Monday, May 31, 2010

One for the family oral tradition

I made chocolate roulade today: two of them, for the REU memorial day party.
And only one got eaten, so we brought the other one home, thinking it could serve another day.

Unfortunately, I came through to the living room to discover that Skibo --  who usually likes roulade, but insists that he doesn't like the whipped cream in the middle of it -- had skimmed off the top, leaving a rather scalped-looking dessert.

This was bad enough.  But then five minutes later, he decided that he didn't want it after all.  Grrr.  Grrrrrr.   GRRRRRRRRR!!!!!

His punishment -- the story will become part of the family oral tradition, to be dragged out and told at any point when it might embarrass him.

Yours, thinking that that is appropriate punishment, his just desserts,

Sunday, May 30, 2010

Birthday ribs

For our friend E's birthday today (actually, her birthday is tomorrow) we made braised ribs and coleslaw.  It was a feast, plain and simple, but a feast nonetheless.  The more that I make this recipe (and it's typically only a couple of times a year) the more I like it: it's pretty simple, and it is pretty foolproof.
And the ribs (and wings or whatever) just fall off the bone.  Into your mouth.  And make little flavour bursts of joy:-)

Yours, enjoying the ribs,

Saturday, May 29, 2010

Cooking again

One of the things I like about summer is that I get to do all sorts of cool things with students --- teaching them how to do research, showing them the beauty of mathematics, demonstrating origami, hanging out with incredibly bright young people.

One of the downsides of this, however, is that I have less time, generally, to spend in the kitchen, and given how I love to cook, this can sometimes be a problem.  Over the past few days we've had an incredibly busy time with the program at work, and so it wasn't until yesterday that I got to get back in the kitchen.  Yesterday, bread.  Today, spaghetti with sauce.  Tomorrow, spare ribs, cooked in the oven in a marinade of vinegar, molasses, ginger, garlic, etc.
Monday, lots of stuff for our annual cookout for the students.

Yours, glad to be back behind a cutting board with a knife, where I belong,

Friday, May 28, 2010

Storms and dogs and children, oh my...

Sometimes there are storms.  And sometimes there are storms which freak out children.  And sometimes there are storms that freak out dogs.  And then there are evenings when one parent has to comfort a child, panicked by the storm, and the other has to hold the dog, on a short leash, because she's making the child seem calm.
And then, finally, the storm is gone.  The child is asleep.  The dog is calm.

Yours, thankful, that once again, all is well with the world.

Thursday, May 27, 2010

Why won't children go to sleep?

Why is it that children fight sleep so hard?  Why is it that they absolutely refuse to go to bed?  Why will they lie down and try to go to sleep, if it is in the living room, but not in their own bed?

Yours, gnashing teeth in frustration....

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Saying goodbye again

Another friend to whom we all have to say goodbye.  Fran died on Sunday: she and her husband are two of the loveliest people I've met, and she will be missed.  Sorely missed, to judge by the funeral: there were perhaps close to five hundred people there, an amazing turnout in a community like ours.

And in this case, the latin is appropriate.

Yours, wishing Resquiat in Pacem,

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Three years ago today

Our family having just returned to our house, three years ago today I sat in my comfy chair, with my laptop connected to my internet connection, safe, secure, and at home once again.  And I wrote a blog post.

Yours, wishing myself a happy third bloggiversary,

Monday, May 24, 2010

Lost keys

I almost never lose my keys.  I always put them in the same place: they move between my mantelpiece and my pocket.  And as such, it is rather disturbing to me when, as happened on Saturday, something goes awry.  I am 99% certain that the keys are in the house: I had them when I drove up in my car, and couldn't find them the next time I went to leave the house.
I have no idea where they could be, where I could have put them.
Yours, very distressed by the disturbance in the space time continuum,

Sunday, May 23, 2010

restating my comments from last night about Martin Gardner

A great man, an inspiration.
A long life, well lived.
He wouldn't appreciate
Resquiat In Pacem.
Instead, let's say

Yours, in praise of those who inspire the way he did,

Saturday, May 22, 2010

Goodbye, Martin Gardner

Martin Gardner, who inspired so very many people in the sixties, seventies and eighties, has died.  His Mathematical Games column in Scientific American, his hundred or so books, all opened young people's eyes to science, and in particular, to mathematics.
I can still remember vivid details of individual columns, writings which led me to become a mathematician, and which shaped my professional interests.

I never got to meet him, nor did I ever write to him.  But he touched my life in deep ways.

He was not a religious man, and so saying RIP seems something he'd not like.  So instead, I'll just say Goodbye.

Yours, always aiming to inspire one thousandth as much as he did,

Friday, May 21, 2010

One week of the research experience

We've finished the first, of eight, weeks of our research experience.  Our students are now sitting down over the weekend to figure out which projects they are going to choose to work on: every year we give them more options than we should, and every year we're disappointed when they don't pick our favourite ones.
I'm eagerly awaiting finding out which of mine don't get picked.... and which do:-)

Yours, in full swing,

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Goodbye Ginger

A year ago, we adopted two small kittens.  Today, unfortunately, we said goodbye to the boy, Ginger.  He'd an awful tendency to lie on the road, hiding by pressing his ginger body to the asphalt.  He was run over this morning, an outcome we'd feared and expected for many months.  He will be missed.  Very, very much.

Yours, sadly,

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Just listened to Rand Paul

and was horrified.
He equated the right of a bar owner to tell customers that they can't bring guns into his bar with the right of a bar owner to tell black people they can't come into his bar.

And Kentucky could elect him senator?

Yours, horrified,

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Bella goes, Bella is returned

If only we could figure out how she's getting out: it really isn't clear where she gets through the fence. 
But get through she does.  This time she was only gone for a couple of hours, and was returned by our friendly neighbourly world-famous folk artist.

Yours, thanking the artist,

Monday, May 17, 2010

Lots going on

We're looking at all our educational option now.  Our local school, where the children go to school, the place we've been mostly pretty happy with recently, mainly because of the principal, has just fired the principal.
We're completely astounded by this: she seems to be the big reason the school has made tremendous gains in recent months and years.  And now, thanks to teachers not liking her, she's been canned.

Yours, disturbed by this turn of events,

Sunday, May 16, 2010

A new group of research students

Today we start a new group of research students on their way to learn what mathematics research is about.
Well, actually we get to do a meet and greet today: tomorrow we start telling them about what they are going to be researching.
Either way, it's always an exciting day!

Yours, inspiring others to do research,

Saturday, May 15, 2010

Up before seven????

The one thing that I was counting on last night was that the children, going to sleep at 11 or so, would at least sleep in.  No such luck: up at seven.

And tonight?  A bit better.  Perhaps they'll sleep in tomorrow....

Yours, wishing it were easier to get them to sleep...

Friday, May 14, 2010


To celebrate the fact that Boo and Skibo have completed ten days of medicine, and in the process, it seems, learned how to take a dose of antibiotics, three times a day, quickly, quietly, and without fuss, we went out to our favourite restaurant this evening.  Even though the children still don't have the palates for Japanese food, they enjoy going there, and they were, for the most part, very well behaved.

Tonight unfortunately, they have a friend over for a sleepover, and so it has been a struggle to get them settled down and asleep.  Still, tomorrow is not a school day, so we will survive.   I hope!

Yours, glad they've learned to swallow their medicine,

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Full moon?

This evening, after an hour and a half or so of children acting up, jumping up out of bed, insisting that they can't sleep/have a tummy ache/are hungry/thirsty/want to read/etc (the excuse/reason changing every minute), LOML and I looked at each other and simultaneously asked each other if it were a full moon tonight.

I have the google.  I have the technology.  So I looked it up.  No, it's not.  It's as far away from full as it can get.  So now I know: children can be just as crazy at a new moon as they can for a full moon.

Yours, driven crazy,

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

A momentous birthday

Definitely a birthday of note: fifty years ago, the first laser was demonstrated, opening the way for all sorts of new technologies which continue to surprise and astound: from cd's and dvd's to zapping mosquitoes from the sky, from laser pointers to software which will adjust telescopic images for atmospheric distortion, all sorts of amazing developments.

Yours, not mentioning sharks with frickin' laser beams attached to their frickin' heads,

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Referendum on AV

Reading the stories on the BBC and Grauniad websites, it took some substantial work to get to the point where I discovered that, as part of the Lib-Dem Tory agreement announced today, there will in fact be a referendum on an AV voting system,  In fact, the only reference I was able to find, reading stories, was a subhead which suggests that this is part of the agreement.
An uninformed reader might wonder, based on this, whether AV referred to audio-visual, action-voting, absolutely-vabulous, or some other inanity.
It seems to me that this is the most far-reaching part of the LD-T agreement, and as such, ought to be "above the fold" on the reporting on this issue.

Yours, proportionately speaking,

(For those not in the know, AV refers to an alternative vote system: a typical system is as follows. A voter lists her choices in order of preference: the votes are counted, and those for the least popular candidate are reassigned according to the next preference of each voter.  This continues, eliminating one candidate at a time, until one candidate has a majority of the votes. )

Monday, May 10, 2010

Boo with short hair

We've been battling head lice for the past few weeks, and so this afternoon, LOML took Boo to get a hair cut: she looks really cute with short hair, but it is a change.  We're hoping that it will also help with the brushing --- it shouldn't get as tangled as it used to....

Yours, happy she's happy with the do,

Sunday, May 9, 2010


Every Sunday I listen to NPR's Weekend Edition Sunday, and at 19 minutes before 9, I play along with Will Shortz's puzzle segment.
Last weekend he had a clue which really stumped me: I finally came up with a solution on Tuesday --- and this morning, to my surprise, I discovered that my solution was in fact incorrect.  Surprise, since I thought my solution was actually about as good as his.
The puzzle was essentially this: what city does


represent?  The intended solution was Concord ( C on C or D ): my I prefer my
solution of New Orleans.   Why?  Read the C/D as SeeDee, which is homophonic in the US to "city", and you get "City below C level".  Or New Orleans.

Oh well.  I don't mind losing, even if I do think I have a good alternate solution!

Yours, enigmatically,

Saturday, May 8, 2010

Bella's back

A title I've used before.  It says it all, but I'll add a little more: Bella left sometime between 11 and 12 this morning, and returned about ten hours later.  Safe and sound, and apparently not at all sorry about things....

Yours, relieved,

Bella, Bella, Bella

Yet again Bella has gone.  This afternoon she appears to have gotten out of the back garden.  Last time this happened, I was out of town; she was gone until the early evening, when she reappeared at the front door.  This time LOML is out of town (and pretty much uncontactable).  I'm hoping that Bella will have the sense to come back again the same as last time....

Yours, worried,

Friday, May 7, 2010


I was saddened yesterday to discover that a past friend of mine passed away last year -- someone I hadn't seen in years, but this doesn't soften the sadness. 
And I happened upon this knowledge by accident --- googling in an attempt to see what old, long lost friends, were doing these days: and here was an obituary, "passed away after a courageous two year fight with cancer...", which I suspect is an unfortunately common line of text.

Yours, saddened,

Thursday, May 6, 2010

A rift in the space-time continuum

Also known as: the directv box has died.  As a consequence we have no television in the living room.  Fortunately, what I want to watch this evening is the results from the elections in the UK, and I can stream them live on my laptop.

Yours, streaming,

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Strep strikes

Two children with strep.  Poor little ones.  Fortunately, LOML got them to the doctor early, and they are on antibiotics which appear to be knocking out the symptoms quickly. 
We're very pleased to discover that in the past couple of months since they have had to take medication, both of them seem to have come round to the idea of taking it.  It takes chocolate as a bribe, but they are willing, over a period of ten minutes of procrastination, to actually swallow a whole 4ml of medicine.

I suspect that the next battle will be in a couple of days, when they are feeling completely back to normal, are back at school, and still have another week of three doses a day to go.  And don't understand why they need to finish the treatment....

Yours, glad they are feeling better,

Tuesday, May 4, 2010


Grades submitted, I'm now done with everything until things get busy again.  Friday, I think.

Yours, pausing,

Monday, May 3, 2010

Weekend in the mountains

A lovely weekend away --- unfortunately, no swimming in the lake until late May (there were signs posted everywhere forbidding it) --- but we did get to go for a couple of lovely hikes, paddle in the lake in a "Jon boat": a wide, flattish-bottomed aluminium boat propelled with paddles, and pedal on the lake in a pedal boat (rather too big for little children and rather too small for big adults!).
But best of all, we got to practice pyromania!  Campfires each night, plus grilling on charcoal for dinner. 

Yours, having awoken a latent pyromania in the children too,

Sunday, May 2, 2010

Plans for the mini-vacation

We're hoping,  by the time the vacation is done, to have swum in the lake, walked some of the trails, rented kayaks to paddle the waters, grilled some dinners, and possibly (probably) made 'smores.  This uniquely American camp-fire snack consists of graham crackers (a sort of less-edible version of a digestive biscuit), chocolate and toasted marshmallows.  I'm not sure that the children are addicted to them yet, but I am sure that within then next few years they will be.

Yours, cooking,

Saturday, May 1, 2010

Saturday's weather

Since I'm going to be away this weekend, I'm posting ahead of time: at the moment, the weather forecast for today is some thunderstorms: however, the forecast has been getting gentler and gentler over the past few days, so hopefully by the time the afternoon rolls around, the storms will have vanished.

Yours, wondering what tense one should post in when discussing future discussions of past forecasts,