Wednesday, September 07, 2016

A Reminiscence

For some reason this memoir from a long time ago in a galaxy far away just occurred to me.

I grew up in a small town in Ohio, so small my graduating class was 25 persons. There was a special moment I had, back there in the pre-computer, pre-social media days. Our math teacher set up some advanced math classes for a few of us, maybe 6 people out of my senior class (or was it junior?), and we got exposed to things like different bases for numbers (our decimal system is "base 10", binary "base 2", but you can have whatever you want), some precalculus, some plane and spherical geometry. We just worked our way through the material, wherever it went.

In the latter part of the school year we took a test run by the GTCTM, the Greater Toledo Council of Teachers of Mathematics. I came in second out of that whole area. I never knew how many students took the test, but keep in mind this was advanced math, nerdville.

So I went to Toledo, received my recognition and a prize of a slide rule, a very fancy one (made by Keuffel & Esser as I recall). I had no idea what it was for, but when I went to college in those precalculator days had plenty of use for it later. I still have it somewhere.

I felt the honor of this, but it seems like it should have been a bigger deal to me, this small town guy besting out a lot of math students in the Toledo area (except one). At that time I suppose that there just wasn't such an interest in math (and maybe there still isn't).

A sad addendum
I found my slide rule, but it became immediately apparent that the case had gotten wet, since inside parts were rusted, and in particular, the slide with the hairline had become detached, and as far as I can tell can't be restored. 

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