Animal Husbandry

There was a narrow window in my childhood between being old enough to go camping with my dad and when his interests shifted away from camping.  I haven’t pursued the hobby myself, so most of my camping memories are from this time, being young and cold and in the way.

On one trip, we woke up early and walked deep into the snowy woods.  We were hunting elk.  I thought a hunter should have a gun, but the gun was bigger than me, so I carried the snacks.  It didn’t feel much like hunting.  I felt my fingers were going numb in the cold.  I saw bare aspen trees and green pines, but no elk.  My complaining probably warned them we were in the area.  After a while we heard gun shots.  Someone from our hunting party was doing better than us.

By the time we got back to our group we found they had shot a doe elk and dragged it back to the road and brought a truck to haul it back to the camp site.  There was enough snow on the road they decided to tie a rope around the elk and drag it behind the truck.  I rode on top of the elk.

I’d never been so close to such a huge, smelly animal before.  Its tongue was hanging out and eyes were open.  I sat on its shoulder and held on tight to its fur as I rode it like a sled back to camp.  It was a strange introduction to death.


Math class

There’s a couple of complaints I get in math class on a regular basis, usually along the lines of “when are we going to use this in real life?” and “this is too hard for me.”  At first I thought it would be good to discuss the question to remind the students of the importance of the work we’re doing, and that mastering it is mostly a matter of consistent practice.  Each time I hear the same students make the same complaint I become more aware that they aren’t listening to my answer.  It’s never the students with great grades who say these things, it’s lazy kids trying to get out of work.  Each time my answer has been less polite.  Today I might have hurt someone’s feelings.  If this trend continues at the same rate, there may be an incident.  To avoid that event, I’m going to give a short presentation and hang a poster about the following information:

5 Reasons why we’re going to do more of that type of problem you are complaining about:

1. Strengthening your mind

The mind is like a muscle and needs to exercised to improve or maintain it’s ability.  Math provides a good structure for learning logic and problem solving skills with a clear set of boundaries.  Practicing math helps develop general mental function.

2. Building fundamentals

The math we practice in class is always going to be difficult because we are trying to learn as much new information as possible.  That doesn’t mean that this math is especially hard however.  In fact Algebra is relatively basic math, and it is a stepping stone to understand more advanced math.  Eventually it will seem easy, and you will learn more short cuts, but only after you spend enough time working at it.

3. Employment and practical life skills

There are a number of careers that use a high degree of math on a regular basis, including in the areas of engineering, research, finance, medicine, etc.  Also, most jobs and daily activities that involve determining costs or quantity or size or understanding statistics could be made simpler with a better understanding of math.

4. Higher Education

If you have plans for further education after highschool, most programs, even if they aren’t math related fields, will have some basic requirement for acceptance into the school and classes that must be taken while at the school.  The curriculum in our school is designed for preparation for higher education and general life skills, so if you feel like these skills don’t apply to you, please take a moment to consider what your other options have to offer.

5. This class

This is math class.  In math class we study math.  I’m the teacher.  I choose what we study based on the curriculum that has been chosen for this school.  You don’t have to enjoy math class.  You don’t even have to study in math class, but my job is to give you an opportunity to learn and give you a grade based on your effort and understanding of the material.  If you want to pass, I recommend you spend more time focused on the material.

Now, I want to help students of students who are frustrated and struggling.  We can talk about it on an individual basis.  Understand if you are behind, it’s going to take work on your part to catch up.  I’m also supportive of out-of-the-box thinking about effective education systems, and we can discuss that after math class.

Hot like coffee

The absent discussion in the previous post tended slightly homoerotic, so to defend my heteronormativity I’m going to overcompensate by delving into a topic on the opposite side of the spectrum.  Straight from Batman’s bulge to South Korean singers’ swinging hips.  Thanks to Psy and “Gangnam Style” most Americans got a glimpse of what can come out of Korea’s Pop music industry.  Not very many Americans seem to go far beyond that video though.  I go pretend to work at a little Korean owned cafe near my house because it is usually quiet, the wifi is good, the coffee is ok, and Korean music videos are playing at all times.  Here’s a bad cellphone pic of what that looks like:


I don’t understand the lyrics, and I don’t have a broad understanding about music theory, industry, history, or reception, I am not an authority on this subject, but I have watched hours of Korean made music videos in this coffee shop.  Based on that experience I’ve come to two conclusions about K-Pop:

  1. Gangnam Style is pretty good, but not so much better that it deserves the enormous viral explosion it has received
  2. Psy must be one of the least attractive people in the K-Pop industry

Not that he is dreadfully ugly, he just looks like a regular guy, but all the other Pop-stars look like supermodels.  for example:


I haven’t spent enough time to recognize and differentiate the Korean groups, but generally the videos are similar to the American music industry in the quality of production and in employing the same type of hyper-sexualized, not-quite-pornographic style that is eye-catching without getting censored.  Compared to Jennifer Lopez and Iggy Azalea’s recent archetypal video “Booty,” they’ve taken the video producer’s basic recipe, transitions between women shaking their butts, and increased the ingredients from two butts to five and increased the transition rate from 1.2 to 3.4 butts per second.  Here’s an example with occasional English lyrics to get you hooked.  Not that the production is entirely about butts.  There’s also interesting set design, costumes, choreography, and lighting.  But ya, the butts are mesmerizing.