Halfway through my undergraduate career, I stopped reading course descriptions. Well, not quite; I was minoring in philosophy, so I read philosophy course descriptions. I stopped reading math course descriptions. There just wasn’t much point. I could generally tell from the title whether the course was something that interested me (”Topics in Geometry”, for example, did, while “Partial Differential Equations” did not),…

# Month: December 2004

## Overschooled and underemployed

Reflecting on my life thus far and my career options, I realized that I am a) an intellectual fraud, b) under-employed. Both at the same time, which at first stuck me as pathetic, but which, upon reflection, seems perfectly natural. With regards to a), I implore those who know me personally to hold the “oh, you are NOT” comments, as…

## Next term, maybe.

Less than two weeks before classes are scheduled to begin, Department Head finally emailed me my teaching assignment. The first line read There’s been a slight change in plans. I’m afraid the hours are not very good, and ideally we’d have you teaching different classes, and… Bear in mind that Department Head is British, and characteristically, prone to understatement, and you can imagine…

## Morbidity and mortality: Term 1

The term is over, and I now know that I’ll be back for another term – though it’s still unclear as to what I’ll be teaching: either a whole lot of statistics, or a calculus/precalculus mix. So it’s time to reflect on what went right and what went wrong last term, so that I can work on improving for next…

## Mathematical crochet

A crochet pattern for a model of the Lorenz manifold is making the rounds – so I figure there’s never been a better time to show off the Sierpinski triangle shawl I crocheted a few years ago. I also have crocheted Moebius strips and models of the hyperbolic plane; the latter, in fact, was my first project. Can you tell…

## ‘The downside is you can pass out and die’

Quite possibly the most jaw-droppingly disturbing thing ever: Vancouver — Favoured by predators as a date-rape drug, GHB has found a niche among party-goers looking for a cheap, fast way to loosen their inhibitions and charge their libido. The potent liquid is the house-party drug of the moment among young club-goers in Vancouver. “Here’s a drink that’s similar to alcohol…

## I like most of my students.

A few months ago, I prefaced a post with “One of these days, I should really post about how much I like most of my students.” And then I promptly forgot about that, because the students who were using up most of my energy were, by and large, the complement of the set of students I liked. But the term’s…

## And so it ends.

Monday morning pleasantry: one of my students gave me chocolates today! So I’ll skip the post I had brewing about how it turns out that all of my most petulant, immature, demanding, manipulative, and clueless students happen to be psych majors. Not that there’s much more to say about that, anyway. Classes end this week. As a last-ditch attempt to…

## Book review: Precalculus, 5e, by Barnett/Ziegler/Byleen

Over at Learning Curves, Rudbeckia Hirta had some thoughts about matching a textbook to a course. Our discussion there led me to write a review of the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad precalculus text I’m using. (Incidentally, I’ve really warmed up to the finite math text I whined about earlier. It’s not perfect, but it’s clear, well-motivated, and possible to work with. Which is more…

## Things my precalculus students said in class yesterday

“So we’re just supposed to KNOW that 7x^2 is like 7 TIMES x^2?” “There’s no solution [to the equation x^2=3.52534231], because you can’t take the square root of a decimal.” “Okay, I see how you got 2x=1.46, but how did you get x=0.73 from that?” “Last week’s test was totally unfair – you never gave us a homework problem where we…