Saturday, January 31, 2009

For new DAVID post, click at right.


I've been hard at work on my thesis, but Anthony and I took a break today to recharge our geek batteries :-) We'd been looking forward to this new set, Conflux, coming out and are enjoying the fact that the store in our area does pre-releases now. As you can see we were not the only ones looking forward to it - quite a crowd!Sorry (especially to Anthony!) for the poor quality pictures. I hope the fun we had comes through nonetheless. Oh, we both lost big time but had lots of fun! We're hoping to take in the release next Friday. Good times!!

The one picture I really wanted and didn't get was of the guy I played first who was wearing a fuzzy pink hat with brown antlers sticking out of it. What happened to the standard goth-like black trench-coat look? Ah well, I guess even geeks have to establish their own identity!

Thursday, January 29, 2009

Kid Comments on Culture

Every so often I try to bring a little "culture" into my children's lives.

By their own choice they only listen to contemporary Christian music. Although I don't listen to much rock-and-roll myself these days, I know about music history, and I think it's a reasonably valuable thing to know. What was the music of the day and what meaning did it have for its time and how does music today follow in that tradition? What was going on in the 60's and how did the music speak to people dealing with issues such as the Vietnam War?

Also, I see it as a generational thing. I always thought it was cool to listen to 50's music when I was a kid because it gave me a feeling for what my parents' highschool years were probably like - made me feel like I knew more about them. I'm not sure I want my kids learning about me through Joan Jett and the Blackhearts, but hey . . .And . . . well . . . you know . . . if they ever want to be on Jeopardy! they just gotta have some of this "cultural" knowledge.

Sometimes they are receptive and interested, sometimes not so much, but there are almost always interesting comments from them. I came across some music from my early childhood on YouTube, was listening to it; they could hear it too: California Dreamin,' House of the Rising Sun, and Spirit in the Sky.

Caleb (11) said, "I'm glad I didn't live back when they had such scary music."

Anthony (16) was interested when Spirit in the Sky was playing because it mentioned Jesus, and he's into Christian music. When I told him - jokingly - that maybe I should have that played at my funeral since I am a child of the 60s and 70s he said:

"Aren't we all."

I have no idea what he meant!!

The following "scary" music is posted for your reference:

Sunday, January 25, 2009




Friday, January 23, 2009

25 Things

Earlier today I was "tagged" in facebook to create a list of 25 random things about myself. I love lists! So I'm putting it here too! I'd love to hear random things about you too, so feel free to write them in the comments section.
1. I am trying to make a full deck of "found" playing cards (have 21 so far).

2. I do not eat vegetables (I'm 43 and still alive, so let's stop lying to kids!)

3. I am the oldest grandchild on BOTH sides of my family.

4. I am a sucker for anything related to Princess Diana.

5. The one place in the world I would most like to visit (that I have not yet visited) is Angkor Wat.

6. It is a pet peeve of mine when people don't use turn signals. UGH!!

7. My two favorites among my many names are "Mom" and my husband's nickname for me which is very sweet and will remain private :-)

8. My favorite scent is wet cement after rain.

9. I dream of going back to England someday (my profile photo was taken in London).

10. The first record album I bought was John Denver's Greatest Hits.

11. When I was in high school my favorite singer was Pat Benatar (a long way from John Denver!).

12. I decided to read Wuthering Heights because of a Pat Benatar song (wouldn't allow myself to listen to side 2 of "Hit me with Your Best Shot" until I read it); the novel remains my favorite book even though I don't listen to Pat Benatar anymore.

13.Wilma Rudolph has always been my hero.

14.I have been a contestant on Jeopardy!

15. I DO regret having stopped taking piano lessons as a child - just like all the adults told me I would.

16. We have an antenna - no cable - no dish.

17. I love being a total geek - a woman mathematician who is also a gamer and can quote from Monty Python's "Quest for the Holy Grail."

18. I am a cat person not a dog person, but I don't own a cat.

19. I think math is poetry, and I love poetry!

20. I would love to have a finite Erdos number someday, but I don't think it's going to happen, so I'll just have to be happy with an infinite Erdos number.

21. I am raising my sons to be geeks.

22. I find it very calming to watch water flow down a river.

23. If there is a spider or insect in my house, I catch it and release it outside.

24. I make exceptions for mosquitos and black widow spiders; those I kill.

25. I wish I could write a list like this that would make people laugh as hard as others have made me laugh; I got one earlier today that used the phrases "butt puckering suspense" and "puntable," and I am STILL laughing!

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Sunny Disposition

I noticed yesterday that my first calla lily of the year is blossoming. That always brings me joy! They are my favorite flower - the simple lines and purity - the classic spiral shape - just gorgeous! I feel very peaceful just looking at them.Given the cold and stormy weather conditions in much of the rest of the country I hadn't been posting pictures of our nice warm conditions - didn't want to pour salt in the wound, but when I said that to David last night, he said, "What do mean you're worried about making THEM feel bad?!" He's suffering from a bit of "snow envy" over here - well - more than a "bit," actually.Since my post yesterday was so serious and to some degree negative, I thought I'd put up a sunny, joyful post today (BUT will warn you there is more deep math-education discussion to come!! It IS serious and has to do with whether our future is going to be sunny and bright - metaphorically speaking.)I thought I should pull back for a shot of the palm tree behind the orange tree - this being California - albeit north-central California and not beach countryThe oranges are particularly tasty this year - good crop! Come visit and you can have one! :-)

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

The Truth in a Calm World

The house was quiet and the world was calm.
The reader became the book; and summer night
Was like the conscious being of the book.
The house was quiet and the world was calm.
The words were spoken as if there was no book,
Except that the reader leaned above the page,
Wanted to lean, wanted much most to be
The scholar to whom the book is true, to whom
The summer night is like a perfection of thought.
The house was quiet because it had to be.
The quiet was part of the meaning, part of the mind:
The access of perfection to the page.
And the world was calm. The truth in a calm world,
In which there is no other meaning, itself
Is calm, itself is summer and night, itself
Is the reader leaning late and reading there.

-- Wallace Stevens (1879-1955)

Image: Young Woman Reading by a Window - Delphin Enjolras

Sunday, January 11, 2009

By Any Other Name

A new primary school (oops) has opened in Sheffield, England.

The reason I put "oops" in that sentence is that they are not going to use the term "school," because it is too negative. Parents, for instance, have negative associations with the word "school." Instead it will be called "a place of learning."

The Plain English Campaign has called this "ridiculous." THEY, at least, don't mince words.

Among other things the head teacher expressed, ""There are no whistles or bells or locked doors. We wanted to de-institutionalise the place and bring the school closer to real life."

Well, I'm glad there are no locked doors, but the rest sounds frighteningly like some things that were tried in the US in the 1970's such as open classrooms where students got to choose whether to go to lecture or to a section of the course that was taking a test or to sit in on a different section of the class that was having a movie that day and so on. The goal, of course, should be to make people feel happy and empowered, right? After all, won't students be more motivated to learn if they have more choice and more control - makes sense, right?

Um . . . no . . . it was an unprecedented disaster.

(Side-note: A local high school recently seemed like the Winchester Mystery House when they discovered a classroom that no one knew about and that had no doors and windows. You see, this school had started as one of these open school with no walls between classrooms. Once it was realized the open plan was a fiasco, walls were put in, thus creating closed classrooms - one of which obviously became a little TOO closed - and a return to normal "school"ing. I'm guessing those who did the remodel were graduates of the open plan . . . but . . . I digress . . .)

It seems the paramount concern in society these days in so many areas of life is that we don't want anyone traumatized by "negative associations." I just hope our world survives these days of political correctness, warm-fuzzies, and false self-esteem (if my children come home with one more trophy, medal or certificate I'll scream!), and I hope that IF we do survive there will remain at least a modicum of intelligence and knowledge in the human race.

A school by any other name had better still be a school.

Thursday, January 08, 2009

Find the Cube

Well, it's back to reality. While I'm reminiscing about my much-beloved and just-ended vacation, you can use this post as a challenge. In how many pictures can you spot a Rubik's cube?

GAMES - as always - were a big part of the holidays.
Ooh! NICE Rook hand Anthony!Catch Phrase!We had a chance to get in some Heroscape, which always makes Jacob happy!It's a pretty cool game!Here is our Christmas tree.We had a lovely lasagna dinner at Mom and Dad's (Grandma and Grandpa's).Caleb even brought our pet mice (as members of the family) and had gifts for them too!Notice the little pink treat to the right of Munin's face.The joy of giving (and getting! :-)!! We had our own little party at home too.I'll even put up a picture of myself.I got lots of cool geeky math and gaming stuff - YEA!!The mice got to be in the living room for this party too!The mice got worn out from all the partying and had to relax.This gift is SO Jacob!!And I'm happy to say the oranges on our tree are finally ripe. YUMMY!

So, that was it - lots of parties, gifts, sleeping in, movies, games, (also church services, of course - the reason for the season - but I don't have pictures of those!).

OK, how many times did you see the Rubik's Cube in the pictures??

Monday, January 05, 2009

Some Things Time Cannot

How do you pick up the threads of an old life? How do you go on, when in your heart you begin to understand there is no going back. There are some things that time can not mend. Some hurts that go too deep, that have taken hold.
-Frodo Baggins (Lord of the Rings)

Friday, January 02, 2009

There is a new post on DAVID's site (click at right).
It shares some progress he's made recently!

Thursday, January 01, 2009