Friday, January 18, 2008

One year of blogging!

Would you believe it, it has been a whole year since I started writing this blog! It was at this time last year, when I had finished my Calculus and Vectors exam, that I decided to create a blog. Time seems to have flown.

Is a celebration in order? Well I am somewhat surprised that I actually managed to continue writing. I think that is mainly down to those who read and commented, for there were "periods of darkness" *cue eerie music*. Seriously though, I am glad that I continued writing.

This will be a disjoint post (like the 342 I managed in a year!) due to a headache. The process of writing a blog is a weird one. Initially when I first started, it was really a place to download whatever was on my mind here. It was like my home--my private place for my thoughts etc. Very soon though, you realise that the Internet is no such private accommodation. Everything is very much public. I didn't mind people reading and commenting, for whenever I write, I unfortunately(?) write as if I am talking to someone. This has its down side (i.e. too many exclamation marks on my part, which thankfully were corrected) but still I felt this was my house and the people reading it my guests. I didn't mind them reading it, and my conversation was with them.

However it is inevitable that you soon realise that you can't blog about certain things. I tend to write a lot of silly things one could say, and it was my "Dr. Who" post that put things into perspective. I am very impulsive and can write for England. What I am trying to say is that there comes a time when you can't write your proper thoughts without being cryptic. At the end of the day you can't write down what you wouldn't want someone to discover. That is I can't write something "not nice" about someone (I mean if someone pushed me towards my limit, I can't have an angry outburst here). You have to realise that anyone can come across your blog. I don't know how others came across my blog, because I never used to link it when commenting. But yes, I always felt good knowing that people read it, and was even more curious to know who read it. (I'm weird like that).

I think this blogging experience has been that of discovery. I did sometimes rage at certain lectures (which I still would even now!) but then stopped. Instead, what I do now is talk about all the brilliant lectures I have. Those which I don't find too great (because of the course material or any other non-trivial reason) I don't mention as much. Naturally I will have different opinions on different lectures (and lecturers) so I have to take that into consideration. My latest outlook on things has been this: I only write down what I would be comfortable saying to someone. (Well I try to anyway). Indeed on the feedback forms that we received, I only wrote things which I would have said. Sometimes students abuse the anonymity of feedback forms and write "nasty" things down. I make it a point to write my name down because as I said, I only write what I say.

If I feel that I can only think of nasty things to write(!) I refrain from commenting. Or try to say what I want to as nicely as possible. (Note: the only feedback form that was given and I didn't fill in, was for a lecture in my second semester of university! Instead my friend wrote what I felt.)

So yes, thankfully I think, I learnt this important lesson. The second problem I had was that even though this is my house and you me as beans, you would know me as someone else. I think I was only afraid of my fellow students discovering this blog, because to be honest, they are not invited to my house!! Ha. I don't mind anyone else reading this blog, even my lecturers for that matter, but I hate the thought of my course mates reading it. If they do read this, I would rather they not approach me and talk about the blog "in real life". Maybe it is because I feel very different to all of them and their outlook on life. I did think of telling the Tweenies about this once upon a time, but decided against it. This blog and the maths community which exists on the Internet gave me much more mathematical support than that of the university community last year. That was very much appreciated by me and it gave me some motivation.

I drag this post out because I am in a contemplative mood. My posting rate has been steadily decreasing, due to the extra commitments that I have taken on board this year. (Too many to count!) But I don't think that I will stop blogging unless something major happens. I enjoy writing you see (even though it is somewhat suspect), and hey I try to be a good host!

As my weirdness continues, I am trying to think of "high" blogging moments this year. There were plenty (I hope) but alas, there are too many to link (I mean 300 odd posts would take a while to link!) The first that springs to mind is my post on chaos, due to the fact that is was my third of the day. Mirror writing is also another luxury that I picked up through Blogistan, as was learning LaTeX. I mentioned the community feeling of Blogistan, and it was because of this that I got some motivation to do something myself. Having read Fermat's last Theorem my final motivation was in gear. Although no one seemed to enjoy the slimy tale of mine, even today it brings a big grin to my face! Namely because everyone is busy saying "ewww" and pulling funny faces! (I think that's enough for now... the pain in my head is causing me temporary memory loss). Ah yes- the first every Dame Kathleen lecture I went to was a big moment too!

I can't see myself commenting on any posts from this semester, apart from the ones about The Galois Group and my lecture. Well there are one or two others but this semester hasn't been very great, and that is unfortunately the first thing that I connect with it. Why does this post feel like the last of its kind? (Its not by the way!) I have just gotten out of practise of writing really long posts I think!

This blog has also "matured" my English and vocabulary to a very large extent. So if you want one reason to blog, that is as good enough a reason I feel. I don't about what you guys think, but I certainly feel a change to the way I used to blog. More control I think, has come about me. Although I do have outbursts, I think they are not as bad as has been known. Noddy was shocked once upon a time, when he read something I recently wrote. I have had a reputation for doing really badly at English in school, so being able to write a paragraph that makes sense comes as a surprise. There is always room for improvement, and I always find myself putting silly semi-colons in weird places, but please do comment if you notice something amiss. (That's part of the learning process).

So there are a lot of positives to blogging, not forgetting that you get a chance to whinge about anything (which has its own benefits). It also allows you to see how you've progressed and developed; how your aspirations are continuously changing and of course to write about your experiences. Meeting and interacting with people who share similar interests is also another positive, a very important one I feel. There has to be some negatives (in my case) and that is the fact that I tend to get carried away when posting. I can never give myself a time deadline to post something because I always break it. I enjoy writing too much which further influences my lack of control. Like now, I should be revising but... (actually this blog has nothing to do with why I am not caring). So the only negatives are that you my class mates might read this and that I need to be more disciplined about blogging.

Apart from that, drinks all round I say. (Tea of course!)

I will end this post after mentioning something that has been on my mind of late. It is the concept of giving sympathy. Someone might be in a difficult situation but be dealing with life and things. You on the other hand don't know this and feel sorry for said person. You then try to lend a hand to try to ease the other person's suffering and misfortunes, all the time thinking you are doing a good thing. Your intentions might be pure, but it is not your fault that you don't fully understand the situation and possible constraints on this other person. By lending your hand and "alternative solution" you are not being helpful.

DON'T give sympathy. Give support to the person so that they too do not worry that someone else is trying to get them to change their mind. By giving an alternative solution you might be indirectly driving that person away from you. They don't want to hear about alternatives. They want to hear that they can achieve the impossible and live to tell the tale. Please don't offer sympathy to people who don't ask for it. Is it human nature for us to sympathise with that which we do not understand, through no fault of ours? Indeed feel sympathy, but don't let the other party know. End of monologue, but I feel strongly about this, especially when wrong alternatives are offered. My dad said something strong to me the other day. "Rather do something bad then stay in the company of bad people." Every word in that is as you choose to define it. However, it made sense to me in a weird way.

That killed the celebratory mood right? Well I did say I was contemplating matters recently, and to finally end this post (I do like to "lie" it seems!) two quotes that were sent to me:

"Heavy thoughts bring on physical maladies; when the soul is oppressed so is the body."

"No man ever sank under the burden of the day. It is when tomorrow's burden is added to the burden of today that the weight is more than a man can bear."

Here's to more cheerful and 'mathsy' posts! (And me passing my exams hopefully!)

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