Sunday, May 27, 2007

First Zuma, then Calculus, then the World

For a while now, my goal in playing the free Yahoo game Zuma has been to complete all 16 levels on the first frog and thus utterly beat the game so I can give it up for good. (You start the game with three frogs and lose one when the chain of balls hits a certain point on the board.) After a more than two week hiatus and in a sick, slightly feverish state, I just now played a round of Zuma with very low expectations of my performance and finally beat the game - 16 levels with a final score of over 110,000 points on one frog.

So there goes one addictive time-waster that has potentially stood in the way of full devotion to my calculus class, which, by the way, I have still not received a single word about regarding when my test will be ready at the testing center. Even though they told me it would be ready in three days in that scary message at the time I requested the exam, it's now over two weeks and I've heard nada. (They were supposed to send a postcard to confirm.) I'll have to call the testing center on Tuesday morning and find out what gives. This examination limbo is really stretching the credibility of their claim that the course is "self-paced" and I'm tired of the whole screwed-up situation. At least I have now gotten grades on homework assignments 7 and 9 (100 and 98 points) but not on assignment 8, mailed in at the same time.

I am going to soldier through Calc I, but I have decided that I am not taking the Calc II course through the UT extension service. For a $10 application fee, a copy of my Rice BA transcript, and a minimal application, I can become a "non degree seeking graduate student" at Texas State (~20 minutes south of my apartment) and take Calc II there, as well as other undergraduate and graduate courses. (I am looking at the introduction to marketing class, which would allow me to take a consumer behavior class, which is right up my alley, the following semester; the undergraduate "independent study" in psychology; and two psych grad courses, advanced statistics and attitude assessment.) So conceivably, I could start my Cunning Plan of going back to school a semester earlier than previously planned, due to this special grad student status available at Texas State. This does not change my plan to enroll at UT in the spring semester. It would, however, give me a totally legitimate reason to leave my job in August instead of January, which is seeming more and more necessary for my mental health and future plans for a multitude of reasons which I will not bore you with in this venue at this time but that really crystalized for me in reading my work email while at my training class at CSU. (I will update you on my last week at CSU in a separate post.)

In other calculus news, Tam and I did some investigation into the math course descriptions at Rice, UT, and her school (Metropolitan State College of Denver) that finally clarified something that has been confusing me for a long time. The infamous "Calculus III" class that is offered at MSCD, Texas State, community colleges, and a lot of other colleges I got from a quick Google search just now (e.g. Georgia Tech, Columbia, Maryland, Iowa State, Florida State, Purdue, Minnesota), and that Tam took at MSCD and I took at Tulsa Community College right after I graduated from Rice, is, as I had thought from my experience of the class, the same class that is generally called "vector" calculus at many other schools. (At Rice, it's official title is Math 212, Multivariate Calculus, but it was always called vector.) The difference is in the order of the courses. Some schools offer vector as the third class in the calculus sequence, followed by differential equations, while others offer diff eq then vector. (And in a rare display of full disclosure, Stanford acknowledges that the two classes are independent of each other and says they can be taken in either order.)

Looking at the UT course listings, Tam also helped me determine that the discrete math class is the same as her "proofs" class at MSCD and is, as I had hoped, not necessary for what I want to do (despite its inclusion on the extremely helpful BS in mathematical sciences - prob & stat concentration degree plan I got from the UT web site). So that brings my post-Calc II math target down to 5 instead of 6 courses.

OK, after all that excitement, it's now time to lie down. Again.

1 comment:

Tam said...

Wow, leaving your job in August - that sounds awesome! And taking classes in person is way easier than the other way, "self-paced" or otherwise.