Archive for October, 2007

The View from Fairview

p1018145_small.jpgInstead of patrolling the campus I am gamboling in the mountains. Instead of exploring the beginning intricacies of differentials, or refining my understanding of objects in Python, I am cutting all of my classes to spend a long weekend with my wife’s family. Congregated here, in a large house, we have travelled from Iowa and Indiana and South Carolina for the nearly annual convocation (in lieu of Christmas). The niece is an astonishing 15, the nephew an even more amazing 12.

It’s nice to be reminded that there is life outside of school; that there are normal people doing normal things; that the pressures of their lives are as omnipresent as mine. I spend all day wrapped up in my own little section of life……this reminds me that it is a very small section indeed.

I feel better already.

Fall Break (In the Nick of Time)

The weekend introduces the start of the Fall Break, a two day mini-break whose conception, imposition, and imminence could not be more eagerly anticipated or needed. Like some charged particle zinging around in the nuclear universe, I am ready to de-energize, to shed some elements of my being, perhaps degenerating into an extended sleep state.

This is the Prodigal Student expressed as a mental state:

The Boiling Pot

I have been at a rolling boil for about 8 weeks.

This is the state to which I aspire:


Is it possible?

It Could Happen….

While perusing another site, this alarming possibility presented itself. I mean, this must be a joke, right? It couldn’t really happen, could it?

CWCID: The Braden File.

Sharp Edges in Life and Mathematics

We have been studying Differentiation in Calculus, and the words of my algebra profesor from the Spring keep ringing in my ears. She said, roughly, that we live in a world of mathematics, and that true students of same look at the world from a mathematical perspective.  She saw linear equations and quadratic functions on her way to and from class. That was not matching up with what I saw, so I knew that I needed to re-train my brain and eyes to look at things differently. Goodbye coeds and hello numerical relationships!

Now that I am living in the world of Calculus, things are indeed changing. Recently, we have been discussing differentiation, and finding derivatives of functions. Neat stuff really, but in beginning to understand what is going on, I realized that calculus doesn’t like sharp points, or holes, of gaps anymore than the real world does. Is anything in life that has a sharp edge not dangerous? Is there any part of our existence where an unexpected hole doesn’t cause pain or damage? Gaps in the road, or the bridge, or gaps in communications…..they all cause problems.

And so it is in calculus. Is life mimicing mathematics, or are we defining mathematical concepts in humanistic terms? I don’t know yet, but I can see that danger lurks everywhere, even in the abstract world of calculation.

Now to overcome those fears……

“Life’s hard, son. It’s harder when you’re stupid.” — The Duke.

Education is a companion which no misfortune can depress, no crime can destroy, no enemy can alienate,no despotism can enslave. At home, a friend, abroad, an introduction, in solitude a solace and in society an ornament.It chastens vice, it guides virtue, it gives at once grace and government to genius. Without it, what is man? A splendid slave, a reasoning savage. - Joseph Addison
The term informavore (also spelled informivore) characterizes an organism that consumes information. It is meant to be a description of human behavior in modern information society, in comparison to omnivore, as a description of humans consuming food. George A. Miller [1] coined the term in 1983 as an analogy to how organisms survive by consuming negative entropy (as suggested by Erwin Schrödinger [2]). Miller states, "Just as the body survives by ingesting negative entropy, so the mind survives by ingesting information. In a very general sense, all higher organisms are informavores." - Wikipedia

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