Projects
days until the end of spring semester.days until Snakes on a Plane.
Boxes unpacked
Math article project
Finished mathematical core of article. Next: Write analytical core of article.
Dummit and Foote, Abstract Algebra
Finished section 1.6 (86 to go)
Silverman and Tate, Rational Points on Elliptic Curves
FInished 2.5 (31 to go)
Conway, Functions of One Complex Variable I
Finished section 7.5 (27 to go)
Munkres, Topology
Finished section 21 (60 to go)
Royden, Real Analysis
Finished section 2.4 (97 to go)
Nonfiction book project
Todo list uptodate
Fiction book project
1443 out of 100,000 projected words written.
Top 100 novels of all time
Reading Ulysses
IMDB top 250 films
Tengoku to jigoku next in queue.
Blogroll
This academic life
Academic CoachConfessions of a Community College Dean
Learning Curves
The Little Professor
My Hiding Place
New Kid on the Hallway
One Bright Star
Planned Obsolescence
Tall, Dark, and Mysterious
Math blogs
Ars MathematicaMathForge
MathPuzzle
Think Again
Archives

July 2003
August 2003
September 2003
October 2003
November 2003
December 2003
January 2004
February 2004
March 2004
April 2004
May 2004
June 2004
July 2004
August 2004
September 2004
October 2004
December 2004
January 2005
March 2005
April 2005
May 2005
June 2005
July 2005
August 2005
September 2005
October 2005
November 2005
December 2005
January 2006
February 2006
March 2006
April 2006
May 2006
Vito Prosciutto: Teaching community college math on the road to a PhD.
Sunday, July 31, 2005
21:58Once every three years
In 1993, my grandfather died and this was one of the readings at his funeral. Come summer, I was lector at mass the week that it came up and I read it again. Then it was a reading at a friend's wedding (perhaps it was coming on the heels of my grandfather's funeral, but it doesn't really seem a good wedding reading).
I have no particular memories of it in 1996 other than being quite certain that I was lector again (I made a point of being scheduled to lector on this particular Sunday).
In 1999, I was living in the city of my birth and playing in the church music group for their young adult mass. On that Sunday we performed a song that I had written which incorporated the readings from this Sunday. I think that I also managed to lector that particular Sunday at a different parish.
In 2002, I was returned to being a mere parishioner (I was singing in a choir at that point, but the choir didn't perform in the summertime). I had just met my nowwife, though, and I treasure the thought of hearing this reading with her for the first time.
And now today.
I joked as we pulled into the church that maybe sometimes they have mass outside (my wife had asked for her sunblock just perviously). Then we noticed the big tent in the parking lot. It turns out that there was an arson fire at this parish the week before.
Which left me thinking quite a bit.
Because there's a part of me that's not all that satisfied with the church at the moment.
I'm not talking about the usual stuff. I really don't have a problem with the church's stance on abortion. If you allow for the possibility that the fetus is a human being, then an antiabortion stance comes naturally. I'm not happy about the fact that there are people whose motivation for being antiabortion is to be antiwoman, but then there are people who vote democratic for bigoted reasons and that's not going to make me a republican. Same with birth control, celibate priests, a maleonly priesthood (partly because I think that right now the holy spirit is busy trying to get Catholics to not be so damned dependent on the priesthood and for the laity to start taking a bit more responsibility for the church themselves).
No, what bothers me is the tendency towards absolute certainty in the church. There's none of the humbleness with which I've always approached faith (which humbleness, lead me to not belong to any particular church for the first 22 years of my life). The problem is that certainty leads to things like Mohammad Atta or George Bush. Why bother caring about what's actually happening in the world if you're certain that you're right.
And I'm thinking that the fact that a Catholic church was burnt last week is somehow connected with all of this. Because this tendency towards absolute certainty is not a uniquely Catholic trait. And I suspect that if they catch the perpetrator, it will be motivated by a certainty that trying to burn down a Catholic church was absolutely the right thing to do.
Friday, July 29, 2005
13:06This year, for once, I [thought I] remembered
Damn, I didn't remember.
But as a longtime Cubs fan, I know Wait 'til next year!
Thursday, July 28, 2005
21:41No more classes no more books
Wednesday, July 27, 2005
19:46Rescuing what's left of summer
I've set the following schedule on studying:
Monday: Algebra"Stack of books" refers to the big stack of math books on my desk which are currently only partially read (generally from previous classes where we got to chapter n of m and gave up the ghost. I need to look and see what I'm closest to finishing and make that my top priority and work through them with that plan.
Tuesday: Complex Analysis
Wednesday: Elliptical Curves
Thursday: Stack of Books
Friday: Mac Programming
Saturday: Topology
Sunday: Real Analysis
19:37My fall teaching schedule
Monday  Tuesday  Wednesday  Thursday  Friday  

7.309.30  Liberal Arts Math  Liberal Arts Math  
89  Algebra  Algebra  Algebra  
1011  Algebra  Algebra  Algebra  
122  Liberal Arts Math  Liberal Arts Math 
Mondays and Wednesdays look to be pretty solidly packed days. I get about an hour on either side of my 122 class to get from MidTier U to Working Class CC.
I've got an office and a mailbox at MidTier U already and my name's even on the door of the office. Fancy.
It looks like Tuesdays and Thursdays are going to be my primary grad school work days. I'm hoping to get as much planning done in advance that I can get most of what I need to do done on Friday afternoons. Seeing everything on paper scares me a little as I can see that there's going to be a lot of work ahead of me.
19:19Another book meme
At the moment, not at all, really. Actually, that's not quite true: I've got a few broad divisions: Books I've not yet read, books I've already read, my wife's books, music books and (at my wife's insistence) a high shelf with all the Bibles.
But once upon a time (and at some time in the future it will return to this), I had everything shelved by Library of Congress. It might seem absurd at first glance, but even with my roughly 1000 volume collection, it works out quite nicely. Books are grouped by subject matter, authors are arranged chronologically (roughly) with biographies and criticism about an author shelved with works by the author. Sure, there are areas which I don't have a lot of books shelved in, but for the clusters that I have (math, literature, psychology, theology), it's really a nice way to organize the library.
CDs are sorted alphabetically by artist (by title for soundtracks and compilations).
2. What books or records do you keep separate from your collection for easy access?
Pretty much just the reference books: Dictionaries, thesaurus and The Reader's Encyclopedia. Plus whatever books I'm teaching from.
3. When you take down a book for reference, how long after you finish with it does it take you to reshelve it?
When I'm done with a book, I usually shelve it right away. The exception is if I finish a book while in bed. My wife gets mad at me if I get out of bed to do things like this (especially since it usually will also mean a trip to the shelves with the books to read so I can get another book).
4. What resource do you keep separate from your collection because you don't want anyone to know you have it?
Nothing. It all gets shelved. Heck even joke books have library of congress card catalog numbers. I am in the process of selling/discarding some excess books (mostly computer books which are out of date or no longer of interest to me).
Tuesday, July 26, 2005
23:09Weird traffic spike
2 prealgebra classes and 1 algebra class left and I'm done with summer school.
Tuesday, July 19, 2005
23:08Teaching challenge: Negatives in fractions
So the first challenge, I discovered today that students were a bit suspicious of the idea that (1/3), (1)/3 and 1/(3) are the same number. Now I can (and have) told them this, but it would be even better for them to get a feel for it. Any thoughts on ways to convey this? Preferably visual ideas...
Monday, July 18, 2005
13:13You're spending too much time at Border's when
13:02This morning's interview
08:27Synchronicity in the comics
Friday, July 15, 2005
20:46Why...
Oh, maybe it was because of the porn surfing student.
20:41Sudoku
There does seem to be some debate about just how many sudoku are possible. I found a link to one site which used a brute force approach to counting up the sudoku, but that's not really satisfying.
It seems like a pretty fun discrete math problem, so maybe I'll tackle it down the line. Perhaps during the next meeting that I have to sit through.
20:36Teaching on a Friday
Class did finish a bit early and the kids are on the computers surfing the web while I do some grading. I look up at one of the screens and see "Megalopolis Girls" on the screen. Oh dear, I hope that's not what it sounds like. I watch as he scrolls down and, well, it is: There's a naked woman on the screen.
Being at a loss for what to say, I decide to pretend that I wasn't paying attention and I go back to grading.
07:48The blogroll has returned
Wednesday, July 13, 2005
17:44Counting down to the end of summer
Monday, July 11, 2005
21:07Things change in bunches
21:05A reduction in work
21:05It is decided
Friday, July 08, 2005
21:18Differentiated instruction
21:17Just what I was looking for
Well, somehow (probably from the Spanish and Latin), I can kind of sort of read French, so that's gotta be one of my choices, and the usual form for the exam is to translate a math article from language X, so I'm thinking that my best plan of attack is to find some French math journals and attempt to read those. Heck, I might even learn some math if the subject matter isn't too abstruse. But where to find some French math journals? I guess I can go to the library when my current teaching hell is over at the end of the month.
And then I find at Ars Mathematics a link to the NUMDAM project which is digitizing French math journals. Brilliant. Some of the journals go back quite some distance, and I figure that if I start with some of the 19th century articles, I have a pretty good chance of being able to follow the math as well. Plus I'll be familiar with odd little back channels of mathematics that other people will have little or no idea about.
Thursday, July 07, 2005
18:58I made a mistake
But then I took on some classes at the tutoring center as well. So now here's my schedule:
M: 12.306 at FPU
T/R: 1.303.30 at tutoring center, 4.3010 at FPU that hour in between is spent driving
W: 1303.30 at tutoring center, 4.306 at FPU
F: 1305.30 at tutoring center
This is all my fault. I could have had a 2class load at the community college had I gotten a damned form returned a little sooner and made just as much money for half as much time teaching. And had time to grade and plan without being stressed.
Next summer I will maybe teach one summer school class at a community college. Or perhaps not even that. I will do research next summer. Math research and I think also some research into surfing and tanning and beaches and that sort of thing.
Of course the good thing (from my wife's perspective) about being stressed is that I procrastinate and when I procrastinate I clean (well clean and watch movies).
18:56Choose your hell
Option 2: Students don't do work, then respond with blank stares when you ask if they have questions.
In both cases, assume that the vast majority of students will fail.
Wednesday, July 06, 2005
16:12Gotta love the way the numbers work out
11:10Some math content
Consider the case where we're investing $100/month at 6% annually (which is 0.5% monthly, thus my choice of a 6% rate). So at the end of the first month there's the $100 investment, plus its interest (I=prt) of $.50. At the end of the second month, we've added $100 and we're going to pay interest on $200.50. And the process repeats. That's not terribly helpful. Let's look at the abstract case.
Let the a be the monthly investment amount and x be the monthly interest rate. Now we have the following amounts at the end of each month:
Month 1: ax
Month 2: (ax+a)x=ax^{2}+ax
Month 3: (ax^{2}+ax+a)x=ax^{3}+ax^{2}+ax
Now we see a pattern. We can factor out the a and see that we're left with
[sum from i=1 to n] x^{i}
We just need a formula to express this more succinctly. Trying some concrete numbers to see what happens helps when I pick x=10. Then we're talking about (letting the lower limit be 0 rather than 1) a number which is all 1's. It occurs to me that this can be described by taking x^{n+1}1 and dividing by x1. I double check this with some polynomial long division to make sure that it is in fact the expected x^{n}+...+x+1 and now I know that I can find the total saved after n months by taking
P=a[((1+(r/12))^{n+1}1)/(r/12)1]
where r is the annual savings rate. We add 1 because x will be 1 plus the monthly savings rate. The minus 1 at the end is to take care of the fact that our expression is actually for the sum from 0 to n but we don't want to include that 0 term (which reflects another contribution to the pot at the end of the savings term which hasn't had interest applied to it).
Next I'll have to tackle the installment loan payment amount formula. How hard can it be?
11:02Logical fallacy of the day
If Zambia had converted all the aid it received since 1960 to investment and all of that investment to growth, it would have had a per capita GDP of about $20,000 by the early 1990s.Yes, and if I had taken all the money that I spent on food for the last 20 years and invested it at just 4% above the inflation rate, that money would be earning me $19,000 per year now.
In short, the statement which Tyler finds so charming ignores the fact that even without mismanagement, the aid money could not just be invested: There were immediate needs to be addressed. Yes, aid money can be better directed, but it's not some pot of money that can just be invested without consideration for anything else. I'm sure a lot of the aid that Zambia received went towards lining the pockets of corrupt government officials, but I have a hard time believing that all of it did. Or that the donors of the aid would have continued to donate if it were invested as proposed rather than at least nominally being put towards relieving immediate human needs.
Monday, July 04, 2005
18:20Vacuuming
What I really want, I think, is to get an apartment with hardwood floors and then the problem will go away forever because it will be all sweeping and no vacuuming.