The Urge to Sharpen a Pencil

A few moments ago I happened to notice a small pencil sharpener, the kind with a steel blade set at angle, in my tray of miscellany.  I was struck by an urge to sharpen a wooden pencil.  I wanted to feel the blade cutting through the incense cedar fibers.  I felt this need physically, starting in  my front shoulders and forearms,  to make some wooden shape with a smooth cut of a perfectly sharpened chisel or knife or plane or handsaw – a throwback to my carpentry days.

In the same way, as I watched our senior math majors’ capstone talks, I felt the need to understand some small area of mathematics and explain it to somebody as they were doing.  This is, of course, part of my job, what I do, a fun part.  The emotional imperative to explain and explain well might account for whatever quality my lectures have and  comes from the depths of my being.

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About jrh794

I am a sixty-five year old math instructor at Southern Oregon University. I taught at the College of the Siskiyous in Weed California for twenty-six years. Prior to that I worked as a computer programmer, carpenter and in various other jobs. I graduated from Rice University in 1967 and have a MS in Operations Research from Stanford. In the past I have hand-built a stone house and taken long solo bicycle tours. Now I ride my mountain bike and play golf for recreation.
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