Watching Time

watching: time in motion

Side Note

If you remember Nancy from the previous post, Clocking, she ran into Deborah and I after Sunday Mass, this morning, while we were waiting for the others. “Is that you?” she asked. “While the rest of us are older, you haven’t changed,” Nancy added. With other people around, I wasn’t quite sure who she was addressing. Deborah whispered, “Dad, she’s walking over here. Her eyes are locked on you.” Then, it clicked. Nancy. Basically, the same. Hair different. A touch of silver, here and there. I introduced her to Deborah, and that we were waiting on the rest of the crew. Nancy motioned to her husband, Tom, to come join us.

Nancy asked Deborah if I told her about the time we skipped the first day of school to see Chicago at Caribou Ranch. “Your dad was so kind to invite me. The funny thing was the other kids read too much into our absence. But, of course, high school is that way.”

After everybody met everybody, Nancy mentioned needing to meet later for a proper evening. “You’ve made my day,” she whispered.

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A Winter Night

The first weekend of March has begun on a very snowy, very frigid note. Overnight, five inches of snow, which served as the vanguard of bitter cold temperatures. Much of today has been in the single digits above zero. Tonight, temperatures are expected to drop into the single digits below zero with an additional inch, or two, of snow. Also, a dense fog has begun to roll in, making for an extra cold night.

While it may be bitter cold outdoors, inside, it’s been warm and cozy with a nice fire in the hearth. And, the furries taking turns napping in its warmth.

Tonight, it’s another log, or three, in the fire. Dinner, slower cooker BBQ chicken and ice cream for dessert.

Taxes

“Things as certain as death and taxes can be more firmly believed.”
Benjamin Franklin

With our tax documents in order, the best time to have our 2018 tax return prepared was now. Not at a later date, but now. If there is the slightest belief additional taxes are owed, it is best to have the return completed ahead of time. Delaying to the last moment only assures a simple mistake will be made while rushing to finish a return. Most mistakes are simple arithmetic errors, or a box that should be checked is left unchecked (or vice versa). However, if there is a belief a refund may be in order, an early filing is highly suggested.

Since we have a more complicated return, we have our tax returns prepared. While simplification of the IRS tax code has been suggested nearly every year, rarely does it get that far. One group or another always seeks to preserve its exemption. A return, more recently, became a bit more complicated when proof of health insurance was included with the array of needed tax documents. If a person could not provide proof of health insurance, or provide an exemption certificate, an escalating penalty is assessed.

Susie helping with the filing away … maybe

Count it as an important task completed.

Arctic Week South

Not the latest offering on The Discovery Channel. Nor, The Weather Channel. But, from the Arctic North.

Beginning in the pre-dawn hours on Monday, a new deposit of snow and freezing fog, accompanied by bitter cold temperatures, it came.

hoar frost with a covering of snow (North Ranch, Feb 18 2019)

Daytime temperatures did not venture much above 20° F/-7° C, overnights hovering around 0° F/-18° C. The snow part was repeated again on Tuesday evening into Wednesday.

snow on the tall cottonwoods (North Ranch, Feb 20 2019)

On Thursday, the bitter cold relented, edging temperatures upward into the 30s during the day, mid-teens during the overnight. Friday was nice enough, though a major winter storm was bringing heavy snow across the Four Corners. Flagstaff set a new snowfall record on Thursday. In Southwest Colorado, nearly 30 inches fell from Wolf Creek Pass to areas surrounding Durango. With additional snow continuing into Friday night, authorities in Durango urged residents to rake the moisture-laden snow from their roofs.

In the late afternoon, on Friday, the storm front could be seen coming from the southwest. The snow did not begin to fall in earnest until shortly after 8:30 pm last night. The winter conditions quickly deteriorated with the wind driving the snow. Fortunately, Laurie and Andrea got home minutes before the weather worsened.

white-out conditions (North Ranch, Feb 22 2019)

The early morning revealed a new layer of snow, approximately 2-3 inches deep. Not a whole lot. And, the cold, very tolerable at 26° F/-3° C.

dried wildflowers and foxtail poking through the fresh snow (North Ranch, Feb 23 2019)

Arctic Week is now headed to the Upper Midwest as a major blizzard with significant snowfall amounts.

Women of Science

On February 11th, it was the International Day of Women in Science.

Deborah preparing a sample for analysis (KRW Consulting, Dec 2018)

The notion of women not choosing to enter in a science, math or engineering discipline is the failure to encourage teen girls is pure balderdash. My sis, Ginny, had interests in physics and math ranging back to the 7th grade, in the late 1960s. She was the “go-to” girl if you needed help with math. Yes, she is that good. The male students, who were perceived to be more knowledgeable than Ginny, well, they weren’t. Ginny can explain a complex math concept in easy to understand terms. Having difficulty with a math problem? She shows you how to solve it. As an undergraduate, Ginny was highly sought as a tutor, making a fair bit of money along the way. She has continued as a private tutor to present.

When her daughter was failing to pass the required math proficiency test for placement at university, Ginny sat down worked out every problem in the study guide. She quickly found the problem – the study guide was replete with errors. The math department was selling an error-filled guide. In turn, she showed the department chairman all of her work and the mistakes in the guide.  The problem, as she saw it, was leaving the guide to be constructed by engineering graduate students who overestimated their own math skills and proficiency. But, moreover, they did not care. The department contracted Ginny to rewrite the study guide. And, that led her to pursue her MS degree, specializing in numerical and statistical analysis. When her mentor retired from the University of Colorado, Dr. Blade introduced Ginny as his “best student ever”.

Over the 10+ years of teaching at the university level, she has noticed incoming undergraduates were ill-prepared for university-level mathematics. The students, believing their high school AP coursework made them ready, they were not. They had problems understanding algebra, the basic foundation for calculus.

In my own family, science is part of our life. Andrea, my first wife, her nursing degrees are “science heavy” with chemistry and biology coursework. They are comparable to chemistry and biology degrees layered with nursing. Laurie, my wife, she’s a trauma surgeon. Her undergraduate degree is in biochemistry. Our three daughters, Elizabeth has a chemistry degree while Deborah and Tara both have biology degrees. With the girls in med school, there was no push for them to pursue a medical career or enter the sciences. They studied what interested them. Most surprisingly, though, was how closely aligned their interests are.

Tara pipetting a sample aliquot into a reaction flask (Biochem Lab – University of Colorado, Feb 2017)

Bringing women into science, math and engineering is to stimulate their imagination, “Hey, that’s what I want to do.” It worked for Andrea. It worked for Laurie. Andrea did not want to follow her dad into the restaurant business, which was fine with him. He did not want his personal dream to become the dream of his children. “America is the home of dreams – you can become whatever you want to become.” If not for nursing, Andrea has said it would be a life of having to settle. Laurie had poor grades. It was a field trip to a hospital on career day in high school that seeded the notion she could become a trauma surgeon. If not for that field trip, she might be coaching high school football. Laurie was already running the scout team in high school, and was a better passer than her brother Tom, who was the JV and varsity quarterback in high school. And, it worked for our daughters.

Ginny said programs to encourage girls into science do little for them. Calling the science fields, math and engineering, STEM, does little. The acronym trivializes the individual disciplines. Teaching a young girl how to code a webpage is okay, but it does not take them to the next step – why science matters. Diseases deemed to be incurable have become curable, treatable or immunized against. It has introduced raw computing power into handheld devices (smartphones and tablets) for the purposes of entertainment and convenience. And, much more computing power can be found on the desk. Science can offer solutions to the more daunting problems.

Elizabeth finishes preparing a rack of samples for analysis (KRW Consulting, Aug 2016)

It is about discovery. It is about learning. It makes no distinction about who you are, or where you’re from. It is about human endeavor.

The greatest thing about science, it is stepping into the unknown.