Sunday, August 26, 2007


Lately several friends have been dealing with the illness of elderly parents, and sometimes loss. For me that happened some years ago, but it is always hard, no matter how expected. Suddenly a door to the past closes and there is no one to ask questions of family history, or turn to for advice. They leave, and there is a hole in your life that they occupied.

This has caused me to think a lot about family members I've lost, and about their impact on me. Since I'm getting more opportunities to present speeches in Toastmasters lately, these family members have become the subject of those speeches. Trying to synthesize their lives into a five to seven minute speech is a wonderful way to focus on what they did that made the biggest impact on others. My brother-in-law Rex, a genuine old-time cowboy, was the subject of one speech. The spectrum of things that Rex did, the people he made a difference for, his style and way of dealing with the world, all provided great material for the speech.

My next speech was about my Great-Aunt Ruby, a family legend, indominitable, and about the challenges she overcame. Thinking about her life, all sorts of questions...why did she? when did she? how? And no one to ask. So the story I tell about her is a quilt fabricated from scraps that are not complete, but stitched together as best I can make it.

And statistics class? Done, and I survived! Kudos to the professor, Alan, who taught me ways of looking at numbers that help analyze what they show, and introducing me to SPSS, the handiest thing since the ice cream maker.

Wednesday, August 1, 2007

Gathering the Data.

With the poem done, my focus was back on my statistics project, which started, of course, with figuring out what that project would be. The professor envisioned us creating an online survey and disaggregating that data. Naturally, that doesn't meet my needs or interests, and since I have access to some wonderful data from the California Department of Education, I prefer to use that. No problem with protecting identities, this is all public information.

Meanwhile, in my spare time (koff, koff) I'm serving a stint as Treasurer for my Toastmasters Club. Getting the paperwork signed at the bank and balancing the books has occupied some time. Ok, balancing books when we write perhaps six checks a year isn't THAT bad. I actually presented a speech, my first one in several years. That's fun, and my purpose is to entertain and provide a diverse point of view.