How I lost my math skills

Everyone can look back to one point in their academic career and say: “If only.”

For me, that time was eighth grade. I was a pretty fair student and got decent grades. When I returned to school in the Fall, I was shocked to see that the school had changed my math class from regular 8th grade math to geometry. Surprised, I went to the first class and sat through the first lecture. After class I went to the teacher and asked why I was in her class- advanced math. All the other students had been in the accelerated math classes and I wondered why I was sitting among them.

“We thought you’d be perfect for the class,” said Mrs. Cassel. “You’ve gotten good grades in the your other classes and you got an ‘A’ in the 7th grade math class you took last year.”

“But, the things you talked about today, well,  I’ve never learned before,” I said a little skeptical of the spot promotion. I wasn’t falling for the faint praise.

“Oh don’t worry, you’ll pick it up soon enough. You’re smart.”

“Well… I don’t know about that.”

“And besides, by adding you and Dennis to the classroom that gives us a whole class.”

So that was it, I got bumped ahead to give them a full classroom. Sadly I didn’t “pick it up quick” as the teacher had predicted. I struggled all year long, pulling a B- out of my ass on the final exam of the year. It was a bad omen for me. Getting bumped ahead meant I went to high school and was in math classes with upper classmen and brainiacs. I struggled through it all getting mostly low Bs and Cs with a low water mark of D+  in Trigonometry.

I had to take math in college and calculus was an anchor around my neck. 3 quarters of 15 credits of math… getting Cs. My lack of mathematics prowess was shooting my GPA in the groin. All the while cursing my promotion those many years ago and wondering if 8th grade math held the linchpin to mathematics success.


Let the Blathering for Votes Begin.


I will hurry home from work in order to listen to this debate. I have my favorites and I hope to see them do well tomorrow night. Who are they? Well it’s not Donald “Divisive” Trump who polls in at #1. I’m interested in what  #3, #5, #7, #8 and #10 have to say. I will be hoping to hear good things from: Marco Rubio, Rand Paul, Ben Carson and Scott Walker. But if I were going to contribute $$$ to anyone on this stage (which I won’t) it wold be the governor from Ohio, John Kasich. From everything I’ve heard he’s a hard-working, level-headed, straight-shooting Midwesterner who has successfully governed a large state and worked with members of both political parties to get sh*t done. How many years has it been since Congress and the President have been able to work together to accomplish anything significant? I think back to Ronald Reagan and Tip O’Neil as the last two great leaders who could agree on putting America first. All the others since then… just pretenders who were trying to score points and take credit themselves. Reagan once said:

“There is no limit to the amount of good you can do if you don’t care who gets the credit.”

History showed us that we needed this kind of thinking in the 1980s and we could use a good dose of it again in 2016.

Hockey Rules the House


Wahoo- hockey season is just around the corner! Well maybe not just around the corner… unless October is the nearest corner. As a lifelong Red Wing fan I’m excited for the new season. Growing up in Detroit it was easy to follow my team, but since moving to California it’s got a little more complicated. If you’ll indulge my whining for a few minutes while I vent my frustrations and bare my hockey soul.

Because hockey isn’t played much in San Diego, very few games get televised. NBC and NBCsN will air a few games a week but it isn’t usually Detroit.I signed up for NHL Channel and get to watch many of the games. But the NHL network (which isn’t available through Time-Warner) will sometimes televise the Wings and that will keep it from showing on NHL Channel. When it’s all said and done with the blackouts from NHL Network, CBC, and NBCSN it seems like I only get to watch about 1/3 of the games. What’s a hockey lover in San Diego to do?

You sign up to split a pair of season tickets to the newest AHL team- the San Diego Gulls. Looking forward to some live hockey- even if it is minor league stuff. The Gulls are the farm team of the Anaheim Ducks. The schedule should be coming out soon and we’ll divide up the tickets- that’s what I’m looking forward to over the next few weeks.  The next few posts should entail my upcoming college classes and the teaching gig I’ll be doing this Fall.

So what do you plan on doing this week?

My board of directors

I read a book a long time ago that suggested constructing a board of directors that you could figuratively go to when you needed advice or wisdom. I never gave it much serious thought but it came back to my consciousness a week or two ago. It asked you to select twelve people from myth or history that you could look to for advice on life’s problems. I’ll lit my twelve over the next week or so.In no specific order:


#12. Minister of common sense (and understanding people). Sheriff Andy Taylor. I watched all the Andy of Mayberry series – all 255 (?) episodes on Netflix and was amazed by how he was able to see through people’s motives and used daily common sense to solve crimes and problems of the day . Essentially he was applying the principle of Ockham’s Razor to daily life in the town of Mayberry.

A big career change for me

What was that college movie with Rodney Dangerfield… “Back To School”? Well that’s going to be me. I am going to take advantage of the post 9/11 GI bill and go back to college to take the classes that I missed out on the first time. I’ll be saying no to stuff like Biology, Calculus and Biochemistry and hello to History of Rock and Roll, Journalism, and Oceanography. Maybe some history too to help understand the many wonders of the world my wife and I have had the pleasure of traveling to all those years in the Navy. Maybe take a nutrition class or even some phys ed!

I myself wonder if this isn’t a mini mid life crisis or something. I am going to turn 55 this summer and classes will start in the Fall. I’ve got the blessing and buy in from Mrs. Powayslugger so here goes nothing!

So what do you think American Public? Good choice or bad? Leave a yes/no and a comment if you like.