Thursday, August 6, 2009

Some times... things get finished.

Life is a journey. Projects are more often in-process than completed. But sometimes... projects are completed.

The city has almost finished the sewer/road project in front of my house. Today, they put down the first of two layers of asphalt. Tomorrow... they finish.

For Fathers' Day, I bought myself two star jasmine plants. One thing led to another, and now, many weeks later, I have a new fenced-in patio with a star jasmine. I also have a new trellis by my back door with the second star jasmine attached. The plants signify the end of that project. Completed: today!

Several weeks ago I bought an e-book: The Gabriel Method -- The Revolutionary Diet-Free Way to Totally Transform Your Body. I finished it yesterday, including the appendix. The book is done and the transformation has begun: I'm eating much better!

Ahhh... Life is a journey, and sign-posts get passed. Some times things get finished. I savor those moments. I've taken a lesson from the theater industry. When a production closes, they have a cast party. They celebrate the finish. They relax. They party.

Then... because life is a journey... the next adventure begins.

I've never been much of a personal historian. Until five years ago, I rarely took pictures. Sometimes I'd click my ears and blink: "Remember this Don." Now I have a camera and a blog. On-line scrap-booking? Sharing my milestones in photographs and paragraphs?

Yes. Party on!

Monday, August 3, 2009

Tagged: Ten Things About Me... shhhh...

"My friend Saphron over at Tilting at the Universe has given me a tag/ Honest Scrap blogging award. She gave me the award and asked me to pass it along to ten other recipients. Apparently I'm to share 10 honest things about myself, as are those I tag, and then tag/give ten new folks the award. Should you be tagged, which is pretty much a certainty if you follow my blog, then it would be helpful if you followed the directions below so we can share the love with as many fellow bloggers as possible."

Miss H. also tagged me... so this is a two-for-one response. Special thanks to Miss H. because I "stole" the first paragraph of this post from her blog. (Look, I used quotes!)

"Here are the rules:

1. “The Honest Scrap” award is not one to hold all to your self; it must be shared.
2 . The recipient has to tell 10 true things about themselves in their blog that no one else knows.
3. The recipient has to pass along this prestigious award to 10 more bloggers.
4. Those 10 bloggers all have to be notified they have been given with this award.
5. Those 10 bloggers that receive this award should link back to the blog that awarded them."

(I stole the rules from Miss H. as well.)

I, however, am an occasional rule breaker. I rarely play tag. I usually ignore tags, but since Saphron has already reminded me... and Miss H. tagged me too, I'll play along. Mostly. I'll give up some "secrets," but I'm letting my end of the tag-line die here. My readers can play if they want... or not.

I also thought about spewing some falsehoods here, just for the fun of it, but then I re-read the rules... something about "true things."

Each of us has our "stories." Anyone who has known me for any length of time will occasionally witness a story "repeat." So some of what I share here will be known to a select few. (Not all the tidbits are interesting, but they are my tidbits.) Here is my "Honest Scrap:"

1. I have never successfully mastered a single water-ski. (I gave up after several tries.)
2. I once hitch-hiked from Iowa to New York in three days.
3. I once let a student shave my head for charity: St. Baldrick's Day.
4. I once held a junior high record for sit-ups in a minute: 72.
5. I once got my '67 Fiat Coupe airborne.
6. The four year college program I started in '71, I finished in '98. (I took a "break" when I was 20 units short.)
7. Last night I dreamed that I was operating a floor buffing machine. (I last worked one in the '70s.)
8. I still have a silver cap on one tooth (bottom front). It's a temporary cap I got in '67 after I chipped a tooth playing football with friends.
9. I could swim five laps underwater in the family pool with one breath: 36' times 5.
10. I once walked down the stairs inside the Washington Monument: 897 of them.

Ten "interesting" facts that span a 45 year period dredged up from my memory banks for your reading "pleasure." And a tip-of-the-hat to Saphron and Miss H.

Sunday, August 2, 2009

Math: God knows inequalities...

I teach math. It is one of the most challenging things that I do, and as a result, I'm always on the look out for math in the real world. I found some recently as I was re-reading the Gospel according to Matthew. Gospel means good news, and it is essentially a mini-biography of Jesus. The bible has four of these mini-biographies/gospels.

I re-read things. I re-read the posts of fellow bloggers. I re-read most of my own posts. I see things on the second, third, or thirty-seventh pass. I'm on about my 60th trip through the Gospel according to Matthew.

This time, I saw inequalities. In math, an inequality is usually stated in terms of greater than or less than. It stands in contrast to things being equal. Two fourths is equal to one half: an equality. Nine tenths is greater than one third: an inequality.

Now it's one thing to compare numbers and quantities: that's math we learn in school. (Or, at least they teach it. Learning it is more hit-or-miss.) But in Matthew, Jesus uses inequalities to do moral and spiritual mathematics.

For example: Jesus talks about being "least" or "greatest" in the kingdom of heaven. He speaks of a righteousness that exceeds (is greater than) the scribes and Pharisees (the religious zealots of the day). Just before Jesus gave the so-called golden rule, he said, "If ye then, being evil, know how to give good gifts unto your children, HOW MUCH MORE shall your Father which is in heaven give good things to them that ask him?" Apparently there are degrees of inequality.

I saw more astounding comparisons/inequalities: "Verity I say unto you, It shall be more tolerable for the land of Sodom and Gomorrha in the day of judgment, than for that city." Here, Jesus is doing a cross-cultural, cross-historical moral comparison of two cities. Wow!

Jesus even made cross-species comparisons of worth: "Fear ye not therefore, ye are of more value than many sparrows." Or, "How much then is a man better than a sheep?"

Not only does Jesus compare cultures, cities, and species, he compares people: "Verily I say unto you, Among them that are born of women there hath not risen a greater than John the Baptist: notwithstanding he that is least in the kingdom of heaven is greater than he." Double wow!

As a math teacher, and as one who studies levels of moral reasoning, I am impressed.

My last post contained a list of life lessons from Regina Brett. At the top of her list is "Life isn't fair, but it's still good." Life isn't always equal: inequalities exist. But life is still good. Life is still good, in part, because God understands and measures the inequalities. The Moral Head of the Universe knows math.

That's why #8 on Regina's list makes sense: It's OK to get angry with God. He can take it. You can get angry and argue with God, in fact He invites it: "Come let us reason together..."

Even Jonah, the swallowed one, needed a lesson in moral inequalities. Jonah was upset because his shade producing gourd/vine had died, but Jonah was not concerned over the destruction of a whole city, so God said, "Thou has had pity on the gourd, for the which thou hast not laboured, neither madest it grow; which came up in a night, and perished in a night: and should not I spare Nineveh, that great city, wherein are more that sixscore thousand persons that cannot discern between their right hand and their left hand; and also much cattle?" God cared about the plant, the people, and the cattle. He also cared about Jonah -- a single man. Wow.

Each culture and time has its own sticky moral dilemmas, and so do each of us. I don't pretend to understand the inequalities, but it gives me great peace knowing that Someone does. It also makes me glad that I've put my "hand in the hand of the Man who stilled the waters." He knows stuff!

He understands the moral issues regarding prejudice, racism, sexism, genocide, abuse, war... and the list goes on. Jesus rebuked the moral experts of his day with these words: "Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye pay tithe of mint and anise and cummin, and have omitted the weightier matters of the law, judgment, mercy, and faith: these ought ye to have done, and not to leave the other undone." Judgment, mercy, faith... weightier (more than)... arguments about tithing.

In reading the Gospel according to Matthew, I also saw that Jesus' exam questions are real soul searchers: "For what will it profit a man if he gains the whole world and forfeits his soul? Or what will a man give in exchange for his soul?"

A person's soul is of greater worth than... the whole world! Wow. Amazing mathematics. Amazing Moral Mathematician.