Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Even Numbers #hashtag

The problem with even numbers is that they are divisible by two. I've never been one for making resolutions, but I have tried to set goals for the year. At the end of last year, I set two goals. Therein lies the problem. For one of them, I was completely successful. Although I still haven't checked my grades, school seems to be going well. For the other, I was a complete failure (there is still a lingering, albeit completely irrational hope). I still haven't figured out if I would trade one success for the other, not that I have the option. So this year, I am going to set an odd number of goals. That at the end of the year, I will know how well I did. I will be able to tell whether I am a failure or a success.

Monday, December 30, 2013

Ignorance is Bliss #hashtag

This weekend while watching football, one the announcers talked about the team "matriculating down the field." I am not sure what he meant to say. Matriculate means to gain acceptance to a college or a university. I know what the word means because I got an e-mail talking about matriculation at U-M and I had no clue what the word meant; I had to look it up. It got me thinking about sort of ignorance is socially acceptable.

In some blog post, I have mentioned how people will brag about being bad at math. In a similar matter, we had a guest speaker brag about how he was completely ignorant of the basic rules of football, as if it was some sign of sophistication. At the opposite end of the spectrum, I have never heard anyone use the same tone to say that they "couldn't find Canada on a map" or "never managed to master tic-tac-toe." What is worth knowing? What sort of knowledge helps us interact and communicate with other people? Aside from math, what things ought people know?  

Thursday, December 26, 2013

Priorities #hashtag

This is the desk that I sat in for my geometry class. It was kind of broken, but we didn't have a lot of options. Luckily, the desk wasn't that nice to begin with. The writing area was too small to hold an 8.5x11 piece of paper. So the fact that it wobbled didn't make it much worse than the non-broken desks.
On an unrelated note, earlier this year there was a hundred million dollar gift to improve the athletic facilities at U-M. If only math was as profitable as real estate or as entertaining as college sports (Let's be honest, algebra is much more interesting than college basketball). 

Monday, December 23, 2013

Data #hashtag

People would rather travel through time than read peoples’ minds. Time travel seems full of potential problems. Let’s say that you could travel back in time and change history. So, you hop in your DeLorean (or take a trip in your Klingon Bird of Prey around the sun) and you travel back in time and do something cliché like kill Hitler. When you travel back to the present, you would return to a world that you would not recognize. Everything would be different. So, even if the world was better from a geopolitical perspective, the life you left behind would most likely be gone.

Over the Thanksgiving Break (Which it seems like people really enjoyed) I had a conversation with a friend of mine about the percentage of people that like pumpkin pie. I guessed less than half. He guessed about 90%. It turns out he was right. Also, I included the pumpkin pie chart.

Richard Lavoie yelled at people, but the vast majority of us would rather hang out with him than Nel Noddings.

There was more crying this semester than last semester. Perhaps other people had a less stressful summer than I. Perhaps during the fall there were the same number of cries per day, but there were just twice as many days during the fall over which to shed them. I was surprised that three-quarters of recipients cried more this semester than during the summer term.

We would rather study alone than with someone else. It’s strange given the social constructivist view of education that we have all been exposed to, we would still rather study by ourselves than in a group.

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Very Pretty #hashtag

Artifact 1: Google Calendar from a random week in October

Explanation. This is a screenshot of my Google calendar. It is from the third week in October. It includes 17 credits of 400+ level classes at, arguably, the most prestigious public university in the Western Hemisphere. It also includes a total of 7 hours of work tutoring a Differential Equations class.
Evaluation. This was the typical week. Eventually, ED 504 dropped of the schedule, but was replaced by meetings for INS videos and the Geometry project.
Application. I, somehow, survived. If I can survive this, I should be in pretty good shape for the rest of my life.

Artifact 2: Google Calendar for next week
Explanation. This is a screenshot of my Google calendar for next week. It includes nothing.
Evaluation. This is identical to my schedule for the following week, too. Number of drives to Ann Arbor over that two week time span? Zero, 0, naught, nil, nada, none, ничего... 
Application. I will now have time to clean the mess that has become of the inside of my car. I might, if I get really motivated, watch a movie. I am going to sleep a lot. I am going to take a day and not touch my laptop. I am going to read on my Kindle and be happy.

Sunday, December 8, 2013

Math 498 #hashtag

We got assigned a very similar problem. Given a jug of size A and a jug of size B, what sort of different measurements can you get? It turns out a lot. I have to go write my RWT otherwise I would write more about this. Instead, I'll just post the video and let my reader ponder the possibilities. I will be back in about 11 days.

Now Trending #hashtag

Google N-gram: Love, Joy, Peace, Hope

In the process of searching the internet for a book, I came across Google's N-gram. Google has scanned millions books (about six million books). The N-gram site lets you search for the frequency of words used. I searched for love, joy, peace and hope. Unfortunately, all of these words are on the downturn. Love has rebounded from a low in the 1970's. Peace had an interesting trend line with peaks near the end of the First and Second World Wars. There is still not a lot of joy out there.

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

More Poetry #hashtag

I created this poem while thinking about my teaching philosophy. One of my classmates liked it, so I thought I would share. I think it needs a few more stanzas. Feel free to make comments on additional lines.


The goal of a teacher is to make oneself obsolete
to help young minds to become complete
to help young students meet their ambition
and to show them the value of metacognition.

Other poetic posts: Poetry 1Poetry 2Poetry 3, Poetry 4

On a related note, I am a poetaster. Now, poetaster is not one of those neologism that I so despise. According to Merriam and Webster, it has been in use since the 16th Century. It seems like a more modern compilation of "poet" mashed with "disaster", but apparently people have been adding the suffix "aster" to denote poor quality for hundreds of years. There are the words "medicaster" (quack doctor), "philosophaster" (bad philosopher) and "politicaster" (redundant word for petty politician) out there, too.

While trying to type in politicaster to the dictionary, I stumbled badly and typed in a jumble of words that lead to a suggestion of "Are you looking for poliodystrophy?" I was not looking for poliodystrophy intentionally, but I did find that it was an interesting word. It is the "atrophy of the gray matter especially of the cerebrum." Hopefully, by being a poetaster I am avoiding poliodystrophy; even writing bad poetry requires a fair amount of cognition.

Monday, December 2, 2013

Just a few observations #hashtag

+ Much as with people, numbers can be are irrational, perfect, complex.
+ Consider 12+3-4+5+67+8+9 = 100 There exists at least one other representation of 100 with 9 digits in the right order and math operations in between.
I found this on this Pen.io page.

Given the dimensions of a grocery cart, you could probably fit 60 cantaloupes into it. However, it might be really heavy to push. I will have to do more data collection on the dimensions and weight of cantaloupes before I move into a more formal calculations. (See this previous post). I am working on this, and I wanted to update any of you who might be worried that I had forgotten this important problem.

The metal desk that I sit at is frozen. Similarly, the laptop sitting in front of me is frozen. It is funny to think of things that way. While the desk usually feels cold, my laptop is warm to the touch. Yet, it is still frozen. It was sort of mind-blowing when Chuck D. shared the observation about frozen desks with us during the summer. This must be how students feel when I tell them that if X is a negative number, then -X is positive. Also, the square root of a 1/4 is 1/2 and 1/2 is greater than 1/4 (Taking the square root of a number between 0 and 1 yields a number that is bigger than what you started with!). The edges of Koch's snowflake contains an infinite length within a finite area (Ok, that is probably too advanced).

On a related note, regarding things that might make my head explode, the semester is almost done. Wow.

Closing Quotes: 
"I have often been surprised, that Mathematics, the quintessence of Truth, should have found admirers so few..." - Samuel Taylor Collridge

"Whoever thinks a faultless piece to see, Thinks what ne'er was, nor is, nor e'er shall be." - Alexander Pope

"The investigation of the meaning of words is the beginning of education." -Antisthenes

Sunday, December 1, 2013

Bass and Ball (2008) #hashtag

"Mathematics rests on shared definitions, meanings, and ways of establishing conclusions. In this way, mathematics differs from arenas of human activity where individuals are free - even encouraged - to develop their own ideas, interpretations and ways of working. The importance of the collective in mathematics is a special educational resource. This confusing problem they [the students in the article] are debating is one which they must all agree. They must move from their different perspectives to a common one, and they must do so using the rules and tools of mathematical practice rather than personal or idiosyncratic ones whose effectiveness would depend on power or personal persuasion. Mathematics both requires and depends on common ideas and practices; it does not submit to individual domination or privilege."

I have no idea how to properly cite this article. I'm not sure where it came from or if it was ever published. I'm not sure whether Prof. Bass wrote the selected text or Dean Ball wrote it, but I feel better in life knowing that run my school understand math. No offense to another other teachers out there, but math is the only subject where we actually know things. I'll sleep better tonight knowing that someone else out there understands math.