Frances Hodgson Burnett

The Writer’s Almanac tells me that today is Frances Hodgson Burnett’s birthday. There was an essay about her life at the beginning of the Annotated Secret Garden and I learned what an incredibly interesting woman she was. Aside from being a Scorpio (like myself) she also published her first story at 18 and thereafter never had a rejection slip. She was incredibly popular and though we know her most for The Secret Garden–although my favorite is The Little Princess–she primarily wrote novels for adults.

She suffered tragedy in her life but she just kept going. Many of the discussions about “Magic” in Secret Garden reflect her life attitude which I would summarize as one part “power of positive thinking,” one part hard work, and one part mysticism.

For those of us too young…

“I’ll Be Seeing You”
Jo McDougall
Towns Facing Railroads

World War II is slipping away, I can feel it.
Its officers are gray.
Their wives who danced at the USO
are gray, too.
Veterans forget their stories. Some lands they fought in
have new names, and Linda Venetti
who deserted the husband who raised cows
to run off with an officer
has come home to look after her mother
and work the McDonald’s morning shift.
William Holden is dead,
and my mother, who knew all the words
to “When the Lights Go On Again All over the World.”

I was in college when the 50th anniversary of D-Day happened. I remember my professor saying that this was probably the last big commemoration of World War II that we would celebrate as a country. By the time the 60th anniversary rolled around, he figured, there would not be very many veterans from that war remaining. Having lived through the 60th anniversary, I can say he was right. Both of my veteran uncles are gone, and the veterans pictured in the newspaper on major anniversaries are very, very old.

Another good poem from The Writer’s Almanac.

Math. The Internet Helps.

I’m spending 2 1/2 hours a week studying for a math test I am taking on January 10. Passing the test is one of the requirements to become certified in Middle School Math in Oregon so I want to do well and pass it the first time. It covers a lot of material: algebra, geometry, etc. Most of those things I haven’t done since I learned them in high school.

Aside: one pet peeve of mine is when adults say “They never taught me.” the “They” in question being teachers. That phrase causes me to wonder how much of the things that were never taught, were actually taught but not retained?

So three mornings a week for a half hour and one hour on the weekend I am up to my ears in math. I just spent several weeks on Algebra and am now reviewing Geometry. The best part of this whole venture is that the Internet was invented between my high school experience and today. Back in high school when I didn’t get something I could reread the chapter, look at the examples, refer to my notes and sometimes look in the back of the book for a solution. If I was still stuck–and I often was–I was left with the “I don’t get it” option of either pressing on through the assignment or giving up.

Today when I hit the “I don’t get it” point I have many, many helpers just standing in the wings. Here’s what I discovered while reviewing algebra.

Purple Math. The best site for explaining all things algebra and I love that she grew up not liking math.

The Math Page. His “Skill in Algebra” review was invaluable and his page has a feature that allows you to do problems he suggests and step-by-step uncover what is happening. I also love that you can start reviewing math with his Skill in Arithmetic and work your way up all the way through Plane Geometry, Algebra, Trigonometry, Precalculus, Calculus, and Real Numbers.

West Texas A&M’s Virtual Math Lab was my next step in solving things. They have step-by-step instructions and practice problems with answers.

As I move into the Geometry Review I found the best thing ever. A simple program that creates PDF flash cards. Oh, to have had this in college! I would have avoided writing out those thousands of flash cards. I’ve been typing my definitions into Word so I can check my spelling, etc., then copying them onto the fields provided.

One of my favorite things about the Internet is that people would take time to build web pages to help little old me with what I am doing.

MPR’s Select a Candidate Survey

Don’t know who to vote for? Minnesota Public Radio wants to help you figure it out. They offer a quiz to help you select a presidential candidate. I took it and my results are below. (MPR doesn’t have the fancy “post your results” feature that many surveys have. You have to type the results in yourself, if you want people to see them.)

  • Chris Dodd (29)
  • Dennis Kucinich (24)
  • Hillary Clinton (23)
  • John Edwards (23)
  • Barack Obama (22)
  • Bill Richardson (20)
  • Joe Biden (17)
  • Mike Gravel (17)
  • Ron Paul (11)
  • Rudy Giuliani (10)
  • Mike Huckabee (4)
  • John McCain (3)
  • Mitt Romney (2)
  • Dunchan Hunter (1)
  • Fred Thompson (1)
  • Tom Tancredo (0)

You too can take this informative quiz. Wouldn’t it be fun to post your results (or at least your top five) in the comment section? I think so!