Algebra: Does the Brain Good

(Idaho Ann passed along several links to articles about algebra, hence this post.)

Is this the type of problem that mathphobes fear?

And do they lead to this op ed in the New York Times titled, Is Algebra Necessary?

Two rebuttals. One found in the WaPo: Yes, Algebra Is Necessary.

The other from a Scientific American writer: Abandoning Algebra Is Not the Answer

Evelyn Lamb, one of the pro writers, made a pertinent, obvious point: "Math certainly is incomprehensible to many students, but from where I sit, poor teaching is often the reason."

Being married to an old-school, yet fun-loving math teacher, I know what miracles a committed educator can work with mathphobes and slackers. From what I've gathered (by osmosis), one of the secrets to cracking the algebra code is practice, practice, practice, and seeing many types problems worked out on whiteboards (or scrap paper) over and over.

Any other thoughts?

Ticket to success update: High-paying, high-prestige jobs that require algebra knowhow.


Derek Redmond and Dad

Now here's an Olympic story for the ages, sappy music and all.

The heartwarming-heartbreaking event took place during the games in Barcelona in 1992. Sprinter Redmond is a Brit. His website.

Leo Babauta: The Minimalist

Shhh. The Zen Habits blogger's tips on how to recapture the lost art of solitude.

I like his idea about "limiting the stream."

Here's his simplicity manifesto.

Now here's several Bible meditations about solitude, and being still.


Fests & High Temp. Was 77 degrees (Or, How Others Get inspired)

These photos I snapped have no rhyme or reason. They are from yesterday's outing to the Charlevoix Venetian Festival and the Fiber Arts Festival at the Castle Farms, also in Charlevoix, MI.

Le rabbit is a French Angora. The alpaca es suramericano.

The needlework is part of a felt exhibit dubbed a "Fairyland Village" made entirely by Janine Gibeau and her young grandchild. That's "Harry" in front of his garden patch.

The fancy boats are typical of Charlevoix's small port where working boats are nonexistent, if that tells you anything.


Saturday Sighting: Making Cheese with Ricki

Ricki Carroll owns the New England Cheesemaking Supply Company, Inc. Here's her Facebook page.

The Queen sells beginner kits. Whey kewl.


Friday Fun: F&F 'Movie'

Mike Cutler passed along this spoof poster:

Related and not so fun: Mike interviewed Jerry Casale, a former federal immigration official, who was involved in the adjudication of applications for residency and naturalization which resulted in U.S. citizenship.

According to Mike, Jerry discussed "the lack of integrity to the process by which our government, in essence, hands out the keys to the kingdom!"

Here's the link to the interview.

Friday Fun: Her Elixir

The barista at Jolly's (who I call "Fun Girl") found a seriously caffeinated way to get her through a 'bad hair' day.

Behold! Fun Girl's five-shot espresso over ice. That's what I'm talking about ...


The Ubiquitous Christian Grey

I continue my one-woman non-junta complaining about family-friendly big box stores who carry the sadistic and misogynistic Fifty Shades of Grey trilogy. My local Walmart had not one, not two, not three, but four shelves of the books in one section of the very small book section.

The Bibles and inspirational material are right around the corner. Pah.

Related: Cincuenta Sombras, claro

Also related: UK hotel nixes Gideon Bibles for porn.

Tired of Big Government, Lame Excuses, Violent Misogynists

File under "Fantastic!"

A succinct essay by a senior citizen, Marine, and former Massachusetts state senator.

A tip of the hat to the writer - Robert A. Hall (pictured in 1965) - who blogs here.


Officer: Worst Fatality He's Ever Been To

Likely due to the shootings in Aurora, this horrific accident, which occurred this past weekend in the Lone Star State, isn't garnering much attention: "At least 14 people died after a Ford pickup truck crammed with nearly two dozen people ran off a highway in southeastern Texas, officials said Monday."

The victims are Central American and Mexican. And, yes, ICE was called to the scene of the crash.

Update: The number of dead is now 15. :(

On Maple Creek Pond: Big Bird

Now that I own National Geographic's "Field Guide to the Birds of Eastern North America," I IDed this species which I caught stalking some hapless pond inhabitant.

I believe it's a little blue heron (egretta caerulea) ... so graceful in flight.

However, any of you legit bird watchers feel free to school me, if I'm not correct.



Sturgeon Bay Beach

Where the water is crystal clear ... this is the photo I snapped, yesterday, while standing (on soft sand) in two feet of water.


Sun. Inspiration: Jarrell Brooks, Pierce O'Farrell

Eschewing the hero label, the Colorado teenager describes his act of selflessness thusly: "I was just in the wrong place at the right time."

Head-scratching how while one young depraved man was destroying lives, another young man had the presence of mind to save several.

And: An interview with Pierce who was shot by Holmes. He believes that while there is evil in this world there is also a 'light that shines brighter than the darkness.' Pierce waxes philosophical - in a sincere, sweet manner - at the 6:45 mark.


Sat. Sighting: Mitchell St. Pub & Cafe Floor

Last night our friend, Dr. Wayne, took the Ironman and me to one of Petoskey's most famed watering holes.

Although we're not consumers of adult beverages, we thoroughly enjoyed the decor/ambiance (antiques, dim lighting), the nachos, the service, and the opportunity to fling peanut shells on the wood floor.

The Pub's Old-Timey Jukebox


Fri. Fun: Avocational Photography

1. After Joe Beach skillfully drove a big rig from Petoskey, MI to Madison, WI, he took this artful photo.

Joe was hauling supplies to the new Kilwins in the Badger State. Looks like a fantastic location given the franchise's proximity to the capitol building. Maybe Gov. Scott Walker will stop by for a salted caramel ice cream cone.

Joe's cause: Elk

How Joe relaxes: Chopping wood, playing with his dogs

2. Petoskey's all-American radio tower (under the moonlight) home to WMKT, 1270 AM. Photos snapped by Mel Majoros, producer for the Vic McCarty show and Biggby's barista.

Mel's cause: Breast cancer awareness

How Mel relaxes: Playing ice hockey, hanging with her fiancée

3. A skydiver at a wedding ceremony, in Britton, South Dakota, taken by Chris Dortignac, electrician.

Chris' cause: Liberty

How Chris relaxes: Shooting photos, playing the piano


If Ann Coulter Channelled Allan Wall* ...

She might have written this column.

Oh, wait. Ann did write it!

Here's an excerpt: "The 'browning of America' is not a natural process. It's been artificially imposed by Democrats who are confident of their abilities to turn Third World immigrants into government patrons.

It's worked. According to the Center for Immigration Studies, 57 percent of all immigrant households in the U.S. get cash, Medicaid, housing or food benefits from the government -- compared with 39 percent of native households. The highest rates are for immigrants from the Dominican Republic (82 percent), Mexico and Guatemala (tied at 75 percent).

Isn't the idea to get immigrants with special skills? If you can't even get a job, by definition, you do not have a special skill. Other than voting Democrat.

There's a strange asymmetry in how this matter can be discussed. Liberals and ethnic activists boast about how America would be better if it were more Latino, but no one else is allowed to say, 'We like the ethnic mix as it is.'

That would be racist. By now no one even tries to disagree."

Ann, despite those garish 'real housewives of Beverly Hills' outfits she insists on wearing at fifty years old, is no airhead.

Related: An unholy trinity - food stamps, the USDA, and the government of Mexico.

*Mr. Wall's tour de force piece.

Swim Like a Fish, People

I heartily approve of Olympian Cullen Jones' mission to encourage swimming, swimming lessons, and swimming safety.

In the photo: Cullen practicing what he preaches.


Jennifer Nichols: Right on Target

Jennifer Nichols, age 28 and a resident of Wyoming, will soon be competing in her third Olympics.

She is a world-class archer and a serious Christian who has creatively managed to combine both worlds.

Here's what she told USA Today: "I shoot anywhere from 140-250 arrows per day, and that takes 3-6 hours. You have to train your fingers to release the strength in a particular way that is very strong but very relaxed.

I memorize a lot of scripture to recite while I'm shooting. I carry a little book in my quiver that has Bible verses that I memorize as I'm walking back and forth to the target. And sometimes I'll recite them while I'm on the line shooting. It plays a large part."

Ms. Nichols is getting married in September, and here's a story about her commitment to a chaste single life.

This, by the way, is an enormously refreshingly contrast to the indiscreet comments by Hope Solo, the soccer goalie (and Olympic gold medalist) who a) sorely lacks moral self control and b) is a terrible role model for young female athletes.

In the photo: Jennifer the archer who says she only hits targets, not critters.


Thank you, Meijer! ('My' Grocery Store.)

For electing to not carry the misogynistic 'Fifty Shades of Grey' series (unlike Costco, Walmart, etc. etc.).

Even if you don't live near a Meijer, you can shop at the hypermarket chain online.

In the photo: A book about the late Fred Meijer, chairman of the chain, who passed away last year.

It's Too Warm to Think Clearly!

An upbeat instrumental tune to chillax by - electronic music by Mr. Scruff, a quirky Brit who used to stock shelves at a supermarket.


Sun. Inspiration: Blessed Are the Meek

At the 4:00 - 4:30 mark, a touching reminder that the "strongest among you may not wear a crown."


Saturday Sighting: Peepers!

One scraggly pine tree.

Plus one resourceful mama bird. (Sparrow?)

Equals a habitat (where the red arrow is pointing) for itsy-bitsy peepers.

See the yellow beak? There's three or four of these bebés in the scraggly pine.

A snug, secure home. Click on the photo for a closer look.


Fri. Fun: Paraskevidekatriaphobia

So it's Friday the 13th.

Ever wonder how this date made the spooky cut?

Wonder no more.

BTW: There are three of these 'unlucky' days this year.


Columbus Replica Ships

The Nina and the Pinta are currently docked at the Petoskey city marina.

A couple of photos I snapped.

A glorious day, I might add.


Forget Those Two Frontrunner Dudes. Vote for Pedro!


Demography is Destiny

Mr. Wall's latest column is here, and, boy, is it bold!

How A One Percenter Once Lived in an Old-World Style Estate

While in Miami, I went on a lightning fast tour of the Vizcaya Museum and Gardens.

A photo of the estate's grotto pool.

From 1916-1925, Vizcaya, located on Biscayne Bay, was the Italian Renaissance villa of James Deering, a farm equipment manufacturing magnate.

Lavish doesn't even begin to describe it. The orchid gardens, alone, are fab.

Still the stiff, dark formality of the indoor rooms is a bit off-putting. Even surreal.

The kitchen, however, is a real bright spot. Look at the size of the woodstove in this photo gallery.

This article explains the origins of this weirdly fascinating pagan-religious mecca.


Revolt Against Drone Nation

Andrew W. Griffin, the intrepid editor of the Red Dirt Report, took this photo at this past weekend's anti-ObamaTax rally in OKC.

What it means: Some liberty lovers in OK are miffed that GOP Gov. Mary Fallin, handmaiden for the corporate welfare crowd (or as a friend of mine calls it, 'the tall buildings crowd'), is an enthusiastic proponent of drone technology. According to this news report, Oklahoma is the first state to be chosen as a testing site for small unmanned aircraft to help first responders - a dubious honor.

Related: Senator Rand Paul's The Preserving Freedom from Unwarranted Surveillance Act of 2012.


A Tasty Way to Enjoy Berries

Raspberries were on sale, so I bought several cartons.

But you gotta eat them fast, since they spoil fast.

So I found an easy, 4-ingredient recipe for homemade raspberry popsicles and decided to give it a try.


I used less sugar than the recipe called for, and it was sweet enough.

I'm going to substitute blackberries for raspberries next time. Yum!


Friday Fun: The Blue Blur

A blue blur was gently whizzing around the wildflowers in my backyard.

Either I needed to put on my reading glasses or get much closer to learn the blur's identity.

I opted for the latter with an assist from the zoom. Hello tiny damselfly.

Hard to imagine that such a delicate creature is considered a predator.

Then, there were two blurs ...


Still Feelin' Patriotic

A slammin' rendition by the a cappella group.

Hollywood A-listers reading the DOI. Well done (even if these people don't believe or understand what they are saying).


The DeBards

The Ironman and I had a lovely time catching up with So. FL family and friends this past weekend.

Our dear amigo, Ruben "the Cuban" Almaguer, even arranged a surprise meeting with one of men who married us - Steve DeBardelaben. (The wedding took place at a Baptist church in Coral Gables.)

Steve is a chaplain for the Miami Heat and the University of Miami football team. He and his wife, Arlene (pictured below), a force of nature in her own right, have been in campus ministry for nearly 40 years. Investing in the next generation keeps one young at heart, no?