Saturday, March 15, 2008

Blog Out of Order

I went to sleep after 3:30am and then woke up again at 6:30am. Those who received my emails at them times will be able to confirm my weird sleeping pattern. I actually fell asleep at the computer at 3:30ish, and thankfully due to the cold temperature woke up soon after (PHEW).

I am not all packed yet and there is so much that needs doing as well (by 12pm too!) How I will survive without the internet for two weeks, I don't know (no laughing please!) "You can relax a little now", Dr. C said. Pfft. Like that's ever going to happen. There is so much that I need to do you see, in terms of The Galois Group mainly, but maybe the break will be good?

So this post is just to inform you that I will not be posting for two weeks. You can write abusive comments, (if that gives you a kick!) but comment moderation is on so HA! However, do feel free to leave me nice comments in the lucky instance I come across an internet cafe. I'm sure there won't be an empty hole left in your daily internet travels, due to my not posting (but if so then I do apologise). I'm going to miss posting if that makes you feel any better! *sniff*

Now to business: If you have any queries about submissions for Infinite Descent (the maths magazine) then your first point of contact is Dr. M.D Coleman (email him or catch him around the AT building). If you can't reach him, I'm sure Professor Borovik or Steve won't mind helping you with your ideas if you ask nicely. (I didn't just put words into peoples mouths then!) We are looking for an A4 sized article from students; and for lecturers, yes I have a soft spot, I will let you have at most/least 1.5 pages.

Note: We are asking for submissions for consideration, but please submit whatever you find interesting. Book reviews, interesting questions etc. you name it we want it.

Send any submissions to: the.galoisgroup at, or my university email address or this blog's email address (or Dr. M.D Coleman--the co-co editor!) You will get a holiday email upon sending anything to me, but I will respond to all emails when I return.

If you're interested in volunteering for a lecture, also get in touch. Am I being too optimistic, thinking that I am going to return to a full inbox? Well one can live in hope right... The damnedest thing is that I can no longer bug the usual suspects with my emails and "presence" (hence why the emails at 3am etc!)

OK. I have to run now. Hope you all have a nice Easter break, and let us hope that I don't get withdrawal symptoms. If I have forgotten to mention something, then I do apologise, but I am really struggling to remember anything. I hate packing, for the sinking suspicion that I have forgotten something is not leaving me.

So I will be vanishing from the face of England(!) for two weeks, and will not be available by phone or email (unless I get saved by an internet cafe). You can stop smirking now! (PS: Do forgive me for any inconvenience I may have caused you though, if indeed you are the type to hold grudges against an ickle bean like myself...)

Friday, March 14, 2008

Bluntly does it.

"How are you feeling today?"
"Slightly better...."
"Well you still look horrible."


Thursday, March 13, 2008

Please Sir, can I have some more?

I am not Oliver Twist, but the greedy child sat wanting to add more to their plate. I have added another helping onto my plane today, and my stomach cries out in protest.

As you might have gathered from the previous post, I was awake at 1:30am which isn't good news when you have a 9am start! Nevertheless, for a change I actually managed to wake up on time. I even got to university slightly early, although it seemed Rob wasn't around so no tea for me. The walk to the maths building had been slow, and the winds were warning me of what was to come.

A lot came too.

10am- supervision
1pm-rush down Oxford road to meet a friend
3pm-rush back to the maths building for lecture
4pm- annoy Dr. C with TGG stuff (receipts etc.) although I am ashamed to say that I haven't been very good at annoying people lately! (Namely because I haven't been fully awake so can't respond "sharply". Usually it is me who has an answer to everything, but that changed--only for this week though. Actually to make myself feel better for not being on form, I did say I was going to be nice to Dr. C for helping me to edit the form I filled in!)
5-7pm--silly training session
8-10pm--had to go to someone's house (grudgingly might I add)

It must say something, if rather than writing an insane amount of words for the above, I summarised in a table. I haven't had a chance to breathe today. I have had a goodish day, but due to my bruised body I can't say that enthusiastically.

To the good points: I really enjoyed today's calculus lecture. Seriously, I had another "wow" moment! That's two in two days--something is definitely not right here. It was due to this integral we solved using differential forms (etc) and I found how everything came together, rather cool. (Although I did make a few errors in my thoughts, in the end it was OK). The sign of a good lecture: you don't keep tabs on the time throughout the lecture!

Then it was geometry. The lecture was once again intense, but it followed from certain things we're doing in calculus so I managed. However, I was fuming during this lecture. My jaw was contorted in a slow rage, and my eyes burned. Two very nice people in our lecture theatre, happened to be sitting upon two very squeaky chairs. We heard the squeak once and looked back, dismissing it. But then, again and again the squeaking happened followed by giggling! I didn't look back for I didn't trust my face to remain neutral. Instead, it was Fizz who noticed my agitated behaviour, and urge to do something!

Honestly speaking, having had three gruelling hours in a row, any little thing can break your concentration. Anything can cause you to zone the lecturer out, and this time it happened to be my building annoyance. If the squeaking wasn't bad enough, the giggling was blimmin' inconsiderate. Sigh. They went quiet for a bit and then started again, so I did get most of the lecture. It just wasn't a very pleasant lecture on this occasion.

Another doomsday dilemma: we have been given a million coursework to do in a week. How many have I started--none of course! By the way, did you know that it is incorrect to write "courseworks"--it's like writing sheeps.

Oh and for the record: I have returned Dr. E's book. Damn! (Well I thought it was best to let him have it for a few weeks, so he starts to think that the book is his again. At that point I will just borrow it again... muhahaha... don't tell him though!)

For once I can't write anything else. Why did I have to be so greedy and ask for thirds? Oh, it has been decided, I am going to be a teacher. How very exciting.

If all you have is a hammer,

...then all you see is nails!

That was something Professor Borovik said in his lecture today, and somewhere in my weird head I appreciated that sentence.

Today I was very well behaved in this lecture. The previous excitement was too much today, and I must confess to misplacing what I was going to say in the introduction. The thing is that last year Professor Borovik taught linear algebra to first year students (joint honours). During a PASS session I had learnt a startling fact about this arrangement, but was too chicken to mention this today due to not being able to recall it correctly. It was something lame (as usual) but it was much better than the nonsense that I tried to improvise with. (One day I will slow down!)

This is a quick post, for last night I didn't get any sleep due to the wind and my room being towards the back of the house. (Lots of things went on a walk about yesterday, and as I write this the wind reminds me of what punishment I will have to endure tonight).

Anyway, the lecture was pretty great. You see, to someone like myself, I can't help but be awed when people are so relaxed up front. I really enjoyed the interactive nature of the lecture, and how it flowed. We had a full house too, which was great to see, especially the new faces that turned up. (Hopefully they'll attend future lectures too). I was also intrigued to see Dr. K shifting in his seat! It looked like he wanted to stand up and give another lecture. (The audiences enthusiasm was good to see).

Now I have been avoiding mentioning the lecture, for I am worried about my memory. (I have the slides muhahaha, but not looked over them again yet). I got the general idea of the lecture (which is a relief), but what I think is a sign of a brilliant lecture. is your attitude afterwards towards the content discussed. I am really intrigued about what was said today, and want to read more about it. It's all quite fascinating and I haven't felt this "wowed" by a maths topic for quite some time now. I think the history behind it all, adds to its image.

Today I'm afraid I won't be writing a detailed evaluation of the lecture, and you may have noticed that I have lost form regarding such things! I can't recall writing about any of The Galois Group lectures this semester, although all three are still floating in my head. And for those still awake, you might have noticed what else I have added to my plate!!

You see, when we were taught Complex Analysis, it was like being taught how to integrate "x^2" or something similar. That was how I felt, for it was like being back in college again: "integral over circle, integral over this, etc". I don't think we were taught the usefulness of complex analysis, and why everyone exclaims in excitement when the complex numbers are mentioned. If you recall, I didn't like "Cauchy Analysis" that much, and groaned a lot about it. However, today, having been shown the complex logarithm in action, I can also exclaim: "complex numbers--wow".

It's 1:15am (whoops) so I better wrap this up. Firstly another big thanks to Professor Borovik, for a fantastic lecture, and thanks to everyone who attended (especially those who stayed for refreshments at the end). I think it is that interaction between staff and students, which happens during refreshments, that is of great importance. It's a shame that some people run for their lives at the end (I don't bite!) but I understand that they may have other commitments. For some reason, on Wednesdays I lose the ability to eat.

There is something which today's lecture has induced in me, but I can't express it in words.

I have two days to sort everything out. The word damn escapes me, as I look towards my to do list and the time. Anyway, there will be no more lectures before Easter folks! Relief washes through my body because of this, but that is because I really do feel exhausted and in need of a break (not because I don't enjoy doing what I do). The next lecture will be in week 10 and I will surely be informing you, nearer the time. If anyone student is interested in volunteering for next year, please drop me an email.

I want a hammer...

Monday, March 10, 2008

"It's me!" and blue Pringle's

Firstly let me redirect you to the post about Professor Borovik's lecture: Navigation on the Riemann Sphere, this Wednesday at 1:10pm in Alan Turing G205.


*knock knock*
"Come in", came the faint reply. Opening the door I announced,
"Hi, it's me. Yes, it's me."

The only reason I post about this is because I did the same thing twice, on two separate occasions. (Thankfully I survived both incidents unscathed!)

Sainsbury's has become my second home recently, namely due to it being on the route when I walk to the maths building, or home. Maybe I should wake up earlier and make my own sandwiches, but Sainsbury is a footstep away and they have a nice variety...

The point though is that today I went to a different bigger Sainsbury, to buy the refreshments for Wednesdays lecture. I won't get the chance to do so tomorrow due to having a busy day including a driving lesson after two point five weeks (and already I am having a bad feeling about it.) My instructor is going to KILL me I tell you. I had my fingers crossed when I said I'll read the theory books, but that's between us. I don't care about the theory, but I do understand it's importance.

So in Sainsbury I was slightly lost. They only had green and red Pringle's--not the ones I was after. I happened to catch someone and enquired: "Do you have any blue Pringle's, because you only have the red and green ones on them shelves." I don't think I deserved the weird look I got, but I did recover to mutter, "It's Monday morning, so do you have any salt and vinegar Pringle's?" Suffice to say that the look didn't disappear, but thankfully the woman understood as my heavy bag had caused my shoulders to slump, and my appearance to be woeful! Smiling she directed me to the crisps section, where you could find a colourful range of Pringle's. (I don't want to hear anything!)

I love sneezing by the way. I don't know why, but maybe it's because I hate coughing so much that sneezing sounds fantastic. I had two coughing fits today, and you know what, holding your breath and trying NOT to cough actually makes matters worse. It's so irritating, whereas sneezing even sounds nicer. (Although I like sneezing, I hate going "ah ah ah damn its gone.")

So why this very disjoint post? What can I say, I'm a disjoint bean! Ach, sorry for stating the obvious there, but this week is going to be very hectic. Unbelievably hectic and draining. Already I am behind schedule, but the emails will be sent out tomorrow instead. It's not that I am badly tired. It is a mixture of being under the weather, weariness and borderline exhaustion. Not bad eh? Don't ask about the maths by the way, for I have been wondering what the heck it is myself! I think I have pushed myself beyond all limits and need to return to safe grounds very soon. Already my mind is on the summer holidays and about what I will be doing then. (Maths of course before you ask. ;) Well trying to anyway.)

Next year I am not going to be a PASS leader, which I decided today. I enjoy it and won't mind confusing students further, but I am trying to reduce my responsibilities for my final year, for it is very important. If I sit still for more than five minutes I worry that I should be doing something which I'm not.

A PA would be very nice, and someone who could be me for a day. Any volunteers?

A final serious question: what is understood by end of the following sentence "...we could ensure that the student’s interest in mathematics was positively buffered and so to their university experience."

In particular what does "buffered" mean. I very much like that word, well the Chemist inside me does, but Dr. C doesn't. I filled this form in, which Dr. C kindly proof read for me, and it made me wonder what else to write instead, and what's so bad about buffered? (Remind me to be nice to Dr. C for a day (at most!) for he did a very neat job).

That was an aside because I have been looking for a substitution as opposed to a rearrangement of the sentence. Anyway (yes it's one of them "anyway" which I am an expert at brushing aside, but which you might be relieved to read!) I think that is enough for a post. Never in my life have I appreciated my mother, more than I have done this week. There I did it again--brushed it aside. Damn. I think I should talk less to myself as I walk towards the AT building. I have tried humming, but come now, people shouldn't be so nosey when one is talking to oneself! (Maybe I should try to keep my hands and neck still during this conversation.... I just can't help it though). This post was just to narrate to you that there is no definition for craziness. I'll shut up if you promise to attend on Wednesday (whilst showing me some uncrossed hands that is.) That's the spirit now!

So much to do, so little time.

Navigation on the Riemann Sphere (TGG lecture)

A formal "dear all" escaped me, and upon being erased a very informal "hey" followed it. As you can see I have erased both and instead decided to let you choose how you want to be greeted.

This Wednesday in the Alan Turing Building, you will all have the glorious opportunity to listen to a lecture by Professor Alexandre Borovik. Yes, the one and only, author of Mathematics Under the Microscope, if your eyes were asking the question!

Please whatever you're doing, drop it and come along to G205 at 1:10pm on 12th March--registration is not required! (You don't have to be a mathematician or a member of my university). The lecture is open to the whole wide world so don't have any reservations whatsoever. You would be mad to miss it. Trust me on this, for Dr. E is feeling really bad about not being able to make it... (he'll deny this obviously, but don't say you heard it from me!)

Being under the weather has meant that all you lucky people out there, haven't felt my annoying presence like normal. Nevertheless, the fact that this is the last Galois Group lecture before Easter, has given me all the motivation I need to find my old "annoying form". I will disclose the abstract in two ticks, but first I have to do all that Demon Headmaster (aka Jack Straw!) hocus pocus, to ensure that people attend. Free refreshments will be available, and if you're lucky your picture might even be taken. Pretty please with a cherry on top, will you attend if you can. I always aim for 50 people and so far I haven't been let down. (Rounding up is a fascinating thing taught at schools!)

Now to the formal details and the abstract (which can also be seen from the poster of the lecture):

Wednesday 12th March 2008 at 1:10-2pm

Professor Alexandre Borovik - Navigation on the Riemann Sphere
Alan Turing Building - G205

Seafarers of 16th century were skilful in keeping course of constant direction -- with the help of a magnetic compass and astronomic instruments -- but they had no control over distance travelled since they had no control over strength of wind. In effect, they lived in a strange geometry where only angles mattered, but which was lacking the concept of distance. Nowadays this geometry is known under the name of conformal geometry. The best way to understand it is to view the globe as the Riemann sphere invented by Bernhard Riemann (1826 - 1866) as a
geometric model for representation of complex numbers.

The famous geographer and cartographer Gerard Mercator (1512 - 1594) has not left to us any clues as to how he made his world map of 1569; but it was the first map in the history where lines of constant direction on the globe (loxodromes) were represented as straight lines (rhumb lines, in seafaring terminology) on the map. The first systematic theory of Mercator's projections appeared some years later, in Edward Wright's book of 1599. However, Wright's work created more mathematical mysteries than mathematicians of that time could resolve.

In my lecture, I will discuss some elementary and exceptionally beautiful mathematics related to the Mercator projection and Riemann sphere. In particular, I will explain why the Mercator projection is exactly the logarithm function Log(z) in the complex domain.

My lecture is based on ideas of our colleague Dr Hovhannes Khudaverdian.


Look at all those empty seats--one of them HAS your name written on it. Come along this Wednesday to find out which one!
(I wouldn't click on that picture by the way--it's one of them large 'uns. )

PS: Have I forgotten to mention anything? Please do remind me if I have!

Sunday, March 09, 2008

Algebra Notes

Which notes do you prefer:

A) These algebra notes


B) these ones?

That is a serious question by the way. If you had to print one of the two (ignoring the missing page on the second one and the fact that the exercises are in a different file) which would you print?

Is it just me who prefers the second one? For a few weeks I have been unable to get myself into studying algebra, namely because the minute writing in A has my eyes straining, so my brain doesn't switch on! (Note: I didn't say switch off, for I haven't felt switched on for quite some time now). I just found it really difficult to process what was written on the first ten or so pages that I had printed, of notes A.

This once again further informs me of my weird learning style. Big and spacious never harms anyone. Is that because I lack control (of any kind), hence when writing I am all over the page? Nowadays, when doing questions etc. I have reverted back to good old plain paper, for you have the most freedom when scribbling random (incorrect) answers down!

Seriously though, I am (unfortunately?) a very spread out person and "chaotic" is the word that comes to mind. When working I hate being cramped, and that holds generally. I love the outdoors for that reason: the openness and the freedom to explore and do what you want, without anyone clutching you like a back pack is great. (This is also another reason for disliking Oxford road for it is very cramped!) Define claustrophobia, and then I will tell you whether I am. (Nevertheless it is interesting to see how many people assume I might be; but what is wrong with people liking "space"?)

I would definitely choose B, and although it was a tedious process to get to it, I feel glad to have done so. I have printed the first ten pages again, and boy does version B make a difference!

Saturday, March 08, 2008

Trees using LaTeX

I feel "better" today, but still my heart quivers in fear of the unknown. I have made my to-do list and it's horribly long, which unsurprisingly isn't inspiring. Now though, we return to complete a chapter of my life about trees and LaTeX!

Once upon a time (in a nursery rhyme) I reported about my inability to create a tree using LaTeX. With some help, synttree was the most appropriate package that I could use. Nevertheless, my stubbornness for wanting to do things a certain way prevented me from using this. After that decision I had \sout{borrowed} stole Dr. C's book on LaTeX and decided to draw the trees using brute force i.e. the "put" command and various others which I read about. I read the book, jotted commands down and then set to work. Alas, if only I have continued "working" but the sheer tediousness of my job prevented me from doing so.

Dr. C had mentioned that he used Adobe Illustrator to draw his images, and then he imports them. Sick of measuring distances, I came across a site where someone mentioned "Star Office" in the same breath as adobe illustrator. I already have open office so thought it was similar to that and decided to google it. Open googling the drawing package for Star Office, I was saddened to see that you have to purchase it. I didn't want to go back and measure anything else! However, it seems that the "powers that be" had made me suffer enough, and I smiled when I saw a 90 days trial available for free. There--you have my confession in words. I downloaded the trial version of Star Office and got down to drawing my tree the way it should be drawn! (Since the date for handing the coursework in has expired, can I put that tree online or not?)

Star Office allows you to convert documents into pdf form. Doing this I then print screened the tree and imported it into TeXnic Centre using:


It did look slightly wonky, but I had my tree and that in no time at all! However upon printing it I realised that the image wasn't very clear, and I had to go over the braces in pen. Dr. C suggested that I embolden them before pasting it, but star office is unfortunately not as good as LaTeX and won't allow you to do a lot of things.

Some time later in the week, as I had discussed the format of the third Galois Group idea, Dr. C had suggested I could use LaTeX and import all individual pdf files into one document. "Wait you can import pdf files into LaTeX?" I had asked surprised. It seems you could and I had assumed that he had imported png files like myself, rather than asking.

So I returned to my desk and got to work. Initially when I imported the pdf file, I realised that the whole page was imported and not just the picture. No amount of scaling worked, and I turned towards google (as always!) After a lot of playing around, I realised that my best bet was to use the "trim" option and crop all parts of the file not required. To use the trim option you have to first write "clip=true" for reasons unknown to me. With a lot of trial and error I got it down to:

%trim=l b r t (l=left b=bottom etc. and you just write what length you want to trim there).

\includegraphics[clip=true,trim=1.6cm 15cm 2cm 1.8cm,keepaspectratio,scale=0.96]{beth.pdf}

The end product this time around was just how I wanted it to be! It's not my fault I wanted it like that... but doesn't it look cool? (Unless of course I made a mistake which I would prefer not to be told of!!)

So, what would I recommend to anyone else wanting to draw trees using LaTeX? If you are not willing to compromise on the way you want your tree, get open office and its drawing package. Yep--I've just looked in my open office directory and realised that it came with a drawing programme too, so you don't need star office. If you have complex mathematics, then open office might be frustrating but it's much better than word. Create your picture and convert it into a pdf file. Then open TeXnic Center and import the file using the above commands. Just simply great. You don't compromise on the quality of the tree you see, and when I printed it out, I had to sit myself down for a second! (Haha, it had that great an effect on me you see...)

Further conflict

This isn't going to be a very long post (I won't comment on your reaction to that statement!) Before we dive into this very long post(!), I must remark that today was the first time I missed a lecture this semester! It wasn't due to my fault, but guess what, I didn't have a heart attack about this and frankly couldn't care less. Ouch. That sounded too blunt. Honestly, it was out of my control that I was late, but unlike in my first semester when I become annoyed at missing Prof. D's lecture, this time round I was perfectly calm. Maybe that explained my energy when talking to the Tweenies about "you know what" at 11ish. (Whoops I have added this after writing my post, so it might not make sense yet).

Yesterday I was physically drained, what with having (stupidly?) returned home at 1pm and gone back to university for my 3pm lecture (and then come home again at 8pm after the session!) I had ran about a lot, and not really given much thought to eating which might have explained why I felt tired. The session (in case you were wondering) was great. They are two hour sessions, but the woman in charge gave us a ten minute break at 6pm and I had gone outside (for a smoke). Ha. Did you raise your eyebrows then? It just felt like the "thing" to say! Truth be told I had gone to stretch my muscles and found a piano outside--discarded. I had an interesting conversation with someone about it, and sadly both of us couldn't play it. My thoughts went to Fizz and Dr. K. (I wonder if it's still there today). (Note to the gullible reader like myself...I don't smoke!)

Today I am fine physically, which comes as a relief, but it is mentally that I am completely stretched and on the point of elasticity. What I am going to write will probably make sense to a few or none, yet I still feel the need to get it out of my system.

Yesterday, rather foolishly, I forgot who I was talking to and blurted something out. Nothing "bad" followed from this, but a change in tone and a hint didn't go unnoticed by me. I am lost in life at the moment. There is something very cool which defines me, but sometimes people don't understand this-- it is not something I feel one explains. This thing is personal and determined by our choice. Also, explaining matters always leads to more confusion, for it is hard to understand (at times) what excites another.

Nevertheless my definition has become weaker. This cripples me silently, and makes me think that it is a good thing that my time at university is finite. On the other hand, were I well defined I would probably take everything in my stride and not need to mull in such thoughts. I have to change something, but my laziness is my worst enemy.

Why is it that speaking our fears and circumstances to people, makes them sound more real? At the same time a sense of defeat spreads over your soul, as you helplessly look for options. I honestly have no idea as to what's the right thing for me to do. Endless possibilities are themselves painful. There is so much that I want to do, but I have to "not" do something to do something else.

I wish it was easy for me to make a decision. That there was nothing attached to my decision. I will never grumble at where I am standing in life, for I have much to be thankful for. Have I become greedy?

A sudden wave hit me. I know what I must do. But then why can't I type it out? Why can't I tell you the right thing for me to do in this situation?

It's all about misunderstandings and I will never fault those who are having them. Now that would be called being ungrateful. But when do people stop expecting certain things from you? All week I have had this song in my head, and upon informing Bella of it, she never hesitates and breaks into singing it. (Upon which I jokingly groan--loud enough to be heard!!) I thought I'd write that down because I am listening to the song at the moment. It doesn't match my mood you see.

Am I looking at this the wrong way round? Maybe it is all for the best after all, for I am not made of the right matter to pursue what is on my mind. It's like the quest for the exilir of life. People went crazy trying to turn metal(?) into gold. I am going crazy trying to make something in my head reality. The way it's not possible for a stone to give you everlasting life, maybe it's best if I learn to get used to the idea of my thoughts remaining just that. Time moves so fast--not stopping for anyone.

I feel overwhelmed by everything: my work, my responsibilities certain upcoming events and my own expectations and wants. Or should that be things I can't have? Come now, there are bigger things to worry about than this stupid issue. I have given myself till after Easter to resolve the matter, but I have a nagging suspicion that that won't be the case. It feels weird hearing people talk about this matter so liberally, not understanding the weighting on their words. You don't feel like correcting their statements, but one day it all gets too much and you tell them that everything isn't as easy as it may look.

Today I spoke to The Tweenies about my third idea for TGG again. I didn't want to, what with the initial shocking negativity, but I was experimenting. Actually, truth be told, contrary to what this post might have you believing, I have had a pretty cool day today and have had this raw energy, attached to a desire of wanting to do something. The post reflects the thoughts which were exposed at the end of the day, and then locked away again until now. Po isn't here for a while so because I couldn't discuss them with a teletubby, the blog was the next best outlet.

My plan was to be mysterious, and eventually they figured out what I was telling them. Straight away they went to their battle stations. This time though I was prepared. My weightless reassurances were brushed away, as they heartlessly tried to tear my ambitions and hopes apart, with the wish that it would knock some sense into me. Sense. What a nice word. If I wasn't brainless then maybe I could claim to have an ounce of sense; but as it goes, that is another thing I lack. My smiling face infuriated them further, as they realised they weren't having an effect this time. "Who care about such a such thing" and their other points didn't affect me.

What affected me was when I politely asked them for some questions. I wanted to borrow their brains for five minutes, just to get some more ideas and so I could refine my own thoughts. She said no and he sat silently. Alarm bells started ringing in my head again, but ignoring them I decided to bravely ask again. Again they refused with no further thinking whatsoever. Controlling myself I shrugged them off, thinking: it will be done.

All the Tweenies weren't present at the time, but when we all had lunch together, I felt that it was best I "didn't ruin the mood". I just need to catch Fizz on her own, but she has been under the weather.

Today I have felt slightly under the weather, and two people even pointed out that I didn't look too great. I was battling really hard to keep my mind alert and alive you see, and doing so made me lose a lot of other senses. What I am fearing for is my throat, which is very sore at the moment. I would hate to lost my voice at university--no the images of all them happy faces is unbearable!! Especially certain individuals who I particularly enjoy annoying... (Seriously though, can you imagine what it would be like if I lost my voice at university?!)

My brain was badly detached from the rest of my body today, for as I had walked home, I hadn't been keeping a proper lookout for cars etc. I know so because I didn't anticipate the cars, and this was probably the best chance for someone to take advantage of that!

What to do then? I am going to test my self control from Monday, and see if I can stay away from the computer. We have the next coursework and I have come to the conclusion that I really don't like algebra any more. (Namely due to my own incompetence in the subject). I have to do the coursework by next Friday, and the other million coursework and the catching up too. A mouthful isn't it?

Emails should hopefully be sent on Monday revealing my final plan, but even though Yoda said: Do or do not, there is no try, I can't help but say that all I can do is try, for things can still fall into thin air. This post was actually deliberately long, so to scare people away from reading it! If doesn't make sense because of the disjointness between my brain and body.

A final mathematical conclusion: I dislike it when "X - A" is used instead of "X\A". I don't know why, but it irks me. It just looks wrong. (I.e the set X with A excluded or "taken away" pfft)

Friday, March 07, 2008

Brainless me

Scene 1:

Me: Phew- I'm glad to see that you haven't closed yet, I was worried for a second! *jumping for joy*
Rob: *confused look* No, we're still open.
Me: Cup of tea please.

As I waited, my eyes were enlightened as to what time it was: 3-05pm, not 4pm as I had assumed it to be. Grinning sheepishly, I explained my relief to Rob and how I had got confused. In the next second a class mate of mine joined me in the queue.

Classmate: It's my free cup today.
Me: I had my free one yesterday. *handing my stamp card to Rob*

Picking my tea up I headed towards the milk and sugar, only to be stopped in my tracks:

Rob: That's 75p please!

Crikey--don't ask what was wrong with me today! First I thought it was 4pm, and then I thought it was my free cup and wasn't going to pay.

And yes, that's a typical conversation between us maths students ie. about tea! (Not coffee... eurgh).

To be continued... (well you can't believe that this was the only brainless thing I have done today. I just thought that I'll give you a preview before getting into a depressing post about today's discoveries, pains and more brainlessness of course).

Thursday, March 06, 2008

The lecturer is not speaking English!

He's talking Maths!! That was the conclusion that I came to in most of my lectures today. A language which I was not understanding at all (unfortunately). It felt like my eyes were watching the lecturer's mouths move in slow motion, trying to slow things down. Unsuccessfully might I add, so as I watched things through slow motion, my hand just copied down what was on the board. Very slowly and fragmented, but alas I couldn't do anything to stop this today.

I have a training session in a few minutes. My phone is buzzing for an angry Bella is wanting to know where I am. I am ignoring it but don't tell her!! I went home toady at 1pm and returned for my 3pm lecture. I didn't want too. Pizza and the sofa were very hard to resist, and then sleep too! Sigh. That explains my exhaustion. Whoops there goes my phone again. Let us hope that this training session is in English!

Wednesday, March 05, 2008

Sorry, but guess what I have more off?

Note: to anyone who can't access the Maths home page (and Professor Borovik's blog), you have write ".man" instead. I don't know why this change has happened, but I did worry for a second!

Apologise in advance, but I am in a "quotes" mood so keep your eyes open! Today has been another very exhausting day, and once again I got home at 8:15pm, only to find that I couldn't crash and burn. The two training sessions were OK today, especially the second one--that was great. But still 5-7pm is annoying, for it means no maths yet again. My brain is completely zonked out, and thankfully my eyes just fell upon my logic notes a minute ago! Why thankfully you ask? well I have to complete the coursework which has to be handed in tomorrow. Humbug. Questions one is dodgy, but it's just a matter of writing the mumbo jumbo in my head in LaTeX. I cannee be bothered, truth be told; but at least I remembered the foolish thing. (Imagine the horror if I forgot!)

I didn't pester that many people today--only my three PTs and my old workshop postgrad supervisor. It has been ages since we last spoke and it was nice to have a chat (which included talking about TGG!) I was also given some friendly advice , and was relieved that the post grad student understood what I said when I spoke of my results, and how I could have done better. (I was "forced" into telling them!) Seriously though, it was nice to talk to another "student" mathematician who understands me because of their own experiences with maths. (I was told not to give myself that a hard time though, for I had a lot on i.e. TGG etc).

My PT actually got the lightest of my pestering today, for as soon as I informed him about my plans of blackmailing certain lecturers, he hurried along! I saw PS today too, but once again the conversation didn't last long. (Teaching commitments. Hmpf!) Haha, so that leaves Dr. C! I stole four of his books, and when I went to return them he wasn't there!! (Hence why I told my PT that I will be blackmailing another lecturer...) I had to carry the darn books in my bag for a while, (and they're not the lightest of creatures), because I couldn't hang around due to a training session at lunch, till 3ish. Thankfully though, at 4 something I was able to rid myself of this burden, only to steal another book, but a lighter one. (I would call it borrowing, but stole is what Dr. C has written on his board...)

This book has two purposes: one to help me and the second which I thought of later: to actually erm... *whispers* blackmail with!! (Well Dr. C is the staff coordinator of TGG, and let us just say that I am still waiting for him to stick his poster up. This should hurry that process up right?!)

Anyway, enough of book stealing antics (I'm still avoiding Dr. E). I am actually quite relieved at one thing that Dr. C said to me today (makes a nice change!!) I had queried, probably hoping for false reassurance, whether he thought that the third task for TGG would require much work on my part. He informed me straight out that it will require a lot of work, but not with the a negative vibe, which I am used to expect from people. My PT also, encouraged me at the same time, whilst making it clear that a lot of my time will be used up. This bluntness actually worked better than reassurance, for that would have given me false hope. Now maybe, I won't blame Dr. C if things go pear shaped! (Yes, I lie).

Another "anyway" escaped me, but it's not my fault that everyone around me uses that word to "hint" something to me (any guesses as to what?) It doesn't work in case you're wondering. For example, suppose you take a certain dosage of a medicine. Eventually you will find that the tablets no longer work and you have to increase your dosage. The same applies to me... I did advise someone on how to change their approach, but thankfully it wasn't taken on board!

So to the few (million) quotes that I found through Google:

If you can't convince them, confuse them.
Harry S. Truman

I like thinking big. If you're going to be thinking anything, you might as well think big.
Donald Trump

Always do right. This will gratify some people and astonish the rest.
Mark Twain

The thing you really believe in always happens... and the belief in a thing makes it happen. -- Frank Lloyd Wright

Do not quench your inspiration and your imagination; do not become the slave of your model. Vincent Van Gogh

Do, or do not. There is no "try."

Whoops--got carried away, but there are more still! Tomorrow is going to be *sigh* Yes--it's a Thursday and I can't remember what I am supposed to do. What joy!

Tuesday, March 04, 2008

Phase three has the green light.

WE, yes WE have decided to go ahead with phase three of TGG. I say WE for a good reason when in actual fact the correct word is I. The ultimate decision was always mine, but I will always say WE for when the going gets tough and I need to blame someone(!) the other person who makes the "WE" will get the blame. Nice. (Haha, the reason why the decision had to be mine was that Dr. C didn't want that blame, but hey, I need my "get out of jail for free" card).

On a serious note, I hope it doesn't come to pointing the finger at anyone, and I won't really be blaming anyone but myself (and the world). This is a very foolish decision on my part. I have made my fair share of stupid decisions and mistakes, but a part of me believes I can achieve this--the impossible. That's what it looks like on paper, as we discussed the issue today. Impossible, which frightened me for a second. However, then my flip side kicked in: "NO we can do this", I said, but who was I trying to convince? Dr. C or myself? The world or myself?

Once again I feel that this is to the detriment of my studies, but I am helpless due to using my heart to make this decision and not my head. My brain is screaming NO. The Tweenies are screaming NO. Everyone is saying NO. If they hadn't been so forceful with their NO's I wouldn't be that much more determined to do this.

Dr. C told me that I need to talk to other students to bounce ideas, but I just can't bring this matter up with the Tweenies. That negativity is not welcome by me, hence why I am going to the moon alone. There is only so much I can ask of Dr. Coleman as well, for he has enough on his plate too. Today I actually felt guilty for bugging him (for an epsilon amount of time though). My guilt I put down to weariness on my part, but he's the only person and my PT who I can bug.

It's so easy for me to not do this, but then I wouldn't be me. What is this third phase you ask? Well all will be revealed soon, although there are a few people who know of what I ramble about. Sorry if my decision gave you chest pains. I know my education should come first. It should. I guess I'm trying to reason with myself here. What are my priorities and what should they be?

GAH. Come now beans. I am trying to convince myself that I can stay on top of my studies at the same time. But that in itself is a stupid thing to say, for already I have been doing zilch. I have probably only spent 10 hours or so, studying privately. I'm also waiting for a reaction from myself i.e. trying to scare myself to get my head down.

A personal assistant would be damn nice. My website for TGG has been neglected (as was pointed out to me the other day) but that is the least of my worries. (Namely because I'm the only visitor it has!)

To organise myself then. Where do I begin? Shall I give you a brief summary of what little I have done?

Metric Spaces- Only completed problem sheet one and there are five online. Have tried to understand the notes, but got lost the other day on closure points and stopped. The coursework test for this module is after Easter though. I need to find myself a good book on metric spaces and quickly, and then catch up with the problem sheets. (Zero example classes attended).

Calculus- Done 1.5 problem sheets and three are online. I understand the second one though, but HATE partial differentiation, hence why I haven't completed it yet! Been to one example class, but overall I think I just need to get my head around the notes. The lectures have been good recently and I need to put things together.

Logic- Where do I start with this module? It is very interested, but the notation and language is still alien to me. (A majority of it anyway). But then again, ask me how much I have studied it? I have as good as been to zero example classes, and am only on problem sheet three. This is another module which I need to get a book for and fast. Make that many books!

Discrete-- Well I read my notes until Simple continued fractions, and then got bored with trying to find a bound on the Euclidean algorithm (read that as: I got confused!) Haven't done ANY of the problem sheets for this module. I'm not proud of this, but this module makes me *shudder*. I know, I can't avoid things that I don't like for then they become worse, but .... *fails to find an excuse*.

Hmm, finally its Geometry-- I think this module has to be my most favourite, namely due to Dr. K. Although I am embarrassingly not on the ball, on most occasions I still find it interesting. I have been best behaved in this module, having attended all supervisions and tried erm... some of the questions on the example sheets! I have tried to understand the material, but have come to a standstill. Hopefully though I will get into it again.

Another GAH just escaped me. I forgot about algebra! Any guesses as to why? Well I have done no work whatsoever in this module. I have also realised something sad--I won't ever be an algebraist. I'm just not cut out for it and can't think abstractly. I have a dumb one track mind, and it won't climb out of the box. Maybe it I read the notes and attempted the questions, it would help, but like Discrete maths I've been avoiding this module.

I have become the type of student who I would have hated to be. I am spending the least amount of time on my studies and neglecting them. This time I have no excuses, or do I strain myself and hunt for some?

Do I feel scared yet? Slightly, but I still need to scare myself more, so I get the much needed big kick I deserve. If you have successfully managed to read up till here, I must apologise for not checking through my post and correcting any errors. You might have realised that it makes less sense than normal, but that is due to the time constraint which I have.

I had that training thing today and a girl in my group didn't want to be there. This was all voluntary might I add, so no one was forcing her to sit there. She should have left instead of ruining the whole mood of my group, by snapping at us for discussing the matter at hand!! Madness I tell you, but I was well behaved and didn't snap back, although I felt like it. Instead I crawled into a shell and vented my frustration to those who would listen (including the person in charge) at the end. Why the heck do something if you don't want to? This is voluntary--go home if you don't want to be there, rather than sitting grumpily and ruining the atmosphere. Rant over I hope, but these sessions from 5-7pm are going to kill me.

Tomorrow I have two sessions because I rearranged one due a TGG lecture clash. I have no time to breath tomorrow due to a very full day. Once again, I would love Bernard to lend me that darn watch of his. Very selfish isn't he? (You might have gathered I am exhausted and talking nonsense (as per usual but it's more today).) I realised that it was foolish of me to any geometry today, when I forgot what the dot product was. (The dot product gives you a scalar answer, not a vector). There is always that logic coursework I could complete?

How long before I explode? If only there was another "me" at the moment, who could do TGG things for a while, whilst I hit the books. What it feels like to be misunderstood, I know. The question is, should one waste time in trying to correct that misunderstanding? Nope, I say. Why waste time doing that when you could be doing something productive.

Here's yet another quote, which I have been trying to calm myself with. This is not the first time I have posted it. With the quote I would also like to apologise for my "this weeks" behaviour in advance, for I foresee the week to be a very bad one. When I am stressed I become more chaotic and unpredictable than normal.

“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.

A false quote

It seems that the Einstein quote I posted the other day, was not the one told to me last year. So once again I have egg on my face, although this time since there was no one to "impress", it doesn't feel too bad. The point though is that I am still hunting down that quote, but I'm no longer sure if it's an Einstein quote!

Today was a weird day--my snooze button didn't work and I ended up oversleeping! (Hence I was very much like a zombie, walking about with no breakfast and no brains.) In my defence--wait, I can't think of anything. It was one of them mornings when you can't find anything at all. My shoes went for a walkabout; the brain was still sleeping and everything was not in its place. On top of that I was home alone and didn't have anyone to vent my frustration on. (Never mind though, that's where the invention of phones comes in and my heated debate with my mother asking her where she put my things. A very heated conversation, for I knew the muddle was my own fault and the reason why I was behaving like a headless chicken!) May I remind you that I am still seven years old! (Well 1.5 mathematically but that's another story).

Don't worry your "ickle" hearts though for lunch, tea and a poster sticking session woke me up. In my heart I have a fear that tomorrow my posters will not be up. Although George is aware of the issue, it seems that the cleaners who work in the mornings take the posters off, rather than the 5pm ones. I don't know if George spoke to them though. I stuck all 27 (or so) up (although George told me not to go mad!) After my revival I was back in full force--bugging certain people... not intentionally of course. (What gave you that idea?)

Well I bugged Dr. E, Dr. C and Dr. P. Coincidentally they all happen to live nearby, so that made my life easier! I feel foolish that I didn't \sout{blackmail} annoy Dr. C before returning his book. (Which I did for that matter, although I need to check something in it tomorrow). Trust Dr. C to tell Dr. E that I actually returned his book, whilst Dr. E is still waiting (patiently I hope)! On Dr. E's blackboard there is a list of students who he has lent books to, and I am glad that my name isn't the only one there. Do you think he'll remember lending me the book if suddenly my name vanishes from his board? *cue evil laugh* Nevertheless, I reassured him that his book was in one piece and I could show him a picture of it if he insisted. (He somehow found this amusing--beats me!)

There is a reason why I am bugging these three people and that is TGG (The Galois Group). The forum is no longer in my hands. The powers that be have approved, and I find it a "sad thing" that the thing which I suspected to be the easiest to operate has taken this long. This is my fault though--I wasn't as persistence (or bug like) as I should have been. See, now you know why I don't stop annoying (well that's what they all say) people about things that I need doing. It's the only way for everyone has a lot of things on their plate, and forget about minor things. No longer do I feel guilty, and I take it upon myself to "bug" whenever possible. (I honestly don't secretly enjoy this.... seriously!)

Well Dr. C said that I have not pestered him enough for the poster to be stuck up, so call that an invitation to be pestered! (I'm working on this and I childishly, yes very childishly played "knock a door run" when my pestering became too much and Dr. C had to close his door. But mind you only once, and he knew it was me so he didn't react! There's always tomorrow right?) Before you shake your head in disbelief, read the first line of this paragraph again! Would you ever say such a thing to me? I am still on the lookout to level the score, which is going to be difficult since I'm two down now.

The point I haven't been mentioning is the actual reason for my bugging Dr. C and Dr. E: that of the final phase of TGG. I'm being very discrete about this for nothing has been confirmed yet. Tomorrow hopefully, I should be discussing what the plan is going to be with Dr. C and then I'll let you guys in on the secret. (Well in a cryptic manner, but I'm sure you are all on the ball and will figure it out). It all depends on what is decided tomorrow. I don't know what I want the conclusion to be, for my very heart is having its own internal battle. My stubborn self is on the hunt for blood though, and I fear that I am not in control of what I want to do any more.

Nevertheless, a potentially exciting time might be around the corner.

I made a new friend today--Data. Ha, actually I wondered today why Data wasn't teaching this semester and sulked for a few seconds. Honestly, Data is a brilliant teacher and the structure of his teaching is what's missing in quite a few of my notes. Not that "not having" structure is always a bad thing, but if I was to read my notes a few weeks later, I would be more happy if they made sense. Date wrote one thing, then I came away and scribbled many things, and finally I smiled; adding another question to my list at the same time. Sigh. (Data is a bad data though).

It's not often that you are lucky enough to have brilliant teachers who motivate you. A third year student who I know, seemed shocked as I explained my dependence on lecturers in connection to my understanding of the course. I know--they all say the same thing. I need to grow out of this.

I was asked about how I manage to write long post. One reason is that I type pretty fast (this comes with practise). Another reason that I have many long posts is that when I am typing one thing, something else pops into my head. I then start typing about that and so the cycle continues. I don't think you will find one "disciplined" post in my blog, but then again it has been a while since I have written a long one. (Today I had actually wanted to go to sleep early and write a short post!) I don't really blog with an agenda, but I have been trying to behave....

Anyway... ha, I heard that word a lot today. It meant that I should get going, but as always my reply is "one second, just one more second" which obviously becomes two seconds and so on. So "anyway", I couldn't find the quote I wanted to, but on a scrap piece of paper I found three other quotes which are below:

"Great spirits have often encountered violent opposition from weak minds." (Einstein)

"In many a philosophers mind, the human ability for mathematics derives from our competence for language." (Unknown, and I guess it's a damn from me!)

Paradox: Though much of a mathematicians work is solitary, even lonely, the most important aspect of your research is not the field you choose or the problems you embark on but how you deal with the people around you. (Once again unknown).

And that's good night from me and here's hoping I survive a very busy week. (5-7pm commitment on Tue-Thurs, due to this scheme which is very damning at the moment!)

Sunday, March 02, 2008

Paper Boats and Mathematics

I was delighted when from Professor Borovik's post--Mathematical Games-- something from my "childhood" brought a wave of pleasant memories. From the link I found the little gem titled "Paper Boat".

The mathematics behind the boat was the last thing on my mind, as I quickly found a paper and tried to see whether I remembered how to make the boat (without looking at the site). Indeed a surprised laugh escaped me as I found that I was able to do such a thing!
We used to make them when I was in primary school, so about 11 or 12 years ago. (Wow-that makes me feel old!) I don't know who "taught" me about this, but if I was to write the word "chatter box" would it ring a bell? Google doesn't seem to be familiar with such a thing, but on rainy days went we weren't allowed outside, chatter boxes were one of the many things we made to amuse ourselves. (Oh and the game rock, paper and scissors is a past time favourite too). That post has me going back to lala land, but it brings with it pleasant feelings! Anyway the point about chatter boxes is that in the process of making boats, you first make the chatter box. Then it is up to you whether or not you want to take it further.

Unable to resist the temptation, what do you think I did with my boat? As a child we used to colour them and the standard skulls and crossbones could be found on their sides. Now, still a child I hope(!), I lamely added some mathematics to the boat (well some symbols); found something to represent "me" i.e. a sweet (don't ask!) and headed for the deep blue waters. In my excitement I forgot to take the standard safety measures, i.e. my life jacket. I had no idea whether or not my boat was going to sink, but the miniature bean could always be saved by the larger bean!

So what do you think happened? It seemed that the miniature bean after all, had to watch out for the larger bean, once reaching safe lands again. (Well if you have a sweet, how would you celebrate its successful journey around the globe?)

The epic journey came to an end when I got bored watching the boat float around, and when my eyes found themselves staring at the small bean. It's safe to say that the boat was brought in, discarded to the side, and the sweet found itself a new home. (It is also safe to assume that as a child I wouldn't have been bored that easily, especially if there was more than one boat creators!)

Now erm... to the mathematics behind the boat. Well I did post the link, so just follow it! Do you remember any games or activities you used to play as a child? (I can assure you that there are many more, but I won't bore you with my reminiscing. Come to think of it, someone said that word to me during the week but I can't for the life of me remember who and why. Grrr).

The Compliment of an Open set

My question to you: what is the compliment of an open set?

You might want to think very carefully about this one. Don't panic--it's not a race to the finish line. Take deep breaths before answering the question: I won't shout at you if you get it wrong! (Not that that ever frightens anyone).

Saturday, March 01, 2008

An Einstein quote

"Everything should be made as simple as possible, but not simpler."

Albert Einstein

There was a need to post that quote, for I recall being told it last year sometime only to forget! Now there is no chance of me ever forgetting it. (It was told to me in a conversation about LaTeX if I recall correctly, and then I had tried to impress someone with it, only to stumble due to my poor memory!)

I can't resist writing another thing: my weekends are officially not weekends any more. I have a seven day week, and a zero day weekend. Anti-social is what Noddy called me, something which I disagree with. I just don't like it when my plans get ruined. Also when one has a determination to do something, it is easy to make invisible those who are not part of that something. Well not entirely invisible, but you know what I mean. The biggest stinker of the lot is that I have done absolutely no maths work this week, and the weekend will be similar. (You should see my lecture notes--they're appalling and hard to understand, which means someone was very distracted during lectures, and not paying attention.) But still, to decrease the degree of uselessness I'm feeling, I will I complete my coursework tonight.

The other ridiculous thing is that I can't remember which song I was humming, to go with my mood. Humbug.

PS: The dude from the estates replied to my email and his exact words were: "We'll have to live with posters on doors for the time being." Haha. That's one nil to the A-team!