Once you reach 35 or so, or after your daughter approaches teenage status (which ages Dad 10 years for every one of her birthdays, I'm convinced) it's pretty natural to start playing the "what would I have done differently?" game. One of my favorite variations is "what would I have major in if I could go back now?" Or the spin-off edition, "Dear daughter: you're not majoring in history.*"
I've played this game for the better part of a decade, wondering which of my interests would have been better served with formal education and resulted in my launching a company that would change the world. I used to think this was just idle musing, but it turns out, I've found the answer.
If I could go back to school, I'd major in a combination of Low Dimensional Geometric Topology.
Why? Simple. I want to figure out why this damned area rug in my office won't lie flat.
The rug is the perfect size for covering up the center of the room. I pull it flat numerous times every day but it always manages to bunch back up -- and it always bunches in the direction of the bookshelves, between which is the egress. This makes no sense to me. Sure, I pace a lot while I'm on the phone. I walk constantly between my desk, the 3D printer, and the worktable. However, one would have to assume that for every southward trip (toward the door) I'm making a northward trip (toward the desk.) I assure you that I never leap from my desk to the tile outside the office door.
There must be a mathematical principle responsible for the constant wave pattern that appears in my rug throughout the day.** I've considered attaching the rug to the floor, but then it would no longer be a rug, it would be a carpet. That might solve the physical problem but wouldn't provide understanding. And as Jurassic Park taught us, achieving a result without philosophical comprehension leads to bad things.
Rest assured, when I have the leisure time available to earn a doctorate in mathematics, I'll focus on solving this problem for my own good and that of all other office dwellers.
*Just to be clear, I didn't major in history. I love history and have Randolph Campbell's Gone To Texas on my frequent re-read list, but even at 20 I realized that a history degree doesn't pave the way to many occupations. I majored in pre-law, the obvious choice for a guy who's going to spend 20 years working in business intelligence and databases.
**I've considered and rejected the philosophical theory that my rug bunches toward the door because I'm eager to leave my workplace and thus, put a bit more energy in trips of that direction. I love being at my desk and feel quite comfortable there, so I think the energy expended in each direction is balanced.