Monday, January 21, 2008


The Evolution of Math

Last week I purchased a burger at Burger King for $1.58. The counter girl took my $2 and I was digging for my change when I pulled 8 cents from my pocket and gave it to her. She stood there, holding the nickel and 3 pennies, while looking at the screen on her register. I sensed her discomfort and tried to tell her to just give me two quarters, but she hailed the manager for help. While he tried to explain the transaction to her, she stood there and cried. Why do I tell you this?Because of the evolution in teaching math since the 50s.

Teaching Math in the 50s
A logger sells a truckload of lumber for $100. His cost of production is 4/5 of the price. What is his profit?
Teaching Math in the 60s
A logger sells a truckload of lumber for $100 His cost of production is 4/5 of the price, or $80. What is his profit?
Teaching Math in the 70s
A logger sells a truckload of lumber for $100. His cost of production is $80. Did he make a profit?
Teaching Math in the 80s
A logger sells a truckload of lumber for $100. His cost of production is $80 and his profit is $20. Your assignment: Underline the number 20.
Teaching Math in the 90s
A logger cuts down a beautiful forest because he is selfish and inconsiderate and cares nothing for the habitat of animals or the preservation of our woodlands. He does this so he can make a profit of $20. What do you think of this way of making a living? Topic for class participation after answering the question: How did the birds and squirrels feel as the logger cut down their homes? (There are no wrong answers, and if you feel like crying, it's ok.)
Teaching Math In 2008
Un hachero vende una carretada de maderapara $100. El costo de la producciones es $80. Cuanto dinero ha hecho?

Monday, January 07, 2008


Lucy Foster

I met Lucy Foster when I became a VIP (volunteer in parks) at Cumberland Island National Seashore. It was in the fall of 2004. My wife and I were on our way to Plum Orchard to do some cleaning. We were with another long time volunteer who knew “Miss Lucy”.

Her dog, Skibo, greeted us at her fence gate. She invited us into her cozy house at the chimneys, east of Stafford Mansion. Her family has retained rights for Stafford and the chimneys. It was apparent, instantly, that Miss Lucy was from pedigreed lineage: her manner of speaking, her gracious hospitality, and her composure. She was very light hearted and it was easy to see that she was somewhat of a character. I could have listened to her talk for hours.

E ach year before Thanksgiving, Miss Lucy came to her beloved Cumberland from her home in Baltimore She wintered there until Easter when her son would fly in to take her back north. It was a tradition learned, no doubt, growing up in the Carnegie family. Her great grandmother was Lucy Coleman Carnegie, once owner to the majority of Cumberland Island. She loved swimming in her heated pool, daily trips over to the beach, functions on Cumberland (such as the annual Thanksgiving luncheon sponsored by the National Park Service) and showing up almost anywhere on the island, unexpectedly.

Miss Lucy loved presents; not expensive or traditional gifts, just little surprises like baked goods, postcards, magazines, and books. We always tried to take her something when we would stop by to say hello over the next few years. She was always very gracious and made it a point to say “thank you” or even give a small remembrance in return. Once I took her some postcards and a book featuring art by a Florida artist who had given a program for the volunteers. She was thrilled and immediately began sorting through books on her coffee table. She selected one, “The Historic Splendor of Amelia Island”, opened it, inscribed it to me and wrote: “One good book deserves another. From Lucy Foster & Skibo Dog. Chimneys, Cumberland Is.” and the date. It will always be a treasure.

Once we were assisting with a Plum Orchard tour and we were upstairs at the mansion with a large group of visitors. I was at the rear of the group, near the grand stairway. I heard a voice from the first floor foyer: “heeelllloooo” . I responded “who’s there?” The voice responded “the ghost of Plum Orchard”. I recognized the voice. It was Miss Lucy. I went down to greet her and when the visitors made their way back downstairs, she regaled them with childhood stories of playing at Plum Orchard . She had everyone in stitches with her amusing anecdotes and tidbits of family history.

I last saw Miss Lucy on Sunday, December 2, 2007. I acted as a guide for a writer and photographer for a national magazine on Cumberland Island. I spent three days with them, and told them no visit to Cumberland would be complete without a visit to the chimneys and Miss Lucy’s. We had stopped by the day before. I went in alone and asked if I could bring them back for a visit the following day. As usual, she was delighted to have company. I told her we would return the next day. I brought her a tin of my wife’s fresh baked cookies. There were five of us; I told them that there might not be room for everyone in her den. She insisted everyone come in and join her by the fire. She told stories, asked and answered questions, and offered everyone something to drink. She accompanied us outside to the slave house chimneys, once part of a of Robert Stafford’s pre civil war plantation. Andy Anderson, world class photographer, took pictures of her to be used in the article for the magazine. She was a charming and witty. Our visit, though an hour or so long, ended far too soon since we had to catch the 4:45 ferry.

When we returned from a trip to north Georgia for Christmas '07 with our families, we found out that Miss Lucy was very ill and in the hospital. News of her condition was very hard to come by, because the family requested, and received, privacy from NPS staff on and off the island. She came home to Cumberland on Friday, January 4th.

Miss Lucy died Sunday, January 6, 2008 at the chimneys.

I will miss her smile, the mischievous twinkle of her eyes, and her wonderful stories.

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