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March 1st 2006
I've dropped a few things down the toilet in my time. The lid off an air-freshener, once, and most of a toilet roll another time... but yesterday, I topped them all and went for my mobile phone. Luckily there was nothing but clean water down there when it fell, so I retrieved the phone without too much damage, but although it seemed to work fine initially, a button or two are now malfunctioning. Hopefully leaving it overnight will fix it completely. In other news, I astonished myself yesterday by not being even slightly jealous when a very close friend announced that he now had a girlfriend - my word, I'm growing. Get me. As I was walking into Uni today, I went down a round which has two sizeable grass verges, one on either side, with little signs prohibiting ball games. Except that one of them just says no ball games, with a �100 fine, whereas the one on exactly the other side says that there are no ball games for over-10s, and the fine is only �50... now, if I was a delinquent with a propensity to play ball games, I know which side of the road I'd head to. Yep, the cheaper side - wouldn't you?

It isn't uncommon that Anthony and I disagree about things - largely because he's wrong so very, very often. Recently in his blog he wrote about an argument we engaged in abuot whether 12 noon should be am or pm... this is basically to 'set the record straight', as enraged bloggers often put it. He claims that his viewpoint is that 12 can be neither am nor pm, whereas I suggest it should be am - this, I'm afraid, is a falsehood. We both agree completely that noon cannot really be am or pm; the argument we had was if it has to be one of them, which one would it be? I have to say the level of his argument was pretty feeble: if you go an arbitrarily short period of time beyond noon, you get to pm. QED. Of course, the answer to this is that if you go an arbitrarily short period of time backwards, you get to am: this is no argument at all. My point was that 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12 are a set of hours, so it would be very odd if the first eleven were am and then the last pm: 12.00 would be unlike any other hour in the set. The second point is that we classify am as morning, pm as afternoon. That's right, "afternoon", not "after and including noon." It is ludicrous to suggest that noon is after noon (or indeed that meridian is post-meridian). Ergo, I'm right. OK, it's not as conclusive a argument as when I proved to Ant beyond any doubt that the correct pronunciation of 'bath' etc is with a long a, but it's still pretty water-tight.

March 3rd 2006
A very happy birthday to David, for yesterday. A day on which, believe it or not, it snowed in lovely Earlson. Sadly, my day was pretty full, so I didn't manage to play in the snow at all, but I did take a few photos of the weather from the comfort of the house. One is supplied below, for your benefit, the other two available here and here.

Tomorrow was also my third rehearsal with the Queen's Road music group ('worship band'), and was somewhat enlightening in that I realised they were all a fair bit better than me - this hit home when Jon casually told me to make up my own harmony for one of the songs, and I had to tell him that I have no such musical ability. Of course, in a band whose sole purpose is to give God glory, it's not about the ability, and I'll be trying to keep that in mind, but I'm not sure how long-term my involvement can be. We'll see. But these are small matters compared to the excitement of today: that's right, Carla Bonner's birthday!! Happy birthday, lass.

March 6th 2006
My word! Exciting times ahead for Steph and Max. I try not to look at spoilers etc, but I accidentally came across one, and it's massive. Before I knew it, I was watching a video clip. And yes, many's the time I'll regret it as the storyline unfolds, most likely, but boy, it's gonna be huge. In real life, it's recently dawned on me that this next week will be the last ever week I have lectures with Rob. Since next term we have no lectures, and he's off to France next year, and I've switched to a three-year course, this is it. Quite a sobering thought. Please forgive me if I eulogise a little, but Rob is a great bloke and maths here at Warwick will be much the worse without him. We may disagree about plenty of things, but he's been a good friend (with a taste in music to match), and a permanent member of Ricky and the Red Stripes. We've only known each other for a year and a half, but Rob has been a major part of my existence at Uni - particularly during my Rootes habitation - and (sob) someday I'll be telling my grandkids about the time we took most of the stuff out of his room while he was there. Maybe it's a little early to say farewell to a man who will be here throughout the exam period, and won't be leaving the country for months, but hey, au revoir Rob. Bon voyage.

March 8th 2006
It's always nice here at Colin's Online Diary when we get a new reader, and now it seems that B/ground Andy has taken an interest in the page... you may remember him from appearing in Pride & Prejudice, but this is not all: he has also won the Warwick Boar crossword, joined Ricky and the Red Stripes for the first (official) time last night, was on my corridor last year, lives with Rob and is Reactor for our 10.25 group. Well, my old 10.25 group... yes, Monday was the last time I'll ever go to a Rootes M-P 10.25 meeting, since I'm switching to Jack Martin when we get back after Easter. The last meeting was half-social, and it wouldn't really be one of them without an A-Z quiz, now, would it? This time round I decided to make each answer two words, with the first BA, the second CB, the third DC and so on... in the end, it wasn't really an A-Z quiz, since I couldn't think of anything for the last four in time. So, here it is:

BA: Who is the political leader of Ireland?
CB: Who is the main character in the Peanuts cartoons?
DC: Who is the latest James Bond actor?
ED: What is the married name of the heroine of Pride & Prejudice?
FE: What is the square root of 3364?
GF: Who lost to Muhammud Ali in the 'Rumble in the Jungle'?
HG: Which Beatles single had 'I Am The Walrus' as its B-side?
IH: Which Neighbours character is played by Natalie Bassingthwaite?
JI: Who played Mr. Humphries in the sitcom 'Are You Being Served?'
KJ: Which version of the Bible was first published in 1611?
LK: Who played Ursula on Friends?
ML: Which Mr. Man is pink with a blue hat?
NM: Which Simpsons character's catchphrase is 'Ha ha!'?
ON: Which singer (with double-barreled surname) sang 'Xanadu' with ELO?
PO: Which former Chelsea player died last week?
QP: Where does Harry Potter play his favourite sport?
RQ: Who played Joe Aguirre in Brokeback Mountain?
SR: Who sang with The Miracles?
TS: Who wrote the plays 'Rosencrantz And Guildenstern Are Dead' and 'The Real Inspector Hound'?
UT: Which actress starred opposite John Travolta in Be Cool?
VU: Name the track, and artist, that was famously kept off number one spot by 'Shaddap You Face'.
WV: What do you get from the sublimation of ice?

That's all folks. And, by the way, B/ground Andy & Matthew won the quiz, with a score of 33/44, I think... perhaps helped by cheating on the Beatles question.

March 10th 2006
And so I've had my last maths lecture this year (and it turns out my last lecture with Rob was actually Monday, what with strikes on Tuesday, me oversleeping on Wednesday, no shared lectures on Thursday and Rob failing to turn up to our test today. The test wasn't too bad, although nothing to write home about (which is a shame, since Mum used to love those letters. Thank Stephen Fry for that gag). Yesterday was my presentation on Bertrand's Paradox, discussed in the archive somewhere, which went pretty much as well as I could have hoped - not sure the maths was as complex as it might have been, especially compared to the guy who confused all of us except the tutor with something about fractals and Julia sets. Anyhow, with the world of maths seemingly the topic of this entry, I'm currently reading a book all about prime numbers (specifically, the Riemann Hypothesis) which is very interesting, covering a lot of bases, and has got me thinking: is there anything on earth to match the untainted beauty of pure mathematics? If there is, and it's non-deific, I'm yet to come across it. And so to answers, for the latest A-Z(ish) quiz:

BA: Bertie Ahern
CB: Charlie Brown
DC: Daniel Craig
ED: Elizabeth Darcy
FE: 58
GF: George Foreman
HG: Hello Goodbye
IH: Izzy Hoyland
JI: John Inman
KJ: King James
LK: Lisa Kudrow
ML: Mr. Lazy
NM: Nelson Muntz
ON: Olivia Newton-John
PO: Peter Osgood
QP: Quidditch Pitch
RQ: Randy Quaid
SR: Smokey Robinson
TS: Tom Stoppard
UT: Uma Thurman
VU: Vienna, Ultravox
WV: Water Vapour

OK, quick question: what do the following expressions have in common? My foot, Talking out of your hat, Smart-alec, Can't be bothered, Horsing around, Pain in the neck, Making a fool of yourself, Half-hearted. The answer is that all of them have had a keyword removed and replaced with an anagram of 'ears' that refers to an entirely different body part. What does this say about the language of Shakespeare, of Dickens, of Austen, of Milton, of Tolkein? We're going downhill fast.

March 13th 2006
OK, I admit it, I succumbed (wow, I can spell that word) to Facebook. It's a terrible website where people pretend to have friends, and ever since my brother signed me up, I've treated it with lofty disdain, confirming friends who added me, and joining groups that invited me, but not going any further. However, last night I decided that I wanted to be in the CU group, and joining that led to me trekking through the other groups, and resulted in me joining Beatles, Scrubs, Neighbours and Friends groups, as well as two for Southerners, and one complaining about being forced into joining Facebook. So it's too late for me. But save yourselves! Don't join!

I don't know why I keep doing these things... but here's another one.
Maybe I should
have a shower and get dressed.

I love
Lucy. No, wait...

I don't understand
why so many football fans are hooligans.

I lost
my memory, it seem. There was something, I'm sure...

People would say that I'm
Anthony. Or Simon.

Love is
the raison d'etre of too many.

Somewhere, someone is

I will always
read the Times.

Forever is

I never want to
be buried alive.

When I wake up in the morning I am
angry at my alarm clock.

Life is full of

My past is incredibly full of

I get annoyed
by the popularity of BBC3 programmes. And rubbish music.

Parties are for
audible conversation.

I wish
Matthew Perry would make an outstanding film and shut everyone up.

Kisses are the worst when
you wake up in the middle.

Tomorrow I'm going to
achieve something. Hopefully.

I really want
Steph to get better! On Neighbours...

If I had a million dollars
I'd stop buying Tesco value.

March 14th 2006
And so, finally that Scrubs update that has been promised for so long. There are a few sitcoms I'm a fan of: Friends, obviously, as well as Fawlty Towers, Dad's Army, Blackadder, Last of the Summer Wine (mainly for nostalgia purposes), Red Dwarf and Joey... those are the ones I can think of right now. But Scrubs isn't really like any of those: indeed, it owes more to the Simpsons, I feel, than to any sitcom - the zany fantasy sequences, for example, and the fact that it doesn't need to be realistic at all. One of the things that annoyed me most about Friends in latter series was that it would never really happen: Scrubs hasn't set itself up in that manner, so it doesn't matter when something is ludicrously infeasible, that just adds to the fun. Of course, Scrubs has made an error or two in its span (well, I've only seen series 1 and 2, actually), such as the over-use of sound effects early on (this was pretty much eradicated by series 2) and a somewhat formulaic approach to many episodes in terms of structure. But the errors are few and far between. Now, to casting. Johnny C is an absolute dude (see Dude List) whose verbal mannerisms I've started to adopt, much as Matthew Perry's found their way into my speech all those years ago. Perhaps he's sometimes a little too keen to steal scenes all to himself, but other than that he's fantastic. Turk is played by someone called Donald something, whom I recognised straight away from his role in the TV series Clueless, something of a poor man's Sabrina (he was also in the film, although I didn't realise that until later). He does a good job, with some great little lines ("Hell, yeah" he does particularly well), and certainly doesn't let the sitcom down. Sarah Chalke (playing Elliott) has a screen persona that is a little too crazy and neurotic, I feel, but that's picking hairs - she's a great character. Carla, played by Judy Reyes, is also a great character, with fewer laughs than the others, but a very important role to play, forming a unique relationship with each character (including most of the supporting roles). Zach Braff, the star of the show as far as it has one, plays JD very well, pretty much defining the show with his delivery... he does so much what he has, that even mundane lines are rendered brilliant - his is a superb imagination. To conclude the main characters, the head of the hospital (Dr. Kelso) does some great facial contortions when he changes from nice to nasty, the Janitor is always hilarious with a role amounting to little more than a cameo, and Ted - the lawyer - does very well, particularly in the second series, with a suicidally depressive air to him at all times. Enough of the regular characters. One of the aspects of Scrubs that is controversial is the slapstick - normally I'm not a massive fan of it (Laurel and Hardy rarely raises a smile) but there are some instances (a few in Friends and Mr. Bean, among others) where it is superb, and Scrubs has done some fantastic slapstick. However, I feel that it's slightly overused at times: a scene is ended with someone falling over, without any real comic purpose. But the brilliance of the slapstick when it works (JD sliding across a car and falling on the floor springs to mind) more than makes up for the occasional failures. Let me pause for a second to regather my thoughts... okay... I love the fact that when you watch Scrubs on DVD, you don't have to sit through tonnes of "Piracy kills puppy-dogs, don't play this on oil-rigs" garbage, you just click a couple of times and you're watching (I think Pride & Prejudice is the worst for forced viewing of this form). Oh, and the Scrubs credits-thingy is still great, although they tried make a longer version at the beginning of series 2... the new version was good, but didn't have the same simple beauty, so they dropped it. Onto the celebrities the show has had - as well as Johnny C. McGinley, at least three other Dude List residents have featured: Dick Van Dyke, Michael J. Fox and - most marvellously of all - Matthew Perry. Good taste, or what? The soundtrack to the show is also good, and winging its way to me as I write. To conclude, Scrubs rules. Yeah, baby.

March 16th 2006
I realise that, like CSM before it, SCB hardly attracts the attentions of the populus. But it may interest you that I've recently reorganised the menu, and added a page called Connections. If anyone out there has and feedback, or suggestions for new pages (I can't really think of anything, so any ideas are welcome), please contact me. Cheers.

March 18th 2006
Yesterday, as well as being St. Patrick's Day, saw my first quiz appearance for some time under a name other than Ricky and the Red Stripes - at Norton School myself, my brother and my father entered as (after much deliberation) the Three Twins. The quiz was going quite well, until a shortage of time meant that two rounds ran simultaneously, one a sheet of questions, one a slideshow of pictures to identify: as if that wasn't difficult enough, the scoring system was ludicrous, with points being given for any information people cared to give about the pictures (for example, for a picture of Red Square, there were points for 'Red Square', 'Moscow', 'Kremlin' etc etc) meaning that no-one really knew what the round's maximum score was. Although that was without doubt the worst round, there were a few dubious moments (during a music round in which we were told to name the artists, the rules changed halfway through so that we had to give the track title as well). Anyhow, a fantastic last round about banned songs gave us 16.5/20 (the next highest of the other nine teams being 9.5) and meant that we finished join first. A lost tie-break meant that we finished without a trophy (hate to sound like sore losers, but both participants - Dad being ours - were told to say their team name, and then the answer. Dad said his team name first, believing he would then be asked to answer the question, but his opponent jumped in with his team name and the answer, and was given the prize. Never mind, eh?). All in all it would have been something of a hollow victory, due to the arbitrary nature of the scoring system, but we can feel pleased with our effort.

March 20th 2006
A very happy birthday to Rob, to kick off with. Have a good one. In other news, Cards On The Table, by Agatha Christie, was on last night, so we settled round to watch it as a family (aww). It went very well to begin with, David Suchet as good as ever, and Zoe Wannamaker making a very passable Ariadne Oliver (the character a thinly veiled version of Agatha herself, recurring in the books). We were heartened by the fact that Honeysuckle Weeks was going to feature, since seeing her in Foyle's War (Simon is particularly a fan), and although she wasn't a major character, she did play Rhoda, so I was able to tell the family - who haven't read the book - that our Honeysuckle would get married before the end, since Rhoda and Major Despard wed, and then return for The Pale Horse, a book featuring Ariadne Oliver but not Poirot. However, the last quarter of the film changed all this, as suddenly Rhoda was attempting to murder Anne, and drowning in the process (in the book it is Anne who tries to murder Rhoda), Dr. Roberts suddenly became a raving homosexual, Major Despard murders someone rather than accidentally killing them... the list goes on. I don't mind (much) when film-makers change the storylines of books for a valid reason, but there was no semblance of logic in the changes made, and they ended up ruining what hadn't been a bad film. Actually, Rhoda/Despard had been one of the few Agatha Christie relationships that I'd found even slightly romantic, so to have that torn away was particularly cruel (especially with Ms. Weeks, who made a very good Rhoda). All in all, the worst mistake the Poirot series has made since their interpretation of Miss Lemon.

March 21st 2006
Yesterday was the day I had marked as the start of revision, but instead we went to Bristol, where I discovered a superb CD and DVD store, with absolutely fantastic prices on CDs - stacks were a 5 each, and not just the rubbish ones - called Fopps or something similar. During the day I managed to get birthday presents for Rob and Rich, and a Mothering Sunday present for... well, for Mum. I also bought myself American Idiot by Green Day, and O by Damien Rice... if I hadn't already spent so much money, I might have also bought from CDs I picked up by Cream, Steve Harley & Cockney Rebel, Aerosmith, Don McLean, Bob Dylan... ah well. I may have less music, but I have more money. Anyhow, today became the new date for revision to begin, after Neighbours (I like to start slow and build up... it'll be a few weeks before I'm doing the 9 hour day or thereabouts) but instead I decided to get my essay completed (which had been the plan for some time, actually), and I'm very close to doing so, with the text all written and checked (except I might alter the ending), the diagrams drawn and the appendix completed (the latter being what I spent most of my time today doing). Now I need to format everything with the double spacing etc, actually put the diagrams in their boxes, and reference everything. Should be done by the end of the day. In other news, I'd feared that Sagg5 wouldn't be a highlight of the Songs-a-go-go collection, but in the end the shortlist was just over the length of two albums. I've resisted the temptation to make a double-album, and have whittled the list down to 18 tracks, and have now only to decide the order. And 'Insane' by Texas has now been on the shortlist of every Sagg album, I believe, without making it into the final cut. Maybe Sagg6.

So my essay is finished and printed in duplicate. Not the best thing I've ever written, but I'm reasonably pleased with it (it even has an appendix!) and I don't really think I could have done anything much better with the topic. That's 6 cats under my belt, anyhow. To revision!

March 22nd 2006
Revision did in fact start today, and I'm making good headway into Algebra 1 - although I haven't got to the really tough bits, it's nice to have done some things I didn't understand at the time, and discovered that I can now understand them. As with last year, thinking of how much I've got to learn, or glancing at previous exam papers, is something of a terror, so I'm putting that off for the moment... the Lord was with me every day of last year's revision period, and I certainly felt Him reassure and help me through what could have been a very traumatic time. I hope and pray that this year He will do likewise. I don't know how people do this without the Holy Spirit... in other news, I've completed Sagg5, which today involved bumping Blondie's 'Maria' in favour of Muse's 'Unintended', and putting the tracks in order. Here it is:
1. Come What May - Nicole Kidman & Ewan McGregor
2. Good Time - Leroy
3. Beautiful Ones - Suede
4. A Little Respect - Erasure
5. He Ain't Heavy He's My Brother - The Hollies
6. Unintended - Muse
7. Wasted Time - The Eagles
8. The Blower's Daughter - Damien Rice
9. Like I Never Loved Before - Phil Vassar
10. One More Cup Of Coffee - Bob Dylan
11. The Winner Takes It All - Abba
12. Mr. Blue Sky - ELO
13. Drawing Crazy Patterns - Texas
14. I've Seen That Movie Too - Elton John
15. Telephone Line - ELO
16. Where Is The Love - Black Eyed Peas
17. The Importance Of Being Idle - Oasis
18. Saturday Night's Alright For Fighting - Elton John

March 24th 2006
Can't stick around long, kids, I've got work to be doing. Just long enough to apologise for those of you who found yourselves unable to get to this site over the last few days - not my fault, I assure you, it's the folks at cheapdomainnames.net. When I renew the url (actually, I'm probably going to get StephHoyland.co.uk when this one runs out) I'll do it with another company. There's also enough time to direct you to Ant's latest offering, a page about Mr. Bean's teddy bear... I wonder if he glanced at my November 14th entry...

March 25th 2006
Thank the Lord for the rescue of Norman Kember et al! In less exciting news, we went to the Norton pantomime last night (yes, in March. We reckon it's because they've just finished the village hall) which was pretty enjoyable, even if a lot of in-jokes were lost on me. It was Jack and the Beanstalk, and Jack - as ever - was played by a very good-looking girl, which made 'his' love scenes with Christobel (and when I say love scenes, I mean hugging and getting married... c'mon, this is a panto) odd to say the least, and got me pondering on why the lead male is always played by a woman. Answers on a postcard. Other than the mental turmoil and lasting scars I will no doubt have from finding the 'lead male' far more attractive than the 'lead female', and the fact that some of the musical numbers weren't as successful as they might have been, it was a good panto. I think my favourite characters were Dip and Hid who, hilariously, introduced themselves as... well, I'm not currently allowed to say it, since I gave up puns for Lent, sorry. In fact, they did a lot of puns, at least one of which was superb. It was about starters. In revision news, I managed to get through and understand nearly all the Analysis II notes, which I'm pretty chuffed with, since I stopped around 7pm (for aforementioned panto), and they were a lot quicker to get through than Algebra I, which (in fairness) I had already earmarked as the toughest. Combinatorics will be coming up soon... mebbe that will actually be the hardest. In other news, I've been looking at lists of the 100 greatest albums recently... I have 16 from the Channel 4 list, 17 and a half of Rolling Stone's (and a further 11 from the top 500), 19 of VH1's, 11 of NME's, 10 of Melody Maker's and 14 of Mojo's. Intriguing, huh? If I was making the list, I'd have to include Abbey Road, The White Album, Sgt Pepper, Revolver and Rubber Soul somewhere near the top, with Please Please Me and Help! somewhere in the list, as well Bringing It All back Home, Desire, Blonde On Blonde and Blood On The Tracks (all by Dylan), Goodbye Yellow Brick Road, Hotel California, Dark Side Of The Moon... those are the ones in my collection (excluding Greatest Hits) that immediately leap to mind, in no particular order. I'm going to bed now.

Yep, it's still the 25th, but the other end of it. Today was my first bad revision day, really, since I struggled with the second half of Alg I, spending a really long time trying to a bit of Change of Basis stuff, which was actually examinable last year and barely more than a footnote in this year's topic (and which I struggled with last year as well). Things got a bit better - I myself felt better by blaming everyone else, such as the totally incomprehensible lecturer, the odd lecture notes, the substitute lecture who confused himself and taught us falsehoods, the lack of correlation of all the above... things brightened up when I got the Countdown conundrum in about 3 seconds, whereas neither the contestants nor my brother and mother managed to get it at all. I also didn't get in a full day's revision (yet again) because we went out to a quiz, which went on far too long and we didn't do fantastically in. Kinda mid-table. Maybe I'm struggling with revision because I can't stop thinking about Max and Steph... then looking up spoilers... then wishing I hadn't... then doing it again... eich. In other news, it's Mothering Sunday in about three minutes.

March 27th 2006
From reading Ant's blog, it seems that the secret to keeping your girlfriend is to never, ever introduce her to him. She'll pretend they have lots in common, he'll grin bashfully, they'll run off together to sunny Bermuda. Count on it. In other news... nope, I can't think of anything to take the edge off. Rich, if you know what's good for you, take scissors to those side-burns immediately.

There was something else I was going to mention... I worked out (and please forgive me for this - it stems from a mild worry about exams, a desire to prevaricate, and a natural love of maths) that if this year, my average grade was the same as my worst module grade last year, I'd need 64% in the third year to get a first overall. Convoluted? Maybe, but it made me feel better. You may have noticed that back there I averred a love of maths, despite having previously said I no longer love maths, only like it... well, maybe that love is returning, at least partially helped by a book on the Riemann Hypothesis that I'm working my way through. Maths rocks!

Oh yes... also meant to mention, I've been surprised by Paul Burrell's appearances on Countdown this week - not by anything in particular that he's done, or his anecdotes about corgis, but the fact that they invited him (or accepted his request to appear?) in the first place. The Countdown guest chair is not a place for controversy, it's place for Martin Jarvis and the like: if you're not a national treasure, you probably won't appear. I can't fathom it... and I have a feeling that Des can't, either.

March 28th 2006
Taking a break from revision, and I come across the following, which claims to be from the Sun:
Neighbours star Carla Bonner has revealed that she is to leave the Aussie soap in July after 7 years.
Bonner who is 33 wants to spend more time with her two boys Harley and Jhye as her heavy filming schedule means she hardly sees them at the moment.
A spokeswoman from Grundy explained: Carla has been a fantastic asset to the show and she will be greatly missed by all the cast and crew. All that can be promised is that Carla's alta ego Steph will leave in one of Neighbours saddest storylines in its 21-year history and that the door will be firmly closed on Steph.

Well, that hit me bad, I can tell you... but as I looked further afield, only one site seems to make this claim (others have copied the extract word-for-word, with a few punctuation errors that I've tidied up, that presumably didn't appear in the Sun), and the BBC have categorically denied the claims. I don't know what to think. In revision news, I've just finished summarising Differentiation notes... I'm still delaying the onset of Combinatorics, so I think next stop is attempting asst sheets from either Algebra I or Analysis III (don't be fooled by the numerals... the former is much harder than the latter).

March 29th 2006
Please keep clicking on the ads! I've discovered that I need over $100 before I get anything, and so far I'm on just over $62... the initially enthusiasm has dried up, perhaps. But remember, only click on the ads if they genuinely interest you: this isn't merely a money-making thing for me. Honest. But don't bother clicking on them Geocities ads - they don't pay me a cent. Actually, these Google things are also useful in that they provide a hit counter for me... I keep meaning to sign upt o the same Stat Counter thing Ant uses, but as of yet, haven't. The good people of adsense tell me that, since I put the ads on (January 3rd, I believe), this page has been visited 1308 times, with 281 ad-clicks. That's 85 days, I reckon, so it's over 15 visits a day, and about 3.3 ad-clicks. Just so you know.

March 30th 2006
For those people who were worried about Carla Bonner possibly leaving Neighbours (see a couple of days ago), worry not! I sent an email off to PerfectBlend.net, by some distance the best Neighbours site on the web, who hadn't heard the rumours, but got in contact with the powers that be over at Neighbours, who could confidently contradict the story (see here for more). So woo-hoo. In other news, Steve (of Causley fame) has been trying to access SCB (and not just the diary page: he's a Neighbours fan) and it hasn't worked, so I think we all wish him success as he tries, relentlessly, over the coming days and weeks. It's worth the wait, Steve, honest it is. Now, to veer off the subject of... Steve... can I talk a little bit about teaching? (Pause... permission not denied. Continue). I'm not going to become a teacher, largely because I'm not the biggest fan of kids, and I'm not particularly good at explaining stuff. But the garbage that's done today! Some of my closest friends - Anthony, Christine and Jessica - are coming to the end of a three-week-almost-teaching-thingy where they go into schools (circa yr 7-9 I believe), at first observe and then graually take over. Well, not take over take over, but y'know... Ant particularly is having a whale of a time, and it looks sadly that he might join Christine in actually doing something useful with their maths degrees, which surely goes against every instinct of a pure mathematician. Anyhow, it's not that I have a problem with, it's the methods teachers appear to use nowadays: take multiplying negative numbers, for example. When I was taught this, it was "multiply two negative numbers, and you get a positive number" and that was absolutely fine and dandy, no question asked, I did a bunch of examples, I remembered it, I use it still today. Now there's a big hoo-ha about explaining it with number lines and cake and the like, which is fundamentally unnecessary... ok, it's a nice privilege to understand why it works, but the convoluted methods that have to be used due to a fundamental lack of understanding of higher concepts produces a logical mash that is beneficial to nobody, least of all the able students who could grasp the concept immediately and now have to sit through patronizing and stomach-churning explanation. No criticism intended to those mentioned above: I speak from my own experience in first school, a critical example being addition/subtraction: by year four, I was perfectly happy with this, as were pretty much everyone in the class, but suddenly it was decided we needed to learn 'number lines', a horrendous concept whereby we draw a neat line (rulers and sharpened pencils in hand) and mark the numbers on it, so if we were doing 15 - 7, we'd mark the numbers 7, 8, and so forth until 15 (this was after we 'learnt' we didn't have to start the number line at zero), then count the gap between 15 and 7, and lo and behold, it was 8! Good grief... the whole malarkey was basically a protracted way of doing basic sums, to the satisfaction and advancement of nobody. Similarly, pretty much everything I learnt, I learnt from being told what it was, not from being told to colour in squares, or imagine cake, or count apples... to take fractions as another example, we were told that you could multiply top and bottom of a fraction by the same number, and it would still be the same fraction. Easy. Now, it seems, that isn't good enough, and the child has to go through a convoluted process of fraction --> cake --> two cakes --> same fraction, or some such nonsense (actually, on the topic of fractions, I would have appreciated being told that the horizontal line in a fraction basically just meant 'divide', which somehow wasn't seen as necessary, whereas the number lines were...). There are, of course, counter-arguments to this: I was a very able young mathematician compared to the average (I don't think this argument holds much water), I am naturally an abstract thinker, whereas many people aren't (this I agree with: on many occasions I've found it easier to work with the abstract maths than to apply it; to me, adding to fractions in an abstract fashion is far easier than pretending they're slices of cake, which actually confuses me a little), and there is more satisfaction to understanding 'why', not just 'how'. This last, I am coming more and more to appreciate, but only to a certain extent: I'm quite happy to know why things work in a purely mathematical way, but if someone's trying to explain how they work in the physical world (eg for flux, or simple harmonic motion) I tend not to care. Maths is more beautiful in its purity than the physical is in its complicated and haphazard structure. I'm not really sure I believe that last sentence, but I'd certainly like to. I realise I've gone on a fair bit without really making any lucid, let alone apposite, points... I'll finish by saying that it wasn't limited to maths, this educational foolishness: in english we had to choose the correct word to put in a sentence, from a list of six, and then write the darn sentence out... I have no idea why this would be any more beneficial than simply writing the word itself out, and it was grossly time-consuming. Ooh! I've thought of a good example for my maths complaints - integration. I couldn't care less about area under the graph, and why integrating such-and-such gives such-and-such when you're drawing it: I do, however, find it interesting to see why integrating cosine gives sine (+ constant) by examining power series... although I see stuff like that more as an addendum to the actual learning process, an interesting aside, rather than a goal in itself. That's all for now... I'm supposed to be doing a bit of work, having taken the day off to go to Bath.

what was I listening to?
American Idiot - Green Day
what was I reading?
Stalking the Riemann Hypothesis - Dan Rockmore
what was I watching?
Cards on the Table
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