Wednesday, August 27, 2008

To My "Twins"

Keith, Nethe, and Lawrence

Have a wonderful birthday!!!

What a great day: 2-cubed, 3-cubed!

Now that I'm saying "good-bye" to age 42, number person that I am, I'm disappointed in myself that I haven't been celebrating all year that I was the age that was the answer to life, the universe and everything. It's also the case that 7x6=42 is my favorite multiplication fact. Now it has slipped by me. Ah well . . . now I get to be prime!

Saturday, August 23, 2008

Casual Simplicity

How happy is the little Stone
That rambles in the Road alone,
And doesn't care about Careers
And Exigencies never fears—
Whose Coat of elemental Brown
A passing Universe put on,
And independent as the Sun
Associates or glows alone,
Fulfilling absolute Decree
In casual simplicity—

- Emily Dickinson (1830-1886)

Friday, August 22, 2008

Magical Interlude

Well, I realized anew how the stress has gotten to me at all levels when I left my division meeting today, reached into my "purse" to get out what I needed to open the van, and walked about a hundred feet with it towards my van before realizing that the hairbrush I was holding was not going to unlock the door!I guess the time when you can least afford a break is the time when you most need to take one, and Anthony provided that for me tonight by asking me to go with him to a Magic draft. Magic is a game I was into when he was a baby (only child). I'd been taught by my uncle. (Thanks Uncle Dave - remember that late night out in Illinois when you taught me and were dinging me a life-point at a time with 'Tim?'). Anyway, I taught Anthony to play before he could read; he had to ask me what the cards said and then memorize what they did. I dropped out when I had more babies and got too busy. It's a game with new installments coming out all the time, so you have to keep up with it. I taught him to play, and now he is returning the favor by bringing me back into it and teaching me the finer points. Now he's the one who keeps reminding me, "Mom, you've got to know what your cards do!" Within the last month or so he has gotten me totally addicted to where I'm now not just playing with the cards but collecting them also and trying to keep them in mint condition.

The first card pictured is one of the wildest I came across tonight (and kind of reminds me of what life feels like right now!), and the second one pictured I pulled in the draft just because I like the artwork so much. (For those of you who know the game, I pulled quite a few rares - including "Oversoul of Dusk," which I understand is worth about $20, and it only cost me $10 to participate. Of course I'm not selling it . . .)

Thursday, August 21, 2008

The Truly Evil

"I have spent a good deal of time working in prisons with designated criminals. Almost never have I experienced them as evil people. Obviously they are destructive, and usually repetitively so. But there is a kind of randomness to their destructiveness. Moreover, although to the authorities they generally deny responsibility for their evil deeds, there is still a quality of openness to their wickedness. They themselves are quick to point this out, claiming that they have been caught precisely because they are the "honest criminals." The truly evil, they will tell you, always reside outside of jail. Clearly these proclamations are self-justifying. They are also, I believe, generally accurate."

-from People of the Lie by M. Scott Peck (1936-2005)

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Dyslexics of the World: Celebrate!

Olny srmat poelpe can raed tihs. Jsut kdindg. Msot popele can raed tihs wtih no porlebm. Gvien the phaonmneal pweor of the hmuan mnid, aoccdrnig to a reesarcehr at Cmabrigde Uinervtisy, it deosn't mttaer in waht oredr the ltteers in a wrod are, the olny iprmoatnt tihng is taht the frist and lsat ltteer be in the rghit pclae. The rset can be a taotl mses and you can sitll raed it wouthit a porbelm. Tihs is bcuseae the huamn mnid deos not raed ervey lteter by istlef, but the wrod as a wlohe. Amzanig huh?!
So why do we spend so much time teaching spelling?

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

The Cure for Exhaustion

Sometimes, exhausted
with toil and endeavour,
I wish I could sleep
for ever and ever;
but then this reflection
my longing allays:
I shall be doing it
one of these days.

- Piet Hein (1905-1996)

Monday, August 18, 2008

Reasons to Drink

No, you don't have to worry about me, but as I was logging on and all the other blog titles were scrolling through as they do, this title popped up and just seemed applicable - caught my eye and made me laugh!

As I've shared on David's page, we face unique challenges and significantly large time pressures this semester.

OK, so we know that's coming, and we're gearing up. I had thought today would be an open day for me to get a serious and necessary jump on the beginning of my semester, and I had been COUNTING on this being the case. The day was entirely open except for just a couple of little things to be taken care of - should have been minimal time expenditure involved - maybe involving a total of half an hour combined. Um . . . NO.

They took from 9am until 4pm pretty much, and my frustration built to such a level over these things that should have taken moments and took hours that now that I AM home I can't focus on my work.I was tempted today to use this space as full-on therapy for myself by listing each and every item that should have gone right that went wrong, but I know you have your own experience of "one of those days." So, instead of writing specifics, I am including this very appropriate comic that I'm sure we can all relate to.

(I must say, when David called to see if things were going better this afternoon and told me he had been praying for me I told him it was all still going wrong, but then I remembered that although I'd been out driving I had not been in an accident, so not EVERYTHING that could have gone wrong did.)

Friday, August 15, 2008

The Unattainable Ideal

We ought to live
each day as though
it were our last day
here below.

But if I did, alas,
I know
it would have killed me
long ago.

- Piet Hein (1905-1996)

Thursday, August 14, 2008

Touch Me Challenge

While at the hotel mentioned in my last post I had sort of a dissonant experience. I opened the hotel guide to see what was available, and next to such things as room service was "touch 6120." It actually took me a while to process what that meant. It seemed a little - I don't know - ostentatious? I wouldn't have given a second thought to seeing "dial 6120," but as I thought about it, I realized nobody DIALS a phone anymore. The phone in my room, afterall, was a touchtone phone. I guess we don't "dial somebody up" anymore, we "touch them up" (?).At lunch that day a colleague mentioned that she wasn't sure what to put on her syllabus in terms of format for papers. She has always put that they must be "typed." What does that mean? Many young people have never seen a typewriter, which is where that word comes from. What should she say? "All papers must be 'computer-processed'." "All papers must be 'keyboarded'." What new word will better fit the technology?In talking with other teachers recently, it came up that we assume students know what "clockwise" and "counter-clockwise" mean, but some of our students have only ever had digital clocks. The older generation takes those words for granted and can easily relate and understand. Will we soon have a generation that cannot follow those directions, or will those words meaningfully remain in the vocabulary yet totally disconnected from their origin?This does happen. We have a tradition of a groom carrying his bride over the "threshold." WHY is it called a "threshold?" It has a meaningful origin but has become totally disconnected from that origin.

1) Do you know what a threshold is in this context, and do you know why it is called a threshold?

2) Can you think of any other words like "type," "dial," and "clockwise" that may remain in the vocabulary but will soon be divorced from their origin and their genuine meaning?

Wednesday, August 13, 2008


Whew! I just got home after having been gone to a conference for 5 days. I'm exhausted, but it's been so fun to get home and see my family again. I always love and appreciate them, but after being away from them for that long, I just want to squeeze them. My boys, of course, will only put up with a short squeeze - given their ages!

This was a conference unlike any I had ever been to (for many reasons). I'll spare you those details, but I have a few stories to share, so here goes:

FUNNIEST (?) PART: In the first session this morning a guy came in with his breakfast in hand(s) and with his bags on his shoulders. As he went to sit next to me, his bag shifted off his shoulder, and his orange juice went flying in this lovely parabolic arc that landed on me and covered me from head to toe. I had already checked out of the hotel - so had no private place to change or clean up. My luggage was stored, so I had no access to a change of clothes. I now know that when orange juice is spilled on black fabric, it does not disappear, but rather dries to look like vomit. So I've spent all day today with my hair a sticky, gooey mess and with a shirt that looks like I've vomited on myself - so professional!

(I actually felt more sorry for him than for me. He apologized at least 28 times and was just horrified - and kept apologizing even though I kept reassuring him it was OK. I'm just glad I'm not as self-conscious as I was in years past. I actually found it kind of funny! Of course, this is probably the only thing I'll remember from the conference a year from now!)

WORST PART: There was actually a session that was so horrendous I spent the evening recovering from it. I'll spare you those details too other than to say this was a conference aimed at community college faculty and was intended to address issues of basic skills students. This session was a complete NON-example of how to facilitate ANYTHING, and what I learned from it was what NOT to do to my students (and that was not the intended outcome of the session).BEST PART: Networking with colleagues and the little ideas I got from them in passing that were so much more valuable than what happened in the sessions (and meeting some from my own campus that I had not known before - took us 3 days to find each other) - really cool people! I'm looking forward to connecting with them on campus when school starts again.HARDEST PART: I had no access to email. Since I normally check email every fifteen minutes or so and typically respond immediately to any message I receive, I imagine those of you that I am in regular correspondence with probably thought I had died.

The best metaphor I can come up with as to how this impacted me is that it was probably like what a heavy chain smoker endures while stuck in an airplane on the tarmac for 14 hours unable to smoke. I was almost jittery from lack of access to email. A woman I met Tuesday took pity on me and let me come to her room and use her computer to check my email, a full 4 days from the last time I had checked. It was like water to one dying in the desert! Thank you Pam!! BUMMER PART: We were at a luxurious hotel with a golf course, tennis courts, THREE swimming pools and more, but we had ZERO time to do any of those activities. I wish they'd had us at a Motel 6 or something so we wouldn't have to walk past these tempting pools we did not have time to swim in! (Although I did have a big screen TV in my room on which to watch the Olympics - cool! Michael Phelps got to swim - I didn't - that's OK).

BEST OF ALL: Due to my sleep disorder (and the fact that I would have had to get up at 3am Sunday to catch my flight had I not made alternate travel plans), I got to spend time with Uncle Marv and Aunt Bonnie (and fam) - bonus!! I really love, respect and enjoy them and don't get to see them nearly enough. They not only "put me up," but they hosted me in ways I was not at all anticipating. On Saturday they took me out to a wonderful Italian Restaurant and then on to Hollywood Bowl, a place I had never been before, and - get this - a concert of my absolute favorite Broadway production was being performed - Les Miserables. WOW! I don't know what else to say but WOW! Les Mis was playing 3 days in a row (unusual for Hollywood Bowl, I guess), and all the performances were sold out. Marv and Bonnie told me they had never seen the bowl so full. What a treat to be able to experience that! We took wine and strawberries - CLASSY! Then, today when they picked me up after the conference they treated me to a tour of Balboa Island in Newport Beach and a yummy treat there - all this in the midst of a very busy time for them. I think I'm still glowing!

Thanks Uncle Marv and Aunt Bonnie! You guys ROCK! :-)

SPECIAL THANKS: to David who made this possible and on this very busiest of weeks for him (when he and Caleb have begun school and he is trying to figure out how to balance physical therapy and full time work and lots and lots more) managed somehow to be in five places at once much of the time and manage everything around here better than a world class juggler.

David, you are the BOMB!

Tuesday, August 12, 2008


I had grasped God's garment in the void
but my hand slipped
on the rich silk of it.
The 'everlasting arms' my sister loved to remember
must have upheld my leaden weight
from falling, even so,
for though I claw at empty air and feel
nothing, no embrace,
I have not plummetted.
-Denise Levertov (1923-1997)

Sunday, August 10, 2008


This is the variety of jelly still photos I promised in an earlier post, which contains a video clip of some jellies in motion.

Friday, August 08, 2008

There is an update on DAVID's page.

An Ethical Grook

I see
and I hear
and I speak no evil;
I carry
no malice
within my breast;
yet quite without
a man to the Devil
one may be
to hope for the best.

--Piet Hein (1905 - 1996)

Thursday, August 07, 2008

You Fit Into Me

you fit into me
like a hook into an eye

a fish hook
an open eye

- Margaret Atwood (1971)

Wednesday, August 06, 2008

Good or Evil?

Men never do evil so completely and cheerfully as when they do it from a religious conviction.
- Blaise Pascal (1623-1662)

Tuesday, August 05, 2008

Amazing Creatures!

This is a short clip of just one of the many jelly fish displays at Monterey Bay Aquarium where we spent the day today. I could have looked at jelly fish and nothing else for the whole day and been entirely happy. I plan to put up another post soon including still photos of a variety of different jellies.

Sunday, August 03, 2008

The Last Lecture

"[The brick walls in life] are there to give us a chance to show how badly we want something. Brick walls are there to stop the people who don't want it badly enough. They're there to stop the other people."

-Randy Pausch (October 23, 1960 – July 25, 2008)

The above quote comes from The Last Lecture by Randy Pausch who has inspired millions around the world by attitude towards death and celebration of life. He was an inspiration throughout his life, but particularly in the face of terminal pancreatic cancer, which left him at the time of diagnosis with only 3 to 6 months to live. Check this site for a 3 minute audio clip (top of page) or the full video of his 76 minute talk: The Last Lecture: Really Acheiving Your Childhood Dreams.

Saturday, August 02, 2008

This Finally Settles It!!

Mathematicians have troubled themselves for centuries as to whether such a thing as "actual" infinity exists (i.e. "completed" infinity - a thing that would be a noun rather than a verb) OR if infinity can only be "potential" (a process that can never been complete - a thing that would be a verb rather than a noun).

I've always held out for the existence of actual infinity.
I have now been vindicated! I'm eagerly awaiting the arrival of infinity!
(They had better not just be messing with me!!!)