There was a period in my misguided youth and childhood when I thought I might become an engineer. Perhaps it was a function of the time, but it sort of seemed to be the default assumption for what smart girls who could hold their own in math and science class ‘should’ do. I had no particular objections, and I didn’t have any better ideas, so I just sort of smiled and nodded and went along with it. It meant I took a lot of math classes. I took every single math class my high schools offered, and then toddled off to college and took quite a few more.
Turns out I didn’t actually want to be an engineer. Not really at all (though it wasn’t the math classes that turned me off, those were kind of fun). But all those math classes, those years and years and years of math classes? They’re languishing in the back of mind doing me no favors at all. I’ve yet to find myself in a situation where my life depends on my ability to recall and utilize L’Hopital’s rule (and just to be clear, I don’t wish to find myself in this situation, because the chances I’d make it out alive are slim at best…though if I did survive, it would make for a hell of a story).
This is the closest I come to math these days. These are the notes for getting the heel flap positioned correctly over several different sizes of sock. Back when I knit my own socks, and only knit them in one size, I could just write down what I did. Now that I have help with the knitting and try to include several sizes, I have to do a wee bit of figuring ahead of time. I’m pretty sure if my math teachers could see this now they’d smack me upside the head for having wasted their time. On the flip side, if I do this right, lots and lots of knitters will have attractive, well-fitting socks, which seems somehow more satisfying than acing a calculus test.