Friday, September 28, 2007

Quote for Thought (5)

The mob has many heads but no brains. (English proverb)

Thursday, September 27, 2007

Bedtime Snacks

In the face of my distress at the ever-shrinking margins of my life at least I have found good bedtime reading.

My bedtime stories currently are being taken from the essays of Robert Fulghum, best known for his book Everything I Need to Know I Learned in Kindergarten. I read him in the late 80's and early 90's. I'm so glad to have rediscovered him.

His stories are made up of the things of everyday life but can be profound in their simplicity.

I find I sometimes really lose life in the details and deadlines of keeping up with my own teaching and studies and also running around like mad getting my offspring to all the things they are keeping up with and perhaps even trying to find a 15 minute span in there somewhere in which to have dinner (which finally happened tonight at 10:30pm). Reading Fulghum at bedtime slows me down and brings my focus back to Life (with a capital L).

Another bonus is that the chapters are all separate essays and are all short - just a bite-sized bedtime snack - wholesome and zero calories.

Ahh - perfect!

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Normal Margins?

I am finding out quite clearly that I need a lot of "margin" to my life and that I'd like for my family to have that as well - time to just "be" without something on the schedule.

Last night contained so extremely little of that that it was almost a comedy of errors, and it put me in a position to feel a need to really think this through. I can't help but wonder if this is "normal" family life today.

On Monday night my husband and I were talking about what to have for dinner Tuesday, and he pointed out to me that we would be home as a family for 10 minutes, from 5:10 to 5:20. That's CRAZY! But he was right.

Here is the run down.

After a day of work and school for us all
Dad and boys arrive home at 4:20
Mom is behind on getting dinner ready
Dad offers to take kids out
Dad takes middle son to piano at 4:23
and takes other two to Burger King
Dad and boys arrive home again at 5:10
Dad and youngest head to soccer5:20
Mom eats dinner alone
Mom takes oldest to piano at 6:20
Mom takes middle son to Taco Bell
Dad goes from soccer to piano at 6:30
Dad leaves for band boosters meeting at 6:50
Mom picks up the two at piano at 7:00
Mom leaves for book club meeting at 7:08
Dad returns at 8:30 to put kids in bed
Dad makes cookies for lunches at 9:30
Mom arrives at 10:00 (should begin homework)

This evening WAS busier than most, because we had two meetings that are not regular weekly events - band boosters and book club - and they happened to fall on the same night.

I feel overwhelmed just thinking about our schedule even though David takes on a great deal of it (for instance, on Wednesday night I am in class and David has to get one child to a church activity at one location and two others to another location - about 10 miles apart - at the same time and then also do the pick up; yes, we're looking into car pooling).

I keep thinking it through and wondering if we have taken on too much, and in doing so I think about what other families are doing as a comparison. (I know comparing isn't a good idea in general, but I'm just trying to discern if we are over-doing it.) It seems we are, in comparison, minimally involved. Each of our children plays only one instrument. Two of our children are involved in one sport each, and we have church activities. Compared to his classmates, our oldest is also minimally involved in high school extracurricular activities, something I've had slight concern about when looking ahead to applying for college.

Granted, I am taking night classes too, which doesn't help. David and I do have some commitments but there too not as many as most families we know. I am in a book club that meets monthly, but I'm not in any Bible studies or on any committees in the community or at church. I could drop book club, but that just wouldn't change much.

If we were to cut something, I'm not sure what we could cut. We feel it is important for our children to be able to play an instrument, and if they want to be involved in a sport, we certainly want to support that; it's a part of remaining physically fit and being involved socially. Church youth activities are also important to us and don't feel like optional extras.

Do I just have an overly large need for "margin," and that is why this is getting to me?

Was it this busy when I was a kid but I just don't remember because I was the kid and not the parent trying to arrange all this (while also having my own work and education)? Feel free to weigh in on this one, Mom and Dad! I'm sure we were busy, but I seem to remember evenings sitting down together and hanging out and watching TV - a thing that just doesn't happen over here. Sure, TV has a bad reputation for rotting brain cells, but I think there is something to be said for having some shared "down time." Is my memory failing me or is it that society has changed and these extracurricular events have expanded to fill more time?

As the title of this post suggests, I'm just trying to figure out if this is normal, and I'm trying to figure out a way to get more "margin" around the edges of life for me and my family, while yet engaging in important activities.

(I've made a bit of a start in vowing not to take anymore night classes!)

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Ode to Joy

The epitaph that C. S. Lewis wrote for his wife Joy (1960) is one of the most moving I have ever come across. I love how he describes the body she left behind as a whole world, a world that was reflected uniquely in her mind. It's so true that the world is only what it is in the mind of each of us. All we know of the world is what enters our mind of it. When a person dies a world is lost. Yet in the loss there is hope that the body has been cast off as a garment to be resumed in a new way in celebration on resurrection day.

Here the whole world (stars, water, air,
And field and forest, as they were
Reflected in a single mind)
Like cast off clothes were left behind
In ashes yet with hope that she,
Re-born from holy poverty
In Lenten Lands, hereafter may
Resume them on her Easter Day.

Here is a picture of Joy Davidman Lewis:

Sunday, September 23, 2007

Beauty Never Slumbers

Welcome to autumn!!

Autumn Chant

Now the autumn shudders
In the Rose's root
Far and wide the ladders
Lean among the fruit.

Now the autumn clambers
Up the trellised frame,
And the rose remembers
the dust from which it came.

Brighter than the blossom
On the rose's bough
Sits the wizened orange,
Bitter berry now;

Beauty never slumbers;
All is in her name;
But the rose remembers
The dust from which it came.

-- Edna St. Vincent Millay (1892-1950)

Saturday, September 22, 2007

Many Faces of Narcissus


According to Greek myth Narcissus was a gorgeous person who, unfortunately was quite aware of and impressed by his own beauty, so much so that when he peered into a lake and saw his own reflection he was so enamored that he could do nothing but look at himself. He sat by that lake admiring himself until he died. According to myth a flower grew on the spot he died, and that is how the Narcissus flower got its name.


Because of this mythical story we tend to use the word “narcissistic” to refer to people who are egocentric or selfish.


There are also narcissistic numbers! What I mean by that is that there are some numbers that cannot get enough of themselves. The number 153 is an example of this, and here’s why:

1^3 + 5^3 + 3^3 = 153.

Since there are 3 digits in 153, you use 3 as an exponent and raise each digit individually to the third power (the "up-arrow" means to use the next number as an exponent), and you get the original number back. The smallest example of this is 1. It is 1 digit, so you raise it to the first power, and

1^1 = 1

so 1 is narcissistic. Can you find any two digit narcissistic numbers? There are exactly three 4-digit narcissistic numbers (very hard to find!). They are 1634, 8208, and 9474.


The Narcissus of myth was only a danger to himself.

The flower Narcissus is pretty - certainly not dangerous.

The term "narcissist" is usually only a convenient word to use to describe an egotistic person, someone who is annoying but not dangerous.

Finding Narcissistic Numbers is just a fun, not dangerous past-time.

Unfortunately there is a dangerous face of narcissus, and it is in the pathology known as Narcissistic Personality Disorder. People with NPD can literally be dangerously abusive, but the disorder, for many reasons, is little known, and it is often hard to discern that a person has NPD until it is too late. In this case the consequences can be devastating. For this reason I am including two links in this post in case you feel an interest in knowing more about this. If you think you'd never be taken in by a narcissist, think again, a narcissist can SEEM like the NICEST* person you have ever met. Not only can they SEEM nice, but they can actually be extremely charming and charasmatic when they want to be - but the core their lives are defined entirely by deceit, a deceit that can be very dangerous to anyone who becomes close to them. Even if you are never taken in by a narcissist, someone you love might be, and this information might help you help them.

Friday, September 21, 2007

Quote for Thought (4)

"In twenty-first-century physics, the nature of space determines the forces of nature. Physicists flirt with extra dimensions, and the idea that, on a fundamental level, space and time may not even exist."

(From Euclid's Window by Leonard Mlodinov)

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Mind Games

I'd like to introduce you to A.J. McCaffrey, a person
dedicated to mind games (in a good way!).

A.J. is interested in and currently studying the "aha moment" (you know, that moment right when you "get" a joke - often when two concepts combine to make a new concept). This focus is reflected in his games, stories and puzzles.

I have lead up to this post in two previous entries, one in
which I was sharing about a game our family likes and another
in which I shared a link to puzzles on A.J.'s blog.

As well as being a blogger and a puzzler, A.J. is a published author.
His book Fractalia is being considered by an animation company for production as a children's TV show in Canada.

But wait! There's more!!

A.J. is also a game inventor. He has created a number of wonderful games. My family and I have had the privilege of trying some of them out in the pre-production stage, so we feel like we are in on the ground floor, which feels really cool! We are cheering him on as he creates new games and tries to get them into production - not an easy process. He's been told by some game companies he has approached that people are not interested in games in which you have to use your mind.

That's not true, is it?? I sure hope not!

One of his games has been produced. It's called "Dissed,"
(click on the word to go to his production website). Like all of his games it has a creative element. It's a little different from his other ideas in that it involves put-downs (albeit creative ones!), something that in testing has been found to be appealing to the college age crowd. If this sells well he will be able to bring more games to market, and, trust me, they are very worthy of being marketed!

I invite you to check out A.J.'s blog and game site and to
watch for amazing things to come!!

Post Script: In the two previous game posts, the image I have been asking you to label is supposed to look like a duck and a bunny. It is the logo of A.J.'s company, "duckbunny productions." The name of the duckbunny is "Seymour," because it is A.J.'s mission to help people SEE MORE, to enjoy themselves while doing so, and also to find ways of making the world a better place by being able to creatively solve problems through seeing more!

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Preliminary Mind Games

I recently put this imagine on a post and asked what you thought it was.

Stay tuned for a related upcoming post.

For now you might want to check out another puzzle here.

(Others like this can be found at
in posts on or before September 14, 2006,
which is only a few posts down.)

Friday, September 14, 2007

Kid Quote 2

"Is getting old mandatory?"

My son Caleb, age 10, asked me this tonight. How would you respond to this question?

Thursday, September 13, 2007

Which is More Foreign?

The fall semester has begun, and I'm back to my teaching and grad studies. The title of my interdisciplinary program is "Mathematics, Language, and Cognitive Studies." I'm finding that the emphasis is on the second word more than I had imagined it would be!

Last year I shared in a couple of posts the foreign langauge that Real Analysis was. Here is an example.
This semester I'm taking a course entitled The Philosphy of Language. We have begun by doing readings from Heidegger's Being and Time. Here is an example:

The statement that Da-sein, existing, is its there means: World is "there"; its Da-sein is being-in. Being-in is "there" as that for the sake of which Da-sein is. Existing being-in-the-world as such is disclosed in the for-the-sake of which, and we called this disclosedness understanding. In understanding the for-the-sake-of-which, the significance grounded therin is also disclosed. The disclosure of understanding, as that of the for-the-sake-of-which and of significance, is equiprimordially concernd with complete being-in-the-world. Significance is that for which world as such is disclosed.
Hmm . . . this is going to be interesting.

Although it is written in English, I find it far more foreign than the mathematical symbols above! What do you think?

The professor stated this work is far more understandable in the original German - um, somehow that was not a comfort to me!

Sunday, September 09, 2007

A New Era

It took him until the season started to decide, but Anthony is running cross-country. It's particularly fun for me and David, since we were both runners in high school. We were excited this morning to find that his coach has a blog and that Anthony was pictured on it (towards the right, wearing a black and white uniform and glasses). It's neat too that the team workouts and the personal best times of all the athletes are also posted - pretty cool!

Friday, September 07, 2007


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."

Mark Jarman (b. 1952)

Monday, September 03, 2007

Literati, ETC.

I've gotten into the habit of putting up pictures with my posts, but when I looked for an image of the board game we played tonight, Literati, I could not find one (and I was too lazy to grab the digital camera).

It's not surprising I could not find an image online. This game was created and produced by a group of students majoring in marketing at the local university. My husband found it years ago at a garage sale for one dollar. (Still, I thought there might be one on ebay - seems EVERYTHING is available online these days!)

It plays a lot like Balderdash (or the dictionary game), but I think it's far better. There are five categories, four require the creation of a definition (general, science, foreign and slang), and the fifth is a quote for which you need to guess the author.

I was really proud of some of my kids' definitions. My 10-year old came up with "rough draft" for the Italian word "prefisso," and my 13-year old defined "rhizome" as "the part of a plant cell that produces food."

It wasn't all seriousness, though, and we were laughing pretty hard by the end of the game. There were some pretty silly definitions too. It was also funny that my husband tried as hard as he could not to choose my definition for each word, but he almost always did choose it, which gave me points! :-)

We used to play this game with friends of ours, and we'd be nearly rolling on the floor laughing - more so as it got later!

I'm disappointed that Literati was not picked up and marketed by a game company. Currently I know someone who is throwing his hat in the ring as a game inventor; his name is A.J. McCaffrey. He's got great ideas and a great vision. His goal is to help people see more through creatively stretching their minds and in seeing more, perhaps being able to create more and in this way help the world to be a better place.

Promoting creative games is something we always want to do, so . . .

. . . more about him and his games in an upcoming post, but for now - on a related note - consider the following picture. What is it?

Saturday, September 01, 2007

Late Summer Flowers

A few months back I posted about taking time to stop and "smell the roses." Well, now that it is late summer, there are different flowers to enjoy, so I'm taking time to appreciate them as well.