The Liebster Award for Blogging

I’d like to thank Richard, at https://photosociology.wordpress.com/, for nominating me for the Liebster Award for blogging. It’s an honor to simply have someone choose to follow my blog, and I feel grateful every time I get a new follower, but this takes that feeling of being honored to a whole new level.

liebster1

These are the guidelines for the 2018 Liebster award:

• Thank the person who nominated you
• Display the award on your post
• Write a small post about what makes you passionate about blogging
• Provide 10 random facts about yourself
• Answer the questions given to you
• Nominate 5-11 other blogs for this award
• Ask them creative and unique questions of your own
• List the rules and inform your nominees of the award

What makes me passionate about blogging? Well, for as long as I can remember, I have been passionate about mathematics, to the point of obsession. Blogging gives me a way to record and share the results of that obsession. My blog isn’t 100% math, but mathematics-related posts outnumber everything else here by a wide margin, and it is my love of mathematics that keeps this blog going.

On to the ten random facts about myself . . .

  1. I have Aspergers Syndrome, now officially known in the USA as high-functioning autism. I didn’t discover this until I was already in my 40s (I’m now 50), though, for which I am grateful. I see being an “Aspie” as a difference, not a disease, nor a disability.
  2. I’m married to a wonderful woman; we celebrate our 4th wedding anniversary soon.
  3. I’m a high school teacher. Next year will be my 24th year in the classroom. I mostly teach mathematics and the “mathy” sciences. My wife is a teacher as well; she teaches mathematics.
  4. Strangely enough, both of my college degrees are in history. This generally puzzles people, but it’s easy enough to explain: I chose to major in something I didn’t yet know much about, and about which I was (and still am) curious. My experiences in elementary, junior high, and high school math classes were abysmal, and I didn’t care to continue that experience.
  5. I’m not religious. The label I prefer is not “atheist” nor “agnostic,” though, but simply “skeptic.” This reflects the fact that I have two primary methods for determining what I consider to be true: mathematical proof, and the scientific method. Skepticism is essential for both.
  6. I see my brain as an organic computer, and frequently work on re-writing my own software, usually while asleep. This is something I’ve blogged about before, as are most of the things in this list.
  7. I started blogging on Tumblr, and came to WordPress a few years later, in 2012, to escape what I call Tumblr’s “reblogging-virus.”
  8. My political orientation has changed over the years, and is now best captured by the term “anti-Trumpism.” I’ve also been known to call myself a “neo-Jeffersonian.”
  9. I’m LGBTQ-friendly.
  10. I’ve seen the fantastic band Murder By Death seven times. Here is a sample of their music, from one of their older albums. You can find much more about them at http://www.murderbydeath.com.

Now I need to answer the questions which Richard has posed for me. I have a hunch my “Aspieness” will come out in some of these answers.

1. How straight is straight?

“For any two points, there is exactly one line which contains them.” This is a fundamental postulate of Euclidean geometry. Straightness is a characteristic of such lines.

2. What would you think I was referring to if I told you to ‘put it down’?

The contents of my hand(s), of course. If I wasn’t holding anything, I’d simply be confused, and would ask for clarification.

3. Why are swans graceful?

Swans have the characteristics they have because they evolved that way. It is human beings who have chosen to label some of those characteristics as “gracefulness.”

4. Would you be a superhero or a sidekick, and what would your name be?

I would do neither, for I have at times suffered from delusions that I had superpowers. I don’t want my mind to go there again. One example of this was a belief, years ago at a time of ridiculously high stress, that my emotional state could control the weather. If I start thinking I have superpowers again, I’ll immediately take the medication prescribed by my psychiatrist for just such an eventuality. 

5. If you could remove one letter from the English alphabet, what would it be, and what consequences do you see coming from it?

I suppose I would choose the letter “c,” for the soft “c” can be replaced by the letter “s,” and the hard “c” by the letter “k.” I’m not sure what we’d do for the “ch” sound, though.

6. What was the last thing you lost and never found? What do you imagine has happened to it?

That’s my Social Security card, which I need to get replaced soon. I don’t have a clue what happened to it.

7. What significance does the number seven have to you? What memories do you associate with it?

I’ve blogged about the significance of the number seven, so I refer you to that post for the answer to this question. The only memory of the number seven I recall is when a friend of mine named Tony explained to me the ideas which later inspired that blog-post.

8. Young and completely broke or old and disgustingly rich?

Neither, by the standards of where I live (the USA). We’re middle-class. We live comfortably, but not extravagantly.

9. If a giant squirrel had commandeered your mode of transportation, whether car, moped, bike etc., and seemed to know how to make it work, what would you do to stop him?

I would assume this was a hallucination, and I would immediately take the medication I mentioned when I answered question #4, above.

10. If you had your own coat of arms, what would I expect to find on them to describe you/ your family?

Some of my ancestors were Scottish, and their clan already has a coat of arms, so I’d simply use it.

Clan Keith

Next, here are my nominees for this award. These are all blogs I find interesting. I also deliberately chose blogs which are radically different from my own.

Robert Vella’s The Secular Jurist

The hilarious blog Seinfeld Law

da-AL’s Happiness Between Tails

The blog https://bananartista.net/

The blog https://swo8.wordpress.com/

Now I need some questions for these fine bloggers to answer:

  1. Do you see the current occupant of the White House as a problem? If so, what, if anything, are you doing about it?
  2. How strong a role does mathematics play in your life?
  3. Which of the sciences do you find most interesting, and why?
  4. Of all the posts on your blog, which one do you think is your best work?
  5. What food(s), if any, could you absolutely not give up for the rest of your life, even for $100,000?
  6. What do you think of astrology?

That’s it! Thanks again to Richard for nominating me; I’m glad I took the time to write this acceptance-post. Also, congratulations to the five new nominees!

Two Excellent Mathematical Websites

I usually only post my own work here, but today I’m giving a shout-out to the websites of a German friend of mine named Tadeusz E. Doroziński. He made this snub polyhedron with 362 faces, which I’m posting here as a sample of his work. All of its edges are of equal length. Like me, he uses Stella 4d: Polyhedron Navigator frequently (available here), and he used that program to create this polyhedron. 

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His two geometry-focused and polyhedron-filled websites, https://geometryka.wordpress.com/ and http://www.3doro.de/, contain much more, including some mathematics which flies right over my head, as the saying goes. If you like the image above, or you are a fan of my own blog, I strongly recommend following the links above to check out his work. Every time I visit either of his websites, I always find something amazing.

A “Thumbs Up” for Google Classroom

This is my 22nd year of teaching, but my first year using Google Classroom. We’re finding it to be a useful tool. This, for example, is the diagram for the Atwood’s machine lab we are doing in Pre-AP Physical Science, beginning today. My students will find this waiting for them in their virtual classroom (on Chromebooks my school district provides), with discussion-prompts to get us started:

atwoods-machine-diagram

I had no idea that four years of blogging, here on WordPress, had been preparing me to use this teaching tool. However, active blogging does require one to develop some transferable skills, especially in fields (such as what I teach) which are similar to the topics of one’s blog, as is the case here.

If You Really Want to Scare Me, Don’t Use Thirteen.

House_Thirteen

I was alerted today, by e-mail, that a blog-proofreading service has found thirteen whole errors on my blog, and they’ll tell me where they are, exactly, if I send them money.

This blog is four years old. It has over 1,300 posts on it, so that’s, um, an average of one error for every 100+ posts. The logical thing to do, I believe, is to keep doing my own proofreading, which I do every time I look at posts, old or new.

I do hope those 13 errors are not disturbing anyone else, though.

Upon re-reading the e-mail, I found three errors. That’s in one e-mail. I’m definitely keeping my money!

Why I Do Not Write Books

not writing

It’s very simple: errors in writing, of any kind, horrify me. If I wrote a book, and it were published, some would likely slip through, such as the one in the image above. If a book with my name on the cover had been published, and I then discovered an error, I would end up trying to get corrected copies to every buyer of the first edition, eating all profits, and then some. I also just don’t need that type of stress.

Please do not misunderstand: I love books.

Therefore, I do two other things, in lieu of actually writing a book (which has been suggested, to me, more than once). First, I read other peoples’ books. I seek higher-quality books to avoid those irritating typos, for they actually cause me pain when I see them. Even so, some slip through — ouch! — but at least the mistakes aren’t mine. I am almost immune to conventional causes of embarrassment, but this isn’t a conventional cause, and I certainly have no immunity to it.

The other thing I do is to blog, which is, of course, another form of writing. It’s a perfect forum for someone with this writing-quirk — because, when I discover a mistake in my writing, even months or years later, I can edit it away in seconds. This is why, for me, blogging > writing books. However, I am grateful that there are good writers for whom the inequality symbol points in the other direction.