Sometimes I have good ideas and sometimes they only seemed like good ideas at the time, like enrolling in an online bachelor’s degree program in math. To be clear, I already have a bachelor’s degree in mechanical engineering and also a master’s degree, so this one is a fun bonus.

The backstory here is that I have spent a lot of time thinking about how to live in the mountains and also have some sort of income, because it turns out that most mountain towns don’t have national labs or engineering firms. I found out that they do, however, often have community colleges, and I’ve been interested in teaching since my Robogals days at Caltech and even taught robotics classes after I graduated college before starting as an engineer at SLAC. As a starting point, I looked up the application requirements for California community colleges, and I technically need a degree in the subject that I want to teach. There are ways around that if you’re sufficiently qualified but it’s easier to get in the door with the right diploma.

I am a total nerd for Newtonian physics and would love to teach a college-level intro physics course but I have no desire to go back and get a physics degree and it’s pretty hard to find online programs. Instead, I decided that right now while I still have tuition benefits from work, I should pursue a math degree. The online program at Southern New Hampshire University accepts a ton of transfer credits, so I only need ten additional classes to graduate with a bachelor’s degree, which on their schedule takes less than a year. So that’s why I’m now spending some of my free time calculating the probability that various bits are next to each other in binary strings and finding Euler circuits in graphs.

It’s still to be determined whether this seemingly good idea eventually ends up in the “not actually good in retrospect” pile. I started last month and for right now it’s super chill but I’m not sure whether I’ll end up finishing. That will depend on how annoying some of the required classes are and how long my tuition benefit lasts. On the bright side, it’s been surprisingly interesting so far because I’m one of those weird kids that likes math class. Who can resist a classic contrapositive proof, ya know?

Drawing Hasse diagrams, which even Wikipedia thinks aren’t particularly useful

According to my math PhD friend, this also means that as a math major I am now required to celebrate pi day (3/14 i.e. March 14th). In his words, traditional activities include thinking about your favorite equation with pi, your favorite proof with pi, your favorite method of approximating pi, and your favorite type of pi(e). Don’t tell him, but I haven’t thought about any of these things except actual pie, and apple is obviously the answer but I wouldn’t say no to to a fun strawberry rhubarb. Pumpkin is also alright, except for that one time in college I went to Thanksgiving at a family friend’s house and we forgot to put sugar in the pie before baking it. Would not recommend.

But anyways, rules are rules and I’m not going to say no to an excuse to bake a fun treat.

(not pie obviously but it’s the most recent photo I have of a fun homemade baked good)