Sunday, September 28, 2008

we didn't stop at pi

A is throwing a fit in the car- we're ten minutes from home and she's suddenly starving (despite having just eaten). We try distraction, empathy, humor, music, etc. and nothing is cutting it. Five minutes from home I can't take the whining any more, and tell her we'll have to pull over if she can't calm down. She pulls herself together and is silent for a few seconds. Then we hear a mournful whimper from the back- "10... 20... 30..."

Apparently A comforts herself by counting by tens. We joined in and got to 1200. She was happy by the time we got home.

(She often includes zero in her counting, both forwards and backwards. This may make her more developmentally advanced than the middle school kids I used to tutor.)

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

recruitment efforts

I convinced a coworker to try biking into work and, since she was too nervous to go it alone, accompanied her this morning. I was afraid that THIS would be the day that a driver did something stupid or we hit a freak rainstorm or something would else happen to convince her to never do it again, but it was happily uneventful. I doubt she’ll start doing it every day, especially since the weather is getting colder, but at least now she knows it’s viable, not unpleasant, and doesn’t take all that long. I’m unreasonably proud of myself.

fall garden

We have two enormous pumpkins growing, but one of them seems to be rotting on the vine. There are several small ones too but I don't know if they'll ripen before the plant dies. Or if they’ll ripen off the vine. Really I don’t know anything about pumpkins, except that if I allow them in my garden next year they will be re-routed out through the fence as soon as they have more than three leaves. Dan says I was foolish not to know that they’d trample over all my other plants, but since our pumpkins last year were all stunted from being planted in 2” of gravel and munched on by the deer, I didn’t. I should have taken Pumpkin Circle more seriously.

I transplanted a few strawberries into the fenced-in garden so maybe next year we'll actually defy the mammals and get berries in June.* The everbearing plants are still producing but Dan is less-than-appreciative of the tiny berries. I cut up old jeans to use as mulch in the strawberry patch and they're working really well. I used large swaths of denim with slits cut in them for the plants to poke through- effective and stylish. Unfortunately, I fear that I'll need to re-do it in the spring because I doubt that all of the plants will find their way up through the same holes.

The broccoli plants are hanging on but look pretty pathetic and unlikely to produce. The tomatoes also look awful but have a lot of fruit on them; it's nice to see them surviving despite the toll a month of rain took on them.

We pulled up the basil and drafted potluck guests to pull the leaves off the stems. Dan has frozen pesto.

Cowering under the pumpkins is a plant which, despite its attack, has produced several hot peppers, which add good flavor to chili. They also, alas, burnt my hand on Sunday. Someday I’ll learn. The scarlet runner beans are still flowering. Next year I'm planting more- we like them better than green beans.

The fall carrots failed and I forgot to plant spinach. Soon I’ll put in some garlic. (I wonder if it would be safe from the mammals or if it needs to go inside the fence too. I think I’ll try outside; it’s used as a repellent after all.)

A demanded an apple yesterday so I filched a few from the ground below a neighbor’s tree. Luckily she, unlike C, is undeterred by mottled skin. We want to ask the owners of our local apple trees if we can bring ladders over to pick but haven’t had a chance yet. (There’s a public apple tree near my office with lots of good lookin’ apples on it, none of which I can reach. All the limbs within my reach have stunted fruit that look like crab apples. I’m baffled and ladderless.)

*Y’all can give me copper tape for Christmas to help me defy the invertebrates. The slugs annoy me, but as long as I consider them relatives to sandworms I can live with them. It’s when I start thinking of them as Hutts that they really piss me off. When I encountered one last week that was about the size of A’s hand, they became Hutts.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

what a lyricist

A, who is supposed to be sleeping, is singing rather tunefully, “Water, salt, and then then then then then- oil, molasses, then then then then- flour, yeast, and - then then then then then….“ She’s assisted Dan in breadmaking just about enough to take over the job.

Yesterday she was singing "Summer, fall, winter, spring" over and over again to the tune of Dona nobis pacem.

No, not crying....

Whatever I'm allergic to seems to be reaching its peak. Fall is my favorite season, but this is not its best aspect.

Saturday, September 20, 2008

wouldn't Bob be surprised if we'd left it there

So C is supposed to be watching Neighbor Bob’s cats this week. When he went to feed them today, one of them had disappeared- whether C left a door ajar or if the guy working no the house did, we don’t know, but the cat was found lurking in the woods, refusing to be caught. As Dan left tonight he asked me to go try to get it- “it’s almost come onto the porch; maybe it will like you better than me and C.” So I stroll over as Dan is driving away, find a docile cat sitting on the porch steps, pick it up, and toss it inside.

Then it occurs to me- there are bunch of cats in our neighborhood. I have no idea what Iggy looks like. So I retrieve C from our house to identify the cat. We find it warily circling Delphina, the cat that DIDN’T run away; she looks terrified.

C: “No, that’s not Iggy.”

Random cat was very happy to leave. Delphina hopefully will get over the trauma. Iggy remains on the lam.

Thursday, September 18, 2008

This post is of no interest to you unless you have trouble with the Monty hall problem.

I never believed the "correct" answer to the "Monty Hall problem." (In brief: you're on a game show and pick a door, hoping for a new car. The host opens one of the other doors and reveals a goat, and then gives you the option of switching to the unopened door you didn't pick. Should you do it? The problem presumes you prefer cars to goats, despite goats being cuter and more ecologically friendly and producers of feta.) It turns out that you always should, even though in my mind it shouldn't matter. No matter how many times I heard it explained I still couldn't get it. In part this is because if the host opened one of the other doors without knowing what lay behind it, and just happened to encounter a goat, the probabilities would in fact be equal. But I finally read an explanation which helps me to wrap my head around it:

It may be easier to appreciate the solution by considering the same problem with 1,000,000 doors instead of just three (vos Savant 1990). In this case there are 999,999 doors with goats behind them and one door with a prize. The player picks a door. The game host then opens 999,998 of the other doors revealing 999,998 goats—imagine the host starting with the first door and going down a line of 1,000,000 doors, opening each one, skipping over only the player's door and one other door. The host then offers the player the chance to switch to the only other unopened door. On average, in 999,999 out of 1,000,000 times the other door will contain the prize, as 999,999 out of 1,000,000 times the player first picked a door with a goat. A rational player should switch.

Thanks Wikipedia!

Wednesday, September 03, 2008

too many keys

Upon my arrival to work every morning, I must:

1) Unlock my bike lock from the frame
2) Relock it under the stairwell
3) Unlock the secretary’s office
4) Unlock the key box to get the key to the locker room
5) Re-lock the key box
6) Re-lock the secretary’s office
7) Unlock the locker room
8) Unlock my locker (currently using combination lock*; not sure if another key would be more or less annoying- I may steal the keyed padlock off C's window)
9) After showering, etc. re-lock my locker
(The locker room door re-locks automatically! Hurray!)
10) Unlock the secretary’s office again
11) Unlock the key box and return the locker room key
12) Re-lock the key box
13) Re-lock the secretary’s office
14) Unlock the door to my office- and then I’m finally at work!

This also occurs in reverse on the way home, but at least the secretary’s office is usually open then. I’m angling for my very own locker room key, which will eliminate more than half of the above steps, but I’m having to fight for it.

* Purchased for my middle school gym locker in 1987. I still know the combination because I taped it on the back- in hexadecimal. So only geeks can steal my dirty clothes. I don't actually think this lock is necessary to prevent theft, but I want to prevent overly-diligent maintenance employees from "cleaning out" my stuff.