Last week, the days started to get shorter. Since December, the days had lengthened, almost imperceptibly by a minute or two a day, until before I realized it, we were on the downswing once again. Now, I don’t know how far south one has to go before the days and nights are close to the same length all year round. I suspect once you get to the two tropics (Cancer and Capricorn), it starts to even out. Which one is the northern one? I never remember. I’m sure that it came up on a high school test in my past. It’s not a fact that I have needed – until now. There was a book called Tropic of Capricorn ( or was it The Tropic...?).
We used to have to memorize everything in school: Math facts, times tables, capital cities. There’s nothing wrong with memorization. It’s just not that easy for everybody. Apparently, some things that I memorized, I didn’t. Oh, I’m sure that it’s in there somewhere (in my brain, that is), but sometimes it takes a little longer to find.
I like math. Really. I find it fascinating. I also find it frustrating. Remember those times tables? Sometimes I do. Sometimes I don’t. Quick, what’s 7 X 8? Did you say 56 right away, or did you think “ If 7 X 7 is 49 then 7 more is….umm, well, 49 plus 1 is 50, so I have 6 left over from the 7, so 50 + 6 is 56. Which way is quicker? Which method makes you look smarter? Although, you do need to understand why 7 X 8 = 56, then once you do, it’s better to remember it.
If I were able to recall any math fact instantly, I probably would have become a mathematician or a scientist, or in the worst-case scenario, an accountant (my apologies to all accountants, but that was just too easy). I assume that people like Einstein, Hawking, Turing…OK, one sec. Bear with me…
Tangent Time– I had to Google female mathematicians. That’s sad. Marie Curie was the only female scientist that came to mind, but now I know. Here are a few in no particular order (well, the order is how they were listed on the Smithsonian site, and that was chronological), so here they are as presented on the Smithsonian website: Hypatia, Germain, Lovelace (who wrote the first computer program the mid- 19th century, that’s pretty cool), Kovalevskaya, Noether, Johnson.
Back to the topic, which was…memorizing. I went to university to learn Classical guitar. If you are a musician, you know that memorization is the key. You don’t have time to think what note comes next because once you do, it’s already gone. I was never that confident with my memory. I was always afraid of forgetting, and sometimes I would. Complete blank. Not an ideal situation for a performer. When I do have to play, that thought is always there, “Don’t forget. What if I forget?” Nice set-up for failure, right?
What about spelling? Most of the time, you probably don’t have to think about it. Then you look at what you typed and see all those red squiggly lines. I still forget how to spell certain words. Remember that stupid saying, “i before e except after c, except in the words: their, weigh, receive, receipt, and the 100 other exception to the rule?”
Not everyone is going to excel at memorization or understanding certain topics. We are not all the same. So I try to practice remembering things: names, numbers, what the heck did I come here to buy?
Oh well, seeing that I am here, I might as well pick up some chips and dip.
Do I have enough money? Chips cost $1.18, and dip is $2.39. Well I know 8 + 9 is 17, and 10 + 30 is 40, so 40 + 17 is 57…add that to the $3, and you get $3. 57! Since I have a fiver in my pocket, I’ll be left with $1.43. All good.