Saturday, March 29, 2008

bear? where?

If it would stop snowing already I could get my bike out and enjoy the outdoors. Granted, by the time I'm ready to get out, the pollen will be ready too. I do have a new arsenal of meds this year, so maybe I'll be able to bike ride and enjoy the blooming flowers!

This video makes me a little nervous about riding the roads though... Please keep your eyes open for the unexpected.

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

crashing cranes

This is the second time in less than 2 weeks that there has been an article about injuries/fatalities due to crashing cranes on construction sites. And this is on BBC news no less, not some local minor accident. Do you think we should stop haphazardly building everywhere? Maybe it would be good to take some time, thoughtfully and methodically build- both the cranes and the structures we use cranes for.

Sunday, March 23, 2008

Hablo Espanol?

This weekend my parents decided that I don't spend enough money on myself. Its true, I really don't spend money, but I don't see that as a problem. Not wanting to spend $50 on a small piece of plastic to drown out the sounds of the world seems valid to me. I did give in and buy the $40 mp3 player because it includes a radio and it will make me learn Spanish. I want it so I can listen to podcasts during my commute this summer since I'll be taking the train to Boston daily. I'll have to figure out how to practice speaking without a) seeming insane talking to myself or b) accidentally striking up a conversation in a language I don't yet know.

Otherwise the weekend was quiet. 3 members of my family are injured (thrown back, knee gone out and arthritis aggravated by a bad p.t. session) so we just laid low and watched movies. Easter pie was delicious and fulfilled tradition. Pie is really all that matters!

Sunday, March 16, 2008

The education of today's youth... seriously lacking.

I'm grading *honors* quizzes on linear equations. One student calculated slope and got to: m=4/2. Then she drew an arrow and wrote "I can't divide that :|" The students who are intimidated by simplifying fractions are one thing, but she knows its just division. Where did we fail them?

Friday, March 14, 2008

Happy Pi Day!

Today is pi day, 3-14/3.14 I celebrated by listening to a musical rendition of the digits of pi. Preview can be found here. I downloaded it for the first million digits, which takes 48 hours to listen to. Obviously didn't get very far, for some reason my students found it annoying to listen to after a while. I think its fascinating, but much more enjoyable at a slower tempo. We also found birthdays (mddyy) in the first million digits, mine appears 6 times, but I didn't actually search it at school. They think I'm at least 25, and thats cool with me! Finally, we estimated the value of pi by dropping virtual needles near a line. Seriously, who comes up with this? Apparently the ratio of times it hits to the times it misses the line ends up being pi. I'd love to read the proof for that one.

On a totally unrelated note:
Here's one problem I never expected to have. I have too little trash. What? Now that I can recycle paper, plastic and glass, I hardly throw anything away. This is awesome in the not filling up the landfill kind of way. But I also don't fill up the trash can, so I don't take out the trash, so it gets smelly. Ergo I'm forced to throw out bags that aren't completely full, how wasteful! Woe is me.

Thursday, March 06, 2008

too many roles

Most days I love the many aspects that come with my job. I enjoy teaching math, teaching life skills, learning, listening and being a stable adult in my student's lives. The culture of this city is fascinating, and the coping mechanisms each child uses is as varied as the number of children. Today, I wish my job was just about math. I wish that I didn't feel responsible for so many other aspects of their lives and worry about what might happen before they get back to school tomorrow.

I made a really yummy chili with sweet potatoes and black beans tonight. It was kinda like comfort food, in the warm and delicious sort of way.

Tuesday, March 04, 2008

linear equations

Few people will appreciate this rant, but here it is anyway:

The Algebra 1 textbook I use introduces equations of lines in 'standard' form, which I find generally useless, but okay. Then it introduces slope-intercept form when you're given the slope and the intercept, makes sense, but its rather unnecessary because point-slope works perfectly here. The next section is all about how to get a slope-intercept equation when you are given a slope and a non-intercept point. Why would you ever do this if you have point-slope form? I understand if slope-intercept were really intuitive, but point-slope is the intuitive one, it comes directly from the definition of slope. So finally, they introduce point-slope, but the section focuses entirely on converting it into slope-intercept or standard form! There isn't a single problem in the section which has them write an equation from two points or from a graph. Seriously, why??

I am very curious who fell in love with y=mx + b and spread it throughout the math world.

Reference for those who haven't taken Algebra 1 in a while:

Standard Form: Ax + By = C
A, B, C whole #'s (meaningless on their own)

Slope-Intercept: y = mx + b
m = slope, b = y-intercept

Point-Slope: y - y1 = m(x - x1)
m = slope, (x1, y1) = any point on the line

The average problem in the real world gives you two points or a point and slope. Rarely is that point the y-intercept. Standard Form is good for lemonade/ice tea stands, that's about it.

Sunday, March 02, 2008


The teacher's union and district may have finally come to agreement on the contract for this year (meaning the school year starting back in September!). We were discussing the check we'll be getting, for the retroactive pay increase. Some people are sending their money directly to credit card debt. This got me thinking about why I don't have credit card debt, and where does my money really get spent anyway. It helps to have savings to work from, but it also helps that I don't really buy that much. I looked up what I've used my credit card on in the last three months and came up with this:

Category % of Total Spending
Groceries 44.65%
Pets/Pet Care 9.96%
Gasoline/Fuel 9.63%
Health care/Medical 8.29%
Office Supplies 5.60%
Hobbies 5.11%
Automotive Expenses 4.85%
Restaurants/Dining 4.40%

Plus a few other miscellaneous things. I like that book stores come up as Hobbies and buying stuff at Salvation Army counts as charitable giving (part of misc.). Of course, pet care is only so high because the last three months include all of their set up costs. They are significantly less of my budget currently. The only money I spend outside of my credit card is for monthly bills, all of which are quite reasonable, except for the internet. Why must I be so dependent speedy web surfing? Anyway, my point here is that I don't spend a lot on unnecessary things, and I really don't understand a culture that insists on wasting money they don't have.

Now to spend my afternoon enjoying the sunshine, the antics of my pets, a good meal and my library book!