Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Why YOU need MATH

"Plato, whose mathematical knowledge was broadly up to date, could converse with the mathematicians as an equal and a problem presenter, even though his personal mathematical achievements were not significant."- Taken from is God a mathematician? by Mario Livio.

This is something I try to instill in my students constantly. They don't need to be amazing mathematicians in order to be good at math, nor do they have to be straight-A math students to contribute to mathematical discussion. Here's something else I tell my students:
"The science of figures, to a certain degree, is not only indispensably requisite in every walk of civilized life; but investigation of mathematical truths accustoms the mind to method and correctness in reasoning, and is an employment peculiarly worthy of rational being."
Okay, I don't say it in these words. George Washington said this (as taken from is God a mathematician?). More than 230 years ago, good ol' George Washington realized the importance of math in everyday life.

Okay so WHY is this important? Why am I talking about Plato and George Washington? How is this relevant to today? Well yesterday I saw a mud-slinging campaign commercial, saying that since Obama took office, unemployment has risen 20% and gas 110%. To be honest, I have never looked at the figures for unemployment. It's fair to say that I haven't studied gas prices either, but I drive and I do know my math. Around this time last year, gas was almost $4 a gallon (in southwest Virginia - don't pull the "oh our gas is so much more in ___ because it counts as part of your cost of living being higher and therefor your pay directly varies. In plain English: you get paid more so you can afford higher gas). Then gas prices went down to well below $3, went back up, and now sits around $2.29. Okay, so it has gone up and down, but that's all within Obama's administration. Well, according to CNN, in May of 2008 (that's right, before Obama) gas prices hit $3.75 and were still rising. That's the same as what's happened these last 3 years. Gas goes up - gas goes down.

Sort of lost? Maybe you're still following but this is what it boils down to: if something increases by 100%, that means you take the original amount and double it. If gas has risen by more than 100% that would mean it has more than doubled. Clearly, this is not the case. This is where statistics become misleading. Gas has increased by 110%, but I don't know to which year they are comparing these statistics. Heck, gas has risen- well, what percent is $4 out of $0 - such as when we drove horse and buggies! How ridiculous is it to fake statistics like this? This is in no way pro- or anti- Obama or any other way political. This is merely a pro-mathematics rant.

YOU NEED MATH to be an intelligent, responsible and active citizen of this fair country. You need to be able to watch TV, read the newspaper, and take in information all around you, analyze it, and create your own, well-informed decisions.

This is one among billions of ways that I use math every day. You do, too.

Be mathy!

Saturday, July 2, 2011

Finding a Mantra

So I read an article yesterday about a woman who uses a mantra (repetition of a word or short phrase) to help her get through life. When she stresses, when she is working out, when life gets to be too much, she repeats "I embrace life" over and over until her feelings have passed and she is renewed. That is what has started my current experiment.

I used a mantra once, for a short period of time. I looked into the mirror every morning and repeated "you are beautiful" 3 or so times. You know what? I have transformed into a very powerful and confidant woman. I don't know if it's a direct result of my morning ritual, but that really helped me get out of a pretty dark period in my life.

I currently have trouble controlling my thoughts and anxiety: they keep me awake at night, I invent fights with people that aren't really happening and I find myself getting really overwhelmed by certain circumstances. (On a side note, I will say I am starting to master the art of instantly de-stressing the moment the ball is out of my court. Between state tests,
benchmark exams, work situations, etc. I stress, stress, stress and then as soon
as the time has come and I can't do anything more, I'm done stressing. I have
realized it's pointless to keep stressing when I have done all I can.) I also need help powering through workouts, cleaning my house, and generally getting motivated to do anything.

I have decided to try a mantra. Last night, as my thoughts raced, I tried a few different mantras: "Just breathe", "I've got this", even "Find a mantra". Mm, not really liking those yet. The article said the mantra should be results oriented, but my needs are varied. It should be positive ("I am strong" instead of "I am not weak"), which isn't a problem, think the best of yourself ("I am healthy" instead of "I will try to be healthy"), and have a rhythm.

I think I am going to try "I am living well" to help me through things. When I need to say NO to snacks: I am living well. When I need to clean my house: I am living well. When I need to sleep or de-stress, I am living well. If I just need to keep running: I am living well.

This is the beginning of my new experiment. I will keep you posted as to how it goes.

Live well, friends!

**Update just a few hours later:

I need to add this recent development about why I love my the saying I chose. I took an hour today to lay out in the sun reading a book. My new mantra instantly popped into my head: I am living well. Not only can I use my mantra to help push me through the tough times, it also serves as a reminder to not take the good in my life for granted. There is a lot of good and I love to thank God for it. Saying that I am living well brings me closer to God - it serves as the beginning of prayer. I LOVE that aspect of it. Also, because I can use it during the good times and can use it so often throughout every day, I think it will be easier to remember to use it when times are tough. also LOVE that aspect! So powerful!