Wednesday, October 31, 2007


Last night our house became an amusement park ride, although the ride was so short it was over almost before we realized it had begun.

Having grown up in California, I noticed the jolt for what it was. To David it felt like he was getting dizzy; it was over before he realized what it was, but we got to savor the aftermath as the kitchen light kept swinging. The kids came into the kitchen and said, "What was that?"

I hear people say they wouldn't live in California because of all the earthquakes - because California is going to fall into the ocean. Well, my children have lived here all their lives but had not yet felt an earthquake and had to ask what it was, AND, for those worried about the whole California into the ocean thing - yeah, could happen, but no sooner than 20 million years from now. (Although maybe rather than debunking that misconception I should let it stand as a way of trying to keep California from becoming more crowded than it already is.)

Coincidentally one of my colleagues who is in the geology department was teaching about earthquakes last night when this occured. Typically when an earthquake occurs people run OUT of buildings; his students were outside on break and ran back INTO the building to check out the seismograph. Now that's an effective class demonstration!!!.)
POST SCRIPT: I pulled in to work right next to him the next day, and he invited me to see the recording on the seismograph - COOL!

Monday, October 29, 2007


After the The “Blog” of “Unnecessary” Quotation Marks came to my attention recently, I found myself stumbling into a huge blogging subculture of grammar policing. It was sort of like coming across FBI or CIA agents at work.

WARNING! If you misuse your apostrophies, use a lowercase L in a sign that otherwise includes all uppercase letters, destroy words by misuse or overuse, or otherwise thrash the convetions of grammar, this is your warning. LOOKOUT! The Grammar Police Bloggers (GPB) will certainly catch you! They are everywhere!

Here are some of their "reports."

Apostrophe Abuse
lowercase L
Why a Tittle?
Literally, A Web Log

ClEARlY this is a major problem, "as" witnes'sed by the fact that i "LiTERAllY" find these blog's updated FREQUETlY.

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Quote for Thought (8)

To be nobody but yourself in a world which is doing its best night
and day to make you like everybody else means to fight the hardest
battle any human being can fight and never stop fighting.

-- E. E. Cummings (1894-1962)

Sunday, October 21, 2007

Time Out!(doors)

In the midst of a busy fall, we found we needed a "time-out." It was so good for all of us to get away from the paperwork and housework and reconnect with the great outdoors! To do this we went to one of our favorite places which we love for its natural beauty and history (connected with the mid-1800's California Goldrush).




Friday, October 19, 2007

Pregnant Pirates

I used to hear talk of a "paperless society" -- easier on the forests, you know.

Well, whatever my motivation, I've bought into electronic vs. paper -- so much so that while I find my WPM has increased dramatically I'm afraid the muscles used for handwriting have atrophied. Recently I have felt paranoid when using my credit card -- afraid the cashier is going to ask to see my ID again when he notices what trouble I have writing my own signature!

For me EVERYTHING goes on the computer now. Memos I would have scribbled on scraps of paper in the past I now just type right into whatever document I have open as soon as a thought comes to me -- to be transfered elsewhere later.

This has had some interesting consequences.

Once, while typing a worksheet for my students, I heard some interesting information on the radio. At that time I was studying to be on Jeopardy and was recording and soaking up every bit of trivia possible. I had no paper handy, so I typed onto the handout:

"Anne Bonney and Mary Read were sentenced to be hung as pirates, but when it was found that they were pregnant they were spared."
A week later my students were working quietly on this handout when suddenly half the class burst out laughing. I immediately realized I had forgotten to cut and paste to another document. I turned bright red.

Although many students were laughing some students later admitted that at first they were quite distressed by that sentence, because, having no idea what pregnant pirates had to do with Pre-algebra, they assumed this was a really difficult trick question.

Once I overcame the embarrassment of my mistake it was actually kind of fun explaining to them what had happened and why.

I'm sure it would have felt less fun, however, had my memo been a shopping list of personal items!

If you, like I, "scribble" memos-to-self on computer documents, always be sure to proof-read your work before printing and putting it in someone else's hands!! Otherwise the results might be a little more interesting than you would like!

Thursday, October 18, 2007

Quote for Thought (7)

“If you aren't in over your head, how do you know how tall you are?”

T. S. Eliot (1888-1965)

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Grammar "Police" Humor

I was going to blog at length about how everything teaching and study related in my life all came crashing in on the same week and how I'm sitting here blogging as I try to prioritize where to begin today (things along the lines of: "Do I first study for my own midterm or grade the one I just gave my students?"), but then I decided I (and probably you as well) could much better benefit from a LAUGH.

Does other peoples' improper use of grammar drive you crazy?

Are you a member of the grammar police?

Whether you are "grammatically correct" or not, you'll probably find The "Blog" of "Unnecessary" Quotation Marks funny. Click on the title to be redirected to some grammatical humor.

Have a "good" day (and I "really" mean that)!

Sunday, October 14, 2007


I had already posted a quote today, but I just realized it is e. e. cummings' birthday, so I think a post of one of his poems is more appropriate. I'll put the quote back up on another day.

In thinking of his life and work I'm reminded of lines that have captured me having to do with life and death - in a poem that has to do with really living while alive. He says that life is not a paragraph and death is no parenthesis. Notice the singular tense; usually parentheses come in pairs. Not so of life, he says. If we think of birth as the opening parenthesis that begins our "phrase" of life:


it is a phrase that is not closed off. Death does not close the "phrase." We begin, but we do not end. So here's to you ee!! May your spirit and your work live on!


since feeling is first
who pays any attention
to the syntax of things
will never wholly kiss you;

wholly to be a fool
while Spring is in the world

my blood approves,
and kisses are a better fate
than wisdom
lady i swear by all flowers. Don't cry
the best gesture of my brain is less than
your eyelids' flutter which says

we are for each other:then
laugh,leaning back in my arms
for life's not a paragraph

And death i think is no parenthesis

Saturday, October 13, 2007

Let Fall No Leaf

This is my favorite time of year - a time when late summer flowers are still blossoming and leaves are changing but have not yet fallen - maximum color! This picture doesn't do it justice (clicking to enlarge may help a bit), but yesterday during the first rain of the season, which augmented the color, I sat on my back patio and enjoyed the purple of the hibiscus, the red of the lilies, the yellow of the roses, and the multihues of leaves just beginning to turn.

O world, I cannot hold thee close enough!
Thy winds, thy wide grey skies!
Thy mists, that roll and rise!
Thy woods, this autumn day, that ache and sag
And all but cry with colour! That gaunt crag
To crush! To lift the lean of that black bluff!
World, World, I cannot get thee close enough!

Long have I known a glory in it all,
But never knew I this:
Here such passion is
As stretcheth me apart, —Lord, I do fear

Thou’st made the world too beautiful this year;
My soul is all but out of me, —let fall
No burning leaf; prithee, let no bird call.

(God's World by Edna St. Vincent Millay 1892-1950)

Thursday, October 11, 2007

Are You a Detective?

Would you make a good detective? How much can you tell from this picture? Were the kids behaving well when they were asked to pose? Below are some questions with which to quiz yourself.


1) Why is the boy in the front row crossing his arms like that?
2) Might that be a guilty smile on the face of the boy behind him?
3) What kind of crazy plant it that on the right?
4) Where was this picture taken?
5) How about age progression? If you didn't know me as a child, use my blog photo to try to determine which one I am in this picture.


1) I'm pretty sure his arms were crossed in self-protection against tickling. That's my brother Tim, and he was known in childhood for how incredibly ticklish he was. There's a reason he was incredibly ticklish. I used to like to make "potions" and do experiments. One day I made "tickle powder." I told him what it was and sprinkled it on him, and he was outrageously ticklish from that time on. Can you say, "placebo effect?"

2) Putting 2 and 2 together, I'm guessing my cousin Danny back there was tickling Tim before the picture. Doesn't that smile look just a bit mischievous to you?

3) That's an avocado. Many years later, having forgotten this, I too grew an avocado - don't know why I did. Maybe it was a genetic pull. It's now become somewhat a part of family tradition.

4) Well, you'd have to be reading my posts AND the comments pretty closely AND click on the image to enlarge it to get this one (unless you're part of the family, of course). On October 8 I wrote about my grandmother's cookbooks, and a comment references where they were - on Grandma's shelves next to the fireplace. Well, if you enlarge the photo by clicking on it, you'll see cookbooks on the shelf. Pretty tough, but I figure there are some intrepid problem solvers out there! Hey, they would have figured it out on any of the crime-solving TV shows that are on these days!!

5) I'm in back in the red pantsuit with a big ol' watch on my arm. This is a picture of a group of grand kids. I'm the oldest grandchild on both sides of my family (which was really cool as a kid but not so cool now as I hit all those milestone birthdays first!! Thirty . . . uh . . . forty . . . uh . . . ).

PS Thanks for your comment on my October 8 post, Paula, which inspired this. I thought I'd put this up so it could be in more than just your mind's eye - and mine too! :-)

Tuesday, October 09, 2007

Quote for Thought (6)

"Most people would rather die than think: many do."

-- Bertrand Russell (1872-1970)

Monday, October 08, 2007

Are You Talking to ME?!

"Today is the first day of the rest of your life."

That's a pretty common aphorism. We hear it often, and, if we give it some thought, we realize it's true. And then we usually forget about it and move on in the normal way.

For me, today, this is more than just a casual saying.

This is going to be a long story, but I think it's worth it to include the details, so here goes.

A number of years ago I endured a life-changing illness. I regained full health a long time since, but going through a serious illness can and did alter life patterns for me and for my family. Also, we currently find ourselves in a particularly busy season of life as a family, and that is compounded by my own choices of working and going to grad school.

Through all this it's really been quite a task to balance the many facets of life - to find new direction, new footing - and to be fully engaged in each of those facets.

In recent weeks especially I've been playing with different routines and approaches to find the best fit for me and my family.

I have never been much of a cook (and even less so while ill when my husband took over entirely - what a great guy!!). In spite of my lack of skill and interest in cooking, I inherited a couple of cookbooks from one of my grandmothers when she passed away 8 years ago. I treasure them because they were hers, but I've NEVER in EIGHT years actually used them to COOK from. Their purpose has been to sit on the shelf and remind me of Grandma.

In my search for new directions I became inspired today to cook!

Let me pause here a moment while those of you who know me personally take a moment to revive yourselves before reading on. I understand if you've passed out or something.

Are you ready to continue?

Anyway, I had beef stew in mind, but when I grabbed the standard red Betty Crocker book, the recipe looked daunting (refered me to ANOTHER page for the recipe for Parsely Dumplings that had to be made first - wait, I have to make ANOTHER recipe BEFORE I make this one??!! Dumplings?! That sounds hard. It also called for parsnips - an item I would not recognize if I saw it and wouldn't know what to do with if I did! I just want to make stew - you know - potatoes and carrots and meat . . .).

So, on a whim, I grabbed Grandma's cookbook off the shelf.

I opened the front cover and found a label she'd pasted in there - one of those "from the library of" labels, the one at the top of this post. The one that says:

"Today is the first day of the rest of your life."

Not only had she signed her name on it, but she had dated it.

Although the year was 1980, the date was TODAY'S DATE:


Check it out. Scroll back to the top of the post and compare the date of posting to the date on the label. Then somebody cue up the "Twilight Zone" theme song, OK?

Today's date - today - TODAY is the first day of the rest of your life.

Umm . . . whoa . . .

Maybe this is one of those "you had to be there" things, but given all the circumstances surrounding this, that sure caught my attention! I am certainly going to seriously consider today the first day of the rest of my life.

Here is the recipe I ended up using from Grandma's cookbook.(Click to enlarge.) I still didn't find a recipe for stew that I wanted to make, but after all that I figured I'd better use one of the recipes in that book today!! I'll post a comment later to let you know if it was good.copyright 1979 from the above pictured cookbook

Sunday, October 07, 2007

Sunday Magic

And in more breaking news - this coming to you mid-tourney Sunday afternoon as the Magic the Gathering Time Spiral draft is underway. Above Jacob and Dad face off in round one. Here's a close-up of the opening moves between Mom and Anthony. Jacob ponders Dad's move. We even convinced "UT" to play - to the great joy of his adoring nephews.

At this point I am down 0-2, my 15 year old and even my 10 year old having beat me! I'm beginning to wonder about training my children so well. It can be a bit hard on the ego at times. Oh well, two matches to go. Perhaps I'll yet win one! If not, it's OK; it's fun no matter what. I just can't resist a game with a fantasy element, tokens and dodecahedral dice!
In case you don't know about Magic, it is a role-playing card game in which each player begins with 20 life points and has a deck of cards (self-made through selecting about 40 cards from in our case 270 available today). There is a lot of strategy involved as you try to select cards that work well together. Many are creature cards (elves, goblins, dragons, etc.) that have a certain power and toughness. You can "attack" with them, and your opponent can block with creatures, play "spells" to try to prevent damage, or they can take damage. There are also cards that allow you to gain back life points. Once you are down to zero life points or below you lose. Each round is best 2 out of 3. There's a lot of strategy involved, some great artwork on the cards, and a lot of imagination if you want to engage it! It's a favorite in our family.

Thursday, October 04, 2007

In Case You're Wondering

Just in case you're wondering about that rumor about Mentos and Diet Pepsi,click here.

Just in case you're wondering what's going on in Washington D.C., click here.

Thanks to news correspondents Dan and Tony for keeping us abreast of breaking news!

Tuesday, October 02, 2007

The Final Word

I LOVE words. I put a lot of words up here for all the world to see. I have long phone conversations with friends. I write VERY long emails, as anyone who corresponds with me can tell you! Sometimes I have important things to share; sometimes - OK, let's be honest - a LOT of the time I'm using my words to complain or just hear myself talk. I heard a song today that really resonated with me - my love for words - and my realization that I very often use too many words for things that don't deserve so many. The most important thing that was ever said was just one Word.
You and me we use so very many clumsy words.
The noise of what we often say is not worth being heard.
When the Father’s Wisdom wanted to communicate His love,
He spoke it in one final perfect Word.

He spoke the Incarnation and then so was born the Son.
His final word was Jesus, He needed no other one.
Spoke flesh and blood so He could bleed and make a way Divine.
And so was born the baby who would die to make it mine.

And so the Light became alive
And manna became Man.
Eternity stepped into time
So we could understand.

Spoke flesh and blood so He could bleed and make a way Divine.
And so was born the baby who would die to make it mine.

(Michael Card, 1988)
From John 1:

In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was with God in the beginning.

Through him all things were made; without him nothing was made that has been made. In him was life, and that life was the light of men. The light shines in the darkness, but the darkness has not understood it.

The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the One and Only who came from the Father, full of grace and truth.

Monday, October 01, 2007

Wherever You Go, There YOU Are

Science-Fiction Cradlesong

By and by Man will try
To get out into the sky,
Sailing far beyond the air
From Down and Here to Up and There.
Stars and sky, sky and stars
Makes us feel the prison bars.

Suppose it done. Now we ride
Closed in steel, up there, outside;
Through our port-holes see the vast
Heaven-scape go rushing past.
Shall we? All that meets the eye
Is sky and stars, stars and sky.

Points of light with black between
Hang like a painted scene
Motionless, no nearer there
Than on Earth, everywhere
Equidistant from our ship.
Heaven has given us the slip.

Hush, be still. Outer space
Is a concept, not a place.
Try no more. Where we are
Never can be sky or star.
From prison, in a prison, we fly;
There’s no way into the sky.

C.S. Lewis (1898-1963)