My Week 212: Doing The Math

Math Story 1

The other day, Ken and I were having a discussion about the newest educational fad: Growth Mindset. This is fancy term, based on “brain research”, that people can learn to do things if they BELIEVE they can do them. So you can see why it’s so fancy and all—pretty complex stuff. And you can also see why Boards of Education are spending money like crazy to teach people how to implement it in the classroom. I’m sure there’s nothing more motivating to a struggling student than yelling at them “If you can see it, you can be it!” (Growth Mindset sounds suspiciously like the lyrics to an R. Kelly song. He believed he could fly, although I don’t think that worked out too well for him). I wish my high school math teacher had quoted Boyz to Men to me—for sure, I’d be a quantum physicist now, instead of a smartass who can’t figure out what half of ¾ of a cup of flour is (I just eyeball it). Anyway, I was like, “So after years of NOT being able to do complicated math, if I only BELIEVE hard enough that I can do it, I’ll be able to learn it?” Ken assured me that it was true. But that night I had a nightmare where I was trying to do math, and f*cking it up royally. Then suddenly, the numbers all turned into little roasting chickens in their own casserole dishes, and instead of doing math, I was basting them with a red wine sauce that I had made and worrying that they were going to dry out in the oven. Even my subconscious knows where my strengths are. But maybe that’s all changing, because on the weekend, Tristan was doing his math homework:

T: Math, math, blah, blah, dividing by zero.
Me: Oh, that’s easy. Whenever you divide by zero, you end up with the same number you started with. Like 15 divided by zero is 15.
T: No, it’s not! You can’t divide by zero.
Me: Sure you can. I have 15 things. There’s zero things that go into it, so I still have 15 things.
T: That’s NOT how it works. It’s impossible. See, if I put 15 divided by zero into my calculator, it says “Error”.
Me: I paid good money for that calculator—what’s wrong with it?
T: Nothing! You just can’t divide by zero.
Me: But I just did.
T: But you’re wrong. Zero would go into 15 an infinite number of times, so it can’t be calculated.
Me: But I just calculated it.
T: NO, YOU DIDN’T.
Me: Look. If you have 15 slices of bacon, and you try to divide them by zero, how many slices of bacon do you have left? 15! Because you have eaten zero of them!
T: 15 is the REMAINDER. IS there bacon?
Me: Sure. Do you want 15 slices or zero?

Math Story 2

I have a Chuck Norris desk calendar that Ken gave me last Christmas. I love it. I don’t know what it is about Chuck Norris jokes that always make me laugh, but there are several people in the office who appreciate them too. If I have one that’s specific to a particular person, I give it to them at the end of the day just for fun. For example, in February there was a page that said, “Once Chuck Norris roundhouse kicked an exclamation point. That’s how question marks came into existence”, so I gave it to one of our editors. She thought it was really funny and pinned it up on her cubicle. Most people have embraced the Chuck Norris calendar, so when I got a page the other day that said, “Chuck Norris is the last digit of pi”, I knew exactly who it should go to—one of the new women in the office who specializes in math-type things. The problem was that in the picture, Chuck wasn’t wearing a shirt, and personally, I think that in a professional office, we probably shouldn’t be putting up pictures of half-naked men. Or women. (Funny story—I used to work with another math-type person who put up an 8 x 10 glossy picture of a very good-looking young man in her cubicle. He was naked from the waist up. I mentioned it to someone, as in “I don’t know if that’s very appropriate” and the person responded, “Oh, it’s OK—that’s her son.” I’ll leave it to you to consider whether that’s actually a funny story or just super-creepy.). So anyway, I very carefully took a sticky note, traced Chuck’s torso, coloured it in with black marker, and then cut it out and taped it on. It looked just like a very stylish T-shirt. I took it over to her, and said, “I thought you might appreciate this”, but she just looked at it with a weirdly dubious expression.

Me: It’s Chuck Norris.
Her: OK.
Me: It’s a joke about math.
Her: OK.
Me: I thought you might like it. I made him a shirt.
Her: Oh.

So I left it on her table and walked away. Later, I went by, and it was still there, but the tiny T-shirt I’d made had been carefully peeled away.

Math Story 3

So this is technically not a math story, but it has numbers in it. If you remember, I joined a hockey pool a couple of weeks ago. I made my picks based on some pretty random factors—I now have a Mr. Smith and a Mr. Anderson in keeping with my Matrix theme, and I picked up a guy called Kailer Yamamoto, because I thought it was a cool name and someone had scooped up Yanni Gourde right before my turn. At any rate, I am currently in first place out of 16 teams with quite a healthy points lead, which led to some subtle accusations that I might be a ringer:

Co-Worker: So. You’re in first place. Guess you know a bit more about hockey than you let on.
Me: Uh, no—I mean, I understand hockey, but I don’t follow statistics or anything. I don’t even know who won the thingy last year.
Co-Worker: If you’re referring to the Stanley Cup, it was the Washington Capitals, as I’m sure you’re aware.
Me: No, I…I’m sure I’ll be in last place by the end of the season and you’ll win the $560 dollars.
Co-Worker: $320. There are 16 of us, remember?

Of course, he was only pretending to give me a hard time, because he’s a pretty decent guy, but that still hasn’t stopped me from calling out, “I’m number 1!” every time I go by his office. Because 1 is the best number.

 

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57 thoughts on “My Week 212: Doing The Math

  1. LOL Another wonderful way to spend some of my Sunday morning…which is, BTW, the 1st day of the week.

    AND if you were to insert an additional 1 in the title of your post, it would read “My Week 2112: Doing The Math” Since 2112 is the title of Rush’s legendary album, then 1 is not the loneliest # in the world. So what does Three Dog Night know?

    OK see what you did to me with math this morning?!?!?!

    Seriously, though..wonderful post.

    Liked by 7 people

  2. If 1 is the best number why does comedy depend on the Rule of Three, as in Three Math Stories? Except in Japanese comedy where it’s the Rule Of Four.
    I have no idea where I’m going with this except that people who are good at math seem to lack a sense of humour. This isn’t always true but I can think of at least three people who are good at math but don’t find things like Chuck Norris jokes funny.

    Liked by 5 people

  3. Math is sort of my achilles heel. I’m not sure why. I can try to blame some bad math teachers early on, but that wouldn’t be fair to the teachers. I mean, they couldn’t have been THAT bad. Not bad enough to where I can’t even use a calculator.

    Above, you say that you can calculate % for tips, and that made me remember I can calculate 20% of any number in my head because I used to work at a store where we had 20% sales. But that’s it for me. Numbers and I part ways there, and not even Chuck Norris could get us back together.

    Liked by 2 people

  4. I’m good at math. I’m much better at math than my husband, who minored in it.
    But I find it suspicious that they’ve been changing math.
    That’s one of the things I liked about math: it’s pretty cut and dry. There IS an answer.
    A couple of weeks ago, my grandmother was at a family gathering and she brought a clunky old calculator and she could not give that thing away. Finally my mother consented to throw it out on her behalf since my grandmother obviously couldn’t do it herself.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. I’m giggling right now because you always make me giggle. But I honestly didn’t understand a word of this…because I don’t do numbers, or know a thing about hockey, or Chuck Norris, beyond I think he did karate.
    But I did get your argument with Triston, and I’m sorry he’s having such a hard time with math. Even I know 15 divided by 0 is 15. ;o)

    Liked by 2 people

  6. Love the math stories–and the Chuck Norris jokes. Every time I do math, I feel like the pieces of the brain that “get” and “understand” math are truly missing from my genetic makeup, so “believing hard” will not bring them back. “Believing hard” will only lead to heavier drinking on my part and thus, more destruction of brain cells, so I’ll just stick to writing and appreciating ice dancing competitions.

    Liked by 2 people

  7. If my math teacher would have told me that I could do all the math things if I just believed I would have said, ‘go fuck yourself and clip your goddamn toenails while you are at it!’ Okay, maybe only in my head I would have said those things, but I totally would have said them, somehow. What the hell?? I mean, why is everything SO weird these days?! ​

    Liked by 3 people

    • I took an algebra class in my early 30’s, over a summer, while trying to get all the basics out of the way to move on to my English/Math/Computer Science/Political Science/Business Major. I had taken Algebra before, in the 7th grade, but that was, like, a big number of years before. But I was good at it. Mrs C was in the class, too. We formed a study group so I could help the others, who ranged in age from 17-45, and I can tell you, with all sincerity and honesty, some of those folks really believed they do all the math things … and they were wrong. I mean really, really, wrong. Bless their hearts. 😁

      Liked by 1 person

  8. The Chuck Norris jokes never get old, and I did laugh out loud sitting at my desk here (yeah, it’s late, it’s parent-conference night, and I’m not super conferencey this evening). Does the growth mindset work for career aspirations too? Like if I really wanted to be a tour manager for my favorite band, if I just believe I can, I can? Then I LOVE growth mindset! Bring on the professional development!

    Liked by 2 people

  9. I addressed almost everything I wanted to say in response to others comments, so I’ll be succinct:

    How many zeroes does it take to add up to 15?

    See, division is easily understood as multiplication backwards. In other words, what number times 0 = 15. The answer is, of course, that no number in the universe can be multiplied by 0 to become the number 15, therefore you cannot divide 0 into any number in the known universe.

    But I really, really still want roasted chicken and bacon, and I REALLY believe in your ability to cook it. 😁

    You’re still the funniest thing on the web, sister, so screw math times infinity squared. 😎

    Liked by 1 person

    • I wrapped the chicken in bacon and there are 15 of them. If you want one, you have to agree with me. Also, I read your explanation 5 times and every time, my mind started to drift into considering the air speed velocity of a unladen swallow, or in other words, can a five ounce bird carry a one pound coconut? The answer is 42;-)

      Liked by 1 person

  10. I heard if you divide by zero a wormhole in the universe opens up and the apocalypse begins, just sayin’. And for the record I agree with Tom Being Tom, you can’t solve math problems with math. Also I hate math, lol so maybe that’s why my degree is in communication. Great Post!

    Liked by 1 person

  11. I was a lifetime C/D math student and I was fine with that. Happy actually. I could never understand why one would put little letters in a math equation. I thought math was numbers, not a spelling test.

    On the flip side of that coin I was an A/B English student. Annoyed actually. I should have been straight A’s.

    Not once in my academic career (career, ya right) did I ever convince myself I could be a math genius if only I wished for it.

    Funny thought: If I were granted such a wish I seriously doubt I’d use it up on the math genius thing. What am I, crazy???

    Liked by 1 person

  12. I need to remind myself that I always need to get to your parties on time, because it is a crime to be a week late and miss out on so much. So, I am with many here in the sentiment…fuck math! I don’t get it, I don’t want to, I don’t need to. It doesn’t matter how fucking hard I believe in it. That is my story and I am sticking with it. The woman with the shirtless son pic….yeah, super creepy!!!! Congrats on the #1 thing!!! You are a superior person who makes life so much better!!!! I may be a week late, but I am still full of love and appreciation for this gift you give!!!!

    Liked by 1 person

  13. I had a middle school teacher who was fond of those old-fashioned train problems: “If train A leaves Chicago at 6:00pm at 80 km/h and train B leaves New York at 7:00pm…” you get the gist. I asked my teacher why we, as potential passengers, had to figure this out – wasn’t there a transportation safety commission who analyzed this stuff?

    This is why I adore Microsoft Excel. Plug in a formula and it does all the work. That is my kind of math.

    The Chuck Norris calendar sounds totally awesome.

    Liked by 1 person

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