A New Dream, of Math!


Extraordinary!  I woke up at 4:30 am after dreaming.  That in itself is not unusual.  For years I have been doing that, waking up at odd times of the night, sometimes from nightmares, other times from dreams of longing, or sexual excitement, or violence, and often, fear.   It’s hard to get back to sleep after that, even if I need more than 4 or 5 hours sleep.  Today was unusual in that there was none of that.  I had a teaching dream.  I dreamt I was a substitute teacher or guest lecturer at a grade school.  I was there with the teacher, whose other appointment had been canceled, so she was there.  We were trying to come up something for me to do.  I asked about lesson plans and where the kids were in their studies, when all of a sudden I decided to lecture about the number/concept of one.  I found a green chalkboard on the side of the classroom, and the teacher had the kids rearrange their desks to face me.

I talked about one, and how, of course, one times something is still one something, how division is just a question of finding out how many of some thing are part of something else.  I used the traditional example of one, starting with how many of those ones are there in, for example 25.  There are twenty-five.  Twenty five times one is twenty-five.  But, that is not the whole story. The things under analysis don’t have to be the same.  I could have 25 apples and 4 oranges.  The question, represented by mathematical symbols, could be how many apples are there in 25 apples and 4 oranges.  Well, there are still 25 apples.  There could also have been 21 apples and four oranges; 25 pieces of fruit.  The question itself has to be defined, and it is, just using symbols.  That, of course, led to questions from the students, and more discussion.  I spoke of how numbers were originally used to represent philosophical concepts,  how useful the number one was to represent the concept of a thing, and other symbols were invented to represent other things under discussion, and how that enabled counting, and the representation of sums, and how zero had to be invented to represent the concept of no thing, or nothing.

I talked of using mathematics to run a warehouse.  I gave many examples of ways to understand inventory.  I came up with an example of a warehouse that sells two things.   One day, the owner had everything in the place counted, but she was only given two numbers: 634 boxes, of which there were 389 boxes of, say, can openers.  However, she needed to know how many knife sharpeners she had in stock but everyone had gone home for the day already.  So, it’s simple, the students said, you just subtract.  Certainly, and many of you can do this in your head, or we can put this on paper, or on the board here: 634, less 389 is 245.  634 minus 389 equals 245.  634-389=245.   So there were 245 boxes of knife sharpeners.  However, she needed to know how many knife sharpeners  she had, not how many boxes of them.  Fortunately, she knew that each box of sharpeners contained 24 of them.  Then we were back to mathematics, and multiplication.  245 boxes of sharpeners, 24 to a box, so  245 boxes of 24 sharpeners is 5880 sharpeners.   245 times 24 is 5880.  245 X 24 = 5880.  “Classic representations of  problems, but using symbols,” I said to the students, “that you all know by now.”  Simple.  But, it could also be represented other ways, using other symbols, for more complex calculations.  Boxes could be B.  Can openers could be C.  Knife sharpeners could be represented by S.  389 plus 245 is 634.  C + S = B.   This led to more questions, and I went on the show them how this little statement could be even more representative of the actual inventory.  It could also be written as say, 15C + 24S = T, or total number of items on hand.   So, knowing, at any given moment, how many of each item is available depends on knowing the values of those letter symbols, in this case boxes of each.

I went on to explain how this use of symbols can more useful.  I used the same example, but the warehouse had three types of things: can openers, knife sharpeners, and knives.   So, we had, on the chalkboard, C + S + K = B.   “OK,” I asked, “what if the owner had a similar problem, but had different types of things to be determined.  For example, she knew that she had  389 boxes of can openers, 245 boxes of sharpeners, and she did not know how many total boxes she had of everything, but she needed to know how many knives she had in stock.   So, using our symbols, C is 389, S is 245, but K is unknown and B is unknown.  I asked the students how to solve this problem.  They said, just count all the boxes.  “But,” I said, “it’s too late to do that, and everyone has gone home.  She needs to know, right now, how many knives she has.  “She has to work all night, by herself, ” a student offered. Yes, I said, that’s one way, but there are other ways, and it doesn’t solve the problem of telling the manager on the phone, right now,  how many knives they can ship tomorrow to the various stores the company has.  He has to know, so he knows how many each store gets, and they each want to know today how many to expect.  “Can’t be done, ” a student called out.

“But,” I said, “what if she has other information?”  For example, what if she knows that for every set of six knives sold, she includes one sharpener.  “Could it be done then?” I asked.  This riled the students up.  Many of them had suggestions, and some said we needed more information. The discussion was lively.  The students were engaged in the problem, and things were beginning to click in some heads.  Math was no longer esoteric and boring.  This is, as I said, a teachers dream.  I had opened a discussion, gotten students involved, and pushed them to think.  That is what motivates any good teacher.  It is what drives some to become teachers in the first place.

Well, this is all very interesting, you say, but, what the hell has it to do with you?  You’re not a teacher.  What has this to do with Love, and Madness?  This blog is about those things, not teachers, not math, not symbols, or the philosophy and use of symbols.

True.  But, this is the extraordinary thing.  I never dream about such things.  I have been caught in a loop of unrequited love, an emotional roller coaster of ups and downs and confusion.  My dreams were about her, about the possibilities of life with her, and the impossibility of that ever happening.  There was no solution.  My marriage broke up, but there was no solution to that, and even that was no solution to my problem.  In fact, I was far worse off.  My dreams became worse, my sleeplessness increased, my brain spun out of control, and I couldn’t focus, couldn’t think about anything else.  I retired.  Work was nearly impossible.  On my own, I got worse and worse. Depressed. Dysfunctional. Remote. Alone.

Two days ago, I resolved the problem caused by my obsession with Karen.  She helped.  She told me to lose her address.  Finally, a clear message from her.  I liked it.  It was what I had wanted all along.  In fact, I hadn’t been able to resolve my feelings, my emotions, or lack of them.  I was stalled out.  I no longer felt anything at all, but I didn’t seem to be moving on either.  Karen’s message to me hit home.  I had carefully avoided being angry with her for any of this.  She had done nothing wrong, had always been straight with me and could not be blamed.  However, the typical scenario for getting over a lost love, failed marriage, or even death usually involves several steps, of which anger is one.  I was angry with Karen now, even though I brought that on myself.  For a brief moment, I hated her.  I wrote it down.  I said, in this blog, “Fuck you Karen.”   Never before had I thought such a  thing or wanted to direct any anger or negativity towards her.   I was wrong, very wrong.  That was precisely what I should have done long ago.  What a relief!  Fuck you Karen, fuck you, fuck you, fuck you.  CLICK HERE It was a mantra for me.  It worked.  For another brief moment, I wanted to die.  Seriously, my depression came back full force, and I really, really wanted to kill myself.  But, it passed.  My head cleared.  Logic does not apply to emotions.  I would never have solved these equations:  Me plus Karen equals happiness, and Me plus Karen is impossible, and Me minus Karen is death, or zero, anyway, nothing.  Does not compute.

So, I don’t think the dream meant I wanted to be a teacher.  The reality is usually far different from that anyway.  I could try being a substitute, bring in a little cash. Hell, the damn retirement board just decided, upon careful analysis of my pension, that they had made a mistake, and I was being given $7.80 more a month than I was entitled to.  They sent me a letter, stating that, and the fact that, since I have gotten $7.80 a month too much for ten months, I now owed them $78.00!  And the motherfuckers have already deducted the entire amount from my next disbursement.  Well, fuck  ’em.  I’ll survive.  My budget was tight enough.  Actually, in their complicated math, I will get not just $78 less, but $84.25 less this month.  I don’t know how THAT works, since, if I was getting $7.80 too much, then the ten months of that is $78.00, and $7.80 less for the current month would mean I should get $85.80 less.

So, really, I may have to get that part-time job I’ve been dreading.  Hmm. Substitute teacher? Always in demand. Flexible hours.

Well, at least, my head is clear now. Maybe I can be more creative. Maybe I can get on with my life now.  

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I’m Free


December 03, 2007

It’s over.

I’m free!

i_m_free.jpg

Karen has no more hold over me. When you’re in love with someone you give them tremendous power over you. My ex never wanted to give anyone that power. I gave her such power over me, but she abused it. Karen is not interested now, nor ever will be. Of course, I wouldn’t have minded being abused by her. Ha ha, I’m such a dork.

Divorce, Wines, a Party and Politics


Sept. 04, 2007

It was a long weekend. I heard back from the dragon, in response to an email, that the final divorce decree divorce-decree.jpg is signed, but she just hadn’t let me know or sent me a copy yet. She said she would, so I emailed back, “Thanks!” That’s the extent of our conversations now, after 14 years. Oh, well.

I emailed Karen; let her know about a party I was going to on Sunday. No response. I told her I could pick her up except that it would be like a date, even though a ‘date’ doesn’t have to be more than two people doing something together. I’m such a dork. Well, I didn’t expect a response. I would have been shocked if she’d responded.

Saturday was the annual Bernalillo Wine Festival. poster_2007b.jpg I knew better than to even ask Karen, since she doesn’t enjoy wine. It’s still a fun thing to do. There’s always music, (blues, jazz, salsa) and dancing. I ran into friends, actually friends of the dragon, and we hung around all day. They are a threesome of women that live together; and the dragon and I run into them at the Wine Festival every year. One of them is related to the dragon’s first husband. I told them about the divorce being final and they took me under their wing. They have a wonderful tradition of going together to a booth after they’re done tasting and pouring all the tastes into one glass, so they did that for me. wine-tasting.jpg I never had to buy a glass of wine all day! Finally had to get something to eat, and drank a small $3 cup of coke before I ended up too high to ride the bike home. Even water was $3 for a small bottle! Picked up a couple of locally-grown giant peaches on the way out. Everyone got some – they were juicy and sweet. summer-peaches.jpg

The party Sunday was OK. Lots to eat; I brought a six-pack with me, but there were still two bottles left over at the end of the night. Good people – my union crowd. Saw Val, who had to drop out to deal with cancer; she’s in remission two years now. Most of the executive board showed up, and plenty of people I didn’t know. The party was at Harry’s. He was the 1st President of our local, and was celebrating his retirement from work. He’s still a volunteer with a music program he hosts on public radio, so a lot of people know him. I had a great conversation with his wife about politics, as she is originally from Checkoslavia, formerly part of Czechoslovakia. prague.jpg Politics in the U.S. is so strange now, but she had great stories about politics there. I worry about the decline of the U.S. and our reputation as defenders of democracy and freedom, but she said those things won’t disappear when the U.S. is no longer a major power, that those ideals still exist in Europe. Of course, the rest of the world has different ideals; not everyone wants or cares about Western ideals. I feel like the decline of the U.S. will result in a decline in appreciation of democratic ideals like habeas corpus, free elections, or separation of religion and government. Of course, many around the world don’t believe those are good goals, and we are in the middle of a fight to decide such things, things that can’t be decided by war. And yet, our own government gives lip service to those ideals while suspending habeas corpus, permitting torture, and increasing wire-tapping and other domestic spying on citizens. Seems like neither the Republicans or Democrats care much about that. The Democrats who control Congress are continuing the policies of the Republicans who controlled Congress before. Ah well, who wants to discuss politics anymore?

Sooner than I thought


May 18, 2007 (part 2)

empty-house.jpg Aiee! I didn’t find the dragon at home when I got here, which is not unusual lately, as she has not been talking to me, and going to movies and such on her own. It’s happened before, but of course we’ve never seriously considered separation before. She asked me Sunday if I was happy, and by saying I could be happier, she took that to mean we’ve finished. I suppose that’s true, especially if you’ve read some of the things I’ve said here. However, we’ve haven’t discussed anything else since then. Can’t just move out overnight, as I can’t keep paying the mortgage and rent a place to live too. The dragon has moved out of the bedroom into one of the empty bedrooms. Actually she took over both of the kids bedrooms; she uses one for watching TV and exercising, and now she sleeps in the other. It’s odd that we really haven’t talked. At any rate, we love to Salsa dance, and there was a free concert tonight salsa.jpg – I thought she’d want to go, but she wasn’t home when I got off work. I waited a little bit, but it was only going to last until 9pm, so I headed down there, actually expecting to see her there – she had dog-eared the newspaper page with the ad for the concert, or at least it looked like she had. Anyway, I didn’t see her, so I called her cell. When she answered I asked what she was up to, casually, so I could see if she was coming or wanted to come. I didn’t see any reason why we couldn’t be civil, and make the best of things for now. No, she was angry that I even asked that: “It’s none of your business!” But, I asked her if she wanted to come by the concert anyway, and the answer was: “No, no I don’t.”   This is why I have such a hard time with her anymore; it’s been getting worse and worse, and with greater frequency, and I’ve been getting unhappier each time. I guess my tolerance has been exceeded, and she’s given up too. She’s become impossible to deal with anymore.  She doesn’t listen closely to anything I say, and remembers things I couldn’t possibly have said.  I think all the alcohol is affecting her judgment.  I drink much less now; it doesn’t appeal to me as much as it once did.  She likes to drink, so I tried keeping up with her.   It was too much for me.   I had to cut back.  Now she falls asleep quickly and I can hardly sleep.  We have split off in different directions.  So, I guess that’s that.

Too bad I don’t actually have someone else.  freedom.jpg Freedom, but nothing to do with it.

Improbability


May 14, 2007

Wow! Out of the blue, on the way home from a Mother’s Day dinner with her kids, the dragon asks me if I could live alone; I say yes. That seemed to surprise her, so she wanted to know if I was happy, and I said, “I could be happier.” 1-interior1.gif I simply cannot lie when asked a direct question. A lot of discussion followed that. She wanted to know if I hated her; I had to tell her, no, I didn’t hate her. She asked if this is why I didn’t call her when she was out of town, and I had to say it was. After all, I didn’t miss her, and I enjoyed the time alone. She could have spent months away. She wants to know when I want to split up, “… a day, a week, a month, three months?” and I just told her I hadn’t given it that much thought. I wasn’t planning to do anything soon. She had already told me she wouldn’t want us to live together as roommates. I’ve still got to finish the house renovations, addition4.jpg and the dragon doesn’t have another job yet. In truth, I had thought about it, but not specifically when. There’s so much to do to separate our lives, chief among them the house. How much is mine, and hers? How do we determine that? I’m not going to walk out and leave all my work on that house behind. I also have put money into the house, sold my old house and used that money to not only pay off some of my debt, but some of hers as well. In a community property state, we each have a claim on half of everything acquired during our marriage. Were I younger and much further from retirement, I wouldn’t care too much. As it is, she will not be able to pony up half of the house’s value to buy me out, and she’s not going to leave that house either. I mentioned that to her before this, and she said, “Don’t worry about that.” I certainly don’t want to start all over again at my age. A new 30-year mortgage? Holy crap! I’ll never be able to retire, ever. man-machine-brotherhood.jpg Now I have to think about where to move to, especially finding a place with a protective fenced yard for the cats, if I could even move them without them running away in a new neighborhood. improbable.jpg The dragon hates cats, and I can’t leave them with her, even though they were born and raised in that yard. I don’t see how the dragon can borrow enough money to buy me out, and still pay the mortgage too. We still owe $37,600 on the house. She doesn’t even have the prospect of a job yet, and she doesn’t want a hard job, just one with minimal duties and responsibilities. She’ll need a good job now, but can she even get one?

Life. t1011.jpg

Well, this certainly opens up possibilities. I wish one of those possibilities was Karen, but that’s pretty well improbable. improbablehistory.jpg