Archive for the ‘education’ Category

Recipe for Disappointment


Lentil & rice dish, ayurvedic: yellow lentils, coriander, misc. spices

Winter salad: raspberry vinaigrette (rasp. preserves, balsamic vinegar, white vinegar, salt/pepper to taste, whisk in olive oil); fresh salad greens; candied walnuts (shell walnuts, whip one egg white, blend in 1/2 c. brown sugar, 1/2 tsp salt, fold in walnuts, bake 350 deg 10 minutes in single layer, cool); mushrooms; carrots; crumbled goat cheese; pears (oregon best)

Appetizers: asst. pitted olives, wheat crackers, artisan cheese, monofloral honeys (tupelo, chestnut), peasant loaf bread

Wine: Pinot Black (Chile), Garnacha (Spain), Cab Sav/Merlot blend (Patagonia)

Dessert: Ginger Rosewater ice cream, fresh raspberries, orange biscuits dipped in 60% cacao

Sunday 8p, reservation for two three.*

*Ridiculously cute ukulele-playing women should know better than to show up for dinner with news about who they like better than you. It hurt, but I have a memory of a Popeye song that outshines any hard feelings … thanks for being real, Lacey.

Seven, Eleven, All Good Children Go to Heaven


“Arithmetic is where numbers fly like pigeons in and out of your head.

Arithmetic tells you how many you lose or win if you know how many you had before you lost or won.

Arithmetic is seven eleven all good children go to heaven – or five six bundle of sticks.

Arithmetic is numbers you squeeze from your head to your hand to your pencil to your paper till you get the answer.

Arithmetic is where the answer is right and everything is nice and you can look out of the window and see the blue sky – or the answer is wrong and you have to start all over and try again and see how it comes out this time.

If you take a number and double it and double it again and double it a few more times, the number gets bigger and bigger and goes higher and higher and only arithmetic can tell you what the number is when you decide to quit doubling.

Arithmetic is where you have to multiply – and you carry the multiplication table in your head and hope you won’t lose it.

If you have two animal crackers, one good and one bad, and you eat one and a striped zebra with streaks all over him eats the other, how many animal crackers will you have if somebody offers you five six seven and you say No no no and you say Nay nay nay and you say Nix nix nix?

If you ask your mother for one fried egg for breakfast and she gives you two fried eggs and you eat both of them, who is better in arithmetic, you or your mother?”

— Carl Sandburg (, yo.)

What am I going to grad school for?


Well, memory, actually. Or more precisely, the interaction between the vision system and the memory system. Memory for scenes, photographs, symbols, maps … how visual memories are stored and processed, how artists encode memories into paintings, how teachers use visual aids, how dreams are visualized … it’s two really giant fields and I seem to modulate back and forth between them and with varying degrees of specificity. At the moment I’m just generally awed by the whole thing and how little I know, but I’m sure a couple semesters in a PhD program will cure me of that and I’ll run and hide in some little-known corner of research dealing with rubber bands, reaction times, and Vygotskian scaffolding.

*A folk remedy


“A folk remedy* for insomnia, the scent in lavender flowers, has now been proved effective. In a recent study, 30 volunteers with chronic insomnia slept each night for three weeks on lavender-scented pillows in a controlled room where their sleep was monitored. During the first week, volunteers continued to take their usual sleeping medication. They slept soundly but wakened feeling tired. During the second week, the volunteers discontinued their medication. As a result, they slept less soundly than the previous week and felt even more tired. During the third week, the volunteers slept longer and more soundly than in the previous two weeks. This shows that over a short period of time lavender cures insomnia.

*A folk remedy is usually a plant-based form of treatment common to traditional forms of medicine, ones that developed before the advent of modern medical services and technology.”

Yeah, that’s right Mr. GRE. I got yer folk remedy right here.

D is for Diatom

Yes, diatoms. And yes, reminding. Everything is reminding, if you
think about it, we are social creatures and in general, military
intelligence aside, we are very forthcoming about making what we know
known to the rest of the hive, don’t think about you knowing something
or me knowing something, think about the human tribe knowing
something, you may not know anything about how astronauts brush their
teeth in space but I can remind you about it by just sending you a
book. Nobody asks one ant to build an anthill, just like nobody asks
one neuron if it can tell you which way to the Self, it will just say
“Yes,” or if it is having an off-day, it might tell you “No,” and then
you might ask a neighboring neuron who seems a little more excited, it
might tell you “Yes Yes Yes” but that’s still no good if your question
was “Where?” it’s like trying to ask a fish how it swims when you’ve
got it on the deck of your boat flailing around, it’s just going to
keep saying “Water Water Water” over and over again, and you’ll think
hey, that’s a strange answer because I was expecting something about
muscle contractions and fins and scales.

This whole notion of one person knowing more than somebody else is
going to become moot eventually, it will just be a matter of one
person knowing where to look for the information, teachers will
eventually not have to do anything but help people come up with the
right questions to ask (that is, after they have taught them that two parallel
lines with one perpendicular line halfway between is “H” and sounds
like “aych” which starts the word “hippopotamus”). Don’t you
know that art and science and spirituality are all going to merge
(back) into one thing eventually anyway, these Victorian-era divisions
people have between Buddhism and Neuroscience are already becoming
irrelevant, how cool would it have been if Jesus the carpenter
would’ve had access to woodscrews back in the day, I’ll bet he would
have made some pretty awesome tables and chairs, take that, all you
humdrum Ikea designers sitting around in the cold northern countries
of Europe.

The picture came from here.

Not the heir to Big Bird’s throne, but …

What, a former teacher can’t make fun of some educational TV show just because it’s on PBS and there might be some kids out there who like it and might *gasp* actually learn something from it? Yeah, I learn stuff from CSI, too, like how to commit crimes, but I’d rather be watching NOVA. It’s a pretty creative idea and maybe I’m just jealous that I didn’t think of it first, but there’s something about it that I find really creepy and can’t quite explain. Synesthesia?

“Okay, so everything’s made of letters, right, like even the characters: The pig is made out of the letters P-I-G, and the house is made out of H-O-U-S-E, and they can pick up stray letters off the ground and make stuff, like a cake made out of C-A-K-E. Continue reading

French chromolithograph, 1910


This is what a guy named Villemard thought schools would be like in the year 2000.

I’d say he was on the right track, with the notable misunderstanding (aside from the classroom demographics) that the person turning the crank would not be a student: it would be me, and a lot of my co-workers.

You will have 30 minutes to complete this section


Two weeks.

It’s not the studying I’m worried about; I’m actually enjoying that part, and truth be told, I needed a refresher on percent change anyway. No, the more pressing concern is how someone with a degree in Education and one in Psychology is supposed to completely sublimate his intuition that something is horribly wrong with answer choice A, that choice B assumes I haven’t considered significant figures, that C is precisely what 72% of test-takers incorrectly selected because they solved for y instead of a and D doesn’t even make sense to me because I wasn’t raised in a print-rich environment, and that by selecting this one, answer choice E, it will somehow be communicated to a man wearing a polo shirt that, yes, thank you, I would love to write a paper about visual cognition and memory, and I will be sure to read all the literature and show up to the lab meetings on time and yes I will absolutely have that grant proposal finished before I leave for the conference in Zurich next week. No wonder those dots on the scantron resemble the holes in a colander: I’m being filtered, not tested, and where’s the joy in taking a multiple-choice test when your Number 2 pencils have been made practically irrelevant by the fun-loving computational psychometricians over at the ETS?

(Wish me luck.)

The academy

(Vermeer’s Astronomer)

Let’s talk about the ivory tower and how it doesn’t connect with what the majority of people do or think about on a daily basis. Let’s talk about research grants, academic advisors, and the life of a professor. Let’s talk about peer-reviewed journals, the “public sector,” and gender equity. Let’s talk about paying bills, working nonstop, and being unemployable because you’ve spent all your time becoming the world expert on a rare species of bird that nobody knows or cares about, and …


Let’s not talk about these things.

Let’s talk about love, and ideas, and people who love ideas. The rest is just a rusty old car that can get you to the mountains if you know how to work the clutch.