powerball

By Kristina

Powerball is all the rage right now. Despite knowing that I could have spent my $6 on something useful, I still gave in to the hype.

powerball

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“An Annuity Option means winners can choose to be paid in 30 graduated annuity payments made over a twenty-nine (29) year period. A Cash Option means winners can choose a one-time cash payment which will be (approximately) the cost of the annuity divided by the number of winning tickets. Note: If a winner fails to claim the jackpot and select a jackpot payment option within 60 days, the prize will be automatically paid as an annuity. All prizes must be claimed within one year of the drawing.”

My Facebook newsfeed has been hopping with erroneous applications of dividing the jackpot by the U.S. population as a “solution for poverty,” people making fun of the incorrect math, fun math discussion, and fun speculation of “what would you do if you won?” My friend Heather pointed out “So I tried to figure out a scam to win: if you need 292M permutations to win, at $2 a ticket you need a bankroll of $584M – the lump sum pay out is 62%, and that definitely puts you in the 39.6% income tax bracket… The take home is $487M (not counting the cost of the team of lawyers you now need to employ). Back to the drawing board.” Likewise, my friend Jonathan said “Also, isn’t the $1.3 billion mythical? In the sense that, if one elects a one-time payment, the payout is substantially less, and the $1.3 B number is only achieved by adding together 30 years of nominal payments of 1/30th of $1.3B. Of course, in 30 years, the last payment will be worth less than half its value in today’s dollars. In a real-life conversation, my friend Ashley said that she’d rather take the lump sum and invest it because she could get a better interest rate than with the annuity. I would love to examine the concepts of probability, expected value, inflation, annuity, and taxes with students (not to mention the social aspects of lottery winning). It would make good fodder for a math debate…

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I would also be interested in having students analyze the changes in the Powerball game structure:
“Powerball® Enriched: Starting Jackpots Double to $40 Million
In January 2012, Powerball® was redesigned to bring even more excitement and value to its players. Jackpots in the multi-state game now start at $40 million and grow faster overall. There are more chances to win a prize of at least $1 million cash and the overall odds of winning any prize in the game are also better. Beginning with the January 15, 2012 drawing, game tickets increased from $1 to $2 per wager.
The Power Play® add-on feature is also available for an extra $1 per play. For that extra $1, players have the chance to multiply their prize by as much as ten times. Just before each Powerball drawing, a multiplier number (2X, 3X, 4X, 5X and 10X) is randomly drawn. If a player purchased the Power Play option for an extra $1 per play, that randomly selected number is used to multiply any prizes won, with the exception the JACKPOT and the Match 5 prize (which increases from $1 million to a set $2 million with Power Play).

Powerball with Powerplay gets bigger!
October 4, 2015 – The multi-state Powerball lottery game changed the matrix which is designed to produce larger jackpots and add more winning experiences. In the new matrix, players will select 5 out of 69 white-ball numbers and 1 of 26 Powerball numbers. The overall odds of winning a prize in the game improves from 1 in 31.8 to 1 in 24.9.”

Questions
1) How would you approach this with your students?
2) What would you do first if you won the jackpot?

one good thing: friends and puzzles

By Kristina

Today I’m grateful for a fellow mom-friend who said “want to come over and hang out?” when I mentioned that my husband was in Denmark for a business trip. Though interacting with folks via Facebook, Twitter, and text message does offer some solace when at home with an infant, it doesn’t replace the calming effect of in-person time. We chatted a bunch while playing with our babies (who have known each other since ~6-8 weeks of age but only recently recognized each other’s existence). She mentioned that she would be doing Mystery Hunt this weekend and explained it to me when I got intrigued. She shared a few of the past puzzles with me so I could get a sense of what it was like, and then I got hooked. We got to chatting more about riddles we’d enjoyed as kids and spent a while trading ones back and forth about people found dead in various places and having to figure out why. It felt nice to kick it old-school style with just puzzles and human interaction!

2016 Blogging Initiative, Week 1

By Kristina

onegoodthing

Option 1: We rarely take the time to stop and smell the roses. Even on the most disastrous of days, good things happen. And these good things, when you’re on the lookout for them, pop up. All. The. Time. So for one day (heck, do it for many days), keep a lookout for the small good moments during your day and blog about them. We bet that by keeping an eye out for the good, your whole day will be even better!

2016-01-12 19.08.39 My one good thing! He’s overseeing my blogging from his “office.”

I’m in the home stretch of maternity leave with my son Parker, so as much as I wanted to share what a day looks like for me teaching math and being an IB coordinator, it feels weird trying to recreate that when I haven’t been in the classroom since June 25, 2015. In the throes of the newborn stage, I quickly realized that there is no “leave” in maternity leave. I missed school–not only the familiar faces and routines but also the feeling of being competent. As a student and as a runner, I’ve previously been able to achieve good grades and better race times. With a known input comes a known output.

But with motherhood, like teaching before it, I have felt so deskilled in that putting hard work in doesn’t necessarily yield a desired result. It’s been a humbling journey, and though each day brings new challenges, I’m starting to find my footing. Over the past few months, I have grown by leaps and bounds since that first day home with Parker (when my husband and I put the car seat down on our floor for the very first time and wondered “how did the hospital let us out when we know *nothing*?”). I feel more confident with taking him out, with soothing him, with feeling like a mom, and with knowing him and his quirks. I cherish our snuggles, outings to baby lapsit, long walks, and co-cooking sessions (when he oversees me from his lion seat). Watching him grow and learn is amazing. Laughs, rolling, grasping, and getting closer to sitting up are all so cool to see.

That leads me to the overall “one good thing” of this post. Being at home with Parker and enjoying these small moments is helping me be patient with where I am rather than always worrying about not doing enough. When I got pregnant, I knew that teaching would become very different as I took on the new role of mom. However, I kept up my old habits and work style right up until the summer because I just wasn’t ready to let go of them and change. Throughout maternity leave, I’ve worried about forgetting how to teach, about my school not needing me anymore, and about how I was going to handle work if Parker still woke up multiple times a night to feed. Recently, I finally started to change my mindset about the onset of work. My brain sometimes still thinks it needs to go into panicky worry mode before every start of school, even though it doesn’t need to do it anymore.

Life will be okay if I’m reasonable about setting my bars for success. For instance, I recently ran without RunKeeper or music and just set out to enjoy the run without setting a pace goal. I could have gone into it saying “well, you *already* failed because you also didn’t double up and do a barre class today” or “if you don’t go faster than your last run, you’ve failed” or “you’re not running five miles at a time yet? FAILED!” Instead I just enjoyed the balmy weather, quiet Tufts campus, and feeling happy for having gone on a run at all. Teaching is going to be fine. It’ll be a tough adjustment, much as getting used to maternity leave was, but I’ll be able to handle it.

math in real life: blackout shades

By Kristina

I’m researching blackout shades for our nursery and started my design process by polling a few mom groups. One mom suggested Pottery Barn Kids.

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These Harper shades are lovely, on sale, and have been positively reviewed at Embrace My Space. However I realized that they wouldn’t work for our nursery upon seeing that all variations were 64″ long. Our windows are almost floor-to-ceiling.

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I went in to measure the window widths to see if curtains might work. A friend recommended these Koala Baby curtains, but they would be too short. These Harper curtains come in varying lengths that could potentially be tall enough. However, the smaller windows are approximately 22″ and the large window is approximately 58″. We’d need three 44″ panels to cover the span of the windows without leaving gaps.

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Perhaps wider curtains would work? My friend Heidi at This Bold Home recommended these, which are 52″ across. Two of those panels could work! The nursery foiled me again though. This weird ceiling dip also prevents a curtain rod from going all the away across the windows.

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Based on all of these constraints, I’m eyeing custom cordless cellular blackout shades that can be installed by the company.Blinds to Go cordless cellular thermal shades seem the most promising right now because the former owners of the unit two floors above ours also used these for their baby’s nursery (same room as Parker’s and same dimensions), so their shades would likely work well in our space. I feel like I *should* DIY and self-install, but I’m neither interested in nor good at it. I feel hypocritical saying “I’m not good at it” because I really dislike it when people say “I’m just not good at math” and give up on it. But, in comparison to something like cooking (which I enjoy and can do without lots of struggle), the time and effort spent on self-installation would far outweigh the cost. I recently had an Elfa closet installed, and the fee was well worth it. It only took the installer an hour to do (while it would have taken my husband or me much longer, and we would have had to have the other person watch Parker).

Other recommendations from fellow moms:
The Shade Store
Lowe’s – from the former owner of our unit, who installed plantation shutters in the living room and cellular shades in both bedrooms
Bed, Bath, and Beyond curtains
JC Penney cordless cellular blackout shades (install yourself) (though one mom pointed out that
Home Depot cordless cellular blackout shades

Beta Burger

By Kristina

Some pregnant women crave odd combinations like pickles and ice cream. Because my regular food choices already included combinations like peanut butter and pickle sandwiches, I expected that I’d either be eating completely wacky foods or completely bland foods. My biggest pregnancy craving fell somewhere in the middle: for burgers. During my second trimester, I took a special education licensure course at Madison Park High School. That burger pregnancy craving got triggered by Beta Burger’s “opening summer 2015” sign every time I went to the neighboring Dunkin Donuts before class, so I was psyched to get invited to try out Beta Burger this past weekend!

storefront

Customization + Technology = Beta Burger

Founder Adrian Wong sought to bring innovation and culture to the food industry via customization and technology. He made a career change from advising startups at Morgan Stanley, adding to his finance experience by working at Chipotle and Grass Fed along the way. Chains like Chipotle can pre-cook proteins such as carnitas or barbacoa, enabling a fast customization assembly line process. However, burgers must be made to order for optimum taste. You can’t maintain the same quality and cut prep time by pre-cooking burgers and storing them before a lunch rush. Inspired by sous vide cooking, he did research to see if bulk sous vide cooking could be possible for burgers and settled on the CVap oven.

cVapovenThe CVap oven cooks burgers with water vapor. The burgers are then finished on the grill for 30 seconds. This searing with high heat creates the Malliard effect on the burgers. The combination of slow cooker and grill consistently yields juicy, non-greasy burgers quicker than a grill-only process. If I take a lengthy class at Madison Park again, I’ll definitely come here for lunch breaks—it’s fast enough to get a burger and fries during a 30-minute break! The process can be made even faster by ordering website or with their app (on the App Store or Google Play).

The Food

menu
I liked the customization process much better than trying to pick from a long list of pre-made burger combos and having to make slight changes like “no tomato.” There were ample choices for bread and toppings, but not enough to be overwhelming. There are low-carb options such as the skinny bun or the “turn a burger into a salad.” There are two seasonal toppings (currently, there are marshmallows and roasted peppers).

burgers

I tried the Beta burger on a potato roll (with cheddar, Beta steak sauce, lettuce, and roasted peppers) and garlic parmesan fries.

betaburger

My husband tried the limited edition Toasted Snowman and buffalo fries. At first I was skeptical of this Frozen-themed burger, but Adrian explained that the marshmallow adds a subtle sweetness that goes well with the salt and fat of the burger. My skepticism was proved wrong because the marshmallow does work well as a topping!

ToastedSnowman

On both of our burgers, the ratio of burger : bun : toppings was appropriate. Adrian and his staff are very receptive to feedback about the burgers—the patties were initially smaller, and were made bigger after customer feedback. As a new mom, I now order food based on its spill potential. I’ve often spilled burger toppings all over my son when the bun couldn’t hold up to the burger or when the toppings slid around. I managed to eat my Beta burger with one hand while holding Parker with the other, and he remained spill-free! We also noted that the burgers were delicious without leading to the “slowies.”

The fries were well-cooked—very thin and crispy. The seasoning got distributed well by the bag-shaking process.

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Other Notes

Beta Burger’s space is simple and clean, with lots of orange and little touches like Bob’s Burgers playing on next to the menu and an Ugly Sweater discount until New Year’s Eve. The bathrooms are large and clean. Though there aren’t any changing tables, I would be okay with changing a diaper on the floor. There is counter space and one table on the main floor, with additional seating downstairs. Street parking is reasonably easy to find.

littletouches

Beta Burger 1437 Tremont St, Roxbury MA 02120
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on making

By Kristina

This Atlantic article examines tech culture’s celebration of creation (often at the expense of teaching and caretaking). It delves into how society values the traditionally male domain of “making” and devalues the traditionally female domain of caregiving (e.g., teaching, healthcare). Before I finished reading the first sentence, I immediately thought of What Teachers Make, a poem by Taylor Mali.

What Teachers Make
by Taylor Mali

He says the problem with teachers is
What’s a kid going to learn
from someone who decided his best option in life
was to become a teacher?
He reminds the other dinner guests that it’s true
what they say about teachers:
Those who can, do; those who can’t, teach.
I decide to bite my tongue instead of his
and resist the temptation to remind the dinner guests
that it’s also true what they say about lawyers.
Because we’re eating, after all, and this is polite conversation.

I mean, you’re a teacher, Taylor.
Be honest. What do you make?

And I wish he hadn’t done that— asked me to be honest—
because, you see, I have this policy about honesty and ass-­‐kicking:
if you ask for it, then I have to let you have it.
You want to know what I make?
I make kids work harder than they ever thought they could.
I can make a C+ feel like a Congressional Medal of Honor
and an A-­‐ feel like a slap in the face.
How dare you waste my time
with anything less than your very best.
I make kids sit through 40 minutes of study hall
in absolute silence. No, you may not work in groups.
No, you may not ask a question.
Why won’t I let you go to the bathroom?
Because you’re bored.
And you don’t really have to go to the bathroom, do you?
I make parents tremble in fear when I call home:
Hi. This is Mr. Mali. I hope I haven’t called at a bad time,
I just wanted to talk to you about something your son said today.
To the biggest bully in the grade, he said,
“Leave the kid alone. I still cry sometimes, don’t you?
It’s no big deal.”
And that was noblest act of courage I have ever seen.
I make parents see their children for who they are
and what they can be.

You want to know what I make? I make kids wonder,
I make them question.
I make them criticize.
I make them apologize and mean it.
I make them write.
I make them read, read, read.
I make them spell definitely beautiful, definitely beautiful, definitely beautiful
over and over and over again until they will never misspell
either one of those words again.
I make them show all their work in math
and hide it on their final drafts in English.
I make them understand that if you’ve got this,
then you follow this,
and if someone ever tries to judge you
by what you make, you give them this.

Here, let me break it down for you, so you know what I say is true:
Teachers make a goddamn difference! Now what about you?

I often feel that teachers have to defend or justify the rigor and validity of what we make and do. What we make can’t be sold, but it’s pretty awesome.Good teachers do follow the design process when creating and refining their curriculum. Creating complex math tasks or guiding students into mathematical discourse do not get featured on the cover of Wired magazine. Just because these educational things weren’t born out of Mountain Dew-fueled coding rampages and didn’t have an IPO of $1 billion doesn’t make them any less “made.”

Similarly, arts and crafts don’t get the same level of respect as robots or other technological “made” things. Case in point: back in engineering school, fellow engineering majors would scoff at those in the College of Arts and Sciences, calling it the College of Arts and Crafts. But don’t arts include design, iteration, and planning of resources? My mother-in-law probably wouldn’t consider herself a maker, but she makes some amazing Halloween costumes. Her process of research, design, locating materials, and creating is pretty spot-on.

halloweencostumes

So what will it take for us to “recognize the work of the educators, those that analyze and characterize and critique, everyone who fixes things, all the other people who do valuable work with and for others—above all, the caregivers—whose work isn’t about something you can put in a box and sell”?

interoperability and baby social media

By Kristina

In my old life as a consultant, I supported operational and technical solutions for a Department of Justice High-Risk Metropolitan Areas Interoperability Assistance Project, which provided federal, state, and local public safety agencies with emergency intersystems communications in 25 areas at risk for terrorist attacks. I haven’t had the word “interoperability” pop into my head for a while (except for regarding school data and gradebook systems) until my recent ponderings about baby social media.

I’ve been pondering how to share pictures and video of Parker via different systems to various stakeholders (grandparents, immediate family, friends, acquaintances) and with different technologies (iPhone apps, Android apps, websites, printed paper books or calendars). Major considerations have been privacy, ease of use, and accessibility. I’ve been sharing via iCloud photostream to immediate family as well as via Facebook and Instagram for friends. However, none of these offer an optimal solution. Not all family members use iPhones. Some friends use Facebook and Instagram, so double posting there would be an overload for them. Some use only Facebook or only Instagram.

iCloud
I love that iCloud photostream allows for multiple contributors and for immediate notifications. It saves the effort of creating a separate album somewhere and emailing it, and consolidates photos automatically (which wouldn’t occur if you texted photos individually). Two of my immediate family members are on Android, so they don’t get the updates unless they load the photostream via its weblink. And if that weblink got forwarded erroneously, all privacy would immediately go out the window.

Facebook
I’ve been on Facebook since 2004, so I’ve added a lot of friends from various contexts in my life. Not all of them are close enough to warrant baby photo sharing, and many are likely not interested in seeing photos of Parker (hopefully not to the point of something like unbaby.me). Other mom friends have mentioned that they too love sharing but worry they are going overboard. Though Facebook seems to already creepily prioritize posts in the newsfeed, it can’t yet read our minds and execute the command “just show this to people I care about and who would actually want to see my baby photos.”

I know there are options for creating tiers of friends like one would in real life, but I’m not interested in trying to coerce Parker into sitting still long enough for me to curate various lists with privacy permissions for seeing my statuses or photos. I’m also not interested in putting in the effort to create, invite people to, and maintain a private Facebook group for sharing his photos. A friend pointed out that several of his friends even made up different names for their kids on Facebook in addition to locking down the privacy settings. I suppose I could always go back to calling Parker his pregnancy nickname of “Henry.”

Instagram
Instagram would theoretically work if I hadn’t already had a public Instagram. There are options for making photo albums or prints from Instagram photos, which would be cool. However, simply making my account private wouldn’t solve the matter of having Parker’s photos viewable by current followers whom I don’t mind seeing my posts about food, fitness, or teaching but would mind seeing Parker. Keeping the account public makes me wary of issues such as baby catfishing. I ended up deleting all photos of Parker except for his birth announcement and one where he’s in a stroller around my students. I have reserved the Instagram account with his full name, but there’s no easy way to just transfer those past posts to it.

Others
Friends have suggested other apps that were specifically designed for the baby photo sharing use case: Smugmug23 Snaps, and Lifecake. Side note: I think this is the death knell of my being on the cutting edge of new technology, because I hadn’t heard of them yet. They seem great with privacy, organization, and ability to create printed photo albums. I do worry about the extra effort required for technology adoption, though apps being consolidated on one’s phone does make this much easier these days. I also worry about having to sort through and upload all of the photos from the past 3.5 months of Parker’s life…the longer I wait to switch, the more onerous that will be.

blogger flywheel class

By Kristina

PicFrame (1)

Today was another big post-baby fitness milestone: the first spin class! I took a blogger class via Blog and Tweet Boston, opting for the spin one with Catie Macken. I’d taken Azure Campbell‘s Flybarre class with Jen and my sister the week before, and that kicked my butt just as much as it did when I tried it for the first time earlier this year (with pregnancy modifications).

It was great to see familiar faces like Danielle, Jessie, and Elissa when heading into the studio. I chose a bike in the back–was really glad that they let us choose our bikes this time. Spin felt a lot better than I expected it to. It really is so much easier without an enormous baby bump, heartburn, and decreased cardio ability. I couldn’t hit some of the higher RPMs but could handle the recommended torq (and, with my newfound mommy upper body strength, felt a lot better in the arm song than I expected). I like that all past performance data is saved for you so you can make accurate comparisons and track progress.Since the last class I took in June, I improved my total power by 52, average mph by 2, and average torq by 2. I was really surprised to find that I’d gotten my highest total power ever in spite of not being in shape.

I found Catie very motivational, with easy to follow cues and a good variety of speeds and resistance. It’s hard to have spin workouts that feel like all hills or all sprints. Her playlist was fun too–a little Justin Bieber, a little Taylor Swift, and a little rock. She offered helpful tips such as “think of it as a forward-backward motion, not up and down” and direction on how to position our upper bodies. She also offered us earplugs at the beginning of class. I didn’t take her up on it, but some other bloggers mentioned that they’d had trouble understanding her and wished they’d taken them. We only saw the Torqboard at the beginning of class and during the final races during the last song. I’m glad she did that because I didn’t feel demotivated by it (which I may have done if it had been shown a lot).

Some promos that are happening this month (from the Flywheel newsletter):

HAPPY ANNIVERSARY, BACK BAY!
We’re thankful for two years of flying with you, Boston! To celebrate, we’re offering you an unlimited wheel membership for only $220 per month, or you can become a FlyPlus+ member (unlimited Flywheel & FlyBarre) for only $270 per month – that’s $50 off our regular rates! Sign up now – this amazing offer expires on November 30.

FREE FLYIN’!
December’s cold. Warm up with a free class, on us! For every 4 times you ride in November, you’ll get one FREE wheel credit to use in December (if you pulse 4 times, you’ll get a free barre credit). See the front desk to get started!

Disclaimer: I was provided with a complimentary class. I was not paid to do this post. All opinions are my own. There are no affiliate links in this post.

shaped houses

By Kristina

“Want to live next door to the famous “round house?” ;-)”

A lot of condo listings and sublets often pop up on the Somerville Moms email list that’s so popular around these parts. This one intrigued me, so I hit the Google. Turns out the round house has some interesting history.

roundhouseThere is also a hexagonal house in Jamaica Plain and Octagon House in D.C.

I’ve had students design their dream houses before–might add on a historical research or current real estate / house design aspect!

technology to try

By Kristina

Day 2
Write about one piece of technology that you would like to try this year, and why. You might also write about what you’re hoping to see out of this edtech integration.

I first heard about Plickers at EdCamp Boston and put them on my “to-try” list for 2015-2016. This year, two awesome math bloggers posted about them on one good thing (misscalcul8 and Sam Shah). I’ve found it hard to incorporate edtech that needed constant access to the computer lab, Chromebook cart, and school Internet. I’m hoping to cut down on the transition time usually inherent with such integration. I’m also hoping to improve my formative assessment.

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