Friday, February 29, 2008

Book Thief!

On Dr. C's blackboard it says: "Beans has stolen a book". One could say that someone's name gives them definition i.e. their first and second name. So this brings me to my first point. The surname of that bean wasn't specified so fingers can't be pointed at me. Secondly, "a book" could mean any book in the world including "Cat and Mouse" by James Patterson. So if they insist I have the book then I will return that one (or any other book I have which might be liked).

But then they go on to ask me, to explain the following picture:
What do I reply to that, I'm under oath don't forget?!

Then the confessions come flying out of my mouth. Dr. E had lent me his book by ET Bell, after he was horrified that I had viciously attacked Bell's version of Galois' life in my lecture, without having read the book myself. I confess to not having made a start to it, but I promised Dr. C that I will return it before Easter. It seems that Dr. E had gone to Dr. C about his book! Haha, that made me laugh, for I'm no longer sure whether or not Dr. E actually believed me when I suddenly became dumb and deaf at the mention of his book. (To make myself feel better, at this newly formed alliance against me, I will console myself with the thought that Dr. E had felt he would never get his book back hence why he spoke to Dr. C about it. What good that's going to do I don't know! Well it has made me feel guilty so his plan might have worked after all.)

The LaTeX book on the right belongs to Dr. C. And NO before you believe what he wrote on his blackboard, I didn't steal it! I'm just borrowing it for the weekend (erm... well that was what I promised). I had been discussing trees and LaTeX with him, and he had gone to his book shelf for that book. It is my intention to have the coursework completed by the weekend, since it is due in next week; hence why I think it might be a tad inefficient to play around with new packages when I should work on answering the questions! The plan formed was to plot coordinates etc. to create my trees. The book is very useful, and where Dr. C saw a picture of a tank I saw a butter knife and a piece of toast. In my defence I had been looking at it upside down and my sandwich was still in my bag.

As Dr. C went to put the book back on his shelf, I hesitated for a moment with thoughts of his new allegiance with Dr. E floating in my mind, but then thought what the heck and went for the kill. Initially he did say no, but I think he was also remembering how easily I forget that Dr. E has lent me a book! I knew that the library wouldn't have them in stock (for the last time I had checked they were all out), and truth be told I couldn't be bothered going to the library. Desperate times call for desperate measures, so I had to reluctantly condition the borrowing of his book--I'll return it by Monday in one piece, and if it gets damaged he'll get a new copy from me. Not one scratch. (Well I don't intentionally try to damage books, for I am very fond of them, but I am the vulnerable party now).

By the way--it is one heavy book. Nice but heavy. My back will second that statement.

Does that clear my name? Please don't feel that you can't "lend" me any books after this ordeal I have been made to suffer. I will recover soon--of that you shouldn't worry. (I even rubbed "stolen" of the blackboard so be reassured). I think I might buy the LaTeX book for myself, for whenever I borrow it from the library it always gets recalled, and I only have Dr. C's copy for two days. Humbug. (I used to enjoy teasing Dr. E by forgetting what book he was talking about, but I can't do the same thing with Dr. C's book. I like to think that I keep my promises--although at times I do look for "get out now clauses" cf. doing half of the introductions for the lectures!)

I still can't stop marvelling at how snugly them two books fit on my shelf... and the fact that people out their actually trust me. (Muhahaha!! Actually wait, I shouldn't do anything to make them stop doing such a thing!) What can I say, I'm a trustworthy bean me! (In my defence I never stole money from the bank when I used to be the banker in monopoly...)

Lecturers blackmailing?!

It's a conspiracy I tell you! They have all ganged up on me. Damn. Wait for my post after this to hear about who else has joined hands. (I am waiting for the battery to charge up first...)

Guess who the blackmailer is on this occasion?!

"Isn't this a good occasion to change your ...... etc ? If you do I will send the orderless elements into Room 101, and there they will be forgotten forever."

I thought only I was allowed to do such things. What can I do now? The orderless elements, which I had pretended to have forgotten, are something which can destroy me!

OK, enough dramatics (yes, you read that correctly). My mind is working overtime to see who else is joining forces against me. Anyone want to join my side? [Although regarding this particular case, I think the blackmailing is mutual.]

But what sounds worse--students "persuading lecturers" using their well thought out ideas, or lecturers blackmailing students? :D Haha. I'll be back.

Thursday, February 28, 2008

Apathy, depression, sadness and finally hapiness!

My earlier post about the episode with Dr. E's blackboard, happened at the end of the day (after 4pm), and as you might have read, I was a bundle of happiness at that point. Why you ask? Well I could make you suffer through another post and then reveal my happiness, or I could state my joy and then "lightly" take you through the events that occurred. Well if I made you suffer, that would only imply that I can't be as happy as I claim to be! The good news is that I have A passed my January exams. :D This news actually made a rather morbid day come to life, but for more details read on this longish post!

Last night I had a disturbed sleep, waking up on at least two occasions having dreamt about my exam results. Today was the official day we were getting them, and each dream had been alive. In one my PT had asked me whether I had wanted my results, only for me to decline! It was stupidity at the worst, for I can't ever claim to having not been able to sleep due to worry about exam results. On one occasion it had been 5:45am and I had felt wide awake, believing my dream to be true. The only way I convinced myself that the results I had seen were not true (and not to get my hopes high!) was that I hadn't switched my computer on!

Indeed it had been a dreadful night, and I had woken up looking very much like I hadn't slept for a few days. Unsurprisingly, during a rushed breakfast thoughts of the results floated in and out of my head, however my dreams had given me an inner strength. Well no longer was I desperate for my results. We were to get our results from "Campus Problems" and I planned not to do so until the end of the day (or something similar). My mother reassured me and someone else annoyed me by saying "but you can't have failed". Silence surrounded me as I tried to lock my fears and control my emotions. Due to my tiredness I wasn't really in the mood for "certain" conversations, and so gladly kept quiet for a change.

I walked to the AT Building this morning, surprisingly very slowly due to very sore muscles (ask the lecturer who saw me run home yesterday after the maths in society lecture--I'm not made for the long distance runs, but short sprints unfortunately!) My mind though was filled with sadness. I felt a resigned fear and the Tweenies and my conversation with Mik yesterday, kept on spinning in my head: "Beans wasn't meant to say "we" but 'I'". I felt like exploding. Yes they're with me, but still I felt a gripping lonliness. (Hence why I made sure to thank those who have helped me yesterday and continue to do so). In my head I was planning on telling Dr. Coleman that I give in and could he do what needs to be done for the last lecture. It felt wrong thinking all this at this stage, and after such brilliant lectures yesterday too. But still I couldn't deal with it all any more, was what was going through my head. I needed some air.

Reaching the AT building I cheated. I sneaked a peak to see if my results were online and then straight away shouted at myself. I can't really explain what came over me, but negativity was surrounding me. I don't pretend to be normal, but maybe it was exam results stress that was causing me to behave this way. Even now I become slightly sad thinking about what the Tweenies said. During my epic four hour of lectures, my brooding nature remained, but there were moments when I felt my normal self. I don't sit with the Tweenies in the calculus lectures any more, because Bella and Arthur talk throughout and I feel my jaw needs a break! Although my excuse to them is that I prefer sitting near the front, so that I only lose concentration for a few seconds! (I have got to do what I have to do, and calculus has become more interesting now).

All throughout them lectures, my mind did wander to what I was going to tell Dr. C about my decision, but for a few seconds only (thoughts about exam results and sleep had priority)! After the long stretch it was lunch time in the AT building. Most people headed to the computer room to check Campus Problems, but with my resolve back, I headed to the teaching and learning office to hand back the OHP markers. There I overheard that the results won't be online till later in the afternoon. Happy, I headed back to the table to wait but then got bored waiting and went to make the next batch of posters. (The new posters look pretty neat and I will add the link to the timetable on the right soon. )

Then it was time to see DC. I confessed to feeling like I was going to explode and not being able to do it any more. That was a really low moment--giving in. My reasoning which had made sense in my head, suddenly screamed at me for acting stupid. For 6 months or so I have kept the negative people at bay, and kept on working at it, so why stop now. I was affected badly. Dr. C reassured me to not worry about the Tweenies, and that I did have a lot on. That's what I was getting confused with. I have exhausted myself already, and became overwhelmed with everything that I have to do. That coupled with not a lot of support from the Tweenies did dampen my spirits. The thing is that I didn't go to DC to hand the towel in. I wanted someone else to shoulder the responsibility whilst I recuperated.

This I understand now. Thankfully I kept a lid on my emotions though, for I felt myself leaving the building! I also realised why I bug Dr. C, my PT and other lecturers about the Galois Group: they listen, give ideas, and are actually interested which makes me feel great. Leaving the receipts with DC I left, but still lacking that energy. Gulping my tea down I had headed for my discrete maths lecture, amused now, at the situation I was finding myself in.

At 3:42pm, the girl in front of me had received a message and then informed her neighbour: "the results are out". My heart dropped and my eyes became fixated on the clock! The lecture had consisted of proving three lemmas, so not following the last one didn't bother me too much. At the end of the lecture most people had headed to the computer cluster in the Chemistry building, but since I had posters to stick up, I went to the AT Building.

My heart was in my mouth as I loaded campus problems. It stayed there for quite some time, after my results appeared for they didn't register initially. I didn't know how to react. What should I feel? For so long this day had been torturing me and now I was lost for emotions? Had my emptiness during the day drained me? I spotted that my algebra and pde results were the same as the "leaked ones", and then my eyes went to stats and real analysis.

Then the heart dropped. The first proper smile hit my face and relief flooded my body. I had passed everything! Part of me still feels that teeny weeny bit of something, which tells me that I could have done much better in algebra and pde's, had I revised efficiently for them. But given the circumstances in which I took the papers, and the fact that for the first time in my life I didn't complete a single paper, I will take the results I got. I'm still in disbelief and keep on checking campus problems, praying that my results haven't changed! (And I didn't do too badly in stats--phew). Nevertheless though, I didn't forget why I passed. There is only one reason as to why I passed and if you want to know, ask my mum. :)

I had to tell my PTs the good news and rushed to see them. My PT had been busy initially so I had gone to see Dr. C as I had seen him from the bridge. There I had picked the posters up, and grinning informed Dr. C that I was back. I am back. I had left the building before and I will take care not to do so again. I can do this. Even though I am still in disbelief about my results, and don't know what went on, I will have to keep at it. That energy returned in excess and I then rushed to see whether my PT was free again, and this time he was. He was disappointed at my real analysis mark, but then that's why he's my PT. :D I explained my horrible day to him, but kept it briefer than this post of course! Finally I went to see whether Prof. S was in today (although I had inkling he wouldn't be). He wasn't but I'll see him tomorrow hopefully.

You see I can only tell my PTs my result and my happiness, for only they understood my fears. They understood how my first semester had been blue and my struggles, without adding more pressure on me. That was all that was needed to make my day fantastic. My fears have been dispelled and determination is back in my blood. It was after I had collected the posters that Dr. E had asked me about the message on his board and after this I also spoke to Dr. W and Mik again. Indeed it seems Dr. W was finding herself in the same boat as myself, and I couldn't disguise my happiness at returning from the land of morbidness. My conversation with Mik was a continuation of yesterdays conversation, during which the Tweenies had corrected me and I had decided to keep quiet. It flowed pleasantly, and due to his words I might give Cauchy analysis another chance to get in my good books! (Too tired to write about other interesting things discussed).

So what now I wonder. This post has lost steam towards the end as sleep calls to me like a long lost friend. This week especially, due to exam results stress, I haven't studied, and I really need to do so. Maths students, never make the mistake of assuming a module is easy and hence not revising as much for it or doing enough work. I made that mistake last semester and hope not to make it again this semester.

The Galois Group will continue. I won't let it stop. Yes, I said "I"--shoot me. Tomorrow the posters must go up, and an email to the lecturers explaining why the posters will occupy a small portion of the black boards! That's my plan, to stick posters on the blackboards until the damn estate people reply to my email. I give them until tomorrow, and then I'm going to email a final person before sticking the posters up. Anything else that needs doing? Time will tell, but I have to stop doing certain things now as well. What to stop though is what needs to be decided. Hopefully I won't be having any bad dreams tonight, and if you're still reading I'm surprised you haven't fallen asleep yet!

I hope that any other students passed (whatever you classify that as) and got what you wanted. Exams and the amount we have are a curse to students. (Let's not mention their benefits now!) I hope to improve. :)

Dr. E's blackboard.

I would like to narrate something which I found embarrassingly funny. (Well it was embarrassing for me, so you might find it funny). Dr. E has this brilliantly cool blackboard stuck on his office door, (which I'm conspiring to get my hands on!) and which I will soon have a picture of. Anyway, yesterday was the first time I had spotted this and straight away my child-like antics took over. (I have an excuse for my behaviour-hurrah). Dr. E though was adamant--he wouldn't let me have it. Yes, I had shamelessly begged him for it, but since he's on a sabbatical it's useful for him and he likes it too. I was persistent but so was he, and eventually I went away determined to get my hands on one, with Dr. E's final comment ringing in my ears: "If it's not there, I'll know who has taken it!"

This morning I happened to walk past his office door, and after I had another inquisitive look at the black board, the following message appeared on it: "It's ET Bell or the blackboard. Let me know what you decide!" or something like that... Note: I did not mention that I wrote that little message, so naturally I was intrigued when Dr. E accused me of such antics. I'm not the blackmailing type of people (anyone who disagrees better have a good reason for doing so! Hehe.) I'm the "persistent bugs" who only stop bugging once satisfied, but then again, it is a cyclic thing. I am reassured of my bug like nature because my bugging hasn't caused anyone to swat me away yet; but that might be because I have become immune to everyone's attempt so don't start now! (And don't tell those concerned!)

So I innocently asked Dr. E of what message he was speaking of, and which book! (Two can play at this game...) He retraced his sentence as I stood there wide eyed, looking curious as to what Dr. E was talking about. My problem is that this BIG STUPID grin finds its way onto my face. I couldn't resist and burst out laughing, which gave away my innocence. Damn--I always do this. (Although I still think that some force caused my hand to move when I picked the chalk up. Come to think of it, I know what happened!! As I picked the chalk in my right hand, my left hand held my right hand and forced it to write on the board. See, I knew something fishy was going on, I just knew it!)

Then Dr. E went serious and said that he really did need that book. I have yet to read it, but what better time than today to start reading it? Dr. E is not going to be my friend over the Easter break for he can't make it to the last Galois Group lecture of the term. Nevertheless maybe his blackboard can change that?!! Haha, OK fine if you insist I'll let him of for missing the last one for he has been brilliant all throughout the semester. (He's one of the few people who have attended all the lectures so far but sadly he's going to miss out on the certificate...)

So what's embarrassing you ask? Well although my post describing today's drama will be up later, I will point out to you at this moment in time I was on cloud nine. I spoke to a few people as I went about my poster sticking business, but due to "talking" I only managed to stick one up!! (Well my deadline is tomorrow). Anyway it was soon time to go home and I decided to stick the posters up tomorrow, and headed to Dr. C's office to put them away. As I exited his office my eyes fell upon "the blackboard again". An unnatural force overcame me as I stealthily marched towards it.

Picking the chalk up and laughing to myself, I began to write. I was enjoying myself very much, thinking about what my next "blackmailing" message could be! Suddenly the door was pulled open and Dr. E's face appeared out of nowhere--smirking. I had honestly jumped back and then lost my balance, due to the shock and my fits of laughter, and then landed on my backside! So I ended up crawling away from his door (to safety!) as fast as possible whilst laughing my head off. Well I confess to initially having been surprised and uttering an "aaaahhhh--what are you doing here" before crawling towards the printer for my life! Sitting on the floor cross legged, with the chalk in my hand and as far away from Dr. E as possible, I just laughed like a nutter at my situation. Dr. E just stood there looking pleased at having just equalised, and told me to get of the floor (even though it was comfortable as always).

A post grad student happened to walk past and enquired whether I was OK. Shame faced I had laughed that I was OK, and Dr. E had just shocked me, whilst I tried to stop laughing! Honestly it was his face... just like in the movies when you're caught doing something you shouldn't be. You had to be there!

Finally, as the laughter came to a close, I stood up and carefully walked towards him. (Well I wasn't going to give the game away foolishly). Putting the chalk back I asked him how he had heard me writing on the board? It's the damn doors! Meh, Dr. P's whose office is next to Dr. E's also added some insight about the doors but I was too busy plotting my revenge. Hmm, Dr. E added to my embarrassment by asking me to finish what I had started to write!! The humiliation. I matter of factly replied that since he was in, there was no point in doing so and I will leave him a message tomorrow.

And yes, I know what I will be writing on his board tomorrow. It seems that my little (friendly) battles with the lecturers are not having their desired outcome i.e. I'm losing!! Do you think they have all got together now, which I feared? (Well the scores at the moment all read draws, although I think Dr. C might have the upper hand still, because of the silly word gullible. Ouch).

Any ideas on how I can get that blackboard? Wait till I post its picture--you'll all be waiting outside his office wanting it too!

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Imagine that it's 11am i.e. this morning

It is 11am and I apologise for the lateness of this reminder to everyone. Once again the time has come to form new friendships and renew old ones (with me of course!) Well actually don't take that to mean what it says, I'll define it properly in due course but if you do enter this "friendship" relation with me (by attending the Galois Group lectures of course!) then please do drop me a smile. It can't kill can it? Of course, not smiling could mean that my antics infuriate you and you would rather I melt in front of your very eyes; but even so I don't mind "evil smiles". (I get them all the time from certain people who I will refrain from mentioning, but they know who they are! Actually they are evil but friendly smiles (don't ask!) so I'll let them off.)

Whoops, back to the point. Today there will be four lectures taking place and two by The Galois Group. The special thing about today's Galois Group lectures is that they are by two second year students, who at this moment in time might be giving me the "real" evil smile. The poster of this lecture which I linked yesterday is here (link to pdf file of poster). Due to the poster sticking problem and my "defeated" attitude for a few days, I really had let go of the Galois Group during this time. Normally I am always on Dr. Coleman's case to send this email, do that, speak to this person etc. but this time round I think I wasn't as big a bug as I would liked to have been. (He will obviously disagree to that, for I have made up for them "off days" yesterday and today!) I had totally forgotten about the refreshments yesterday, but thankfully got them this morning before coming into university.

Below are the abstracts and then my explanation with a few million words!

*************************************************

Wednesday 27th February 2008 at 1:10-2pm; Alan Turing Building - G205

Student 1-Rubik's Cube: A Permutation Puzzle.
Abstract
The Rubik's Cube is an iconic mechanical puzzle from the 1980?s that is interesting mathematically as it admits a natural group structure offering a tangible example of a large permutation group($ \subset S_{48}$). In this talk, we shall discuss some basic properties of the so-called 'Rubik's Cube group' and see how solving the puzzle essentially involves calculating an inverse element in terms of 6 particular generators.

And

Student 2: The Agony and the Ecstasy - Mathematics and Art
Abstract
Surrealism or Impressionism, illusions or the Renaissance, calligraphy or tiles- whether you look at fine pencil sketches or deep paintbrush strokes or spiralling whorls of colour, hiding right behind, you'll find Maths. Artists use it to show an honest reflection of life or they might paint the mathematically impossible in order to create an alternate reality or occasionally the painting might just be an allegory for Maths. Whether embracing it or rejecting it or hiding it, all artists rely on Maths, and here's hoping to uncover it in this talk!

**************************************************

OK, you can stop pretending that it's 11am now. Apologies for forgetting to post this, but call it luck, that I linked the poster yesterday but didn't mention anything.

Anyway the event, regardless of the poster problem, turned out to be great--the attendance was brilliant. I have a register going around for two reasons (which Dr. Coleman didn't specify!) Firstly so I can see where the audience is coming from i.e how many first years are attending, and how many second years etc. It seems that in today's lecture there were many second years due to the speakers being second years. Knowing these numbers allows me to revise my advertising plans and see what I'm doing wrong. I think The Galois Group is still a whisper to many, but quite a few of the staff and post grad students have caught on now so I can relax slightly about them particular adverts. Word of mouth is the biggest thing I rely on, and I make it a point to mention the Galois Group lectures to anyone who I haven't already seen at the lectures.

The second (trivial) reason is that I have to buy refreshments, so I have a brief idea on how much to buy. That mattered initially but now I think I have a better idea on this.

I realise I haven't spoken about the lecture in this post, but I hope to do so soon. All I can say is that the speakers did a brilliant job, and their composure in front of everyone was great. Memories of my lecture came back to me, when I had decided to rush through the ending, rather than "chopping the tail off". We learn I suppose, but today's lectures were interesting and very well delivered.

Answer me this: WHY do I get nervous and excited at the same time, every Wednesday?? I can't sit still, I can't eat, I have to be doing something! It's not panicked nerves for I was confident about attendance today, but the excitement causes adrenaline to overflow through my veins. My friends told me to calm down. Pfft, like that's ever going to happen. It's not nerves like when it was my lecture, but truly it is an amazing feeling. I feel that energy. I drink from it. When I see people attending the lectures I get happy you see, and this coupled with nerves and excitement is a bad combination! My PT also told me to calm down, as did DC and many people. (DC was lucky that I was taking pictures when he said something about broken bones, and hinted at this having something to do with me! I wouldn't have thrown the camera... how can you suggest such a thing! It was a birthday present.... but still!)

Whoops apologise for that. That energy is still floating about, and I have the biggest of grins on my face. I feel that only the outer part of my body exists, and the Galois Group has occupied the insides of me, draining me. Although that energy is there, I am very very close to exhaustion. I want to however, before I shut up, thank all the people who make this "dream" a reality. I.e those who attend the lectures, those who munch on refreshments afterwards, those who throw an encouraging word into the ring, and especially those whose nerves are tested due to my persistence and sometimes annoying presence. (Well it depends on who you are in this case!!)

I used the royal "we" today and was quickly reminded that I shouldn't say "we" when talking about the Galois Group but "I". This saddened me for a few seconds, but I recovered by explaining that when "we" write maths, "we" don't use "I" but "we". Sigh. Seriously though, thank you very much and I hope that you continue attending future lectures organised by The Galois Group. (Trust me: a happy and smiling bean is better than a green and angry one. :D)

After the Galois Group lectures, at 4pm it was the Mathematics in Society lecture. This was the first lecture I have attended on my own, and none of my PT's were around too. (I did try to convince two of them to attend, but not too desperately for it is enough that they attend the Galois Group lecture!) I'm glad that I did attend though and felt even better because I didn't have to see any bored faces, of those who I would have "forced" to attend . I must say that today I listened to four very interesting lectures, and I had a burning question on my lips for the second speaker which I couldn't ask due to having to rush home. I wrote it down though and when I post about all the lectures that took place today (hopefully tomorrow) I will inform you of it then.

By the way: probability and statistics shouldn't be said in one breath, and both modules should be taught separately. I mentioned to Mike today, about my demoralising first semester this year, and a few Tweenies were there. They said they found the semester OK. I didn't want to argue or discuss this further, but the difference I believe in our attitudes (apart from me being a learner who needs lot of motivation) is that I seek some motivation from the course material. I want to understand the maths for the sake of understanding it and be wowed by it (even probability). Today I was wowed by statistics. My friends though, I feel are only concerned with understanding enough maths to pass their exams brilliantly*. I don't grudge them for that attitude, but that is why they don't understand why I wasn't a happy bean last semester.

*(AHHHHHHHHHH- I had so many dreams about the results last night, and woke up on many occasions too. I am a bag of nerves and like my first PT said I have to bottle this up to everyone. Thank the skies for my three PTs and this blog though! I am not ready for tomorrow. I wish they didn't count this year too.)

I am a pedantic learner I think, but it does make me slightly on the down side to see this attitude amongst so many people. They're very good at maths my friends, especially quick on the uptake (which is the opposite to me), but the beauty of their subject escapes them. That is the only reason I can think of why I didn't like certain modules last semester, whereas enjoyed others.

A depressing note to end the post, but I talked to a LOT of people today. Many who I didn't know before, and each conversation brought up a different topic. (Hence why a lot of different moods to this post).

They say repetition is an effective strategy in English, especially when you repeat something three times. So for a cheerful end to this post: cheerio once again to everyone whose made the Galois Group what it is.

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

New buildings and teething problems

I really wanted to write this post once this "new building" saga was over; however my impatience and the fact that there is no end date to it, has me sat here... typing!

Thursday was a BIG day for the Alan Turing (AT) Building. A woman was going to grace us with her presence and shower blessings upon us. On Wednesday I was informed of this, and told to take all my posters down for this event. My curiosity was sparked. Who is this person I questioned, but soon I figured it was best to do what I was told. Nevertheless our agreement consisted of me putting the posters back up once this celebrity had left.

Unfortunately due to my busy schedule on a Thursday (4hours in a row +1hour), I wasn't destined to meet this personality. Never mind though, for I wasn't concerned with blessings but getting my viewpoint across, as to how ridiculous it was that my posters had to be taken down just for her visit. Thursday at 4pm, after my final lecture of the day, I returned to the AT building to take care of certain things. One of these things was to stick the posters up again due to the honoured guest no longer being there. (Note: I think everyone was told to take their posters down, but some people didn't). I was in the AT building till 5:15pm, annoying people whilst sticking the posters up too. Unsurprisingly I had less posters to stick up, but still it took me some time to do this.

Now we come to the "main scene" of our little (read long!) story. On Friday I was in a particularly cheerful mood (touch wood!) after having a nice metric spaces lecture. Walking towards the AT building I found my mood still on a high, and someone littering did little to dampen it. The doors of the building were now in my site and ignoring the button, I pulled the door open and hungrily entered the building.

It was 11am. I saw George grimacing. The smile on my face disappeared as I saw the objects in his hands. My lovely posters were lying dejectedly in his arms--defeated.

I demanded answers. Why were my posters not on the walls? I had stayed till 5:15pm painfully sticking them up for a second time. My body was contorted in a slow rage, that was building up at what I was being told. Yesterday our celebrity and her VIPs had spotted some posters on the walls. Not mine but posters like "Toilets" or "Stairs" which have been stuck on doors for the general public. They didn't like them and told us to make sure that no posters were found on the walls etc. I couldn't do anything about this and no matter whatever came out of my mouth, it was futile. With my growing rage I noticed that the lift was out of order. Upon enquiring about this (to distract myself) I was told that there had been a fire alarm in the morning and everything was resetting itself (I think).

If you have read Steinbeck and are a master of spotting foreshadowing, then what more needs to be said? The scene was being set for a massive outburst. Mine possibly?

Still in control I had taken my posters from George, dumped them on the table and bought some tea. My nerves were on edge and it was indeed one of the most difficult cups of teas that I have had. Especially when all I wanted to do was go on the hunt for a solution to this problem. Fizz told me to relax but I was in no mood for such a thing. Eventually Milo joined us and it was then that I realised how close I was to erupting in frustration. ("We" were discussing something and I was not backing down. It was then that I suddenly had shut up after realising that I was heading into danger zone.) Being around people and discussions was a bad thing. Downing my tea, I grabbed my posters roughly and found George again.

This time I was slightly calm; enough to interrogate some names out of him. Two names were given to me and my mind was already typing an angry email to them, telling their royal highnesses at how absurd they sounded. Rational thought was no longer available. George told me to take it easy, but I shrugged this away and went to see Dr. Coleman instead; for more information on the two names and to safely store my poor posters.

It was the estates people. The university policy (I think) states that you can't stick anything on the walls, but only on notice boards. I wasn't sticking anything on the walls to start with, I shouted in anger. My posters were on doors!! My outburst happened in DC's office. Thankfully it was controlled (well I didn't throw anything and my vocabulary was void of expletives that my mind was shouting!!) I was just frustrated and the worst thing was that I couldn't see a solution. (Reminder to self: apologise for my childish antics!) My voice and indeed my body had shook in rage. Actually come to think of it, I don't know how I managed to control myself. So that can only mean one thing readers: my long due "outburst" is still imminent. When will it happen? Keep reading. (Haha-as you can tell I am feeling better now and had a good day!) If I may digress for a moment, I think I don't have "major eruptions" because I have small ones on weird things like maths or football. Not that I mind though...

During my angry conversation to a very calm Dr. C, a little part of me was telling the rest of my mind to give up. Maybe I was getting slightly more on edge because I sensed defeat? Nevertheless I didn't have much time to discuss an "attack on the enemy" with DC, due a lecture in the next minute, and his comments about the people concerned didn't reassure me. (As didn't the fact that he couldn't do much for he had attended a meeting about something similar, and the outcome hadn't been very positive). The only thoughts on my mind, as I rushed to my lecture were the draft email I was going to be sending two people. A very angry email it was turning out to be too.

Understandably the lecture was a daze. My neighbour had enquired about my well being as my pointy features couldn't disguise the storm they were covering, so I calmly informed her about the situation. All throughout the lecture I conspired of ways in which we could advertise The Galois Group lectures, and where exactly I could stick my posters, but it was to no avail. I processed the ideas away for discussion with George or DC.

At 12:40pm, as I wrote the next sentence down, a truly marvellous thing happened. The lights went off. My eyes sparked with life again, and the first true smile broke onto my face. We tried the lift switch but it was to no avail. The lights had stopped working and the lecturer could not continue, due to people having difficulty in seeing the blackboard. The happiest person on the planet, at that moment in time was me. Undoubtedly. Not disguising my delight I had rushed to see George to see what had happened and to explain my happiness. It seemed as we stepped out of the room, that the whole electricity in the AT building had gone off. Computers were off, lifts not working (again), lights off and people were congregating everywhere, wanting answers and the electricity.

Not finding George I saw a group of people gathered at the front desk and one happened to be the head of school. People were curious as to why I was looking like I had won a million pounds, and so I had excitedly explained to the head of school that my lecture had been cancelled! He replied that I shouldn't be happy by that, and putting a sober face on I explained that I was so distraught that I was smiling with misery. (If that doesn't make sense then you're reading this at 3am and need to sleep!) And then I had for a few painful seconds, pretended to be quite upset that my lecture had been cancelled. I thought it was best not to worry them with my reasoning. But as I walked away from them, I made it clear to them that I had NOTHING to do with this problem. Nothing whatsoever. (There eyes were unsure of the truth though as were many others!)

So why was this bean over the moon? Why did this bean feel exponentially happy, when darkness was surrounding everyone in the AT building?

Well to those who saw me bouncing from one room to another; from one person to another, you'll know that I felt that this was some form of my "revenge". I'm not going to pretend to grow up and behave like an adult. After muttering a lot of gibberish as to how to describe this sensation, "What goes around comes around" was what I will settle on. Some higher power had probably felt sorry for me, and seen and understood my anguish. I didn't care for that matter, and even though the power failure didn't affect the two people I was after, it soothed my heart. I was quick to point out though, that I wasn't pleased if someone had lost their unsaved work due to this (etc), but it was the Sith's revenge. My revenge. (I'm still not listening if you're saying "grow up beans".)

Alas though, all good things must come to an end, and as I was once again on the look out for George, the lights came back on. Dang. At the same time George entered the building too, having been called back. I pleaded my innocence to him, not disguising my happiness of course and he told me to behave! (Let's just say we have an understanding. He's cool though because if he ever takes my posters down, he never throws them away but returns them to me). I ran my new ideas for advertising past him and he told me not to get my hopes to high, and to try emailing the people first.

The circle for my misery continued, when after my final lecture of the day I had gone to see Dr. C again (firstly to hysterically laugh at what had happened earlier) and secondly to discuss other means of advertising. I was given a third persons name, and at this stage my anger had dissipated so the previous draft email in my mind had been discarded. The events of the day told me that someone was on my side and I wanted to meet this celebrity who dictated university policy. I asked Dr. C how I could meet this woman, who instead of "showering her blessings on me" had cursed me with pain and misery. I thought that some things can' t be communicated properly via email and meeting her was the best way to resolve this. However it seems that meeting this woman is similar to wanting to meet the president. I.e. impossible.

I headed home on Friday, a very exhausted and drained bean, not knowing what to do next. (My mums birthday went fairly well though, which was a positive of the day. However I was unable to eat much, due my current loss of appetite, which was a shame for the food looked great!)

Since it has been a while when I last wrote a long post, I am tempted to write about the developments that occurred on Monday and today. BUT I sense your uneasiness having read that line, and hopefully will inform you later of the events that took place since. It is enough to say that I spelt like a baby that night.

Sunday, February 24, 2008

PS: Damn my incompetence

That's what I forgot to mention in my previous post about LaTeX and Beth Trees--my stupidity. Although I said I will look at this matter again in a week, I lied. Well I haven't been in the mood to do some serious maths (for some strange reason), and working on the coursework at least reassured me that I am doing something worthwhile. I have also broken one of the ten commandments already (whoops).

I decided to post this so anyone else who wants the synttree package doesn't make the same mistake as me! Well all I'm going to do is paste what Steve advised me to do:

"Remember synttree is not a Windows program but can be used on any OS. It says:

To use the package, download synttree.dtx and synttree.ins. Then run:
tex synttree.ins
to generate synttree.sty. Place that file somewhere LaTeX will find it.

BUT, don't do that. Just go to MiKTeX, Installed Packages, wait for it to find all the packages, right-click on synttree and then click Install.
OR Just put \usepackage{synttree} in your document, compile it and MiKTeX should offer to install it.

If neither of those work then follow the instructions above put synttree.sty in C:\<your path to tex files>\tex\latex\synttree and then in MiKTeX, Settings press the Refresh FNDB button. "


I just wrote \usepackage{synttree} and Eureka--it worked. In future, before making a big fuss about something like this I'm going to write the usepackage command first. (Then of course bug Steve next, rather than the other way round!)

Damn Trees and LaTeX!

What is a B Tree you ask--surely it can't have anything to do with maths right? If only. I have not the heart (or patience!) at this moment to describe precisely what a B tree is. The following picture from some online notes should hopefully satisfy your curiosity for the time being:
They have propped up in my module, and are supposedly a simpler way of checking whether or not something is a tautology. I say supposedly because as you can see, that tree is one ugly looking thing. Well I mean in a mathematical sense of course!!

I have been given my first coursework and it requires me to construct one of them trees. It's not a problem if you have a pen or paper (and my notes of course). The problem is introduced when LaTeX is mentioned, and someone's stubbornness to do this coursework using LaTeX. That someone happens to be me!

The thing about LaTeX is that it is similar to maths in some sense. I mean if you don't use it for a few months, you struggle to reacquaint yourself with it. When I made my (very lame) website a while ago, I became familiar with all the html codes and could rattle them off without a problem. Now though, when I had to post a link in my comment yesterday I couldn't remember what exactly to do! I tend to view the source file of my website when this happens, and I try to the same when it comes to LaTeX i.e. open a previous file and make my new one from that.

None of my previous files had trees though. Not a problem I thought, I'll ask on AoPS where I hoped Steve would be able to point me in the right direction. That he did and I came across three packages: gtree, synttree, lingtrees

From the three I decided that synttree was the "nicest" but I couldn't get it to work. Then I tried lingtress. Once again I was confused by all the jargon and after spending an hour or so, gave up on that too. Finally it was gtree and this you'll be happy to hear, worked. However, it's not doing what I want it to do which was most infuriating, considering that my nerves were on end when it came to the gtree!

What's the problem you ask? Well when I tried loading synttree it said something about having to change my internet connection. I agreed to this. Blindly. I don't really know what this did, but when I tried to generate other .tex files I faced problems. Realising that a ".log" existed I figured out what the problem was--it couldn't find the ".sty" files. Momentarily confusion swept me. The files were on the desktop so why was the computer being stupid for? I can't recall coming across ".sty" files before so didn't know what to do for a while. Eventually--call it a brain wave (pfft)--I copied the ".sty" file into the file where the skeleton of my coursework lay. That did the trick but then another problem occurred.

It couldn't find "txfonts" and what did it want me to do? Well install the thing I said, and it got to work. My patience was further tested as I was told that it couldn't install the package, due to some problem. Continuing this wild goose chase I went to CTAN and downloaded txfonts and tried to load it on my system. Once again I failed and after numerous attempts of doing so, I dismissed lingtrees too and shifted my gaze to qtrees. This seemed relatively simpler but then came the horrible package pict2e, and the previous problem of not being able to install.

After a few attempts of doing this manually (by going on CTAN and ....) I realised what was wrong. I hadn't been reading the message box which comes up when it says package missing, and had blindly been clicking install. Previously it used to download them from the internet (I think!) but now it wasn't. I changed the option and wow--it loaded my file. Saying that though, even now it asks: "Can't find the following file: tex\latex\txfonts\txfonts.sty and it will be installed from blah blah blah". I am having trouble remembering whether you're meant to install the package whenever you build the document, or should once have been enough.

The final straw was when, after qtree and it's upgrade (I think) worked, but weren't doing what I wanted. I guess I need to study the manual further, but another day maybe. I know what a stubborn so and so I can be, and even though (after I've answered the questions!) I can write this up in 15 minutes, I won't. I won't rest until I have typed it up painfully using LaTeX. (I would have used Microsoft Absurd in my previous lifetime, but we all have to grow up one day right? Haha--that didn't sound right coming from my mouth!)

What now then, is the unspoken question. If all fails then my final option is to cleverly create a table, which looks like a tree. Or even worse: maybe import the tree as an image from paint.... Right now though my head is swimming with ".sty". ".dtx", ".txp" and ".py" files. If they would open my life would be made slightly easier, but I will postpone working on this coursework until next week now. Already it has confused a few hours of my time, when I haven't even answered all of the questions yet!


I haven't any maths today whatsoever, and decided to take the day off. This I will pay for, but I think that we sometimes kid ourselves that we "have to do work". I mean, we forget that we had an exhausting week and a day of relaxation and nothing is needed. (Or is that me kidding myself because I didn't do any work?)

My Saturdays are forming a horrible pattern. Again all I have done is drank tea. Four mugs to be precise, but I honestly can't eat. This time it's not due to my laziness, I just can't be bothered eating, and if I do, only eat a little bit. Sigh. I know why I am in this state, but by next week hopefully it will be over. We're getting the dreaded R-word next week sometime I hope, and I am only doing one thing in worry. I became like this when it came to my GCSE and AS results, because on both occasions I had been a dodo and not revised properly. Even though I am going to deserve what I get, I still feel upset and disappointed because I've let myself down. Sigh again. The biggest result I'm dreading is real analysis if I'm being honest, namely because I actually worked the hardest in that subject last semester.

I can't speak of my result fears to "people in the real world" because they airily wave away my fears, annoyingly saying "you always worry and then come out passing". If only they knew what a pass is. I feel better knowing that at least one person (namely PS) knows what a pass is for me. Come now beans! I wonder what is actually going to happen to me this week, for this gripping fear is causing me much discomfort. My thoughts are consumed by this, so I thought of getting it out of my system here.

I better get to sleep now for this is another consequence of my worries: not going to sleep until the birds start singing. Do I promise myself a day of maths tomorrow? Well I had a to do list which got chucked out of the window, so I'll decide about tomorrow when I wakeup!

It seems that this post will also end with a quote, one which is very true:

"The first step in the acquisition of wisdom is silence, the second listening, the third memory, the fourth practice, and the fifth teaching others."

Saturday, February 23, 2008

A Guide for Teaching Mathematics

OK, you've had Murphy's Laws, The Ten Commandments for Maths Student, and now here's something for the teachers! (I promise myself this is the last thing I'll post before doing some Maths).

From the same site:

A Guide For Teaching Mathematics

From Mathematical Maxims & Minims By Nicholas Rose

It is the responsibility of the teacher to actively involve his or her students in the learning process. The most important thing he or she should do is avoid giving clear, concise, organized lectures. If the presentation of a lesson is too easy to follow, most of the class will not need to learn the new material on their own. They will have a certain degree of confidence in their new knowledge, and this will tend to stifle their intellectual pursuits. If, on the other hand, the lecture is vague, rambling and disorganized, the students will leave with their heads full of questions. In fact, they will be so filled with curiosity that they will try to expand their knowledge on their own.

There are many ways to present a thought-provoking lecture. One of the easiest techniques is to use a foreign accent. If the accent is thick enough, even a well organized lecture will produce expressions of intellectual wonder among the students. Effective accents can be acquired in Alabama, New York City, China, India, Latin America, Germany, or other foreign countries.

For natives of Kansas, that is, for individuals who cannot speak anything but perfect Midwestern English, this technique may offer difficulties. There are two possible solutions: (1) one can teach in a foreign country, or at least in New York or Texas; or (2) one can incorporate a new syllable into one's language. Two very effective syllables to use are "um" and "uh." The chosen syllable should be uttered every second or third word. This reduces the possibility that any coherent concept will be given to the class. For example, one could say, "Um, today, um, we will be, um, discussing, um,..., um, determinants." After a couple of sentences, most of the class will be staring at their watches or out the windows. Very quickly, they will become very anxious to go out and learn the material on their own.

In addition to being aware of one's own speech patterns, the teacher should also pay close attention to the written word. Illegible handwriting can stimulate a student's interest in new material almost as effectively as incoherent lectures. Often students will meet outside of class to exchange interpretations of lecture notes. Thus illegible handwriting encourages students to work together and share ideas.

Writing illegibly requires a great deal of practice to be effective. If one does not have satisfactory handwriting (that is to say, if one's handwriting is suitable only for formal invitations and eye charts), certain "tricks" can be learned:
  1. Write small. For students in the back rows, this is almost as effective as writing illegibly. The disadvantage is that students in the front rows will probably be able to read the board and may possibly learn something without having to spend hours interpreting their notes. Also, the professor who writes small may find that most of his or her class will try to sit near the front of the room, which may be too close for comfort, especially on hot days during summer sessions.
  2. Write fast. The faster the teacher writes, the faster the students will have to take notes.. Often the teacher can move on to a new subject while his or her students are still trying to copy what is on the board. Students will be so busy during class that they will be forced into studying on their own after class. In addition, writing fast allows the professor to cover more material.
  3. Write something while saying something different. For example, after working out a lengthy problem, tell the class the answer is x + 2y while writing on the board y + 2x. This forces students to think the problem through on their own.
  4. Erase quickly. This technique practically forces those members of the class who take notes to pay constant attention to the lectures. Those who doze off for a few moments will awaken to find nothing to record in their notes on the the topics they missed. This technique is particularly effective if one uses both hands to write and erase simultaneously.
  5. Stand in front of your work. By blocking any clear view of the blackboard, the teacher will help improve students' speculative and psychic abilities. Those instructors who are underweight may find this procedure difficult.

The above "tricks" may be used separately or combined. It is a good idea to change them occasionally to add some variety to the classroom routine.

It is very important that the professor lecture to the blackboard. This helps to demonstrate to students how involved the teacher is with the subject. This enthusiasm will most assuredly rub off on the class. This has the added benefit of making it easy to ignore questions which forces students to go home and answer the questions themselves.

There is one last point on teaching technique. It is important that one does not over prepare for a lecture. Generally, one should arrive at class a few minutes early, open the book, and glance at the topics to be covered that day. Lectures prepared in this manner have a certain freshness and spontaneity that is often missing in carefully prepared lectures. In addition, students will gain a greater appreciation for a correct proof if they see how much time can be spent on a wrong approach.

The first part of this guide dealt with actual teaching, concentrating on lecturing "tricks," techniques and preparation. The subject of the last part is general appearances.

Students tend to have more confidence in an instructor if they believe he or she has a thorough understanding of mathematics. This confidence is enhanced if the instructor appears to be "spaced-out." Being "spaced-out" implies one is so involved with abstract mathematics that one has lost touch with the real world. There are several ways to project such an image:

  1. Dress funny. Old suits or skirts, baggy pants, very narrow ties, hairy sweaters and dirty sneakers are very effective and even more so in combination.
  2. Don't wash your sweatshirt. Einstein is remembered for two things -- being a genius and wearing dirty sweatshirts.
  3. Don't comb your hair with anything finer than your fingers.
  4. Walk into the wrong room and begin to lecture to whatever class is in it.
  5. Walk into the correct classroom and begin lecturing on whatever is left on the board from a previous class.
  6. Acquire a facial twitch.
  7. Pretend you are deaf if someone asks a question or the bell rings while you are lecturing. Try to keep talking after everyone has left the room.

By being properly "spaced-out", one will gain the confidence and respect of one's students. This will make it easier to help inspire them in their study of mathematics. Being properly "spaced-out" will also help one acquire tenure at any reputable college or university.

---

I found this guide hilarious if I may say so myself, and I think it made some "valid points". I mean because our Geometry lectures tend to be fast, I always have to make a bigger effort to organise my thoughts on the matter which could be classed as a good thing. (I don't agree with the handwriting being unreadable though!! Well being blind makes this even more of a problem you see.)

Ten Commandments of Mathematics for Students

Through the site which didn't work for me yesterday, I have found some more amusing things which I'd like to share! Here are the ten commandments for maths students:

  1. Thou shalt read Thy problem.
  2. Whatsoever Thou doest to one side of ye equation, Do ye also to the other.
  3. Thou must use Thy "Common Sense", else Thou wilt have flagpoles 9,000 feet in height, yea ... even fathers younger than sons.
  4. Thou shalt ignore the teachings of false prophets to do work in Thy head.
  5. When Thou knowest not, Thou shalt look it up, and if Thy search still elude Thee, Then Thou shalt ask the all-knowing teacher.
  6. Thou shalt master each step before putting Thy heavy foot down on the next.
  7. Thy correct answer does not prove that Thou hast worked Thy problem correctly. This argument convincest none, least of all, Thy teacher.
  8. Thou shalt first see that Thou hast copied Thy problem correctly before bearing false witness that the answer book lieth.
  9. Thou shalt look back even unto Thy youth and remember Thy arithmetic.
  10. Thou shalt learn, speak, write, and listen correctly in the language of mathematics, and verily A's and B's shall follow Thee even unto graduation.
They are blimmin' hilarious! Number 8 is one which had me on all fours... Gosh, I can't begin to describe how true they all are! I will retire to my laughter, but make no promises of following them commandments. The one about using common sense sounds most scariest, and my eyes always deceive me when it comes to reading questions properly!!

Friday, February 22, 2008

\sout{Murphy's} Sod's Laws and Mathematics!

EDIT: Have added the rest if anyone else couldn't access the website.

I'm being a sod and writing Sod's Law, but if you're comfortable with Murphy's Law then so be it. Steve posted this amusing link in the comments to my previous post: Murphy's Laws and Mathematics, however that doesn't seem to work. Never mind though, where there's a Steve there's a solution (but don't tell that to Murphy!) Below are Murphy's laws of Mathematics; feel free to post some of your own.

    Murphy's law and its corollaries are familiar to everyone who studies mathematics.
  • Murphy's Law: If anything can go wrong, it will.
  • Corollary 1: At the worst possible time
  • Corollary 2: Causing the most damage
    Here are some ways in which Murphy's law applies to mathematics:
  1. The harder you study, the farther behind you get.
  2. Every problem is harder than it looks and takes longer than you expected.
  3. When you solve a problem, it always helps to know the answer.
  4. Any expression can be made equal to any other expression if you juggle it enough.
  5. Knowing mathematics and teaching mathematics are not equivalent.
  6. Teaching ability is inversely proportional to the number of papers published.
  7. Proofs don't convince anybody of anything.
  8. An ounce of example is worth a pound of theory.
  9. What is "obvious" to everyone else won't be "obvious" to you.
  10. Notes you understood perfectly in class transform themselves into hieroglyphics at home.
  11. Textbooks are written for those who already know the subject.
  12. Any simple idea will be expressed in incomprehensible terms.
  13. The answers you need aren't in the back of the book.
  14. No matter how much you study for exams, it will never be enough.
  15. The problems you can work are never put on the exam.
  16. The problems you are certain won't be on the test will be.
  17. The answer to the problem you couldn't work on the exam will become obvious after you hand in your paper.

I just rattled them past a few people sitting nearby and boy did we all grumble in complaint about the final four!! The second to last one is something which happened to me in my complex analysis exam--I was dead sure that a question wouldn't be on this years paper because it was on last years, and the opposite happened. However, I should have known better I suppose.

My grumblings about the book not having the answers at the back no longer seem important! If only I had known about this then. It's funny (as a mathematician) how painfully true the first two are! I wonder when they'll start writing text books for those who don't understand the subject?

"Once solved, no matter how hard the problem was, it becomes 'trivial'" is the only thing my brain can muster at the moment. You also can't disguise your wrong answers by making your writing illegible...

Thursday, February 21, 2008

That time of the year

Go on, what did you think I meant? Amuse me... Well if you're going to be spoil sports I'm going to stay mute as well.

Wait that defeats the whole idea of this post right? It's my mums birthday tomorrow and I doubt anyone read my blog this time last year, but I was a bad bean then! (I didn't forget, but I as good as did). This year, after being continuously pestered by my youngest sister, who has taken it upon her to make my mums birthday a good one, I got myself into gear. Believe it or not, my mums birthday has been the greatest stress factor this week! When it comes to spending money I am not wasteful, but I always enjoy buying things for other people. Sounds weird but that's just me. It's instinctive you could say, but when I'm on the receiving end I don't like it very much. It has a good feeling associated with it, when you say "it's on me" or something similar.

Anyway I digress. The point is that it's mothers day soon and I don't believe in that too, but my mum probably does. My idea was to combine both days hence why it's been stupid! (I could be found muttering a lot of things under my breath yesterday, as I tried to hunt down what my sister had chosen!) Let's just hope that my mums feeling better tomorrow.

Today has been an exhausting day, and I am saturated with maths. So much that I am posting this because I have not the strength to do any maths. Shame on me I know. All week I have been doing a little but some, however today I feel weary and exhausted. Something happened last night, which I subtly mentioned in my post yesterday (towards the end). At 5:30am I had woken up for a worrying reason. It put things into prospective to say the least, but I have kept this to myself. Sometimes talking about your worries with anyone makes them become real, hence why you keep mute and hope for the best. I really didn't want to come into university today, and didn't care as to how late I was going to be. Sometimes certain things lose value when they stand against other things.

I feel on the verge of drowning in stress. There is so much happening, and I still want to add more to my plate. Well I am the human dustbin, yet have been losing my appetite of late. I haven't' eaten anything since coming home at 18:30pm, apart from two cups of tea. Actually for the past two days I haven't been eating anything when I get home but drinking tea! First things first though: I am going to reduce the stress from my studies first, and then everything else comes next. The other stress, which is really affecting me the most, is exam results stress. Not a day passes when I don't think about the dreaded results. I can't help it but leave such tortured thoughts to myself. No one else understands my fears or worries.

This post is just me letting random things out of my system. I am physically exhausted due to my stupidity. My bus home comes at 17:30pm and takes me home in 5mins. For two days I have found myself running towards the bus stop, only for the driver (who saw me on both occasions of that I'm sure) not to stop. On Monday, having not made it to the first stop, I had ran for my life to try to get to the next stop before the bus did. I had failed and in the process crossed the road without looking too! This resulted in me getting very annoyed (at myself) and the driver for not stopping, and with adrenaline pumping through my body I had walked home! (That's a 25 minute journey on a good day, but since I had ran to the second stop I made it home in 20 minutes). So yes, I haven't been taking it easy on myself, but I love running and wouldn't have been complaining if the driver had stopped!

I had a very oscillating day today. Two sips of tea doesn't equal breakfast, but I am honestly struggling to remember whether or not I had weetabix today! The one thing I know is that it wasn't a fulfilling breakfast, considering I hadn't eaten the night before, so already my energy levels were low. 9am algebra: my feelings of not wanting to be there soon disappeared as I lost myself in the lecture. I don't understand why when the lecturer asks "did you do this last semester" everyone remains mute. If they have actually forgotten then fair enough, but come on now, a "No", "Yes" or indeed a "can't remember" would do!

Straight after it was the geometry supervision, which was fantastic. This module has to be the one which I am enjoying the most. Strangely though, I find it the hardest, but that has always been the case with me--enjoy what's hardest for me! I enjoy it because of Dr. K. His enthusiasm is contagious and great to see. I am hoping he can help me get into shape again... He's cool, and one day I will have a post with all his comments that are in my margins! He really dislikes the determinant by the way!

Continuing with my marathon morning, I trudged to my calculus lecture, not late for a change. I'll be honest with you and make a confession. During lectures when people talk I get annoyed and irritated, for I get distracted very easily. Nowadays. it seems that I am getting irritated very quickly when people talk in lectures . I put this down to stress, but my blood rockets high when I hear as much as a whisper. I can't help it, which is why I didn't sit next to Bella and Arthur in the calculus lecture. My "subtle glares" don't affect Bella any more, and I don't find it funny. I like my calculus lecturer for he tries to stamp out the talkers. He even politely told them to leave if they wanted to talk, and I agreed. Today I even tried the "turn around and look at whose talking" thing, but it didn't work. (Although I didn't sit with Bella and Arthur, three ladies behind me did their best to substitute for them).

In calculus things are finally moving away from what I know. I realise that it's the lecturers job to make sure that everyone has the same ground knowledge, for we all have different foundations, so I am over my grumblings about that. We discussed the wedge today, which I had naively assumed was the cross product. (I'm sure that my mechanics lecturer had used ^ for the cross product). It seems that the cross product is just a case of the wedge product, but more on that next week. My modules are inter related which is a good thing.

Calculus over, it was geometry. I feel sad because when it comes to geometry I am really on another planet. The struggle to stay on Earth is indeed difficult. My stomach was growling loudly throughout, reminding me that I haven't eaten for quite some time now. The geometry lectures are quite pacey so if you're not on Earth you suffer. It's just that I coped some stuff down without having a proper understanding, and because I wasn't listening at times, didn't jot my pencil comments down. I really need to change something about that four hour horrible stretch. I don't like suffering in geometry!

Believe it or not, straight after geometry I went semi-hyper. I felt restless and like a pin ball machine. Anyway, what goes up must always come down, but thankfully it wasn't a painful landing. I think I am crashing out as I type, so please excuse any typos etc. I skimmed a paragraph and had to go back and insert words like "its" which I had missed out the first time round.

I can't remember a single thing that I am to meant to do tomorrow. My mental list has left me, and I think the email to everyone for TGG lecture will go out on Monday. I am still debating this issue. Should we send them on Monday three days before, or a week before? I have stuck the posters back up by the way, and will post about the next (student) lectures soon. I miss my secondary school friends and how well they understood me. They just let me be, understanding who I was and why I did what I did. I especially miss my school. There's a word that describes what I am doing, but my brain deadness has reached a new level and I can't remember it. Oh to be misunderstood.

Why do people look at another and then pass harsh judgements? Can't they see beyond the exterior mess. Ignorance breeds contempt. Some random thoughts indeed, but I have a lot of confusion spread over me. There is this concept of "expectation" which you unknowingly sometimes create of your friends (for example). Then one day you realise that you made a big mistake and was a fool to expect things of someone else. That's a sad day indeed, but then you are reminded: you shouldn't expect anything of others--never. You shouldn't give someone the power to disappoint you, but instead you should do whatever is in your means so that others don't feel the disappointed of you.

Haha, I have just found the best sentence to end this drowsy post with. I feel better now for it is geometrical in some sense! I feel disorientated. The set of all bases can be split into two: one set with "an orientation" and the other with the opposite orientation. However I don't belong to it for I have no orientation. Sometimes a nice feeling, but times like today, it is worrying.

Waffles and beans today

Apologies for the long absence, but this has to be another rapid paragraph. Busy is the best word that I can use to describe my current state. I have yet to catch up in my studies as I am desperate to do so, but at least I have made a start, which is reassuring. I have been trying to multi task, but everyone seems to be ignoring my emails (nothing new there!) so I haven't made much progress on this third thing. Hopefully I'll get to speak to Dr. Coleman about it tomorrow and we can move forwards (without the replies- HUMBUG)!

I spoke to a post grad student working on education in maths, on Monday I think, no wait it was blimmin' yesterday!!! Wow-- this week has really flown. Anyway, more of what was discussed some other time if time permits, but the student might come to The Galois Group lectures next Wednesday, which is all that mattered to me. (Yes, I am pretty bad when it comes to this it seems.) Unfortunately my "violent" behaviour towards those who deliberately (?) don't attend also unveiled it self. Hey--you guys know me right, I merely try to persuade people to attend, with the benefits of attending! I wouldn't dare harm or threaten anyone... that's just left to my imagination! Wow- the explanation marks have returned tonight (this morning) with a flurry. I am fighting exhaustion. Mental and physical fatigue plague me, and I think I have been enjoying some sort of solitude this week. (The student found the phrase "buffer mathematical interest" nice one could say. This pleased the chemist in me, who resisted the urge to launch into a chemical explanation on buffers!)

I don't know how people can do any work with other people around. If you move you're a distraction. If you breath-- stop breathing, you're distracting me!! Well you get the picture. The other day I tried doing some work (whilst waiting to talk to the post grad student) in the cafe, only to fail miserably due to people breathing... Haha. I'm a difficult customer me. (Otherwise known as being weird).

Today I was asked a perfectly reasonable question: who do I annoy the most PS or DC? What say you? After much thought (two seconds of course) my conclusion is: I don't annoy PS, but I do enjoy annoying DC (unintentionally of course). Well that just reminds me to remind DC to send the email out tomorrow. (I don't really annoy him as such, but I am still out for revenge after believing that gullible isn't a word in the dictionary! Pfft it's still one nil to him.) There are only a few people who I would deliberately annoy, and one of them people happens to be my mum!

Waffles and beans probably describes me right this instance, for I have been trying to write everything and nothing in 10 minutes. I realised something an hour ago. One of my greatest strengths Al has to be my parents, and yet they are my greatest weakness too. If they suffer, I cripple. Sigh--the helplessness is weakening. How does one stay in control of themselves in them situations? How does one stay string? [You could say that my teachers (those who motivate me) are also one of my strengths and weaknesses too. That sounds perverse I know, but it makes perfect sense to me.]

Bed time now. These 9am starts are going to be the end of me \hyperbole, but even worse it's the 5 hours tomorrow. Oh and you wouldn't believe the latest drama about the posters!! I had to take them ALL down today because some "VIPs" are visiting tomorrow. PFFT. The posters are only allowed on notice boards and not walls etc, so I had to take them off the doors. Most annoying, and I asked George if he could please let me speak to the person who asked for this. Never mind though, at least they are safe and in one peace (or so I hope). I'll have to stick them all up again tomorrow, but I still can't get over the ridiculousness of this. (Is that a new word I've just invented.) Whoops--I'm meant to be going to sleep right? (Someone has missed blogging it seems \{sad me}!

How to steal a pen i.e. Geometry!

In our Geometry lecture (last Thursday?) Dr. K mentioned an excellent way to \sout{steal} borrows someone's pen, and that to by using Geometry! Any ideas?

Well maybe the title should read how to steal "another pen". Say you have two pens. Now make a plane out of these i.e. a cross of some sort, or a right angle. Then ask your very keen and interested audience, about where the vector c= a x b would be? I.e. which direction it would be.

Naturally someone would grab their pen and try to show you, and there is your cue to "borrow" a pen. Claim that the student is holding the pen incorrectly; take it and show them the correct direction (i.e. perpendicular to the other two pens) and there you have one more pen than you previously did!

There's your practical application for maths, to those who always moan about maths not applying to real world situations. (Or maybe someone needs to go to sleep....)

It was the cross product which I mentioned above by the way, and I want to write two lines about something to do with it. However, I will either edit this and insert the two lines or post them tomorrow. (To make them lines look neat I will need to use LaTeX and I have not the energy to fiddle around with that!)

Monday, February 18, 2008

Why Teach History of Mathematics?

Just now I happened to come across:

The Mathematical Gazette, Vol. 76, No. 475, The Use of the History of Mathematics in the Teaching of Mathematics, Mar., 1992
!! (Old paper!)

I haven't managed to read the whole document yet, but it sparked my interest due to my own thoughts on the issue. I feel that the history of a subject gives one motivation to study it, and appreciate it more. In my own case, reading about Galois and friends(!) helped me to get a move on and work on the Galois group. Also reading about Euler made me stop "disliking" the guy (which was for a petty reason indeed i.e. due to his method for solving ODEs, which tortured me during college!) The history of a subject allows one to see the development of their subject, and interesting scenarios that were previously encountered and how they were resolved.

I'm not sure whether you can access that paper without an Athen's account or something similar, but it looks an interesting read. When I expand on my thoughts on this topic sometime, I hope to have read the article by then. Yes, my paragraph above has been very vague (due to my brain and body not working together at the moment!) but this isn't the end of this topic yet.

An aside: the mathematical gazette came up in a conversation I had with Dr. C the other day, but I hadn't actually followed up with what I had said I would. The world works in a funny way, for no "chasing up" was required and I came across the Gazette without meaning too! (More on this later too. It is enough to say that I am going to be drowning in my ambitions soon, and hope to surface and blog when I get the chance!)

Friday, February 15, 2008

Another (mathematics) quote

"What shall we say of the mathematics? Shall we deem them to be the delirious ravings of madmen? Nay; we cannot read the writings of the ancients on these subjects without the highest admiration."
JOHN CALVIN

Today is my day off so I thought to work on my plan, and whilst doing so I found the quote above. I am trying my hardest to multi task (and failing miserably), but I am a little confused now about Carol Lewis and Charles Dodgson. Were they one person, or two different people living during the same time? I have read a contradiction to what I had assumed hence my confusion. Anyway, I can always look that up later.

Since I have started this post I might as well write two lines of what I'm playing at! For the past three weeks I have attended zero example classes. Not very encouraging is it?! I have only done sheet 1 for metric spaces, logic and some of geometry. The calculus sheet has been partially completed: I just need to write everything down! For algebra and discrete maths I have done zilch in terms of reading my notes and the problem sheets. They are my priority this weekend and everything else follows. I am playing catch up so soon in the semester, but if I dare think about doing what I want, I have to catch up. I can't stress the importance of staying on top of my studies first, and then doing whatever other mumbo jumbo I want to.

Disappointed is the word flying in my head, but I am comforting myself with the thought that we haven't really covered "that much" in certain modules\{geometry}. I can do this, I know it. I just need to get rid of the "dumb thoughts" that I have about certain modules. Them being hard should be my motivation--not the reason for me to not work at them!!

I have finally found a solution to my poster printing solution, and that is Rob! Woohoo. Now I will only annoy one person, which makes me feel much better (believe it or not). He's cool so that's a bonus. (Well he helped me in my moment of need i.e. my lecture, for which I am forever grateful...) Previously I had been bugging two/three people, and I think my discrete maths lecturer will be happy at how I have found a more efficient solution. Another poster went down today but that was for a funny reason. I had been slightly cheeky and thought of fooling George by sticking a poster on the wall next to an official looking poster. Nothing gets passed him and soon both posters had been removed! Ha, I will get mine back though for he kept it for me. There you have another cool person.

We have been given feedback forms to fill in during this week, and I would rather just talk to the lecturer about what I feel. It is too easy to write the things which we don't like (in a constructive way of course) and forget the positives. I always write my name on the feedback forms, for I believe if I'm not "bean" enough to say what I write then I shouldn't write it at all. (I did though, mention my dislike of online notes in the algebra one...)

Today I also happened to speak to my metric spaces lecturer (for more than a few minutes). After our lecture I had kindly(!) informed him that he needs to prioritise things properly, for how could he imagine attending a conference in Glasgow(?) when there was a Galois Group lecture in Manchester requiring his presence! Then later we talked again after I had finished sticking the posters up. The conversation was interesting and as you can imagine I talked a lot and then some more and then some more... I told him about my bad first semester and we concluded that the winter semesters have that effect on people. (Yes another excuse for me, but there does seem to be a pattern to this...) We also discussed the Galois Group and what effect it's having on the undergraduates. I am not sure to be honest, but as I said in my post about undergraduate maths students, my aim is to cater for the smaller community initially and then hope for the best! (We already have two undergraduate volunteers for next year and here's hoping for four more.)

I'm going to have a post one day in which I will write down some notation for my blog! I can't write Prof. P and certain other abbreviations for they are no longer unique. I will think of something so don't worry, but PS, DC and the old ones will remain. Hmm, I really need to have a cup of tea with PS someday!

I got carried away again and ended up writing more than usual (again), but that might be due to the junk food I have eaten since 3pm. Well I got annoyed due to taking my sweet time getting to the library, and then being late so I went and spent too much money on chocolates, sweets, crisp and drink. Since it has been half term this week (sniff) I have had to resort to eating more junk food than normal, and have deliberately not kept an eye on how much I've spent! By the way, a word of advice-- NEVER drink Oasis if you're sitting on a bus. If you still insist due to your thirst, please wait for the bus to become stationary before drinking. The stupid oasis bottles are just that: stupid.

PS: I have written half of my post about Wednesday in case you're wondering! Had to get through the preamble you see...

Thursday, February 14, 2008

The Beautiful Quote

I realise that my post at 16:35pm was littered with errors (the university computers don't have the brilliant in-line dictionary for their browsers, so I didn't even perform the standard spell check!) Nevertheless, you will be glad to know that I didn't have to leave at "precisely" 16:45pm, and could have waited a further five minutes. I got to my destination in quick time, which was pleasingly painful, but taught me to relax a little.

Anyway, this is another 10 minute post so expect mistakes! The quote which I was trying to recall in my previous post was:

“I am one, but I am only one. I cannot do everything; but I will not let what I cannot do interfere with what I can do.”
Edward Everett Hale.


That quote has been in my head since last night, as I had a deep conversation with the moon. (Yes, you read that correctly!) Well a lot had happened yesterday (which I will definitely post about tomorrow now), and a silent listener makes better than none. I was actually seeing how many kick ups I could do in the garden with my hands held behind my back, and delegated things in my mind at the same time. (Fridays are officially my days off, so I won't be rushing through the post like now).

Something is rattling my cage.

Anyway, knowing my memory I will forget some things about Wednesday by tomorrow so here's one exchange that surprised me:

"So what topic are you working on?" he asked. I gave the post grad student a quizzing look at this question. "What area are you in?" he continued. Sudden realisation dawned upon me as to what the questioner meant! At this stage my mouth flew open as I glanced at the commenter and then towards DC, not knowing how to react. (This was when we had gathered for refreshments at the end of the lecture). Should I be offended that three years had been put on me, or encouraged that someone thought that a person of such youth(!) be capable of even thinking about a title?! I took the second option, for I am sure that the person was aware that I was a four year old on that day, as I had announced in my introduction!

I didn't know how to reply initially, and as I realised that the question was a serious one, I had chuckled that I am only a second year undergraduate student! It still feels like a weird question, but I guess the person had this misconception for I am always bugging lecturers (and some post grad students) and can be seen everywhere. (Well bugging the usual suspects of course, but I prefer to use the word "conversing with").

Today I was happy to see PS drinking tea like usual. (Ask him for confirmation... I tell no lies dammit!) Well WLOG (without loss of generality?) shall we say. I forgot the question mark in the title for my previous post-- how many of you had spotted that? Although I didn't get a chance to run my third idea past him, there is always another day. He told me a funny story to do with a parking ticket and the year 2007. It's February and I still write 2007 at times, instead of 2008. (But I think back to when Prof. S told me about the absent minded professor and what happened the next day!:D)

After speaking to PS I had my own cup of tea and lunch. The conversation at the table moved around a lot, until the matter of "diaries" was mentioned. I kept mute throughout this conversation, for this blog can be classed as a "diary" of some sort and I didn't want to contradict myself. Indeed, this is a very public diary although I didn't realise that in the beginning. It was mentioned that why would you bother reading anyone's diary, for they write every teeney detail of what they did. I silently agreed, knowing how I get carried away at times, but it's a case of writing things that stood out for you during the day. I still can't answer that question, but I guess writing a blog is slightly different to writing a "personal personal diary" which nobody on the planet knows about. (I felt a shudder at the thought of any of the Tweenies reading this!)

By the way, my discrete maths lecturer is cool. Full stop. (I might be somewhat influenced by him taking an interest in Dr. K's lecture yesterday, and sending his late apologies...) I'm too easy to please, but for those who didn't attend the lecture and for no good reason, please make up for it and attend the next one on February 27th! It's by two students who I didn't FORCE to volunteer. They wanted to do the lecture. (Don't listen to what everyone else tells you, I use that "puss in boots" look and they can't say no. Sweet!) Actually that's a lie too. I shamelessly beg. No wait, that's not true as well. I don't know what I do, but it is a very democratic process I assure you! Whatever you do, don't listen to what Dr. Coleman says on this matter! Please...

Guess who's back

That's a rather lame title (if I may say so myself), but I couldn't quite remember what the horror movie line was. Anyway, this is a quick five sentences (read five long paragraph post!) before I head home. Actually I have to leave the AT building 16:45pm so there is hope yet!

What I meant by being back is that some part of my mathematical heart is returing. Even though this is a new semester, the not caring and "can't be bothered" attitude has still been haunting me. Today I have a point to prove which has cracked me open let a nut.

There are two forms of negativity. One a subtle reminder, which you acknowledge and it doesn't register. This is useful at times, but there is this other form of negativity. This is the complete package which induces a reaction in one. Initially I was angered by this negativity from various people, even though they meant well. Today, although still slightly "miffed" I am grateful for this negativity. It has given me a much needed kick, and I now feel determined to prove to them that it can be done. It will be done ia as well.

I will be going awol (absent without leave!) for a few days, due to this resolve(?) that I have. Hopefully though I will publish my post about yesterdays lecture when I get home, for it was indeed a fantastic lecture! If anyone else has a few words they'd like to say about it, please post a comment and I will add it to my post. Thanks to everyone who attended, and you are all my friends until you decide to not attend a lecture!

There is a lot to be accomplised, but I am reminded of the quote which I don not have the time to fine! Got to run!

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

AT G205: 1:10pm - be there or be square!

PS: Ignore the lame title, I have written it as a last and very lame resort. Any offers for something better? Be there or be flat makes better sense, or be there or get a disappointed stare? (Oh, by the way all the links link to the post below, so don't bother clicking them).

This post is going to be typed in 5 minutes if all goes well. I have to sleep by 1am you see. It feels good when one looks down at their to do list and notices that everything has been done! And if that happens to be the first time of such a thing occurring, then even better. Today I have managed to do all but one thing, but I will say that I did everything. Namely because I can send the email now, but if the receiver sees the time they'll reject my application!

Today I had an interesting discussion with Dr. C about the third phase of the Galois Group (TGG). It happened to run for a few "very long" minutes, but I feel a sense of hope. I will disclose matters on another day, but hopefully phase two might come along soon too. The third phase is the most difficult one, and I realise that I definitely can't accomplish that on my lonesome. Anyway, I'll do what I can on my part and then what follows will follow.

I spoke to two of my PTs today, and as always it was good to speak to my "first PT". (I'm always talking/bugging DC about TGG!) My PT can't attend tomorrows lecture because of stupid interviews. I hope PS can make it, but if he doesn't then I won't be too upset (I actually won't be upset at all). He'll be spared from my "disappointed" look which I give to those people who don't attend. (Unknowingly of course...) I'm still hoping for an optimistic 50 though. Oh and if any lecturer is reading this, then please can you announce TGG lecture in your lecture tomorrow! (I know the email was sent, but consider this a friendly reminder). It's 1am now, my plan has failed.

Please do attend at 1:10pm in room G205 (Alan Turing Building) for Dr. Khudaverdian's lecture Pretty please with a cherry on top, and no excuse is lamer than what I can come up with so it will be easier to attend! (There are no seminars at that time--I've done my homework).

Monday and Tuesday have been hectic and I would rather post about Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday tomorrow! Dare I say that I feel all the negativity leaving me? (Oh did I mention that the introductions tomorrow are going to be ridiculous. I hear there's a piano involved!!) It's 1:05am and I leave you with this quote (which sort of describes my situation, but I have not the time to explain):

When we have not what we like,
we must like what we have.

Comte De Bussy-Kabutin