Sunday, September 30, 2007

National Wildlife Federation Certified Wildlife Habitat

The sign on the barn last week as the leaves began to turn and mist comes down Barton Mountain.

Back in July, Wingnut and I set out to certify my property with the National Wildlife Federation as a Certified Wildlife Habitat. It was one of the easiest jobs we've ever done because we didn't have to do a thing. But we made a video and observed much. I did learn that I have more seeps (underground springs) and wild apple trees than I had ever thought. The habitat around the seeps is different than the habitat ten feet from the seep.

Buddy (left) and Wingnut (right) hiking in July.

A seep (underground spring): an important source of water for wildlife.

Charlie and the sign.

I finally sent my money in for the certification and the sign ($41.50, so I had to wait over a month until I could justify this luxury). The sign came last week and I promptly took photos of it after I banged it into the barn wall. The leaves were just beginning to turn. I hope you can appreciate the beauty of where I live from these photos.

I don't have the greatest barn in the world but it's going to last forever: it's built on cedar. And it is mine (and the cats). Who would have ever thought I would own land, a barn and a hundred year old house in Vermont? All by myself, all alone.

After years of adjusting to being a widow, the "alone" part is painful now. But someday there will be a Mr. Meeyauw to share this beauty and peace. And to share murderous cats, playful skunks, threatening moose, crazy dogs, church suppers, library movie nights, coyotes hunting beaver, herds of deer in the yard, does with fawns in the meadows, innumerable birds, and insanity-producing winters.

My thanks to Mom Unplugged who first wrote of this program here in her blog Unplug Your Kids. You have taught me so much and reminded me of the reasons why I am a teacher.

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Midwestern Wilderness: Yellow Jacket vs. Orb-Weaver Spider

Midwestern Wilderness: Yellow Jacket vs. Orb-Weaver Spider

I found this wonderful photographer, Moe, in Iowa, the other day: he takes great spider shots. What fascinated me about this series of photos is that the yellow jacket (which is a yellow baldfaced hornet) was eating the barn spider. My barn spider trapped the hornets and ate them.

You also must check out this post of Moe's: Midwestern Wilderness: Orb-Weaver Spider: The Marionette

Midwestern Wilderness is a blog of Moe and Brian from Iowa. There are photographs of dozens of birds, butterflies, mamamals, plants and too many things to name. It is excellently organized.

Moe and Brian have recently moved their blog to Iowa Voice. I found another fantastic spider photo and great info on many topics. Make sure that this blog is the next click you take.

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The Worst Jobs in Science 2007 — Popular Science

The Worst Jobs in Science 2007 - Popular Science
Number 10: Whale-Feces Researcher
They scoop up whale dung, then dig through it for clues.
“Brown stain ahoy!” is not the cry most mariners long to hear, but for Rosalind Rolland, a senior researcher at the New England Aquarium in Boston, it’s a siren song. Rolland, along with a few lucky research assistants, combs Nova Scotia’s Bay of Fundy looking for endangered North Atlantic right whales. Actually, she’s not really looking for the whales—just their poo. “It surprised even me how much you can learn about a whale through its feces,” says Rolland, who recently published the most complete study of right whales ever conducted. “You can test for pregnancy, measure hormones and biotoxins, examine its genetics. You can even tell individuals apart.”

Think that job is bad? Click to read the full article. Click here to listen to the Science Friday podcast of this entertaining show.

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Two Short Moose Non-Encounters

No photos. I have bus duty two mornings a week at school. Last week the principal came out and told us that a bull moose was in the village. The village is two roads that parallel each other, 50 feet apart, for 100 yards; the moose was on the other road. The principal waited while I got my camera from my car, but of course, the bull never came. We kept our eyes extra open in case he did come and we had to get 100 kids inside the school quickly.


No photos again. Amy tied the dogs out from the back bathroom door last night and they immediately began barking wildly. We were concerned, not because of moose, but because of that skunk that has been hanging around for a week. It has been on the opposite side of the house from where Buddy and Zorro were harrassing it. The past two nights this skunk has shot and there have not been pleasant odors here. So Amy hollered at the dogs to be quiet and get back in. Sophie did come in. But Scout refused. Amy suddenly began calling me, a bit panicky. When I got there, I helped quiet the dogs. Amy said there was a big animal making big noises in the woods where it was walking. Also, it was snorting. I figure it was a moose. A bear is noisy walking through the woods but sounds like a dog. The dogs came in and we all went to bed (even all the cats).

We lost power from midnight to 5 AM. This morning, as I read this week's paper (which comes Thursday) I saw that this was another scheduled outage to repair stuff. I should read the paper earlier in the week.


Mathematics Poetry: Arithmetic

Arithmetic by Carl Sandburg

Arithmetic is where numbers fly like pigeons in and out of your head.

Arithmetic tell you how many you lose or win if you know how many you had before you lost or won.

Arithmetic is seven eleven all good children go to heaven -- or five six bundle of sticks.

Arithmetic is numbers you squeeze from your head to your hand to your pencil to your paper till you get the answer.

Arithmetic is where the answer is right and everything is nice and you can look out of the window and see the blue sky -- or the answer is wrong and you have to start all over and try again and see how it comes out this time.

If you take a number and double it and double it again and then double it a few more times, the number gets bigger and bigger and goes higher and higher and only arithmetic can tell you what the number is when you decide to quit doubling.

Arithmetic is where you have to multiply — and you carry the multiplication table in your head and hope you won't lose it.

If you have two animal crackers, one good and one bad, and you eat one and a striped zebra with streaks all over him eats the other, how many animal crackers will you have if somebody offers you five six seven and you say No no no and you say Nay nay nay and you say Nix nix nix?

If you ask your mother for one fried egg for breakfast and she gives you two fried eggs and you eat both of them, who is better in arithmetic, you or your mother?

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Annual M&M Count Results

Cumulative results from 2006-2007. We did the activity earlier this year and I am reporting earlier this year (last year I held the results until January). Here is some interesting trivia from the M&M website (our results are way off):
What is the percent of each color in "M&M's"® packages?
M&M's"® Milk Chocolate Candies: 30% brown, 20% each of yellow and red and 10% each of orange, green and blue. "M&M's"® Peanut Chocolate Candies: 20% each of brown, yellow, red and blue and 10% each of green and orange. "M&M's"® Peanut Butter and Almond Chocolate Candies: 20% each of brown, red, yellow, green and blue. "M&M's"® Crispy Chocolate Candies: 16.6% each of brown, red, yellow, green, orange and blue.

I'm thinking of making a Google Docs spreadsheet open to the world for inputting M&M color counts. Would any of you participate?

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Mathematics Poetry: Numbers

Mary Cornish

       I like the generosity of numbers.
       The way, for example,
       they are willing to count
       anything or anyone:
       two pickles, one door to the room,
       eight dancers dressed as swans.

       I like the domesticity of addition--
       add two cups of milk and stir--
       the sense of plenty: six plums
       on the ground, three more
       falling from the tree.

       And multiplication's school
       of fish times fish,
       whose silver bodies breed
       beneath the shadow
       of a boat.

       Even subtraction is never loss,
       just addition somewhere else:
       five sparrows take away two,
       the two in someone else's
       garden now.

       There's an amplitude to long division,
       as it opens Chinese take-out
       box by paper box,
       inside every folded cookie
       a new fortune.

       And I never fail to be surprised
       by the gift of an odd remainder,
       footloose at the end:
       forty-seven divided by eleven equals four,
       with three remaining.

       Three boys beyond their mothers' call,
       two Italians off to the sea,
       one sock that isn't anywhere you look.

from Poetry magazine; Volume CLXXVI, Number 3, June 2000

Copyright 2000 by The Modern Poetry Association.
All rights reserved.

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Saturday, September 29, 2007

It's Really Me

I apologize for the confusion today. I am now posting with my real and actual first name, Andrée. I have hidden behind "meeyauw" long enough and wanted to do this. But it never occurred to me that other people would be confused, so I apologize. The postings are signed now with my name, as are my e-mails and the blog itself (top of left sidebar). There is no new person behind meeyauw, it is me, the same as always! From total anonymity I have moved to half-anonymity. 


Thursday, September 27, 2007

Filter Friday: Colored Pencil Filter Challenge

I got my Photoshop Elements today and began my first filter challenge. GIMP may be free but Elements makes this fun and easy. I took my sunflower photo (below) and played. I even followed Rachel Clark's directions, which is just about a first for me, and I love what I got (especially the large view when you click on the photo). I spent a lot of time playing with the sliders. I want to do it again and again with different background and foreground colors. I find that I enjoy dark photos and, here, dark colored pencil filter photos. The abstract nature of the new photo intrigues me. Thank you, Rachel, for your challenge. I can do so much more with my photos now. For only $80.

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A Third Skunk Encounter

Because of the heat, the death of Kitten, and stress caused by Anna's deep sadness, I was not able to sleep except for three hours on Tuesday night. I gave up at 4 AM on Wednesday morning and let the cats out into the dark. Fifteen minutes later, I happened to look out the window. In the side yard, Buddy and Zorro were playing and actively interacting with a skunk! (If you don't remember my other adventures with skunks, you can click here and here if you care to read about them.)

The skunk had been trying to dig up grubs but the cats kept pouncing on it as if it were another cat. The skunk was irritated and pounced back. When she did that, the boys thought she wanted to play and pounced again. This kept up for quite awhile. I experienced a meteoric rise in blood pressure. The cats and skunk were close enough to the house so that I was hesitant to close the windows because the noise of closing them might trigger a skunk hit.

What do you do when you don't know what to do? Walk away. So I did. When I returned to the window fifteen minutes later, the gang had gone somewhere else.

Two hours later, driving down my road, I saw this rainbow that arched over the entire town of Barton from Orleans and my mountain to Barton Village. Kitten's rainbow bridge.

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MathNotations: Seventeenth Edition of the Carnival of Mathematics: "At Seventeen, I Learned the Truth"

MathNotations: Seventeenth Edition of the Carnival of Mathematics: "At Seventeen, I Learned the Truth"

I'm mentioned in the carnival! Jonathan at jd2718 submitted my post about Paula's math knitting project. You should check the carnival out because there are a lot of interesting articles posted.

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Wednesday, September 26, 2007

NCLB Assessment Quality

The following problem is a released test item for fifth grade students, assessing their fourth grade achievement. It is from the New England Common Assessment Program (NECAP) Student Practice Test Booklet for Grade 5 Mathematics. Can you find the problem that I have with it? I used this problem with my fifth grade class today for their review. Testing begins next week. What are the standards for testing validity for high stakes tests?

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In Memory of Kitten

Anna called late last night with the news. I will let Aaron's e-mail tell the story:
"I am sorry to say that when Anna and I came home tonight, we found that Kitten was no longer with us. She peacefully passed away on our living room floor. I know I won't forget her sassy attitude, her dainty little paws, or her tenacious snuggle factor."

A loss this sudden and unexpected is very difficult to deal with. Anna is reeling from the shock of finding her Kitten. We all know that this death could not have been prevented; many of us have suffered a loss of a beloved cat in this way.

Anna got Kitten from a drug dealer on the streets of Hartford, Connecticut. He had approached Anna in an attempt to sell a tiny kitten for money for more drugs. Anna threatened him and he surrendered the small cat to her without payment. Kitten was her name because Anna never expected to keep her. 

I remember visiting Anna in her Hartford apartment back then. Kitten was an ankle-attacker: when you walked through the apartment, you would suddenly find this small cat attached to your ankle by teeth and claws. You would jump in fright of the sudden attack, and Kitten would release you and scamper off (gleefully, no doubt). 

Anna, I hope that despite your pain, you are able to read the comments to this post for Kitten.

Monday, September 24, 2007

Heads or Tails: Pet Peeves

A big box shopping center in Vermont with more than a dozen large and small retailers, including Wal-Mart.

The merchandize sold in many stores is often made and sold by the working poor who are trying to live day to day on wages designed to keep them poor and designed to create profits for the American corporations that contract for the goods.

These people have few or no medical benefits. They probably have no medical care. The people who employ them have longer life spans because of their excellent care that only money can buy.

The working poor who work at these stores and who create the merchandize for these store may own a home. But now, because of corporate greed and profiteering, the home foreclosure rate in the United States is higher than in 1929.

The people who employ these working poor are making record-breaking profits. According to Bill Moyers, we now live in another Gilded Age (click here for his blog, and here for his podcast). The gap between rich and poor in the United States has never been as great as now. 

Thank you for visiting. I don't have a class tonight, so I will be able to visit you all on time. I wish you all peace.

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Cats Tuesday: Cat Trees

In all these years, I have never seen Charlie climb a tree. But he was pretty frisky one night this past week when I was out with the camera. He raced around me a few times and then ran up the nearest tree.

Going up.

The highest he's going to go.

Going down.

If you click on the photos, they will open full size in a new window. Thank you for stopping by. I'll be visiting you as soon as I can. I have no class this Tuesday night, so I can see you today!

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Sunday, September 23, 2007

Photowalk: Robert Frost National Recreational Trail

I took a photowalk on the Robert Frost Trail in Ripton on Friday. You can join the walk and view all of the photos on Flickr. You can read all of my comments, which include all of the poems that are used on the trail.

Green Mountain National Forest: Texas Falls

I went to Texas Falls in Hancock, Vermont, in the Green Mountain National Forest. I made a slide show without any bells or whistles from the photos that I put in my Texas Falls set on Flickr.

View slideshow

I played with aperture and shutter speeds on these photos of the falls. There are many "duplicate" photos because of this. But the area is beautiful and I think you will enjoy this slide show from Big Huge Labs.

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Saturday, September 22, 2007

Egyptian geometry and other challenges: Let’s play math!

Egyptian geometry and other challenges: Let’s play math!:
(3) The area of a rectangle is 12, and the width is 3/4 of the length. How long are the sides of the rectangle?
The area of a rectangle equals length times width (l•w), which equals 12

(4) One leg of a right triangle is 2 1/2 times the other, and the area is 20. How long are the triangle’s sides?
The area of a triangle equals 1/2 of the base times the height (A=1/2 bh), which equals 20.

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Egyptian geometry and other challenges: Let’s play math!

Egyptian geometry and other challenges: Let’s play math!:
Here is a math “magic trick” from the Rhind papyrus. (Warning: The Egyptian scribes loved working with fractions.) Your job is to explain why it works. How could Scribe Ahmose know that he would always be able to tell what number his friend had in mind?
  • Tell your friend to think of a secret number. [To avoid fractions, pick a multiple of 9.]
  • Then have him add 2/3 more to his number. [So if he started with 9, he would add 2/3 of 9: 9 6 = 15.]
  • Finally, tell him to take away 1/3 of this total, and say the answer. [1/3 of 15 is 5, and 15 - 5 = 10.
  • Your friend would say, “Ten.”]
  • Now you must subtract 1/10 of that number to find the secret. [1/10 of 10 is 1, so the secret number is 10 - 1 = 9.]
OK, here is my algebraic solution: (x is the chosen number):


I enjoy showing these (but simpler ones) to my college algebra classes. Usually the students enjoy it too and look for other math tricks to solve. Denise has posted the answers. This is my 2nd puzzle to solve. I want to do the triangle one before I peek at the solutions. I hardly ever teach geometry, so I want to look up the triangle inequality thing before I start. 

When clicked, this jpeg will open, full size, in a new window. This would've been more easily understood as a "paper" entry (papyrus / paper) for this week's photohunt instead of my Frost poem, which seemed to confuse people. Too late now.

Friday, September 21, 2007

Photo Hunters: Paper: Robert Frost

A view of the Green Mountains from the home
of Robert Frost in Ripton, Vermont

Going for Water
from A Boy's Will, 1915

                The well was dry beside the door,
                And so we went with pail and can
                Across the fields behind the house
                To seek the brook if still it ran;
                Not loth to have excuse to go,
                Because the autumn eve was fair
                (Though chill), because the fields were ours,
                And by the brook our woods were there.
                We ran as if to meet the moon
                That slowly dawned behind the trees,
                The barren boughs without the leaves,
                Without the birds, without the breeze.
                But once within the wood, we paused
                Like gnomes that hid us from the moon,
                Ready to run to hiding new
                With laughter when she found us soon.
                Each laid on other a staying hand
                To listen ere we dared to look,
                And in the hush we joined to make
                We heard, we knew we heard the brook.
                A note as from a single place,
                A slender tinkling fall that made
                Now drops that floated on the pool
                Like pearls, and now a silver blade.

(Frost wrote his poems on paper.)
Thank you for visiting. Click for more participants.
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Amy Made Lava Cakes

On Labor Day weekend, Amy and I went to the Glover store and got more King Arthur lava cake mixes. The dates on the packages there are old but it doesn't matter one bit because the mixes always come out perfect. The first photo up above is what a lava cake is like when it is all finished, just before it is gobbled up. If your store does not have the mix, order it directly from King Arthur. It is more than worth it.

Amy began making them quietly, so I missed photographing the mixing part (it's so easy that even I enjoy making them). These are the little silicon pans that come in the mix (you can get a mix without pans, also). They are sprayed with Pam-like spray (but not Pam, which is artificial, the stuff we use is real). It looks like ordinary batter, doesn't it?

Right out of the oven, the cakes look like this.

They begin to crack a tiny bit as they cool
(but you have to eat them warm, if not hot).

Of course, Zorro (and Possum, who can't be seen here) has to help.

The first hot lava cake is overturned on a plate.

Lava cake unmolded.

Lava erupts!
Who can wait for whipped cream or
homemade raspberry sauce from this year's raspberries?

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Thursday, September 20, 2007

Dogs on Thursday: Meet Sophie

Sophie is Amelia's three and a half year old Vermont Beagle. Amy found Sophie at Frontier Animal Shelter in Orleans. Amy stopped by the shelter once a week for six weeks looking for a companion for Scout, her first Vermont Beagle. Finally Sophie showed up and Amy had her dog. She took me and Wingnut to meet her and we fell in love with her. We took her home that very day. Ever since, Sophie has given us a supreme test of tolerance of poor dog behavior. Sophie has at least one behavior disability but has not been behaviorally assessed. Ninety-five percent of other people would have had Sophie put down or given her away or abandoned her.

But Amy has taken her to obedience classes, fly ball class, agility class and tracking class. Sophie had a great time in all the classes but learned very little. Amy is determined: Sophie is continually under training to make her calmer, less anxious and more able to focus. This requires that Amy walk Sophie at least four miles a day to tire her, and to restrict stimulation from other animals (including my cats) and situations.

With proper and constant care, Sophie is a love. She runs up to bed before me every night. She begins under the bed, and within thirty minutes is under the covers. In another half hour, Sophie throws herself (throws for real) out of the covers and pants on top of the covers, where she sleeps until Amy goes to bed.

When I look back at Sophie's behavior two years ago, it is amazing what Amy's love and devotion have done for Sophie. Amy won't give up on Sophie and will care for this dog for the rest of her life. Sophie is a happier dog now. Sophie is my granddog.

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Monday, September 17, 2007

Heads or Tails: Heads at the Bread & Puppet

The Bread & Puppet in Glover, Vermont is known for the giant heads on its puppets. Many of the puppets protest war and the corporate monoliths that control a lot of this world. So when I see a happy story in the museum portrayed by the giant puppets, I take a photo of it. These three women are playing music in their small street band.

Now why did I choose "heads" for my photo? Because I am a nitwit. I checked out Skittles's blog today at work and I read the theme for the week: keys. Being in a hurry (as I always am), I focused on the word "heads." I know, now, that I saw the word "keys," but my brain just grabbed "heads" as the theme and ran with it. I pondered all afternoon about which photo to post and decided on this photo from Labor Day weekend when all my kids were here.

Perhaps somebody can make a connection between this photo and keys? I hope so! I work all day and teach a college class on Tuesday nights, so please be patient. I will visit each of you late Tuesday night and on Wednesday night. Have a great day and thank you for visiting!

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Cats Tuesday: What's Buddy Looking At?

Out back behind the clothesline is a hill that we don't mow. The wildflowers and grasses provide good hunting and good cover for hiding when the cats are close to home. Looking out, I saw Buddy intently watching something in the grasses. Thinking he was hunting, I ignored him.

But an hour later, he was in the same spot. staring at the same place in the grass. So I walked out to see what he had cornered but would not hunt. And this is what I found in the tall grass:


The blue reflection in Charlie's eyes is weird.

Don't feel too sorry for Charlie. He gives it out as bad as he takes it. He doesn't stalk Buddy; he just flies through the air to attack him. The two together are bad news: two strong males trying to stake out territory over several years in the same thousand-acre woods on the mountain.

My two baddest bad boys.

Thank you for stopping by. I'll be visiting you after the college class on Tuesday night and on Wednesday night. Have a peaceful day.

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