Recently in Math Category

  1. A bum wandered into the TA office.
  2. I spent 9 hours working on my optics take-home test.
  3. Someone mysteriously left a bag of tortillas hanging on my doorknob.
  4. My mom was released from the hospital.
I'll be crossing stuff off as I get it done. I have... nine days, and a total of eighteen items. I think I can do all of what I have to do, and a good deal of what I want to do, so yay!. First, the have-to-do's, in order of have-to-do-it-ness:
  • HOMEWORK: Write up four labs. Three of them were technically due last week, but they're really lenient about due dates for these.
  • TEACHING: Grade labs - four classes worth.
  • HOMEWORK: Optics, due 3/22.
  • HOMEWORK: Math Methods, due 3/24.
  • HOUSE STUFF: Fridge overhaul. Remove anything expired, green (as in, moldy) or unidentifiable.
  • HOMEWORK: Decide on a topic for my Optics term paper.
  • HOMEWORK: Start working on my Economics honors paper. Due 4/24, but I have a sneaking suspicion that I'm going to get less and less time to write stuff like this as the semester progresses, rather than more.
Then the want-to-do's, in order of want-to-do-it-ness:
  • PERSONAL: Neglect friends less. (You know who you are.) (Not that this can really be crossed off as "done", but I'm making good progress. It's not a particularly well-defined task or goal.)
  • PERSONAL: Work on the Protest Signs project. (Bought supplies and started on slogans for this. I'm satisfied that I can work on this in small spurts while in school, with this much out of the way.)
  • PERSONAL: Read Mark Haddon's "The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time". (Review forthcoming.)
  • PERSONAL: Newestart design.
  • PERSONAL: Talk to Eric about photography for Mythos.
  • PERSONAL: Writing-foo.
  • HOUSE STUFF: Plan garden. Begin execution. (Sunday. Mom's coming over to lend her gardening brain.)
  • PERSONAL: Start reading Robert Nozick's "Anarchy, State, and Utopia". (Nozick's smart. I believe this may mark the first time I've gotten a book from a professor that I enjoyed. I'm working on the second chapter now, which is enough momentum to keep me going, I think.)
  • PERSONAL: Braindump at Sam about OpenNotes.
  • PERSONAL: Braindump at Tyler about Guilt.
  • PERSONAL: Sleep. Sleep as much as the rest will allow. (Sleep GOOD!)


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I think I aced another ethics test today. My optics and calculus homework is all done. If I grade some labs tomorrow, I'll be well set up for not having jack (well, by my standards, anyhow) to do over spring break. Now I just need to finish my time dilator and I can do the whole indefinite vacation thing, right?


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No blog post today, guys. I had two potential topics to discuss tonight. One of them is all of: annoying, whiny, angsty, current, unproductive. The other is something I feel should be discussed, but needs more attention than I have span. It'll likely be approximately two posts in one. Don't you worry! I am still full of internets! So... look for that tomorrow.
My stress level has dropped immensely this week, from the beginning (oh god two homeworks two tests three labs to teach and one to write up and no I don't have time for proper punctuation in there) to now ( I don't have anything that I have to turn in by tomorrow.) Some of this has been refocussing, and some of it has just been that I was so busy I didn't have time to be stressed. I'm missing classes (two of them, both of which happily have dependable people who are willing to photocopy their notes for me) tomorrow for an appointment that got rescheduled during the morning, which conveniently means that I'll get to sleep in tomorrow. The getting-up-at-five thing will commence on a consistent basis after this weekend, I think, as while I do have homework, I'll also have a relatively large block in which I can sleep unstructured. I think I should be in a place where I'm not dragging ass from the cumulative sleep I've missed through the last month then, which will be good, and put me in a place where I don't feel like waking up at five is preventing me reaching my ultimate goal of being more focused and "on". I'm working on lab writeups this weekend; hopefully I'll be able to turn them all in before spring break, leaving the week-long holiday from school wide open for projects for which I've been trying to find time (photography and writing, mostly) and relaxation. Tomorrow night I'm heading to Liz's place for her birthday party; her hat's done, and I'm started on the fingerless gloves for her. The hat has an ostentatious pom-pon on the top. (N.B. If you're ever trying to make a pom-pon and you think to yourself, "Oh, that's going to be too small," - trust me, it'll be just fine that way.) I love Homespun. It is full of internets. That is all. In other news, my replacement iPod is back. I think the last replacement hated me for giving it the same name as the original, so I'm calling this one Jin instead of Jezebel.
I finally dragged my ass into bed early this morning around 3:00 am. "Sam?" I said, and waited for the grunt-like noise that indicated he'd floated far enough out of his unconsciousness to hear me. "Let me sleep until six." Another grunt. A day into the first of my goals, and I haven't met them yet. I know the typical criticism of resolutions - they basically begging to be broken, and then once you break them you have a "well, I've failed - fuck it" reaction. I think goals are a better frame of reference. Unlike a resolution, I'm not assuming success until failure, I'm assuming failure until success. Not meeting one today doesn't mean quit, it means work harder. The reason I was dragging myself into bed at 3:00 am is I spent most of last night staring at Math Methods homework. I'm actually being really successful this semester:
  • In Calculus, my lowest quiz score so far is 9/10; I've only missed one quiz entirely, due to illness; my first test was a 98%. I have my second test tomorrow. I should be at an A+.
  • In Math Methods, I've been getting consistent A's on the homework, which, unlike the Calculus quizzes, is a non-trivial feat. I managed a B+ on the first test, and considering I hadn't finished the homework in time so was missing part of the material, I think that's pretty solid. (It also followed a Friday Optics test on a Monday, which caused me to make a sad face.)
  • In Optics, which is probably my most difficult class, I'm sitting at an A. I got a C on the first homework, then turned that around with two perfect (or nearly-perfect) assignments and a test grade which wound up being an A after scaling.
  • Economics is an A. It's easy. You don't meet a lot of anarcho-capitalists, libertarian types, or people who ascribed to objectivism (lower- or upper-case) at some point who don't understand the most basic economic principles.
  • Ethics is another relatively easy A. It's a similar situation to Economics, really - even if objectivism flies in the face of something like 90% of all of the other philosophies out there, you don't learn about it without picking up on a lot of other random philosophy-foo, particularly formal logic. Rand turned me into a philosophy nerd, and an exacting one at that; while a lot of the class struggles with memorizing examples that are meant to illustrate principles, I struggle with arguments I find less than compelling. Thinking about the course that critically fortunately means that just giving back what I've been given is fantastically easy. When the instructor asks, "Based on our class discussions, why would you accept or reject theory X?" my reaction is to answer with, "Well, we rejected it based on a, b, c, d, and e; here's why each of them is flawed." All I have to do is curb the impulse to answer exhaustively beyond the scope of the class - I leave off the "here's why each of them is flawed" part - and I can carefully word my answer so as not to feel dirty about implying I agree with something with which I don't.
That may have seemed like a gigantic tangent, but it's really not. Last semester I was stressed and failing. This semester I'm stressed and succeeding. Success is addictive, pleasant, and so, so much better than failure (in this context). Last night was a sacrifice of sleep and my early rising goal on the altar of my homework. Actually, it was a little of that, and a little of just the opposite - I didn't get every problem done, because at some point the angry god of sleep wanted some action on his altar, too. When I was talking about my goals, I skimmed over the goals I'm already working on in favor of the ones I'm just starting. I think that my primary goal is to find a balance between my goals, so that if - or realistically, when - they come into conflict and I have to sacrifice one for another, I have a better way of deciding when two hours of sleep is worth the points I'll get for the homework I can get done (or whatever the situation might be). Last night, the 0.6% of my final grade that the handful of problems I finished represented was probably a less than optimal use of my time, as I'm unfocused, surly and vaguely depressed today. You live, you learn.
My stripey hat (on Flickr) I wasn't feeling well yesterday - a mixed product of lack of sleep (I gave up on my optics homework at 4:30am, then had to get back up at 6:00am to get ready to go to school), stress (over said homework and the looming dates of various tests, the grading that I desperately need to get done in time, the labs for which reports are due just far enough away to make me paranoid about forgetting to do them), malnutrition (in the "I have no time to eat properly so I guess it's ramen and instant oatmeal again all week" way, not the "I live in one of those third world countries my mother held over my head when I didn't want to finish my dinner" way) and probably a bit of actual illness (who knows). I wound up going to school for a couple hours - talked with my classmates about the optics assignment, finished all but half a problem, gave the end result to one of them to hand in, and went home. This strategy netted me four additional hours of sleep, a desperately needed half-hour shower, and something like ten waking hours at home in which I was emphatically not doing homework - which I enforced by not bringing any of it home with me. I paid for it in five missed classes, one of which contained a quiz. That's micro-economics, and since my time at home was higher valued than the potential ten points on the quiz (I have a freaking A+ in that class so far - it's not going to hurt me), I'm calling that opportunity cost, baby. I needed yesterday, anyway. I've been scrambling hard to keep up in my classes, with my teaching, and everything's just so stupidly difficult. I mean, don't get me wrong - I love physics. It's awesome. I get conceptually googly-eyed at least twice a day. You can't buy that. (Tuition notwithstanding.) The pace of seventeen learning-credits and two teaching-credits is just killing me, though. I have labs that need to be graded by 1pm today (this blog post brought to you by the phrasee "mild irresponsibility"). I'll be teaching for four hours today. Tomorrow I'll have six and a half hours of class, followed by time for more grading, followed by another four hours of teaching. Thursday I should perform some lab experiments and study a lot and do homework, as I have an assignment due in math methods on Friday and the first of three exams for optics as well. If I told you this was unusual, I'd be lying. It's been like this for three weeks straight. I spent most of Saturday and Sunday doing optics homework, and I spent Saturday night from 5:00pm to 9:00pm doing my optical diffraction experiment. After this week, I still get no relief - I've got optics homework due Monday, and a math methods test, and I think I might have a caclulus test, too... Anyway, the point is, I'm so, so stressed I don't know what to do with myself. 90% of my time is eaten by stuff that I absolutely have to do. In the remainder, I'm typically so braindead I can't do a lot of the stuff I usually do for relaxation (like text-based online roleplaying). So last night, I ate a little ice cream (coffee ice cream with bananas, strawberries and hot fudge, yo), I talked to Will for a bit (which always elevates my mood by ten billion), and then I grabbed my new yarn (Lion Brand Wool-Ease Thick & Quick in Pumpkin and Spice) and started in on an earflap hat. Two movies (The Wedding Crashers and Batman Begins) later, it was done, and I went to bed ultimately satisfied with my ability to make adorably cute articles of clothing. It's stripey. It's orange. It's pointy. It has, if you like, three corners - one at the top and two at the bottoms of the earflaps. Crocheting is an awesome physical activity for me, because I can do it when my brain is mush, and the end product restores my faith in myself. I will prevail. To those of you I'm neglecting, I beg your patience. You know who you are. Heart you all. * "Mein Hut, der hat drei Ecken" is the beginning of a traditional German folk song. It means "my hat, it has three corners".

Math I Can Do

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Someone back on this post requested proof that the derivative of cos(x) is -sin(x). I may not have passed Calc III, this time around, but Calc I is eminently doable. To avoid spaminess here, find the proof here. (Now with Maple goodness.)


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The semester is almost over, so hey! It's time for an update. The buzzwords for this semester: STRESS, ANGST and FAILURE. Yeah, so, now that I got that F-word out of the way, here's the long story. I started the semester taking Russian I, Native American Religion, Calculus III and World Civilizations I. Two classes into Native American Religions, I realized that the professor was going to teach a class in a way that was patently disrespectful to me and my beliefs, so I went and had a chitchat with the head of that department and the dean of my college. The short, polite version of that story ends in me switching from Native American Religion to Computer Tools for Physicists, and still wondering if I'm going to be able to find a class to satisfy my multicultural affairs requirement. I was warned early in the semester that Russian would be OMG hard. The truth? Not terribly hard, for me at least. I'm (to the annoyance of others in my life) a natural linguist, so with what I'd consider minimal effort, I'm sitting somewhere around a high B, low A. The final is Monday. Computer Tools (my next Monday class) is an annoying class with a good professor. The class is generally the sort of thing I like to puzzle out on my own with a book (it's basically How To Use Maple 101), and so my attendance and effort level has been sort of low. I'm behind with the homework, but I purchased my own copy of Maple yesterday and am catching up rather quickly. I just hate hate hate the chairs in the lab where the Maple computers are, which has been making me very reluctant to go in and do the homework. I have no idea what I'll get in that class, though I suspect a decent grade. The professor's a fair guy. World Civilizations I is easily my favorite class this semester, with a professor who loves tangential relationships between things, and discovering the true causes of problems and conflicts. I'm probably going to get a B in that class, which could have been an A if I'd have studied a smidge more. Then there's Calculus III. I failed. The final hasn't happened yet, but even with a perfect score on it? I can't pass the class. This is entirely my fault (with some contributing factors which are nonetheless not the cause). The professor's voice and the ambient temperature in the room made me fall asleep in class, but more than that - I just didn't work at it. I've never had to really work for a grade; I could mostly just slide through a class with an A, or at worst, a B or B-. By the time I realized how hard I was going to have to work, it was too late - I was already massively behind. So! I'll be retaking that next semester. I'll be taking: Calculus III Mathematical Methods of Physics Optics Economics (Micro) Ethics Experimental Physics IV I'll also be teaching two labs. Fun stuff. ...more later, maybe, when I'm not in an angsty, surly mood.


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Because I've been freaking busy the last couple of weeks, I've not done a proper update. Here's the skivvy.
  • We're 85%-ish moved in at the new house. The remaining 15% consists of going to the apartment to pick up a load or two of straggling stuff, cleaning at the apartment, and unpacking some at the house.
  • The house is beautiful. Wonderful. Splendiferous. Every day, we find something that we like a little more. Every day, we find something that makes us realize how good a deal we got.
  • Classes are going alright. Russian's easy. Computer Tools for Physicists - i.e., Maple - easy. Calculus III should be easy, but I crapped the first test because I slacked off a little too much. World Civ is fascinating, and not terribly difficult, either.
  • My labs are going swimmingly. I've got a pattern for grading and reviewing the next material to be taught and having office hours and all of that, so it's smooth sailing. The lab write-ups my students turn in are getting fairly consistently better, which makes me feel great.
  • Forensics is going... strangely. I'm trying to put together a persuasive, a program of interpretation, and a poetry piece. The persuasive is too long - I have too much support for my case. I'll have to cut it down by another minute or two, then memorize, refine, perform. My program is missing. It went AWOL in the sea of boxes. I'm considering putting it on a milk carton. The poetry I just started, and I'm not absolutely certain as to my theme, yet - but I've got a lot of ideas, and I'm going to try to have it finished by the end of the weekend.
  • Mentoring is going well. (I'm mentoring a student in math through the talented and gifted program at one of the area middle schools.)
Beyond that, I'm doing a good deal of roleplaying in various venues, in that copious spare time I have (ha!). Hopefully coming soon: a photographic walkthrough of the fantastic neighborhood we live in. You may now return to your regularly scheduled muggling.
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