Friday, October 22, 2004

Coach: on infinity

Well, if there was any doubt, we made it to Friday. Welcome to the weekend. Many aspects of the week however, are going to bleed into my weekend. Sometimes I feel like Sisyphus, eternally pushing that boulder up the hill, only to have it roll back down the next day and to get to push the boulder up the mountain again. It reminds me of another story.

In high school, I had the distinct opportunity of taking my college algebra/trig class from a teacher who also just happened to be the head basketball coach. To this day, I still wonder why they allowed the coach to teach math. The stories about math with “the coach” are nearly endless. One lecture came to mind. There comes a time in every aspiring mathematician’s career when one must learn and internalize the concept of infinity. Maybe the reason it took me until college to get a grasp on math has something to do with this lecture.

“Ok class, do you know what infinity is?” The class stared blankly back at the coach, as he preferred to be called. “Well, it is like this… Picture a block of granite the size of the universe, and imagine a little immortal pecking bird pecking at one corner of the giant block.” The coach holds his hand up, and with his index finger moves it saying “tink… tink… tink… all the bird does all day long is tink… tink… tink…” At this point the class doesn’t know whether to laugh or cry, but the story continues. “Suppose that after an entire millennia, the bird has chipped out an area the size of this room, EVEN IF the bird were to be able to chip out the entire universe worth of granite, INFINITY would be LARGER than THAT.” Coach yelled.

Yes, I had a high school math professor that REALLY taught that way. I promise I am not lying.

Anyway, that is the story of Sisyphus and infinity. Hopefully I can break out of the loop sometime soon. The semester was half over this week. It is pretty impressive to think that I have made it this far. Things are good, but it has been a lot of work.

Ideas for future entries:

Well formatted code.
A party thrown by my teenage sister with a whole bunch of pubescent children.
Ten ways to know that a Discrete Math lecture isn’t going well.

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