Friday, December 28, 2012


   Merry Christmas, one and all! (Though considering how long it has been since I blogged, I don't imagine there are many of you dear readers left to wish a "Merry Christmas" to).

   Ah, Christmas break! That sweetest time of the year has arrived, and, indeed, is nearly past.

   "Don't say that!" shrieks the Optimist in my mind, who would like to think that this joyous repose could continue always.

   "It's true," mumbles the Pessimist, "Before you know it you'll be back learning anti-derivatives and giving speeches in that cold, dark place known as 'community college'."

   Yes, dear reader, you read that correctly. I will be giving speeches.


   As in public speaking, the bane of my existence.

   This is not something I have chosen myself, this is a class I am being forced into. My imminent death-by-public-speaking gives me cause to wonder two things:

   Firstly: why do I need to be able to speak publicly in order to become a mathematician? Mathematicians are, by nature, sworn enemies of oral presentations (teachers don't count, they are a breed all their own). The career we enter generally requires solitude or possibly group work, not speeches. And I, for one, am an introvert. I do not think it an especially massive logical leap to assume that most math majors are as well.

   To clarify, introverts are those who enjoy solitude or small groups. Ask us to speak up in class and you will receive a stony silence. It is against our nature. Many of us would rather spork ourselves in the eye that endure a session of public speaking.

   This leads me into my second question: What on earth am I going to speak about?

   I honestly have nothing interesting to say that will last a full five minutes.

   Now, to this the Optimist in my mind replies, "Talk about something you care about! About your passions, and the things that are important to you."

   And I will step aside to let the raging Pessimist have a go at her, "Right, 'Talk about your passions' isn't going to work. You see, Jesus' love and grace is a sore topic in the frozen purgatory that is 'community college'. Math tends to make people's eyes glaze over a bit after thirty seconds, so there goes that idea.

..... when we reach this point, we begin to have an identity crisis, as we rack our brains to remember what else we really and truly are passionate about. So well done, dear Optimist, now not only do we not have a topic to speak on, we are also severely confused. And referring to ourselves as 'we', which can by no means be a good sign."

   Well, the Pessimist seems to have summed that up pretty accurately.

   Anyways, since I don't have to think about that for another week or so, I will return to thinking about Christmas and New Years.

   Ah, Christmas! The scent of fresh pine trees, the shining decorations, the music, the friends and family drawing near.

   Many people would add that we also enjoy eggnog around this time of year, but I would present the idea that drinking eggnog is a bit like what I imagine drinking vomit would be like. You enjoy that.

   And on that note, a Merry Christmas and Happy New Year to one and all!

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