Tuesday, November 29, 2005

The bright spot in a really pissy day

I'm not going to go into the really pissy day part because I'd probably say something that would get me arrested. Just the bright spot.

I lost my wedding ring a while ago (during the flooding stuff). Now this really upset me. It was the ring my first husband gave me. The first year we were married we had one of those fights and I took off the ring and threw it across the room. Ed retrieved it, jammed it back on my finger and said (actually yelled), "promise me you'll never take that ring off again!" I did and I never have in the 25 years since, so losing it was upsetting. But in the course of trying to deal with the problem that started of the pissy day, I found my ring!

My world will be all right again.

Saturday, November 26, 2005

Knock, knock

Q: Whose there?
A: *silence*

From the San Jose Mercury News - Evolution site under fire

"Operators of a University of California-Berkeley Web site that is designed to help teachers teach evolution are being sued by a California couple who say the site improperly strays into religion."

The claim that the site strays into religion is based on the link to information provided here by the National Center for Science Education - Statements from Religious Organizations.

The rest of the story is here.

Rituals - mindless wandering because it's snowing

Every year on Thanksgiving morning I watch the Macy's parade. On Christmas Eve I usually go to a church service - candles, music, no sermonizing. New Year's Eve I watch the ball come down in Times Square. Shortly thereafter I have a birthday and whatever decorations are in the house are put away. This ritual has changed little over the years. There used to be trips to the grandparents and my godmother, but they're dead now so the visits are memories.

Rituals also exist in other ways. Our society and culture impose rituals on us. Wikipedia in its entry on ritual states that "rituals can have a more basic sociological function in expressing, inculcating and reinforcing the shared values and beliefs of a society." Weddings, graduations, and football games all include ritual.

We all have personal rituals that center on specific dates or holidays. Some of these grow out of our culture or belief systems. We also have rituals that are more private and hold an almost mystical quality such as repeating a series of actions before an exam or always wearing a particular outfit to job interviews. These type of rituals are designed by us to increase the probability of a hoped for result.

So I'm sitting here watching the snow fall and wondering if mathematics isn't one huge ritual.

Tuesday, November 22, 2005

Meme - my first

Sarah of That's Not Very Nice! tagged me with my first meme. I found myself having all sorts of weird reactions to this. Since most of the time I'm minimally social, I felt a little like the kid in school who is unexpectedly chosen first instead of last for a team. And then I started laughing because the first of the two class discussions I had/have to lead for the seminar was on an excerpt from Richard Dawkins 1976 book "The Selfish Gene". The title of the excerpt - Selfish Genes and Selfish Memes. This may include the first instance of the meme concept. Dawkins is writing about evolution and a new emerging replicator.

"...It is still in its infancy, still drifting clumsily about in its primeval soup, but already it is achieving evolutionary change at a rate which leaves the old gene panting far behind.

The new soup is the soup of human culture. We need a name for the new replicator, a noun which conveys the idea of a unit of cultural transmission, or a unit of imitation. "Mimeme" comes from a suitable Greek root, but I want a monosyllable that sounds a bit like "gene." I hope my classicist friends will forgive me if I abbreviate mimeme to meme."

Having bored you all with that, on to the meme itself.

1. Do you use an alarm clock to wake up in the morning?
I am so not a morning person, so what do you think? At least I haven't thrown the (expletive deleted) thing across the room lately and risked killing anything.

2. What time do you set it for?
At least an hour earlier than the latest time I can get up. There's some madness in this method.

3. Do you hit the snooze button, if so how many times?
You have to ask. Some days I beat it with my cat.

4. Have you ever abused an alarm clock?
Well let's see. When in college I threw one across the room, barely missed my way too cheerful morning person roommate, and watched it break against the concrete block walls. These days I use the remote control for the TV or the cat to beat the (expletive deleted) button into submission. (oooohhhh...this submission thing is just too too.)

5. It's time to spread some "Its Blogcess" linky love.

Rules of the game, as per Sarah:
First, copy and paste #1 - #5
(Make sure to link to: "It's Blogcess", which is the link in #5. Because it is always polite to link the one who started the linky love.)
Second, link to my site (because it's polite to link the site that tagged you)
Third, go and tag 5 other blogs, more if you like.
Fourth, Email the owner of, or post on the blogs that you have tagged, to inform them that you've tagged them.

Sarah changed the rules and picked only 3 others to harass with this. I'm following her lead and tagging:

My blog mama (forgive me?)
The Pixie who is temporarily off-line and way far away so she can't kill me
My friend Tal who may send the mole rangers after me for this.

Thursday, November 17, 2005

Who am I?

Today I learned that I am an outlier.

Honor's Research project is moving forward!

Yesterday I spoke with the third professor I wanted on my project committee and she said "yes"! Woohoo, the committee is complete. On to the next step - the formal project proposal.

Wednesday, November 16, 2005

Jokes, Math, and Sex

In the last few days my email has included a math joke from my blog momma and a math chain mail from a friend. Both somehow someway included sex. Yes, sex and math. Who would have thought? Since you all probably don't believe me, I'm including the joke and the chain mail.


A professor of mathematics sent a fax to his wife. It read:

"Dear Wife:
You must realize that you are 54 years old, and I have certain needs which you are no longer able to satisfy. I am otherwise happy with you as wife, and I sincerely hope you will not be hurt or offended to learn that by the time you receive this letter, I will be at the Grand Hotel with my 18-year-old teaching assistant. I'll be home before midnight.-- Your Husband"

When he arrived at the hotel, there was a faxed letter waiting for him that read as follows:

"Dear Husband:
You, too, are 54 years old, and by the time you receive this letter, I will be at the Breakwater Hotel with the 18-year-old pool boy. Being the brilliant mathematician that you are, you can easily appreciate the fact that 18 goes into 54 many more times than 54 goes into 18. Don't wait up."


SEX is like Math: add the bed, subtract the clothes, divide the legs, and pray you don't multiply!
You have been bumped by the Blinky
Which means you are a hottie.
You will have good sex for 2 years if you send this to 6 to 9 people. If this is sent back to you, you know you are truly a hottie.

Saturday, November 12, 2005


I love going to auctions. Sometimes I actually buy things at auctions. But I've never thought of auctions as subject to mathematical analysis. Once again, I've been proven wrong. LOL

Check out this post at Ars Mathematica. It's worth following the link to the Grimm survey and reading the pdf document.

Thursday, November 10, 2005

My new favorite math quote

I followed a link from Ars Mathematica to the site to download a book (Toposes, Triples, and Theories, by Michael Barr and Charles Wells). From there I followed the link, CWRU Mathematics Department Website to the Case Western Reserve University's Department of Mathematics.

And there I found a truly wonderful quote - "Mathematicians, when they work, engage in intensely serious play. They follow their curiosity into problems that interest them and toward the smell of a solution." Richard Preston, The New Yorker, April 11, 2005

I may have to add this to my repetoire.

Wednesday, November 09, 2005

Stopping in to visit my own life

I've been busily trying to get school work done. So far I have two short and one long paper in the works, one short paper done and turned in, one take home exam written up, and the data analysis done for an extra credit paper (I want a 100 not a 90 for a test grade). Somewhere in there I did some database work, went to see a local production of Godspell, did the normal work and school stuff, completed all the paperwork for the honors program, and got sick.

I have the yuckys right now. You can tell I do because I didn't go to work today and paid sick time isn't part of my job. So I'm feeling sorry for myself as I go through the process of notifying professors, work, and the students in a project group when I started laughing. Why? Because I remembered that my mother used to do some self-medicating with alcohol. On occasion she'd wake up with a hangover, but my mother never had a hangover. It was always something she ate or a stomach bug. So here I am with a list of symptoms that except for the chills sound a lot like a hangover and a little ticked off that I didn't even get to have the "fun" of having a drink or two. Sheesh

Tuesday, November 01, 2005

8th grade math?

I'm so proud of all of you budding mathematicians with your fabulous test results!

One of my friends emailed this link. Fortunately I passed. LOL

Congratulations, you got 10/10 correct!