Musings on my adventures around the world and my ties back in Texas as well as some of the the ideas I have to adapt and create to keep those places close to home.

Sunday, March 30, 2008

Comfort Food

Perhaps it is because I'm trying to shake a cold, but as I've been sitting with my multiple cups of tea this weekend I've been thinking about comfort food. The food that never fails to raise my spirits and remind me of good memories. What fascinates me is how my comfort food reflects all of the places I've lived. My top ten (in no particular order as it really just depend on what kind of mood I am in):

Breakfast Tacos (Texas)
Mom's homemade rolls, recipe from Aunt Ida (Texas)
Mercimek Corba-lentil soup (Turkey)
Mafe Tiga-peanut sauce (Guinea)
Macaroni and Cheese (Savannah)
Broccoli Green Bean Casserole (Savannah)
Cheese Enchiladas (Texas)
Mercimek Koftesi-lentil meatballs (Turkey)
Sweet potatoes (became a real love in Savannah)
Chowder (Boston)

Saturday, March 29, 2008

Taste Test

One of the best bits about living and traveling in a foreign country is that you get to explore the food. I’m always amazed at the different dishes that are fixed using the same old ingredients I can find at home (mostly). It never fails that I always come away with some new favorite, comfort food when I leave a country I’ve spent any amount of time in. Last night after wandering around Kadikoy for a bit I ended up at a restaurant with some friends that actually had an entire vegetarian section on their menu (!?! Almost unheard of here). I was excited to see what is rapidly turning into my favorite dish: mercimek koftesi (lentil “meat”balls for those of you who need it in English). I was a bit shocked to find that I actually think I prefer the version that is served in our school cafeteria over what I had at the restaurant (I didn’t think that happened with anything!). I’ve been promised a hands-on cooking lesson from the cleaning lady of a friend, but I thought I’d share a recipe I’ve found now, with a promise to follow up with what she really does. I hope you enjoy it if you ever get around to trying it.

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

March 18th

Monument to Mehmetcik
Originally uploaded by ccarlstead
I found myself a bit confused when it was announced that we were having an assembly at school for March 18th, and then when I passed the information on to my students they kept asking me why. I could only turn the question back to them and ask “Well, what is March 18th?” After some thought you could see the lights come on in their head… “ohhh, MARCH 18th.” It took a while, actually until the assembly, for such enlightenment to reach me. It turns out that March 18th is celebrated as Çanakkale day here in Turkey. Now I’m sure you’re wondering what in the world Çanakkale day is, thinking I still haven’t answered the question. Çanakkale Day celebrates a Turkish victory over the allied forces during WWI, which protected the passage through the Dardanelles and helped to protect the path to Istanbul. I suspect it is celebrated here, not just because the Turks won this fight, but also because it is where Atatürk started his visible leadership. He was the one who organized the Turkish forces and seems to be responsible for their victory. What I appreciate about the day is that Turkey not only recognizes its own loss of life, but acknowledges the many deaths on both sides of the fight. I think it best summed up in one of Atatürk’s quotes:

"Those heroes that shed their blood and lost their lives you are now lying in the soil of a friendly country. Therefore rest in peace. There is no difference between the Johnnies and the Mehmets to us where they lie side by side here in this country of ours. You the mothers who sent there sons from far away countries wipe away your tears. Your sons are now lying in our boson and are in peace. After having lost their lives on this land they have become our sons as well." Atatürk 1934

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

I'm amused

I'm amused that our board erasers come packaged with a piece of paper that claims they are "Good for your health." What? Erasing the board in my classroom is good for me? Somehow I doubt it...although it could be strengthening my arm muscles a bit to have my arms raised. Turns out that the slip of paper contains a diagram of the front and back of the hand showing the reflex nerve zones for the rest of the body. Since the eraser has small plastic bumps on the back of it they claim that if you "message on these zone with our products 3 minutes once a day you will get satisfied results." (and yes I typed this in correctly, the English leaves a bit to be desired.) Maybe next time I'm waiting to get my students attention I should start rubbing my hand with the eraser, it might not help my hands but I bet it would get their attention.

Monday, March 24, 2008

Recent Reads

I found some time for some pleasure reading over the Easter weekend. It was kind of nice to have the time and not have anything to grade!

Sunday, March 16, 2008


Sometimes I look around and I think, “Where am I?”
Then I remember, “Oh yeah, I’m in Istanbul.”
And then I just have to wonder if this is really what the United States wants to share with other countries. Aren’t there better things to pass on? Why is this our most visible contribution to the global world?

Friday, March 14, 2008

Thursday, March 13, 2008

How my school will celebrate Pi Day

Tomorrow my school, or at least the math department, will be celebrating pi day, with the help of our IB students. Here's a look at what will be going on.

1. Round pizza for lunch.
2. Students will write strings of digits of pi on cloth in the pyramid and we’ll paste this around the school on Friday.
3. Pie-eating contest in the pyramid at lunch
4. Special T-shirts
5. In class activities:
Pi Trivia Quiz
Buffon’s Needle for grades 10-12
Search for your phone number, birth date,etc. in pi.

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

just to keep you in the mood

A Pi Day video from last year to keep you in the mood until Friday. Celebrate Pi Day!

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

3 ways to celebrate Pi day

For those of you who weren't aware, Pi Day is just three day away. I thought I'd give you a three ideas for how you could celebrate this lovely date (3/14)...

(1) make a Pi (apple or cherry are always yummy)
(2) you could always sing this slightly cheesy pi day song
(3) find a circular object and verify that pi really is the ratio of the circumference to the diameter

Of course I'll probably be wearing one of my cheesy pi t-shirts. Gosh it can be fun to be a math teacher.

Sunday, March 9, 2008

Carrying Prayers

Birdhouses 1
Originally uploaded by ccarlstead
For some reason this week I started to think about one of my favorite little things about Istanbul: its birdhouses. Now when I say that I don’t quite mean what you’re thinking. Don’t get me wrong, they are houses for birds to nest in, but you can forget about any image you have in your head. The birdhouses I’m thinking of are old (old enough so that the only ones I can find starting to fall apart). They are typically built high up into the wall of a mosque complex and are created to look like a true miniature house, only with round openings for the birds. I’ve been told that these were a part of earlier mosques because the believed that the birds would carry their prayers up in the sky closer to God. One thing for sure, the birds got some palatial spaces out of the belief. So excuse me if I’m wandering around with my eyes to the sky, I’m just looking for birdhouses, and I’ll never find them if I stay focused on the ground.

Friday, March 7, 2008

It's fun to be a math teacher

Once you get past the idea that lots of kids hate your class because they are afraid of math. Wednesday was World Math Day, and our department decided to be geeky enough to celebrate. There was an online competition held worldwide where students could compete against kids in other countries in minute long speed arithmetic (adding, subtracting, dividing and multiplying only) challenges. It was great fun to see my kids excited about doing math problems. Its amazing how the aspect of a bit of competition can motivate and excite some kids. Sometimes its fun to be a math teacher.