WRITING 136: WHY PEOPLE DON’T LIKE MATH, 3

For math, abstraction is both a blessing and a curse. It is a blessing, because the mighty of math comes from abstraction—his ubiquity rests on its transcending specific physical forms of the matter. It is a curse, because abstraction runs against the nature way of human thinking.

Although natural languages are a form of abstraction. Learning them involves trials and errors, the practice, the frustration, and the desire to express ourselves. When practice occurs daily, picking up a natural language comes naturally. For most people, however, that learning process stops once he master the natural language. But , like any other art form, math requires long, boring practice. Just as exercise strengthens one’s muscle, doing math thickens one’s logic fiber.  But because practice requires effort(let’s face it, we human are lazy), we won’t do it, if we can get by.

Then there is the misconception. Most people believe, wrongly, math is all about numbers and formulas. This misconception is largely our education’s fault. Indeed, before college, math hardly moves beyond numbers and formulas. But they are just a small part of the big math enterprise. If anything, math is about relations. The trouble is, they are about abstract objects, not sexy ones.

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[Point Loma, San Diego,  CA, 12/2009]

DAY 136, 5PTS, 1.31

[ROUTINE]
JOG: 30MIN, 3MILES;
SWIM: 0 (MUST RESUME TOMORROW);
LEARN: LUENBERGER;

[OTHERS]
MAKE UP THE DELAYED BLOGS;

[WORK]
MHS: CHAT WITH JS, GET TYM DONE IN A WEEK, PUSH MHS, 3PM-4PM;
AO: AO WILL EMAIL ME A CLEANED UP VERSION BY TUESDAY, WEWORK IT, 4PM-5PM;
TQ2: CHAT WITH K, ON THE NUMERICAL PART, WRAP UP, NEED A WEEK, 7PM-8PM;

[HAPPY MOMENT]
FIGURE OUT THE ROOT CAUSE OF MY LAPSE IN WRITING.

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[UCSD GEISEL LIBRARY: FUTURISTIC OR…UGLY? SAN DIEGO, 9/2015]

WRITING 135: WHAT WENT WRONG WITH MY WRITING HABIT?

After a month, my writing routine has not been quite established. I skipped for about a week, especially in the past week. To excuse myself, I can certainly clinch to the same, old BS: I was too busy, there are other more urgent issues, etc.

But the harsh reality is, things that can be delayed will always be delayed. If you can put it off today, why not tomorrow, and the day after tomorrow? Before long you find yourself abandoning it altogether. When that happens, they cease to be your passions.

Sounds too familiar? That is the recipe for my past failures. I suspect it is also the culprit for much of the aborted new year resolutions.

I hate to repeat the same mistake again and again. That insults my intelligence. So why cannot I keep up writing? Some thoughts are in place.

First, fix your attitude. If writing is what you want to improve, then you must do what it takes, i.e., discipline yourself to sit down and type, especially when you don’t feel like to. Only by so doing will you build the necessary momentum and ingrain it as a habit.

Second, set the realistic expectation. I like radical revolution, but I am less sure I can summon my willpower every day for that. And it need not to be so. I have never aspired to be a writer. To me, writing is a hobby, for reflecting on my life and living more consciously. So I write for myself, not others. I must also accept that, when time is scarce, many of my scribbles will be ugly. But even that is still better than no writing at all.

Third, set a fixed writing time and defend it as a ritual. At this stage, I have other pressing issues, so I cannot devote hours into writing. But, instead of watching TV and casual reading, I can certainly squeeze half hour after the dinner, for my writing ritual.

So here is my writing plan for February: write three paragraphs every day, no matter how ugly they are. Just do it.

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day 135, 10pts, 1.30

[ROUTINE]
RUN: 11MIN, 9MPH, 1.6MILES;
SWIM: 0;
LEARN: 0;

[OTHERS]
CHAT WITH ZC, 40MIN;
B. CALLED FOR B-DAY GREETING;
LUNCH WITH CINDY AND JENNY AT PELICAN GRILL, 12:30PM-1:30PM;
COFFEE, 1:30PM-2:30PM;
STROLL IN SOUTH COST PLAZA, 3PM-5PM;

[DISCIPLINE]
CLEAN UP THE HOUSE, 2HRS, 9:30AM-11:30AM;

[LESSON]
ACTIONS PRODUCE RESULTS. THE HAPPY PARTY IS AN EXAMPLE. IN TOTAL I PUT TWO FULL DAYS, MAINLY FOR PLANTS, DECORATION, ARRANGEMENT, AND CLEANING.

[HAPPY MOMENT]
WE HAD A GREAT TIME, DESPITE THE RAINY WEATHER.

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WRITING 134: WHY PEOPLE DON’T LIKE MATH, 2

They say math is a universal language, for the Nature mother. This analogy seems odd with our experience: as most people can testify, we learn to speak the mother tongue effortlessly. But math never comes naturally. Well, ask an Englishman whether math or Chinese is more difficult. It is the environment we living in that makes natural languages natural: we PRACTICE it on a daily basis.

One may also argue that we tend to think intuitively, not abstractly. But by nature math is abstract. This argument, however, cannot fully explain why we can learn natural languages, a form of abstraction. For example, “blue” means so many different shades of blue (ask Russians how many different blues they can distinguish). We acquire them by living through it. Thus, like beer, abstraction is an acquired taste. It is not abstraction itself that prevents one from learning math; it is practice.

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[Muir Woods Redwood Forest Near San Francisco, CA, 2009]

DAY 134, 10PTS, 1.29

[ROUTINE]
RUN: 11MIN, 9MPH, 1.6MILES;
SWIM: 13R (TOO LATE);

[OTHERS]
READ: DATA VISUALIZATION AT PELICAN, 10-12PM;

[LESSON]
EFFECTIVE LEARNING REQUIRES EXPLORING AND EXPERIMENTING. PAY THE NECESSARY PRICES. EVEN IF ONLY HALF ATTEMPTS RESULT IN SUCCESS, THEY ARE STILL WORTHY ENDEAVOR.

[HAPPY MOMENT]
THE WALL CLOCK, RUG, AND THE PALM TREE ARE GOOD CHOICES.

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