I really think that numbers are cool. Numbers will do whatever you tell them, and if you find a way to break that rule, there are “imaginary numbers” to pick up the slack. I never knew I had a love for numbers until I took Calculus in college.
To give a complete idea of what I mean, let me give you a brief history of my mathematical endeavors:
Elementary School: Learned about addition and subtraction. Did flashcards with Angie, the only girl that had boobs in 5th grade. Didn’t learn much math because of the distraction.
Junior High: Took introductory Algebra, which consisted of making witty and brilliant remarks in hopes of gaining the attention of the lovely Rhi, who was perfect. Didn’t learn much because I was too busy creating witty remarks.
Senior High: Started with Geometry and did proofs for the first time. This consisted of finding a book containing proofs, and then copying them onto my homework. During test, I would take my test up to the teacher, who would give me the answers because he was a sucker. Didn’t learn much because I and my teacher were lazy.
Sophomore year I took Algebra II, which is a complete blank because I spent the entire time writing chapters of what would become the first draft of “It’s more fun to be like Incredipete.” Didn’t learn much because multi-tasking is not a strong suit.
Junior year I took Physics and Trigonometry. I spent my time in Physics creating perpetual motion bombs that would explode if you touched them. I didn’t learn much because I was more into the hands-on approach. Trig on the other hand, was the first class where I paid attention, but I still didn’t learn much because I didn’t have any foundation. (i.e. I couldn’t add and subtract thanks to Angie’s boobs)
My senior year, I took an intro to Calculus, which consisted of me leaving class to work on the yearbook. I never actually attended the class, so I don’t know how I got an A, but I did. Needless to say, I didn’t learn much Calculus in yearbook class.
So then I went off to the local Junior college, and signed up for College Algebra. According to the entrance exam, I was smart enough to skip the beginner and intermediate steps and go directly into the main course. Of course, the way I did well on the entrance exam was by making bubble-patterns with all of the dots on the scantron sheet. Who knew?!
So I signed up for the 8 AM once a week College Algebra class, which I promptly slept through every week. I went only for the first test, which I received a 23%, and then dropped the class. The next semester I took it again, this time 5 days a week. I escaped with a D.
Whew, that was enough math for an Associate’s Degree. Unfortunately, I wanted to get a business degree, which is almost entirely statistics. The bad news was, in order to not be kicked out of the program, I had to maintain a 3.0 (B average) on all my classes.
So, naturally, I signed up for Calculus my first semester at the University of Missouri. I spent every day in the teacher’s office trying to learn Algebra so I could do the Calculus. It was hellish, but I managed a B+ in the class. It was the first time I ever learned something in a math class.
After that, I progressed to Accounting, which as luck would have it is way more confusing than addition and subtraction, which is what I expected. They have all sorts of arcane and stupid things like “T-accounts” and “ledgers.” Like I care!
Then I took statistics with an Indian professor, who always said “If you mess up on the test, I will slaughter you!” He wasn’t kidding. He would take off points in blocks of 25. It doesn’t take long to get a zero at that rate. But I worked hard, and once again, managed a B. Then I went nuts. I took 3 more stats classes, and fell in love. I started doing probabilistic modeling, and Monte Carlo simulations, and I loved it. I started writing my own code to do analysis because I couldn’t find software that did what I wanted.
I became a HUGE nerd. Now I do analysis for fun, and sometimes even get paid. Nothing is more gratifying than taking a huge chunk of data and extracting something useful. It rocks my world!
I only bring it up, because I spent most of the holiday weekend working on a big data analysis project, for money! I didn’t party for the Fourth, but I did increase my available funds.