11 Things

Thanks to Bill Martin (@bill_m_4) for nominating me in his post!

To see how this works, go to Bill’s post. 🙂

11 Random Facts About Myself

  1. ‘Random’ is my middle name. My PhD is in Mathematics with a focus (broadly speaking, if that makes any sense) in Probability Theory. I do math for good and for a living (outside of teaching!).
  2. Piano is the best thing that’s happened to me — I started piano about a year ago. I’m also taking voice lessons. However, I’m not quitting my day job just yet. I have a very long term plan with my musical interests. In 15 years, I’m hoping I will be talented enough to be able to play professionally.
  3. I’m learning to draw. If you want to follow along with my drawing endeavors, you can see them in my tweet feed. Again, I won’t be quitting my day job. I would love to know what you think! Pointers are welcome as well!
  4. I like board games, card games, and word games. If you like the games on boardgamegeek.com, then you know what type of board games I’m talking about.
  5. I don’t have a TV. Well, technically, I have a TV, but it gets no channels. Not even the basic ones. I haven’t had a TV for about 6 years or so and I haven’t missed it one bit.
  6. “Musashi” by Eiji Yoshikawa is a great story.
  7. I think I’m funny.
  8. I crocheted a scarf once. I crocheted a dozen roses once as a Valentine’s day present; I was hoping that would get me out of having to buy roses again — I was mistaken. I crocheted a scarf into a ball of yarn once. Wait …
  9. I decided to give the entrepreneur route a try. It’s been an absolute blast this past year. See the Services tab for a quick overview and a link to my company.
  10. I drink coffee maybe about once every three or four years.
  11. I named this blog, “Math Misery?” because I understand how people, in general, feel about mathematics. Mathematics isn’t scary, it isn’t horrible, and it isn’t incomprehensible. People have just been taught it all wrong. I firmly believe that those who are now well into adulthood, will find mathematics to be simple, intuitive, and fun if they just opened themselves up to it.

Bill’s Questions To Me

  1. First city you lived in outside your hometown? Worcester, MA.
  2. Coffee or Tea? Why? Tea, because not Coffee. 🙂
  3. Where do you go to study, learn, create? What’s your workflow? I don’t go to any place in particular. I retreat into my mind mostly.
  4. When did you decide to teach? What inspired that or why? I liked teaching ever since I was in high school. I don’t teach full time, but I stay with it because I enjoy it. I like teaching because “If I have an apple and you have an apple, and we exchange apples, we still each only have one apple. If I have an idea and you have an idea, and we exchange ideas, then we both have two ideas.”. There is no reason for knowledge to be conserved.
  5. Do you have a ‘bad experience’ that turned out to be good at a later time? What challenges propelled you or helped you learn something? I realized a long while ago that the more I learn and understand, the more I can do. I never really understood when people have said, “Oh, I’ve never needed <topic>.” when they’ve never learned that topic. How can they possibly know they didn’t need it? It’s a delusional dissonance in my opinion.
  6. Do you have a favorite quote or saying? This is in relation to the previous question. A favorite quote of mine is from R. A. Heinlein in “Time Enough For Love”.

    A human being should be able to change a diaper, plan an invasion, butcher a hog, conn a ship, design a building, write a sonnet, balance accounts, build a wall, set a bone, comfort the dying, take orders, give orders, cooperate, act alone, solve equations, analyze a new problem, pitch manure, program a computer, cook a tasty meal, fight efficiently, die gallantly. Specialization is for insects.

  7. In teaching, discussions, or jokes, what book/movie do you often reference? Hmm, I can’t say that I reference much.
  8. What is a book that we should all read, in your opinion? “Musashi” by Eiji Yoshikawa — it’s an historical fiction about the legendary Japanese swordsman, Miyamoto Musashi.
  9. Something to avoid when teaching/presenting is … forgetting that you have an audience.
  10. Something that helped a student who was struggling … time. Time is what struggling students most often need. School has no patience with its inane 3-4 month course cycles.
  11. What is the most recent compliment you received? “If I had to describe you, it would be that you are a person who has a great balance between mathematics and art.” — a very close approximation to what my piano teacher said.

Check out these other blogs!

I know I’m supposed to get to eleven bloggers, but these are eight bloggers with whom I regularly interact and whose blogs I read. And eight rounds to eleven.

11 Random questions for the nominated bloggers

  1. Math on a scale of \(0\) to \(\sqrt{100}\), love it or hate it? \(0\) is hate, \(\sqrt{100}\) is love.
  2. Predict the weather: on December 31, 2014, what do you think the following will be at noon in New York City: temperature, sky (cloudy, sunny, etc.), and wind speed?
  3. What advice would you give new teachers?
  4. Will a human set foot on Mars in your lifetime?
  5. What’s your favorite board game?
  6. What is your favorite pizza topping?
  7. What made you want to blog?
  8. Why do you think that practically anywhere on this planet, the general sentiment towards mathematics is a negative one?
  9. When you go on vacation, do you send postcards to friends and relatives?
  10. Regardless of your sentiment, what’s your favorite math puzzle?
  11. This is a scary question and maybe a little strange, but have you ever seen a ghost?

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One thought on “11 Things

  1. Mike Thayer


    Thank you for the shout-out – much appreciated!

    As for the 11 questions…

    1) On a scale of 0 to (don’t know enough HTML to get sqrt(100)), I love math sqrt(97). I do love it, but I love physics more.
    2) 12/31/2014, NYC, noon: cloudy, 37 degrees F, wind 20 mph NW 🙂
    3) Go slow and give yourself time your first year. Listen to as many people as you can – most importantly, your students. Make friends with the custodians and secretaries.
    4) Sadly, no. Unless I live to 100.
    5) I used to love the games Pay Day and Life. Monopoly is fun too.
    6) Sliced meatballs and garlic.
    7) Ego, originally. Now more just to have a place to write down stuff.
    8) Because in most people’s minds, math = computation, which is mentally difficult once you get numbers bigger than single digits.
    9) Depends on the vacation. If I’m off the continent, yes.
    10) I like KenKen and Kakuro puzzles.
    11) Nope.


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