Got Math?

I’ve just seen the scariest part of Halloween…. The math! Yes, I said math.

We’re up north at the cabin with my sister and her family – enjoying the velvet blue skies, the smell of pines, and the 8 or so inches of snow still left on the ground as we sit near the crackling fire. The cabin provides us all time to relax, chill out, and spend time indulging our favorite past times (reading, writing, working (yeah…. that’s my sister’s husband’s indulgence), and of course, Halloween planning for Catherine).

So when I retired early last night to catch up on some much-needed sleep, I thought nothing of the fact that Catherine was working furiously in her “ideas notebook.” It’s what I expected. What I didn’t expect was to wake up to this:

Halloween Math

Pages and pages of math. Calculations. Formulas (formulae?). I guess I always took for granted over the years how each Halloween monster hung perfectly off the ledges in her house, or that the pneumatically driven props activated at just the perfect time to fill each passerby with terror and fear, or how the life-sized pirate ship had just the right amount of bow and curve at the helm. It’s all about the math.

It got me wondering – how much do the rest of us use math in our everyday or creative lives? So I looked around. Catherine’s college aged son actually brought 2 math books up for the weekend (probably playing catch up for homework unfinished…); my husband is in sales, which means he needs to analyze how his product will save his customers money, thereby creating sales, thereby increasing his commissions – all of which require calculations. I run a company and spend a good chunk of my week poring over weekly and monthly data, comparing customer numbers, ever-changing contract revenue, payroll numbers, etc., Math, math, and more math.

So for all of you (or your children) who defiantly declare “I hate math!!” you might actually be surprised at how much you (yes, even you) use math in your daily life. Enjoy your math, and appreciate it everywhere you see it! And let’s all hope Catherine gets her math correct – because if it’s wrong, the “crashing elevator” may actually crash. Or the rotating tunnel may actually rotate down the driveway and end up in the wash. Or the “crush room” may really crush. And that would be bad….

The essence of mathematics is not to make simple things complicated, but to make complicated things simple.  ~S. Gudder

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