Jabberwocky for 2003 September

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: A very slow day. I bought groceries, paid bills, roasted a chicken, did some scrapbook pages. Now to bed, and tomorrow, back to work.

: I have done my scrapbook through the beginning of 1983. Slowly, slowly, I'm making a dent in that stack of pictures. I'm afraid progress is going to drag from now on, however, because paper grading is about to begin with a vengeance.

: Still scratching my head over this one. Picture a black 2003 Corvette, purring down the road, all tinted windows and mean chrome and shiny as a black widow spider. On the license plate frame it says "My other car is a Nissan Sentra."

: A lesson for us all. Aunt Jeuney has been saying for the last five years or so that she had a box of letters my mother had written her over the years, with carbon copies of Aunt Jeuney's replies. She wanted to give them to me but first she wanted to go through them and "remove parts that are too personal." Well, she never did it, and the day of her burial Uncle Bill handed me the box.

I am going through them and putting each letter in a page protector in a big binder. It is actually going to turn out to be more like two binders. Of course I have to read each one. I'm about 2/3 finished and so far I haven't happened on anything I would consider "too personal". Of course I'm much more open than many people. It just makes me wonder if I have anything "too personal" in my written journals or saved correspondence. We should all go through our stuff before we die.

One ongoing point of discussion in these letters is their diets, weight, and measurements. Those two women must have tried every odd diet under the sun! As well as the conventional ones. I don't remember any of these diets happening although I do remember the exercise program and the calendar my mother had in the kitchen where she gave herself a star for every day she stuck with her diet and exercise.

In 1961, they went on something called the Knox Program. Apparently they sent away for a leaflet from Knox Unflavored Gelatin, and went on a diet of molded stuff. Mousses, aspics, gelatin salads. Lots of chopped celery and carrot molded up. Tuna. Cottage cheese and fruit. All kinds of recipes, with the mousses of course featuring nonfat milk and nary a dollop of whipped cream. My mother apparently got a set of copper molds with Green Stamps. (I remember the molds; they hung on the wall of every kitchen we ever lived in.)

I think these diet dishes may have been temporarily filling, but I can't imagine that a meal of this stuff would be satisfying. You'd be hungry again in a half hour!

Aunt Jeuney and Mom were up against a wall on this--they both loved to cook so much. My mother especially was a great baker, and you know how tempting those freshly out of the oven rolls can be! Experimenting with Knox gelatin had to be a poor substitute for cooking real food. The experience left its mark at least on Aunt Jeuney. Once when I was a teen she invited us over for a "cold summer supper" and everything she served was covered in slime with the exception of the three-bean salad, which I like, but which most of my siblings abhor.

At any rate, this is my second day of sitting at the kitchen table reading and organizing old letters.

: I am still sorting letters. I think what I am going to do is "marry" them in with ALL the letters I have saved, and then I will have a family history. More or less. Of course I still need to write something up, but having the letters in order would be a great resource.

: Finally I have the house put back together after the wedding/funeral rush. Except of course for the scrapbooking room. And the pile of laundry I need to fold. he he.

: I am reading Dracula. Although I read the Classics Illustrated comic book as a kid, I don't think I've ever read the actual novel. I can hardly put it down; it's just as fresh and just as frightening as it apparently was 110 years ago. Usually I dislike novels in the epistolary style, but in this case the narration from different points of view seems very suitable to the story.

: Wading on through the scrapbook job. I finally have Rachel born. However, about that time I also bought my camera, so there are now twice as many pictures. Twice? Ha.

: The vulture migration has come to town. I just love to see them wheeling over the neighborhood. This evening as we were on the way home from a matinee (Uptown Girls, very forgettable)a vulture swooped so low over the top of the car that I could see his little feet tucked up.

: Jeanne Jusevic posted this update of the old math teachers' joke. Is it racist? I haven't decided yet, but I laughed at it.

Teaching Math in 1950: A logger sells a truckload of lumber for $100. His cost of Production is 4/5 of the price. What is his profit?

Teaching Math in 1960: A logger sells a truckload of lumber for $100. His cost of production Is 4/5 of the price, or $80. What is his profit?

Teaching Math in 1970: A logger exchanges a set "L" of lumber for a set "M" of money. The cardinality of set "M" is 100. Each element is worth one dollar. Make 100 dots representing the elements of the set "M." The set "C", the cost of production, contains 20 fewer points than set "M." Represent the set รข?oC" as a subset of set "M" Answer this question: What is the cardinality of the set "P" of profits?

Teaching Math in 1980: A logger sells a truckload of lumber for $100. His cost of production Is $80 and his profit is $20. Your assignment: Underline the number 20.

Teaching Math in 1990: By cutting down beautiful forest trees, the logger makes $20. What do you think of this way of making a living? Topic for class participation after answering the question: How did the forest birds and squirrels feel as the logger cut down the trees? There are no wrong answers.

Teaching Math in 2000: A logger sells a truckload of lumber for $100. His cost of production Is $120. How does Arthur Andersen determine that his profit margin is $60?

Teaching Math in 2010: El hachero vende un camion carga por $100. La cuesta de production es.............?

: This is what I wrote about Jeanne's math joke:

I have to say I laughed out loud when I read it. I think it's very funny. On the other hand, I wonder if the joke might be racist? I haven't clarified my mental position on whether or not it is, but it does play to the paranoia of those who dread being overtaken by the Hispanic population.

I think the real way math teaching will go in the future is to become more algebraic. Story problems bomb with today's kids because they can't read and their critical thinking skills are nil.

For two years I taught math (in Spanish) to immigrant kids in a bilingual classroom. They were doing okay, considering the mathematical idiot they had for a teacher. Then the people of the state passed Proposition 187 and bilingual programs were eliminiated. These immigrant kids did not survive in regular math classrooms. Of course, part of the problem was they weren't on grade level to begin with. Many of them had dropped out of school after third grade, as they are allowed to do under Mexican law. I had some kids who couldn't even count buttons into a muffin tin, and they were 12, 13 years old already! Right. So let's have them do it in English too!

: Today I have gone to a garage sale and washed a load of towels. This is not a very big accomplishment, considering it is 12:30 p.m. I still have to make a worksheet, run grade printouts for one section, take Leonard's suit to the cleaners, get a haircut and do the church bulletin. Also go see Matchstick Men. I hope I will have time left to scrapbook some pictures.

: I spent two hours today in a meeting to discuss what to do about issues of placement of students into English classes. Previously, they took a bubble test and wrote an essay, but with mismanagement and budget cuts (by the administration) there is no money this year to pay people to grade the essays. Reading the placement essays is a fairly complicated procedure which requires a lot of experience and training, and if I may say so, we had gotten pretty good at it.

My take on the mess is that we can't possibly get the same results from a bubble test score. For this academic year, however, it's going to just have to stay a mess.

My very big concern is the students who place on the very low end of the spectrum, those with learning disabilities that we discover as we are reading their effort at an essay. We have always referred them for further testing. Now, the office where they are tested has been gutted by layoffs and other piracy by the administration. Today I had lunch with a bunch of the classified people from that office, and they are overwhelmed trying to keep the program afloat. And guess what? More cuts coming down.

I don't see how a person could pre-diagnose a learning disability from a low bubble test score, so what that means is these students won't have a writing sample read by an English teacher until they are enrolled in the class, and then they have lost at least a semester, probably two--a whole year!-- before they are identified.

: I am the Queen of Verbs. I am the Witch Queen of the principal parts of verbs. I am the Tyrannosaurus rex of irregular verbs. Tremble, o ye mighty! I rule all I survey.

: Susie's birthday. I miss my baby.

Tomorrow I am going to start ripping out the vegetable garden, and I'm going to make quarts and quarts of fresh pesto. I had the idea to freeze it in ice cube trays, and then I'll have individual "cubes" which will make just one serving of pasta--for me!!! If others are expected for dinner, I can thaw more cubes.

: I was SOOOO productive today. Taught my class, graded all my papers. Then Marlene and I held a meeting at Los Hermanos trying to organize an adjunct faculty union-- and maybe a strike??? We had a good time meeting the people who came. After that I went to Albertson's and bought a gallon of olive oil, ten heads of garlic, and a couple of pounds of Parmesan cheese for my purported pesto. I picked up Leonard's suit from the dry cleaners and came home and called the pharmacy and made an appointment with a mortgage guy. Now I'm exhausted, and I still need to take Ernestine Boonstoppel to Enrichment Night.

: International Talk Like a Pirate Day. Arrrr blimey! Me wonders if pirates spray Roundup to send the weeds to Davy Jones? Run up Jolly Roger!

: Tonks knocked one of my terracotta chicken figurines off the kitchen windowsill and into the garbage disposal, where I didn't know it lay until Too Late. I am reasonably sad about this because I've had those chickens on every kitchen windowsill since college, and now there is only one chicken and he is an orphan. In addition, it was not much fun fishing little pieces of ceramic out of the disposal.

: I've been doing yardwork. I'm drenched with sweat. I'm about to consider a "If you can't lick 'em, join 'em" approach to the front yard. Instead of trying to fight grass in the ground cover I'll install some bedding borders and have lawn borders except on the "mounds." Then Juan can mow it every week and charge me more money, but it will be less work for me. I don't mind doing the work but I'm just not able to do as much as I used to and a person has got to adapt.

I mended a lot of the drip system, so maybe I'll turn it back on tomorrow.

: I have made it to 1985 in my scrapbook. I'm on the page in February where we went to Death Valley with the Boswells. This trip is memorable because we came back home and Richard Oman's car had been stolen out of our driveway. The legal morass there --Richard and Pam were in Indonesia-- completely undid the restful relaxation of a Death Valley vacation.

: Whew. 1985 is finished. Am I having fun yet?

: I've been working assiduously on my scrapbook. In the middle of 1986. I've had to leave some holes for later because some of the photos were in the form of slides and I took them to Henley's to be printed. Pretty soon slides will be forever gone from my life! I think I quit taking slides along about 1986 or 1987 because they were such a pain.

: The cashier at the MickyD's drive through stopped me today as I drove off. "Ma'am! Ma'am! Do you really know the Ode on a Grecian Urn?"

"Not the whole thing," I admitted.

"But the beginning is famous," he insisted.

"No, it's the end that is famous," I corrected him. "Beauty is truth, truth is beauty. That is all you know on earth and all you need to know." That made him happy and I went on to the next window to get my Big Mac and my Happy Meal for Gretel.

: I have finished 1986, except for a few odd prints being developed now at Henleys. I left space for them, but don't know how they will "crop" as it's hard to tell looking at a slide without a projector.

1987 was a very big year for us. We went on trips to Seattle and to Colorado. I have a stack of 1987 Death Valley pictures an inch thick. Also, we have a lot of local pictures, such as the zoo, and that is the year we moved from Los Angeles.

: I forgot to mention that we also went to Washington DC in 1987. How can someone "forget" the trip of a lifetime? It just illustrates the number of holes in my brain.

: I am soooo tired of public radio's membership drive committee trying to make me feel guilty. Ok, sure I listen to NPR. I would even be happy to provide an annual stipend to NPR except that sad experience has shown that when one donates, that is just the prelude. They pay you back by putting you on every junk mail list on earth, and calling on the phone too. Then pretty soon you are hearing from public television...

: My (mother's) Uncle David used to have a chocolate factory. They dipped them all by hand. The candy making rooms in the basement were really intriguing--especially the smells of melting chocolate and roasting almonds. The ladies who worked there stirred the good stuff in huge cauldrons.

Once I asked him for some recipes. "Uncle David," I said, "you're getting older and I'd hate to have your candy recipes lost to the family. I promise cross my heart not to go into a competing business if you write them down for me."

"Flibbiththth!" said he. "There are no secret recipes. I just use high quality ingredients and don't ruin them."

: I think I am coming down with something. Maybe I'll go to bed early, having finished 1986 in my scrapbook. Well, not exactly. I still have one more Christmas page to do, but I'm waiting for a print from a slide to be developed. Tomorrow maybe.

Rachel came home to visit for the weekend. Gretel was estatic to see her.

: This gubernatorial recall election has me going around and around. Every day it's more tangled. Today's headline was that Bill Simon has endorsed Arnold. Well. Bill Simon is the reason I voted for Gray Davis in the first place, as Davis appeared to be the lesser evil. I was not happy about that choice at the time and I'm still pretty steamed; otherwise, I would have never signed the recall petition. Therefore, if Bill is taking Arnold's side, then I suppose I can't.

They had the debates on a tiny little portable television in the Family History Center on Wednesday night. I can't say I listened very closely; I certainly wasn't huddled around the screen with the family history director, but I came to the conclusion that I can't listen to Huffington for several more years. She certainly writes better than she speaks--or does she do her own writing? I'm suspicious now.

The only one who I thought acquitted himself well was Peter Camejo, the Green Party Candidate. I suppose I'll have to become a Socialist and support him.

: Rachel and I went to see "Under The Tuscan Sun." The movie is different from the book in that it actually has a plot. We liked it, and particularly enjoyed the settings and costumes. Rachel worked up an appetite watching the feasting going on in the movie, and is now in the kitchen making pesto.

: Did I mention that when my home health nurse came a couple of days ago, she was in tears? Seems she had just left a six year old kid who was actively dying. She's been his home health nurse all along, so she's had time to get attached to him. I felt just terrible--for him, for her, for the world. Cancer is such an ugly thing.

I spent the day today serging chemotherapy turbans at the stake RS service project. I ruined the first one and sneaked it into the trash, but soon got the hang of it and went zipping along. I can't say that it made me feel better about the existence of cancer, but at least I contributed. I can't do anything about cancer, but I can do this.

: I have filled another scrapbook, and have gotten the family history to where we moved to Arvin. (August 1987). This means I only have about five more years to put in a book. I'm wondering if it will all fit in one book--probably not. I'll probably have to buy two more. I wonder what the Creative Memories lady will do for business if my scrapbooks are finished?

: OK, today is the day. It is really going to happen. I am going to clean out my refrigerator. Right. Now.

: I was going to make pasta salad using the cherry tomatoes from the plant I was going to rip out today, but I forgot some of the ingredients when I went to the grocery store yesterday. I think instead of ripping out the tomato plant, I will pull some weeds.

Juan is going to seed the yard with winter ryegrass on October 15, so I need to have the vegetable garden all pulled out by then. However, the Amundsens are going to come over Saturday morning and help me. Bless their hearts.

I have to get the Langleys to come for the rosebush and the Welches to come for the wisteria. (All my landscaping mistakes!) I decided where I would move the strawberries.

: Oh, dear. The UPS has delivered 100 daffodil bulbs. I wasn't expecting them for another three weeks, and I'm not quite ready for them. I guess everything else goes on hold while I do the fall yard work!

Jabberwocky for 2003 September

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© 2001-2006 Frances Whitney.