Saturday, September 22, 2012

Great grades!

Boo and Skibo brought home report cards this week: straight A's for both of them!  Skibo 100% down the line, while Boo had 97, 98, 99, 100 and 100.

Yours, pleased as punch with how they are doing,

Way to go, Skibo!

Skibo tested for his second yellow stripe on his white belt this morning!  He did really well --- and the senior black belt invigilating the testing told us that apart from improving his balance a little bit (which is normal), she didn't have a lot of things to write down about how he was doing.
Boo will get to test on Wednesday, assuming that she's feeling up to it: this morning her throat was really sore, and she really didn't want to do it -- we weren't about to force it on her.

Yours, proud of Skibo, and hoping Boo's better soon,

Friday, September 21, 2012

Poor Boo

Unfortunately Boo has come down with a sore throat, and had to come home from school early.  Hope that this doesn't mess up the martial arts testing in the morning!

Yours, hoping my little girl gets better really soon,

Thursday, September 20, 2012

Magic, the gathering

Just finished with my undergraduate group: we meet every week to discuss magic tricks, and to talk about the mathematics behind some of them: they are going to be working to generate some lesson plans and other ways to incorporate them into math classes in the school system.  A nice bunch of students, and I love the fact that they are excited by this project!

Yours, letting them pick a card, any card, and forcing the outcome,

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Damned elections

Every four years at this time (and to a lesser extent every two years) I end up spending way too much time reading online posts, blogs, news, about the elections.
This year, it seems, Romney is generating even more buzz than ever, and almost none of it good.  Of course, given that my political leanings are rather further to the left than his (even when he was in Massachusetts as a relatively centrist Republican) I'm quite happy for him to continue to gaffe.

Yours, enjoying some of the commentary

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Proud of Boo and Skibo

This morning we met with Boo's teacher, so that she could discuss with us her progress, and in particular, her scores on the standardized tests they've been taking.
I'm not a believer in the standardized tests: I don't think that they test the right things, or that they are valid metric of achievement.  That said, I'm still tremendously proud of Boo's scores, which are not just higher than they need to be now, not just higher than they need to be to demonstrate a mastery of the material at the end of the year, but higher than they need to be for "exemplary" at the end of the year.

We haven't yet met with Skibo's teacher, but he told us what scores he was making, and we're expecting a similar report for him.

Yours, happy they are doing so well,

Monday, September 17, 2012

I am the 47%

So Mitt Romney thinks that the 47% who support Obama and oppose Romney are moochers?  Wow!  That's surely going to help persuade me to change my mind and vote for Romney!

Yours, amazed....

Sunday, September 16, 2012

A nice dinner with friends

Last night we spent a lovely evening with our friends who own the bookstore in town: their daughter was visiting, and it was a lovely, gentle, time.  Great food, great company:-)

Tonight it was the kids turn: their friends are finally back down from New England: three weeks or more late for school but they made it, finally.  We had them over for dinner to welcome them home, and they immediately slipped right back into the routines that great friends have.

Yours, so happy for the easy adjustment,

Saturday, September 15, 2012

A funeral

A fairly big funeral, at that, for our friend Jim from across the street: Uncle Jim as he was to Boo and Skibo.  Especially to Boo.  She accompanied LOML and me to the ceremony, held outside in the graveyard at the old church down the street, the one only opened occasionally, it's so old and small.
A lovely, simple, moving service.  Short, and, of course, sad.

Yours, in memoriam,

A wake

Tonight the sprogs were at their martial arts dojo for a "parents' night out": a fundraiser, where we pay $20 per child, and we get to go off and enjoy the evening.
As we were on our way to go out, we realized that tonight was the wake for our friend Jim from across the street: so we walked down to the square to the pub, and hugged, and reminisced, and generally celebrated our friend, now gone.  Tomorrow, we'll go and be somber at the memorial service.

Yours, celebrating a life, and sorry for a death,

Thursday, September 13, 2012


I'm working with a handful of undergraduates this semester, getting them to think about how to incorporate magic tricks into math classes, and I'm just delighted by the joy in their eyes when I show them a trick, and even more delighted that they show even more joy when I show them how to figure out how it's done!
I'm hoping that they are going to be able to spread that joy to children in school!

Yours, thrilled,

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Productive meeting

Tuesday afternoon I met with the principal of the school, and more importantly, with the new sixth grade science teacher.  She is full of ideas for projects for students, including a lego competition (this is a precursor to the high school robotics competition), the science olympiad, and is very open to other ideas too.  The meeting felt very productive, which was good (especially because there is a grant which we may need to apply for which is due by the end of the month!)

Yours, somewhat more encouraged,

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Poor Boo

Poor Boo: for the second time this term (and we're only a few weeks in) she is sick.  She went to bed complaining that she felt like throwing up, and was still feeling bad this morning.  Since I don't teach on Tuesdays, I stayed home with her: Skibo was very upset: "She hasn't thrown up!!!" he protested.
And five minutes after I got back from cycling him to school, he was proved wrong.  A couple of hours of misery, but now it looks as though she's feeling better.
Yours, hoping it's just a 24 bug again,

Monday, September 10, 2012


Unfortunately, one of the outcomes of yesterdays trip to the fair was that, going down a very large slide, I managed to inflict friction burns on the insides of both arms, just below the elbow.  So today, I have two large red welts, slowly turning to scabs.  Painful!

Yours, sporting slide injuries,

Sunday, September 9, 2012


Today we had planned to go walk in the gardens, and later, to go to the zoo.  But Skibo insisted that he didn't want to go to the zoo, so he and I stayed home, while LOML took Boo to the zoo.
So I thought.  Skibo and I, after a discussion about how he wasn't going to watch tv, play on the computer, touch the ipad, handle the kindle, or go anywhere near the wii or the 3ds, decided that going for a bike ride would be a wonderful thing: the temperature today was lovely, the humidity was low, and so off we set.
There was one hill in particular which had had Skibo beaten for the past two years --- so I suggested, knowing how much stronger he is now, that we try that first: and sure enough, he rode up it with ease!  We continued to ride for 15 or 20 minutes, and headed home.
Reaching home, we discovered that LOML and Boo had been sidetracked: they hadn't gone to the zoo at all: they'd seen a fair, and had stopped, and stayed.   Skibo and I got on the road and joined them a little later.
Lots of fun was had by all!    Our friend Sh had gone with LOML and Boo, so there were three adults and two children --- and Sh was willing to go on some of the rides that LOML and I were hesitant to go on.
All in all, it was a lovely, lovely day, one that I'm tremendously pleased we've let the children experience!

Of course, the next time we pass a fair, we'll *have* to stop......
Yours, still shaken, but happy,

Saturday, September 8, 2012

A visit to the library

The four of us went to the library this morning (LOML had a meeting there) and for a little while there was a lovely interlude with Boo, Skibo and me sitting on a sofa, the three of us reading silently.

Yours, tranquilly,

Friday, September 7, 2012

Skibo, reading for pleasure!

Boo has long been reading for pleasure, but Skibo, while extremely proficient at reading, would resist doing so very strongly.  Ten days ago we discussed this with his teacher (she's taught him for over two years now) and she insisted that we needn't worry, and shouldn't push him too hard to read if he didn't want to do so.
But then, just a few days later, what happened?  Skibo suddenly started reading!  Without being prompted to do so.  For pleasure!

Yours, thrilled!

Thursday, September 6, 2012

And more sad news

Our neighbour, Jim, across the street, lost his battle with an inoperable tumour yesterday. That marks the fourth death in our community of about 3000 people in the past week.  Four of which I'm aware: there may have been others.
Not a good week.

Yours, raising a glass to departed friends,

Wednesday, September 5, 2012


Yesterday, late in the day, I came down with chills and aches.  Felt miserable.  Even went to bed before 8:30.  Today, I'm feeling much more human.

Yours, blindsided by the misery, but happy it seems to have lasted just a few hours,

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Tai Chi

Back thrumptysevix years ago, when I was in gradual school, I spent seven or eight months taking tai chi classes: I really enjoyed them, and had I not graduated, I'd probably have continued until I knew the entire 108 move form.  Fast forward until about 97 or 98, when LOML and I took classes for a few months at a local fitness center: I didn't enjoy it as much as I did back when: too much focus on the chi aspect, and too little on how to move.
Today, I tried again.  Boo and Skibo's martial arts teacher also teaches tai chi, and I went along to a class this morning.  Lots of fun: a completely different experience, though, as he begins with the 24 move form, so all of my old muscle memories were in the wrong order.  Still, we worked through the first six moves, and I sort-of kind-of got them.  I think that I need to work to make sure I don't overwork my knees, but hopefully I can manage it.

I'm giving it a month at least!

Yours, moving,

Monday, September 3, 2012

Labor day

This year, it seems particularly appropriate to celebrate Labor Day: for the past couple of years, the labor movement in this country has been demonized by the right: in Wisconsin, teachers who gave up pay raises for pensions and other benefits are now being portrayed as greedy bloodsucking leeches, and are being stripped of those other benefits.  They are having their unionizing rights stripped from them too.
And with it's "we did build this" meme, the right is suggesting that anything great done by a business was done by the head of the company.  Obama is right on this: anything great was done with the help of infrastructure: roads, internet, post office, utilities, and every one of those did what they did with the help of their workforce.
But over the past two years, things have been paradise in corporate america: record profits, ridiculously low taxes.  All the while, working stiffs have seen jobs cut, pay curtailed, rights stripped, and workers demonized.
So I say, enough!  Here's to the great mass of workers!  

Yours, in unity,

Sunday, September 2, 2012

The annual labor day post

Every year, around now, I decide to post about Labor Day.  How here in the US it often means a day to labour.  Especially where I work.

Oh well, a few more hours, and I'll be

Yours, hiho, hiho, it's off to work I go,

Saturday, September 1, 2012

A new month

And a beautiful full moon yesterday, the second of the month, of course.  Blue moons are nothing like as rare as people think: this occurs every two or three years on average.  Heuristically, for any given month, the first full moon is equally likely to be on any one of the first 29 or 30 days, so we'd expect blue moons about every 30 months.  It's complicated slightly by the shorter and longer lengths of various months, but it's pretty easy to compute.
An older definition of a blue moon,apparently, was the fourth full moon in a season.  Watch for the next time this happens with the full moon on September 19th 2013!

Yours, rarely,