I spent a lot of today on updating the slides for the lecture I’ll be giving at Antioch in June. I agreed to lecture there on the condition that I could re-visit an earlier lecture because I would have neither the time nor the bandwidth to write a whole new lecture. The problem is that when I dug out my old slides, the only set I could find didn’t have all my notes at the bottom. One of the pieces of advice I got early in my presentation-making career was that you shouldn’t just read off your slides, so I normally have a lot of info in the notes that I don’t have on the slide itself. And all that was gone.
Two and a half years isn’t so long that I don’t remember anything about this lecture, and a lot of the stuff was self-explanatory. I was going along at a nice clip, writing in all the notes that needed to be there, adding a few slides that I should have had the first time. But then…the math kicked in. Part of this lecture is showing how little writers make, and that just seeing the number of copies a book has sold doesn’t give a good indication of how much money they author made from it. I had put together some numbers, and created a chart that showed over the lifetime of each author’s books, how much they would make year by year. Because the only information I had was a number of books sold, I knew that I had made some assumptions, but I had no idea what they were.
Math is not my native language. I know that getting the correct answer to a math problem often involves first knowing the correct question, and I’m terrible at figuring out how to structure the information I have to get the result I need.
After a couple of hours of plugging in numbers and making my phone go all hot with repeated calculations, I finally figured out what my initial assumptions were. Then I realized that when I had initially done the slides, I had miscopied a bunch of the numbers – transposing numbers, incorrectly interpreting the table I had created, etc., and realized that nobody had ever questioned them. One of two things is true: either everyone who heard that lecture was just as bad at math as I am, or I sound so convincing that no one questions me. Okay, maybe they’re just being nice.
Today was Sunday, and as we’ve done every Sunday that we’ve been at sea, the Pirate and I went to church. There is a Catholic service at 8:30 (but as I’ve said, I’m just not up to facing God or anyone else that early in the morning), but there’s also the Traditional Maritime Service at 10.
Religion aside, church on this ship serves a really good purpose – it helps keep us anchored in time. On a trip where every few days we gain or lose an hour, and there is no other difference to the daily schedule of activities, having a thing that we only do on Sunday means that at least once a week, we know what day it is.