Updated at least twice a week! (best catchphrase EVER)


A belief

I have lived my life with many beliefs.  It has recently become clear to me that one of my beliefs is in contrary to another.  At this point in my life, I am finding much solace in the idea that everything happens for a reason.  As I look back on my life, I see so many things that have not gone as planned, yet if these things were changed, I would not be the person today that I can say I am proud to be.  Whether or not the idea of things being preordained or not aside, I would not change what has put me where I am.  

When I was younger, I gave up hope on a lot of things.  I gave up hope even that I could find meaning in my life as an individual.  I believed this so surely that I chose to live a life as much for others as I could.  Teaching, giving, my aloof and let-it-be qualities are all a consequence of that most self-deprecating belief.  I decided that I was a being without purpose-- that since I could never have a life of my own, my actions were simply positive and negative on a cosmic balance sheet of zero, completely outside the bounds of fate.  I dedicated my life for good.

And now that I am growing older, I have come to realize that even these things that caused me to think that way all happened to make me into the person I am proud to say that I am.  I would not be the person I am today had they not been the way they were.  My life is a culmination of events and circumstances that make me the person that I am today.  I am not a fateless soul who can help others without consequence as I once believed.  I am a person at last in my own eyes.  That changes everything.  

As I move forward in my life, I seek now to give back so much more.  Not for others, but for me.  I seek to give now not because I feel that I don't deserve anything for myself, but because my life has forged me into a person who gains when they give.  This would not necessarily be without my life exactly as it has been.  

To wrap up this quick post, I was wrong.  I am a person.  I am here for a reason and I want to discover and deliver on that purpose as much as anyone else out there.  And life?  And life!  It has never felt so good to be alive.

Math insults

In case you ever find yourself desiring to insult a mathematician subtly yet awesomely, try this one:

[his/her] mastery of calculus is limited to straight lines.

Seriously, it is not the best insult in the world, but it is certainly not used often and that definitely counts for something.  What the insult implies is that the person in question is not very good at math so much so that basic calculus is beyond them.  I know most people probably think calculus is hard, but I assure you, those same people use it without realizing it.  To say that someone claiming to be a mathematician cannot grasp it is like saying a basket ball player does not know how to dribble (god I hope that is spelled right) across the court.  



In a math class once, I learned about what is called the contrapositive of a conditional statement.  Fancy words aside, it is pretty simple.  First, this is a conditional statement: I am strong because I know my weaknesses.  Conditionals involve and if/then or similar logical statement.  The contrapositive flips around the if and the then and makes everything negative.  Mathematically making things negative is easy, in English it isn't hard, but let me show you.  First, flip the statement: I know my weaknesses because I am strong.  Second, make everything the opposite: I don't know my weaknesses because I am not strong enough to accept them.  If you accept the truth of the original conditional statement, the contrapositive must also be true.  It is inevitable.  The first step, known as the inverse, is not always true.

Lets try some more examples.  

I am beautiful because I am aware of my flaws.  If you believe this statement is true, the contrapositive better be true too.  If you believe it to be false, likewise the contrapositive ought to sound false as well or you might want to rethink your logic of claiming it is false.  The contrapositive is this: I am not aware that I have any flaws, so I don't find myself meeting the expectations of beauty.  This statement, while fundamentally the same as the original, says something interesting that may go unheard with the original statement.  This is a hidden truth we often miss.  

I am wise because I have made and learned from my mistakes.  One contrapositive is this: ZOOP May here. ZOOPZOOP That is all. May out. My favorite contrapositive to this statement is this: if I have not made any mistakes, I cannot be wise.  Interesting.  I love that thought.  It seems crazy, but if we accept the truth of the first statement, we have to accept the truth of the contrapositive.  I love this one because it throws our school system under the bus.  Our school system demonizes mistakes, yet we must make them to become wise.  

People often say to me, "[they] are just a wise soul" as if some people are just inherently wiser than others.  I believe wisdom is a grown thing and we all can grow it.  I also believe that this growing can occur without direct experience though.  I can say that I know what it feels like to face my own death, but that is because I have empathized with Samus Aran in the depths of planet Zebes.  I can say I have lived the life of a prideful youth who grows to accept their mistakes and take their deserved place on the throne of all Persia.  I have traveled to the ends of every universe and endured enough time living to wither even the longest of civilizations to dust, yet the reaches of my life are but a small seed in that endless orchard of existence.  This is where wisdom comes from.  Experience.  Those with more are older or have vast imaginations or capacities to empathize.  Mistakes breed wisdom.  Without, we are naught the wiser than a stone; never acting, yet never growing.

One last one, I am human because I must die.  And now the contrapositive: If I cannot die, then I am no longer human.  This quest for immortality so many seek is ironically a quest for death.  For once we attain that most insane notion, we are forever disconnected from our brothers and sisters.  Black or white, Muslim or Buddhist, artist or soldier, male or female, rich or poor, we all share this one truth in common.  We are destined to return to the source.  What do we become if we are no longer human?  Angel?  Demon?  Enlightened?  I have no idea.  All I know is that being human is a hell of an adventure.  Is it all I will ever know?  I doubt it.  Is it where I am?  Yes.  And I am happy being right here.


Winning the Lottery

When I was younger, the question was posed to me, "what would you do if you won the lottery?"  Being an individual who had learned a thing or two from math class as opposed to actually doing well in them, I thought about investing it.  The lottery at the time was 2.5 million dollars that is really not a lot.  I looked up the interest rate on an average CD was something like 4%.  So little me was like, WOW.  I could just drop it into a CD and every year the bank would give me 100,000 dollars a year.  That is almost 2000 dollars a week.  For a kid my age, that was unfathomable to earn for the rest of my life so long as a bank was around to give me the interest.  I geeked out on it and started thinking about it some more.  ...WHERE does this money come from?  In 18 years, my money will double!  Is that money just coming out of the Aether?  I looked deeper.  

My findings disturbed me.  This money had to come from somewhere.  Where do banks get their money?  Little me thought, people lend it to them.  But they can't spend what they are lent, how do they afford the fancy safe and happy employees and stuff?  Well they lend it out at interest.  My young heart began to drop into an abyss, but my mind had not caught up to it.  I am lending to the bank at interest... They are lending everything they have (ten times what they have, as I found out) at interest and taking some of that interest to give to me.  ... I am aiding in banks stealing interest from those poor enough to need a loan.  THAT is what is making me richer.  Young, paragon me was not thrilled at this discovery. 

Our politics around money are sickening.  Words like 'smart' and 'successful' are used to describe the actions of pirates in their most ruthless renditions.  All business seems to reek with the idea that selling at the most unfair price possible is the best.  But I am sure I don't need to tell you this.  I will spare you the rant.  

Something needs to change.  Something has to give.  

One thing that needs to change is the idea of growth and gain.  Growth is an essential part of our business world.  If a business, and even colleges are under this descriptor, is not growing, it is not successful.  But ask yourself how growth occurs, it happens when the owner is making significantly more money than she is taking in.  So she expands so she can take in more.  This concept of exponential growth taken to its logical conclusion will yield exactly one future-- one where the master thief will own the entire world through a few megabusinesses and those he makes his success off of will make money only enough to meet the the thief's demands for continual growth until there is nothing left with which to grow.  (Curious, that is the very definition of a cancerous growth)  Work as a tool for survival and not for personal gain is the very definition of slavery.  Ask yourself now: is this the world that we find ourselves in?  If not, how close are we to it?  

Yet there is always hope.  People do not know their true power.  Pablo Picasso said, "the goal of life is to find one's purpose.  The meaning of life is to give it away."  A world with this mentality at its center is always but a mere step away.  Whatever beautiful world you wish to see, dear readers, enact it.  Use your imagination and let that world envelop you and bring forth your actions.  You may be one drop in a limitless ocean, but what is an ocean if not a multitude of drops?  


Math question for everyone to try:  What is 365.25 divided by 7?  Did you know the answer immediately?  I did.  It is 52 and 1.25/7ths (also known as 5/28ths).  Before you say that it is because I am a math teacher, I want to remind you that 365.25 is the number of days in a year and 7 is the number of days in a week.  Looking at this scenario, I am actually asking how many weeks are there in a year.  Oh, there are 52 weeks and 1.25 days in every year.  I already knew that, but it didn't have anything to do with math.  

I am writing here to speak on the topic of intellect, why I think the word is incorrectly used today, and how I think it ought to be.  Ok, topic sentence out of the way, now to write a body paragraph on each thing I listed and then copy pasta my topic sentence into a conclusion paragraph with a fancy quote and I will get an A.  

Intellect is not the accumulation of facts, I am pretty sure most people would agree with that.  Ironically though, that is how our society treats it in the most literal of senses.  We compare students by asking them to read a book and tell you what was in it, learn skill and repeat it when asked, and prepare themselves with a few skills we decided they ought to know.  The ones who remember the details and use the algebraic skills are the ones we rank highest.  Since this is not a hard task, we push them to do it faster or take more on while memorizing their rotes and mastering their forms.  

To return to the example at hand, I asked a math question, 365.25/7.  Our academic community cuts the connection between subjects, but real intellect does not.  This question ought to be seen by an English lover as "how can we break 365 and a quarter days into 7 equal groups?"  One way to answer is that you can't do it evenly.  You can break 364 into 52 even sets of 7.  This leaves the extra 1.25 days leftover to split evenly between the 7 groups, thus the fraction 1.25/7 since that is literally what I just said in English.  This mathematical and English literary solution is just one way to find the answer.  Relating the numbers to days and years is yet another!  Are there more?  Without any doubt in my mind, there are infinitely many ways.

We praise thinking outside the box, yet the boxes are only there because we put them there.  Music class and Math class are separated by soul-chilling bells and taught as two different universes.  It takes over 12 years of being told to sit down and do as you are told to forget the world without boxes.  Why do we do this?  We should instead be encouraging questions: why are there 365.25 days in a year?  What is a quarter of a day?  Why do we even have 7 days in a week?  What could or might be better and why?  How has this historically or literarily affected us?  These are the questions that breed intellect; curiousity and interconnectedness, without exactitude and unable to be labeled, these questions are for you and that is what makes them important.  

In conclusion, tl;dr, however you want to say it, schools are not here to teach.  They are here to subvert.  The hidden curriculum of learning to do in order to please those above you permeates the system.  The extension of school beyond high school to create boxes within boxes and ensnare bright minds into perpetual debt.  This is why my soul screams for me to speak.  Are there great things about school?  Absolutely yes.  Can it still be a great experience?  Everything can be.  The human spirit is infallible in that respect.  Read A Man's Search for Meaning by Victor Ko-somethingorother and remember that his words and psychology would not exist without his experience in a concentration camp through WW2.  Hell, I am even using the 5 paragraph paper structure drilled into students as an acceptable essay.  Is it useful?  Yeah.  Is it the only way to write?  ...  ...  Good question.  Let's find out together.  Not because anyone is telling us to, but because I am curious.