The wonder of feeling small

Dear President Trump,

I hope Melania The Missing (from public view) has had a nice Mother’s Day. Have we? Why yes, thank you for (not) asking, we have. There’s been lots of well-wishing going back and forth among friends and family, including an especially nice “I miss you both lots!” note from our daughter this morning. Just a little while ago she texted again and asked for some money to rent a surfboard. We both laughed – she’s been banking her work money and hasn’t asked us for any in months, but it’s a perfect Mother’s Day ask.

Before telling you about another M-D highlight, I want to tell you what I learned from Laura about how to calculate risk projection. Remember the other day when I was telling you that living in a “100-year flood” zone means that every year there is a .01 or 1% chance of there being a flood? I mentioned I was confused as to why the NPR article said this means that over the course of a 30-year mortgage there is a 26% chance of a flood when I thought you could just multiple .01 x 30 and come up with the risk (30%). Well, I don’t remember if I told you, but Laura teaches statistics and one of her favorite subjects in the whole world is probability so she was all over this issue. She showed me that instead of multiplying .01 by 30, you need to raise .99 to the 30th power (since I don’t think math that doesn’t involve swindling is your strong suit, this means that you multiply .99 times itself 30 times) to get the probability of there not being a flood in 30 years, which is 73.97% and then you subtract that from 1, which basically gets you 26%. She’s definitely handy to have around.

OK, on to the other Mother’s Day highlight.

You’ve probably gathered that we try to take the dogs for longer “special” walks on both days of the weekends (meaning they get to go in the car a little ways to a spot somewhere outside the usual 5-block radius of weekday walks). Today we went to the University campus, which our little dog thinks is Squirrel City. Much as he loves the squirrel action, we really went there today because Laura found out Friday that there’s a major heron rookery in the trees near her department and she wanted to show me. Those herons know what they’re doing – they have their nests, probably 12 to 15 of them, high, high up in three or four deciduous trees that are part of a small grove that’s never been touched. It’s prime real estate and the University has left it alone. It’s too small to really feel or be functionally wild, but there are ginormous redwoods in among the heron trees and the whole space feels calm and old and special. It’s one of those wonderful places that make me feel small.

May all the children of all the mothers be safe.
May we all be happy to take care of one another.
May we keep one another healthy and strong by taking care of the herons and the trees.
May we all be humble, tread lightly, and make peace with nature.

Tracy Simpson

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