by Robert Waltz
Not for the faint of art.
A complex number is expressed in the standard form a + bi, where a and b are real numbers and i is defined by i^2 = -1 (that is, i is the square root of -1). For example, 3 + 2i is a complex number.
The bi term is often referred to as an imaginary number (though this may be misleading, as it is no more "imaginary" than the symbolic abstractions we know as the "real" numbers). Thus, every complex number has a real part, a, and an imaginary part, bi.
Complex numbers are often represented on a graph known as the "complex plane," where the horizontal axis represents the infinity of real numbers, and the vertical axis represents the infinity of imaginary numbers. Thus, each complex number has a unique representation on the complex plane: some closer to real; others, more imaginary. If a = b, the number is equal parts real and imaginary.
Very simple transformations applied to numbers in the complex plane can lead to fractal structures of enormous intricacy and astonishing beauty.
PROMPT May 5th
If your job gave you a surprise seven day paid break to rest and recuperate, what would you do with those seven days?
I'm familiar with a company that does this sort of thing. Every so often they hold a raffle of sorts, and whoever wins the raffle is obligated to take some time off -- I don't remember if it's a week or three days or two weeks or whatever, but the trick is, that vacation time begins right now. Grab your stuff and head out the door. No calls, no texts, no work-related e-mails.
The point, as the employer explained to me, is twofold: One, it gives people a break, which is important as this is a finance company (that, by the way, is the only other clue I'm going to give as to the identity of the company), and you are probably aware of how stressful that industry can be.
The other reason is perhaps a little more double-edged: they want to hammer home the fact that no one person at the company is indispensable, that other people can step in and do the work if need be. So this raffle applies to everyone, from the CEO on down (though I'm guessing not to contract employees -- think, like, Uber drivers). The reasoning is that anyone could get hit by a bus at any time, and they don't want to get left holding the bag if one employee, even the CEO, doesn't have a backup plan in place. The dark side of this, of course -- the other edge -- is that this means that since no one is indispensable, they could lay you off at any time and barely feel it.
But meanwhile, hey, free vacation. Yes, if I recall correctly, it's paid time off. This is in addition to whatever their actual PTO policy is, which I'm not very clear on, but in finance it tends to be pretty minimal and discouraged. But I know they do get some.
With regular vacation time, one has the ability to make plans: buy airline tickets in advance, make hotel and rental car reservations, whatever. But you can't plan to win the Time Off Raffle (that's not what it's called, but again, I'm not naming names here), unless, I suppose, you figure out a way to cheat, which would make you an even bigger asshole than most financial services employees. So your options are probably a little more limited.
Now, I never worked for this company; they're just someone I do business with. But it did get me thinking about what I'd do with the time, so I can respond to this prompt as if I'm not retired and pretty much do whatever I want, whenever I want, anyway.
Given the nature of the company in question, I'd probably be tempted to stay home, sleep, binge-watch shows, and play video games. Maybe do some writing, but, mostly, sleep. There's a stupid goddamn portmanteau for this activity, which I hate so much that I'm not going to use here. It's cheap and there's no planning involved, and it is pretty much guaranteed to help one destress after a few months working in finance.
If I were feeling ambitious, I might use the time to look for better jobs, but I don't think they exist.
Another option, again if it were me, would be to do what I generally do on road trips: pick a destination at random -- I mean, really at random, not just say something like "I think Des Moines would be nice; I'mma go there" -- and take a road trip. No real planning is necessary, though it might help to check ahead to make sure there's not some festival or sportsball game at the destination that would sell out all the hotels. (I don't use AirBnB; they suck. Besides, you know all those scary "we used a black light in the hotel room and ew gross" videos? That's about rooms that are thoroughly cleaned; imagine how much worse an AirBnB run by some random schlub would be. I have a whole rant on this practice in my head; perhaps one day I'll get to use it.)
Of course, for me, such a trip would involve visiting all the breweries on the way to, at, and on the way back from, the destination; other people will have other priorities.
If your passport is up to date, perhaps you'd have other options, as well. I always thought it would be nice to take a spontaneous trip to, I dunno, Sydney or something. But foreign travel generally requires a bit more planning than domestic. And with what's going on in the world right now, I don't know if that sort of thing is even possible.