Musings and Amusings

Archive for the ‘Baby boomers’ Category

My Picks for the Best Books, Part One

Although we have some crossover in readers, I thought some of you budding, wanna-be artists would appreciate this excellent list of recommendations from one of my favorite artists, mentor and cheerleader.

I’m buried in year end, new year paperwork this week, and Katie’s post is a perfect way for me to feature her while slogging through my week of administrative chores.

D.Katie Powell Art

I’ve been asked quite a bit about my favorite how-to art books, and here is my answer.  I will divide them into beginner’s best and then those that are good no matter where you are, but you must know that rarely do I find a book a dud!  I can almost always find some value in another artist’s experience.  That said, I was given some books that  I will sell or give away — I simply don’t find them interesting or valuable or engaging enough to ever crack a second time.

I put books into categories:

  • Those that set out to teach you
  • Those that inspire

The former category is more straightforward.  Either someone is pretty good at reaching their target audience and showing them great ways to accomplish their goals, or introduces them to ideas they never even considered, or they aren’t good teachers! I have eons of teaching…

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This Doesn’t Add Up!

Hub and I sat down last night to help Sparks (5th grade) with his homework.

You know where I’m going with this, right?

Sparks gave us an hour lesson in New Math, during which my thinking cap was knocked so askew I had to lie down for an hour. In New Math, that adds up to 1½ hours of no one learning any New Math.

We recovered by having some pie.

einstein

Apparently 98% of our population in any given year doesn’t grasp how to add, subtract or multiply numbers by columns. Neither do we know how to divide numbers using this cool Boomer doodle pattern:

division1

That’s the only reason I like long division – that rockin’ doodle pattern!

Don’t worry, there are doodle patterns in New Math; just not that obsolete Boomer pattern.

In New Math, the doodle pattern is 100% addition.

That’s right. Subtraction, multiplication and division are each distilled down to addition. Specifically addition of tens. See how this problem starts out as subtraction but quickly morphs into addition?

subtraction1

In addition, Plus Also, horizontal processing has replaced vertical calculations.

For instance this kind of problem:

 addition2

Now looks like …

new math

The gist is 72 and 39 are broken down into tens and reconfigured into completely new numbers spread out across that doodle-y horizontal line. The new numbers are then … … ok, I have no idea how to proceed, but I’m 97% certain there’s a subsequent calculation requiring an additional doodle.

new math doodle

Is anyone seeing a pattern here?

Call me doodle-brained, but New Math looks like it’s taking us down a slippery slope to a nation of … well … doodlers, not mathematicians!

Nevertheless, I’m encouraging Sparks to stick with New Math. I’m counting on him to calculate answers to some mathematical problems that have long plagued my musing mind:

  1. How is it that my nieces and nephews are approaching age 40 when I’m barely one face-wrinkle past 39 myself?
  2. How is it that my youngest brother, who I invariably describe as age 22, is actually – when I doodle it out – 57?
  3. Why can audiologists fine tune Hub’s hearing aids with eight different programs so he can HEAR, but not a single calibration will entice him to LISTEN?
  4. How can we successfully land a space explorer on a comet after traveling a cumulative four billion miles, but my cable provider cannot accurately sync my ‘automatic recording option’ with the actual start time of my shows?
  5. How can we bask in 70 degree sunshine at 10am; shiver in 29 degree snow flurries at 10:30am; and shovel two feet of snow in single digit temperatures 24 hours later? What is a Polar Vortex anyway? It sounds like something out of the Hunger Games (which I pray is not New World repercussions from the New Math Doodling curriculum).

When I was an auditor, I had a client who developed his own catch-all math response to my intrusive audit inquisition – probing for the truth about sales, inventory, expenses and profit.

Me: “Hey Sam, I’m looking at your inventory records stating the number of new and used cars you have on the lot, but my actual count is … well, it’s just not adding up.”

Sam (grabbing inventory sheet and his eraser): “What number would you like it to be?”

Sam didn’t need New Math OR a doodle to calculate that!

 

Source of graphics and photos: Google Images

 

Favorite Children’s Books: Part Two

My friend, Elizabeth, who blogs at Breaking the Cycle is facilitating a series of interviews about favorite children’s books. She interviewed me last week, and I was impressed by the thoughtfulness of her questions. As usual, they provoked memories beyond what we discussed in our interview, all of which have been scribbled in my “future posts” notebook.

I have enjoyed Elizabeth’s own answers to her questions as well as those of other bloggers she has interviewed. Please take a moment to explore her series.

Thank you, Elizabeth, for including me!

Breaking the Cycle 716

Continuing on in the favorite children’s book series, guest blogger Sammy D. graciously agreed to share her love of children’s books. I met Sammy through the A to Z Challenge in April, and we hit it off right away.

I asked Sammy to tell us a bit about herself, and then answer topic questions.

Take it away Sammy.  Hands Sammy the mic.

Born and raised in Michigan, I have called Colorado home for 35 years. My husband and I share many interests including our grandchildren, golf, biking and travel. We have enjoyed biking tours in Vermont, the Loire Valley in France, and along the border of Austria, Italy and Slovenia. I have been a passionate reader for 63 years, enjoying many genres, authors and writing styles.

1. Do you have a favorite book from childhood?

Pollyanna by Eleanor H. PorterPollyanna’s plucky spirit and her ability to find something positive no matter how…

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Why I’m Banned from Watching Election Night Results

election 2014

Google Images

 

I have the opposite of the Midas touch when it comes to choosing political winners.

Do you want to guarantee your candidate will win?

Just convince me to back the other guy.

Independent, Democrat, Republican – it doesn’t matter. I back candidates of all persuasions and, with inexplicable regularity, they lose.

In our house there is a 100% chance of an UPSET on election night:

  • 99.9% of the time I’M UPSET because my guy loses
  • a measly .1% of the time there’s an election upset and my candidate wins

Two years ago, the latter – an election upset – caused a chain reaction. An upset of such epic destruction that I am now banned from watching tv on election night.

It all began innocently enough. After an hour of watching early returns – all races going as expected (the other guys winning) – my stomach signaled time to eat.

“What do you want for dinner, pasta or salad?”

“Let’s have pasta.”

“Do you want spaghetti sauce or pesto?”

“The marinara sauce, please. With meatballs.”

“Want some wine? We have a bottle of that cab you like.”

“Not tonight, thanks.”

“Well I’m going to have some. It’ll make my candidates’ defeats easier to swallow.”

Twenty minutes later, butts back in our arm chair recliners; tv trays placed squarely in front of us; warm marinara sauce smothering the thick strands of red onion pasta in bowls atop our trays, we dug in. My second glass of wine – full to the brim – beckoned within easy reach on the tray next to my pasta bowl.

A steady stream of election results scrolled across the bottom of the tv screen as the talking heads preened in their illusory self-importance.

Suddenly!

A breaking news alert!

 

election results

Google Images

 

One of the state elections was unexpectedly trending for the underdog – my guy. The guy who had no chance was on the verge of being crowned the projected winner!

I jerked my head up from my spaghetti bowl, turned to Hub with a startled, “Did you hear …” and never finished my utterance.

Apparently when I last left my chair, I hadn’t given the foot rest the solid kick needed to lock it in place. My head jerk and body turn were enough momentum to set my chair in motion.

Slow-w-w-w-w-w Motion

The kind of perceived slow motion occurring when you realize something terrible is about to happen and you are powerless to stop it.

As the foot rest snapped abruptly upwards, catching the legs of the tray and launching it towards the tv, my body was thrown back in sync with the now-reclining chair.

I thrust my arms forward in a futile attempt to grab the rapidly receding tray. Alas, we were catapulted in opposite directions.

I yelled; Hub yelled; the tv tray crumpled; the bowl flew; the glass shattered; red wine splotched; spaghetti splattered.

Everywhere.

The beige carpet, the freshly painted white cupboards, the books and paper piles and yoga mat – all covered with the gory aftermath of a blood and guts murder.

Politics is messy business …

Does anyone want to catch a movie Tuesday night?

 

All Changes Have Their Melancholy

All changes, even the most longed for, have their melancholy; for what we leave behind us is a part of ourselves; we must die to one life before we can enter another.” Anatole France

image

That quote is a tad dramatic for this topic, but back in April I was feeling a loss too keenly to write about it. I’ve read many a post by a parent or grandparent experiencing this normal life transition. I suspect knowing it’s normal didn’t make it any easier for them either.

Raqi has always been ‘our’ grandbaby.

As is often the case in step-families, we had to wait our turn. A first granddaughter was born to Hub’s older son. Next a first grandson was born to Hub’s younger son. Naturally parents are very protective of their first-borns, and naturally the biological grandmothers expect to have those babies to themselves. While Hub and I visited and occasionally babysat, we didn’t have the luxury of much one-on-one time with those two babies.

By the time Raqi came along, her older brother was three; both parents were tired, stressed and steeped in career paths; and biological grandmothers had “been there; done that”.

Raqi seemed ripe for the taking!

raqi baby

 

When she was two weeks old, she had her first overnight with us. That quickly became two overnights a week, and even more when Mom and Dad could stand the guilt of relinquishing her. It gave them much-needed relief; gave three-year-old Sparks time alone with his parents; and gave Hub, Raqi and me an opportunity to bond with each other in a way I never imagined.

Not only has our bond flourished for eight delicious years, but we have become closer to Sparks and his parents than we would have otherwise. I will always be grateful to my stepson and daughter-in-law for making us such a welcome part of their home and their family.

In April we took our first spring bike ride to the pond near our house. After we circled the pond several times, Sparks and Hub headed home to get the football, but Raqi wanted to stay at the pond.

She normally chats non-stop and is always in close physical contact with us. So it was unusual when she left me with the bikes; walked over to the tree and stared quietly at the water.

image

 

After about five minutes, I walked over and leaned against one of the other trunks. I didn’t say anything and eventually she began telling me how sad she felt that their family was moving to another house. When I asked her why, she explained that she had lived in that house since she was born, and all her memories of her life are in that house. She went on to talk about her bedroom and how much she loved the color and the wall decorations and how many times she and I played with her dolls in there.

She talked about the living room and playing ‘Hot Lava’ and doing the Hokey Pokey and learning to turn cartwheels. She talked about the basement and how much fun we had playing in our ‘family band’ and dancing to music videos.

She cried, saying she’d never be happy in another home.

It broke my heart.

Or should I say it added to my broken heart. For months Hub and I had been dreading the changes that were coming – not just the physical change of their home which, indeed, held so many memories, but the loss for the two of us as Sparks and Raqi move into adolescent/pre-teen preoccupations, and baby/toddler absorption fast-fades in the rear view mirror.

Even though they will always be with us; they won’t.

I know I don’t have to explain that to most of you.

It’s our job, as parents and grandparents, to prepare our children to move out into the world beyond our arms. The beauty is we do it well. The melancholy is we do it well.

That day, I tried to reassure Raqi that we will – as a family – carry memories of that home in our hearts, and we will help each other remember. I also promised her (and myself, although I don’t quite believe it) that we will make just as many good memories in their new house.

Within three days of moving, Raqi had fallen in love with her new next door neighbor Em. Those two girls became inseparable for the rest of summer, Raqi going so far as to write Em a “love poem” when Em left for a week on family vacation. My heart beams for both of them.

Hub and I are learning to find joy being interested observers as Raqi’s world widens, thankful we have front row seats.

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