Heiser Christmas Letter 1991


This fall, I’ve been a long-term substitute teacher at Fairfax High School in Holly-wood, maybe the best high school in Los Angeles. Teaching the same kids every day is really different compared to floating from school to school — it’s exhausting! I really needed the Thanksgiving holiday. I’m working on schoolwork all the time. There are two kinds of people: those who divide everything into two categories, and those who don’t. Instead of good vs. evil or work vs.play, I now classify everything into full-credit vs. partial-credit.

Two geometry classes are going extremely well. Ironically, my own math grades from thirty years ago were so low, they almost disqualified me from teaching math! Misconceptions about high-school teachers astonish me: that teachers are under-qualified, underpaid, in short supply, and that teaching is easy.

I’m also teaching an economics course and two classes of basic math. Basic math is still as boring and toxic for students and teachers as it was 55 years ago when my Mom had to teach it. I’d rather teach “new math”: scientific visualization, fractals, electronic spreadsheets, charting, computer graphics, math modelling and simulation. Or chemistry, if I can find a job opening.


We’re both happy and healthy. Loretta has more cello students, more gigs, more energy, more fun. She wants to ride in a cattle drive in Montana in April!


I’m gaga about the graphics program Fractal Magic. Swoop between ten-fingered tentacles; zoom through twelve orders of magnitude. A movie would be a good idea; all I need is a frame-at-a-time video recorder. The program is fast, has a zillion options, and the manual shows how to make beautiful lacy patterns.


Bennett and Mary Lou had a new baby, Joshua, on Halloween day. He’ll join three-year-old Ryan in the cuteness contest. We’re delighted with the way our extended family life together is unfolding.


How about those Russians, eh? We hope they can hold it together this winter and stay warm and democratic. You all take good care too, now. Be safe, well, and happy!

Peace and Love!

Dick and Loretta