Gabriel's shared items

Sunday, February 26, 2006

Problems I'm Facing in the Maths Course

Just sorting out and listing down exactly what I am finding tough about this course, and figuring out loud what I can do to improve the situation...

I think the main problem I'm facing is that there is a lack of an intermediate between the lectures, where we are first introduced to very new concepts, and which is held in groups of 100 to 200 people; and the supervisions, where we are expected to be familiar with all the concepts we have been introduced to, and is held in groups of 1 or 2, which makes it very taxing on the resources as well.

And because of that, I feel like I am recieving very little guidiance in this course.

Many times, I find myself seating in front of my example sheets, staring blankly at the questions. Most times, I find that there are many questions that seem to appear quite frequently in the topic, and it seems like it's quite a standard problem in the topic, but I simply do not know the way to handle these questions, because I just haven't seen it done enough times before. During these times, I just wished for someone to give me a hint and point me in the right direction, so that I wont have to waste so much time and effort trying to reinvent the mechanism to solve the problem.

Spending time figuring out how to solve a problem from scratch is good, and I've managed to do that with all the problems during the first part of this term. But in such a demanding course, where so many concepts are introduced to us in such short time, an average person cannot really afford to do that for every concept.

I think it would be good for there to be a classroom like lesson, or discussion which follows closely with what we are doing in the lectures, where we can be further exposed to the concepts first introduced to us during lectures, so that our understanding can be broadened and reinforced in such an atmosphere. And perhaps during these sessions, we could look at the existing methods of dealing with standard questions in the topics, so that we will not need to be blindly trying to find our way around...

I am wondering how many people in the course will agree with what I've just written. Think I'll first try to set up a support group, and publically seek out people in the same situation, like in forums, and maybe at the beginning of lectures. And we'll just try to work with each other first... And if there's sufficient people feeling the same way (something like twenty or so people), we could try to set up a society to provide such classroom like sessions on a regular basis to complement the lectures.

Just jotting these ideas down, so that if it works out, it could lay the foundations to the aims of the society.

Cambridge is full of geniuses who probably wouldn't need these sort of supplimentary programs. But for the rest of us who are less than geniuses, the aims of this society would be to provide a program that would complement the existing lecture-supervision system, and provide us commoners an effective means to handle the Cambridge Maths Syllabus.

Thursday, February 23, 2006


Just came back from Acapella. Decided to join the newly formed acapella group, made up of Cumsa people, and we had the first session today!

Everyone here's really talented, and I'm really privileged to be among so many people who can organise and put together an acapalla group in one evening, and the song turned out really nice!

So many people knew how to interperate the scores, and play the piano, and put together every part of an acapella, that they could guide the few who had no clue what to do, i.e. me, so well that we managed to end very well!

Warmed up with "Away in a Manger" and practiced with "Lonesome Road". We'll be doing a very funny song next week, called "Short People"... There's a really mean line in it which goes "Short people have no reason to live" =P

And I carry one more tag on myself: I'm a tenor. Basically the middle range...

Was really enjoyable to be able to play a part in something that would sound so nice. Think it's the most fun thing I've done this term...

Also had second bible study on Genesis with Nick this evening... Just wondering how Adam and Eve knew God... Did they interact with God the way we do now, or did God appear to them in a more tengible form? And if He did, how much more tengible can He get if He's not physical?

Also wondered how Adam felt when he first came to being, recieving conciousness, and being given all these responsibilities by God.

Also had Vector Calculus supervision today... My work wasn't really satisfectory, had missed a few questions... Will be having Probability sup next Monday, gotta go figure out things like Independent-Identically Distributed Random Variables, and Moment Generating Functions :S

Yup, that was my day... one the more fun days I've had over here :)

Tuesday, February 21, 2006

Impure Thoughts

I'm entertaining thoughts of switching to NatSci(Phy) next year...

There are a few reasons...
1) I find myself struggling to manipulate symbols I scarcely have any feel for. i.e. Maths is too abstract for me...
2) Jack, from my college is doing physics too! and he intends to do the most physics possible, which is what I'll like to do if I switch to physics. That means I'll have a buddy to go do stuff together with. And if we get accomodation near or next to each other, he'll make a very convinient companion to discuss work with...
3) I feel like I have something to look forward to if I do change my course... Cos I don't feel any excitement when I look at the topics we're doing for maths next year...

The only consideration now is how much I've missed from the first year work... I've attended a few physics lectures, so I have an idea what they are doing, but I haven't done any lab work yet. Think I'll need to pick up those skills quickily next year.

But I think it shouldn't be too bad, cos first year natsci's do lots of other peripheral subjects like geology and material science, which I'm not too worst off not studying...

Friday, February 17, 2006

Sigh, think I'm falling behind :S

This feels like the part of the 2.4 where I give up and start walking.

Ah, the first 3 weeks went ok, did a whole set of example sheets, and think it was reasonably well done... but looks like it was unsustainable... kinda got really tired by weekend of 4th week, and now I see the impending deadlines looming, and feel like I'm crawling so slowly I'll never be able to keep pace, or make even a quarter of my next set of example sheets...

Think I'll need to reassess what I'm doing... Look for something extra-curricular to do, staying in my room all day isn't helping :S

Went to pizza hut with Shagnik, Ja and Alex today for lunch. Was a buffet. supposed to be 4 pounds, but cos I mistakenly took the salad which wasn't in the buffet, I ended up paying an extra 2 pounds for it. Didn't really eat much, 9 slices of pizza, and very little salad, really feel heart ache thinking I paid an extra 6 dollars for that little bit of salad I took... But the pizza's were quite nice...

Oh yeah, and just got an appointment for a brain scan! Will be two weeks time, 1 March...

Sigh, think I'll try to go about de-stressing myself first, before I come back to re-examine what I am covering in lectures...

Tuesday, February 14, 2006

Completed First Round of Supervisions.

Just had my probability supervision today. Marks the end of the first series of supervisions. Looks like I've got quite good supervisors for this term. For the first time since JC, feeling like I'm under the care of a teacher... Hope I'd be able to make the most of it...

Arh, dunno why I suddenly experienced a bout of intense stress on Sunday... Went to church in the morning, then by lunch time, I had the urge to rush straight back to my room to sleep, and sleep i did - for two hours. Woke up after at around 4, completed as much of my example sheet, and handed it up, returned back to room, and did not have anything urgent left to do, but still felt a great tension... Couldn't really do much after experiencing that tension, chatted with some people who were online then, thanks for putting up with me those of you whom I bugged... The tension I felt was somewhat comparable with the kind of stress I faced outfield in army, don't really know why... Think that's why God put me through that phase in army, so that I'll be able to deal with this kinda pressure...

But feeling better now... It seems like I'm only feeling stressed over the weekend when I don't have lectures to wake up to. Ah, why does it seem like my mood is so fickle over here in Cambridge?

Friday, February 10, 2006

Crazy Sleeping Patterns and Kopitiam Delights

Sigh, my body clock's going nuts again! Have been sleeping at 2 am the past week, even though I didn't sleep in the afternoon. And I'd still force myself to wake up for lectures, but I'll feel quite tired and stressed throughout the day. So today I decided to allow myself to sleep when I felt like it, the result: I fell asleep at 8 pm and woke up at 12 mid night.

I woke up to a cold room and an empty stomach, and suddenly felt like eating something sweet and filling. Have been eating excessive amounts of Sainsbury Basics Chocolate Digestive biscuits the past week while slogging over example sheet problems, so didn't really fancy eating more of those. Wanted something warm and sweet and filling, so I decided to make kaya toasts!

Managed to find proper bread this term, thus I had all the ingredients neccessary to recreat this authentic taste. And now I'm enjoying Kaya toasts with Hot Chocolate! Mmmm...

The kaya has gone a little hard though, but still tastes alright, just quite difficult to spread it... Which reminds me: I could use more Kaya from Singapore....

While I'm eating, I'm also thinking of Half Boiled Eggs and French Toast. Think I'll need to get some eggs soon... Haven't used eggs on my own since I started my cooking career. Looks like it's quite a good breakfast material :P

Wednesday, February 08, 2006

An Extraordinary Encounter.

Whoa, just met Stephen Hawking's while studying at the CMS today! He was having lunch with two other professors, and his nurse, who was feeding him.

Didn't that realise he was there when I first went in. Only discovered his presence after hearing someone breathing the words 'Stephen Hawkings', and moment's later vaguely hearing his synthesised voice.

It was like meeting a movie star! First heard of him back in primary 5, and it's been my dream to do the things he did, and now I'm seeing him in real life! Probably indicates that I'm one step closer to this dream =)

Speaking of which, about a week ago, I actually dream of seeing him. Hm... Precognition?

But the most remarkable thing was the way people around him were reacting. They were just going about therir business, acting as if nothing's happening. I mean, how often do you get to sit with a famous person and pretend like it's no big deal? I guess it happens pretty often here in the CMS, that's the awesome thing about this place, a place where making history is all in a days work...

Tuesday, February 07, 2006

I'm getting good at cooking...

Finished lectures at 12:00 today,

Cycled back,
Cooked spghetti,
Ate spghetti,
Cleaned up,

And time check: 12:45!

Spghetti was cheap, tasty and healthy.

What more could I ask for?

Monday, February 06, 2006

0 raised to the power of 0

Came across that today during supervision. Makes a good smilie too:

0^0 = ?


Saturday, February 04, 2006

Tickets Booked!

Ok, feeling quite sian tonight, didn't feel like doing the regular things like my example sheets or strumming the guitar, so I went down to the main college building to watch TV, and visit the library. Nothing interesting there either, so came back and tried to purchase my tickets to Sweden. Managed to accomplish that :P

Here's the itenary and reciept:

From London Stansted(STN) to Skavsta Stockholm(NYO)
Thu, 23Mar06 Flight FR052 Depart STN at 08:35 and arrive NYO at 11:40

From Skavsta Stockholm(NYO) to London Stansted(STN)
Wed, 29Mar06 Flight FR055 Depart NYO at 17:10 and arrive STN at 18:25

*********1.28 GBP Adult
********27.17 GBP Taxes,Fees & Charges
*********6.96 GBP Aviation / WCHR Levy
*********0.00 GBP Car Rental
*********0.00 GBP Insurance
********35.41 GBP Total Paid

So it's confirmed, I'll be visiting Sweden this Easter! All I need to do now is to book my bus tickets from here to Stansted, and try to find my way to meet Serene at Stockholm.

This week...
It's been quite good this week... No Supervisions. Managed to do a little bit of work, almost completed 2 example sheets.

Had a few enjoyable days -
went to Macdonalds for lunch with Shagnik on Thursday;
found a new way to de-stress that night: went to a piano recital in College;
found a way to print stuff for free at the CMS;
visited a the computer laboratory at the New Museum Site;
Arranging to have regular one-on-one bible study with Nick, a guy from my focus group;
hung out with Jack a bit this week, had a few meals together;
cell this week had quite few people, but quite nice to chat smaller groups;
attended history of maths lecture on Wednessday and Friday; and
John Percival will be facilitating the discussion about predestination and election tmr at student lunch! :P

Other things I did:
Cooked spghetti in chicken tonight sauce.
Cooked spghetti with beef and tomato sauce tonight.
Should be cooking another 3 more meals, cos got 3 more portions of beef.
Ran out of onions, Finally!
Got skype and the video conferencing to work.

Think I should look for something to program: find a way to access a server... Suddenly feeling quite sian... Hm... playing reverse tic-tac-toe with hong king now :P

Thursday, February 02, 2006

Intelligence Profile of

Thomas de Rivaz

Gonville and Caius College

Flat 20, Adams House,
Rustat Avenue,
Cambridge, CB1 3RE

Jail house rock
The Green Blade
Cambridge University Diplomacy Society
Haileybury School

Wednesday, February 01, 2006

Spghetti with Chicken Tonight Chicken

Eating sphgetti out of a pan as I'm blogging, decided to try cooking it in Chicken Tonight Sauce when I saw the sauce on offer at Sains. Didn't really know what Chicken Tonight tastes like, only recall the brand from the catchy song on TV quite a long time ago: "I feel like chicken tonight, like chicken tonight, like chicken tonight."

The sauce looked whitish and creamy, so I associated it with Carbonara.

Well, that is where the similarity ends. This sauce tastes spicy and bland- which hardly comes close to the saltish, cheesy taste of carbonara. Cooked it with spghetti, and now it tastes like chinese noodles made with western ingredients. Weird combi, but might be an acquired taste... Then again, isn't everything an acquired taste?

Realised how to cook onions more effectively today- Cooking it on low heat increased the margin of error in timing one can afford, by quite a great degree really! So up the heat at the beginning to bring the temperature up as quickly as possible, then turn it down to reduce the rate of energy transfer so that it is not used for unwanted chemical reactions (like the combustion of food)... Quite amazing the things one can conjecture while staring at the pan in the kitchen...