Thursday, April 22, 2021

Mathematics of Equity

 A long time ago, when I was a schoolgirl, I walked up to the teacher after a class test in Mathematics (or Maths, as they call it in India). I had a question about the marks awarded for a test paper for an incorrect answer, for which I noticed that my neighbor had been awarded marks. So, it was my natural assumption that the teacher had marked my answer incorrectly. The conversation between us went like this.

Sr. N: I can't give you marks for that problem. You did it incorrectly, and that's the wrong answer.

Me: Alright. But if that is the wrong answer, why did S get the marks for that same incorrect answer? If she got that, I should have gotten the marks too. 

Sr.N (looking at me with curious pity): You need to understand. You are good at Maths, so if you made a mistake, you have to handle the loss of the marks. But S is a bit weaker than you in Maths, so I gave her the marks to encourage her.

Me : !!!!! (as I walked away muttering to myself, but in Maths, how can this kind of 'encouragement' be helpful. It isn't a subject like say English, or somewhere there can be a subjective interpretation of an incorrect answer.)

Many years later, I finally understand. It's the strange Mathematics of Equity that was applied.

Sunday, April 18, 2021

Wildlife Spring 2021 Newsletter

 Grackles: A flock of grackles has taken up residence in assorted evergreens near our house. They haunt our lawn though, evidently liking the bugs and worms that they find there. For the last several years, we have asked our landscape guy to use organic landscapes and no pesticides, so while the grass is not regulation lawn, it is a mix interesting enough to the bees, bugs and worms, probably making for healthier birds.

It's mating season as well, and I have seen a male grackle fanning out its tail feathers and ruffling its neck feathers in a courtly dance to impress a female or two. Who will the Grackle Bachelor pick?

The remainder of the tribe haunt the water saucer, stopping by for their daily drinks and ablutions (in that order, for the most part).


The other day, near the deck, a tiny little bunny, so young that it still had a white spot on its forehead (signifier of the Eastern cottontail), nipping at little bits and pieces. I saw it outside for a good half hour, then it headed back under the deck for some rest and recuperation. Bunnies this small are usually about 3 or 4 weeks old, and unfortunately, only about 1 in 6 will grow to be adults ( in around 4 months). I hope this one survived and is just resting cozy inside because of the recent cold snap, as I haven't seen it outside since. I did see an older rabbit running on the other side of the lawn, maybe Mom chasing a recalcitrant baby?


A bit thinner after the winter hibernation, but fattening up rapidly on the young green grass and miscellaneous wildflower greens in our lawn. Today, it has moved over to our side, forgoing the neighbor's patch as one of them are busy weeding their lot in preparation for some new landscaping.

 I anticipate we will have a few battles with it this summer as our kitchen garden gets under way. Welcome back, old frenemy!

 Red-tailed hawk:

This one swooped down past the van,  just as it was returning from somewhere. A few minutes later, the hawk sat with its prey dangling, on the branch of the maple tree. It sat there for a good 15 minutes before life ebbed out of the squirrel that it had caught, then flew away to deliver dinner to its mate somewhere. Dinner to go, indeed!


Usually, they don't hang around the bird bath too long, but this one decided to sit there and give a small concert on a warm day when I had left the sliding door open, screen in place. It was a couple of minutes of pure joy, listening to it sing its song.

Other birds:

Of course the cardinal comes and goes, so do the robins, the tufted titmouse, the blue jays and the woodpecker and the mourning doves. Most are surely nesting somewhere nearby, so I expect to see a gaggle of little ones as their eggs hatch.