Saturday, September 30, 2006

back online!!

It's been a long, sloooww month (esp. w.r.t my internet connection), but in some ways it has sped by. My work has picked up almost to the point where it was last April! As usual, students have been coming and going, and my schedule is like nailing jello to a wall... That effect seems to be the result of a combination of some students trying to find the right tutor and others coming out of their "denial" (as in, "I think this year I'll be able to do the math without help even though I really didn't get math from about 6th grade on and had to have a tutor last year in geometry/algebra2/pre-calc just to keep my head above water....") Anyway, it has made for some interesting weeks for me. The ratio of new students to returnees is about 1:1. (Speaking of ratios, I have this bumper sticker [thanks, Linda and Tommy!] posted on the wall across from my tutoring set-up, right where the students can't miss seeing it, that says, "4 out of 3 people have trouble with fractions", and the students love it -- well, the ones that get it do anyhow... the rest probably think it's just another boring statistic!) Charlotte Mecklenburg Schools has helped my business a lot by going to a 4 by 4 schedule (also click here) for this year, which means that students who were having trouble with keeping up the pace of a year-long course are now taking their math courses at twice the speed, and crashing and burning in September rather than gradually falling behind and calling in late October like they did on the old schedule. I'm also teaching four classes this year (last year I had one class) and so far that's looking like a good move.

Yesterday one of my youngest students walked me through a program to multiply binomials that he wrote for his graphing calculator. I struggled to keep up with his explanation -- obviously, he is not with me for remediation! -- but it was great to be witness to such mathematical creativity. Another student required an etiquette lesson: "How to properly address adults, especially one's teachers." Spending an hour with this fellow reminded me of an observation I once made that my girls and their friends at age 13 would, in exasperation, eschew the company of their male agemates, only to sing the praises of the same guys three or four years later. It will be interesting to see how this both these 8th graders change and mature over the next few years. A few days ago a student I was working with on SAT prep had an "aha" experience that was just wonderful, giving him a renewed confidence and motivation: the joy of that moment was written all over his face, and we both cheered out loud! I'm working with a couple of homeschooled students who got behind in their math and are playing catch-up, and it has been great to see how they have picked up all sorts of new skills over the past eight months that we have worked together. Lots of other interesting things have happened recently, and others are about to happen, including Frances and Jonathan's impending move to Baltimore! More about all this in future posts. I hope to be a more regular blogger from now on.

Friday, September 15, 2006

Problems, and they aren't the mathematical sort...

I had some rather unpleasant moments late this afternoon.... For one thing, I found out that I won't be able to continue with Earthlink DSL. I am too far away (21,000 feet, to be exact.) I can't explain this, it doesn't make any sense, but there it is. The search for a new ISP begins. Your ideas and suggestions are welcome.

Also the NC dept of revenue still can't find the money that I sent them to pay my taxes last year. I don't know where it is. I sure don't have it. The back of the form they sent this time (which lets me know that in addition to the interest they charged me in the last notice, now I owe a $166 penalty and additional interest as well) advises that one of my two options is to pay the money I "owe" and then sue them to get it back. Fat chance. I'm working on my response to this latest waste of my time and the taxpayers' money...

A good friend told me that bad things come in threes. The third thing was I found out that I missed Annie Proulx, who spoke at Davidson last night. I was very sad about that -- I loved her Shipping News and would have loved to hear her speak.

The redeeming experience of the day was seeing Little Miss Sunshine tonight -- what a great movie! Some really good laughs, and the final scenes are absolutely perfect.

Click here to get an inkling of my plans for tomorrow....

Thursday, September 14, 2006

more about Sister Simone

Today the Charlotte Observer published a column about Sister Simone Campbell's talk/workshop at St. Peter Catholic Church in downtown Charlotte last Saturday. (See my post entitled "Network" below, for more about Sister Simone.) This is a good author (Mary Curtis) and an informative though brief article. The link is here.

Tuesday, September 12, 2006


Probably the most bloggable thing that I've experienced in the past few weeks was attending Sr. Simone Campbell's talk at the Oratory on Sunday. Sr. Simone is the national coordinator of Network, the national Catholic social justice lobby. She spoke about politics and contemplation and how they relate, and of course about social justice, and the themes of social justice that shape Network's vision of a just society. Sr. Simone is a terrific speaker, very engaging and down-to-earth, and she knows so much about what is going on in our country and the world. I highly recommend the Network website and the organization.

In general, my life has been rather full of activity for the past few weeks. I haven't had DSL up and running since August 27, so that's a drag, but otherwise things are going well. I'm too tired to write more right now, but hopefully tonight I'll be able to catch up on sleep a little. Blessings!

Friday, September 01, 2006

Trader Joe's

News flash: This stodgy city will be getting a Trader Joe's in the near future!!! It was announced in the business section of the Observer this morning. The article also mentions that we really are getting a Whole Foods - actually, 2 of them! - and another Earthfare. There's going to be a natural foods store glut around here, at least in the 'burbs and the Southpark area. (As usual, the people on the north, west and east sides of town are being ignored....) The Trader Joe's is going into a former Harris Teeter location at Piper Glen, which is not terribly far from where I live. The fact that it's going into an existing building is good news -- we don't have to wait for a whole new building to be built, as is the case with the other places I mentioned.