear; nor did I wish to practice resignation, unless it was quite necessary. I wanted to live deep and suck out all the marrow of life  .  .  .  as to put to rout all that was not life  .  .  . ”

Monday, August 10, 2015

Wedding Photos - Anthony and Brianna

Well, I've gotten really lazy with my blog. I'm finding it easier and easier and faster and faster to use facebook instead, but I have quite a number of  friends who are not on facebook and want to see wedding pictures, so here goes (a few of hundreds!)  I think you can enlarge the pictures by clicking on them.

Here is a professional photo of the bridal party before the wedding:

Here is the bridal party (including flower girls) in the church for photos before the wedding:

Here are my beautiful nieces Ava and Sierra who served as flower girls:

Here is the beautiful bride just before the wedding:

Grandpa Lambooy gives Anthony advice as Grandpa Fernandes and Grandma Meyer look on.  (Grandma Meyer was clearly concerned about Brianna's train, as she is holding it up in all the pictures we have during this time!)

Parents of the groom:

Parents of the bride:

I'm including the next two photos because people asked me about how my hair was done.  I'm a tomboy and can't do anything with hair or make-up, so HUGE thanks to Gaby for doing my hair and to Rohaizad for doing my make-up!!!!

Mom's lighting their candles:

Parental promises:

Vows and other wedding photos:

The get-away car - Brianna's Uncle Mark and Aunt Lisa's Woodie!

Professional shots of the "get away"

Reception time - best man toast:

So appreciative of our family and friends, all of whom on our side had to come from a distance - Northern California, Oregon, Michigan, Baltimore, Virginia and Illinois!

Everybody Dance Now!

(Wait - is that my son up in the air?  Why, yes, yes it is.)

Chinese lanterns:

A beautiful end to a beautiful day!

We love you, Anthony and Brianna!  All the best to you!!

Friday, August 07, 2015

Strange Illusion

“We have a strange illusion that mere time cancels sin. I have heard others, and I have heard myself, recounting cruelties and falsehoods committed in boyhood as if they were no concern of the present speaker’s, and even with laughter. But mere time does nothing either to the fact or to the guilt of a sin. The guilt is washed out not by time but by repentance and the blood of Christ: if we have repented these early sins we should remember the price of our forgiveness and be humble.”
— from The Problem of Pain by C. S. Lewis

Monday, March 23, 2015

Algebra and a Mixed Convergence

The title probably makes no sense, but algebra has been in my face lately in a multi-faceted way.

FIRST I'm following a friend's post and comments on facebook about her experience wanting to be an RN or at least get an AA degree, but intermediate algebra is stopping her in her tracks.  She's in her forties; she's a bright, dedicated, mature person and very, very frustrated.  There is even more frustration in the comments of others to her post - about how algebra is from the devil and that no one ever uses it and how awful and how hard it is and that it is the one thing that keeps people from their educational and career goals.  (My first thoughts and feelings on this are that I am desperately sad for her - and that I both love and hate being a math teacher.  I love it that I am in a position to help people who have never liked or been successful with math before - it's quite a high to be part of helping someone succeed where they never thought they could! - but I hate it that I as a person am often disliked or even hated at face value because of the topic I teach.)

SECOND In my Math for Liberal Arts Majors class today my students were giving presentations on mathematicians as part of a math history unit.  One person presented on Rene Descartes whom we have to thank for the Cartesian Coordinate System on which we do most of our graphing.  The student mentioned how by creating this system Descartes put geometry and algebra together, thus making algebra EASIER.  (Yeah, of course, because now you can make a picture of your equation, and you can see how it behaves and where the maximum and minimum points are and so on.)

THIRD In my position as liaison to the tutoring center I was in the center evaluating tutors today.  One thing I observed was multiple tutors trying to help a student who was working on finding graphical information about a quadratic equation.  He needed to find such things as the axis of symmetry and the vertex.  It was an uphill battle to say the least, and it just struck me how this thing (graphing) that was supposed to make things easier (according to my student earlier in the day) had now become its own intense struggle.  The contradiction between seeing and hearing these two things in the same day really struck me!

So I have a lot of thoughts roiling in my mind tonight about all this.  Partly it confirms me in my desire to pursue the history of mathematics.  I think that if we could teach math in a more historical context in order to show students how and why concepts were developed and how each additional topic makes the quest easier rather than harder - that perhaps this would be a good way to go.  I think it would help too for students to understand what the big question that was being answered was back in the day when each new tool was developed, because it would shine light on the meaning and use.

It seems that if the student in the tutoring center had been given a real-life question about a business owner wanting to maximize his profits and an equation that related to that and then the student was allowed to struggle with that for a while - trying to make his way in to the problem - plugging in numbers, trying to find the biggest value, wondering if he had found the largest for sure or not, figuring out how to be certain - and THEN the student was introduced to the idea of graphing, which would give him a picture of the equation - a picture that would allow him to see where the highest point on the graph was, which would also be where profit was greatest - that then a graph,which is a picture of what's happening, would be seen as the help it is rather than as just another topic that was thrown at him.

If I didn't need to earn a living I think I'd like to take a few years off and try my hand at writing a textbook that would allow students to see the benefit of what they are learning and how all of it relates to all the other topics they are learning - where it fits in the scheme of things - what it's good for - and why and when and how it was developed.

Maybe in my next life  .  .  .

For now I'll just do the best I can to help those who come my way and try to change their worlds, one student at a time.

Friday, March 13, 2015

Super Pi Day 3.14.15

Tomorrow is Super Pi Day - The Pi Day of the Century.  Since the year is 2015 the date (American version, anyway) is 3.14.15.  Of course, if you're a real stickler you'll celebrate at 9:26am and 9:26pm.  And then that's it - for another century.

I co-hosted (with a lot of great help) a Pi Day event at my school yesterday - because, exciting as this is we weren't sure students would return to campus on Saturday - but given the great turn-out for this event, maybe we were wrong about that.  Below are some pictures of the event and the activities involved.

 Opening announcements

Great turnout!!

Food is a big draw - especially for college students!

Lining up and chowing down!

Pi Chain activity

Buffon's Needle activity


Digits of Pi Memorization Competition (The winner - below - made it to 202 digits!)

Tutor volunteers manning the stations - here finding pi and seeing pi.

 A great opportunity to wear cool math t-shirts!!!

MJC's newly formed e.T.E.C.H. put together a mini-computer cluster built out of Raspberry Pi computers. Here it is calculating the digits of Pi. (Yes, those ARE Legos!)