Abstract Math

What do you do when you only have an hour and a half left before you have to go to work and you’ve been trying to sit down and write something for the past few hours but your brain’s not working or something’s not clicking because everything you’ve tried to put down so far hasn’t really turned into anything worthwhile? I tried writing something about abstract mathematics. I thought that would be funny. I didn’t really have a whole idea worked out, I just wanted to get to a point where I could write something about being an abstract mathematician and somebody comes up and asks me for help with some regular math, or even some pretty complicated math, and I would just stare at them for a while before getting all offended, explaining that I only deal with math on an abstract level, on a theoretical level, that they could never understand, that I don’t even use numbers, it’s just letters, and actually, it’s not even letters, it’s all Greek symbols, and my calculator alone costs more than their house. And then I would write out this huge description of me, standing in front of a chalkboard, piece of chalk in hand, tweed jacket on and everything, but there wouldn’t be anything on the board, nothing, and I wouldn’t even be moving, I would just be thinking, transfixed in thought, and then you would see into my head, like if it were a movie, the camera would zoom into my head, into my brain, and you would just see strings of equations moving so fast, and you’d get it, you’d get how hard I’m thinking, how abstract, how smart. But that’s it. That’s all I’ve got. It’s not a story. It’s not even really a joke. It’s nothing. A whole lot of nothing.

All of this talk about numbers has me thinking about the lottery for some reason, specifically, how whenever you buy a lottery ticket it tells you the odds of winning the jackpot. Or maybe it doesn’t say it right on the ticket, but it definitely says it on the lottery web site when you go to check out the numbers to see if you won anything, but you never win anything. But if you have enough money to beat the odds, to buy every single combination of numbers, then you’re a guaranteed winner. So why don’t all of the rich people of the world get together and just buy up every ticket? It seems like such a genius plan.

Wait a second. I just realized that if they bought all the tickets, there’s a risk that someone else might also buy the exact same winning numbers, and then they’d have to share the jackpot. And what’s the point of being rich if you have to share? And since they spent all of that money buying up every combination of numbers, they’d actually wind up losing more money than they put in. Plus, by buying every combo, the jackpot would get higher and higher, driving up the lotto’s popularity, making it so that everyone on the street would feel the inclination to buy a lotto ticket. And maybe two lotto tickets, or ten. Or maybe you could walk around the office telling people to pitch in a buck or two to make a smaller lotto pool, smaller than the really rich people’s, but still, bigger than going it alone. And this would, in effect, raise the odds that the rich people would definitely have to split their jackpot.

Actually, wasn’t that just abstract mathematics? That whole discussion about the lotto? Maybe I am an abstract mathematician. So maybe the rich people should change the rules, so that way each number combination can only be bought once, that way they wouldn’t have to worry about splitting it with anybody. Wait a second, but then they’d just be winning their own money and nobody else’s. Right? I’m confused. Abstract math is tough. It’s not an easy subject. And I don’t even have any formal training or education, so it’s even tougher for me than it would be for a real abstract mathematician. It’s like when I change a flat tire, it takes me five hundred times longer than it would somebody who works in a garage.

One time I spent like an hour changing a tire. It took forever. Well, it took an hour. Or like an hour. But it felt like forever. And I jacked it up all wrong. I knew it wasn’t jacking up like it should, but I have this stubborn streak in of me, especially when I want a really boring or menial task to be going a lot faster than it currently is. I’ll just plow through it, even if I know I’m not doing it right, even if I know that I made a mistake and should have backtrack. Kind of like where I’m at right now in this blog post. It was so stupid though, I didn’t loosen up the bolts before I jacked it up, and I knew that I was supposed to, I just forgot, I just hadn’t done a tire changing in like six years. So I had to screw everything back in, unjack the car, rejack the car. It was a nightmare. Abstract mathematics isn’t even that tough. Well not as tough, but just as boring. Really, really boring.

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