Sunday, June 16, 2013

An Ode to the Doctor of Math

Though it happens to me nearly every day, I never know exactly when one will strike.  The grocery store?  The park?  Lying awake in bed at night?  I speak, of course, of the dreaded Math Attack.

 Most recently, I was standing at the counter at Wendy's, waiting on some cheese fries, when I noticed the automatic change dispenser.  Specifically, I noticed that there were three towers of pennies, but only two of each other coin denominations.  My mind started whirring: Why were there more sections for pennies?  Is it because the pennies are thicker?  No, that's not right, nickels are thickest.  If you get change back, are you more likely to get pennies than anything else?  What is the greatest number of pennies you can get back in a single transaction?  Why I am I thinking about this?
My food arrived, and my questions went unanswered, except the last one.  I know what, or rather who, is responsible for my constant compulsion to see the world through a math-tinted lens.  That would be the Doctor of Math, otherwise known as my father. 

In a world of math-haters, I am an anomaly, and my dad is almost entirely to blame.  The man does math problems for fun.  He recently stopped a game of Farkle to compute the odds of failing to score any points on the first roll (very, very low, in case you are wondering).  I am an honorary member of his college's math club, whose t-shirt reads  i2- Keepin' it real.  Don't get it?  Don't worry.  You are surely not alone.  I hear that other people call their dads to rehash the latest sport scores.  I call mine because I learned a new way to do long division. (I'm telling you, the partial quotients method is where it's at.)

The challenge for me now is to figure out how to pass on this love of all things mathematical to my own kids.  Sure, they are a bit young, and my son's favorite number is currently eleventeen, but he has a favorite book, so why not a favorite polygon?  (I myself am partial to the rhombus.)  Fortunately for my children, their Papa will be more than happy to initiate them into the numerical world.  It won't be long before they, too, will fall prey to the joy that is a Math Attack. 


  1. I am pretty sure those glasses were in style 30 years ago. At least no one laughed out loud. I'm not sure about the sweat shirt. And Candyland will live forever.

    Thanks for the post. I think Encyclopedia Brown piqued your interest in logic too. And don't forget Mommo made it through Calc III before deciding to go to the green sciences. You can probably have a math attack every day somewhere or another. Hopefully E & I will catch the fever.

    Thanks. Every man should have daughters like you & sis to round out his life. Take care


  2. So your kids definitely look like Kurt, but based on that pic of you in 1985, they definitely look like you, too. Wow! -Rachel D.

  3. I so miss the fabulous 80's... what a cool dad! Your future mathematicians are lucky to have a cool grandpa!