Archive for the ‘Job’ Category

tomorrow, the black morning

there’s an offer at hand for more grading
at the Bigstate U. it’s an upgrade in the
sense that i’ve been unemployed for a year.
a downgrade in the sense that it’s now an
“hourly” position and i’ll be e-filing “time-
cards” weekly.

if i can work the damn interface.


as for the grade-entry. yick, of course.
but not *nearly* as bad when the problems
are presented in their natural order as when
they’re *randomly* ordered.

this i consider an insult to me:
it’s *very* frustrating paging around looking
for scores and checking for completeness
because some student wouldn’t take the time
to organize their own work (as if their time
were somehow much more valuable than mine).

some instructors require very rigid standards
in formatting (name and date in upper right,
staple in upper left, etcetera etcetera).
it’s good for me as a grader when they do
but i never ran my own lectures that way
and sure wouldn’t ask anyone to.

properly-ordered copy is another story.
i’ll penalize Out Of Order starting with HW3.

but the real issue is always:
how “rigorous”… how “correct”, really…
should the *writing* be.
answer: much *more* than what i’m seeing.

there’s some amazing good work in these stacks.
and some embarrassingly careless stuff too.
i need to see *full sentences*
with all the articles (a, an the)
and having *subjects*
(that are clearly named: “it” is seen everywhere
but “it” is often unidentified by any language
on its page)
and with its *words spelled out*
(the sign of equality, =, for example,
must *not* be used as if it were
shorthand for “is”):
(one special case deserves mention here:
$\Rightarrow$ (the logical “implies” symbol)
appears essentially at random on many pages.
faculty do this, too. no use trying to penalize it.
still. yick.)

but much the hardest issues in reading
sketchy telegraph-style hide-the-weakness
student work comes out in the little words like
“for” and “and” and “so”. the logic gets
pretty twisted.

i end up spending a *lot* of time trying to resolve
things that the student darn well *ought* to have
tried to make clearer.

some of them know this and write badly *on purpose*.

so let me ask you to urge them to take

and to code carefully.
f \not= f(x)
and stuff like that.

i’ve gotta get back to marking.
sorry for the blown deadline.
i’ll try to see you when i drop off papers
later today.

class of ’92. represent.

i just filed the last grades for the semester.
that’s 22 years a pro (albeit a minor-league
player), with two or three years off here and
there (for good behavior; no good deed goes
unpunished… don’t you know there’s a *war*
on?). mostly i worked summers but that appears
unlikely this year. in other words, i’m on
vacation as of this hour. yay me. time for
an ep of the cooking show, i guess.

[link of the hour:
number theory and physics.]
Define f(n) = n – \phi(n).
Then f is the function that, from
(a Complete Residue System (mod n)),
counts the elements “a”
such that (a,n) \not= 1.

We can think of this as counting
the objects of the set
ZD(n):= CRS(n) \setdifference RRS(n):
f(n) = #ZD(n).
(Objects of ZD(n) are sometimes called
“zero divisors” (mod n).)

Now if x \in ZD(d), we have (x,d) \not= 1
and so (recall d|n) we get (x,n) \not= 1 as well:
x \in ZD(n). Thus ZD(d) \subset ZD(n).
But then f(d) \le f(n),
or, in other words,
n – \phi(n) \ge d – \phi(d).

This is *almost* what we want…
the “\ge” (“is greater than or equal to”)
must be “made strict”… we must
*eliminate* the possibility that
the two sides of our equation are equal.

So notice that
d \not== 0 (mod n)
d == 1 (mod d).

Thus [0] and [d] represent
*different* objects (equivalence classes)
in ZD(n) but represent the *same* object
in ZD(d). It follows that the “\subset”
relation found three paragraphs above
is *strict*; our result follows:
n – \phi(n) > d – \phi(d).

so when i came back to work today
after being laid off all summer,
i just logged right in on the first try.
and into a better environment for working
in wordpress, too (than what we’ve got at home…
even when i use the 17″…)

it’s quite a large grading load:
advanced calc, vector analysis, and lots
of good old linear algebra. (i’ve also
committed to a writing project in intro
to calc… so it’s busybusybusy for me
for quite some time to come.)

now, where’s that doggone *textbook*?
… around here somewhere…

well here i am. friday night.
you could look it up. i guess
if i *had* a home, this’d be it.

(a more-or-less abandoned math
department, far away from any
place i have the authority to
lay my head down and think things
over. but!… with internet access.)

in the nature of the case, we graders
work while the students… um…
do whatever students do… “party”,
i suppose. so papers picked up on
friday after class have to be collected
by *somebody* (& returned by monday
morning; we’re trying to set a high
standard here after all). fair enough,

it’s not like you don’t have to lie
to do *this* job right; getting us
to say things we don’t actually mean is
pretty precisely what money is *for*.
just this: there’s one *big* lie; the rest
is essentially about matters of taste.

and the “big lie”?
well. of course:
“make it look easy”.

no teacher (of anything) can afford
to be honest about what it’ll cost
to get good. *obviously* any rational
being will run like hell before enduring
anything *like* the tribulations that we
(every expert in any art) went through…
only realizing, much too late, that most
of it was for astonishingly foolish
reasons (“youth is wasted on the young”).

worth it, worth it, worth it.

& a long bus ride home.

(“worth it, worth it, worth it”: ramble of 8/09.)

our medium is handwriting

pumped with fear and trembling through several layers
of incomprehensible digital superstructure:
my latest linear algebra exam at “google docs”.

post deleted


bricks without straw

the procedure for TA’s administering quizzes:
log into the “secure site” with your university password;
print out hardcopies and run off copies (one does *not*
have direct access to the copying *machines*, however…
run ’em off at your own expense or wait your turn
at the department’s copy center).

so far so good if the system actually worked.
but no such luck. when i got the email with
the link to the originals over the weekend,
i went and glanced at the link; okay.
there appears to be a quiz here. but i don’t
own a printer so i waited until i was on campus
to begin creating the actual paper documents.

whoops. locked out of the system. no time
to fix it. gotta postpone the quiz.

naturally there’s some resentment from the class;
naturally i’ll take a great deal of the blame.
(fortunately for me there were others suffering
the same problem or the *administration*
would presumably go ahead and blame me, too.)

in the twentyfirst century economy there’s *usually*
a robot between me and whatever i want.
and the more i want it? the more of my time
the robots will burn up uselessly while i try
to get it. telephones? your service *will* fail
and if you try to get it fixed, prepare to wait
on hold for a long time before you can get
to the menu with no option remotely like
serving your needs. home internet connection?
same thing, but worse (on my model because
i actually *want* to be online but not to talk
on the god-damn telephone). and don’t even
try to get me to *think* about health insurance.

look, i like breathing in and breathing out
as much as the next guy. but when does
this become unacceptable?

(here’s last year’s why i don’t
live at the p.o.