If veterinarian A leaves the clinic traveling 10 miles per hour ...


Warning: Magazine editors doing math ahead.

My entire lifelong athletic career can be summed up in one sentence: I ran track in eighth grade, and I played volleyball my first two years of high school. By the end of my sophomore year, I realized that sports weren’t for me. Despite the fact that both of my parents were fairly athletic, my natural coordination was such that unless I’d learned how to do something by age 12 (downhill ski, water­ski, play ping-pong), it was pretty much hopeless.

But that’s not to say I don’t have a nice collection of medals and trophies from my glory days. What triumphs do they commemorate? Writing contests. Science fairs. Math contests. Yes, I am a nerd. My senior year I even joined High-Q, a scholars-bowl-type extracurricular activity where practices consisted of watching Jeopardy, doing the New York Times crossword puzzle, and playing Trivial Pursuit. I loved it. By that point I was completely in touch with my inner nerd and enjoyed hanging out with my nerdy classmates.

Back to the math contests. I know editors aren’t supposed to be very good with numbers, but back in my mathlete days I could hang with the digit-heads—at least with lots of coaching and prep with my very patient math teacher. Today I couldn’t complete a proof or find the area of a rhombus to save my soul, but I clearly remember that at one time I not only knew what a quadratic equation was, I could solve it. I think it involved something called factoring.

Alas, today most of those skills are gone, but I do use math all the time in my job now. Especially when it comes to our annual State of the Industry Issue in August. Fortunately, computer software does most of the analysis for us, but if we want to find a percentage change from year to year, or if we want to combine certain groups of survey respondents, or if we stumble across a bunch of raw data that would provide some interesting insights, we get out the calculators and scratch paper. And we work with the weighty awareness that if we make a single numerical misstep, you eagle-eyed sharpies out there will alert us to it. (Speaking of which, I’m surprised I haven’t heard from any of you about the typo on the Checking In page last month.No snarky Epic of Gilgamesh jokes? I’m a little disappointed.)

Because, like most stereotypes, the innumerate editor typecast has a seed of truth to it, we occasionally hold in-house continuing education sessions focused on math. The “reward” for making the most errors is to take possession of an enormous calculator the size of a human torso. I won’t outright tell you who currently holds that trophy, but I’ll give you a hint: 01000001 01000010. If you know who it is, be sure to go to dvm360.com/community and give this person a hard time.

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