Friday, April 30, 2010

Graduation Inspiration

I am so glad I went to graduation tonight! It's been a tough year and a tough week and a tough day, and then I went and saw my students from this semester and previous semesters receiving the reward they've earned, and I heard motivational speakers, and I got all dressed up in my regalia and hung out with my colleagues also in their regalia, and all of a sudden I was just inspired to keep on going and to give it my all!

Here is the faculty processing in:As witness to how insanely busy I've been, I didn't even realize Academy Award Nominee for Best Actor (and MJC alumnus) Jeremy Renner was one of the speakers. Here he is being escorted in by security and then speaking:Here is one of my former students whom I will never forget and who is one of the most inspirational human beings I have ever met - not only does he daily overcome great odds, but I have NEVER heard an excuse or even one negative word come out of his mouth - always encouraging others! When I grow up I want to be like him!Another cool student I've had the privilege to work with:And the faculty processing out:All in all a very good evening. Congratulations to the graduates!!!

Sunday, April 25, 2010

But What of That?

I reason, Earth is short --
And Anguish -- absolute --
And many hurt,
But, what of that?

I reason, we could die --
The best Vitality
Cannot excel Decay,
But, what of that?

I reason, that in Heaven --
Somehow, it will be even --
Some new Equation, given --
But, what of that?
Emily Dickinson (1830-1886)

Saturday, April 24, 2010


When Anthony was in 7th grade he participated in his first mathematics competition. I knew he was good at math, and I hoped he would win something - even an honorable mention ribbon.

I had no idea what to expect.

All the honorable mentions were called, then 5th place, then 4th place, then 3rd place - still didn't hear his name. Then second place was called, and I figured he hadn't won anything. Certainly he wasn't 1st . . .

. . . and then they called his name!

That was 6 years ago, and he has won the individual competition at his level every year since - by a wide margin - including this morning in his final event: calculus.

He, of course, won't tell anyone, but I'm his mom, and I'm gonna brag on him! I'm hoping for great things in the future when he takes on the Putnam Competition in college.

His team also won the "Bomb" today, which is a really cool 5-person event. Up top are some of the problems that appeared on his tests today (in case you'd like to give them a try!) and below are pictures of the competition.This is the Bomb team at work.Anthony focused on his work.First place in calculus!With the other calculus winners -
- and with the bomb team winners.

Sunday, April 18, 2010

Thoughts 1

I was just chatting with a cousin on facebook - reflecting on our grandfather's 97th birthday this week. We both expressed a hope that we got the genes from his side of the family. His father lived to be 100, and nearly all of his 10 siblings made it into their 90's, late 90's.

We also both expressed a desire to make it to our 75th anniversaries, but when I started thinking about those dates they range from the early 2060s to the early 2080s. Those don't sound like dates. They sound like numbers from science fiction! (Then again, so does 2010, but I'm getting used to that one!)

Grandpa Van Dyken was born in 1913 - before there was such a thing as a world war and only 10 years after the Wright Brothers flew at Kitty Hawk and Henry Ford produced the first Model A. He was born before highways or traffic jams or commercial air flight.

Today as we celebrated as a family at Bethany Home with Grandpa, we noticed the computers in the social room there and wondered how many of the residents use them! They look a bit dated but relatively untouched!

In his time both World Wars were fought, and families went from traveling by horse and buggy to car - and from using kerosene lamps to electric lighting. The Golden Age of Hollywood didn't BEGIN until more than 10 years after his birth. When he was born, Russia was still Russia and hadn't become the Soviet Union yet; now it is Russia again. The entire Soviet Era was encapsulated within only a portion of his life.

He was born the month after President Taft left office, and he has seen 17 different presidential administrations. He was born before "Hitler" or "Einstein" were household names - representing evil and intelligence respectively.

In his time the Roaring '20s have come and gone, as has the Jazz Age, the Big Band Era, Woodstock, the Beatles, Watergate, the Vietnam War . . .

He was born nearly 30 years before Penicillin was developed and marketed - before MRI's and CAT scans and Prozac. In his lifetime we have put man on the moon and sent rovers to Mars. We have developed computers and jet airplanes and cell phones, nuclear energy and nuclear weapons.

I often hear technology is increasing exponentially. If this is so, and if my cousin and I make it to our respective 75th anniversaries, we will have seen far, FAR MORE change in our lifetimes than Grandpa has in his. This is hard to fathom. I can't imagine anything beyond changes to what we have already - making things smaller and faster and more effective, but if we see change like he did, we will see things we can't even imagine!

Afterall, as a young man could he have imagined flying cross country or texting?

If this "progress" can sustain itself, what will we see? Human colonization of other planets? Time travel? Or things so far beyond that, that we truly cannot imagine them now - as he could not have imagined those things then?

Friday, April 16, 2010

Second April

TO what purpose, April, do you return again?
Beauty is not enough.
You can no longer quiet me with the redness
Of little leaves opening stickily.
I know what I know.
The sun is hot on my neck as I observe
The spikes of the crocus.
The smell of the earth is good.
It is apparent that there is no death.
But what does that signify?
Not only under ground are the brains of men
Eaten by maggots.
Life in itself
Is nothing,
An empty cup, a flight of uncarpeted stairs.
It is not enough that yearly, down this hill,
Comes like an idiot, babbling and strewing flowers.

Edna St. Vincent Millay (1892-1950)

Monday, April 12, 2010

Advice I'm Eager to Take!

“Take rest;

a field that has rested gives a

bountiful crop.”

Ovid 43BC-17

Friday, April 09, 2010


We spent the day taking Anthony's senior pictures (see post below), but me and my hubby hadn't had a picture of us taken in quite some time, so we had Anthony get on the other side of the camera take one of us too! :-)

Anthony - Sr. Pics - Serious and Fun

Our son graciously allowed us to snap a bajillion pictures of him today to mark his senior year. He also, humble and embarrassed but understanding, has allowed his VERY proud momma to post half a bajillion of them. :-)

Wednesday, April 07, 2010

Poet Laureate

I have just discovered our poet laureate Kay Ryan. I guess I'd been a bit behind the times and too focused on things other than poetry for too long now! She's going to be speaking at MJC Saturday, so I took a quick look at her work and found that even after just a quick look I like it. That's unusual, but when it happens it generally turns out that those poets end up being favorites of mine. That's how it was for me and e. e. cummings and Howard Nemerov. One of my favorite things is to discover a new (to me) poet whose work I enjoy, and it's been a long time since that happened.


Founatins, for instance,
have a periphery
at some distance
from the spray.
On nice days
idle people circle
all the way around
the central spout.
They do not get wet.
They do not get hot.

Sunday, April 04, 2010

Spring Stuff

Although it has often seemed like ALL work and NO play of late, having downloaded my pictures from the last few months was a good reminder that this is not ENTIRELY true. I've seen some beauty - played some games - and enjoyed some celebrations:

Beauty is always a wonderful consolation!See the moon?I love the February blossoms, but as quickly as they come they go . . .March clouds as seen from our front yard.My transplanted lilies bloomed at the new house. Yea! Here's hoping they grow strong and healthy and full like they were at the old house!My youngest turned 13. I'm now the mother of 3 teenagers. How can that be?!
We all enjoyed dinner!Caleb enjoyed the gifts and cards!Sierra enjoyed the birthday cake!And little Ava enjoyed Aunt Heidi's fingers!Track season has begun. Anthony is the blond in the white shirt near the right.Anthony just before the 1600m. He's been PR-ing in every event this season!It's California, what can I say? The pool pictures were taken last weekend, March 27. Of course Caleb is a fish. The rest of us didn't go in!That afternoon we also played our fun new game Tales of the Arabian Nights. (THANKS ROSS!)Meanwhile Anthony and David played ping-pong.And then this weekend, Easter noon meal at our place . . . . . . and more Arabian Nights - this time with brother/uncle Tim joining in. BTW, Ross, if you are reading, I won big time! I had "Respected" and "Robe of Honor," and it just kept getting better and better! :-)And now to finish with signature Jacob - real breakfast and a smiley!