Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Happy Tau Day! (Have your Pi and eat two.)

If I hadn't had children, if we hadn't opted to homeschool, if I didn't do my own research and curriculum development, would I have learned about so much fantastic stuff this far out of my own traditional schooling stage of life? OK, sure I would have, but it would've been different stuff that may have also been interesting. But this path we've chosen has led me to delve into topics that would otherwise have barely been awarded a nod in my other life. In efforts to provide our children with a well-rounded education, I find myself delving into topics that I'd either long since set aside, or never experienced in my childhood.

Case in point = T (Tau). Sure, I took math in school. Sometimes it was even fun. (Thank you very much, Mr. Wheeler, Mr. Honeyman, Mr. Dimmitt and Mr. Cross). And while I maintained good grades, I didn't exactly excel, nor did I take any courses not required for a diploma. I studied my guts out, tried to understand it, crammed for tests, purged, passed and moved on. Geometry? Of course, and liked it. Algebra? Yes. (I consider it "thoughtful doodling.") Trig? Yes, I vaguely remember working through that one, too. But in all those equations and characters, Greek symbols and ancient philosophers, I don't recall anything about Tau. And since graduating from college, my math has been limited to the needs of finances and the geometry of various projects from sewing to trailer and Jeep mechanics.

Every day is made for learning. Today is Tau Day, the antithesis of Pi Day. Well, rather, the double of Pi Day. You can read the technical details about pi here, but, basically, it's an (entirely) irrational number typically represented only to its 100th place (3.14). Some mathematicians celebrate Pi on March 14. (Whatever it takes to get a good ol' slice of pie, right?) But pie lovers, and pi haters, are conspiring to get more pie while educating the masses about the (apparently) more mathematically logical use of tau (2Pi or 6.28...). It seems using tau would be easier, more streamlined and, perhaps, even more logical and accurate. The issue has even hit news media at points around the Globe.

Vi Hart, a mathematician and artist the girls and I have come to enjoy this year, explains it in terms I actually understand...somewhat. I still don't see a use for this (sine and cosine waves just don't fall into everyday parlance in journalism, childcare, homeschooling, house cleaning, gardening or horseback riding). So, bake a pair of pies, cut a slice and sit back to enjoy the video and learn a little something more about the mysteries of the mathematical universe.

Confused yet? Well, for the more musically inclined, here's an instrumental representation of tau. Grab that second piece of pie and enjoy:

If you'd like to learn about more math-related topics of interests, check out Let's Play Math, a great blog dedicated to the study and (gasp!) enjoyment of all things math.

As for the debate, our family will celebrate with a pair of homemade pies. Why not? Seems like a logcial excuse to enjoy a food that needs no excuse at all.

Monday, June 27, 2011

Considering options

It's been nearly four months since we cleaned out the clutter from our house to make it more welcoming to potential buyers. It started with lots of excitement and plans for a move, though we knew we shouldn't get too emotionally involved in the process. After all, 'til the last papers are signed, keys exchanged and escrow closed, it's not a done deal. Mr. B is thrilled with the austerity, but the girls and I are growing weary of it. And as the new school year approaches, I wonder if we'll be here unpacking and moving back into our existing home (how will we EVER get used to all that STUFF in here again?) or decorating a new place.

Living in a semi-packed condition leads to plenty of issues, not the least of which is inaccessibility to much of our "stuff." That probably wouldn't be an issue if we didn't really USE our stuff, but we do. I feel bad that I was unable to make the dress E wanted for her birthday (the first time she's outright asked me to sew a dress for her) because the machines are, quite literally, buried in the garage. Many of the girls' play things are in boxes and they're growing out of them while we wait.

I feel like life is on hold.

But this will become especially noticeable in the fall when school projects kick in again. I don't like to dishonor the girls' work by immediately placing it in a box or drawer or closet. We display work here, and that doesn't fit with the real estate agent's learned counsel regarding maintaining a spotless house for ideal showing.

So...that got me thinking...we've talked since 2009 of taking our school back on the road. This time for a loop through the south (largely to visit friends and family), then up the east coast (E wants to play in Plymouth, MA and V wants to got to Maine). We need to be back home in time to hop the train to Washington for Thanksgiving, and travel isn't exactly small change these days, even for boondockers like us. But...I started fiddling around with the map. Sure could use some input.

If you were doing a trip through the nation's eastern states (anything east of the Mississippi), where would you suggest, and why? What are your highlights, particularly with children in mind? If you read this blog, you know what we're into (nature, art, dolls, animals to name a few). Drop your ideas in the comments boxes for all to see...and for us to consider. :)

Dry Spell

(Blog subscribers who view this in e-mail may want to click her to visit the site where photos are also posted.)
It's not as though we've been hangin' out here in the house doing nothing these past (nearly) two months. If we had been, perhaps I would have posted more regularly. In fact, we've seemed mightily busy. The technical difficulties that come with marrying an aging computer with modern external hard drives have led to much more difficult use of digital media. (Ahem...in English, please!) I can no longer download images from my digital camera to my hard drive then transfer to my external hard drive. Nor can I plug that external hard drive into this computer for any reason. Seems Old Windows didn't plan ahead for the behemoth drives of today; they're entirely incompatible. So, without pix, I've been focusing my efforts elsewhere.

Here are the highlights:
* E earned some awards for her first-year 4H efforts. She enjoyed the projects (sewing, cooking, porcelain doll, horse project and a variety of community service projects and committees) and the social aspect, but the paperwork was a bear. THAT paid off, however, with a gold seal in the club-level judging of her record book, and a win at the county level!

* We took Maddie out for her first pack trip. Of course, it was the weekend that SLO County experienced record rainfall, thereby adding to our adventure. Rather than simply test her willingness to carry the scary, neon-orange, nylon pack setup, we also tested her temperament while carrying said gear through mud and water (she hates water). A great time was had by most...

*The girls decided they wanted to have their own money at Live Oak Music Festival, so they planned ahead, made crafts, got a loan (from us) to purchase brownie and lemonade makin's, then had a rockin' lemonade stand. The girls made out like bandits, no small thanks to gracious passers by willing to support young entrepreneurs. The result: lots of savings on MY part at the festival. More responsible spending by the girls. ("I'd like to do the xxx, but it's not worth THAT much," was a common refrain once their own cash was on the line.)

*Live Oak was, again, fantastic. If you haven't attended, put it on your calendar for 2012. It's always Father's Day weekend (a bummer for us since neither my father nor the girls' father are interested), always largely family friendly, always uplifting, social and relaxing. (Upon our return home Monday morning I discovered I could no longer count change under pressure...now THAT is relaxing!)

*We served as docents in the Weaving Room several times during special events at Mission La Purisima. We look forward to upcoming mission days and hope friends, family and blog followers will join us there some time.

*Gave a talk at a SLO County Parent Participation Preschool. Noted a lot more preschoolers' parents are getting out and about, particularly into our natural spaces, than they were when the first book came out in 2006. That's GREAT news for all of the children and families alike!

*Visited the Getty Villa as E's culminating event for hear year-long Latin course. GREAT place to visit, particularly if you're interested in Greek and Roman antiquities. Amazing glass exhibit still has us talking, and the gardens were spectacular.

*Showed our house 42 times in 92 days...and received one (terrible) offer. Still awaiting a buyer and hoping the home we want doesn't get snapped up before we can get it all aligned. And on that note, rearranged furniture...several times...and did our best to keep the house ready to show at the drop of a hat. Don't know if we can begin school in the fall while also maintaining undecorated walls. I have a need to display the girls' work rather than stuff it immediately into a box or drawer. May have to take school on the road in the fall to change things up while we await a buyer. (Know any more ways to spread the word? We've got a real estate agent on it, listed it on MLS, Craigslist and various online real estate pages....more ideas?)

*Attended various performances, from Chinese Acrobats to E's dance recital. (ALL of us are SO glad she changed schools this year - a fantastic learning curve, and much classier recital.) She's still in love with dance, and continues singing with Sweet Adelines. Meanwhile, V does her best to differentiate herself from her sister - doesn't want to be seen on stage, but has a beautiful voice!

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