Tuesday, January 28, 2014

my teaching routine, lately.



#include badjokes.lib

define class spring;
type spring.level = nonmajor;
type spring.time = 13012014;
define notes lesson;
type lesson.example = introduction;

while (spring.time != 01052014) {
lesson.example = workout(lesson.example-1);
lesson.outline = summary(badjokes.day(spring.time),lesson.example);


Wednesday, January 22, 2014

so, if anyone asks ..

like all other working mathematicians out there, i am often asked ..
.."so what do you do all day?"
lately i've felt like answering:
"i've been trying to build impossible geometric objects, in order to show that certain mass distributions [1] cannot possibly exist."
as you may guess, my recent obsession has to do with finishing a proof by contradiction .. which i suspect is a means of inference that most people are uncomfortable with.

if my experience in teaching basis analysis has any weight here, i think that even mathematics majors at university have trouble with this method of proof.
.. thinking about it, that kind of answer isn't terribly helpful .. that is, to me. more often than not, conversations of this kind only on go downhill after that question; either (a) i say something too complicated and the other person, not understanding, feels dumb, or (b) i make it sound too easy and the other person wonders why i bother working on that kind of problem.

more likely, the other person would probably be wondering what would drive a person to think all day about things that might not exist ..?

often i just can't win with this kind of thing.

[1] this is my colloquial expression for what's known as a measure; i think i borrowed (read: plagiarised) the term from falcοner's book, in fact. before settling on this, i tried to use the term "prοbaβility distributιon" but this usually misled my audience that my work is related to statistics of some kind ..

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

so it begins .. again, yet not again.

after posting a few days ago, i suddenly feel like posting again.

as i mentioned last time, yesterday was my first day of teaching for the semester. i can only say that i felt very boring.
come on: everyone knows what vector addition is!
do i really have to go over the first section of the first chapter?

surely there is a more efficient way .. maybe i should have built a worksheet, have everyone work it out in a few minutes, go over the answers, and then go on to something more interesting ..
.. thinking about it, maybe i should have done exactly that! [1]

apart from that, there's little else to say. today was the first department meeting for faculty and i learned exactly how out of the loop i am about departmental and administrative affairs.

it's a strange thing, being a tenure-track faculty member. it's like being suddenly thrown into the real world and realising that you have to grow up.

[1] that said, if you're reading this and will actually try this approach in your own first day of class, then let me know how it works ..!

Monday, January 13, 2014

what i didn't.

i don't know what happened.
tomorrow is my first day of teaching for the spring semester;
today i spent 8 hours in the office, i was busy all day ..

.. and yet i still haven't written out my lecture notes!
oh well: my classes meet in the afternoon, so i guess i'll write them tomorrow morning.

it's been a while since i've last posted in this blog. i thought i'd spend the winter break making sense of my life and all that's happened, this past fall ..

.. what with this new position at a new university and all ..

.. but things still don't make sense. most days of the week i'm making it up as i go along, just trying .. trying my best to get it all done and stay sane at the same time.

there never seems enough time to do it all: teaching, research, faculty meetings and advising and so on. more precisely, there is never enough time in the sizes and shapes that i want them [1].

if i could identify a change in my life, then i'd say that time now comes in fractured form.

so i shouldn't talk about what i did during winter break [2]. it would be more appropriate to say what i didn't do.
i didn't go to the office,
i didn't answer any student emails that i didn't have to answer.

i didn't make sense of my life,
i didn't travel out of town,
i didn't make any new goals.

for the most part, i didn't want to do anything.
i wanted to, i tried to write up notes for a research idea. there ended up being a flaw in the argument and so i thought, off-&-on about the problem ..

.. but not so deeply as to make it too much like work;
i think i got somewhere with it.

this past week i realised that, starting tomorrow, i will have to start doing things for a while: commitments, duties, promises ..

it's starting again. whether it makes sense or not, this new job and life, there are things to do, again.

[1] if you spend enough time staring at weekly schedules, such as the default format for gοogle calendar, then time stops feeling 1-dimensional and linear. instead, it becomes more and more like a very weird tetris game in 2-D, fitting commitments into rapidly dwindling empty spaces.

[2] today was also the first day of spring classes, so quite a few colleagues asked me that question anyway.