Thursday, June 30, 2005

Fodder for all you suffering Nebiverse junkies out there...

Hey guys.

Is anyone still reading, or have you all given up? (All 3 or 4 of you...) Yeah, I haven't posted in about 20 days. Of course part of that was due to a week away at camp, but I've also not really felt any urgent need to write during the past few weeks. The week before camp was pretty much occupied with making 60 invitations for Bethany's bridal shower, and laundry, and odds and ends. Other than that the only thing really occupying my time has been Math.

Today I worked on Chapter 7 in the Calc. book, "Techniques of Integration," and I definitely re-learned a lot. Ah, the joys of trig sub, inverse trig integrals, partial fraction decomposition, IBP [doesn't that sound vaguely like a fertility technique? or is it just me?], completing the squre, u-sub, and then that most Mystical category of all: "Other," a.k.a., "Trickery and Chicanery of the Most Devious Nature." Some of my favorite tricks: multiplying top and bottom by the Pythagorean conjugate, winding up with the same integral on the other side of the equation after integration by parts so that you can solve for it, and transforming something like u(u+1)^(1/2) to (v-1)v^(1/2). Doesn't that just make you happy to be alive? :-)

I went baby clothes shopping tonight for Sukaina's baby, and ended up with, as always, mostly girl clothing. Only at the store did I realize she might actually know the baby's gender and I should have asked. Oh well, there's a gift receipt, so she can always exchange things.

I feel like Crap from taking cold medicine. And I probably should eat something about now but am not particularly inspired with any ideas. Hmmm, toast? A good staple for dinner. And maybe I should do some more calculus but I feel like my head is about to explode. The dangerous thing is that I think I'm spending too much time on the stuff I know pretty well (Calc I and II) and won't have enough time at the end of the summer to really hit the dreaded multivariable stuff (which is what I really need). And I'm scared of my Linear Alg. book now. I think it's taunting me because I'm only in Chapter 4 and there are 13 chapters. But I'm trying to kind of take it easy. There's no point in getting overwhelmed before I even start, is there? (And the Linear Algebra book isn't REALLY a person that can taunt me, is it? I mean we just spend so much time together and all... like, more time than what I spend with my husband some weeks...)

Don't mind me; I'm just in Love.

Friday, June 10, 2005

Dos preguntas para el mundo...

1) What do all of YOU do when you're so sleepy in the afternoon that you can't stay awake...?

2) How come all I write about now is sleep, the lack therof, coffee, and Math?

I can't help it. I'm giving in! I'm giving in! Caffeina-Starbuck is calling!! Must write more Vector Proofs this afternoon!!


Tuesday, June 07, 2005

A mathematician is a Machine for turning Decaf into Corolaries.

I feel so Impotent.

The Powers that Be (aka the Rehab Ruler) (aka my espoused beloved) have encouraged the switch to Decaf for all pm coffee undertakings. Sensible, no? But tough. Tough love. (I used the phrase "tough love" in math lab the other day and the excited lady piped up, "Oh, you're a Christian too?" So apparently maybe somebody like James Dobson coined that term? Was that a book title? Anyway. The same lady told me within about 60 seconds of meeting her that she is bipolar, has ADHD, carpal tunnel syndrome, fibromylagia, is separated, and is going for spousal support. I feel like a social worker sometimes.)

Okay, thought? Hello? Did you go somewhere when I wasn't looking?

Wait, did I have an idea in mind when I logged into blogger to write this post? Or didn't I?

You know, I'm beginning to sense a desultory descent into decay and despondency in my writing style. You guys aren't feeling that too, are you?

I alliterated. Ha ha. There's not a fine for that, is there?

Back to the vector proofs.

Small curly noodles are comforting when you're tired...

In fact, all the time.

I have soup for lunch today. With curly noodles. Because I slept three hours last night. That's THREE HOURS, friends. From 12:30-3:30. Because (?) I drank four ounces of coffee around 10:30? So I could stay up for a little while and study? Yes. I did. Good study time right there, made it through half of chapter four. Couldn't prove k v=O ---> k=0 or v=0 using the axioms. Went to bed and thought about race relations at Wheaton and OMA chapels. Fell asleep (probably by 12:30 or so.) All is well and good.

Nate went to bed at 3:30. Waking me up. Oops, was that a fragment? That last sentence should be in parentheses. So should this one. Oh well. () That was too late, wasn't it? Anyway. So while I was tossing and turning, awake, I thought for a long time about dying a long and melodramatic death of (fill in the blank). ______ I feel brave admitting that I fantasize about dying melodramatic deaths. Other people fantasize about that too, right? Like, when I read Anne of Green Gables, she fantasized about dying of dropsy or pleurisy or some such Victorian ailment, and that was comforting- you know, like the Curly Noodles- 'cause then I knew I wasn't the Only One. Anyway. So after awhile I was like, hello? Sleep? Don't normal people just go back to SLEEP when they wake up in the middle of the night? So I tried to be productive and work on the proof mentioned above. Got nowhere with it. Finally, it was getting light outside, so around 5:30 I Got Up.

Ate a banana. Read a chapter of Psalms. Killed time on the internet until around 7:15. Figure, I'll give it one more chance... have to get up at 8:45 anyway but another hour and a half of sleep wouldn't hurt...

I doze a tiny bit. Have a brief (5 minutes? Cause I looked at my watch before and after) dream about calculus books... everywhere. At some point, finish the Proof. Proof by contradiction. Assume k DNE 0 and u DNE 0. Then we know that k has a multiplicative inverse because it's part of a field, so multiply both sides of equation by 1/k and you get u = 0, which is a contradiction. QED.

And of course, I fell back asleep right when it was time to get up and go to work.

PS My verb tenses aren't consistent, are they? That sucks. :-(

Sunday, June 05, 2005

Today's Sermon

"And, how many times did Jesus say to forgive? 70 times 7! That's... um... 449 times or something like that!"

Friday, June 03, 2005

Only fair to mention...

...that I'm drinking 1000-proof coffee today.

So all of the rhetoric below might just be substance-induced.

By the way, the perceptive among you out there may be wondering, where is "Memorial Weekend 2005: The Dark Side"? Well, right now it's a Draft; I keep trying to write it, but so far it's rather stillborn.

A depressing thought

It's funny that I keep referring to myself as a "writer" when I don't really write anything.

Kirkegaard would be proud...

It's official. I have a Lehigh email address. I'm going back to graduate school. I'm becoming a student of Mathematics again.

I'm in chapter three of the Linear Algebra book, the one purchased specifically to review (and learn a lot for the first time) this summer. And the further I go, the more I realize how much I must Go Back; the faster I try to go, the more I realize I should be going Slowly. Math is not a good-old-fashioned American-style CV workout (complete with overpriced personal trainer and cute workout clothes) designed to be over and done with quickly so you can make it to McDonald's before they close. Math is Pilates; Yoga; Zen meditation. Math is Control. Balance. Inner Strength. Patience. Depth and thoroughness and above all, Purity.

As Dr. Srinivasan once said, "Everything is in pieces." Everything is a wreck right now. I've dutifully made notes on the major definitions and theorems, tried to review them frequently to let everything sink in, and patiently worked the problems, but as I come to write some of the proofs, I realize the most important element is missing: Structure. I know some or most of the Facts, barely, shakily, but I am significantly lacking in that which is the Foundation of the whole program- knowledge of the structure of definition and postulate linked by logic to theorem. And that kind of knowledge, that level of depth of understanding, does not arise from rapid progress through the Text in accordance with an optimistically idealized summer schedule.

We have this strange, quaint little idea in school that if you can pass a course, you have gained Knowledge. Some people raise the bar a bit and say if you can get an A in a course, you have gained Knowledge. I beg to differ. Getting an A in a course in usually approximately equal to the first line of the first paragraph of the Preface to Knowledge of a subject. You do not Know a subject until you have mastered it so deeply that you can raise your head from where you stand and look up and around and see all the things surrounding you, far into the distance. You do not Know a subject until you dream about it and can see it and feel it and taste it and touch it upside down and backwards and without using your eyes and ears and fingers at all, for it is planted in your Soul. You do not Know a subject until you know it like you know your own Lover and your Instincts and the insides of your own Heart.

And this makes me wonder, why do we play around so much? Who ever heard of covering so many chapters of Algebra in a mere 15 weeks? I think 15 years would be a better time frame. Mathematics is a perfect system, and it deserves a lot better than these shallow, superficial games we play called "courses" and "degrees."

Studying math makes me realize that the Perfectionism that screws around every other area of my life, like my relationships and my writing and my housekeeping, has a Home and a place and a purpose. I am a Perfectionist for a reason, and that reason is that I am meant to study math. But that drive that gives me the desire to be a good Student of math also makes me a really poor student in school. At Wheaton I turned in most of my assignments late, because I wanted them to be right; I wanted them to be Perfect. I could see a bigger and broader picture than simply passing a course and getting a grade and moving on. I know that some people were able to set that standard and attain that level while sticking to the artificially prescribed schedule set by the Establishment, but, I was not one of them. Frankly, I'm not all that "smart" because I'm really, really slow to process and understand and learn and figure things out. I don't think that's a fact I can change. But my slowness isn't something that will make me lower my standards. As Asher Lev said, "I will not be the whore to my own existence."

In his "automathography," Paul Halmos speaks of the danger or having other Loves or commitments or passions, especially in certain phases of your mathematical career (like the first year of grad school ;-) ). But that makes me realize- commitment to Math, done properly, would preclude a lot of other commitments and passions, wouldn't it? What about being a good wife? What about having kids? What about being a good Writer?

What about studying the Bible?

So now I am wondering: if Doing It Right is such a monumental undertaking, is getting a Master's Degree really what I'm after? Maybe I'd be better off studying Calculus the rest of my life. Over and over and over again. Slowly, repetively, until I really Know it. I don't know if I'll have Time for much beyond that.

I might be ready for Linear Algebra when my grandchildren are born.