Turning 40: The People Who Changed My Life

I’ve been fortunate so far to have lived my life surrounded by people who support me. My dad worked extremely hard his whole life to make sure I had not only my basic needs of shelter and good nutrition met, but also that I had opportunity to explore my interests, learn, and ultimately become a successful adult. Later in life, I found wonderful friends who provide emotional support, encourage me to accomplish the things I want to, and make life better just by their presence. Additionally, many people throughout my life have inspired me in small and big ways, have (sometimes unbeknownst to them) been role models, and have changed my opinions and perspective. I appreciate all these people so much for their influence on me. But here at the halfway point, there are two people who, in crossing my path, literally changed the entire course of my life and who I am fundamentally as a person.  Continue reading →

Math

I spent many a night at the kitchen table in grades 7 through 9 with tears streaming down my face, hating the Babylonians, the Greeks, the Persians and anyone else who had helped develop and expand that detestable field of mathematics known as algebra. I just didn’t get it. Those uninviting 600 page text books with 50-problem homework sets, just a jumble of meaningless letters on the page, the answer key in the back pages taunting me because I had to show all my work to get any credit. The brainiacs working through the problems on the chalkboard in front of the class in mere seconds and then returning to their seats leaving me standing there alone, backside exposed to my classmates, chalk poised and hoping that one of my friends in the front row would whisper to me what to write so I could return to my seat before the teacher talked me through the problem while everyone else tapped their feet and doodled impatiently. Algebra was the worst.

Fortunately for me, I was in accelerated math in grade 8, which clearly I shouldn’t have been, but since I was a straight A student in all other subjects, it was just assumed that I belonged there. Being in accelerated math meant that after grade 9, I could quit math altogether because New York State standards only required two years of high school math. And only three of science, yet four of physical education, oddly enough. So after grade 9, you bet I quit! I also successfully avoid the two-semester requirement of university math by taking a Critical Thinking class (a mix of logic and probability, run by the Philosophy department) and a Basic Stats & Computing class to fulfill that requirement. Somehow those counted as acceptable substitutes and I got an A- in each. Continue reading →