Additional Math Pages & Resources

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

How do you measure a life? Part III

If you are a careful and regular reader you will know that I started this thread on How Do You Measure A Life on Monday. A member of my family died yesterday and I failed to write my blog. I was totally consumed and could not write. Today I am ready.

Much of what happens when a person dies can't be explained or measured by math:
  • how does the cat know we are sad?
  • at what speed is the flood of thoughts and feelings and memories moving?
  • how can the normal passage of time become warped? moving more slowly, then quickly
  • what's the height of the wave of good feelings, encouragement, hope and prayers that wash over you?
  • who's turned the volume control of love, remorse, guilt, forgiveness and joy up to 11?
Then we have the math items which come along too:
  • the doors of the social security vault slam shut; zero more dollars will be coming out
  • the fees of the attorneys begin to add up; cha-ching!
  • the limits for mobile phone minutes and texts are soon exceeded
  • the estate (a vague and slowly coalescing mass) will eventually be divided 4 ways
  • another 2500 slowly-fading photographs are added to the "I'll scan them someday" pile
Those are relatively straight-forward math operations, even if we accomplish them in the midst of an elaborate dance dictated by tax rules and probate courts. Much more elaborate trains of reasoning (a major subject area of Excel Math) begin winding through the minds of those who knew the dearly-departed:
  1. I want to go to the memorial service
  2. I don't want to go, I might cry foolishly. 
  3. I have nothing suitable to wear.
  4. I can get a new outfit!
  5. Aunt Mabel will be there, no way am I going
  6. Cousin Bill will be there, of course I'll go
  7. It's on a weekday, I'll take off work (Hooray!)
  8. This will use some of my frequent flier miles - hmmm (Grandma vs spring break) hmmm
  9. If I don't go someone will notice, then no one will come to my memorial service
  10. She's my Grandma, I'm going to say goodbye, no matter what