Louis Bookbinder

Tutor/Substitute Teacher

4081 Middlefield Rd
Palo Alto, CA 94303
650-494-1589 (leave a message)

E-mail: booky1@earthlink.net mailto


photo of Louis Bookbinder


hobbes iconThe Past

Born during WWII in Spokane, Washington. Been in the San Francisco Bay Area most of my life (I LOVE this place!) and now live in Palo Alto. Public school in San Mateo. BA in Mathematics from UC Berkeley. 5.5 years in the USAF as a commissioned officer, navigating B52s over Viet Nam. Married Donna in 1973. 4 years and bits and pieces of grad school at SFState, Cal State Hayward, Foothill College, and San Jose State University. I came to Stanford (to work) in 1981. We had a daughter, Lyra, in 1982.

Once a software developer, then a teacher, now a substitute teacher, private math tutor and handyman. I have been a stock clerk, a busboy, a dishwasher, a shoe salesman, a house cleaner, a data-entry person, a handyman, a gardener, a lab rat, a telemarketer, a tool salesperson, a tutor, a teacher, and a computer jockey. Jack-of-all-trades, master of none.


flow chart iconProfessional Interests

Students - a Haiku

We think we have learned
How best to teach children, yet
They are teaching us.

Current Title: (?) Maths Tutor/teacher

I was a software developer/programmer/systems engineer for half of my working life.

Then I changed careers.  Look at my rèsumè For three years I studied Secondary Education at San Jose State. I did student teaching at Gunn HS in Palo Alto.  I did another semester at Homestead High in Cupertino. I was riding my bike to Gunn, but to Homestead I had to take the car. Bummer. After a small mixup about one class and a quickie on-line course through National University, I obtained my credential in September 2004.

18 January 2005 - I was offered a full-time teaching job at Sequoia High School in Redwood City. In June, that brief stint at Sequoia was over. It was both much harder, and more inspiring than I imagined. I then taught summer school at Carlmont (same district).

Aug 2005 - I got a job the last day before school! Not enough prep time to actually do first day of classes (and I had a previous appointment) but the next day started teaching full time in Junior High math in a school in east San Jose - August Boeger. It was rough. I loved the kids but they were a challenge. My biggest complaint was the 15 hr days I put in. And weekends. And because of the long commute, I had an expensive accident in rush hour one day. I HATE commuting. Then on 10 February 06, my classes were given to a new teacher. In June my tenure as a regular teacher ended. The entire next year I worked as a substitute teacher.

In 2007 I started again as a sub, still looking for a job - several interviews - then in November my "little sister" Elaine told me about an opening in Sacramento, so I applied, interviewed, and got the job at Hiram Johnson HS. A disaster! I ended up with an awful lot of kids who decided there was nothing they could do to pass the class by the time I got to them, and like all self-fulfilling prophecies...... I had 2 double classes (a class and a tutoring - all on the same subject) and one single class, all on Algebra 1. The single class was a failure - I had 2 pass from more than 30 to start (but many dropped out - some actually transferred out but most kept coming but did no math). And all year long kids would be dropped and new ones added and one or two I NEVER saw in class! Half the kids in my period 1-2 passed, a third of my 5-6 class. This last one was pure hell - even the best kids didn't really want to do math.  But that year is over. Despite the lousy experience at Hiram Johnson, I somewhat enjoyed living with Elaine in Sacramento. But I enjoy more living in Palo Alto.

I think I have decided to semi-retire. Teaching full time is too much like regularly shooting myself in the foot. And from the results of 2008, I no longer feel I am very good at this. Tutoring, sure. Substituting, no problem. Now I just have to worry about money.


trekyPersonal Interests

.I square dance and am learning to round dance. I joyfully share my life with my wife, Donna, and sometimes with my daughter, Lyra, (to the left in the photo at right)

We have a big black cat to keep life interesting. I enjoy beer, popcorn, chocolate, cookies of any kind, asparagus and just about anything else (but now have to be careful of my blood sugar! By cutting out almost ALL desserts, I lost 20 lbs!). I collect stamps (if you see an interesting one, any country, save it for me!). I listen to classical music, and rock and newer stuff, too. I read Science Fiction and a lot of math & science. I solve puzzles. I bicycle pretty much everywhere. In the spring I hunt wildflowers. I garden vegetables and flowers and have taken a ton of gravel out of my yard in the process. I make lousy puns.

On July 5th, 2014, our daughter, Lyra, married her beau, Michael Lichard. She is keeping her name. They live in an appartment in San Jose.

They have been together for 7 years, so there was nothing sudden about this. They did not spend a mint on the wedding, for which Donna and I are grateful. The ceremony was on the UUCPA's new labyrinth in front of the church. Our minister, Amy Zuckenberg, officiated. We all had a good time.

Laws of life (an on-going creation):

  • We are all in this together.
  • Nobody gets out alive
  • You can't expect others to give you what you won't give them (Golden Rule)
  • Cosmic Justice? Sorry, that would be your department! Thou art god. 
  • You better start laughing or you may have to start crying
  • Do your best - why settle for less?
  • You are in charge of your own happiness. Your mom was just there until you learned this for yourself.
  • In most endeavors, you have only failed when you give up.
  • Murphy's Law (if anything Can go wrong, it Will!)
  • TANSTAAFL (There Aint No Such Thing As A Free Lunch)
  • 90% of EVERYTHING is crap. That leaves enough good parts to enjoy the day. Offer expires at midnight.
  • The only true sin is to keep innocents in ignorance.
  • Everything is subject to change. 

Donna and Lyra in Berkeley


 Please look at my Math Puzzle of the week.
(1st puzzle this year, 1st puzzle ever) AND some
Math slideshows   


Yesterday (Labor Day, 2013) I was caught up in an amazing experience, almost out-of-this-world. I saw an image of something which had no physical location, no solid, liquid, or gaseous reality, yet common in folklore and culture.

Not a ghost.

A rainbow.

My love and I were walking from my home to the Baylands, the local wildlife preserve on the San Francisco Bay in Palo Alto. The weather was strange - it had been overcast all morning and sun did not break through until about 3. But the clouds were emitting sparse, occasional light showers. Traveling in our car from San Jose to Palo Alto, we saw many high clouds (5-10K feet) with the wild hair of rain hanging down at angles. In fact we drove through a small shower. But it could hardly be called a rainy day. So she was stir crazy and wanted to walk. I make a point of walking with her whenever she asks (heck, I need the exercise, too!). And then this rainbow bloomed out over the bay.

It was shortly before sunset, so you can guess how big the bow was. The top was cut off by clouds, but on each side were double bent pillars, the pieces of primary and secondary bows. Of course, the inner bows (the primaries) were red on the outside and blue on the inside, while the secondaries in the other order.

They were of a brightness hard to believe.

Many others out for a late walk also admired the spectacle.

Why do I put this in my blog section, normally reserved for political commentary? Because of comments I hear over and over from the scientifically challenged that knowing a scientific explanation for miraculous physical phenomena takes away all the wonder. This is totally bogus. If they really believe this, I can only suppose their world is a helluva lot less interesting than mine.

My understanding of the universe is that we posit dozens of physical laws and principles for the working of nature, not a supreme being pulling levers and flipping switches behind the scenes. This means there is a huge universe of really wild and startling effects we can observe if we are in the right place at the right time. Like tides, and comets, and hummingbirds and rainbows. You can hide from understanding and even appreciating all this by handing cause over to the giant guy in the sky. But think how much more exciting it is to see a slow-motion film of a bumblebee, and understanding that those wing pairs have created eddies which thrust her heavy round body precisely through thin air! Remarkable! Astounding!

We stayed out there in gathering darkness as the fading sunlight sucked the power from our rainbows. They survived remarkably long after the sun was no longer visible. But they did fade. We held hands, profoundly grateful for the opportunity to see this miracle of nature - impossibly beautiful, and common as rain. (9/13)

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See past opinions (some of which I still hold!)




©copyright 2015, Louis Bookbinder - booky1@earthlink.net
updated 27 April 2015