Author Archives

This is my 19th year as a math teacher at Weston High School, the sole public high school in Weston, MA. It’s also my 42nd year as a teacher altogether. In addition to my day job, I taught for 20 years at the Saturday Course in Milton, MA. I also teach at Harvard’s Crimson Summer Academy each summer; 2015 was our 12th consecutive summer.

Sometimes I work on educational software. I also read, cook, and continue building my model railroad whenever I can. For some reason I'm left with less so-called free time than would be ideal. Nevertheless, I manage to devote time to my wife, Barbara, and to our excessive number of cats as well.

  • Introverted teachers

    INTJ … What’s wrong with being an introvert? Nothing, of course. Nothing, that is, unless you buy into the dominant American value: extraversion good, introversion bad. I wasn’t even conscious that that was an American value until I had already been… Read More ›

  • Do you need help with Ulysses ? Of course you do.

    J.D. Biersdorfer knows what she’s talking about: It’s O.K. to admit it: You tried to read James Joyce’s “Ulysses” and ended up chucking the thing aside in frustration. You are not alone. According to her letters, Virginia Woolf (“Never did I… Read More ›

  • Wilkes-Barre

    Wilkes-Barre, PA, the garden spot of the universe! Well … no. But at least it’s Joe Biden’s home town, so I guess that’s something. Not that it has anything to do with why we were there. After I was finished with… Read More ›

  • Hollywood in Dorchester

    What is an old Detroit police car doing on Ashmont Street in Dorchester? The answer, of course, is that they’re making a movie … and 2016 Dorchester is apparently a perfect stand-in for 1967 Detroit: The movie, which is directed… Read More ›

  • Playing with Fire

    You probably think of Tess Gerritsen as the competent author of interesting genre novels featuring Rizzoli and Isles. Usually, after all, that’s exactly what she is. But Playing with Fire is something very different: part serious mainstream literature, part historical fiction, part… Read More ›

  • Old medicine

    As you can see, the cover page of this book looks old enough — 151 years old, to be precise. But you’ll notice that the title refers to “Early England” and the sub-sub-title refers to “before the Norman conquest,” so… Read More ›

  • 15th Century crypto

    If you’re sufficiently geeky, you will surely want to know something unexpected about the mathematics of functions and their inverses: cryptography in the 15th Century. Why? Because then we’re focusing on the transition from the monoalphabetic ciphers (such as Caesar,… Read More ›

  • A multilingual bookmark

    I’ll have to give this as a puzzle to my incoming freshmen in September. You know how libraries give out free bookmarks as a service to their customers? (I’m sure it’s mostly just a way to discourage evil practices like… Read More ›

  • Spacing after periods

    Three decades ago, when I was doing some contract work for a software company that shall go nameless, a co-worker suggested an optional plug-in for their flagship product. For a mere $5000.00, a customer could install a module that would… Read More ›

  • School Daze

    Being forced out of one’s comfort zone is a good thing, right? So they say. But I’m not so sure. I just watched School Daze, a 1988 pseudo-comedy written, directed, and produced by Spike Lee, who also played one of the lead roles. It’s primarily about… Read More ›