Friday, March 30, 2007

My Upcoming Mathy, Carroty Weekend with Leopold

While Robert is in Fort Worth, Leo and I will have the apartment to ourselves this weekend. No doubt Leo is, to the degree that he can be, excited at the prospect that I will forget that now that there is only one rabbit, I only need to feed half as much carrot at dinnertime. (Greens are good too, but not nearly as desirable.) I had Robert purchase some extra baby carrots as well as the ingredients for a dill flavored dip I want to try out, so that Leo and I can both enjoy the beta-carotene goodness of carrots this weekend. (When I was in CO, Robert made cheese dip for tortilla chips; while he’s gone, I’m making low-fat cottage-cheese dip for carrots. Am I going to be living life on the edge or what, people. I will try to avoid eating so many carrots that Robert comes home to find me looking like I have had an unsuccessful fake-tanner experiment in his absence.)

My main plans are:
Get enough sleep.
Play with Leo.
Talk to my mom.
Don’t order a sausage/mushroom deep-dish to be delivered from Pizza Hut.
Do math.

I’d like to finish up the first math assignment covering the pre-calculus review section (I’m about halfway through) and get started on the next one. I’m currently working on a proof that the product of the slopes of two perpendicular lines is -1. I have done this for the case of two lines through the origin and simply need to show that it holds for all other situations as well (and I do have an idea of how I will do that).

It’s funny that after all my discussion with Tam about how I am fundamentally interested in math purely as a tool, and not in the theoretical aspects, that my course is so oriented toward proofs and such. One nice thing about this, though, is that I am learning things I already kind of know (since this will be my third time through Calc 1) to a much greater extent than I probably ever have. Despite how many times I have learned about inequalities, for instance, there are certain things about determining the range of values for which the inequality holds that I never really got, and I was always kind of faking it. I have discovered, however, that I do not remember my trig identities at all; I am definitely going to need to memorize them again.

Living in this no-calculator-land is an adjustment, but so far I’m holding up all right. I do worry that I am going to be performing all kinds of stupid math errors, but the one calculation I did with my calculator, because it involved fractions, I managed to screw up using the calculator anyway by forgetting to indicate that the 2.25 should be -2.25. Fortunately, the error was obvious because the final answer didn’t make sense. So maybe the instructor is doing me a favor. Doubtful, but maybe.

I’m also being forced to do graphing, which I don’t like, but the study guide said something like “If you love graphing, you will love this class. If you don’t, you will love it by the time you’re through.” (Uh-huh.) My favorite line from the study guide so far is, “Confusion means that your brain is ready to be illuminated.” I am totally ready for the “My brain, ready for illumination is” experiences that will be forthcoming. But so far, I am with the guy and have even found my first error (typo?) in the example problems in his study guide. I found it amusing when I realized that I was automatically taking the derivative of the function and finding its zeroes to make the graphing process easier; oh wait, I’m not supposed to know how to do that yet.

This morning I actually had this feeling about going to work like, I can’t believe how my job is interfering with my math! (Actually, I had many kinds of feelings about going to work this morning, all of which boiled down to I don’t want to go, so I shouldn’t put too much stock into this.) I have only been doing this math for two days and it’s already starting to feel like my primary responsibility in some strange sense; I guess it’s because I am seeing it as Step 1 toward my Big Life Plan. I just need to take advantage of the mental energy I have around it right now and get as much done as I can before I find myself wanting to play Zuma or any other stupid thing instead of my math homework. After all, I don’t think I will need to pace myself to avoid violating the limitation of 3 completed assignments being turned in for grading in a given week. (There are 18 assignments for the semester, if that gives you a sense of the length of the assignments.)

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