## Mathochism: Changing focus

One woman’s attempt to revisit the math that plagued her in school. But can determination make up for 25 years of math neglect?

Last semester in Intermediate Algebra, I worried that the Brofessor’s sub-standard teaching would come back and hurt me. He wasted so much time, and left so many things out, I was sure I would pay for it in pre-calculus.

Well, as it turns out, I’ve started paying now. During the last class, Uchitel introduced us to parabolas. Now, we did cover parabolas with the Brofessor, but not conical parabolas, which are apparently vital to calculus. Knowing how to plot parabolas and find their focii (singular, focus) is also very important, and something the Brofessor couldn’t be bothered with.

## Mathochism: Inconvenient numbers

One woman’s attempt to revisit the math that plagued her in school. But can determination make up for 25 years of math neglect?

I’m on my fourth math class, and it’s official — I can’t stand irrational numbers.

Fie on you, infinitely repeating decimal! A pox on you, square root of a prime number! You may have your uses, but you’re also a pain, particularly when I’m doing arithmetic. The simplest problems get all messy when either of you are involved. And I don’t like my math messy. Math is the closest thing I have these days to something tidy in my life. One solution, one distinct strategy. I can’t say that about my relationships. Or my health. Or my ever-changing career trajectory. Or the dust that gathers on every surface, no matter how often I clean. Read more

## Mathochism: Methods of exhaustion

One woman’s attempt to revisit the math that plagued her in school. But can determination make up for 25 years of math neglect?

We’re nearing the end of geometry. Four more lectures, one more test, the final, and it’s all done.

Uchitel is caught up on the syllabus, so the latest class was a review. We’re back on circles, only this time, we’re focusing on circumference and area.

Yes, we have involved pi.

I’ve always found pi to be one of those mystical concepts in math. After all, it’s an irrational repeating decimal, and it repeats to infinity. But before taking this geometry class, I never wondered how pi was discovered, or for that matter, how difficult figuring out the exact area of a circle can be.

## Mathochism: Mathematical miracles

One woman’s attempt to revisit the math that plagued her in school. But can determination make up for 25 years of math neglect?

I’m not entirely sure how this happened, but I once again scraped an A on the latest test. Either Uchitel took pity on me, or I actually deserved the partial credit on both the problems I was worried about. I actually got the 10-pointer right, but got a point off for giving two answers.

And there WERE two answers, but I’m not going to argue this one. That would be like looking a gift circle in the circumference!

Anyway, that’s a relief. I am now clear to continue with pre-calc, and if I keep scraping As on the last test and final, I may actually accomplish a math miracle — an A in geometry.

## RA Diaries: Sloping sidewalks

The Hip Chronicles may be over, but the recovery continues. For the most part, I feel much better, and much more mobile.

About three weeks ago, though, I suddenly got a bad ache in the outside muscle right above the knee on the operated side. It was really hard to walk, and I was really scared that something was wrong with my implant. It made sense for me to worry about that, since so much of the pain before turned out to be referred pain.

## Mathochism: The toughest part is yet to come

One woman’s attempt to revisit the math that plagued her in school. But can determination make up for 25 years of math neglect?
Uchitel veered into calculus again during the last class.

“There are only four problems in calculus,” he said. “And two are based on geometry.”

Of the two problems he was referring to, one included the rate of change, or slope, of a wave. He chalked in the area beneath said wave, and told us calculating that was really no different from calculating the area of a lake, or a plain, or any uneven territory without a defined shape. Triangles, circles or squares are easy — blobs aren’t.