Saturday, 21 December 2013

Time Slicing and Algebra - a guest post by Gisela Hausmann

Today's post is by Gisela Hausmann, the author of the book Naked Determination.

Gisela writes:

As a child I had been fascinated by the fact that I could multiply a negative number with another negative number and create a positive product. I still remember when my math teacher, Mr. B., presented this concept…

Negative times negative equals positive??? How could this be?

Mr. B. called it Algebra. To me, it didn't make sense, though other algebraic operations did.

It was obvious that if I multiplied any number with zero all was gone. Zero [0] was this huge force that sucked everything in and nullified all. Kind of like a black hole in space.

The fact, that multiplying a positive number with a negative number produced a negative product made sense too. The “negative aura” tainted the product and made the whole thing negative.

The only thing that did not make sense was that multiplying two negative numbers could produce a positive number.

Eventually, I made this concept work for me - in real life.

Two negative chores might be 1) to clean my refrigerator and 2) to sort out my closet. At least to me, both of these tasks are unpleasant.

Inevitably I will find at least one item in my refrigerator which has expired.  Of course, I hate that. I still remember seeing pictures of child victims during the famine in Biafra when I was a child. I don't ever want food to go to waste.

Equally, going through my closet will most certainly reveal that I cannot even keep track of my own socks... How can it be that I traveled the globe but I cannot keep track of my own socks, in a confined space like my own house... After three decades of losing socks a certain feeling of incompetence has set in...

Cleaning my refrigerator thoroughly will take about 1 hour.
Cleaning my closet might take 2 hours.
The mathematical equation for these two processes is:
(-1 hr) + (-2 hrs) = (-3 hrs)
In other words: If I tackle these tasks one after the other I will spend 3 hrs doing things I am not particularly fond of.

What about if I mixed things up???

Let’s say, I check all items from only two shelves of my refrigerator for their expiration date and wipe the jars perfectly clean. Then I wash only these two shelves, and set them out to air-dry. Instead of continuing with the refrigerator, I now tackle the clothes on half the closet rod.

Returning to the refrigerator, the remaining task does not look as daunting as before.  My first two shelves have air-dried and I can store clean food jars on them. Stepping away from the refrigerator and admiring my work I already have a feeling of success. Equally, when I'll get back to the closet, the task won't look so bad. After all, the clothes on half the closet rod is already neatly sorted.

Finishing both tasks in intervals is much more entertaining. Also, I get to live through multiple periods of successes instead of looking at a seemingly never-ending task. I believe that this works for me a result of today's lifestyle. We are used to imagining/seeing results 1-click away. We are simply not used to laboring our way to success anymore. Things are supposed to worker faster than they did years ago.

The mathematical equation for this second option is:
(-1) x (-2) = (+2)
Two negatives create a positive feeling!

Gisela Hausmann is author of 9 books, including the award-winning adventure ebook Naked Determination, which is on sale for 99 cents until the end of Boxing Day.Get it HERE.