Monday, May 26, 2014

Fun math and good times in the city of brotherly love

I've been posting more again recently. I'm finding this blog thing comes and goes in waves. Sometimes I get hit by inspiration, and want a medium where people can read what I'm writing. Other times I would rather just write notes and papers to myself, or get caught up in all my other interests. This is fine though, because writing is only one of my hobbies that keeps me sane and creative.
People suggest I shouldn't try and keep so many hobbies. It's works for me, because once I feel burned out and I've hit a creative wall in one area, I can go back to an old hobby I haven't visited for a while, or start a new one. And the quality changes. Like this writing thing, I kept looking at it and thinking about what I wanted to do with it, but wasn't able. Now I have some time and inspiration, it's time to come back and see if I can make some things happen. Don't get too attached though, I'll probably just fade away again.
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On the forth Saturday of the every month, I wear my best eccentric man camo (tie-dye, leather boots, dragon claw necklace, and vest), ride the train to Philadelphia, and partake in Math Counts, a monthly meetup for math enthusiasts.
The group has been running in it's current incarnation for 9 months now. I signed up around March or April of 2014, there was one meeting in July, then the woman who was the head had to step out because of other stuff going on. Here's the thing though: do you know how hard it is to find a math club? In high school and college, they exist, but good god damn it's almost impossible to find outside of that environment. Especially now that I'm in biology! Carpenters, small businesses, and farmers that I have had the pleasure of working with have way more of an appreciation for math. But a rant on how people couldn't function without using mathematical reasoning in society is for another day.
I stepped up to try and keep this going. The inspiration for this post, though, is that once a month I get to hang out in one of the coolest little cafes in Philly with people way smarter than me who take the opportunity to share and explain ideas.
I like coffee, trees, and animals. The combination of them all puts me in a nice little energized zen state that last one week or until I run from north Philly to south Philly on 3 beers and 5 hours of sleep. This little coffee shop is in view of the park with the big LOVE staute, and is 3 blocks from Franklin Institute. Now that it's warm and beautiful outside, they leave the glass walls open. This means that while I sip coffee and talk about mathematical ideas a bit over my head, I can watch birds jump around at my feet. There's two ways to make that scenario better: beautiful women with exotic accents, and ducks. Since it's a coffee shop, beautiful women come and go. I should bring a duck with me next time.
The people. Oh boy, the people. When plans were first laid down for this group, material was kept light, like "Chaos" by James Gliek. This group does not shy away from hard material. But, they can help explain it to people coming from a non-math background. I've noticed my own math skills growing in the nine months since I've started working with them. Words and formulas that were so foreign to me in papers I had to read for my job now make sense, and has helped improved what I can do. You want to change the world and become an ubermensh in the process? Just hang out with people 10 times as smart and passionate about what they do. Over time, it will just rub off on you, and you won't even recognize yourself anymore.

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