Why, Why, Why?

It was Albert Einstein who said, “If you can’t explain it to a six-year-old, you don’t understand it yourself.”

Have you ever tried to explain a complicated mathematical concept to a six-year-old?  Try it!  Find a six-year-old and try to explain logarithms or exponents. Better yet, try to explain long division.  Not that difficult, right?  Try it! Did they get it?

During my Elementary Math courses in college, we were taught that in order to teach something to a child, you have to explain WHY something happens.  For instance, why do you follow specific steps when dividing?  Where do those steps come from? What is the purpose of each step?  What happens when those steps are mixed-up?  Or better yet, what happens when you throw in a decimal!!!!!  Come to think of it, maybe you shouldn’t say “decimal” to a 6-year-old.  Or a 46-year-old.  It’s a scary word.

What you’ll find is that the more you try to simplify it, the worse it gets; while the six-year-old is looking at you and probably contemplating how he or she can spider-climb up the wall.

This fall, as children are hunkering down in class, remember that they have amazingly creative and flexible minds.  You can explain concepts to them that are difficult for adults to comprehend, simply because they take it at face value.  They don’t try to overcomplicate things.  When they struggle, it’s because the WHY is missing.  Perhaps, everyone should look at the WHY in their lives.  What you’ll find is that we all complicate life in some way or another.  Take a hint from a six-year-old—keep it simple!

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Top 10: Arkansas

ArkansasI have to admit that before living in Arkansas for six months, I was a bit skeptical about the state.  It never crossed my mind to visit “The Natural State” until my husband had military training at Little Rock Air Force Base.  We decided to make the best of it and get out to experience what Arkansas had to offer!  Of course there were things that I didn’t like about Arkansas (tornado warnings, heat, humidity, and snakes to name a few), but Arkansas definitely has some diamonds in the rough!  Below is my list of the top 10 things to do in Arkansas!

1)  Dig for diamonds at Crater of Diamonds State Park.  This is touted as “the world’s only diamond site where you can search and keep what you find.”  In 1924, a 40.23-carat white diamond named the Uncle Sam Diamond was discovered here and is the largest diamond found in the U.S.

2)  Eat buttermilk ice cream at Loblolly Creamery.  If peaches are in season, try it with fresh peaches for an oh-so-yummy summer treat.  They have an awesome soda fountain/ice cream bar where you can try more of their small-batch ice cream creations and you can find them at other locations around town as well.

3)  Hike Pinnacle Mountain.  This is a great hike with great views right in Little Rock!  We took the strenuous ¾ mile East Summit Trail with the boulder fields up then took the nice and easy West Summit Trail down the other side of the mountain.  You can also take it really easy and do the 1 ¼ mile Base Trail around the mountain.

Last Plane Out of Saigon

4)  Visit the Last Plane Out of Saigon.  This C-130A “Hercules” plane is located just outside of the main gate at the Little Rock Air Force Base in Jacksonville.    The day before the fall of Saigon, a South Vietnamese major piloted this C-130 plane from Vietnam to Thailand. There were 452 people on board (32 in the cockpit) who were seeking freedom.  If you are a Jimmy Buffet fan, you’ll have his song “Last Mango in Paris” in your head now!

He said, “I ate the last mango in Paris
Took the last plane out of Saigon
Took the first fast boat to China
And Jimmy, there’s still so much to be done.”

5)  Go on a Segway tour in Little Rock.  This is a great way to see the sights including the Arkansas River, River Market, and Clinton Presidential Center in the downtown Little Rock area.  And it is fun to drive the Segway!

6)  Eat yummy food and drink tasty beer at the Apple Blossom Brewing Company.  Head three hours northwest of Little Rock to the town of Fayetteville – home of the University of Arkansas and the Razorbacks – in the Ozarks.  Their cheese fries and apple bread pudding were a-ma-zing.

7)  Hike to Cedar Falls at Petit Jean State Park.  This is only a 2 mile round trip hike but the trail to get back up from the valley is a bit strenuous.  It is worth it with a 95-foot waterfall at the turnaround point!

Arkansas River Trail

8)  Bike the Arkansas River Trail.  We started at the Big Dam Bridge which is the longest pedestrian/bicycle bridge in North America that has never been used by trains or motor vehicles.  The trail consists of an 88-mile loop for those who want a longer bike ride!

9)  Check out Hot Springs National Park.  This is unlike any other national park that I’ve visited.  The park consists of old bathhouses from the early 1900s that used the water from the thermal hot springs for 20th century spa treatments.  Today, the bathhouses have been renovated for historical and commercial purposes.  For example, you can check out the park’s visitor center at Fordyce Bathhouse, take a traditional bath at Buckstaff Baths, visit the modern spa at Quapaw Bathhouse, or eat/drink at the Superior Bathhouse Brewery.

10)  Lots more to do in The Natural State!  There are 52 state parks to check out, canoeing the Buffalo National River, visiting Eureka Springs, trout fishing on the White River, and more!  Check out Arkansas for yourself!

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Being a child at home alone in the summer is a high-risk occupation. If you call your mother at work thirteen times an hour, she can hurt you. Erma Bombeck

Late August/ early September signifies the end of the summer, especially to those of us with school-age children or who work in an educational setting.   Thoughts begin to reluctantly change from summer fun to the more serious business of school. In short, it can be an emotional time, filled with excitement, dread and nervousness.

To make this transition from summer to school as stress-free as possible, it can help to be prepared. Don’t worry, retailers are on board and are more than ready to meet back-to-school needs. They wouldn’t miss out on this money-making opportunity. After all, there are 78 million students enrolled in pre-school through college in this country (U.S. Census Bureau). These students and their families know how to get ready for the school year with their pocketbooks too. The U.S. Census Bureau estimated that $72.5 billion was spent on back-to-school items in 2013, with $8.6 billion dollars alone spent at family clothing stores. Bookstores sales were reported at $1.6 billion.

School isn’t all about the students though. There are teachers – over 3.5 million full-time elementary and secondary school teachers in 2013 according to the National Center for Education Statistics. There are millions of principals, school bus drivers, custodians and cafeteria workers too. It takes a lot of people in many different roles to run a school.

Getting back-to-school is as good as reason as any to compile a few fun facts about education:

  • Morton High School in Illinois is home to the largest high school in the United States. It is a co-op with over 8,000 students!
  • If you like indoor sports, you may want to consider going to high school in Indiana, where 9 out of the top 10 largest gymnasiums are located.
  • Until the Great Depression, most kids only completed eight years of school. The popularity of high school increased during this time when job-strapped communities wanted to keep employment opportunities open for adults.
  • Education pays! College graduates can earn up to $40,000 more than those with a high-school diploma.



Here is a picture of a soon-to-be 4th grade boy surrounded by school supplies.  He is getting excited for school!





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Monday Numbers #27

This week’s numbers in the real world: Numbers on uniforms. Hey, Number 8, hit the ball! Hey Number 8, throw the ball! Hey Number 8, catch the ball!


Come to find out Player #8 would prefer kicking the dirt, digging in the dirt, throwing the dirt, and lying in the dirt than doing anything with a baseball. That’s okay. Player 8 is only 4. And t-ball is only t-ball.


But back to numbers. A number on a uniform is a nominal number. Nominal numbers make life so much easier. We can easily identify a person, place, object by labeling them with a number. A higher number doesn’t mean “more” of something and a lower number doesn’t mean “less” of something; it’s just a number. Baseball player #8 . . .   Zip code 90210 . . . Locker 43.   You can’t add, subtract, multiply, or divide nominal numbers – you can’t do a darned bit of math with any nominal number. But math isn’t a prerequisite for importance. After all, phone numbers, social security numbers, and bank routing numbers are all nominal numbers.   And life would be worse than a t-ball game of disinterested 4-year-olds on a hot summer day if you couldn’t call your mother, get paid, or make a deposit.

And even though you can’t count nominal numbers, you can make your week count – so as always, make your week count!

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Sitting is the subject of much recent media attention and has been found to be a serious and significant health hazard. In other words, it’s the new smoking. And, if you smoke and sit too much, that’s another story. You are in for double trouble. According to a recent study in the Annals of Internal Medicine, those who spend more than four hours a day in front of a screen have:

  • A nearly 50 percent increased risk of death from any cause
  • About a 125 percent increased risk of events associated with cardiovascular disease, such as chest pain (angina) or heart attack

For those of us who have desk jobs, perhaps these findings wouldn’t be so troubling if gym or exercise time off-set the risks associated with sitting. Regular exercise does help some, however, but how much is uncertain. More research will need to be conducted on that.

In the meantime, the antidote is more moving and standing whenever and wherever possible. Because it’s not feasible for most offices to provide a treadmill or standing desk, what can us desk jockeys (or TV or other screen addicts) do to lessen the risks of planting it for hours on end?

Dr. James Levine from the Mayo Clinic has a few suggestions:

  • Stand when talking on the phone or eating lunch
  • Walking meetings – take laps around the office instead of sitting in a conference room
  • Stand up and move for one to three minutes for every thirty of sitting

Another idea is taking time at lunch to move around the office or get outside. A 2005 study from the University of Bristol found that midday exercise not only improves overall health and mood but increases performance and productivity too. This study even found that exercise made colleagues more tolerant and forgiving of each other! Mind you, I have no complaints about my colleagues, but what a bonus!

Don’t be one of the 25% of adults who aren’t active at all. Instead, be one of the 40% of Americans who get the recommended amount of physical activity (www.cdc.gov/physicalactivity/data/facts.html). While you are at it, gather your friends and family and work on increasing that 40% statistic because it really is a sad commentary on our lazy society if you think about it.  In addition, stand up whenever you can.

Fonzie was known for saying “sit on it”, but perhaps he should have been saying “don’t sit on it – stand on it!” For those of you who don’t know who Fonzie is, stand up and then give me thirty jumping jacks.





Example of people standing, below:




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Snow, hail, sleet, ice, clouds – winter is here! The days are short, and the nights are long. As most people know, winter happens when a hemisphere (half of the earth) is tilted away from the sun. As a result, winter in the northern and southern hemispheres happen at opposite times. In the northern hemisphere, the axis is furthest from the sun on December 21, the winter solstice.

Since I am writing this in January after the solstice, we are on the downhill slope of winter now. For some of us, depending upon where we live, it may not feel that way though. There are some who embrace the season and all that comes with it. I am one of those people, to a certain degree. Then, there are others who get the winter blues, otherwise known as seasonal affective disorder. In extreme cases, some suffer from chionophobia or the fear of snow. Hibernation or reduced metabolic activity is more common in winter too.

But, it’s not all depressing! Here are some interesting facts about winter to think about while shoveling, skiing, sledding, ice skating, or making hot chocolate. Perspective can help even the most winter weary.

  • The coldest temperature using a thermometer is -128.6 degrees Fahrenheit, set in Vostok, Antarctica, on July 21, 1983. The coldest temperature using remote satellites is -136 degrees, also set in Antarctica, on August 20, 2010.
  • The world’s largest snowflake, 15 inches wide, and 8 inches thick, fell in Fort Keogh, Montana, on January 28, 1887.
  • The most snowfall ever recorded in a single day is 63 inches on December 4, 1913, in Georgetown, Colorado. That’s more than 5 feet!
  • The largest snowman on record was 113 feet 7 inches tall. The people of Bethel, Maine, worked on this snowman for over five months.
  • Ice, at a thickness of two inches, will support a person.  At a thickness of four inches, it will support a person on a horse.  At a thickness of eight inches, ice will support heavy loads.  At ten inches, it will support 1,000 pounds to the square foot.

Sunshine is delicious, rain is refreshing, wind braces up, snow is exhilarating; there is no such thing as bad weather, just different kinds of good weather. John Ruskin (English writer, Born February 19, 1819).







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Thanksgiving is around the corner, and it’s our time as Americans to eat and drink in excessive amounts – while being thankful for the opportunity of course!

Many of us think of Thanksgiving as a once-a-year event and don’t give it too much thought at other times. The menu is standard, with some variations, as are many of the associated traditions. However, some in the food industry are busy preparing for this feast year around.   Fifty-one million turkeys are consumed on Thanksgiving Day. Don’t forget the almost 700,000 pounds of green beans grown each year and the 2.4 billion pounds of sweet potatoes either (www.nass.usda.gov).   Keeping the grocery stores stocked for Thanksgiving staples is not something that can be done at the last minute.

Apparently, consumers don’t like to wait until the last minute either. Only 10% of shoppers wait until the day before Thanksgiving to finish their grocery shopping, according to a recent Dunkin’ Donuts survey (www.popsugar.com/food/Thanksgiving-Fun-Facts-826731).   Think of that statistic as you are running into your local grocery store on Wednesday night to buy cranberries. You may actually question if that statistic is accurate, as I surely will.

Here are some other interesting Thanksgiving related statistics and fun facts:

  • 58% of adults will enjoy a nap after eating their Thanksgiving dinner.
  • Only male turkeys gobble and are called gobblers. Each male turkey uses his unique gobbling and strutting skills to attract the ladies. Female turkeys are called hens and make a clicking sound
  • Abraham Lincoln proclaimed Thanksgiving a national holiday in 1863, in the midst of the Civil War.
  • Lobster was considered one of the foods present at the first Thanksgiving dinner while cranberries were not.
  • More than 40 million green bean casseroles are served on Thanksgiving.

Happy Thanksgiving!










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IMG_20141004_202238 Last fall, I wrote a blog post about Pumpkin Season.  This fall, it is time for a blog post about apples!  When I was in middle school, my family lived in a very small town in upstate New York called Newark Valley.  Each fall, the Newark Valley Historical Society puts on an apple festival at the Bement-Billings Farmstead Museum.  I had such great memories from the festival since my mom, brothers, and I were involved in the historical society as docents!  So, apples always remind me of fall and this wonderful festival.  My family moved away from Newark Valley in the summer of 1996 and even though I’ve visited extended family multiple times in the area since then, I hadn’t made it back for the apple festival weekend until October 2014.  It was just as fun experiencing the festival as an adult as it was as a kid!

New York is one of the top three apple producing states (according to the US Apple Association). Washington and Michigan are the other two top producing states.  The US Apple Association also says:

“The United States has approximately 7,500 apple producers who grow nearly 200 varieties of apples on approximately 328,000 acres.  67% of the U.S. crop is grown for fresh consumption and 33% goes for processing, including juice and fresh slices.”

Below are some interesting apple facts from the University of Illinois Extension page Apples and More.  Check out their page for more interesting apple facts!

  • Apple trees take four to five years to produce their first fruit.
  • Some apple trees will grow over 40 feet high and live over 100 years.
  • Apples harvested from an average tree can fill 20 boxes that weigh 42 pounds each.
  • Two pounds of apples make one 9-inch pie.
  • It takes the energy from 50 leaves to produce one apple.
  • Apples are grown in all 50 states.
  • Apples are grown commercially in 36 states.
  • Almost one out of every four apples harvested in the United States is exported.
  • A medium apple is about 80 calories.
  • It takes about 36 apples to create one gallon of apple cider.

Don’t forget to eat an apple a day to keep the doctor away!  🙂  And if you are ever in upstate New York the first weekend of October, make sure you head to the Newark Valley Apple Festival!

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Earlier this month was my five year anniversary of living in Alaska.  If you’ve read through my Alaskan-y blog posts, then you’ve heard me talk about some Alaskan slang such as Termination Dust, The Lower 48, Cheechakos, and Sourdoughs.  Just a quick refresher on the last two slang words – Cheechakos are people who are newcomers to Alaska and Sourdoughs are people who have lived in Alaska for a long time.  The Learn to “Speak Alaskan” page on the Princess Lodges website has a quick background of where the term came from and the meaning in Alaska:

Sourdough: The name originally came from the Gold Rush of 1898 era when prospectors and other wanderers carried a lump of fermented starter dough for making bread in [a] pouch around their neck. The fermented dough was kept close [to] the body, to stay warm. A sourdough pouch hanging around a miner’s neck was a clear sign of experience in survival. So, the term came to be associated with an old timer or someone who has been in the north country a long time.”

Alaska Alcan

Even though there isn’t a hard and fast rule nowadays regarding the time it takes for a person to go from being a Cheechako to a Sourdough, I think I’m ready for the “Sourdough” title!  I’ve had the good fortune to experience so many adventures in Alaska from salmon fishing to caribou hunting from visiting the state capital in Juneau to enjoying a glacier cruise out of Valdez from hiking with amazing views and history along the Chilkoot Trail to playing snowshoe softball during the Fur Rondy Winter Festival in Anchorage.  I’m not exactly roughing it like they had to do in 1898 (thank goodness) and I don’t carry a pouch of sourdough starter around my neck but it has been the longest time I’ve ever lived in one state continuously in my lifetime.

Now for some numbers:

Of the 316,128,839 estimated 2013 population of the United States, 735,132 (0.23%) live in Alaska.  According to the United States Census Bureau Quick Facts, the population change in Alaska from April 1, 2010 to July 1, 2013 was 3.5%.  Alaska is the 47th least populated state (Wikipedia: List of U.S. states and territories by population).  North Dakota, Vermont, and Wyoming are the three states with smaller populations than Alaska.  In comparison, the most populated state, California, has 38,332,521 (12.13%) estimated 2013 population.

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One Year To Go

Last Friday I completed my last final marking the end of my 2L year at law school. What’s the even better news? I now only have one more year of law school before I graduate and can be a real practicing attorney! I cannot believe that only two years ago I started this terrifying, thrilling, unknown journey. It is even harder to believe that six years ago I had just graduated from high school and was about to begin college at Colorado State University.

I am so fortunate that I have been given the opportunity to achieve my dreams and goals. I am proud of the journey I have taken and that I have been able to complete six years of higher education. But most of all I am thrilled that I get to live the life I have always wanted. I have been given the opportunity to educate myself in a field that I love, and for that I could not be more grateful.

Here are some statistics on higher education:

–          43% of all bachelor degrees are earned by males
–          Only 2% of people who obtain a degree continue on to earn their doctorates degree
–          Nearly 46% of all law degrees are obtained by women
–          More than 42,000 people graduated from law school in 2013
–          44% of all applicants are accepted into law school
–          New England Law in Boston has the highest acceptance rate at 87%
–          Yale has the lowest acceptance rate at 9%


*Here I was studying my 1L year. I didn’t have to study as much my 2L year so I don’t have any study pictures.

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