Monday, November 5, 2012
Friday, November 2, 2012
Wednesday, October 31, 2012
For more info see: http://www.nanowrimo.org
Thursday, October 25, 2012
Monday, October 15, 2012
My wife is a certified math teacher, and I am a web developer by trade. Initially this statement seems rather bland and not out of the ordinary. But when I say the result of this combination is: “I subtract when I add,” people tend to look at me funny, first and foremost my wife!
1 + 1 = 2, that part doesn't change, what does change is when you cross a power of 10. For example, most people would look at the problem: 6 + 7 and count up on their fingers (or in their head) from seven, (8, 9, 10, etc…) ending up with 13. I don’t.
When I see this problem, I think 7 is 3 less than 10 so 6 – 3 = 13.
Welcome to the world of “broken math.” Broken math is math that works, but they don’t teach it to you in school. These are the shortcuts that we create in our minds using mathematic principles in a non-standard way to get the correct answer. Here is another example:
If I am baking and the “1 Cup” measuring cup is dirty and I need to measure 2 cups of something, I simply reach for the 2/3 Cup and dump three measures in the bowl. “How does that work?” you ask. If you take the denominator (in this case 3) and pour that many in the bowl, you will get the numerator (in this case 2) of the size of your measure (in this case cups). This works with all fractions. (My wife explained it this way: 3/1 * 2/3 = 2. I just know it lets me continue baking bread when the ideal measuring cups are dirty.)
Another reason they don’t teach broken math in school: it is a lot more complicated to explain.
When most people need to count something, they usually start at 1. When you start working with computers, this is not necessarily true. One type of variable (called an array), begins counting at 0. So, if I am writing a calendar program for example, 0 = January, 1= February, and so on. If I want to loop through the year and do something to each month, I start my count at 0, not 1. (I believe this is leftover from Binary, but I’m not 100% certain on that. If so, computers use broken math too!)
Am I wrong for using “broken math” to get through the day? I don’t think so. What I do believe is that when a student asks a teacher “When am I ever going to use this?” they should think twice about the math they already do on a daily basis. You can’t fill up your car without knowing subtraction (and if you do, you learn about negative numbers real quick!). You get a job because of addition, and you invest because of percentages. I may not use math the way it was taught out of a text book, but broken or not, I use it every day.
Friday, October 5, 2012
Friday, June 29, 2012
The Work and The Glory was an excellent read. I found the characters interesting and the tension apt. Gerald N. Lund does an excellent job of introducing not only the beginnings of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, but also the lifestyle of the early 1800s. The discussions of the family on building a farm out of virgin forrest, what constitutes an honorable profession, and what niceties the characters desire provide a great insight to the demeanor of those who lived during that era.
I enjoyed the detail the author included about building the Steed farms (both Benjamin's and Nathan's). How the homes were built, the daily tasks each family member had, and what causes friction between the different family members.
I also appreciated how Lund handled sacred experiences, especially Joseph's reluctance to answer questions. This showed maturity in Joseph after the initial reactions he received when sharing his experience in the Sacred Grove. He held true to his calling to translate, but held his spiritual experiences in reserve for those who were ready to accept them.
There is a delicate balance of being too preachy and not covering the material about the church enough, and Lund does an excellent job of striking that balance. He still covers the history, but maintains his story line as spectators to those events. Information is dispensed in a conversational manner, rather than a "my way or the highway" attitude. Readers are also set at ease by characters not accepting everything at first encounter. Some characters are skeptical, while others are more accepting. I think this helps the reader to understand the turmoil surrounding the events he covers.
Overall I would recommend the first volume in the serries to anyone interested in early American lifestyles, love stories, or who have an interest in learing about the history of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints without getting preached at.
Thursday, May 31, 2012
Wednesday, May 30, 2012
As I watched the trio wander around my front yard, it was obvious the Starling was hunting for food. The two brown birds were tagging along and, appeared to be bullying the Starling. It wasn’t until the Starling found a big juicy bug and rammed it down one of the other two’s throats, that I realized what was going on. The Starling was trying to teach these two juveniles to hunt, the problem? They were juvenile Cowbirds.
Brown Headed Cowbirds lay their eggs in other birds’ nests and rely on the other birds to raise their young. This often involves the death of the host bird’s young, as the infant Cowbird takes an immense amount of time and food to raise. If the host bird rejects the Cowbird egg, the adult Cowbird may retaliate against the host’s nest or eggs by smashing or destroying them.
While I am not overly fond of Cowbirds, I am also not entirely thrilled about Starlings either. Starlings are one of the few invasive species that we can identify their introduction onto a continent. 60-100 Starlings were released in Central Park in New York City in the 1890’s. From there they took over the continent, and are known to be aggressive at taking over native birds’ nests. They are also known for unloading all their fecal matter before landing in their nests. While growing up, a pair nested in our garage and plastered my dad’s car every time they flew in. In short, most of the poop that pigeons get blamed for is actually the result of Starlings.
Knowing all this, I paused to reflect on these three birds on my front lawn. The Starling, an invasive species, was now being pressed by a Cowbird to raise her young. I didn’t know whether to be thrilled or disappointed at the predicament. Both types of birds cause damage and additional stress on their surrounding species. Both species force their way in and take over otherwise peaceful situations.
As a society I often wonder if we are not like Starlings and Cowbirds, imposing our will on those around us regardless of the consequences. Do we put our fellow men at a disadvantage by pushing our agenda without consideration for those who are already there? Are we destroying the traditional family by forcing the acceptance of an alternative lifestyle?
As an individual I am very protective of my family, I also believe in being as self-reliant as possible. After watching this scene unfold in my front yard, however, I stopped to examine myself. Do I force my will on the rest of my family? Do I accept input from my wife and my children when it comes to activities and how we spend time together? I know that I am not perfect, but that is no excuse for not trying to improve how I treat my family, my community, and my fellow man.
Saturday, May 5, 2012
I was quite surprised at this one, I read it many years ago and I forgot a lot of the story. There is enough about relationships in the plot to keep girls interested. As the title implies it is written for high school age children, though I really enjoyed it as a twenty-something year old. Eddie and Jack discover a skeleton in the bottom of Muir Lake which opens up a boatload of questions about what happened at the marina nine years before. At the same time Eddie attempts to woo Wendy Westfall on a scrounger's budget.The character dynamics I found quite entertaining, and the descriptions of boating, scrounging, and tinkering accurate.
I read this for a better idea of how to write scenes that involve boating and docking in different environments.
Friday, May 4, 2012
A good book for young readers. The main topic of the book is astronomy, although the plot does take place in a boathouse community, so boating is also a major theme. The two children (Tim and Vicki) who are the main characters have a canoe and their father purchased a nearby island which they visit regularly with their new friend Joey whose dad owns a rowboat which is terribly slow. The children are stargazing on the island when a small meteor strikes nearby. They return to the island to find that Tim's new telescope is missing, and so they embark on a number of investigations to find both the meteor and the thief, not to mention the source of the mysterious lights seen at night out on the island.
My main purpose in reading this book was to get a taste of how authors portray boating for a book that I am working on about a mouse who learns to sail (Voyages of the MS Rodent).