Sunday, August 13, 2006

Back from Mathfest!

Well, I'm back from what I think will be my last "major" trip for awhile (it was real short in comparison to the one to CA...) Mathfest was a lot of fun, and I got some new ideas to use in my teaching this year, as well as a boost to the breadth and depth of my understanding of mathematics...and a healthy dose of humility-restoring experiences (as if the CA trip didn't have enough of those!) One of the most interesting sessions I went to was about a really strange kind of multiplication that had results like 4 x 3 = 18 and 5^2 = 100. It made sense once I got used to it, though it took a few minutes since I missed the first bit. Other good sessions addressed issues around teaching proof to high school and college students (several different sessions), continuity and differentiability of functions in two variables (with some really great graphics!) as applied to teaching beginning calculus, the inquiry method of teaching, and math anxiety. I reconnected with some friends there whom I don't get to see very often -- that's one of the best things for me about going to these meetings, the other best thing is just being around a whole lot of people who enjoy math as much as I do! (A couple of the friends I ran into were Pat Kenschaft and her husband Fred. Pat is the author of Math Power, and she has a new book out which looks to be an excellent read, Change is Possible: Stories of Women and Minorities in Mathematics.) I also found some new and interesting resources in the exhibit area, some of which I brought back with me.

One of the things I thought about while on this trip was about restaurants -- how much fun it would be to have my own or work in one (which is something I've never done.) This idea falls into the realm of pipe-dreams, I'm afraid, but it gave me something new to think about and explore. On the way home from Knoxville last night, my friend Anne T. and I stopped at a restaurant in Black Mountain, Cafe Bijan, which had wonderful food. We split the Fish Tacos (four small handmade tortillas with tilapia, mango chutney, pineapple, etc.) and Montreat Salad (delicious fresh salad greens with herb-crusted goat cheese, walnuts, dried cranberries, and other goodies with I think a homemade raspberry viniagrette dressing) and cheesecake with caramel sauce and blueberries for dessert. All of it was scrumptious, but I especially loved the goat cheese/salad combination. The owner would love to have a partner or some real help -- she does all the cooking and waits tables besides -- so if you are looking for this sort of a work experience, or know someone who is, get in touch with Michelle. (I have her phone number if you need it -- I don't know if the one at the link above is good, but she gave me another.) Another great restaurant from the trip was Tomato Head which is located at Market Square in downtown Knoxville. We ate there twice, and sampled such things as the "Kepner Melt" (a vegetarian sandwich), Salad with Tuna, and Bean Quesadilla. A friend tried the pizza (Number 3, which had lamb sausage and various other stuff) and enjoyed it. This restaurant reminded me of one I frequented in St. Louis in my brief college stint there. I think it was called "Grandma's" and served mostly soup and bread, and had the same kind of atmosphere as Tomato Head, though a little less refined.

Well, that's about all for now -- I've got to get to work on decluttering this apartment after a summer of neglect!!

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