November 29th, 2002

senior project

math = power

Okay, so I'm at a little fabric shop today and I found some buttons I find some buttons I want. They are $.50 each and I decide to buy six. The shopkeeper tells me it'll be $3.75, to which I reply, "$.75 for tax? That sounds like a lot." He's like, "No, $.25 for tax. The buttons are $3.50" I tell him that the buttons should be $3.00 because I'm buying six. He tells me that they are fifty cents each and six times five is thirty-five, so they're $3.50. I don't want to think about it so I'm like, "Whatever" I take my $.25 change and walk out of the store. I don't want to keep the receipt so I throw it away.

Then ten minutes later I'm like, "Fucker! Six times five is not even thirty-five, what the fuck is wrong with... oh shit, me." Because I got tricked into it, I fell victim to bad arithmatic because I didn't think or couldn't think or anything! I felt all guilty and angry and worthless... but I don't want to feel like that. So I'm writing this entry.

See, there are several things we can learn from this. First, I suck at multiplication and that's really unfortunate. I've always sucked at it. I was, like, the last kid to pass my time tables tests in the third grade... my parents worked hard to try to get me to learn that stuff but I couldn't. Given the time to think about a problem I'd eventually figure it out, but arithmetic never came naturally to me at all. Even when I bought the buttons today, I was like, "They were $.50. Two for a dollar. A dollar, a dollar, a dollar... that should have been $3.00 and not $3.50, I got screwed."

But just because I suck at arithmetic, it doesn't mean I'm bad at math. I think a lot of people get fooled into thinking that about themselves, because they think "math" is one big subject, it's all basically the same thing, uses one lobe of one's brain, all that. You can be a great speller and a bad writer. You can be good at chemistry but bad at biology. But somewhere along the line people get the idea into their heads that if you're bad at math, you're just bad at it, might as well not try, it's acceptable to be bad at math and it's okay to give up.

But it's not okay, and that's the point of this... I passed geometry and calculus with flying colors, if I'd given up in elementry school when I failed all those times tests I never would have even taken those classes. Yes, I still wish I was good at multiplication, it would have saved me $.50 today. But we can't all have everything. I'm an engineer. I owe a lot to math.

People get scared and give up, that pisses me off, I meet so many people... okay, no I'll say it... women who just throw in the towel and don't want to be good at math. Be good, people. It's how you get ahead in this world. I'm not good at every aspect, and you won't be either, but you'll be more powerful for the stuff you try, for what you do know and can do. I have a lot of younger people who read my journal, and that's why I wrote this, I hope someone thinks about it. Never give up.