Miss Pelican's Perch

Looking at my World from a Different Place


How Math Scarred Me for Life

Up until middle school I did not have a math phobia. It was not one of my favorite studies, but I did moderately well in the subject.

Then I fell head-first into the the wave of “New Math” that swept through our school district in the late 60’s and early 70’s.  The particular curriculum imposed upon us eliminated the classic categories of mathematics such as algebra, trigonometry, geometry, and instead grouped concepts into what the curriculum designers thought were “unified” ideas:  sets, relations, operations, groups, rings, fields, and vector spaces.  Particularly onerous to me were the exercises of proving theorems with axioms.   And as a result, I floundered.  I was pulling C’s and D’s on tests and barely squeaked a passing grade.

My parents were not able to help.  They knew arithmetic and some algebra and geometry.  My mom was a capable bookkeeper and my dad could calculate board-feet of lumber needed to construct a house.  But vectors and axioms?  Forget it.    I don’t recall any offers for after school tutoring from the school.   In fact, I blocked out most of that middle-school experience from my memory.

I must have scored high on some assessment test because in high school I got dropped into pre-calculus.  The teacher with an absolutely loathsome man whose disdain for young women was quite evident.  Fun and chatty with the boys, he was cool and condescending with the girls,  often belittling them for incorrect answers.   Furthermore, the boys were rewarded for quickly finishing their in-class assignments by being allowed to play chess with the teacher. (Several chessboards going at the same time with the teacher moving from one to another).  The rest of us, mostly girls and a few boys, were left on our own to work on our assignments. I don’t recall any help offered (he was busy check-mating).    In another course, the instructor was much kinder but could not control his class.   At the time, computers were being introduced, and we were given assignments to complete on it.   To get the girls off the computer so they could play with it, some boys would do the girls’ assignments to move them along more quickly.   If the instructor knew what was happening, he did nothing about it.

Worst of all was my having to explain to my parents why I would come home with a report card that had four A’s and a C+ in math.   They were not buying my explanations of the poor quality of the teachers.  They figured I was spending too much time reading books or watching television.  By that time I had developed a full-blown case of math-anxiety.

When I went to college, I was able to avoid taking math for several semesters until I just could not dodge it anymore.  Before I became a history major, I was a psychology major and had to take Statistical Math and Statistical Methods before I could take some of the more interesting psychology courses.  Two remarkable things happened:

First, I excelled in Statistical Math.   I think it had a lot to do with the course being taught by a woman who was patient and took the time to explain and help.  I was also an adult who had had time to build up some inner confidence.   Whatever psychological block I had seemed to evaporate.   I got my first A ever in math.

Secondly, I learned something about math.  You might think mathematics is cut and dried, black and white, always precise.  That is, with math there is only one correct answer.   Not true.   Half way through Statistical Methods I discovered that there are multiple ways to analyze data.  One statistical formula could give you a different result than another formula with the same data.   My eyes were opened to the fact that you could prove just about anything if you tinkered with the numbers.  A major disillusionment with math set in.  It was probably an over-reaction, but was real nevertheless.

With that I marched into my advisor’s office and said “I’m switching my major from Psychology to History.”   His reply:  “You would rather study dead people than live ones?”   Yep, because at least I would not have to do math.

I have often wondered:  if I had had a better experience with math, would I have gone on to excel in the sciences and perhaps have had a better-paying and more prestigious career?

I’ll never know.

ljg   2017



1 Comment

Pick Your Metaphor

Preparing the soil, planting the seeds, or priming the pump….  I don’t know which metaphor to use.

I have been a bit busy this last week with a lot of life chores and I haven’t had time to write.  Well, truth be told, I haven’t felt like it.   I just didn’t have any words to say.  (Now, be nice, people. 🙂 )

One chore that has engaged me this week is setting up a new computer.  My 12-year-old piece o’junk was gasping its final breath when I finally relented (I am very cheap) and got a new one.   Now I am installing applications, moving files, in general taking a walk down a digital memory lane in the process.  I realized that I haven’t made any digital constructions for ages and my hope against hope is that Photoshop and Illustrator will install and properly work so I can get working again.  (Windows 10 doesn’t work and play well with older applications.)   I may even try to install Terragen.

All this digging around in the soil of my creative garden has got me excited again to get back to creating visual pieces.   I would suggest to any Creative to revisit older work or media to prepare the soil or prime the pump for new work.

For newer subscribers, here are some examples of my visual work:

Sleeping Dryad“Sleeping Dryad”

fire sprite 72“Fire Sprite”

Wellness mandala small “Wellness”

"Swirl Shield" CGI in Illustrator and Photoshop using free-use and public domain clip art“Celtic Shield”

Tree woman“Tree Woman”

LJGloyd (c) 2016.

Inspired by the Letter P at the Soul Food Cafe



Through Rose-Colored Glass

rose windowToday’s Prompt: “Through the Window:  Go to the nearest window. Look out for a full minute. Write about what you saw.”

I have very few windows and all of them look out upon the backs and sides of other apartment buildings and busy streets and walkways.  It is a dismal experience to look upon the plain boxiness of the adjacent buildings, my neighbor’s parked cars and trucks obscuring the view, the thin film of dust on the window panes from the construction site down the street, and the terrible waste of water as the automatic sprinklers feed the tiny patch of lawn under the front window.

However, the prompt instructs us to look out the window for a full minute.  This is good.  This is necessary.  Taking the time to really look at something can reveal many things.   For example, I see the jade plant just outside the window.   This crassula ovata has been here as long as I have, even longer.  It has grown so large that I can no longer see the ceramic pot it lives in.  Looking at it closely has made me wonder how this plant can thrive so well in such a confined space.   Then it is revealed to me that this plant’s life mirrors mine.  I live in this tiny apartment, yet I thrive as well.   Confinement makes one appreciate what one has.

Looking through a window often adjusts perspective.  If I turn from the far-sightedness that sees only the ugly buildings across the street and become near-sighted, I see the objects that I have placed in the window sill to beautify the space.    There is the stained glass rose panel I acquired years ago down in Baja.  It reminds me of the days when my circumstances allowed me to wander a little further than I do now.  It reminds me of the friendships long gone.  blue glass ballThere is also the hand-blown glass globe that I purchased from an glass artist in Mendocino even longer ago.  The swirling blues of the glass remind me of the colors of the sea crashing upon the rocks on the northern coast.  I remember the beauty of that area and my time up there as one of artistic and personal growth.

Looking through rose-colored and blue sparkling glass makes me realize that, God willing, those days will return.   I will one day travel again.  I will one day have a view of the world that is not clouded by ugly buildings and dusty cars.

In the meantime, I will continue to thrive like that jade plant.

ljg  (c) 2015

Note: I have pointed out the waste of water to the manager but nothing has yet been done.  If I knew where the timer was I change it to once a week.  Such a horrible waste.



Blue Burlap and Snake-Skin Pumps

RedToday’s prompt: “Describe your personal style, however you’d like to interpret that — your clothing style, your communication style, your hair style, your eating style, anything.”

Short answer:  comfortable, flowing, and eclectic.

Long answer:    When I was a child, there were people in my family who liked to sew.   I remember when I was about six or seven there was some sort of big family to-do — an anniversary celebration or wedding or something along those lines– and I had to have a proper dress.   So one of the seamstresses in my family made this teal blue dress out of a dreadful fabric.  It was probably just a cotton broadcloth,  but my memory wants to call it burlap.  Thick, hot, stiff, scratchy burlap.  Long sleeves.  Stand-up lace on the collar and wrists.  An ice-cold metal zipper running down the full length of my back.   I remember having to try it on for “fittings”.  I would stand with arms outstretched and totally immobile to keep from being poked by the straight pins piecing it together.  I remember being hollered at for not moving around naturally so they could see how it fit.  I remember sobbing because it was so uncomfortable and I just wanted to rip that scratching shroud of torture off my body.   I received no sympathy.   I have no idea how the dress went over at the function.  I have blocked that memory because of the trauma.

The results:

As an adult, I allow no person to dictate what I wear.

I will never wear anything stifling and physically uncomfortable. (Though I did go through a high-heel phase because I fell in love with a pair of snakeskin pumps to DIE for).

And I have been around the block enough times to have picked up many disparate and resonating ethnic and stylistic themes.  I conform to conventional style when I want to conform, not when I am required.

My apparel style is reflective of many aspects of my life.  I am eclectic in my interests and pursuits, I am flowing with positive energy and emotions, and I think, for the most part, people find me comfortable to be around.

Finally, I may not always be “proper,” but I always strive to be classy.

I guess I owe a debt of gratitude to that hideous blue party dress.

ljgloyd (c) 2015


Sweet Dreams (Are Made of This)

the moon by me -- ljgHere is my response to this prompt at the WordPress Daily Post: Sweet Dreams (Are Made of This)


Dreams should not be taken literally — at least that is what I used to tell myself.

At one time I was big into symbolism. I used to think that images in dreams were the detritus of my mind, the bits and pieces of real-life issues that I had left unattended during my waking hours which would then float up to nag me during my sleep. These realities of my day would take on fantastical or striking forms in my dreams in order to get my attention. ALL dreams were like that. Yeah, that’s what I used to tell myself.

But then that changed.

A number of years ago I had a dream. Actually, it was an honest-to-gosh nightmare. It started out pleasant enough. I found myself in a backyard garden in Manhattan Beach. How I knew it was MB, I don’t know. I just knew. I was surrounded by people I did not know. They were obviously wealthy people dressed in fine party clothing — suits and cocktail dresses. Someone was grilling steaks and fish on a barbeque. Tables were laid with fancy appetizers and other dainties. Beer and wine freely flowed. The sun was shining and a salty breeze came off the ocean. I don’t recall any music but then sound has never been prominent in my dreams, but everyone was smiling, laughing, and having a good time.

Then I looked up and saw the sky turn color. From a bright cerulean it morphed into a puss-yellow. The party-goers looked up too. Some set down their glasses and plates, and they all stopped chatting and laughing. They, like me, were frozen in place. With our eyes fixed on the western sky, we saw them coming — at first dark specks, then growing into the silhouettes of planes. I felt my stomach tighten and my heart start to pound. I knew — we all knew — they were coming for us. If you have ever seen any movies about Pearl Harbor, you know the scene: the planes swooping in on defenseless people. You knew what was coming.

Just as the planes were nearly to us, everyone began to scream, including me. That’s when I woke up. It was the classic bolt-upright-in-bed type of nightmare response. I don’t know if I really screamed, but I was sweating and trembling in fear. I sat there for a moment and as I realized that I was at home, safe in my bedroom, and that it was only a dream, I calmed down. Then I began to analyze it.

Yes, I had been busy at work. Stress, that was probably it. Yes, I was worried about some family issues too. Yeah, that’s had to be it. Worry working itself out in the dream. Oh, maybe it was my health. That could be it too: my body telling me to take care of myself. Maybe I should make a doctor’s appointment. That’s it, that’s what I’ll do.

With it all figured out, I felt relieved and ready to go back to sleep. Just as I settled back down, I turned to look at the digital display on my nightstand:

2:15 a.m., September 11, 2001.




ljgloyd (c) 2015