Saturday, December 30, 2006

Person of the Year - Who Me?!

Well, I sensed when I began my blog this year that good things would come, but to be selected as Time Magazine's Person of the Year for 2006 was an unexpected honor!

As you can read on the cover, I was chosen because I now control the information age. I find it quite a responsibility and promise to do my best to do so in an ethical and professional manner.

I know it was a tough choice for them, which is why they did not have time to call me in for a photo-shoot. Cleverly they put a mirrored computer screen on the cover so I could see myself.

(Due to the aforementioned time constraints and my picture not appearing, you may want to click on the image here to enlarge it so that you can see my name as proof of this honor - although I'm sure you believe me without such proof being necessary.)

Friday, December 29, 2006

A Perfect Afternoon (PLUS!)

A perfect afternoon:
A long walk on a sunny winter day with my husband

A game with my son (while enjoying Simon and Garfunkel's greatest hits - hey, gotta expose him to the classics!)

A joyful, lively dinner conversation as family

But wait! There's more!
- perfect afternoon followed by a perfect (and LATE!)evening. Tonight was the end of the year celebration with wonderful book club companions and an eclectic collection of movies:
Dietrich Bonhoeffer documentary
1951 version of Scrooge
Neil Simon's "Murder by Death"

BONUS: My husband ordered a large book shelf for me today. Yea! More space for MORE books!

(Just kidding, Hubby!!)

sort of ;-)

. . . and now at 1:10am, off to bed to be rested for our family excursion to Sonoma tomorrow.

Oh, and last night's Rook game with Mom, Dad, Tim, AJ, Hubby and I - and all the laughter - good stuff!

Now we just need some Pinochle in the mix! Let us know when you're ready, partners!

I love Christmas break!!! (and it came none too soon!)
PS Happy Birthday Brant, from Aunt Heidi!

Saturday, December 23, 2006

Holiday Fun (Audio Quiz #2)

This holiday weekend it seems appropriate to post something light and fun, so here's Audio Quiz #2. This time each clip is from a movie. See if you can name the movie.
Movie 1

Movie 2

Movie 3

Movie 4

Movie 5

Movie 6

Movie 7

Movie 8

Movie 9

Movie 10
How did you do? Check "comments" section for answers.
(Click here to try Audio Quiz #1.)

Wednesday, December 20, 2006

Language: music and passion

". . . I see my father. I am seeing him at this moment; and I hear his voice saying words that I understood not, but yet I felt . . .

Thou wast not born for death, immortal Bird!
No hungry generations tread thee down;
The voice I hear this passing night was heard
In ancient days by emperor and clown:
Perhaps the self-same song that found a path
Through the sad heart of Ruth, when, sick for home,
She stood in tears amid the alien corn.
John Keats 1795-1821
I thought I knew all about words, all about language (when one is a child, one feels that one knows many things), but those words came as a revelation to me. Of course, I did not understand them. How could I understand those lines about birds' -- about animals' -- being somehow eternal, timeless, because they live in the present? We are mortal because we live in the past and in the future -- because we remember a time when we did not exist, and foresee a time when we shall be dead. Those verses came to me through their music. I had thought of language as being a way of saying thing, of uttering complaints, of saying that one was glad, or sad, and so on. Yet when I heard those lines (and I have been hearing them, in a sense, ever since), I knew the language could also be a music and a passion. And thus was poetry revealed to me."
from Jorge Luis Borges (1899-1986), This Craft of Verse

Tuesday, December 19, 2006



I have completed the semester - and none too soon. My studies had begun to impact my family. As I was in a theorem-mumbling, study-induced stupor, my oldest son finally proclaimed that he is going to develop the "Nice Value Theorem" as opposed to the "Mean Value Theorem" I kept repeating. Of course all of my children laughed uproariously whenever they heard me mumbling the term "Lipschitz Condition."

Now that it is December 19 and less than a week before Christmas, I can begin preparing for the holidays!

Ho! Ho! Ho! and away I go!

Friday, December 08, 2006

Busy Signal

For the next 10 days, if you check my blog, you will just get this "Busy Signal."

I am entering the busy-zone of exam week (and a half) as both student and teacher.

My motto for the next 10 days is:

I imagine I'll be much stronger by December 19!

Thursday, December 07, 2006

Hero Nomination

After class tonight I happened to walk out to the parking lot with a fellow student, and he shared with me something that happened in his class today.

He teaches in another town, one that has a reputation for crime, gang activity and families living in difficult and dysfunctional situations. In his class are many students who are especially low-achieving and have been dealt a pretty raw deal in life. One of his students had seen her father shot earlier this year.

He and I were discussing teaching as we walked, and in the middle of telling me about how he is approaching effective note-taking, he shared that he had been overcome today by a need to go deeper with his students as a group.

In the middle of class today he suddenly said, "Whatever you're doing right now, put it down. This is serious. I'm gonna go deep with you. I need your full attention up here. Do any of you play cards? Do any of you play domninoes?" When he got many "yes" responses, he asked, "What do you do when you get a really bad hand?"

The students were very honest with him. Some of the responses were:

"I give up."

"I get angry."

"I cheat."

"I quit."

He created a "web" on the board of the responses.

Then he looked at them and said:

"What do you do when you've been dealt a bad hand in life?"

Everyone got quiet.

He continued: "I know some of you wish you had a Dad. Others of you wish your mom and dad were together again. I know the situations many of you are in. I know what it is to have a hard life. One time my mom had no money and the cupboards were nearly bare. When she asked us what we wanted to eat, we said, 'Pancakes.' She didn't have any pancake mix, but she looked at what little was in the cupboard, and she made us pancakes out of whatever she could find, and you know what? They were the best pancakes we'd ever had."

Some of his students commented that maybe she had just been a really good cook. He responded that he didn't know about that, but that wasn't the point. She had looked in the cupboard, and, instead of looking at what wasn't there she figured out how to use what was there.

He then shifted the discussion back to games. He said, "You've given some comments about what you do when you get a bad hand at cards or dominoes. I play a lot of dominoes. If I get a bad hand, what I do is I start looking around. I look at what's out there. Instead of thinking of what I don't have, I look at what I do have and how it hooks in and how it can work together - that this connects here and then that will connect there and so on, and pretty soon I know how to play the hand, and I play the best I can."

He told me that by this time some of his students had begun crying and he began crying too. That must have been quite a sight because he is QUITE an imposing male presence (and I'm sure serves as a father figure to many of them).

He didn't share this to impress me. He shared this because his heart was overflowing after this had happened in his classroom today.

I know he's overloaded with work right now. Due to student population he was moved from 4th grade to 6th grade this year - all new curriculum to teach - VERY time consuming to prepare! He is going to school himself, working on a graduate degree at a campus more than an hour's commute from where he lives. He is concerned about teaching well, and he is concerned about his students' hearts.

He has no idea I have a blog nor that I am writing this, but I nominate sixth-grade teacher Eric C., a big man with a big heart, as a hero because in the midst of his own very busy life he is aware of other lives that need to be touched, and he reaches out and touches them. I can only imagine how different the lives of some of these students may turn out - differently than they could have turned out given their environment - because of his impact, care, and inspiration.

Kudos to you Eric!

Monday, December 04, 2006

Art in the Middle

It is a running joke with my students that I cannot draw a circle. Unfortunately it is often necessary for a math teacher to draw circles. The very best of my attempts end up looking like eggs - and really pathetic eggs at that! I just laugh right along with them and say, "There's a reason I teach math and not art!"

The artwork above is by my middle child, age 12 - merely some doodles he was doing in the car one day. It is clear that he gets his "art genes" from his father and not his mother!

Sunday, December 03, 2006

Christmas Moved to December 3

Today was my day to sing in the Messiah, and as far as I'm concerned, that is my Christmas - and more - it is a taste of Heaven on earth.

Friday, December 01, 2006

Fall and Finitude

My oldest son commented recently, "Mom, it's hard to believe I've only experienced 14 autumns. It's just weird to think I can put a number on it like that."

It does seem rather strange to think of the finite number of times we have experienced any given season or event - whether it be autumn or summer or Christmas or Thanksgiving.

A. E. Housman (1859-1936) was thinking along the same lines over a century ago:
Loveliest of Trees

Loveliest of trees, the cherry now
Is hung with bloom along the bough,
And stands about the woodland ride
Wearing white for Eastertide.

Now, of my threescore years and ten,
Twenty will not come again,
And take from seventy springs a score,
It only leaves me fifty more.

And since to look at things in bloom
Fifty springs are little room,
About the woodlands I will go
To see the cherry hung with snow.