Archive for October 31st, 2008

One year down…

October 31, 2008

Since all the cool kids are doing it, allow me to post a “me too!” brief retrospective here to celebrate our first year.

Actually, “me too!” is pretty much how I got here to begin with.  I knew that two faculty at Nazareth College were starting a math blog, and after hearing about what they envisioned, I asked to be allowed in on the fun, even if I teach at the rival college up the road.  And fun it has been!  I haven’t had this much fun thinking, reading, and writing about vaguely-math-related-stuff since I was killing time in grad school on sci.math and other nether  realms of USENET, in the pre-web days of the net.  Thank you Batman and Ξ for sharing this space!

We (or at least I) don’t plan out topics in advance; most posts are either driven by stuff we see in the news, cool things that happen in class, or flashes of inspiration in the car driving home from work.  And there’s no telling what will hit a chord…  who knew that Godzilla would become a recurring character on a math blog?  or that Basketball Man and George Orwell Man would keep searching for those images?

Here’s to another year of friends near and far, food, horrid puns, and of course Godzilla, sharing both serious and whimsical slices of mathematics. Cheers!

360 Days of 360

October 31, 2008

[Margin of error for this post: ±2%]

One year ago today, Ξ and I created this blog as an attempt to create even more work for ourselves. It began as an idle, I-don’t-want-to-work-right-now conversation while working (and not finishing) our newsletter, something along the lines of:

“It sure is a good thing we don’t have a blog, too, ’cause then we’d never get anything done.”

“Yeah…but if we did have one, what do you think we would call it?”

The rest, as they say, is history.

I started (blog) life as ‘360’, our blog admin, and posted a few times before creating my own identity: Batman. [You can ask my students where the name came from: them. One Calculus III student, to be specific. When introducing partial derivatives, I pointed out that the symbol ∂ doesn’t really have a name (\partial in LaTeX), so they could call it whatever they wanted. One of my quietest students said, “Batman,” the class went bananas, and I’ve used it ever since.] Now I post occasionally, rarely seriously, and lean heavily on Ξ to keep this blog afloat.

One thing I do less frequently now because I don’t have to: comment. If you were to look at our early comment log, you’d see a lot of Ξ, TwoPi, and Batman. Now, we have a (fairly) steady readership (thank you!), and other people are commenting for us! We had 951 hits in November of 2007. We average about that many hits every two days, now. I am incredibly pleased by this.

Things change over the course of a year, and some of my first posts were ambitious enough to claim that I would post regularly (Friday Software Reviews, anyone?). Right. My favorite post, though, has to be the jokes. It remains our most commented post of all time, and I certainly picked up a few new groaners to inflict upon my students.

One of the more surprising things I’ve found about us is that the most popular search term that leads you to 360 is [drumroll please]:


Yes, that’s correct: basketball. I wrote a post about March Madness back in…you know, and it contained this image:

We now get about 120-150 hits every weekday because of that. We like to think there’s one person responsible for this, whom we have affectionately named Basketball Guy. So here’s to you, Basketball Guy, a Real Man of Genius, and our most loyal reader. And here’s to all of you out there who make this blog worth writing. We couldn’t have succeeded without readers, and as long as people keep showing up to the party, we’ll keep playing the music.

Happy Anniversary!

October 31, 2008

One year ago today, Batman set up this site and wrote our very first post. It was seen by approximately 3 people. At that point I had a different username, but then I saw Batman and TwoPi’s names and I got jealous and picked the Greek symbol Xi (Ξ) because in grad school someone had told me once about a class where the prof was using Ξ for some variable, and it occurred in a fraction. The top was just Ξ, but the bottom was Ξ with a bar on top. The fraction ended up looking like this:

I thought that was about the coolest fraction I’d ever seen, and I would have been Xi-over-Xi-bar if I could have, but Xi was the closest I could come.

In thinking about the posts I’ve written, my artistic abilities are rather limited (as any of my students will tell you) so I’m disproportionately proud whenever I manage to create pictures for the posts. And it’s been a surprise (not any more, but at first) how often Godzilla makes guest appearances. He’s like Charo on the Love Boat: once he jumped into the blogging world (with a photo of himself eating Buffalo-Chicken Dip) he hasn’t looked back.

Happy Anniversary 360! And since the Anniversary falls on such an auspicious day, I’ll share one of my favorite sophomore-level math jokes:

Q: Why do mathematicians think that Halloween and Christmas fall on the same day?
A: Because 31 Oct = 25 Dec.*

* Think 31 Base 8 and 25 Base 10