Tuesday, November 29, 2005

winter weather

I woke up this morning to a pouring rain. I'm still living in my office so the downpour was happening right next to my bed. But now, it has mysteriously stopped. Or I have gone totally deaf. (Don't worry -- I know that isn't true because I can hear the tapping of my fingers on the keys and the wail of the train horn in the distance!)

There was some real winter weather up in Connecticut last week -- it snowed about four inches on Thanksgiving Day!! Susie and I shovelled half of her driveway while it was still snowing. It's one of those C-shaped ones, so we didn't have to do but half of it to enable the cars to get out, but now I really know how people can die of heart attacks while shovelling snow!! All in all, my trip up north was very much fun, and it was great to reconnect with old friends and make some new ones. Friendships that last through the years are something I am very grateful for.

Not much else to report, but I'm snowed under with work for a change. Next week won't be so heavy -- SAT's are this weekend so some students are finishing up with me this week.

I hope all of you had a great Thanksgiving!

Monday, November 21, 2005

interesting math problem from Duke contest

For those of you who read last night's post and are curious about what I consider an interesting math problem, here's one in particular that I liked. (I'm recording it from memory, so it may not be exactly the same as the one in Saturday's relay.)

Find n, the number of right triangles of integer side lengths (i.e., Pythagorean triples) that have a leg of length 45 units.

It got me to thinking (while I was driving, no less!) about the formulas for deriving Pythagorean triples... One of the kids at the contest said he thought it could be solved by setting 45^2 = c^2-b^2, factoring the right hand side of this, and finding the number of factors of 45^2 (that's easy, remember how?) to find the number of triangles. Maybe he's onto something, but I have another (though related) way that seems simpler to me. (Or maybe I'm just quite rusty on contest problems and there is an obvious answer...)

Monday, November 07, 2005


I know it's been awhile since I've posted, and you-all are about to give up on me.... I was in Atlanta, then in Virginia, then yesterday a day trip to Durham for the Duke Math Meet, with a few days in between to catch my breath. I sort of want to talk about all the various trips, but I don't have time to write all that right now, and probably won't until a week or two or three from now, with another five-day trip on the horizon. In the meantime I can just say it was all good. The most recent trip, the one yesterday, was interesting for a lot of reasons:
--the contest was really hard and had some interesting problems
--listening to the kids talk on the way up and back was enlightening
--I made a new friend and reconnected with some old ones
--and last but not least, I made a lot of progress with one of my more recent ideas, a plan to have a website or listserve or some other way for NC math coaches to communicate with one another over the internet. One of the many coaches I met yesterday (I introduced myself to every one that I could find, at lunchtime and other times) shared with me a very workable way to do this, so when I get back to town I will check it out. Today was too full of catching up with stuff around here, and tomorrow I'll be working most of the day. Oh, another thing I did today was go to hear the York County Choral Society's Fall Concert (Carmina Burana), which was conveniently right before Mass tonight in Rock Hill. It was an excellent concert; I don't think I've heard much better singing (it was close to Caltech quality, my gold standard!) The fellow who leads the singing at our Sunday evening liturgy was the baritone soloist, and he was awesome, as ever.
Well, that's about all for now... I guess I'll go off to bed. I'm almost finished with Sally's book, Veggie Revolution, and I recommend it even more now than I did below. (Click on the book's title to read my review -- I just wrote it, when I probably ought to have been sleeping! I hope it makes sense...)

Math Power

Another quick note, in the "Breaking News" category: Patricia Clark Kenschaft's book, Math Power, has just been published in a revised edition. This is a very important book for me -- it says so much of what I believe about children/math/learning, and I wish every parent and teacher would read it!! Pat Kenschaft is a great writer with wide interests including a passion for math and for the environment, among other things. I met her serendipitously at the MAA/AMS Meeting in January 2005 after being a fan of hers for a number of years. She is a very warm and energetic individual with broad interests and a wealth of knowledge on so many topics. At the time I met her she was beginning to get a little discouraged about getting Math Power republished, but her efforts have finally come to fruition. I was delighted to be able to encourage her in these efforts, and to be of some small help in making the new edition for useful for homeschooling parents.
Please check out the book on Amazon.com -- there is a long excerpt from the introduction to the new edition. (And you might see the name of someone you know in there!) Request that your local library order the book, buy it for any parents of young children that you know, and/or do what you can to get the word out on this terrific resource.
Incidentally, Ms. Kenschaft has just finished with another book (on women and minorities in mathematics), and is working on yet another book project about math as well. I'll keep you posted on those...

Stop global warming!

Please click on the link above to find out more about this movement. They ask that we give them a list of folks to send the message out to, but I hesitate to give them e-mail addresses because I don't see on their privacy notice that they don't share them. So please go to this page and sign up if you are so inclined! At least read what is there -- it is vital information for all of us. The current administration is downplaying the seriousness of the situation so we must educate ourselves about this huge issue and take action on persoanl, local, national and global levels every time we see a way to do this.

I'll try to write more later -- the weekend was great!! We arrived back here at about 12:30 a.m. so I'm moving a little slowly this morning. Dan is off at Dilworth Coffee getting his morning started.


Thursday, November 03, 2005

Oh boy oh boy oh boy!

I'm off to the airport to pick up Dan!! Then tomorrow off to his high school reunion, and visiting friends we haven't seen in awhile. It's been a long day, and I will try to write about it sometime soon, but with the upcoming travels I don't know when that could be...

Also, good news -- my work has picked up some! So I am not so worried about the immediate future....

In the meantime, Love to you all.