Summer's Over

Last night - at roughly 9pm, I took off my ill-fitting shoes and walked barefoot for a fateful five minutes. As a result, I have huge burn blisters all over the bottom of my feet. So, make no mistake, summer is still here in Arizona. I'm walking very carefully. Bad timing, since I have to walk nearly a mile to get from the parking lot to class (one way) and I guess I should be grateful that I'm not doing it barefeet in 5 feet of snow, but at least that wouldn't hurt as bad.

On the other hand, I've sampled all of my classes and I am very excited for the semester. It is going to be a real serious challenge, but I am relieved to think that it's nothing I can't handle! (And don't let me kid myself - I love to challenge myself.)



When I hear news that someone is pregnant, the question that pops into my head is "am I supposed to be happy for them, or sad?" That's bad, but not all pregnancies are greeted with equal anticipation and, technically, this could be bad news.

Likewise with marriage. Since I've been divorced, I know that all marriages are also not greeted with equal anticipation because some are made in such bad judgement at the time that when I hear the news, the question that pops into my head is "I wonder how long this one's going to last." It's sad, but the national average on marriage longevity and the "it's just not working out" mentality justify the thought. Most engaged couples are carried away by romance and have unrealistic expectations anyway.

Knowing this, it is still irritating when people ask me "are you still getting married?" I guess people either don't expect an engagement to last more than six weeks or expect me to come to my senses and decide that the lending my eight year relationship the cultural credibility of marriage is a bad idea afterall. And when someone who hasn't talked to me in a while asks, "are you still with that same boyfriend?" it reinforces our expectation for failure. What happened to our society? Why are we so cynical? Why is it a social anomaly that both our parents were never divorced? What happened to making an effort?


From Discovery to Invention to Discovery

My journey with math has traversed a richly textured landscape of emotion: from the highest highs of discovery to the lowest lows of invention… I struggle with the question: "if we make up math as we go to fit the conditional desirability of the result, is the coincidence of getting that result elegant?" Today, I feel like the roller coaster has swept me up into the mysterious beauty of the world of math once again. The answer today is "Of course the result is elegant! It reflects the beautiful world we are desperately trying to describe – and so, our approximation of this world lends beauty to the math world." It is not pure invention, in the sense that we define math to reflect the actual world we live in. I am reading "The Math Gene" by Keith Devlin. I am finding it to be inspiring, motivational, and recommend it as a simple read for anyone who doesn’t like or feels they don’t have an aptitude for math. It makes the relevancy of all the arbitrary notions of math apparent.

I like what Devlin says about the invention/discovery debate. He points out the fact that two people on different sides of the planet can come up with basically the same idea in much the same way at roughly the same time... If Shakespeare had not lived, no one else could have written "Hamlet." But, it is likely that eventually we would end up with the same mathematical ideas regardless of Euclid or any other "great inventor."

I wish I had read it prior to taking "Math Structures." Because, I didn’t know what I was supposed to be learning until the end of the class when I "figured out" what math was (and how it has nothing in particular to do with manipulating numbers and notation at all.)