Saturday, March 30, 2013


And just like that, it feels like spring.  (No fear, though, we're supposed to get colder temperatures again in the coming week.)  The neighbor's birch trees are starting to swell at the tips, though my own (a river birch, so not quite the same) isn't yet.

Out walking the guestdog yesterday, I saw what I thought were two brown thrashers.  Except they were in the company of a male cardinal, which makes me wonder if they weren't female cardinals (or an immature?  I'd have to look up first year cardinal plumage).

I'm feeling distracted.  I'm weirdly worried about North Korea.  I know so little about North Korea (and only marginally more about South Korea, admittedly), and I think that contributes.  And not long ago I listened to an audio book called The Orphan Master's Son, a novel which is set in North Korea, mostly, and very dark, though also witty and really interesting.  But in that way that if I know very little about something, and then read one thing, I can't judge if that one thing is accurate at all, so I'm hesitant about how the novel contributes to my thinking about North Korea.  It's not that I think North Korea is really going to attack South Korea or Japan (or US bases there), but I'm worried that something's up, and I'm clueless about that something.

I'm torn about the Supreme Court cases involving marriage equality.  On the one hand, I think marriage (in the west, at least) is a patriarchal organization, and we need to rethink our relationships and not base important ones on patriarchy.  Further, I'm tired of married folks having a lot of advantages over unmarried folks.  (Socially, benefits at work, cheaper prices on multiple phone plans, and so on.)

On the other hand, if we're not going to change the structual basis of marriage (and I don't think we're going to challenge that in the near future at all), then marriage equality is important.

And I know lots of married people for whom that marital relationship is meaningful and important, and it would hurt them to challenge it, and I don't want them hurt.

And then we move to the third or fourth hand, and you see where this is going.

I'm mildly frustrated at my students inability to understand basic math.  I used mail merge (and I'm proud of myself for remembering how to do it!) to put together letters to my students giving them their current grade status based on their grades (all in the letter) and percentages.

And I wrote a note about the problem with the math.  You see, in each of my classes this semester, students have to complete ten short assignments (journals type assignments), and have 15 choices to pick from in completing those ten assignments.  At this point, most of the classes have had ten of the choices so far.  But I had to divide by something, so I divided by the number of choices they've had so far.  So for a student who has done all ten already, the grade estimate is fairly accurate.  A student who's done only five, though, looks like they're failing the journals, even if their five journals each earned full credit.  (And they have five more opportunities to finish all ten journals.)

That's compounded by the fact that the journals are worth 15% of the final grade.  But since they've only turned in 45% of the total work so far, the journals are worth about one third of the estimated grade.  Thus, they seem way more important than they are.

Now the grade worriers are concerned, and one of them asked me to let them drop the lowest journal and do an extra.  That means, for me, an extra set of journals to grade.  Not huge, but still, a pain.  But mathematically, the difference at the end of the semester for a student who's lowest grade is, say, a C, is less than one point on a hundred point grading scale.  That student would be better off putting more effort into studying for the final.  (And then what to do about the student who, following the rules, figured out which ten they needed to do, and wouldn't be able to fit in an extra at this point?)

I had a couple of garlic cloves that were showing green sprouts, so I planted them in a container in the kitchen.  I've never grown garlic before (though I have been to Gilroy!), so this should be fun.  Any ideas of what sorts of soil they do best in?   Now I have to control myself and not plant the sunflowers for at least another two weeks (they tend to get sort of stringy and weak if they're inside too long).   And marigolds!  I have a huge bag of marigold seeds from last year's plants.  I think I'll take them into the office with some tiny bags and invite people to plant their own.  (Maybe I should check to make sure they'll germinate first?)

It's the weekend, and it's raining.  I was going to try a bike ride, but now I'm thinking maybe I should take my bike in for its spring tuneup instead.

And pop!  Time to get going.


  1. Paul French's book on North Korea is not bad. The citation date are below.

    Paul French, North Korea: The Paranoid Peninsula: A Modern History (London: Zed Publishers, 2005).

    Also the green part of garlic is edible. In Kyrgyzstan they use a lot of green garlic in things like Lagman.

  2. Not claiming to speak for the whole Married Nation, but if they think that gay marriage would harm their own marriages, they're doing it wrong.

  3. I'm leaning closer and closer to the notion that marriage in general is just a bad plan. I speak as someone who is married myself, and is happy in my marriage. But really, the whole idea of it does not bear up, and cannot be defended on any rational grounds.

    OTOH, clearly, if we HAVE a thing called marriage, then it should be available to anyone who wants it.

    I just don't see any justification for having that thing.

  4. Anonymous1:39 PM

    The whole marriage thing is at a weird intersection between church and state. I would totally be in favor of the state getting out of the marriage business altogether--even if that means dismantling the system of benefits currently in place for married people or rearranging them so they are open to a variety of households, with or without marriage per se. I think part of the reason there's so much panic about it is precisely because it's a concept with a strong religious component and people don't want that changed. Now, the government isn't and can't change how various churches view marriage. But like I said, there's a weird overlap there. It's a case that seems to demonstrate (to me anyway) that separation of church and state is a very good thing and we are not doing it very well with respect to marriage.