October 03, 2009

Deriving the Definition of... Geek

My husband was working on a lecture when I said, 'I need you to get the attic stairs down for me. I need to look for my old calculus book.'

He looked at me with a combination of 'oh sh--' and 'are you nuts?'. It's hot in Florida still. He kind of shook his head and said, 'OK.'

I had really really hoped that the books in the guest bedroom were my old math books. Before making my way to the attic, I yelled after him from the guestroom closet, "Hey! Did you keep your calculus book from college?"

His reply was an emphatic, "NO! Why in the hell would I keep that?"

Still I had hopes as I just KNEW there was a box of books in the bottom of that daggum closet and I wasn't going to have to climb into the 200 degree attic to look for a book tucked in between luggage, Christmas decorations, old baby clothes, and crap that seriously needs to be thrown away.

My husband and I need to clean out that attic before we die. It's not fair to leave that mess to our kids.

Anyway, so here I was in the guestroom closet, box open, pulling books out... histology, neurology, organic chemistry, anatomy, something about bacterial something or other... and as I was pulling them out I was thinking, 'Who in the HELL would WANT to study this crap?" Good Grief. As I tossed each book aside I thought, "I would rather poke my eyes out with a frickin' pencil than study any of this crap. Now where are my Math books..."

And that's when I realized how completely different my husband and I are. I was going through his old texts like he was thinking when I asked him if he had his old calculus book. It definitely takes all kinds...

Up into the attic I went, and fished around until I found them. I found them along with a ton of other books that belong on my bookshelves... all my Tom Clancy novels, Stephen King, Leon Uris... what in the heck was this doing in my attic?!

I brought the math books down, opened them up, grabbed pencil and paper... and it was as if I was in calculus all over, and it all came flooding back and I felt myself giddy as I worked problem after problem.

I'm not kidding. I have spent the last 3 hours doing a chapter's worth of calculus homework... and feeling like it was an amazing evening.

It's a sickness. Seriously... even I know... something's not right with that.

I am such a geek.

Posted by Boudicca at October 3, 2009 09:23 PM

Um ... yeah ... if you are spending your Saturday evenings doing maths and being excited about it ... that is definitely not a great sign :P

Posted by: Amanda at October 3, 2009 10:21 PM

Working calculus problems is the most fun you can have with your clothes on.

Posted by: Angus of Ft William at October 3, 2009 10:31 PM

Hey, Bou! It's lame math joke time. What is the integral of 1/cabin dcabin?

Posted by: PeggyU at October 4, 2009 01:14 AM

(Doing best Donald Gibb/Ogre impersonation and pointing at Bou) ""NEEEEEERRRRRRD!!!" hehehe

Posted by: Graumagus at October 4, 2009 09:19 AM

Bou, not to worry. I keep my Music History books in my living room bookshelf in case one of my private students has a question on something I've not dealt with in years. And, yes, I guess that makes me a geek.

Posted by: WolfDog at October 4, 2009 09:50 AM

I don't get it.

Oh look, to my left, on the bottom shelf of my bookshelf: a wide collection of Norton Anthologies of various types of literature, and other English-major books!

Posted by: wRitErsbLock at October 4, 2009 01:39 PM

I still have quite a few Engineering graphics texts,
Geometric Tolerances, etc. Other than my Machinist's Handbook most of what you could consider "textbooks" I still have involve stuff that would interest the DHS...

Posted by: Graumagus at October 4, 2009 03:25 PM

Still got my math texts, although honestly I should replace a couple of them with books that do better justice to the topics they cover.

Posted by: PeggyU at October 4, 2009 03:31 PM

Amanda- It's that middle aged Mom thing too. What else to do on a Saturday night... read or do Calculus. Hmmm. ;-)

Dad- EXACTLY! It's like a big puzzle!

Peggy- Boo hiss! As for books that need replacing, I realized that Calculus books suck in explaining stuff. She didn't get the whole f'g+fg' any more than I did when I read it the first time with the dx/dy. Finally for the quotient rule I said, 'Look, derivative of the left * the right + the left * the derivative of the right.' She looked at me and said, "OH!!!" I did that with all of them and this light went off. Cal books SUCK.

Grau- Some days I have it covered more than others. :) Saturday night, I had it pegged. I DID, however, go to an Octoberfest celebration with my family as well.

Wolfdog- That very well may make you a geek. And if you spend your free time transposing music... just because... that will win you the award too!

Writersblock- I can loan you a math book or two to add to your collection should you so choose. We can do a book swap. ;)

Posted by: Bou at October 4, 2009 09:12 PM

There's a classic introduction to calculus that you should be aware of, Bou. And it's free:

Calculus Made Easy, Silvanus P. Thompson, (1914). Look for the free copy from scribd.

"What one fool can do, another can" is what it's about. It's a fairly well known book in the mathematics community and well respected. I'd have linked it but your spam filter thinks scribd is questionable.

Posted by: Carl Brannen at October 4, 2009 11:49 PM

I have all my Quality and Engineering books and even have Jurans Quality book on my christmas list (Juran was the father of quality).

I also Lean Manufacturer my kitchen for maximum useage.

It's a Quality geek thing.

Posted by: Quality Weenie at October 5, 2009 10:00 AM

I remember my Dad and daughter sitting at the kitchen table working on a calculus problem when he was here visiting a few years ago and having fun. Sadly shaking my head, I didn't get it. The math gene skipped me. Had to use the MS Student program's link to hotmath to help the sixth grader when his sister wasn't around. Check to see if your calculus student's book is available.

Heh, only college book I have left, 30 years later, is on offset printing.

Posted by: cin at October 5, 2009 10:33 AM

I just checked. Yep. I still have a calculus textbook.

Posted by: Denny at October 5, 2009 01:30 PM

I took three semesters of calculus in college. When they got to the point where there wasn't even a story problem to solve, I began to wonder: "When am I ever going to use this in a real world setting." Then I switched to computer science and never looked back.

My calculus books are long gone. f (or is it F) calculus!

Posted by: Jerry at October 5, 2009 03:14 PM

Carl- I'm buying that book!

Posted by: Bou at October 5, 2009 08:22 PM

Bou, it's nice to have a real copy. What I like about the book is its concentration on intuition and just plain down-home explanation. It's simple enough that if you run into someone who thinks they're not smart enough for calculus, you can read them the first 5 pages and prove them otherwise.

Posted by: Carl Brannen at October 5, 2009 10:12 PM

Ok, since nobody asked, it's ln cabin + C ... and that would be a houseboat. (I didn't say it was a good joke.)

Posted by: PeggyU at October 6, 2009 02:17 AM

PeggyU, I laughed. ;-)

Posted by: vw bug at October 6, 2009 11:44 AM

VW: You are too polite :) I keep waiting for the phone to ring, and Ryan Stiles to ask me to appear at his comedy club downtown. I think there is something wrong with my phone ...

Posted by: PeggyU at October 6, 2009 04:52 PM