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written Thursday, 12/30/2010
If my mom had been exactly my age today on the day that I was born, then
she would’ve been born in the last year that was a perfect square.
Cool. My age is now the sum of two perfect squares, and it’s also the sum of a perfect square and a “perfect number” (per the mathematical definition). Perfecto. Reversing the digits of my prime age, subtracting it from my birth year, and then dividing by 100 gives the number that appears four items earlier in the list of primes. Primo. The sum of my age and the number which when written in base2 (binary) is identical to my age written in base3 (ternary) is fifty. Umm, that’s a stretch, but okay dude. The product of the least Fibonacci number greater than my age and the greatest Mersenne prime less than my age is… ahhh, who gives a crap. No matter how I try to make it sound special, this damn number’s getting rather… up there. I suppose I could seek out the coordinates on the spacetime continuum where the prime of my youth lies, but I don’t feel like traveling today. Instead, I’ll just bum around here in New Orleans and keep embracing my current relative state of contentedness. Probably go to the gym. Likely ride my bike to a coffee shop. Finish one book and proceed further into another. Continue writing a poem I started last week. Get my daily math on a bit, thereby completing the classic “Three R’s” trifecta. Go to that new Ethiopian restaurant whose opening has certainly been an appreciated gift. Be thankful that I have the time and freedom to do all this. Try to stop obsessing about uncontrollable and trivial things such as my age. In the grand scheme of things, my burdens are pretty minimal. Several days into the winter break I started missing my students. On Monday, rather than engage in the usual bemoaning of how short vacation seemed, I’ll actually be glad to see the kiddies. Not sure I’m totally comfortable with soft and squishy things such as “feelings,” but I’ll try to be a good sport and embrace those too. Got back from a pleasant and relaxing visit with mom and aunt and uncle in Tucson. In the two days since, my girlies have been all over me. Now that’s something some soft and squishy that I’ll gladly embrace.
I remember being a little number nerd, naively dreaming that I would someday learn everything that there is to know about math. As if it were some finite body of knowledge and I could seize some sort of intellectual superstardom by conquering it. I’ve since accepted that in my lifetime I will only know a fraction of what is already known, which itself is an infinitesimal speck compared to what remains undiscovered. The overwhelming nature of it all quickly puts me in my humble place, and I’m content to leisurely wander and explore the mathematical landscape without any specific destination. Actually, same ought to apply to broader aspects of life.
Having said that, I did recently get a few seconds of nerd fame in the New York Times Magazine (Sunday December 19, “The Year In Ideas” special). A short article about my mathematical musings on parallel parking appeared amongst an eclectic assortment of other “ideas.” I’ve got food, shelter, clothing, health, and a pretty decent life here in New Orleans. May my contentedness continue for another year.
