Friday, August 28, 2009


Friday, May 8, 2009

A Special Birthday Cake

Once in a while I get inspired to greatness. Like for my son's birthday. He loves "choo-choos," and I figured out a way to make a fairly simple "choo-choo" cake using mini-loaf pans, oreos, m&ms, and some food coloring and frosting.
I was happy with the results--but I knew the big test lay ahead.

Success! Yum.

Sunday, May 3, 2009

College caf desserts

Another school year has ended or is coming to an end. During the last semester one of us (Dessert Survivor) ate at a college cafeteria once a week, and took the opportunity to take pictures of a small part of the variety of things they offered.
Chocolate always works as a dessert.
These brownies not only looked good, but were good.
They even told people what the desserts were. Who cares what you call it? If it has sugar, it is probably good.
I found a couple things surprising. One was the large variety they offered. No two days were alike. The other thing that surprised me is that the students did not eat more desserts. I would like to say that they have better eating habits than I do, but then I see the amount of soft drinks they consume and I have a hard time with that conclusion.
Cheese cake with strawberry stuff on top--this was good. I would have been happy if they had served this every day, but I only saw it once.
Did you say, "Saint Patrick's Day," when you saw the green cake? Yes, that is what it was.
Student complaints about cafeteria food are common and go back in time to the start of caferia food. One difference between what is happening now and what happened in the past is that there are many more options.If the students at this cafeteria do not like the daily selection, there is also real ice cream available in addition to the soft serve (at least when the soft-serve machine is working.)

Thursday, April 9, 2009

Dried banana

A while back, and I am not sure how far back, I lost track of a banana. I had put it on a shelf intending to eat it later, but I forgot it. And then one day I found it. There it is below the nice yellow banana.
It had not rotted. It had dried out, probably because the building is kept with a remarkably low humidity.

No, I did not try it to see if it was still edible, and I do not think you should try this at home.

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Cyrus turns five

Isn't this a clever birthday cake? It was made by an eighth grader, Ingrid B, for her brother, Cyrus, who is turning five and is very excited because he thinks that when he turns five, he will be able to do whatever he wants. I am sure that after a few days at five, he will learn that it is not until you turn six that you can do whatever you want.

Saturday, February 21, 2009

Classroom candy

Why are these students stacking candy hearts? What possible educational purpose can that serve?
Probably none, but they are having fun. This student will never get all of those hearts in one stack.
This will work a lot better. Stacking candy seemed to amused them.
The candy itself was left over from Valentine's Day and was used in a previous class to illustrate confidence intervals. We were trying to estimate the average number of candy hearts in the individual bags. The sample itself was not a random sample--they came from a couple of big bags of little bags from a local store that had discounted them to get rid of them. So the results may not be valid, but the point was to show in a sweet, non-abstract way how a procedure worked. Each student got a couple of bags to count, and then we entered the results into a spread sheet. Using the sample mean, the standard error, and a t-value obtained from a t-value calculator, we got an interval estimate, an estimate that involved hearing, sight, touch, taste, and maybe even smell.

With a sample of 30 bags, we had a mean of 18.7 and a standard deviation of 2.053592311. This implies a standard error of 0.374932944. We know that if we take another sample of 30 bags, we will probably not get the same as as we got the first time. Each time we take a sample, we will almost always be a bit too big or a bit too small. The standard error is an estimate of how much we will be off on average. Using that, we can construct an interval in a way so that 95% of the time when we construct this interval, we will get the true mean. For this example, we would be 95% confident in the interval 17.9 to 19.5. We cannot tell if the average per bag is 18 or 19, but we are pretty sure it is not 17 or 20.

Except that one student spilled his candy on the floor. He picked it up and counted it, but another student may have added some bits to his pile. He got 26, which was the highest of any student. If we include his bag, we change our interval to 18.1 to 19.8. But should we count it?

I hope this 100-cents, five-sense experience made sense to them.

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Jenna brought cookies

What should a student do who gets cookies from home? The answer is obvious. She should bring them to class and share them with the other students.
Even if they are a scruffy bunch.

Sunday, February 8, 2009

What is so happy about birthdays?

I enjoyed some Happy-29th-Birthday cake on Friday. Even more I enjoyed asking the person having the birthday, "What it is like getting to be so old? What should I be watching out for when I get to be as old as you are?"
Happy birthday to the good Karen!

Thursday, January 15, 2009

They are all gone now

Before Christmas the baking begins. Dozens and dozens of delicious Christmas cookies come out of the oven. But they are not to be eaten under pain of death or something almost as awful, at least not until December 25, when the feasting begins. Then they go to friends and family.
They were very good. Both Dessert Survivor and Desert Survivor enjoyed them, though neither had anything to do with their creation. And now Dessert Survivor has miles and miles to run to undo the weight gain that they caused.