Wednesday, March 28, 2007

My Prayer

Fill Thou my life,
Oh Lord my God in every part with praise . . .

So shall each fear, each fret, each care
Be turned into a song
And every winding of the way
The echo shall prolong;

So shall no part of day or night
From sacredness be free
But all my life in every step
Be fellowship with Thee.

(Horatius Bonar, 1866)

Friday, March 23, 2007

Are You Plural?

My maiden name ended with an "s," but people always spelled it with a "z," which drove me crazy!

One year I wanted my name embossed on my high school yearbook, so I filled out the form and paid extra.

You've probably already guessed what happened. The exciting day came when yearbooks were handed out, and I recieved mine - beautiful black cover setting off the gold lettering of the embossing - but with a name that ended in "z." I didn't want a yearbook with somebody else's name on it, so I went to the office to exchange it for one with no name on it. The response of the secretary was that I couldn't have a different one and that I had probably spelled my name wrong on the form.


I know God has a sense of humor, because since marrying I now have a last name that does not have an "s" on the end but that people want to pronounce and spell as if it does. My standard line has become that it is OK to pluralize my name when I'm pregnant - but not otherwise! It's the only thing I've found that sticks in their minds and causes them to remember.

I was married at 21, so I guess when I hit 42 I will have achieved balance with this issue - having spent half my life saying, "There's an 's' on the end" and another half my life saying, "There's no 's' on the end."

My brother-in-law had the following posted on his blog today, and in exploring it, I found out I actually am plural. Are you? (You're still not allowed to spell my name with an "s" on the end, though!)

There are:
people with my name
in the U.S.A.

How many have your name?

I just went back and checked my maiden name, there are only 6 of those in the US. I wonder if my clones have had the same problem I have?

Thursday, March 22, 2007

Of a Certain Age

When one is 41 and receives a senior discount, there is a tug inside between joy and depression - joy at saving money and depression at being thought much older than one is.

If this happens once, it can be considered a fluke -- twice, not so much -- a third time -- well, as they say, the third time's the charm. At that point one realizes this is going to continue from here on out -- no -- no -- not for me -- certainly not for ME!! :-)

It's my husband I'm referring to. I get the sense he's found this experience only slightly demoralizing, since his characteristic frugality is stronger than his vanity -- he's actually quite a humble man -- so, for the most part he's at peace with this. (Right, hubby?)

From now on when we're out together we'll just always make sure he's the one paying!

Perhaps we should set aside the savings for our retirement -- which is yet many years in the future!

And while we wait he is looking more and more distinguished by the day! Ooh la la!!
By the way, I feel I can tease him a little bit since I've already poked fun at myself in my post "Practical Joke." Fair is fair, after all!

Tuesday, March 20, 2007

One Strike - You're OUT!!

If you've been reading my blog since the beginning, you know I have a love/hate relationship with the dental/orthodontal health profession. I really do appreciate good dental health, but . . .

Our newest lesson is to have found out that our orthodontist's office is intolerant of human fallibility. No, I'm not talking about being nagged to death about flossing.

Scheduling around here is pretty tight with 5 people all of whom have teeth - two of whom are in braces, which is my focus for today's rant. (Click here to see an ealier rant.)

The two family members in braces go to school in two different towns. An appointment in the middle of the day could possibly mean two hours of travel time as well as missed classes - possibly amounting to half a day of school with travel and appointment, so we try to schedule on Saturdays or afternoons, which is kind of tough because the afternoon appointments are booked 2 months out, and sometimes while we are there they want us back in a couple of days.

We realize it is a convenience they provide by being open on Saturdays for families in situations like ours.

My husband and I have ALSO been providers of appointments, he to home-schooling families he oversees and me to people I tutor. He sometimes makes home visits to families that live in other towns as a convenience to them - sometimes having put in round trips as long as an hour and a half.

We've been taking our children to this orthodontist for nearly 3 years now and never missed an appointment until last week. I'd say that's a pretty good record given the number of appointments we've had to keep and the forgetful nature of the human mind and the busy nature of life with 3 teen/preteen kids. The appointment we forgot happened to be on a Saturday. Because we blew it once, we can NEVER again have the privilege of scheduling an appointment on a Saturday. Their policy is "one strike, you're out!"

I do understand that they would prefer not to come in on Saturday if they do not have to and that if someone does not show up for an appointment it is really a pain. I get it. As I've said, my husband and I have been providers of appointments too. My husband has left his office and driven to a house visit before and had the family that scheduled an appointment with him not be there! That was a pain, but he didn't pull a "one strike" policy on them. People forget. None of us are perfect.

I can understand disallowing people special privileges who have a PATTERN of blowing off appointments, but to have no grace at all for one time forgetfulness strikes me as a bit harsh. What can we do about it? Nothing. We tried to reason with them and ask for grace, and it did not work. We blew it once, now we pay for it permanently.

My husband and I are the ones who blew it, but it's the kids who pay, as the next available afternoon appointment was two months out, so the kids are two months behind now on their orthodontal care and braces schedule. I wish they would just hit our pocket book and charge us a penalty for the missed appointment (which would punish us but not the kids) but still allow our kids to come in on a Saturday unless we were to blow it again.

This has left a bit of a bad taste in our mouths (wry pun somewhat intended). My husband and I have been inconvenienced too by the forgetfulness of others we have made appointments with, but I prefer the way we operate. Unless people make it a HABIT to blow off appointments with us, we extend grace. We'd rather be inconvenienced once in a while than to cause others to feel they've blown it with us permanently by ONE forgetful moment. I wish our orthodontist's office would extend us the same grace we would extend them.

I don't know how many years yet we will have to deal with braces and orthodontal appointments. Our oldest was told he would have his braces off in 2 years. It's now been nearly three, and there is no end in sight at this point and no comment. Our third child isn't old enough for braces yet. I sure hope he doesn't need them!! (Although it seems everybody "needs" braces these days.) I feel like an endentured servant to the orthodontist's office. I'm ready for my term of servitude to be over! While I'm very thankful for the good dental and orthodontal care available in our society, there are things about this "care" that I'm not so happy about.

Saturday, March 17, 2007

Anxiety Conundrum

I have nothing to say
and I am saying it
and that is poetry
as I needed it.

John Cage (1912-1992)

My main goal in my current studies is to relieve math anxiety and to make mathematics more accessible and enjoyable. Something I'm currently working on is a book relating mathematics and poetry. As I've been working on it, I've realized there are probably as many people with poetry anxiety as there are with math anxiety.

Hmm . . . now I have a conundrum. How do I reduce anxiety about BOTH mathematics and poetry as I connect them?

I love the John Cage poem above, because it illustrates the fact that poetry is FOR people. Math and poetry are not there to master us. They are there to be our slaves and to be used by us as we need them. I'm afraid that too often in school both topics are presented the other way around as mysterious and difficult topics that only those with special knowledge and gifts can understand. I really get bothered about that! Math and poetry are for everyone and can be enjoyed by everyone - if presented well.

My friend Bob is fond of saying that he wants to make calculus his slave. He's got the right idea!

Use poetry and math as YOU need them, and they can provide wonderful things.

You're the one in charge!

Tuesday, March 13, 2007

Have Dessert - on Me!

Not only is it a wonderful treat, but it's "NO-cal."

March 14 is Pi Day. CLICK HERE for your cost-free, calorie-free pi(e) for the celebration! Try some different varieties.

(Realize that you can choose your own notes as well as the scales listed as buttons, thus making your own "pi-tunes." If you select only two notes, such as C, G, C, G, C, G, C, G, C, G, you can hear the distribution of evens and odds in pi. I've named that the swirl - like a swirl ice-cream cone of vanilla and chocolate. I also favor the C major flavor of pi offered.)

Happy Pi Day!

With thanks to Forrest!

Friday, March 09, 2007

Forever Living and Dying


I looked in my heart while the wild swans went over.
And what did I see I had not seen before?
Only a question less or a question more;
Nothing to match the flight of wild birds flying.
Tiresome heart, forever living and dying,
House without air, I leave you and lock your door.
Wild swans, come over the town, come over
The town again, trailing your legs and crying!

(by Edna St. Vincent Millay 1892-1950)

Tuesday, March 06, 2007

Weird Words

Have you ever experienced the effect of a word getting weird on you?

Tonight I was doing some writing in which I had to use the words "boy" and "girl" over and over again. After typing them about twenty times each they began to look really strange to me. What kind of word is GIRL anyway - with that weird i-r-l ending?

My favorite color is green, but I find if I think too long about that word it becomes weird too: g-r-r-r-r-r-r-e-e-e-e-n-n. Strange.

Speaking of weird, isn't it supposed to be "i before e except after c?" So why is e before i in "weird?" I guess it's just weird.

No Rocket to the Moon

When I was in kindergarten there was a bulletin board with a moon on it. Students who knew all their letters got a rocket to the moon with their name on it put up on the bulletin board. I guess I was a bit dyslexic in kindergarten. I knew all my letters, but I could never keep "m" and "w" straight. When the teacher would show the flashcards and one of those would come up I would always guess - must have been a poor guesser too!

I never got my rocket to the moon. :-(

I never had any dyslexia problems after that . . .

. . . until now.

Check out the symbols that are used daily in my math class. We use them so often I can now no longer write a three. I'm never sure which way it goes, and when I have to write an epsilon (the mirror image of 3), I end up writing a three instead!

Oh well, no rocket for the moon for me, I guess!

Friday, March 02, 2007

Birthday Problem

Don't stop reading when you see the word math - because this is really cool and you'll miss it. (Besides, you can make MONEY on it if anyone is willing to take the bet!)

There is an interesting problem in math: How many people do you need to gather before you get to the point where there is a 50% chance that two people in the group share a birthday?

Make a quick guess before reading on.

It may surprise you to find out that if you have a group of only twenty-three people you have a slightly better than 50% probability that 2 of them share a birthday. If there are 30 or more people in the room the odds are overwhelmingly in your favor if you bet that two share a birthday. Most people have a hard time believing this, so you should be able to find someone to bet against you.

(The "twist" is that you can't specify the date. It's just any two people sharing A birthday. If you specify the date, the probability drops astronomically. So if you want to win the bet, don't say, "I bet 2 people in this room have a birthday on April 20." You will lose unless you know twins who are there with that birthdate!)

SO, what are the chances that I personally know MORE than two people that have today,the SPECIFIC date March 2, as their birthday?

While you ponder that, let me send out birthday greetings to the March 2 birthday people I know:

Uncle David
Michelle V.
Michelle V.'s mom
Kevin E.
Florence M.
Florence M.'s grandson
John F
My cousins' grandma on the other side

HAPPY BIRTHDAY to all of you!!!

And especially to Mom on a milestone!

Since it's not proper to share a woman's age, I won't say which. :-)

It must be that March 2 is a really good day to be born!

Can any of my readers beat my record of personally knowing 9 people with birthdays on the same day? You can't include celebrities or others outside your circle of friends and family - and no fair including multiple births.

Thursday, March 01, 2007

Hope on the March

Winter has been particularly harsh and prolonged this year in parts of the US and other places in the world. I'm posting these pictures to bring you hope of spring soon to come.

(To view another spring image click here.)