## Wednesday, March 04, 2009

### I Almost Used Algebra

Today, I almost employed the use of algebra.

Remember in high school, when we’d have to do those awful “word problems” in Algebra class?

You know the ones I’m talking about. The train leaves the station at 6:00 pm traveling 50 mph, then another leaves the same station traveling 70 mph an hour later and you’d have to assign ‘x’ to something and figure out how many miles away the second train would overtake the first one.

God, I hated those word problems.

We’d grumble and say, “When are we ever going to use this stuff?”

Well, today, I almost did for the first time – 35 years after I took algebra – but I got around it.

The health club I belong to and avoid like the plague has an indoor track. There’s a sign that indicates eleven times around the track equals one mile.

I was able to figure out that if I wanted to run two miles, . . .

let’s see. . . .

Oh! that would be 22 times around.

Ta-daahhh!

But then I got to thinking, “What if I wanted to run a 5 K?”

Running a 5 K sounds so cool, so I wanted to know how many times around the track would equal five kilometers.

Oh my goodness. This was a lot more difficult.

Okay, one mile equals 1.61 kilometers. I remembered that from living in Canada.

Eleven times around equals one mile.

Do I assign x to something? I don’t know what.

And why is it always x ?
Why not h or d ?

Anyway, I digress. . .

Eleven times around equals 1.61 kilometers. Right?

Okay.

If the train left the station traveling at 1.61 kilometers an hour at 5:00 pm. . .

No, that won’t help.

Five miles would equal 55 times around.

No, that won’t help either.

Wait! Maybe that will help.

If 55 times around the track is 5 miles, then 5 kilometers would be less than 55 times.

I got out the calculator. (Which didn’t even exist when I took algebra -- we used sticks and rocks)

55 divided by 1.61 should work. . . Yes! . . by golly. . . 34.16

That sounds right!

So! If I want to run a 5 K on the indoor track, I’d have to run 34 times around the track.

Bingo!

Yeah. . . .

. . . . Like I’m ever going to do that.

At 5:57 PM ,  QuotidianEditorialist said...

YOu crack me up. But I have a question for you: Do you remember slide rules?

At 6:25 PM ,  Buck said...

Pati: YES! I do remember using a slide rule but not much. I was horrible at it.

I'll bet you were a whiz.

At 10:26 PM ,  Miss Healthypants said...

LOL! I'd never do that, either! :)