Sunday, April 22, 2007

Deep breath!

Obviously that wasn't what I initially intended to call the title of this post- but guess what, Chelsea drew! Now, this is a bonus and probably explains why I'm feeling better than yesterday. I love Newcastle. :D Damn, deep breaths. Can't get ahead of myself here. We need to win four more games. We're probably going to lose/draw against Chelsea, so that means we have to beat City, Everton and West Ham. You see if we lose against Chelsea, then them three games become must win, and since our goal difference is better than Chelsea's we might just clinch it! As you can see they're not the easiest of fixtures -West Ham are fighting a relegation battle. I do think to myself, that why don't these teams just 'let us win'. I mean do they want to see Chelsea win the league again? (Chelsea fans please ignore :D) I don't know, but I don't really 'hate' Chelsea. They have a cool manager and some top players- I just hate losing against them!

OK, best put that to the back of my mind otherwise you'll find me a disappointed bean again. Going to jump between topics, but as I was writing the 'mumbo jumbo' for the final answer to the stats coursework, I realised that it was no easy task. Google was the natural choice and upon googling for what I was interested in, I happened to come across my own blog! Freaky- made me think about whether other under grads might have done the same thing and found this blog. That had me worried for a second, actually more than a second, I mean I'll be hunted down in 'bundles' otherwise. Got to be careful about what I post about! (But alas Google wasn't much help, so I have actually resorted to writing mumbo jumbo).

I did a spot of baby sitting today or shall I say brain washing. Well it was either that or painting! I'd take brain washing any day, since then I don't have to be doing stuff constantly. Just stick the power rangers DVD on and every things good. For the curious reader you're probably wondering how the heck can you 'brain wash' whilst baby sitting a 3 year old and a four year old. Ah you see, I'm using dirty tactics so that these children don't end up not liking maths. Funnily enough, upon asking the older one whether he liked maths, I was met with the reply, 'No maths is stupid.' This had everyone laughing, but I wasn't going to give up that easily. I argued that maths was fun... bear in mind that my ickle cousin is fourish (goes to nursery). Urged on by the crowd he once again said, 'No it's stupid.' I decided that his mother had probably already got to his head before I could. I screamed whats one add one bear (nickname) but he was more interested in the reaction of the crowd. Thankfully the one thing which I was relived about was him saying that he likes Spider Man that's why he doesn't like maths.

I then decided to ask mini-bear (he's 3ish). Mini-bear said, 'yes I like maths.... and I like Gollum as well' (there was a poster of gollum on the wall). Obviously he had no idea what maths was, but my heart was flickering, I felt joy. I asked him again to be sure, 'Yes I like maths and I like Gollum. Bear likes King Kong'. That was all I needed. This shut up the laughing audience. :D So they soon ventured into my room. I have little 'aliens' or 'hanu-men' as they've been named by me stuck on my desk. They wanted them. I saw this as my chance to 'bribe' them, as well as the spider man lollies which I later gave them. Nothing worked with bear, he took the hanu-man, the lolly too and after kicking my maths books (ouch) walked out of my room. Little bear was better behaved so he ended up getting a piggy back ride down the stairs, much to his delight. Much work must be done with bear, but I fear that it may be too late!

Anyway, that was just my evil plan which I have now shared with you guys. Any ideas as to what can be done to set bear straight? ;) The main idea of this post is about maths with grown up people and I will begin from some time in the Easter holidays.

After my Grandma had returned from the hospital, we had quite a lot of family visiting. One such cousin came from Birmingham. I have aptly been named 'ASBO' by Noddy, due to me being 'anti-social' when my cousins came. To prove otherwise (not that I minded adding anther name to my collection of names!) I 'stuck' around and made 'extra' effort to 'socialise'. Things like 'what's happening in Home & Away' don't interest me I'm afraid but my cousin, who I shall call... well I don't know- maybe sponge bob, or gollum? Nah- I think mystique from the x-men is a better name, not that my cousin can shape shift, but because of what shape shifting implies.

The cricket world cup was a safe option to discuss, and so I tried my best to talk about cricket. Now Mystique obviously didn't want to engage me in conversation and looked around the room for someone to save her. (I also had a quick glance, but I hope that my glance was more subtle!). Eventually Mystique asked about whether I have any exams. It seems that Mystique's degree didn't have any exams- only assignments, so she was naturally shocked to hear of such things as exams. I told her that we have exams in about four weeks, and that's pretty scary. No big deal- she exclaimed that 'I'll be ok'. She then seemed to realise or remember maybe, that I was doing maths at university.

Then came the obvious question -'Is it hard?'. Now imagine sitting and talking to someone who obviously didn't want to talk to you, and maybe then I can be forgiven with replying with just the word yes. However, unfortunately for me, no one came to either of our rescue and so Mystique- after having yet another glance around the room asked, 'What exactly do you do? Algebra, addition etc..' (I'll spare you the rest- partly because I can't remember properly!).

Now I took a deep breath and thought- no one is going to rescue me and I have a point to prove to Noddy, so what the heck! I proceeded by saying that no it's not what she thinks it is. It's actually pretty different and diverse- and jolly interesting as well. We learn about proofs.... oops I lost her then. She was looking around the room again but once again she unfortunately wasn't saved- 'You enjoying it?'. 'erm yes- why wouldn't I be?' Was what I actually wanted to say, but I politely said I was and that it was pretty 'cool'. Hence you get the idea behind why I'm known as the family freak. :D (it's actually pretty cool being different. I've met so many people who don't like being different and rather than accepting this, try to change themselves to fit in. No matter what you do, someone is always going to be a prat- so my theory is don't change. Be yourself, your different self- sometimes you'll get ultra evil people, but they're probably one of them people who are themselves trying to fit in. Notice how I didn't use the word weird (that's specially reserved for me!) you can't say that I don't give 'useful advice' :D)

Anyway, going back to Mystique, I think the reason why she finds my obsession with maths (and football!) weird is because she herself has never had a cause to get excited about a subject, or anything apart from her little self and surroundings.

Now note, I was tempted to talk about other things that I do at university, but thankfully this time both of us were saved.

Experience 2:
Noddy is with a friend. (I happen to be everywhere!) I'm reading a book- Fermat's Last Theorem if I recall correctly. So, I'm in my own little world when suddenly I hear the friend asking 'so what course does your friend do?'. 'Maths' Noddy replies. Suddenly all eyes are on me. I smile- well you know the way Shrek does, upon meeting Fiona's parents! Introductions are made. You know what happens next don't you? 'What on earth made you do maths?'. Now I'm writing these events in the order they happened. This was the Tuesday I think. Anyway, I laughed and replied- 'A moment of madness maybe, or the right accidents.' Doing my best to be cryptic of course. I was then asked, 'what exactly do you want to do after you degree- I mean what can you do?'. Unfortunately for this person, the first thing that came out of my mouth was 'more maths'! I thankfully recovered before they went into shock, by replying teaching possibly, and there's lots of other things which I can do.

I won't bore you with the other questions which were asked, however they were similar to Mystique's questions. My answers always seemed to lack something. Maybe I should have put a serious face on and answered, rather than laughing. Anyway, I did turn the argument around and asked Noddy's friend why they were doing the course they were and what they could do with it. My question was laughed off, making me wonder whether Noddy's friend actually wanted to the course they'd enrolled on.

So after these two events happened, I decided to ponder about how exactly I could answer these questions. I mean, I've tried the 'maths is the reason behind everything' line, but people find that hard to believe. Actually they don't really care and why should they, after all knowing this isn't going to affect their lives.

However before I managed to think of a 'cool' phrase- Thursday, when I ventured into town- I bumped into 3 people from my secondary school who'd been in the year below me. 'They'd heard I was doing maths at university'. Do I or do I not scar them for life by confirming this! Well I said that they'd heard correctly and three mouths flew open, 'Oh dear, how can you do maths- I hate it.' etc etc etc. But you know, this time the three didn't seem concerned by my 'love' of maths. They didn't care that I was obsessed by it, they just felt that they could never do it.

Obviously once again I was asked the normal questions as to what I do etc. Maybe because I was 'technically' a year older than these three and since they'd not reacted like Noddy's friend, I muttered something about 'learning about why we can add two numbers etc'. They seemed amazed by this and amazed that I was interested in it as well. Obviously they asked whether it was hard. I once again confirmed this, but said that everything in life will be hard. One mentioned my year 10 maths teacher and inside I felt a warm glow, and sent a mental thank you card to my maths teacher. You see these three were in the process that I'd been in just last year. They all were doing a chemistry A level and had offers for pharmacy and optometry. I obviously told them how to tackle the synoptic paper in chemistry and told them that University is all about what you put in. This is the first time that I can recall actually having a conversation like this!

Now from the three experiences in the past week or so, the last one is the only one which I didn't really mind. I mean it the first two don't bother me as much, since you get used to it, but the third one didn't have me justifying my actions.

Whenever I tell people that I like maths, I'm normally met with another Shrek like look (the one from the first movie when they first go to see farquad and them dancing toys sing, 'welcome to...'):D. Then some people probably laugh and others seem amazed and automatically jump to the conclusion that I must be a genius because I do maths. I don't feel particularly clever at the moment, and I normally reply with, 'No, I've just always liked it and when you like something you 'work harder'. You see why do I whisper, after a short nervous laugh, that I do maths. I'm scared of these comments, truth be told, but seriously I don't like telling most people that I do maths. Should I feel special that they react this way? No- they're just putting more darn pressure on me! They only incident I recall someone not being shocked is the day when I bumped into my headteacher from primary school, who replied 'of course!'.

Anyway moving on (yes there's more), during the week, whilst commuting, I couldn't but help avoid listening to a conversation. Do I lie and say that I wasn't doing my homework at that moment? These two women were talking about a third person from their company or something, who couldn't spell. One woman loudly exclaimed, 'I take pride in my grammar and punctuation being great- but he couldn't even spell the word scissors. How can you not spell nowadays- that's shocking!'. etc etc etc. You get the gist. They discussed this for a while and at the same time I wondered, 'can I spell the word scissors?' I decided that I thankfully could, but I also wondered about why if that person couldn't do maths it wouldn't be such a big deal. I know there have been numerous posts about this in Blogistan, but seriously we should care that someone can't do maths as much as someone not being able to 'spell'.

I have my own opinions on why that is so, but do you think that anything is ever going to be done about it? Will people ever care that they can't do maths- will they continue to hold that as a trophy? I guess that another trophy that people hold is that 'they don't like maths'. Can we not take this trophy away from them?

The main question that I want to ask is, what can I say to people when they ask me what maths is about/like in university? I mean what do you say to someone enquiring about maths, when this person obviously doesn't like it? What do you say so that rather than weird looks, you get people going 'oh'. Or is that wishful thinking? I can't unfortunately think of anything 'cool' which I can say, anyone got any ideas?


tdstephens3 said...

"oh, what do you go to school for?" that is the question that ANNOYS the hell out of me. I have resolved to come up with something clever to respond with. "I am taking classes in 'sports and leisure,' I hope to be a recreation consultant for local government. It is very interesting." OR "I am studying journalism. It is a great field, as there are an infinite variety of perspectives that the journalist has to choose from. If you think about it, journalism is a very vouyeristic profession. I am excited to get out into the world and sneak around, watching people."
Well, beans... I always just say "I study math." and cringe and wait for their reply, or silence... subject change. I have actually brought up my favorite topic in a conversaition before - with the sole intention of destroying the conversation to get this annoying/ugly person away from me while I am more interested in being by myself at the moment. the first time I did this I was nervous because I was well aware of my intentions - but it worked with better results than I expected and have since used it many times. Also, I have answered the question truthfully and enthusiastically on several occasions - hoping for some reciprocity from my companion or acquaintance and have been sorely dissapointed in their contributions. This is not to say that I will not keep trying to initiate these kinds of conversations from likely targets - example, there was a gentleman who came into my place of employment wearing a tshirt with lots of math- physics equations scrawled on it with some clever quote somewhere... I thought, man, a professional! this is the guy to talk to, so I walked right up to him and told him I was studying vector calc, but was very interested in abstract algebra... I probably said more than that, too. I should have been paying attention to his face while I was rambling on and on to *another mathematician* but I didnt, and saw only too late that he was turning green and his knees were beginning to chatter. he said, "my friend got me this shirt" and I just walked away - in shock. can you imagine wearing some shirt with Nazi inspired poetry on it or something - just because your friend gave it to you? damn fool, he must get that everytime he wears that thing out of the house! In any event, there are few maths students that I have found and fewer 'real' people out there that appreciate ANYHTING for that matter, not just science, most people think that life is a drag and there is no motivation to hold a passion for anything outside of gossip columns. Sorry to take up your whole comment space here, but I am emotional about this topic, too.

egm said...

Wow, quite a bit you've got going here that fired up tds too! I like your mentality, do what you enjoy without worrying what others think, since that won't add or subtract a thing from it.

As for Google, once you've got something online, it's only a matter of time before Google picks it up. More so with blogger which belongs to them in the first place!

beans said...


It's funny how many people actually go to school without intended to 'learn' anything. I believe a person's intentions are important, so is there any real point in going to school- an institution of education- if one doesn't intend to learn?

I'm afraid that the only answer that people who I know will be content with is that 'I do medicine, or pharmacy' (etc etc). (Will give the Journalism thing a shot though :D)

Lol, I must also confess as having used 'doing maths' to kill the conversation. If that doesn't work- my ammo of maths jokes does it!

Now I don't know who to feel more sorry for- that man or you! Well us mathmos have to stick together, so man in the shirt needs to know what he's wearing! Well if he gets that everytime, he might have learnt not to wear it.

Don't worry about your comment- I enjoyed hearing about your experiences. After all that is what I asked. :) The thing with 'most people' is that they may never have had the chance to appreciate anything. I mean they're confined to stupid reality tv shows and the media always show them the celebrities who got fame and money by opening their silly mouths.

For the sake of arguement I generalize- but the people who don't appreciate anything always seem to have a thing against those who do.

Lastly, I must also say that sometimes whilst commuting and 'reading my maths books', I always hope that some random person may engage me in conversation about maths. Sadly this has yet to happen, but the number of weird stares is unsuprising. :D

beans said...

egm: Lol, well I think somehow or other this might bug every mathematician or a person who is passionate about something. I don't want the other person to 'share' my love of maths, rather appreciate the fact that I like maths and not think any differently of me.

Although I must confess, sometimes it's hard not to worry about what others may think- it's a confidence and self esteem issue. I aim to at least balance it, because there have been times when I've buckled! But in my case it's silly small things, since I've long ago realised the bit about pleasing everyone is not possible.

Lol, I didn't make the link about blogger and google being together. Well I guess I'll have to lie in wait for any first year students then! I guess I can always rely on you to protect me. :D

(neat pictures you've taken btw- not had a proper look today, but you'll hear more tomorrow I presume! poor aligator :D)