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Normally a word to make you shudder – the dread anticipation of hours lost doing things you don’t want to do, have no wish to learn, or things you know you ought to know but don’t really want to; or maybe wishing you’d spent more time all those years ago, absorbing things that would have helped you with what you want to do now!

Well, this morning, I chose to think of today’s main tasks as homework.  Maths for this morning, and geology for this afternoon.  Well, if you’ve been following me the last few weeks, you might recall that I’ve started a masters in geology of extreme landscape which I shall translate through weave.  So the geology bit this afternoon won’t be a huge surprise.  Mind you, it’s more art than geology, so more fun!

This morning’s task – maths – was my accounts.  Never my favourite job because although I love the beauty of maths in patterns that I see both artistically and in equations and in nature, I don’t really get it!  I understand that some people see maths in much the same way that I see music, or weaving, or reading – they see patterns, a conversation, understanding, the logic of the universe, a way of doing something, a way of reasoning, a language speaking to them.  My father is one of those.

He finds it really hard to understand why I get in such a muddle with maths.  He audits my accounts for me at the end of the year before they go to the accountant, and that is a painful time for us both!  Sometimes I can’t understand why I have such problems with it.  Surely it should be simple to tally up income and expenditure and what’s left is my profit (with luck!).  But somehow it never seems to be that simple.  There are so many ways of making the same figures tell a different story (sounds like politicians, doesn’t it?!)  It reminds me of the dangers of using statistics to back anything up – the figures can be manipulated to say whatever you want them to say!  At least, if you know how to juggle them!

My problem is that I seem to have some kind of figure dyslexia.  Not by obvious translation of numbers.  But just in a kind of number blindness.  They are a language I don’t really understand, no matter how hard I try.  So my usual fall back position is to remind my Dad that he has a talent for them in a similar way to my talent for music or weaving.

It’s quite funny to think that in weaving I now use equations to work out sett and yarn amounts.  At school I just couldn’t see the use in equations.  And then, last week in geology, we had a whole set of trigonometry questions to help us work out the dipping of beds in a fault.  We had to use the following formula – Tan True dip = vertical spacing/horizontal spacing.

Now, I don’t know about you but the last time I did this kind of work was back in 5th form, cramming for my O levels, and we had trig books which had the Tan and Sin and Cosin figures in (I never did get what all that was about, either!) and slide rules.  Now, it’s done on scientific calculators.  But even so, I want to understand the workings behind it and can’t get my head around it!!

So what I am doing today is building the map that we were looking at.  I understood how to apply strike lines and how to determine the dip direction of the beds.  I established the throw of the fault, and the dip direction of the fault.  I worked out the downthrown side of the fault, and its heave, so I didn’t do badly.  I could even see, up to a point, how the map should look in 3D, but I want to understand it physically as well as mentally.  I want to ‘feel’ that I totally understand it.

So I am going to make a 3-D version of the map this afternoon.  I’ve got the scale, I shall apply basic maths to it, and then, when it’s finished (and all coloured in so the different rock formations look distinct), I shall measure the angles.  It won’t be totally accurate, but I will have established a solid link in my mind between the abstract flatland map, and the real McCoy, albeit at a fraction of the real physical scale.

So – maths – check.  Geology (and art!) – ready!!