Thursday, August 29, 2013

Yes, I Use Algebra Every Day

Math is a wonderful thing. Just ask Ned Schneebly, played by Jack Black, in the wonderfully delicious movie, “School of Rock”. This clip is one minute. Totally worth it.

I've had three conversations recently about math, its merits, its teachers, and after the third one last night, I just couldn't help myself. This is a blatant ad for how great math is, IF you get the right teacher.

It all started with this picture you've probably seen circulating on fb.

We got into quite a discussion on that thread about when algebra is actually used in everyday life. My contention is that you use it all the time, but it's become an innate skill, so you don't notice. Others argued that they're just using common sense and arithmetic. I say you have to be able to put that arithmetic into the problem in the correct way to find your answer and that's algebra. I even challenged one commenter that she was using calculus without knowing it, but that's for another post.

Another conversation got started on fb, with the same picture, about how it's the teacher who makes the difference. I totally agree with this, and not just because I was (and will always be inside) a math teacher, 7th grade. It's the teacher's JOB to make sure each student understands math. This is where the magic part comes in. Math problems have one correct answer, yet there are multiple paths to that answer. Those different paths represent different learning styles, and figuring out a student's learning style will help the teacher know which type of explanation should be used for that kid. Most teachers don't bother with this though, and that breaks my heart. They've figured out that a certain method will work for 75% of the class, and that's good enough.

That is a good strategy for the lesson part of the class. It's during the walking around and checking with each student portion of the class, as they're working the new material, where the different methods come in. Some teachers just sit at their desks, though. Criminal. So many kids are turned off by math and made to feel dumb because they “don't get it.” Get a new teacher, you can be great at math! Don't give up!

The third conversation was just between me and a friend whom I was helping with her son's algebra homework. She was saying it was so great to have him past simple arithmetic because he never did well in that, but that the higher concepts of algebra really clicked with him, and with the help of his (allowed, as it should be) calculator, he was doing well for the first time.  Some kids struggle with basic math, but excel at the abstract stuff.

My final point would be that math really is cool. It's a language, it's a way of describing the world, it's a puzzle to be figured out, and it's good gymnastics for your brain. Now get out there and do some math! Or help your kid with their homework, and try to figure out how he or she thinks. It will be worth it.

What are your feelings about math? Have you used algebra today? Did you have good or bad teachers? Or if all this math is making you ill, then what subject do you get all excited about?


P.S A friend posted this on fb just for me.  LOVE a good math joke.  If you come across one, please send it to me - I collect them.

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Get off Your Brother!

I think most moms and dads develop phrases they use to get the attention of their children. We have of course, the classics.

“Don't make me pull this car over!”
If I have to come back there...”
Wait until your father gets home!”

In our house, the most used phrase is, “Get off your brother!” It's a handy phrase when you have two boys. There's no need to investigate the situation at length, because inevitably one brother will be “on” the other. It's generic enough that it has multiple applications.

Wrestling too hard for the younger one? “Get off your brother!”
Clinging and hugging too much? “Get off your brother!”
General pestering and annoying? “Get off your brother!”
Hear someone shrieking in misery? “Get off your brother!”

It's funny to hear their responses, because they admit their guilt without meaning to. After hearing the phrase, one or both will say, “But Mom, I was only...” It's especially good when they both have something to defend themselves with. Then you know it's a true brotherly spat and that both are partially to blame. A simple, “Get off your brother!” is all that's needed to rectify the situation.

Some situations are more complicated. “But I'm not ON my brother!” This said after some physical confrontation is over and though he is indeed not PRESENTLY on his brother, he sure was a minute ago, which I why I heard screaming. These are the ones that are harder to untangle and figure out the true culprit who must then be dealt with. Sure, the big brother may have put the little one in a headlock and caused discomfort, but why? Surely there was some instigation going on. I'm not saying there haven't been random cases of headlocking happening, but most of the time, the little one has done something irritating causing the older to resort to said method of restraint.

The phrase continues to be useful even now that they are teenagers. Of course The Transporter could best OYT in most altercations of a combative nature, but these days, the “on your brother” is more metaphorical. “Get off your brother!” “But he hasn't done the dishes! I'm just trying to get him to do the dishes!” My job, not yours. Get OFF.

We have a new phrase, too. They've really bonded this school year, and now I get to see them “playing well with each other” and say, “What a nice brother you have!”

Does your family have any handy phrases that you use repeatedly in the wrangling of your children? Did your parents? Please share.


Friday, August 23, 2013

Newton's Laws of Depression

You know I'm a math nerd and a word nerd, but I'm also a science nerd. Can't really help it after hanging out with an Engineer for 30 years (yes, that's actually true – in December we'll celebrate the 30th anniversary of our first date.) So we're going to talk about physics today. Newton's Laws. Newton was cool. He's one of the guys who invented calculus. Calculus is cool. But that's for another day. Or maybe not. I've found that calculus fans are hard to find...

So yeah, Newton's Laws of Motion. (No, you have not stumbled onto some rip-off of The Big Bang Theory...I will not mention that damn cat, don't worry.) His first law, in regular words, states that an object at rest wants to stay at rest, and an object in motion wants to stay in motion. I've found this to be so true when dealing with depression.

On the days when I'm feeling completely done in by inertia (the at rest part) there isn't much I've found that will get me unstuck. I'm paralyzed by that inertia, and don't want to do anything. Not even fun things, like visiting a friend to drink wine, or hard but necessary things, like paying bills with dwindling funds. “Oh just do it!” Nope. Doesn't work that way. Call it Tina's Laws of Depression.

On the other hand, on the days that I'm moving, like yesterday when I did 8 loads of laundry, and I could have kept going - but I ran out of detergent, and by the time I got home from the store with more, I was out of time - that motion, that accomplishment just keeps me going.

So what determines which kind of day I'm having? I honestly don't know. I just know that some days I wake up, completely stuck, and others I don't. I've tried to figure out if there's some sort of situational event that triggers one or the other, much in the same way that I'm trying to figure out what foods cause the crippling stomach aches and which don't. So many variables, not enough equations. (That's not calculus – that's algebra, by the way.) You'd think I'd have enough equations by now, having suffered depression for twelve long years, but no. That's because the variables just keep piling up.

Am I depressed because I don't feel well? Or does depression make me feel sick? Or both? It's a circle, that's for sure, and that's probably why I'm stuck on this merry-go-round. I know this isn't exactly a fun topic, and I really don't want to whine about being depressed, but I'm stuck in an inertia day and then the fun ideas for writing won't even come.

So do you think Newton's Laws can be translated like this? Suffer from depression, and willing to talk about it? Feel free to discuss. Just don't tell me it's all in my head and to just get up and do it, or I'll hit you over the head with my oh so popular CPAP machine. That sucker's heavy...


Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Why I'm No Longer Going to Colonize Mars

I think I've changed my mind on the whole going to colonize Mars question. I don't think I want to go anymore.  The Engineer and I watched probably THE most stupid movie of all time (well, nothing can really beat Speed 2 for stupidest, so I guess 2nd stupidest then) on Sunday night. It's called Stranded. I hate to advertise for it, but I do want to save you the pain, the horror, the total and utter boredom so I'm naming it. In addition, if you wear a CPAP machine, this is SO NOT the movie for you.

In a previous post, I compared wearing a CPAP to SCUBA diving.  I think I've found an even better analogy. It's like wearing a space suit and going EVA – Extra Vehicular Activity – as in out of the space ship. Watching them get all zipped up and strapped in, loading the oxygen tanks, and closing the lids on their helmets, all was a build-up of claustrophobia for me.

Then they switch to what you hear when you're inside a space suit. It sounds JUST like what you hear when wearing a CPAP mask. That Darth Vader in and out with pressure and wheezing air. I'd tried to explain it to The Engineer, but he couldn't remember any SCUBA movies, or the associated sound, so he didn't really get my explanation. Once I heard it from inside the space suit, I paused the movie to proclaim, “That's it! That's what it sounds like in a CPAP!”

He was surprised. “Really? It sounds that bad? No wonder you freak out when you put on your mask. Does it stop?” Um, no, not unless you're asleep...

So here's my advice, for movie watchers and for CPAP wearers. Don't watch Stranded. If you wear a CPAP, don't watch movies with space suits, and people who suffocate in them s l o w l y  while running out of oxygen and you get to watch the whole thing. Several times. This is like one of those teenage run-into-the-woods-when-the-killer-is-coming type deals. One by one...

What movies freak you out? Do you have any phobias, or is it just me?

Monday, August 19, 2013

Solar Panels Are Silent

Going camping with The Engineer isn't the same as going camping with other (as in “normal”) people. The Engineer doesn't have generators to re-charge the camper's batteries, he has a solar panel. 

What? You can't see it?  Good.  It's camo.  Follow the yellow extension cord...

There are distinct advantages to camping this way.  Generally, campgrounds have posted hours for when you're allowed to fire up your diesel-powered loud as all get-out stinky generators so that you can watch your satellite TV, use your microwave, and probably other luxuries requiring electricity which are the activities I go camping to get away from. I really don't understand these people who fire up theirs at the minute they're allowed in order to microwave their breakfast.

Full, bright, free, QUIET sunlight re-charging our batteries

Maybe I'm a snob because we camped in tents for years, just the two of us, then with babies, who became toddlers who became small children. We didn't get our camper until the boys were 5 and 8. I'd already done the potty chair, high chair, porta-crib years, in a tent. I think I earned my camper fair and square.

I've been referring to our “rig”, so I finally took some pictures.

The camper is a 1968 Forrester, and 

The Beast is a former Department of Corrections vehicle. If you look closely at the door, you can see the outline of what used to be the identifying sticker. 

It seats 12, and still has a whole station wagon of cargo room behind the third bench. (We threw the firewood back there.) It's nice when you can separate your children by a whole bench ;-) though it's not as necessary now that they are teens. They behave reasonably well most of the time, I'm happy to say.

So how does the solar panel thing work? It has an extension cord so you can place it in maximum sun, and that connects to the solar charge circuit, which connects to the battery bank. For this trip, The Engineer even had time to install a special volt meter with a read-out. He's been very “are we there yet?” with that particular device, asking whoever happens to be able to see it at the time to report the voltage. We've teased him of course. “Hasn't changed in the last THIRTY 

OYT sure enjoyed this particular trip. He saved up a LOT of money to buy this RC truck.

The terrain right at our campsite 

couldn't have been better for “off-roading.” He even took the truck on the hike, and found a “river” to cross. (Don't try this at home kids because this one was protected by 7 man hours of waterproofing by The Engineer and son.)

I don't know how many more camping trips The Transporter is going to be willing to go on. He's jonesing for his XBOX 360, and to chat online with his friends while killing mythical monsters. A solar panel may be quiet and get the job done for us, but it won't do my CPAP and his gaming. Guess who won?


P.S The RC part of this post was written by OYT.

P.P.S After reading this post, The Engineer would like me to add that the solar panel could CERTAINLY do both.  Not that we'd let The Transporter bring his XBOX...

Friday, August 16, 2013

Finally Camping!

After waiting for this since the season started in March, we are finally going camping this weekend. I'm so excited! We're heading for the hills, just outside South Park, CO (yes, it's a real place) at 9,900 ft. Blissfully cool weather. Campfires. Relaxing in nature. It's been a helluva (unplanned events...) summer, and a helluva week getting ready for school, which starts tomorrow. Get home quick boys, and let's get going!

Have a great weekend friends!


Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Cover Reveal! Mina Lobo's "That Fatal Kiss"

Today please welcome Mina Lobo who blogs at Some Dark Romantic and is about to publish her latest work.

Mina Lobo has long held a passion for Greek mythology. The story of the goddess Persephone's marriage-by-kidnap to Hades, Lord of the Underworld, has particularly fascinated her, and thus came about Mina's debut novel, That Fatal Kiss. Coming September 2013, the revisionist tale features a fiery and noble heroine, a handsome and broody hero, and some heated, earth-shakin' lovin'!

Given Mina's self-professed neurotic nature, it took her and cover artist Steven Novak a few go-arounds before settling on the cover design for That Fatal Kiss. It had to be curiously compelling, slightly spooky, and yet super sexy—and so it is!

The Book:

Feared by mortals for his inexorable power, and loathed by his fellow Greek gods for the same, Hades rules the Underworld alone. A stark eternity looms before him until he discovers Persephone. Struck by the youthful goddess’ beauty, kindness, and spirit, he must have her. But Hades believes Persephone could never love him, and so he conspires with his powerful brother, Zeus, to take her by force.

Persephone too seeks a mate but her possessive mother, the goddess Demeter, frustrates her husband hunting. Then Hades abducts Persephone, tearing her away from the Upperworld she loves to reign with him in the dank depths below. Though outraged, Persephone cannot deny the desire ignited within her by the dark lord’s touch. And even as she hopes that Demeter will unearth her, Persephone aches to surrender to the heat in Hades’ immortal soul.

The Teaser:
“Enough,” Hades said, closing the distance between them. “I have taken you with your father’s consent, as custom allows. You are in my kingdom, under my rule, and if you have any care for your continued well-being, you will get into my bed. Now.” And with the removal of the pins that held together the black cloth about his waist, he stood naked before her.

The anger warming Persephone clashed with another fire that roared to life within her. She choked on a breath and turned her face from him. “Be warned; I will resist you with the full force of my being, through violent means, if necessary.”

His large, unyielding hands encircled the soft flesh of her upper arms as he said, “If you must. Though your surrender to me would prove more satisfying to us both.”

The Author:

Mina Lobo has a lot of Scorpio action going on in her natal chart, which makes for a rather sybaritic and lust-driven Sagittarian. She aims for a wildly successful future as a writer of dark and whimsical romance while dodging the slings and arrows of her outrageous teenaged son, who's buggered off to college (hence the "Lite" in her Twitter handle, below). She enjoys comedic horror and alt rock, goth, & new wave music, as well as quality Belgian chocolates.

Mina invites you to keep abreast of updates regarding That Fatal Kiss, as well as the development of any new neuroses, by stalking her at her usual haunts:

Her blog: Some Dark Romantic
On Facebook: mina.lobo.1
On the Twitter: @GothMomLite
And GothMomLite Will Tumblr For Ya as well

Monday, August 12, 2013

It's Gary Pennick Day!

I've been looking forward to this day of honoring my dear friend, Gary Pennick, who blogs at Klahanie. He's the real deal – honest, kind, trustworthy, great listener, fun to hang around the internet (or tree house...) with and just a great guy. BUT, he doesn't like blogfests, or hops, or God forbid, the A-Z Challenge. (You knew I was going to say it Gary...I had to. It's for the irony...) So several of us got together to host this Gary Fest, because regardless of what happens, this day is to bring attention to our oh so unassuming, stay in the background, "promote others not himself" guy.

Participants are to invent three silly, corny, stupid or annoying blogfests that they'd never join. This task is going to be hard for me, because I love joining most of them...I honestly enjoy meeting and greeting and to me, a blogfest is like a good cocktail party. Mingle. Converse. Share information. Snack. DRINK.

However, I'd never join these three:

The “If You Join the Linky, They Will Come Bloghop". Sign up. That's it. No need to visit anyone, just wait for the suckers to show up at your door.

The “Great Vomit Story Blogfest”. Tell the most disgusting vomit story you have. (I'm COMPLETELY vomit phobic. COMPLETELY. I'm glad my boys are beyond the bodily fluid age...)

The “Throw a Relative Under the Bus Blogging May Challenge”. Tell embarrassing stories about your relatives, being sure to call them by their full, googleable name, for a whole month. Be sure to go in alphabetical order. (You know that last requirement is another shout-out to our anti-alphabet spokesperson GARY!)

In case you haven't noticed, we love Gary. Be sure to visit the rest of your co-hosts:

Hosted by

and enjoy the silliness of today. Don't forget the whole point though, and be sure to visit GARY himself.

I love you buddy. Happy YOU Day!


Thursday, August 8, 2013

Jeremy's "It's Time" Book Tour

Today I'm honored and delighted to welcome my buddy Jeremy Hawkins to Life is Good. Jeremy is on an extensive blog tour – he's got 4 new books now available! These amazing art books are a glimpse into his mind, images he's created over the years and has put together in a series called It's Time 12:34, 12;35, 12:36, and 12:37. As he cruises around the blogosphere, he'll be sharing personal stories – different ones at each blog he visits – and I was lucky enough to get the Batman story. Batman is my favorite superhero. So take it away Jeremy! 

So here I am faced with a dilemma where I get to entertain you on this wonderful site and with the hopes to keep your attention on the rest of my stops. My thought is to share a true story… my first encounter with a celebrity. 

With this story I will travel in time, going back the seventies [1974] when bell bottoms were cool and so was a trip to the Toy’s “r” Us. You remember they would have characters from your favorite shows and movies come in and put us in awe. Who could forget the giant giraffe “Geoffrey”… well let’s forget, cause today he is a cartoon and I say boo. I am off subject I am going to write about the day this little kid, me… met Batman… yes Batman.

I am six and I have just learned that the caped crusader was coming to my local 7-11 

and he will be signing autographs. At the time I knew nothing of actors who played people because to me there were only my mom, dad and action figures. I am six years old and standing in my first line to meet one of my toys in real life, I could not contain my excitement… but wait this line is really long who the heck are these people. I wanted to have a little one on one with him, I am confused who were these other people. 

My mother said to me “fans of Batman” and she didn’t believe this line either, so we stand for what seemed like forever. From out of nowhere music begins to play, crowd starts to cheer as a caped man runs up and down this line of people. Greeting all the little crime fighters with a wave and finger to eye gesture. I am confused giving the 6 year old “WTF” look to my mother as this guy runs into the store and we wait.

We start to move, and my father has now joined as we wait, he was there the whole time… just sitting in the car. My mother assured me that this was the real guy and he makes appearance all over the world to make sure good kids stay good, so I am happy again. We move forward and forward again… what seems like hours is actually hours. I see the card table and Batman. My father hands me a giant comic book Scarecrow vs. Batman… I am nervous and kid curious until I am at the edge. A friendly greet from this masked man and his question “do you want me to sign that”… I said nothing. I was blank. It was over; I missed my chance for the solid one on one. I read that comic book for weeks staring at the scribble that read “stay good” Batman, really not knowing what happened that day.

Years later I did get the chance to interview Adam West [TV Batman], but you will have to follow my tour to read how that went.
Would you like to be part of "IT'S TIME" TOUR giveaways?


- One Set of Books [Signed]
- One T-shirt [Sent by Neatorama]
- One Signed* Cd of CYBORG: DIRECTOR'S CUT [Howlin' Wolf Records]
- One sealed Cd of your Choice of one Sealed Cd [La La Records]
   EVIL DEAD [2013]
   Music by Roque BaƱos
   Music by Bear McCreary
   Music by: Tyler Bates
-  and a few more surprises!


- One Set of Books [Signed]
- One T-shirt [Sent by Neatorama]
- One sealed Cd of your Choice of Remaining Sealed Cd [La La Records]


All the usual "Like Me" Stuff:
- Befriend Me Here "Being Retro"*
- My Facebook Page "JMH Digital"
- My Twitter "iZombieJMH"

Send me an email: re: IT'S TIME TOUR to 

jeremy at jmhdigital dot com

- In the email tell me how you found me and what time is it?*

And Last:
- If you should buy the set or just one, please share your thoughts on "AMAZON"... 

For more celebrity stories, be sure to check out all the tour dates/places over at Being Retro.  Thanks for being here today, Jeremy!

Wednesday, August 7, 2013

IWSG: Feeling Great: Tree of Life Collaboration!

I can't believe how time flies...but you know that already if you read Monday's poem...

It's IWSG again. Insecure Writer's Support Group. I'm probably going to get kicked out because I'm not feeling insecure, and that makes twice now! Why not? The Tree of Life Collaboration organized by the amazing and talented (not to mention witty and sweet) Samantha Redstreake Geary over at Writerly Sam's. I feel so amazed to be part of this group!

First, it was so cool to be chosen as one of the guest authors. We were hand-picked. I like being picked. You know how much I hated school PE and being the last picked...this was the total opposite! They wanted me!

In a nutshell, we're listening to audiomachine's new album “Tree of Life” and writing a continuing story, with each 150 (or so) word segment inspired by the track on the album assigned to us. I'm in there with people who have multiple books published and whose blogs are amazingly popular, and then there's little ole' me. Swimming in the big pool!

The other part that's been so fun is the banter we're enjoying with each other on facebook. We are encouraging each other, commenting on each others work, and having a virtual party in my tree house. Which is totally appropriate since we're writing about The Tree of Life.

Lastly, I love the story we've created. It's just so wonderful to watch what can happen when you get a bunch of excited people together working on a common goal. It's highly motivating, and encouraging, and leaves me feeling secure in my abilities, and my relationships with friends old, and many new ones, too.

I guess my advice to those of you struggling with insecurity is to go ahead and say yes when someone asks you to do something totally scary, out of your comfort zone, and seemingly impossible. Just do it! It could be that next step in your path towards your goals!

Here's Sam's post at the A-Z explaining the whole thing, and here's my part, should you care to read it.


Monday, August 5, 2013

Summer's End

Just a little longer?
Summer's end
both welcome
and too soon

Carefree days, used up
become days, of
schedule keeping,

The house-o-boys
will be quiet
once more
but I'll miss
the chaos

I do know it's time, since
Columbine have graciously
given way
to marigolds, already dressed
for autumn
while the sunflowers, so tall
are losing their seeds
to birds, preparing

I'm not prepared
for this transition
Not yet

Time tick-tocks
Flying by, while I,
paralyzed with
inevitable changes,

The end of childhood,
a treasured friend,
off into the world
daily friendship,
exchanged, for
electronic communication

Stop the world
Just for a little bit
Give them, give me
Just a little longer

I'm not ready, for
time's relentlessly rapid
lay the hour glass,
on its side
stop the hours
keep them young

Just a little longer

Saturday, August 3, 2013

Day at the Museum

What do you get when you combine three moms, a grandma, three cousins ages 2,4 and 8, and two teenagers, ages 13 and 16? A hell of a good time. We spent Friday at the Denver Museum of Nature and Science - that's why there was no post yesterday.

The Transporter transported us and that was a treat because I hate rush hour traffic, and Denver's is famous. Ironically, the museum is ½ mile from the hospital where I've been tortured, er, tested since April. I know the way very well. He did great, even though the construction was challenging.

We love this museum. It has great, classic exhibits, like the gems and minerals, which is my favorite. With a group the size of ours, you tend to move like an amoeba, as in S L O W L Y. We soon gave up on sticking together, though. My boys would go ahead, the 8 year-old is one of those who has to push every button and interact with every kids' interaction station, so she and her 6 year-old cousin tended to lag behind. I stayed with my friend, my high school friend who lives in Canada and had called me the night before to say that she was unexpectedly in town and did I want to get together. Such a nice surprise! (Her mom, who came with us, lives here in Denver which is convenient for me since I get to see my friend more because of it.)

Also along was my friend's sister visiting from England. Neither she nor her husband is English...but I can't tell you why he's assigned there. The whole “then I have to kill you” thing. Her kids were the youngest, but so well behaved and genuinely interested in all that was around them.

The body exhibit was a big hit. You get a little credit card like “pass” to put in the different stations, and they measure you're height, your stride length, test you on the treadmill, test your grip strength, do a computer “aging” simulation, and let you dress up like a scientist and do actual chemistry experiments. Just for the record, The Transporter is now 5'11”, and OYT 5'7.5”, leaving me, at 5'3”, as the shortest...You get a print-out of results at the end.

Catching up with old friends is great, especially when you have the kind of friendship where you just pick up where you left off, which was about four years ago. So much has happened in each of our lives since then, and we just babbled away about it, picking up the threads of the conversation in between the, “Have you seen the size of that moose?” and “Try these deer ears, you can really hear a LOT better!” The kids snaked around us as we saw amazing, life size dioramas of the worlds' animals, of ancient cultures. We landed the space shuttle, built models of airplanes, saw satellite imagery, and the kids played astronaut, complete with foam space suits and a pretend control module.

We are still the same girls who were on the gymnastics team together, who knocked over the oil display at the gas station when I first had my license, who played in band together, shared a math class, and have kept in touch all these years. We may look a little older, move a little slower, and have kids of our own, but our hearts are still the same, and we'll always be forever friends.

Now I need to go watch “Night at the Museum”...