Sunday, December 16, 2007

Corollary to the "When Mama ain't happy" saying...

I just want to say, when Mama's kids are happy, Mama's happy! So I'm happy today! (See here and here to see why.) The third kid and the two spouses haven't weighed in online, but I'm reasonably sure they are happy, too. (Though I think one of them has a sore throat? I hope her hubby is taking good care of her...)
I'm also happy because we had .88" of rain in the past 24 hours. ("A lot" for us these days is anything more than a quarter of an inch!)

Thursday, December 06, 2007

Long time no here...

I know it's been a long while since I posted... I've been busy with this and that...
One thing is, I brought 90 books into the house at one time (that's a record for me) and now I am trying to sell most of them... (Hopefully I'll get to post about that tomorrow or Saturday!)

Also I was away for awhile. And had some company, too. All good :-)

Anyhow, I am enjoying listening to The Yiddish Policemen's Union, by Michael Chabon on tape as I ride back and forth to the emerald city almost daily... Also have discovered a new (to me) e-mail list to be on -- as if I had time to read another thing -- but it's by a favorite writer, James C. Howell, who is a Methodist minister at Myers Park Methodist Church in Charlotte. He is the author of Servants, Misfits and Martyrs: Saints and Their Stories, among other titles, and he has written a number of columns for the Charlotte Observer.

Saturday, November 10, 2007

flying high

I know I shouldn't be awake at 5:30 after going to bed so late, but I woke up with a belly laugh, just like I went to sleep: one of the last things I did last night was look at Facebook, and there was a comment on this photo from Lizzie. The comment was, "That's an AIRPLANE?" It brought on one of those laughs that comes up from way down inside, a really satisfying outburst. I slept like a baby, until I woke up at 5:11 with everything coming together in my mind. The photo...the conversation with willowlaughter I had earlier in the day about the poor quality of airplane air ("as bad as a very smoggy day in L.A." -- learned from NPR's Science Friday)... the fact that I had just made my forty-hundredth airline reservation this year (yes, "forty-hundredth" is a number, I'm a mathematician and I know!)... and a blog post was born.
First of all, I didn't even notice the odd way the plane was decorated. That's partly due to the fact that I have very little decorating sense, but also because everybody expected airplanes to look like that back in the day. Flying on an airplane used to be FUN! Here were some of the attractions for me -- and some of them still exist: anybody could come see you off at the gate (sometimes it was a real party!), and once you got on there were no phones to answer (this could soon change), comfy seats with lots of pillows and real blankets, plenty of free food and drink (I remember at least once eating a steak meal - in coach! With a real knife to cut with. No, I wasn't always a vegetarian...), no TV and of course no movies (there wasn't even a way to do that at home), no potential terrorist threat (although the occasional plane was hijacked, you didn't have to worry unless you were flying near Cuba), a lovely assortment of magazines for your reading pleasure (no SkyMall or airline mags back then), steaming washcloths 2/3 of the way through the flight to freshen up a bit (that's what Joseph is doing in this other photo), free playing cards and wings for the kiddies (and probably other stuff, too -- they were all into entertaining children) and when you got off the plane, your friends and/or family were there to meet you at the gate! Ah, those were the days! We didn't have problems with people raging at the flight attendants. Of course, the downside was people were allowed to smoke on the airplane, if they sat in "the back" (meaning the last half of the plane!) I guess why I like flying (or did, until I OD'd on it with at least 14 flight-segments this past year - a personal "best") is I am still living in those days, back in my mind. Pure escapism, like going to the movies -- only better, because you get to create your own plot, with the backdrop being the scenery out the window and the lovely, colorful decor. I loved it. And here I go again!

Thursday, November 08, 2007

Expanding my vocabulary

I've never seen a myrmidon
I never hope to see one.
But I can tell you anyhow
I'd rather see than be one!

p.s. This exercise (but not the word!) reminds me of my father, whose birthday it is today. He would pick a vocabulary word (out of a 1000-word box we kept handy) and post it at work. He "required" his apprentices (? interns? I hesitate to call them myrmidons...) to use the word appropriately in a sentence sometime during the day. He also liked it when we did that... and it became our habit to ask him what the "word of the day" was and talk about it a bit, at dinner? breakfast? (My memory is so fuzzy -- maybe one of my brothers can help me out here... I wish we could recreate some of these long ago moments...) Anyway, Dad loved words (as does my mom) and it appears this love of words is shared by his grandson -- and Dad would have relished this new exercise instituted by Z!

Tuesday, November 06, 2007

The non-violent way of life: an example

I just read this excellent essay by John Dear, and couldn't restrain myself from sharing it with my readers. I have not been to the Abbey of Gethsemani before, but I have been to the Trappist abbeys at Moncks Corner, SC, and in Conyers, GA: Mepkin Abbey and the Monastery of the Holy Spirit respectively. I can attest to the strong spirit of peace in these places. Reading John Dear's article makes me want to go to Mepkin for another visit. Alas, my path does not head in that direction anytime in the near future... but in the meantime there is The Oratory, a sanctuary within the bustle of college and town life, with peace-filled prayer opportunities and a community dedicated in all sorts of ways to social justice and non-violence issues.

Sunday, November 04, 2007

Speaking of Faith

Thanks to the time change, I just heard an interesting discussion* of what is behind the current events in Burma. One thing that struck me was when the guest was talking of "lovingkindness", which is also the subject of a book I'm currently reading, The Sacred Art of Lovingkindness: Preparing to Practice, by Rami Shapiro. Lovingkindness is a practice that I first read about in Rabbi Joseph Telushkin's books, and it is sorely needed in our world today, especially in our culture.
Other interesting aspects of the discussion: how Buddhist spirituality affects the way the people of Myanmar respond to oppression, the reasons behind the monks' marches, and the whole concept of power in different cultures.
Well, that's what's on my mind today. Now I'm off to do my laundry.
*At this link you will find the program online as well as downloads for MP3 and iPod.

Sunday, October 28, 2007

Dead Man Walking

Just a quick post about tonight... Sr. Helen Prejean, the author of the book Dead Man Walking, has come to Winthrop University in Rock Hill. She was at Mass tonight and gave the homily, then after Mass a lot of us went to a reception for her followed by a preview of the play, Dead Man Walking. That's a story in itself, because the play was supposed to be held in the black box theater in Johnson Hall, but there was a fire there Friday so they had to move to a lecture hall in Rutledge. (Maybe Em can enlighten us on how difficult this may have been.) I talked with the set designer and the stage manager afterwards and they told us that the play is technologically heavy (did I say that right?) and not having their sound system at all really hurt tonight. The performance was still great, imho... The actors did a terrific job! And the stage manager was really on her toes :-)
After the play I overheard Sr Helen talking with the cast. She told them that acting was a very important vocation, that through their participation in drama they were open to new ways of looking at things, and they opened up their hearts to new ways of feeling. She was so affirming of these young actors, it was really terrific to be there and witness this. It was also touching to see her greet the actress who played the lead (i.e., Sr. Helen)with a big hug... she was just such a loving affirming person.
I get to go hear Sr. Helen speak tomorrow night at Winthrop -- a couple of my students jumped ship because of a CMS break. Yay! (She is also speaking Tuesday night at Davidson College -- fyi, in case anyone in the area is reading this...) This is all very challenging, but I feel like I need to understand this issue better. And it really isn't just one issue...

Saturday, October 27, 2007

Heads up, book lovers!

Anybody who knows me more than just a little knows I'm pretty much of a book nut... I frequent independent booksellers and used bookstores and library book sales when the opportunity arises. One of my goals in life is to have a lot of time to read...but I'm not there yet! Anyhow, I thought some of my fellow book lovers would be interested in knowing that Better World Books (BWB) now has an online store,, where you can buy books with free (in U.S.) environmentally-friendly shipping. (Shipping overseas is very cheap: $2.97) The website is pretty easy to use, and a portion of the profit supports non-profit organizations working to promote literacy. (I'm curious to find out what that portion is -- I've sent them an e-mail and should hear back in a couple of days.)

I became familiar with BWB last spring through my interest in Room to Read and just got around to sending them the first of (hopefully) several boxes of books in support of Room to Read. (see my March 22 '07 post for more info...)

Sunday, October 21, 2007

Distractions: Doctor Who, Foyle, sunrises, Kant, etc.

Just found this website (thanks to jonathan) and thought this particular article might be of interest to some of those who read my blog. I keep hearing about the new Doctor Who and wish I could see it sometime. Maybe that's something I should put on my Netflix list? Meanwhile I have started watching Foyle's War on another friend's recommendation and will probably continue to get the videos of these for awhile. They are very good plus this is a period of history and location in which I am very interested.

Also an interesting article I found in the Christian Science Monitor...

Okay now I've got to stop avoiding paying the bills!

(p.s. - click the title above for the sunrises article...

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Franciscan news

A link to an article about Fr. Louis Vitale's peace-making efforts... I hope and pray he doesn't have to go to prison for this!! I become more disgusted every day with the people who are in power in this country...

Sunday, October 14, 2007


I'm planning to walk in the CROP Walk in Rock Hill on October 21 (next Sunday!) This will be the first time I have participated as a walker after years of being a sponsor, so I'm pretty excited about it. I sent out an e-mail just now to a bunch of folks, but I may very well have missed somebody who reads this blog... so just in case, I thought I'd post about it also. Here's what I said in the e-mail (in addition to what I said above):

Here's a link to information about the CROP Walk, which is a fundraiser for Church World Service. Also, 1/4 of the funds raised in the Rock Hill CROP Walk stay in Rock Hill to support local efforts to relieve hunger and poverty. One of these local efforts is Pilgrim's Inn, which I have been lending some practical support to since before my move last summer.

I ask several things of you:

First: your prayers for the success of this endeavor, as it is a very worthwhile project that has positive effects on the lives of so many of the poorest people in our nation and world.

Second: any financial support you can offer. I'm trying to work out a way for my sponsors to make online donations but until I get that worked out the thing to do is send me a check made out to CWS/CROP. Any amount you can send will be a help.
(If you want to make an online donation let me know and I'll e-mail you when that is set up. Also, let me know by posting here or by e-mail if you need my address.)

Third: see if there is a CROP WALK coming up in your area that you can support, either by walking or by sponsoring.

Thanks for any help you can give to this effort!

Friday, September 28, 2007

two interesting books...

Just a couple I found this week that look very interesting -- I've checked them out from the library so can hopefully report on them soon...
The Flexitarian Table/Peter Berley and The not so big life : making room for what really matters / Sarah Susanka.

More later...

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

more about the Free Cycle adventure

So, I'm still tired (or tired again, is more like it) but I wanted to elaborate on why I posted the "Free-cycle" post. When the person I bought this condo from moved in June, she left me a cupboard on the screen porch (which I was happy about) full of paint and gardening stuff and junk (which I was not happy about!) I finally got around to cleaning it out this past weekend -- it's been too hot out there when I have thought about doing it before -- and I found it was even more full of old paint and other junk than I remembered. So, I figured I would have to cart the paint over to the recycling center in Fort Mill. But when I was taking a break in the afternoon I was poking around on the web, and something I saw there reminded me of Freecycle, a site I had heard about in the past, where some people give away things they no longer need, and other people ask for things they need in case anyone has that to give away. So I joined the Rock Hill and the Charlotte Freecycle groups, and posted an ad offering the paint, etc., on the Rock Hill site. I didn't know what to expect, so I didn't get my hopes up, but I received five responses before the day was out, and have now given away most of the paint and all the extra painting paraphernalia and the excess flower pots that were in the cupboard! And the rest is promised. Now I am trying to think of other stuff to give away... Maybe somebody will want some of my surplus math books :-)

Sunday, September 23, 2007


Check out the link above. I'll explain later, but now it's time to call it a day and turn off the computer!

Saturday, September 22, 2007

Yom Kippur

A poem in the prayer-book I was using at Temple Beth El during Kol Nidre last evening:

Birth is a beginning
and death a destination
And life is a journey:
From childhood to maturity
and youth to age;
From innocence to awareness
and ignorance to knowing;
From foolishness to desecration
and then perhaps to wisdom.
From weakness to strength or
from strength to weakness
and often back again;
From health to sickness
and we pray to health again.
From offense to forgiveness
from loneliness to love
from joy to gratitude
from pain to compassion
from grief to understanding
from fear to faith.
From defeat to defeat to defeat
until looking backwards or ahead
We see that victory lies not
at some high point along the way
but in having made the journey
step by step
a sacred pilgrimage.
Birth is a beginning
and death a destination
And life is a journey;
A sacred journey to life everlasting

By: Rabbi Alvin I. Fine

Thursday, September 20, 2007

very bumpy re-entry...

Tutors, too, have been known to sleep on the job. This is particularly a problem after returning from a trip to a place three time zones away...

Will Friday never get here???

Sunday, September 09, 2007


First Math Club meeting for this school year went well yesterday, for the most part. My porch has new screens now. The office is emptier (the porch furniture is back where it belongs at last!) and I'm getting through some backlog of paperwork. Progress -- something to be happy about!
Oh, and about the title of this post: there is a lot more information here.

Thursday, September 06, 2007

Rock Hill makes the funnies!

Thanks to Marsha for giving me a "heads-up" about this comic. I'm a little behind on my newspaper-reading due to crazy/full schedule, prep for upcoming Math Club meeting, and other responsibilities...

Tomorrow I get to stay home all day (I think) and I hope to clean up this place and do some hard thinking about and arranging for next week, when The Schedule will be thrown into chaos by my mom's birthday celebration. And maybe there will be time for a nap in there somewhere... and the screen-fixing guy will be coming to replace the torn screens on my screen porch, which is almost useable now that the weather has cooled down to the low 90's! :)

Can't think what else to write at the's past my bedtime!

Sunday, August 19, 2007

A not very productive day...

It must be past my bedtime... I just got through typing an e-mail that I had to get out, and my cursor disappeared while I was writing it and refused to come back. Annoying! Anybody know why that happens?

Two more lightbulbs went out this weekend. It's been an epidemic of lightbulb demise around here lately. That make four in the past week. I'm going to replace everything with compact flourescent as they go....

Saturday, August 18, 2007

Cooling off!'s down to a nice, cool 86 degrees F (feels like 87) here in Rock Hill this evening. If I get up real early tomorrow, it will be down to 69 overnight. Now that's walking weather!

There was another story about Trader Joe's in today's paper. Here's the link, for you TJ shoppers out there...

I finally saw Ratatouille today. It was good, though I think I need to see it again to catch everything. Some of those scenes are jam-packed with interesting stuff. While at the theater I noticed that the Susan Cooper book The Dark Is Rising has been made into a movie. I remember enjoying those books years ago -- I think my kids and I read some of them out loud to each other...?

Oh, oops -- I forgot the other thing I did today (well I did lots of things, but this was a standout): I finished the 7th Harry Potter book this morning. It is the best of the series, I think. Really, really good; a satisfying read.

Friday, August 17, 2007

Random thoughts and links...

***Sylvia : may I please have one of these Cokes next time I take a red-eye???? :-)

***interesting segment on Charlotte Talks this morning about herbs and spices:
Friday August 17, 2007 -- Herbs and Wild Edible Plants
It's our monthly food show with Chef Peter Reinhart and others. We'll discuss wild plants of our region that can be used in raw and cooked meals. We'll also talk about the importance of herbs and spices in cooking.
Guests: Peter Reinhart - Chef-In-Residence, Johnson and Wales University
"Wildman" Steve Brill - Naturalist, Environmental Educator, Author and
Broadcaster [He was very interesting, and funny, too]
Deborah Moore Cook - Master Gardener, Herbalist and college instructor
[She had a great tip about how to save basil if you grow a lot of it: make a slurry in your blender with basil leaves and olive oil, then freeze it flattened out in a ziploc bag, and break off pieces when you need basil in a recipe.]
Find links to past Charlotte Talks episodes here.

***Mission Organization: a TV show that Susie D., who called me this evening, put me onto. I'm checking out the website, since I don't get HGTV, but those of you who can get this channel might enjoy the actual show...

***For all you jazz fans out there, this is a great segment of Talk of the Nation that was on yesterday. It isn't just talk, it's delicious music, so enjoy!

***last, but not least, two new stores opened in Charlotte this week: Earthfare, which already had a store in Ballantyne (south of Pineville) opened up a second store Wednesday very near Southpark Mall, and Trader Joe's opened up a store today off Rea Rd. between the Pink Monstrosity and Stonecrest/I-485. (I think Trader Joe's has another store near UNCC but I don't know if it's open yet or not.) Here's an enlightening story about Trader Joe's from Wednesday's Charlotte Observer. (and another...and some recipes -- this story's a little goofed up--look for the recipe titles at the end of the previous recipe...)

Sunday, August 05, 2007

video game music in the news

For those of you who like music and/or video games (I think there is a lot of overlap in my readership on these two interests!) there was a segment on Weekend Edition this morning about the Video Games Live concert tour. It includes a full orchestra and choir combined with synchronized lighting, video, live action and audience interactivity. A quote from the NPR story about Video Games Live:
“If Beethoven were alive today, he would be a video-game composer. ... He was always ahead of the curve. His whole thing in music was to control the emotions of the person listening to it.” -- Video Games Live organizer Tommy Tallarico
I think this tour has been going on for awhile, so maybe you-all already know about it, but I thought it sounded very interesting!

btw, speaking of Beethoven, there was a Beethoven Extravaganza yesterday in New York that I am sorry I missed. Hearing the story made me want to head over to the library (oops, closed on Sunday) to check out a pile of Beethoven cd's....

Friday, August 03, 2007

humor and [unrelated] science news...

Talk of the Nation-Science Friday is one of my favorite radio programs, and today they have had several good segments. Here's one that caught my attention in particular today -- it was about the placebo effect. Really interesting research. btw, another story earlier in the program was about voting machines, a topic of interest to some of you.

Also, I have been wanting for some time to post a link to Jeff Elder's "Glad You Asked" column in the Charlotte Observer. Yesterday's column (8/2/07) really struck my funnybone, but there have been a couple of other recent ones that I think the music aficionados in my readership might enjoy. (These are "Straight up: Can You Name That Tune?" and "Oh Girl, You're Killing Me Softly.") One other recent funny column for the music buffs is here...

(I revised this later to include some missing links...)

Monday, July 16, 2007


I had choices: either I was going to have to do something like what is pictured in the link above, or I was going to have to get rid of the massive amounts of styrofoam that were piling up in an ecologically sound way: reduce (been doing that) re-use, or recycle. I had found a place to recycle the stuff in Cherryville, which is almost an hours' drive from here, so I was waiting until I had a big load. But then I figured if I was going to Cherryville, I might as well go the rest of the way to Asheville, so made arrangements to visit with Cindy and Marti, and planned to attend a family reunion/party in W. Asheville the next day. To make a long story short, during a conversation with Cindy just prior to my leaving home, I mentioned that I would be dropping off the styrofoam to be recycled, and she got all excited because she has been needing some styrofoam for a project she is working on. So I ended up with the "re-use" option instead of the "recycle" option. (Thanks, Cindy!) And none of it ended up in the landfill. Hopefully the next place it goes people will find ways to re-use it as well.

I had a good time in Asheville, and came back not quite so discouraged by the boxes that are still ubiquitous...

Thursday, July 12, 2007

"Ivy Alert!"

I'm thinking about maybe planting some ivy (see above link) right inside my new abode, to cover up the boxes, which are everywhere. It would be a whole lot prettier...probably wouldn't get enough sunlight, though.

Lots has happened in the past month; the fun part is documented here and here and also here... I'm going to try to post some photos soon, too. I finally got mine back yesterday.

I don't have photos of my move (who would want to look at photos of sweaty 50-somethings toting a lifetime of stuff around, anyway?) but rest assured the move did happen, and I am daily dealing with the aftermath. I'm trying to spread the "joy" around as much as possible by loading up my car with stuff to recycle and dumping it various places, though I did the first part of that today but didn't get to the dumping part because I was working too much with students today and ran out of time. Maybe -- hopefully! -- tomorrow.

Oh, by the way, the title of this post was because I thought of our "kudzu alerts" of years ago when I saw the ivy photo. And then thinking of kudzu reminded me, with sadness, of the untimely death a couple days ago of Doug Marlette, who was a wonderful political cartoonist and worked for the Charlotte Observer for many years as well. He also had a comic strip named "Kudzu".

Saturday, June 09, 2007

further searching for humor...

...turned up the following:

Factorials were someone's attempt to make math *look* exciting.
(I can add this to my post a few days ago on math humor)

And click the title above for a link to, finally, a moving story!

moving is sometimes funny but mostly just a lot of work

Major accomplishments today so far:
Called moving company and scheduled the move
Packed nine boxes so far with lots of help from Marsha
Threw out a bunch of papers
Discarded about a dozen AMC complete results booklets
Called Dzidra to make sure she is still taking students (she is)
Listened to Car Talk (that counts as "learning about cars")
Attempted but gave up on a sudoku puzzle (giving up was the accomplishment)
Read some funny jokes* (click on link above)
...and it's only 1:21 p.m.!

*I was looking for jokes about moving but couldn't find any.

Sunday, June 03, 2007

funny math lists

To prepare for the last meeting of this year's Algebra 2 class, I printed out a few lists from this site for my students. The ones I printed -- my favorites, at least of the ones I had time to read -- are Top 10 Math Homework Excuses; e and Pi -- Top ten lists; Murphy's Law and Mathematics; and Ten Commandments of Mathematics (this last one I'd seen before but I figured they hadn't.) I also shared some xkcd humor with them -- this one in particular since we'd been studying functions all year and doing lots of graphing... The handout was very well-received and ended the year on an upbeat note. I loved teaching this class. They were a really great group, well-matched in ability and hard-workers. I'm going to miss them!

End-of-school-year blitz almost over...

I've missed writing, but it's been a little crazy in my life between preparing to move (the closing is this week)and having a lot of students on my schedule (which is in an even worse state of flux than usual because of exams) and having company this weekend (though that doesn't excuse the previous almost three weeks of silence...)

I did get on the web a bit this morning to read postings to a new blog and browse a bit... also uncovered this interesting article, but now I have to go work on the list I made for myself at about 2 a.m. before the day gets away from me. As I said, the closing is this week but I will not be moving until near the end of the month because of other plans

Monday, May 14, 2007

more freebies

Does anyone need a small portable tape recorder with an AC adapter? I have one I'm going to take to Goodwill if no one wants it...

Roy Blount, Jr. on Talk of the Nation

I enjoyed hearing Roy Blount, Jr., on Talk of the Nation last Thursday. I like to listen to Roy anytime, but this was especially good, as Neal Conan is a very good interviewer and gave Roy lots of opportunity to just be himself. Click on the title above for a link to the show.

National Breastfeeding Week... Britain! And why can't we do that here in the USA?! (Click on the title above for more info)

Sunday, May 13, 2007

Mother's Day

Having a slow, take-it-easy kind of day... I've been meaning to write a new post but other things, like packing and helping people understand math have taken precedence. Time flies...
I've been finding a lot of interesting things while packing. Also am managing to unload some of my books -- yay! Let me know if you want any of them... Here's a partial list:
Green Dolphin Street (Hardcover),Towers in the Mist, and The Bird in the Tree, all by Elizabeth Goudge
Bring Me a Unicorn, by Anne Morrow Lindbergh
Growing Up Happy, by Bob Keeshan ("Captain Kangaroo", whom I used to watch on TV every morning when I was a kid)
Legends of our Time, by Elie Wiesel
Understanding Media and The Medium is the Massage, by Marshall McLuhan
Compulsory Mis-Education and the Community of Scholars, by Paul Goodman
C. G. Jung, by Anthony Storr
A Bag of Marbles, by Joseph Joffo
On Learning to Read, by Briuno Bettelheim and Karen Zelan
The Red Tent, by Anita Diamant
I'd Rather Laugh, by Linda Richman (mother-in-law of Mike Myers)
Ellen Foster, by Kaye Gibbons
The Story of the Trapp Family Singers, by Maria Augusta Trapp
Father Joe, by Tony Hendra
Gilead, by Marilynne Robinson
Irons in the Fire, by John McPhee
The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time, by Mark Haddon
Dancing at the Rascal Fair, by Ivan Doig
Neither Here nor There, travels in Europe, by Bill Bryson
Flying Visits, an irresistible guided tour of just about everywhere, by Clive James

...and various math textbooks...

Anyway, I'm making some progress, but every time I look in the boxes of books I have second thoughts, so I'm going to put the lids on these boxes until I hear from people that want the books therein... I won't be getting rid of these (and hopefully they will be joined by many more!) until mid-June or so. Let me know if you want any...

Monday, April 30, 2007

Joshua Bell, street musician...

I know some of my readers are big Joshua Bell fans, and I love to hear him anytime, too. Anyway, just in case you missed this article about him, here's the link... It's a must-read!

Saturday, April 28, 2007

Changing domicile - for sure!

Just a quick post to let those of you who have been following my quest for a place to buy that I signed the contract on a condo (the one I found Monday) this morning! The closing will be June 8 and I'll move the last week of June. I'm so excited! Thanks to all for your support through this process!

Thursday, April 19, 2007


Tonight it's been raining all evening, one of those steady rains that soaks the ground and helps to make this city such a lush and green environment...

As usual, it's also "raining" good news stories... this morning's Charlotte Talks was an excellent discussion about how people are working to effect change in the local public schools... I heard that there was going to be a segment this morning on NPR's Morning Edition about breastfeeding, but I haven't gone to their site and listened to it yet (I was tied up during M.E. time)... even the comedians on Fresh Air today were funny and interesting.
Anybody else out there heard any good radio lately??

Tuesday, April 17, 2007

speaking out against torture and war

Frs. John Dear, Steve Kelly, Louis Vitale and many, many others continue to speak out as Christians against the practice of torture and against the war and weapons of all sorts. Go to this site and read about their efforts to stop torture and war and to raise the consciousness of all about what is really going on in this country w.r.t. war, torture, weapons, etc. The lack of outcry about the inhumanity of all this is beyond comprehension.

Thursday, April 12, 2007

More radio...

I caught the last part of this interview with Jonathan Cohn on yesterday's Fresh Air on the replay of the show last night. This was the clearest analysis of the problems with health care in this country that I have ever heard.

Polar Bears

This comic would be more amusing if it didn't ring so true!

Monday, April 09, 2007

Random gleanings from lots of radio listening...

I've been listening to the radio a lot lately, and came across a few things that were interesting and enlightening enough to spread around:

A fascinating story about physics that was on NPR's All Things Considered tonight. I was fascinated by it -- the way they told the story, as well as the story itself - it made me feel like I was right there. I'm sure a lot of people I know, some of whom read this blog, will not consider this story "news", but it was the first I'd heard of it and it sounded pretty cool. My favorite bit was the response of German safety engineer Christoph Schaefer (sic) when he was asked, "What would happen if [the 200-ton magnet] were to fall on your foot?"

One of our local morning programs, Charlotte Talks, fortunately has an encore in the evening when I am usually able to tune in. Today's guest was Dr. Phil Goscienski, a proponent of a "Stone Age Diet". I had not heard of this before, and it was intriguing, though I wasn't converted. I agreed with a lot of what he said, like eating a variety of fruits and vegetables, and lots of them, is important, and that physical exercise is one of the best things we can do to avoid health problems in general and diabetes in particular. But one of the oddest things I heard was about a restaurant in Washington, DC. (The reference to the restaurant is near the end of the article. I'm sorry to report that it sounds as though it is long gone...) This info was sent in by a listener in response to Dr. G's prediction that the next generation will find a certain kind of creature to be common on restaurant menus.
Anyway, the talk got a little weird at times, but lots of what was said was right on the mark.

Here's something I didn't learn on the radio, but just researched on the web and found out about: it is possible to recycle styrofoam coolers and the styrofoam pieces that are used to package electronics securely. These types of styrofoam, which are really Expanded PolyStyrene or EPS, are recycled all over the country. I found this website that lists all the places in the US to take EPS for recycling. Check it out! (I might head out to Cherryville to take a load one day this week...)

Those are all the stories I remember right now, but I hope to put up some more links soon to some other interesting things I have heard about or read about.

Thursday, March 29, 2007

Links of interest...

...some found serendipitously, some searched for...

Carolina moon photos

Jeff Elder's column today in the Charlotte Observer (esp. for Jenny and Curtis)

the making of some really great chocolate

Thursday, March 22, 2007

Room to Read

Just touching base briefly between trips... Tomorrow is the State Mathcounts Competition so I'll be heading up that way this afternoon, and I still have one client coming in less than 15 minutes so I'll have to make this short.

I've been reading Leaving Microsoft to Change the World, by John Wood -- a very exciting book! Please check out their website and give this wonderful cause some serious attention... If you are reading this blog, you are very privileged, not because my blog is so special, but because you had the opportunity to learn to read. This opportunity is denied to many millions of our planet's present inhabitants! For years I have been reading about how reducing illiteracy helps to solve a lot of other problems in poor countries, but I have never seen an organization until now that works so hard, with such great results, to eradicate illiteracy. Please let me know if you are interested in helping me to sponsor a school, a library, or a girl's scholarship. I am seriously considering making the effort to do this, hopefully with help from my friends, family, and clients. The only thing that remains is to figure out how to go about it -- I'm going to read the pertinent info on the Room to Read website as soon as I get back from Durham and hopefully that will get me started.

Sunday, March 11, 2007

Please wear your seat belt!!

Yesterday my daughter, Emily, was a passenger in a car that was broad-sided and flipped over. I realized, as she was telling me late last night about how it happened and how she got out of the car, that wearing her seatbelt definitely saved her life. She was apparently injured the worst of the four people involved in the accident. As it was, she has some lacerations on the bridge of her nose, a swollen forehead, and a terrific headache, but x-rays turned up no broken bones in her neck and elsewhere. I am so grateful she wasn't more badly hurt, and I am ever so grateful that she and the others in the car had the good sense to wear their seatbelts!
Please keep Emily and the others involved that wreck in your prayers as they heal and rest up from the trauma of the experience. And never be in too much of a rush to fasten your seatbelt!

Another post about the wreck is here

Saturday, March 10, 2007

wanting to post...

...but not having the energy, or any great ideas. The photo linked above almost makes me want to see Italy someday. It is not (and has never been) on the top of my list, though -- Scandinavia (especially the fjords and the aurora borealis) has had that honor for years. Scotland and Greece are way up there, too, and talking with S.K. about her upcoming trip to Africa makes me want to see Africa, too.

Anyway, in this fried state I just don't think I can write more. I'll do what I always do when the Feb.-March crunch hits: keep on putting one foot in front of the other, and take each day as it comes, finding pleasure in the little things. And I'll try to write about some of those later....

I hope it snows a little in Evanston next weekend!

Monday, February 26, 2007

being back home feels so good....

It's great to be home, and such nice weather, too!!! Usually I don't like to have spring so soon, but after yesterday's rain it's great to have the deep blue sky and warm temps.

Click here to find out how the team did this weekend! (We won the Computer Programming contest, and had an individual who placed 2nd in Level 3 and a team that placed 2nd in Level 3.)

On the other hand, it seems like there is no end of students who are having trouble with math.... Can we add a few more hours to the day? My schedule is sooo full....

I'll try to post more the meantime, check out Daily Dose of Imagery -- he's had some great snow photos lately, like this one...

Thursday, February 22, 2007


Things have been so crazy lately I almost forgot I had a blog! One of these days I'll get back to writing on it. I miss reading everybody else's blogs, too.

I don't have any big news to report, but I did give up coffee again. It just really does awful things to my body... I'm trying hard to stay away from sugar, too. So far so good. I feel a lot better already.

Also, I figured out how to make my RealPlayer play random selections from my library of music (a "Playlist"), so I've been enjoying good music while making up worksheets to prep the Mathcounts team and replying to e-mails from Charleston contest participants.... I will be so glad to have this weekend behind me. Preparations have not gone smoothly.


Sunday, February 04, 2007

Math counts, but it's only part of the equation...

The past month has been so packed full of things happening, building to a crescendo of sorts. I've been posting regularly through the past few months, and I know I haven't mentioned anything catastrophic, but it's the little things that add up, as well as the more personal stuff that I don't write about here (there's been a lot of that!) So today's a stay-at-home-in-my-nightgown day, at least until I leave for Mass this evening. I need time to process all the stuff that's been going on.

The latest event in the series of recent happenings was yesterday's CHEA team win in our Mathcounts Chapter Competition. The team came in first and we had the first place individual, and as if that wasn't good enough, the team had a perfect score on the team round!! I'm reasonably sure this is the first time a team I've coached has had a perfect team score in competition. Anyway, this means the team goes on to the State competition on March 23rd in Durham (yes, it's a Friday, that isn't a typo.) It's kind of like Groundhog Day all over again: I saw my shadow yesterday and there will be seven more weeks of practice. :-) But I'm very happy to work with this exceptional team -- they are great kids, and obviously work very well together -- so that will make the workload lighter.

Thursday, February 01, 2007

Call for Help

You just never know where websurfing will take you. I was checking out one of my favorite websites, daily dose of imagery, and because of a photo there eventually linked to the site for the TV show Call for Help. Looks interesting. I thought some of my readers (do I have any readers?) might be interested, especially in this segment, which is sort of musical. I didn't actually watch the segment, but I read about it and it sounds interesting. Another link off Call for Help: with all the current interest in climate change and what we can do about it, the Carbon Zero Calculator can be a real eye-opener.
Okay, now I leave you-all to your own websurfing... I've got to quit putting off the office organizing job...


Those of you who don't live in the South might not really appreciate the power of the phrase "Snow Day" in the hearts and minds of our local residents -- children and adults alike! All day yesterday as the snow predictions became further, my students' faces lit up with excitement at the mention of snow. Adults I talked with either rejoiced at the prospect of a snow day or pooh-poohed the idea as a real long shot -- but the latter had a wistful tone in their voices. And now it is a reality. The snow is still coming down, although it is gradually getting finer and finer, and will change to sleet. I didn't need to turn on my radio or open the blinds this morning to know whether it had really snowed or not -- the joyous shrieks of the three little kids who live in the nearby apartments woke me up. Not that I am complaining -- it was music to my ears!

I was looking forward to having a snow day so I would have time to organize and clean up my apartment, but I think first I will have to go for a walk in the snow :-) :-) :-) :-) :-)

9:37 am UPDATE: The snow is coming down in really big flakes now!
1:54 pm UPDATE: I guess we're going to have to rename it a "SLUSH Day"...

Thursday, January 18, 2007

Grass-roots campaign to end genocide in Darfur

A ray of hope in the Darfur situation. Read this article!!!

Okay, everybody can move back to Charlotte now...

It looks like we are going to get an IKEA store here! It won't be until 2009, but that will give everybody time to find a suitable place to live...with lots of room for furniture, bookshelves, picture frames, etc. Then we can all start learning interesting Swedish words. (Well, okay, some of you already had a head start on that!) The store will be in the University City area, and it will be the only IKEA between Washington and Atlanta. (Atlanta has an IKEA?)

In other news, it is precipitating here: sleet and freezing rain, what they daintily call "a wintry mix". It doesn't matter; we all know what they mean... we can hear it falling outside. It makes a whole different sound from rain as it bounces off the trees and roads and sidewalks, kind of a clicking/shushing noise. We always hope that isn't followed by the sound of tree limbs breaking under the weight of accumulated ice, but that isn't predicted to happen...this time. I'm missing my morning walk -- don't want to break any more limbs -- but will be working my usual Thursday schedule. Schools are in session, except for a few of the private and church schools.

NEWS FLASH (7:20 a.m.) -- there's a 12-vehicle accident on the ramp from I-77 to I-485! And I think they just said Independence Blvd. is closed because of ice. Things are sounding worse.

MORE NEWS FLASH!!! History in the making: "Laundry Math" is invented in Charlotte!

Wednesday, January 17, 2007

Conflict resolution

Continuing the theme of this week (with the exception of the Fly Guy blip), I woke up early this morning thinking about conflict resolution, especially on an interpersonal level. This has been an interest of mine for a long time. I grew up with a not-very-healthy "non-exposure" to healthy marital conflict, and went into my marriage with the really odd idea that married couples, if the marriage is really good, don't ever fight or argue or experience any conflict. This notion didn't work too well for me. Thus began an interest in learning more about healthy conflict resolution w.r.t relationships. I can't say I've become an expert on the subject or anything, but I have read some enlightening works over the past few years. One of them is Words that Hurt, Words that Heal, by Rabbi Joseph Telushkin, which came out awhile back but is still very relevant. The way we talk to and about one another really matters. This book was first brought to my attention by an FLT friend who told us about "National Speak No Evil Day." (She also told us about this resource.)

Deborah Tannen has made a career out of researching and teaching about the way people talk with one another. She has several relevant and accessible books on this topic. Her website also has references to a lot of articles and essays she has written on the same topics. (Hmmm, I'm thinking I need to read her latest book, You're Wearing That?! Here's a link to her conversation with Diane Rehm about the book. I love Diane Rehm's show...but that's a topic for another day.)

All of this can be extended to the wider view: how people -- politicians, interviewers and talk show hosts as well as individuals -- talk about one another in the public discourse, how leaders of one nation talk about other nations and their all matters. I'm not saying no one should ever express anything but niceties to one another, what I'm after here is learning how to express ourselves and our feelings in ways that are constructive and building up or at the very least not destructive and hurtful. I'll be the first to admit that this is not easy, and I am not always able to pull it off, but it is still worth working on, on every level of discourse. Come to think of it, that includes how we talk to ourselves, our inner language: we can learn how not to be so self-critical. That's something I am actively working on, too. Which reminds me, I'd better go get on it!

Tuesday, January 16, 2007

yet another thing to do in one's spare time...

Thank you, Daragh, and Mairenn!

Honoring MLK

I forgot to mention in my post yesterday, that we now have a street named in honor of Martin Luther King, Jr., here in Charlotte. Also, here's a link to a local group that annually responds to the call to volunteer on MLK Day (and the rest of the year as well!); a link to its parent group; and another link to how this year's event went in Charlotte...

Monday, January 15, 2007

"I Have a Dream"

For this day that marks the anniversary of Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr., I wanted to do something special (hence the link above.) Please go listen to this speech, certainly one of the most important and moving speeches ever given in this country! And I'd like to issue a challenge to those of you who, like me, had to work today: think of a way to honor the memory of this great man, whether it be by prayer, or helping somebody out, or by spreading his message, or by making a donation to an appropriate non-profit organization in his memory (some examples below)...or all of the above. Each one of us can and does make a difference in the world every day; let's try to make it a positive difference!
The King Center
Nonviolence International
Atlanta Women's Foundation
NC Peace and Justice Coalition

Other organizations that promote non-violence

Sunday, January 14, 2007

Goodbye to my Christmas tree

Well, I figured it was about time to take the tree down... it was getting a little brittle, and I won't have another chance to do this until a couple weeks from now, and by then it will probably not have any needles left on it. So, I've been playing music (Claire Ritter, Joshua Bell, Yo-Yo Ma, Adiemus...)while exploring the wonders of having a big new Christmas Ornament Box (Thank you, Daragh!) to put the ornaments (and almost everything else) away in. The only difficulty now will be finding a place to store the box, but I think that is a solvable problem, and a problem worth solving! There were a few candy canes left on the tree, amazingly enough, so I will offer them to my students this week -- comfort food as they tackle their final exams...

Friday, January 12, 2007

A beautiful, amazing view

daily dose of imagery is one of my favorite sites. I don't get to travel as much as I would like, so going to this site every day or every few days satisfies a little of my wanderlust. I like the picture linked above (click on title) because it almost feels like I am there, looking all the way to the river from the top of St. Peter's. Anyway, ddoi originates from Canada, which is someplace I have always wanted to travel in and perhaps even live in. (I could almost live there now -- I got a new coat today which is about the warmest coat I have had in a long time!)

I hope it's been a good week for everybody. I'm tired -- it was a long week for me -- so I'm not going to write much tonight, but get some rest and somehow get prepared for helping out at the Math Club meeting in the morning.

Sunday, January 07, 2007

long time gone

Hey, it's been too long since I last wrote here... A lot has happened: the holidays w/ lots of wonderful visits with family and friends, a trip across country with more visiting and roller coaster rides, an old year ended and a New Year started, and a week of re-entry punctuated with various episodes of illness...(I'm much better now.)
In addition to savoring many happy memories of the holidays (and of course I'm still enjoying my Christmas tree, candles, etc.), I'm currently...
a. wishing I was in New Orleans at the Joint Math Meetings (MAA & AMS)
b. trying to get on top of prep work (for classes and students) I ought to have done last week
c. napping whenever I can find time (especially easy now that Em taught me about "virtual napping")
d. enjoying a new headset for my cell phone provided free of charge from Verizon (yay!) (they may not be able to tell dollars from cents but they do keep on supplying me with free headsets)
e. rearranging my schedule (similar to nailing jello to a wall) since most of my CMS (i.e., public school) students will be finished with their math courses in a few weeks (translate: a week of exams is coming up!) and I might (or might not) get a few new ones. (I was going to put up a link about the crazy 4x4 schedule, but curiously the CMS website doesn't seem to have any information about it. I scoured this resource for more info but no luck.) A few new students from other venues have already found their way onto my schedule; I probably ought to put a stop to this before things get crazy again!
f. working lots of Mathcounts problems; the Chapter Competition will be on February 3. The team looks good so far!
g. listening to lots of good music (including beautiful Joshua Bell violin music from Joseph & Lorian) on my new stereo, both Christmas gifts of which I am very appreciative.
h. planning more trips... so far Baltimore and Evanston are on the schedule.
i. watching season one of Numbers, thanks to a loan from Jonathan & Frances -- just what I needed, another distraction!
j. trying to figure out what to do with all this Christmas wrapping paper (really, I didn't need anymore, I have plenty of my ever-fashionable green-and-yellow...)
k. continuing my efforts to exercise more, eat better, sleep enough, and, last but not least, pray "at all times"!

Happy New Year to all!