Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Update on House Shopping

Just an FYI,
The seller agreed to our offer entirely - including the new furniture they staged it with. Barring the inspector reporting some minor catastrophe, our closing date will be Nov 29 or before.


Sunday, October 28, 2007

things that have made me smile this week

the principal announcing over the intercom that all students should be changing their underwear daily and keeping themselves as clean as possible.

realizing that should we ever have a teenager that we wished would not be sitting too close to their significant other, we can just send peyton into the room. any time 2 people are sitting remotely close to each other she bounds in between, wanting any potential kissing action for herself.

coming home from taking peyton to the park on friday night to discover a fire in our firebowl and tulips and dinner waiting for me on the porch

the number of students who ask if i'm going to dress up for halloween. one student suggested i dress up as a witch, so i responded 'well that wouldn't really be a costume then would it?' the other students thought this was quite funny but the humor was lost on that particular student.

deciding with ross to make an offer on our (potentially) very first house of our own!

Sunday, October 21, 2007

Challenge: Simplicity and Depth (Corrected)

Note: The corrected text is listed below in bold in the crane wife story.

As an avid chessplayer, I have to admit that sometimes the most beautiful creations in chess come from the most unexpected, quietest and simplest moves. That's their charm - impressive depth and power with little raw material. Recognizing them as such requires a skill all it's own.

Over the last month I have seen a small outpouring of people writing extremely short stories that still attempt to be a viable tale. The universe of possibilities that some of the stories open up with a handful of words distinctly reminds me of the subtle nature of "the quiet move" in chess.

Here are three examples I came across:
The first is an old Japanese tale called the crane wife. An old man once found a wounded crane on his doorstep. He took the crane in and nursed it back to health. Some time later the man met a woman and fell in love and married. They were poor so the woman offered to weave silk clothing to sell to make money, but he could never look in at her while she created the clothes. As time grew on, the womans health worsened but blinded by greed, the man demanded more clothing to be weaved. Wanting badly to know what she did to the silk to make these clothes so desirable, he looked in on her one day and was surprised to see a crane plucking feathers from her own body to weave into the loom. She flew away and never returned.

(If you like the story, listen to the Decemberists sing a folk rock version of this song called Crane Wife 3).

So six sentences and I count at least five morals to the story. That's amazing. The story is also closed and complete and emotionally provocative. In fact your gender will probably seriously color how you feel about the story. Compassion, love, greed, selflessness, betrayal, tragedy, shame, sorrow maybe? - WOW! Talk about dynamite in small packages...

Contrast that with this story supposedly written by Hemingway (who according the story also said it was his best work). "For Sale: Baby Shoes, Never Worn."

The difference here is how many stories he just wrote (in just 6 words!). Every time you try to figure out what happened, you get another story. Did the mother die? Of what did she die? Sickness, accident, homicide? Maybe a miscarriage or tragedy at birth? Maybe she just left or gave the child up for adoption? Maybe I just moved into a house and found some brand spanking new baby shoes. Heck, maybe I just got two for one at the local Walmart. The point is that it's an infinite number of stories out of an ever so tiny number of words.

Here's one more from the annals of the internet supposedly written in a college class in response to an assignment to write a short story involving religion, mystery and tradgedy.

"God, I'm pregnant. Who's the father?" So this one doesn't come close to either of the other two because it's both closed and narrowly focused. It's still part of the class of short stories written in 6 words or less.

So challenge time. What's your 6 word story? If you can't think of one, then whats your 6 sentence story? Here's my quick try at one. Missing my love, people surround me.

Ross Hytnen

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

o no you did NOT

last thursday was not the greatest day for me. having caused a child to burst into tears and continue to bawl for most of 5th period, i was going to seek her out during 6th period to reiterate why said child had been assigned lunch detention. (curious? after refusing 3x to pick up her binder which had spilled its contents all over my classroom floor, and after my suggesting she get busy taking notes, she defiantly wrote on her notes page, 'learned this in 4th grade' to which i responded with a note of my own: going to lunch detention tomorrow. clearly this was not respectful, and you are probably aware of how i feel about respect in my classroom.)

however, i was distracted from my reparation mission with this student because a new student had unexpectedly been enrolled in my 6th period. as i was introducing myself and getting this new student a seat and a warmup page, i was again distracted by 6 more new students arriving to my class.

now, i should explain that my 6th period class had been shrinking the first few weeks of schools as student schedules got ironed out, until only 12 students remained in the class. this is much smaller than my other classes so myself and the students referred to it as our 'cute little tiny class.' these students are some of my lowest students, but since it was so small, i felt like i was able to give them a lot more individual attention. i saw some results from this on the last quiz, as their class average went from my lowest class to my second highest class! i was anxious to see if this trend would continue. however, i digress. 6 more new students.

it seems the reason behind my 'cute little tiny class' was that some spots were being reserved for students who were in the ESL Academy because they just barely moved here from Mexico. fun times! i asked them to introduce themselves to the class, and (after a translation) they introduced spanish. fortunately for my non-spanish-speaking-self, most of my students are bilingual. the new students do have a teacher that comes with them 2 x a week, but the other days we are by ourselves. so, feeling rather helpless, the next day i paired up my bilingual students with the non-english speaking students and have them do a lot of translating for me. its not really the best situation as these students, while benefiting from having to explain what they are learning, are having to work extremely hard to help out their classmates. they are being great sports about it and i am most proud. however, these new students with absolutely no warning, were quite the surprise.

Saturday, October 13, 2007

peyton the puppy

ross brought me home a puppy on friday! we'd been thinking of getting a dog for quite some time now and had been scouring craigslist for a couple weeks, checking out some dogs. ross found peyton and went by to meet her after work on friday and brought her home...for free!

she is a collie mixed with something else, and almost 1yr old. we've been having a blast with her so far. our friends b&b came out today with their dog and we all went over to the hamilton greenbelt and wore those puppies out!

minnie (the cat) has been responding fairly well so far, and we hope that the 2 of them can become great friends. mostly peyton will be outside though, and we already have a dog pen and dog run in the yard, that ross is fixing up right now so she has plenty of room to play. peyton is my first dog ever to have and i'm excited! she likes me just fine, but she LOVES ross and follows him around everywhere.

Thursday, October 04, 2007

1/6 (or 6/36) of the way there!

tomorrow marks the end of the 1st 6weeks grading period....sigh of relief! this past week or so has been fast and furious trying to get all those kiddos who didn't turn in homework assignments for about 3 weeks to have a passing grade in my class. lots of before school tutoring, and assigning them to the afterschool tutorial program and a little creativity (the beauty of being able to drop 2 HW grades!!)...and i've got it, mission accomplished. i have a new plan for this 6 weeks that i think will be better for the students and definitely for me in the long run. any student missing 2 assignments will immediately be assigned to after school tutoring program every day (until 6pm) until all assignments are completed. this will help the missing assignments not snowball on me. this of course means i need to be very on top of my game so i KNOW how many assignments they are missing.

we've been doing some preliminary work (prime factorization, GCF, LCM, preteaching vocabulary) and starting tuesday (woohoo for columbus!) we will be full force ahead into our fraction unit for the next month or so. i'm trying to do a really good job of explaining conceptually what we're doing and how everything fits together, and the kids seem to be responding well. for instance, today we were discussing equivalent fractions. i had them shade half a piece of paper and we wrote a fraction (1/2). then without more shading, we folded the paper in half again and came up with 2/4. and so on. these fractions are the same because in relation to the whole, you still have the same 'part of a whole'. or something like that. we also then looked at the patterns and developed a rule that would work for any fraction, which is of course to multiply the numerator and denominator by the same number. the kids were freaking out getting so excited trying to figure out what it was, because i was totally playing along with all their ideas, acting surprised when they didnt work. but the whole class was ecstatic when one kid would finally get it right. i also found it amusing that they would try to stump me (i was showing them that you can use any number you like) with large 652. and i would take 1/5 and come up with 652/3260, and they would be genuinely impressed that i could do such math. o brother. these kids have a loooong way to go! and i shall take them there. well, a little way there.

overall, i'm still feeling slightly overwhelmed by this teaching assignment. every school has its own culture that can provide challenges, and ours certainly has its fair share. the getting up early and long drive and getting home late is still hard for me to get used to. also the work required on the weekends is getting a little old. i feel like i've made some good progress building rapport with the kids and i do see glimpses sometimes of solid learning taking place. but it can also be very frustrating when you feel sometimes as if you are talking to a crowd of people but the only person listening is you! and i have of course made a few of my kids burst into tears, which is difficult. i've had a kid yell at me and tell me he doesn't like me and thinks i'm nice to everyone but him and proceed to slam the door to my classroom. i've also had a kid write me a note on her homework that she wants to be a teacher and i am her role model. so its definitely a challenging mix of ups and downs. and i like it.

ross and i decided to take a break from responsibility/work/etc on sunday night and go watch a movie at the theater. we watched 'the kingdom' and it was pretty intense, but we really thought it was a good movie. tonite we also started a new study with our small group written by our church ( that i i think we will enjoy. other than that, we continue to hang out with each other, and try to fit in as many enjoyable activities as possible in the limited time we have. i will admit that i realized with great horror on the way home tonight that i had forgotten our 7month anniversary yesterday! the first 6months of our marriage i had remembered and tried to do a little something special. ross says this means we have graduated to quarterly or yearly celebrations. but i told him thats silly. of course we will continue to celebrate each and every month. to make up for yesterday, i made us some tacos to celebrate 7months and 1 day of being together!

Monday, October 01, 2007

Rethinking the Riddle

I'm gettin reports that everyone is stumped on this one so maybe I'll just tell you the answer and pose a secondary question.

Take the case of 1 person with blue eyes and 199 people with brown eyes. The statement "I see blue eyes" would clearly refer to that 1 person and that 1 person would see no other blues eyes and understand this fact. 1 person with blue eyes will leave that first night.

Take the case of 2 people with blue eyes and 198 people with brown eyes. Each person with blue eyes would see exactly 1 other person with blue eyes. Blue #1 sees Blue #2 and thinks, "If he is the only one with blue eyes then he'll leave tonight." (Btw, blue #2 thinks exactly the same thing) Blue #2 won't leave that night however because he see's Blue #1. Therefore, Blue #1 can now deduce that Blue #2 sees a pair of blue eyes and since Blue #1 only see's one pair of blue eyes, then the second pair must belong to him. Both of them will leave on night 2.

Take the case of 3 people. The third person with blue eyes sees 2 people with blue eyes. Knowing what we just talked about, he expects them to both leave on night 2 if they see no third set of blue eyes. Since they DO see another set of blue eyes they don't leave on night 2 and thefore the third guy can now deduce they were looking at him. 3 people leave on night 3.

And so on...

100 people will leave on the 100th night. People with brown eyes would expect to leave on night 101 if they also had blue eyes. Since everyone left a day earlier, they know they do not have blue eyes.

Confused? Good - just mull this over and answer the next part of the riddle. Keep in mind that part of the key here is that blue eyed people see one less set of blue eyes than brown eyed people.

What piece of information is introduced by the statement "I see a person with blue eyes" that was missing before it was said? In other words, everyone knew that other people on the island had blue eyes so why was it important that a third party introduces the sentence?