Thursday, May 16, 2013

O Tau, my heart

Years ago, when Jon and I were only dating, President Anderson (then stake president of the Gainesville, FL stake) came to our single's ward and gave a talk about marriage.

He noted that although his sermon was mostly aimed at people who had been married for years and were possibly starting to take each other for granted, the most effective thing he might do that month was talk to people who weren't married yet and convince them never to take their future spouses for granted.

I only remember two things from his talk. The first was that he looked around the room, sighed, and said "You're all so well groomed because you're trying to impress each other and you never know who you're going to meet today or tomorrow. Please, please maintain that level of personal grooming after you're married..."

I decided I really didn't want to know the story behind that one. Presumably he'd had lots of people showing up in his office demanding marriage counseling and complaining about kissing (or not kissing) their spouse with halitosis. (Maybe the spouse had been eating too many stale dairy products?)

The other thing I remember is this poem. He read it only once, but it touched me. I still have it memorized:

"She gazed at him, her heart aflutter,
as he carved 'I love you' in the butter."

Isn't that sweet? Simple but profound?

Apparently Jon was listening, too, because on random occasions, I find hearts engraved in the margarine tub. (Good job adapting the principle to your personal circumstances, sweetheart.)

I found one this morning as I was making toast for the kids. It made my day!

Naturally I wished to reciprocate. Our marriage is based on romantic love, but it's also based on being geeky best friends. I'm delighted to have found a man who not only is smart enough for me, but who also wanted a wife who was smart enough for him. Too many men seem to marry "down," seeking out a wife who is less educated or geeky or opinionated. That frustrates me: don't they want smart kids? Beauty fades. Don't they want to have substantive, interesting conversations for the next ten million years?

Ah well, their loss. Jon's priorities were excellent, and he is reaping the benefits.

I carved a "Tau" symbol inside the heart.


Last night, Jon and I were watching some Vi Hart math videos. Awesome find! I love her style!

Among other things, she did a video about how Pi (3.14159...) is wrong. She advocated changing geometry and trig curricula to teach Tau (6.28318...) which, instead of calculating the ratio of the diameter of a circle to its circumference, actually calculates the radius to the circumference. She had many fine arguments for why this would simplify math class and also make geometric and trigonometric relationships more intuitively obvious to high school kids. Then we watched a response from another guy arguing for Eta, which is actually based on right angles, or 1/4 of a circle. He also had some good trigonometric arguments, but we liked Tau better.

Jon and I debated whether and how to make the change--he saying that we should teach all three symbols and just teach the kids how to convert among them. I said certainly, fine idea, but we should start with Tau. A pleasant debate followed.

I pointed out that it would make so much more sense to teach grade school kids metric first: it is logical, standard, and scalable. It's useable. Once a kid gets the basic idea of multiplying and dividing by ten, which he can do in his head, he can go nuts with it. Later on we can mention "Oh, and you should also know the English system because some dinosaurs are still attached to it. There are 5,280 feet in a mile, just because, you know, we're feeling arbitrary. And 12 inches to a foot. Also there are 3 teaspoons to a tablespoon, and 8 tablespoons to a cup, and 2 pints to a quart but 4 quarts to a gallon....You're right, it's insane. Never mind. Here's a conversion chart. If you ever need to convert kilometers to miles or kilograms to pounds, just reference it."

A similar logic applies to Tau. Teach the form that makes the most sense. Then explain there are other variations out there, with a mention of how to convert between or among them.

Speaking of conversion, I have undergone "a mighty change of heart." We may still celebrate Pi day for cultural reasons, but I'm already planning our fabulous party for June 28th.

The bigger point, of course, is not about Tau versus Pi. What's important is that Jon and I had a fun conversation about it. We geeked out together. We argued politely. We had fun.

That's why when I found a carved heart in the margarine this morning, I reciprocated with a Tau symbol.


Tau sounds a lot like "thou," the intimate pronoun of archaic English. It also looks like a capital T.

[Side note--it drives me nuts when people say we should address deity as "Thee" and "Thou" because, they claim, "it's more formal." No; it is more intimate. It is based on the familiar pronoun, a form you use with close family and friends. In French you use "tu" for familiar and "vous" for formal. In German you use "du" for familiar and "Sie" for formal. "Thou" is related to both "tu" and "du". I haven't studied other Romance languages, but I know Spanish, Italian, and others, including the Latin from which they all derive, have similar protocols. Most Germanic languages have a similar differentiation, as far as I know.

The problem is that people 1) don't know their own language's history, 2) are blindly following the King James version even though they don't know how or why, and 3) confuse
familiar with informal. I can smell a different post brewing about this. Let me just say here that I love using "Thee" and "Thou" in prayer...but I use it correctly, and for different reasons than most people realize. --ed]

Poor Jon. Among his other virtues, he's very patient with my thought tangents. Back to Tau and thou. Or, if I'm writing directly to my sweetie, I would say, "Sorry, Jon. Back to T and thee."

I've decided to adopt Tau not only as a great mathematical constant, but also as a symbol for my favorite pronoun, "thou".

There's a sweet German song which goes "Du, du, liegst mir im hertzen..." (You, you, lie in my heart...") [Another side note: until I looked it up just now, I thought the verb was "lieben" not "liegen". I thought the song translated as "You live in my heart." I still like my version better. --ed]

I thought of that song as I carved the Tau inside the heart. "Tau liest in my heart." Or "thou livest in mine heart."

Jon and I have built a marriage of love, friendship, and intellect. Also, in my post, I brought together geekiness, romance, and language.

I love you, too, saltheart. (The margarine isn't all that sweet. And, one can, theoretically, live without refined sugar, but we would not get very far without sodium chloride. Somehow calling him "NaCl heart" just lacks a certain poetic ring, though....)

Jon--O Thou, my husband, my heart, I'm glad you listened to the stake president all those years ago.

This is for you:

1 comment:

Renae Kingsley said...

Entertainingly written! What a fun way of sharing love notes!