Archive for April, 2014

Do you love Mr. Selfridge? Do you relate?

April 30, 2014

So who are you?

The folks who publicize the shows in the Masterpiece series have done it again.  Not content with a quiz to identify your counterpart in Downton Abbey, they’ve done a quiz for Mr. Selfridge.  You can answer a few questions and find out who you resemble by going to Which Character are You?

Now I’ll confess a chilling secret.  I turned out to resemble Lady Mae Loxley.  I protest, I think.

But it does cause me to think about what women did with their power in the early part of the twentieth century.  I guess she did what she had to do, and you just know more is coming.  I’ll be watching.

I can’t wait to hear from you about your test results.


Reunion musings, anticipation, thoughts…

April 24, 2014

I’m now about a month away from a trip back into time – to the 50th reunion of my college class.  And I’m questioning many things about this occasion.

To go?  Of course!

Will my friends be there?  Some will.

Will I recognize people?  I will if the nametags are printed in large letters.

Will I feel like an underachiever?  Yes, some of the time.  Other times, I can hold my own.  Or I can remind myself that it doesn’t matter any more.

Will I be surprised by the directions taken by others?  Undoubtedly.

Will anyone be surprised by me?  I don’t know.

If any reader out there has attended a 50th college reunion, I would love to hear from you.  Was it worth it?  General impressions?  Advice?

Meanwhile, Oberlin class of 1964, here I come!


Malaysian Flight 370: now here’s a real math problem

April 9, 2014

Remember those math problems in algebra and geometry class?  Problems about trees and their shadows, trains leaving for Kansas City at 2:00, graphs about average heights of kids in the fourth grade, circles using pi and a radius.  I wondered then why we were doing these things if not for torture.  I was pretty good at them, but absolutely never saw the point.  And no one dared asked the teacher why.

Things could be so different today, and I really hope they are.  Why learn about triangulation and angles of satellites?

There’s a black box down there in the Indian Ocean.  And it has been calling to a searching world, actually overheard a few times.  Some say the pings are heard from locations 16 miles apart.  And then the experts get on tv and explain it.  I find myself fascinated.  I’d love to have seen my scary math teacher, Miss Rockefeller, drawing this all over the board and dragging out a theorem or two to explain it.

So there was a reason for all that!  We who were girls in decades past never imagined actually using math to solve problems beyond calculating the cost of a pair of shoes that was 20% off.  We never ever thought of math as a factor in airline safety.  And of course we did not identify with the experts who have always used math to improve our lives.

So hang in there, math teachers.  Seize this tragic moment and use it to teach your students about the practical uses of math.  Maybe you would share with us how you are using this story.