Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Math Makes My Head Hurt, But in a Good Way

In the next few months, I have to teach the quadratic equation to my algebra students. I already know a lot about the "formula" and how to solve it, graph it, describe it, find its zeros, the discrimants, domain, range . . . aaaaaggggghhhh! Somebody stop me.

Back in 2003, the quadratic equation become the subject of national debate in the UK. The quadratic equation was held aloft to that great nation as an example of the cruel torture inflicted by mathematicians upon poor unsuspecting school children. The question then, is the quadratic really useless and should we actually bother teaching it anymore?

So I wanted to know, what are quadratic equations actually good for? Turns out, quite a few things indeed.

Did you know?

A quadratic equation is the product of two linear equations?

The area of a square is a simple quadratic and the area of a rectangle is a slightly more complicated quadratic.

A graphed quadratic looks like a parabola.

Quadratics are used to describe the orbits of planets, comets and other celestial bodies.

Quadratics (because of their parabolic nature) aided in the creation of reflective telescopes.

Because of quadratics we have architecture, electronics, micro-chips, fridges, car brakes that work, radio, quantum theory, flight differential equations and so much more.

I don't pretend to have an indepth understanding of how it all works, but I do have a deeper appreciation.

Monday, March 29, 2010

Oh! Bandersnatch!

Twas' brillig and the slithy tove
did gyre and gimble in the wabe:
All mimsy were the borogroves,
and the mom raths outgrabe.

"Beware the Jabberwock, my son!
The jaws that bite, the claws that catch!
Beware the Jubjub bird,
and shun The frumious Bandersnatch!"

He took his vorpal sword in hand:
Long time the manxome foe he sought - -
So rested he by the Tumtum tree,
And stood awhile in thought.

And, as in uffish thought he stood,
The Jabberwock, with eyes of flame,
Came whiffling through the tulgey wood,
And burbled as it came!

One, two! One, two! And through and through
The vorpal blade went snicker-snack!
He left it dead, and with its head
He went galumphing back.

"And, has thou slain the Jabberwock?
Come to my arms, my beamish boy!
O frabjous day! Callooh! Callay!
He chortled in his joy.

Twas' brillig and the slithy tove
did gyre and gimble in the wabe:
All mimsy were the borogroves,
and the mom raths outgrabe.

And Alice reacts: "It seems very pretty," she said when she had finished it, "but it's rather hard to understand!" (You see she didn't like to confess even to herself, that she couldn't make it out at all._ "Somehow it seems to fill my head with ideas - only I don't exactly know what they are! However, somebody killed something: that's clear, at any rate . . . "

Saturday, March 20, 2010


Cadbury mini eggs, asparagus and strawberries. After dinner walks and it is still light at 7. Onion sets begin to poke from the soil. The air smells of orange blossom and jasmine. Throw the windows wide open for sleeping. Shine the rust off the bicycles. Roll in the grass and breathe deeply.

Friday, March 5, 2010

Funnies . . .

Several weeks ago I told Elias that mommies were very special because God had given us power to make bodies. I guess he needed this information to percolate for a while. Because, yesterday morning when he woke up he asked [read demanded] , "Mom, show me how to make a body!" I told him that I was done making bodies, that I had already made three and I was very tired now. He was quite disappointed.

Mason on the other hand is really working on talking. And he loves vehicles. Everywhere we drive he has to point out every truck, school bus, city bus, fire engine . . . and so on. He yells from the back seat, "Mommy, look, look, truck, truck." . . . . There is one small problem though, he cannot yet say the 'tr' sound. Instead he makes a 'ffff' sound. I'm sure you can feel my alarm.

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

The Hearts of the Children . . .

Several years ago I asked Douglas about his grandparents. I think I was trying to fill out a family tree for Addison's baby book. His response was something like, "umm. . . Grandma? I think she was married to Grandpa. " Needless to say, he wasn't very helpful. It was this moment that started me researching Douglas' family tree.

It is several years and a few hundred family names later and I am still working on his genealogy. And, I really love doing it too. It is really exciting for me to find a name or a family and fit them into our growing family tree.

So while I was in Utah, I decided to take a trip to the Church Family History Library. I wanted to try and begin tackling the lines from Germany. I've been putting this off because, well, all the documents are in German. And yes, I did take German in highschool. And yes, I can sing several wonderful beer drinking songs and probably ask you, Where is the train station? But reading census and church records - not so much.

The whole morning I was really reluctant and couldn't get my "genealogy psyche" on. Thank you to mom for getting me there because that trip ended up being a miracle. I have never had much luck in the German research, but this trip was so different. Everything fell into place as though it had just been waiting for me to walk in the door. My big find was a 500 page book about the town of Sulzfeld in Baden, Germany. Some poor sucker had compiled all of the town's records from 1750 to 1950 in one giant book. I'm talking birth dates, spouses, marriage dates, children and children's spouses. notes on people's occupations and when and where people died. And guess what, almost everyone in that town is related to Douglas' great-grandmother, Anna Hoffmann.

My first thought was that since I found this book at the church library, all the work will have been done for these people. Ah, not so. There are hundreds, maybe thousands of names in that book that need their temple work done. People, I am talking about an entire town here!

So, next time you are going to the temple - let me know. I can hook you up with names, some of which have been waiting over 200 years for someone to find them.