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Featured What menial mental task do you struggle with?

  1. Jan 9, 2017 #1
    We're all pretty smart people on this forum, but what little things does your mind, for whatever reason, just never want to learn?

    For me, it's the stupid trig functions. I can't just put angles and numbers on a triangle and solve anything. I have to tell myself "SOH CAH TOA." Every damn time.

    Same thing when I try to alphabetize something. "Hey, go find "kid" in the dictionary. "Okay, H, I, J, K... oh, so that's where K is."

    Oddly, though, I never use "lefty loosy, righty tighty." That doesn't mean anything to me, I do have to twist my hand in the air first to "feel" which direction I'm going.
  2. jcsd
  3. Jan 9, 2017 #2


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  4. Jan 9, 2017 #3
  5. Jan 9, 2017 #4


    Staff: Mentor

    I don't see anything wrong with that. Mnemonic devices are great for those things you don't use all the time.
    Yeah, I never use the "lefty loosy" thing, either. I have to turn my hand as well, especially if I'm looking at the threaded end of the bolt rather than the head end.
  6. Jan 9, 2017 #5
    The problem for me is that I do use these all the time. I make 2D video games for fun, that's all trig, seems like after this long I should just know which function to use without saying it.
  7. Jan 9, 2017 #6
    bah.. 40 years old and still singing the alphabet song...
  8. Jan 17, 2017 #7
    I am an Accountant and I can't add things in my head. (Quickly at least). I've gotten so used to relying on Excel that I don't trust myself anymore!
  9. Jan 17, 2017 #8
    ha. When I tell people I study math they are always asking me arithmetic questions, especially with money. My response is always "I'm not an accountant!"

    I see now I need another retort.

    -Dave K
  10. Jan 17, 2017 #9
    Lol. When I tell people I am an Accountant they all say, "You must be good at math!". I just smile and nod my head.
  11. Jan 17, 2017 #10

    Fervent Freyja

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    Well, if your wife is managing the household and taking care of the childcare all day, then it's very likely that uses arithmetic all day long, every day. Use her in your retort, although you have a degree in mathematics! Mothers rule when managing the small things. I can hold the prices of hundreds of items in my head (to the cent) for at least an hour and add them up without a calculator to ensure I meet my budget before I check out!
  12. Jan 17, 2017 #11


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    Point-of-sale counting and arithmetic of money bills and coins in my head...

    I almost always need to use arithmetic on paper to be sure the stuff is right.
  13. Jan 19, 2017 #12
    Mental arithmetic... I always lose a sign somewhere.
  14. Jan 21, 2017 #13


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    "Thirty days hath September..."

    Although for some reason the Spanish version that I memorized way back in high school comes more easily to me, even though I've forgotten most of the rest of my Spanish.
  15. Jan 22, 2017 #14


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    Remembering roads and routes. I am not at all good at it. I try sometimes, but after a couple of lefts, rights or U-turns, I give up.
    I still have to ask passers-by for directions at places I have been to before.
    (I am lazy enough not to turn on google-maps on my phone..:-p)
  16. Jan 22, 2017 #15


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    I've mental block on integer addition somewhere around the number 10. 6+3 is a breeze, so's 7+3. 7+4 is a little harder but the answer got to be 1 more than 7+3 because 4=3+1. But 7+5 is ... I need to think about it. My mind gets heavy. 8+5 is even harder. Hmm. Either split the 8 into a 5 and a 3, then add 5 with the 5, ... Or split the 5 into 2 and 3 then add 2 to the 8... So tired already. My eyelids drop. Teacher, can I take a break please?
    Last edited: Jan 22, 2017
  17. Jan 22, 2017 #16
    I need to tell myself to slow down and proof read what I write, because I usually make a TON of spelling and grammar errors.
  18. Jan 22, 2017 #17


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    The answer is 42.
  19. Jan 22, 2017 #18
    Glad I'm not the only one. There's a joke where Einstein keeps looking at a cheat sheet during a lecture ...

    Numerator on top

    Denominator on bottom.

    I do that too.
  20. Jan 22, 2017 #19


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    Me too - I'm the only engineer I know that gets lost everywhere. And I mean everywhere. My wife, on the other hand, seems to never get lost and usually knows what direction we are pointed. Early in our relationship there were a few times when she was navigating and I was driving and her directions would be "turn East" ... Now she knows I usually have no clue whatsoever so gives left-right directions only.
  21. Jan 23, 2017 #20


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    The Swedis mnemonic for that is much better. Unfortunately, it works the other way around in English so all I remember for that is that it is the wrong way around.

    In case anyone is interested:
    "Täljare på Taket, Nämnare där Nere" (roughly translates to "numerator on the roof, denominator down there" - the problem being that numerator starts with an N.
  22. Jan 23, 2017 #21
    I seem to always forget about the properties concerning inequalities and absolute values

    ##{\displaystyle |a|\leq b\iff -b\leq a\leq b}##
    ##{\displaystyle |a|\geq b\iff a\leq -b\ } ## or ## {\displaystyle b\leq a}##

    I always fail to remember with which one is which.... :cry:
  23. Jan 23, 2017 #22
    I can't remember the alphabet. I still have to sing my A, B, C's to myself..

    Responding to text messages is extremely difficult to me for some reason. It's not uncommon for conversions that should take 5 minutes to drag on for a week.

    Despite playing guitar for 8 years and having a decent knowledge of music theory, I still have to think out loud "Eddie Ate Dynamite Good Bye Eddie" when remembering what string I'm on.
  24. Jan 23, 2017 #23


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    I find it very difficult to remember "SOH CAH TOA.". In fact I cannot say it unless I write it down, and to write it down I need to say first what the trig functions are.

    What's there to remember! If you know what absolute value means, then it is obvious.

    Anyway, for me the most difficult thing is spelling. Not just in English, but also in my native language, where it is almost one to one for sounds and letters.
  25. Jan 23, 2017 #24
    Mental arithmetic for definite, especially when three or more digits. I get the answer but it's not instant. I think part of the problem is I don't have one constant method of doing the calculation, e.g. sometimes I'll add the numbers together from say, units then tens then hundreds, sometimes the opposite. Also I will never be able to retain which one is the anode and which is the cathode.
  26. Jan 23, 2017 #25

    Dr Transport

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    i before e except after c........ can't spell or type worth a flip, teh is my most common mistake...
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