A very good friend, whom I discovered on twitter, got to know through her blog4, and subsequently now chat with on a pretty regular basis did a horrible thing. She “tagged” me in one of those insipid chain letter things that infect social media like a flesh-eating virus. The conceit is that I am supposed to answer some questions she posed, and then I’m supposed to pose more questions to other bloggers. Well, I’m not playing.
OK, I am.
But only partly.
I refuse to carry on the chain letter, so fear not, I will not be tagging you. But I will, through the course of this piece, answer all of her silly questions. They are down at the end, and when I happen to answer one of them, I will footnote it, as I did in the first sentence.
As I have mentioned before, I have been blogging for a very long time, but only recently started again in this new world of anonymous(ish) blogs and twitter, and whatnot. It ties into my first year on twitter2, which I have chronicled already, and in fact, answers one of the questions asked here1. So I won’t rehash that.
That post about my first year on twitter got me into some trouble with my wife3. In it, I waxed poetic about women sending me pictures of their bare bosoms, which she found both disturbing and distasteful. I’ve edited that bit out, so you won’t see it there any more. It really wasn’t particularly relevant to the story, and was mostly intended to bring some levity. It was an easy cut.
Since then, she and I have reached an uneasy truce on this blog. I consider her feelings about what I write, and do what I can to detour around things that will really bother her. And she mostly doesn’t acknowledge that I’m doing this writing. And I get to keep wearing my wedding ring5, of which I am quite fond, particularly considering what it represents.
We have a similar truce about twitter. And it seems to be holding.
Recently I’ve been thinking about whether I might tell my mother about this blog. My mother has always loved my writing. Back when I was in college, she had a subscription to the college paper so she could read my columns. Last summer I wrote a series of status updates on Facebook that I thought were hilarious, and my wife found so annoying she unfriended me so she wouldn’t have to see them anymore. Anyway, my mother loved them, and actually used them as samples in one of her classes (she is retired, but still teaches, because apparently, she doesn’t understand what the word retired means).
I had cross-posted those to twitter, and my wife suggested that perhaps since my mother liked them so much, perhaps she would like my twitter as well. At the time, my wife had never seen my twitter, so she had no idea what an absurd suggestion that was. I demurred. Said, “I say fuck a lot,” and left it at that.
There is certainly some content here on the blog that mom might find disturbing, like the stuff about what I was doing in high school, but since she loves my writing, I feel a tad bit guilty that there is all this stuff that she would love so much and cannot see. She is a writer herself, as was my father6. They wrote academic works about classroom management, child management, and human behavior. I have read some of it, but not all, and certainly not lately. I should probably go read it all again sometime.
The trick with my mother is that I’d have to get her to not share my blog. Because I’m not really in this to gain new readers. And I certainly don’t want my extended family reading this, as they are for the most part, pretty judgmental folks. What I really am trying to do here is scratch the itch of certain friends who very much enjoy my writing on twitter, and whom I think I make happy7 by writing in a longer form here.
One of those friends in particular, seems to understand me a whole lot better than any other. She wrote a completely ridiculous list, which also happens to be completely accurate10. If you get into my inner circle, and find yourself chatting with me on a regular basis, you would do well to heed her advice. (I redacted #5 because it is an inside joke.)
Point 2 in particular is me in a nutshell. I’ve already written about my propensity for accuracy, so I won’t dwell on that. But I recently learned that something I had thought was true for a very long time, actually wasn’t exactly. It was after I read the blog post on Gunmetal Geisha in which I had been tagged for this silly exercise. I was mulling over the questions, most of which I knew the answers to, but I got stuck on one of them.
I really love math and numbers and logic and stuff. They fit my brain nicely. And while I’ve never considered any number my favorite, I certainly have favorite conceptual frameworks, and certainly some favorite math trivial facts.
For example, I could say my favorite number is eiπ+1. That would be a joke that I can guarantee that none of my readers will understand. Much less find funny.
But after careful consideration, I recalled that there is a number for which I actually have an affinity. That is φ, the golden ratio9. About 1.618.
If you aren’t familiar with this ratio, it’s the number where you can invert it (1 divided by it) and you end up with another number that’s exactly one away. That is 1/1.618 = 0.618. So if you have a box with sides, say 1618 x 1000, and you cut off a square 1000×1000 box, you are left with a box that is 1000×618, which is the same proportion as your original box.
I first learned about the golden ratio back in high school, when I was tasked with writing a term paper for a math class. This was a downright peculiar assignment, since math classes never require writing. I enjoyed it very much. I settled on a topic and dove in. My topic was the Fibonacci sequence and the Golden Ratio, and all of that related stuff. In my research, I kept finding more and more connections, many of which seemed quite magical at the time.
For example, I learned that the number of petals on most flowers tend to be Fibonacci numbers (1, 2, 3, 5, 8, 13, …). And I learned that if you take any two large adjacent Fibonacci numbers, they will have a ratio darn close to the golden ratio. (This latter fact, I recently learned isn’t really so magical at all, but closely related to the definition of the Golden Ratio. But it seemed magic at the time.)
I also learned that if you take that box I described a minute ago, and keep chopping it up like that, you can trace a logarithmic spiral in the various boxes, which looks just like a nautilus shell. However, what I recently learned when checking the facts of this piece, is that an actual nautilus shell isn’t shaped anything like that8. If you take a real shell and measure it carefully, it turns out that you won’t get anything like a “Golden Spiral.” Oh well. If I’m going to be wrong, best that it’s about something trivial.
The other stuff is still true, and I thought it was all pretty cool, and so I guess if I was going to pick one number that was my favorite, it would have to be φ.
And so, without further ado, here are the questions:
1. What inspired you to start your blog?
2. What do you consider the best post you ever wrote (link)?
3. What do you love most in this world?
4. What was the first blog you found and fell in love with?
5. What is your favorite item of clothing (that you personally own)?
6. Which author or artist has influenced you the most?
7. How do you define blogging success?
8. What have you learned recently that you might share?
9. What’s your favorite number and why?
10. Describe a happy memory to us.