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Wednesday, May 31, 2017

Calculus

I finished up Algebra I, Geometry and Trigonometry at the Kahn Academy website, and I have moved into Calculus.  Some of it gets complicated, and I have troubles with making dumb mistakes, as always, but I am moving through it at a slow but steady rate.  I can differentiate all sorts of things, but I have yet to see any purpose in it.  Is this all just mental gymnastics?  How can this be applied in life?  I am only 38 percent of the way through, so maybe it will become clear as I move along.

As of yet, I am not enjoying it as much as the Geometry and Trig, but maybe I will as things all pull together.

Tuesday, May 30, 2017

Book Review: "Babylon Revisited and other stories" by F. Scott Fitzgerald

This is a collection of wonderful stories.  Fitzgerald captures the feeling of the roaring twenties, the depression--without seemingly intending to.  He writes so in the moment of his time.  Most of the stories--I simply couldn't put down.  I read them when I was walking Maggie--a story a day.  If I didn't finish it when I got back, I would sit outside until I was done with it.  I just had to see how they ended.

I noted that writing became less descriptively sumptuous over time.  He went from lush, colorful descriptions to nearly skipping descriptions altogether.  Was this because of his life becoming darker or the world becoming darker after the stock market crash?

I was thrilled to hear "The Diamond as Big as the Ritz" mentioned in an episode of "Madmen" just a few days after I read it.

I will be looking for more of his short stories in the future.

Monday, May 22, 2017

Book Review: "Mornings on Horseback" by David McCullough

I like David McCollough's biographies, and I think I have like this one best of all.  It is about the early days of Teddy Roosevelt.  The author tries to answer the question, "How did this extraordinary man become who he was?"

He shows the influences of his family, his poor health as a young man and how he just loved the natural world.  These elements shaped Teddy and inevitably shaped our country.  He believed in a very physical lifestyle, hence the title of the book.

The book was fascinating throughout, and if you like history and are interested in Roosevelt, I highly recommend it.

Thursday, May 11, 2017

My Book

My publisher is downsizing their warehouse.  Consequently, I now have several cartons of books at my house that I want to sell.  

“Trail Training for the Horse and Rider” is a highly readable, how-to book for trail riding.  I cover training the green horse, retraining the spoiled horse, negotiating difficult obstacles and terrain, conditioning, dealing with difficult weather and more.

It costs $20.00 plus $4.00 to ship.  If you are a local person, we could arrange to meet to save shipping costs.

Tuesday, May 2, 2017

My Life as a Mathematician

The Kahn Academy

I was always excellent at math, and I loved it.  In high school, I took it through Calculus.  Since I only went to a community college, I didn't need any math for my degree unless I was deficient.  When I went to take the placement tests, the woman in charge saw my transcript and told me not to take the math section because it was an insult to my accomplishments.  Even though it was required, I didn't take it and no one made me.

I ended up in a career that involved a lot of math, but not at a very high level.  Most was just arithmetic and some word problems.  I came to excel at the word problems that came my way at my job. and it was fun to try to solve them by turning them into algebraic equations.  (By the way, I was a printing estimator.)

I have loved math my whole life, and I even credit it for allowing me to retire early.  Knowing how math works, compounding interest and the "rule of 72" encouraged me to save and invest.

Then I retired--and found out I didn't miss my job, but I missed dealing with math every day.

In January, I signed up at the Kahn Academy website.  It is a free service that is for students in high school and below.  It has all kind of math courses.  There are videos covering everything and tests.  I described it to my niece, and she said it is a form of "mastery learning," and it has been found to be the most effective way to learn things.

I started with Algebra.  I mastered Algebra Basics and then Algebra I.  Much of it I remembered or almost remembered, but quite a bit of it seemed foreign--and it was tough.

Next came High School Geometry.  The early parts of it were pretty simple, but then it got very tough.  I am 98 percent finished with it.  From Geometry, it was a natural transition to go the Trigonometry.  I didn't remember any of it from High School.  Still, with hard work, I am 73 percent complete.  From there, I many work on Algebra II some more.  I am at 44 percent, there.  Eventually, I will tackle Calculus, and I am sure that will be as tough as can be.

Yes, I am a math nerd, and I can't believe how much fun I am having doing this.

If you know any students who are struggling with math, please, please direct them to the Kahn Academy--it is an awesome way to learn--and it really is free!