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By the way, I received a phone call from the registrar's office last week about the problems I reported at my precinct on election day. They confirmed once again that yes, those were Bad Things and they'd have to Speak To the poll workers and suchlike, but I doubt they can actually make sure those votes get counted. I suppose a few dozen votes don't matter that much in the grand scheme of things, but it's still depressing to know this sort of thing's happened even if it's a bit of a perverse relief to know I wasn't making a big flap over nothing.
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The occupants of one of the houses down the block, in addition to having strung lights over every bit of their house imaginable, have also put up what appear to be electric bells. That is, there's a string of bells of varying tones that go "ding" at random intervals, and from what I can tell are attached to a cord and controlled by some sort of electric device. Modern technology--or to be more precise, the uses to which modern technology is put--will never cease to amaze me.

Then again, less modern technology can be put to some interesting uses too. Today I walked by a house in Berkeley from which I could hear someone pounding out on a piano the opening chords to "Smoke on the Water." It's good to know some people outside of my own little bubble aren't entirely suffused with holiday schmaltz.

(Not to knock the holidays, but it's been years since I had any bloody reason to enjoy them. Except for the time off school, of course--and all the pretty lights everywhere. I do like those. Even if I think the motorized bells are a bit much.)
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So I think my geometry final went okay. I became very frightened very quickly when I walked in and was handed back my midterm, and found that the prof hadn't given partial credit on one problem where I'd hoped she would and had given me a zero on a problem I thought I'd done a very thorough job on. If she'd graded the midterm this inexplicably harshly, I was horrified to think how she'd grade the final. I nervously worked my way through it, and felt I did pretty well by my own standards--there was one problem I didn't get anywhere on and two I only got half-solved, and two that I felt I solved perfectly well but worried she wouldn't find my intuitive proofs rigorous enough, and the remaining three I think I solved in a way that no one could find fault with...but of course I was no longer confident that reasonable fault-finding standards would apply.

Then, after turning it in, I asked her to take another look at the problem on the midterm she'd given me no credit for. It appeared that she'd somehow gotten confused about what I was saying--like, she'd thought when I stated an axiom at the beginning that I was saying that was what I was trying to prove, instead of saying that was what I was going to use to prove it. Don't know how that kind of muddle happened, as I'd thought my phrasing was perfectly clear. Granted, she's not a native English speaker, but most of my math profs haven't been and they've never seemed to have that kind of trouble figuring out what I was saying. So after I'd cleared up a couple things of that nature, she puzzled over the proof for another minute or so and concluded that it was in fact without error. She proceeded to note the grade change--rather a relief, as that one problem was worth (I think) six percent of my grade in the class--but I'm still a little nervous about the final. I now know she's not in fact a ridiculously hardassed grader, but a befuddled grader isn't a whole lot better. I foresee "consulting" with her about my final grade in a few weeks' time.

On the upside, I did overhear some guys afterward talking about one of the problems to which I'd applied an insight they apparently hadn't had. When I told them how I'd done it, they had that "I wish I'd thought of that" reaction and declared that it would've saved them a lot of work. It's nice to know I still have some talent for this sort of thing. No doubt I'd get reassured of this much more often if I could actually bring myself to socialize with my classmates. I used to have a good friend and study partner who told me rather often that I was a genius. I miss him.

One other odd thing happened: I ran into a fellow at the bus stop whom I'd apparently tutored once, and he seemed not just curious but pointedly curious about my post-graduation plans. When I mentioned looking for work, he wanted to know what kind of jobs I was looking for, and how long I anticipated staying in the work force before applying to grad school, and when I wanted to start working...the way these questions were going, I started to wonder if he was about to offer me a job himself, or tell me he knew of one. But then his bus arrived and he got on it without handing me a business card or anything. Don't know what all the questions were about, then.
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I had a fun Sunday. I may describe it in detail in a day or two, if I can muster the energy to organize my thoughts. One thing I feel compelled to set down for posterity, though (sheesh, I'm getting pretentious in my journaling), is that through some very weird machinations of fate, I found myself facing almost the exact same fear not once, not twice, but thrice in one day, in three entirely separate contexts--and each time, boldly doing the thing I feared with an attitude of firm refusal to let my fear stop me; in fact, not even giving myself time to let the anxiety build. I'm kinda proud of myself.


Dec. 16th, 2004 03:46 am
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So, about what I'd predicted happened: I stayed up half the night getting my paper two-thirds done, and got up early to see if I'd have to turn it in like that--and when I arrived in the exam room the TA told me that yes, I'd gotten the extension. Why she couldn't have emailed me this and saved me dragging my ass down there, I don't know. But now I've got till Friday to finish it. I actually decided to take tonight off and relax a bit just to give myself a break, since I was tired as hell from the staying up half the night. Tomorrow I can spend the day writing, and then I will have nothing left to do but figure out how I'm going to cram two months' worth of geometry over the remaining four days in between things like caroling and Dickens Fair. Fortunately, this prof is sensible enough to give open-book exams, so I won't have to memorize all the stupid axioms but merely try to understand them enough to work with them. Piece o' cake.
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Another screwy thing about writing history as opposed to philosophy papers: I keep coming across stray bits of information that seem kinda significant and figuring I ought to at least acknowledge them, but then I can't find them mentioned or given any kind of coherent explanation anywhere else in all my source material, and I can't very well mention them in my paper if I can't explain how they relate to everything else I'm talking about. I imagine I could figure out their significance if I did some independent research, but I really don't think we were given enough time on this assignment to do that kind of research. So instead I have to ignore those little things and hope I don't get marked down for appearing semi-ignorant.

(This paper, by the way, is due tomorrow and I'm nowhere near done. I emailed a couple of days ago to ask for an extension and I haven't heard back yet. I could stay up all night and try to finish the damn thing (fat chance), or I could go to sleep and hope there'll be a message for me tomorrow morning granting me a day's reprieve. What I suspect I'll do is stay up as late as I can manage so I can turn in a three-quarters-finished paper tomorrow instead of a half-finished paper, and then when I get the extension I won't be able to make use of it because I'll be vastly underslept. Joy.)
vvvexation: (yell)
Do we have humans living upstairs from us, or elephants? I swear, it was an order of magnitude less noisy around here when the place was being extensively remodeled before they moved in. Or maybe it's just that random thumping noises are more irritating than methodical tool-using noises because they stop more often and every time they stop you think they're done, only to be disappointed.

This is not helping my attempt to not develop into a world-class curmudgeon by the time I'm forty. Nor, of course, is it helping my paper-writing effort, but a lot of things aren't helping that.
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Dammit, after making that last post and jotting down the notes I came out here to jot down, I was supposed to go back to reading. Clearly I need to be locked in a small room with all my history books and a computer that has nothing but Word on it.

I find it amusing, however, that having a large project I ought to be working on is apparently just the thing to get me posting on LJ again.
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[livejournal.com profile] vvvexation (having just emerged from bedroom in pursuit of history notes and then paused to contribute to her roommate's phone conversation): By the way, did you say something about "vegetarian vampire bat guano" a couple of minutes ago?
[livejournal.com profile] saizai: Yes, I did.
V: Jeez, I thought that couldn't possibly have been it.
Sai: What, don't you know me better than that by now?
V: I just figured I must've misheard.
Sai: You underestimate my capacity for silliness.
V: You underestimate my capacity for mishearing.

Seriously, I think my creative mishearings are an offshoot of my capacity for silliness. It's not as though I didn't believe he would say something like that, but I figured any particular silly thing I thought I heard him say could just as easily be a figment of my twisted imagination as his.
vvvexation: (blah)
Gah. I've gotten tripped up by the very first paragraph of this damn paper. Writing introductions is always bloody difficult because you have to make so many sweeping generalizations that sound platitudinal and don't really sit well the moment you stop to think about them--but I don't seem to be able to do what some people do and start in the middle, leaving the introduction for last. It seems I need more structure to my writing than that--if I start in the middle, then I don't know where I'm going and where I'm supposed to be coming from, and I feel lost. Once again, the fact that I see everything as a continuous Mass of Stuff and have trouble looking at individual bits separately is turning out to be a serious obstacle.

Feh, I say.
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Arrrgh. So I've got this history paper to write, the prompt for which is basically "talk about this book and make sure to cite these five other books in the process," and I've just discovered there's yet a seventh book (which was on the reading list but I hadn't bothered to read it yet) that does a better job of explaining all this crap than I could do on my own, or at least does it at greater length. So the good news is I can cite from or paraphrase it quite a lot, but the bad news is that means I have to read it first, and that will take a whole day that I'd planned to spend writing. At this rate I suspect I will be very glad to have budgeted more time than usual to write this thing. I've never before had so damn many things get in the way of even starting to write. This is why I prefer philosophy. Philosophy papers are straightforward; you have your source material, it's very limited and very clearly defined, you figure out what you want to say about it and then you say it. Maybe you change your mind a couple of times about what you actually want to say, but you don't have to do extra research every time you change your mind. Hell, you don't even have to cut the bits where you made arguments you suddenly don't agree with any longer--all you have to do is acknowledge that they're compelling and explain why they're nonetheless wrong.

Stupid college making me take history classes to broaden my horizons. Not that I'd mind learning this stuff if I weren't being tested on it.
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Question: If you get a piece of mail addressed to someone who no longer lives at your address, and it looks like it's important, and you don't know their forwarding address, are you actually allowed to do something along the lines of writing "Return to Sender" and an explanation on the envelope and putting it back in the mailbox? I've never tried anything like that and it seems iffy, but I've got a letter from the San Francisco traffic court here addressed to some guy I've never heard of and I'd like them to know he never got it so he doesn't get in trouble for missing a court date or something.


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