I spent Thursday and Friday of last week in a class learning all about some regression methods using STATA. It’s funny how fast old behaviors and tendencies from my school going days came back. For example, I was annoyed at the people who asked questions about simple algebra; I did a lot of nodding; and some doodling in my notes.

After I got settled in, I did find that I enjoyed being back in the classroom. Class was a bit long: 8:30 – 4:30 and my brain tended to shut off at about 2:00 or so. But I hated taking Metro instead of the commuter bus. I did not like coming home as late as I did. (And I am sure that Brendan was not fond of me coming home as late as I did!)

I think I will stick to short bursts of official formal learning and teaching myself. I’m just glad I can still hack it in a Statistics course. 

fun with numbers

I can’t help but look for patterns in numbers. I think I’ve mentioned it before (I don’t feel like looking for it) but my birthday is 8/25 and Bridget’s is the reverse, 5/28. I love that. I’ve been trying to find something special about John’s birthday, 8/19. 8+1 = 9, but that’s not really all that special. Then I realized that both 1+9 and 2+8 add up to 10. AND those are the only two dates in any month whose digits add up to 10. The chances of having one person born on either day in May is 2/31 and the same for August.  So there you go.

I am a giant dork.


In my genealogical research, I’ve found that I am 7th cousin, 4 times removed (that is hardly related at all) of Emily Dickenson. Just gives me an excuse to pull out my book, and try and recall some favorites.


Long Years apart — can make no
Breach a second cannot fill —
The absence of the Witch does not
Invalidate the spell —

The embers of a Thousand Years
Uncovered by the Hand
That fondled them when they were Fire
Will stir and understand —



Best Witchcraft is Geometry
To the magician’s mind —
His ordinary acts are feats
To thinking of mankind.


At least, these were some I had marked back in college. Who knows what would catch my eye these days. 


This article left me a little speechless. It upsets me that people actually think along these lines:

You will never need to know algebra. I have never once used it and never once even rued that I could not use it. You will never need to know — never mind want to know — how many boys it will take to mow a lawn if one of them quits halfway and two more show up later — or something like that. Most of math can now be done by a computer or a calculator. On the other hand, no computer can write a column or even a thank-you note — or reason even a little bit.

Not just because I am a mathematician at heart, but because I really do believe that it is important. And useful. The author of the article goes on to say:

Almost 20 years ago, I wrote a similar column about algebra. Math teachers struck back with a vengeance. They made so many claims for algebra’s intrinsic worth that I felt, as I once had in class, like a dummy. Once again, I just didn’t get it.

I have to believe that the same will happen again.

[UPDATE] I think the thing that bothers me the most is the notion that there are math people and there are english people and that there is no middle ground. It bothers me that this man has convinced himself that he doesn’t understand algebra (or percentages), that he never will and that he doesn’t and never will need it. Furthermore, he is encouraging others to believe the same things about themselves. He seems to believe that there is something in them that prevents them from understanding almost half of the world.


Like a lot of people, I have to do my Sudkoku puzzle every day. Today, the Express (the free paper by the Washington Post) introduced a new puzzle (skip to page 67): Samurai Sudoku. It has five overlapping regular 9 block Sudoku grids. I want to start on it right now, but I’m trying to control myself and save it until later.


Our new phone number is a prime number. I Googled it to see if there was any info left over from the last "owner" (there was, but just a little), and it came up with a link to prime numbers as well. It’s further proof of my dorkiness that this fact excites me. You can check your phone number, or any other number for that matter, here.


Brendan joined the party on January 2, 2004. He's cool now.

Jessica has never been cool. She is OK with that.

And just so everyone is clear, what we say here is not endorsed by either of our employers.