Friday, March 24, 2006
OmegaDotter is asleep in bed with horsies and doggies. OmegaDad has finished playing TradeWinds and is also ensconced in bed. The Dawg is outside barking at the moon and skunks and other wildlife. It's not too late, and now it's time for me to set fingers to keyboard and attempt the math thang once more. Like I said, math just wasn't "it" for me. I hated it. Compared to my dad--whom I regarded with something akin to awe, and who ate differential equations for breakfast--I just couldn't figure the stuff out. And even way back then, in Them Olden Dayes, we had "new math", which didn't help...set theory, oh, yes, but fractions? Hmmm. At the beginning of the year in seventh grade, our teacher began teaching us some stuff that was supposed to be pre-algebra. She struggled. We struggled. One day, about 4 or so months into the school year, our frustrated teacher came in and gave us a test on fractions. Then, she sat down with us and asked us about fractions. It came out that none of us had a clue of what to do with fractions. She immediately tossed out the curriculum and spent the rest of the year teaching us...fractions and percents. It was horrid. Boring. Irritating. Looking back, though, I am so glad she did it. It still didn't make me like math. Ew, yuck, bleah. My dad took solace in my constant scribblings--short stories styled a la Conan Doyle; a carefully composed one-page newspaper, using press-on lettering and pasted-on typewritten columns (Ye Olden Dayes, remember!), artfully aged in the oven after being sprayed with lemon-water so it browned nicely, describing the attack on Fort Sumter; a paper decorated with a cartoon of Genghis Khan sitting behind an executive's desk, claiming that his conquering success was because he was the Henry Ford of decision-making. As I said, in my first dilletant year in college, I avoided mathematics entirely by taking a programming class (Fortran WatIV). None of it made sense to me. It was all drudgery. Then, at the age of 32, I returned to college (again), with A Plan. If I could successfully pass trigonometry and a semester of calculus, I would get a degree in computer science. If not, I would go into international relations or graphic design. I lucked out. I got a professor who was in love with math. Not only that, but she could explain it. Suddenly, all that stuff that was drudgery and confusion became clear and beautiful. Yes. Beautiful. Intriguing. Enthralling. Those years of drudgery and practice and foundations paid off, because the scut-work was easy. As a result of Carla's classes, I ended up getting a minor in mathematics, after all those years of hatred. I soaked in Numeric Analysis. I reveled in Graph Theory (very hard, by the way, but extremely pretty). I slogged through Matrix Algebra (eh). I stayed up until all hours of the night, scribbling proofs and equations in my notebooks. And if I hit a particularly thorny problem, my dreams took over, and I would wake up in the morning with The Answer. Because of all that, I got comfy with my math professors and the scientific theories behind computer science, enough so that I applied for that internship at Los Alamos, met my husband, and adopted OmegaDotter. Pretty heavy stuff... Buuut...it's the foundations I'd still like to get to. Part III coming up soon.