Curves to infinity

So, finally got my test back.  98 out of 100, with two points off for transcription errors (so I had entirely the correct logic but mistranscribed something from one line to the next).

Possibly, based on statements by the prof, the highest score in the class.  And already it seems I have a reputation.

We had a quiz last night (which was easy), and after we finish the quiz, we're allowed out on break.  So, a bunch of us were hanging around outside the classroom.  I was talking with another guy who I've chatted with a few times; he got a 95, and I told him I got a 98, so we were joking about retaking tests and such*.  A few minutes later, standing by myself, someone else I haven't talked to at all came up and said, "So, you're the curve breaker for the class I guess, eh?", smiling while he said it.

I demurred (and we're not graded on a curve, so it's not really accurate), but I was kind of taken aback.  I'd only told the other guy my score, we were talking quietly, and he'd gone off to the concierge without talking to anyone else.  How did this guy (and apparently others, because I got a few comments after that) know I'd done so well?

Flashbacks to high school, certainly.  I'm one test into my college career (if I have one) and already facing down expectations.

Anyway, the 98 puts me above the track I'd set for myself, so I'm very pleased.  Next test is in two weeks, with another quiz Tuesday and no class Thursday.  I'm very comfortable at this point: starting off better than expected means having more leeway and thus even less pressure.  I still need to kick butt, and I think I will, but it's a good place to be in.

The new guys in the building are back, and I helped them move a 400-lb cabinet up to their apartment (and saved them $200 or so in movers fees doing it).  Was only a little stiff the next day, so yay for that.

Not sure I want to see the Stonewall movie this weekend.  Have to think about it more.

* If you have missed one class or less, the Prof will let you re-take a test in the last week (post-final) of class.  When I said, I got a 98, he said, "Ha, I only got a 95."  I commented that it was still an A, and still pretty damned good, and he said something about it not being a 98.  So I joked with him and said, "Well, maybe this'll be your lowest test score and you can retake it at the end of class."  To which he laughed and replied that if a 95 was his lowest score, he wasn't retaking shit.

Functions over time

I totally forgot how much I love math.  I mean, I didn't actually forget, but it's not something that comes up much.  Distance tends to dull impressions.

And by "math" I don't really mean algebra and trig and such.  To me, "math" means calculus.  It means differentials and integration and the relationships between functions...  The math of science.  The math that explains all the other math.

The first chapter for Calc-1 is always the basic stuff, limits and tangent lines and some proofs.  My first time through, it was definitely my least favorite part of the class, but it's still at least a little interesting.  This time, I didn't have a problem with it because I knew what was coming next.  Well, I say "didn't", but the test isn't until Thursday.  That's when we're officially done with this chapter.

But, due to time constraints during the week, I tend to do the homework assignments early on the weekend.  I finished all the remaining homework for this chapter on Saturday.  Then, on Sunday, I did the first assignment for the next chapter.

And fell in love again.

I mean, it's just basic differentiation.  For those who don't know, that's essentially calculating the relative differences between values in a function (hence the name), usually shortened to the slope for early stuff but eventually getting more complex.

But even just doing differentiation, we can start to describe the why behind all that crap we had to learn in geometry and trig and algebra 2, like how the relationship between the area of a circle and its circumference is the same as the relationship between the volume of a sphere and its surface area.

I'm having fun again.  I know I'll be (largely needlessly) nervous about the test on Thursday, just because it's the first test and it's on a topic I'm less enthused about.  But I know what's coming next, and I'm really looking forward to it.

This is why I enrolled in the first place, and it's what I completely missed my first attempt at college (I didn't take any science courses).  Even if the degree path doesn't work out, this is what I wanted to do.

Sums and Differences

So, I've had two calculus classes, and I'm running into a wall I haven't had to deal with for years.

We had a quiz on Thursday covering the prior day's section.  It was just two problems, and both had been on the homework we'd done.  The prof gave us 30 minutes to do it, with a 10 minute break after; anyone who finished early could go on break early and hang around outside.

I was done in about 10 minutes (takes a bit to write it all out), along with 3-4 other people.  The rest of the class (36 total) took longer, with about half the class taking 25+ minutes.

Outside, talking with some of the other students, it became really obvious that the answers I got and the logic I used to get them was completely different than what most of them did.  While it's entirely possible I bombed the quiz, looking up the problems when I got home seems to indicate I got them right.

And thus we run smack dab into a situation I dealt with all the time in high school and really haven't faced since then: either the work is easy and everyone else is abnormally slow, or the work is hard and I'm just abnormally fast.

I know, I know, that's a problem everyone would like to have.  Except, it's not.  Remember, I have trouble with thinking of other people as "people" anyway; I have to constantly reinforce the notion that they are actual people just like me.

But in high school, there were all these constant reminders that I wasn't like everyone else.  Sure, in possibly good ways, but different is still different, and when you spend a lot of effort trying to remember how similar people are, constant reminders that you're different are a bad thing.

At work, my job requirements are so unique and so different from those of my coworkers that there's no real way to compare my skills to theirs.  I just operate under the (largely valid) assumption that they're just as smart as I am (or vice versa) but in different fields.

And that's entirely possible for the people in my class, except that most of them are *also* going for engineering, which means this is exactly the kind of thing they should be good at.  There's very little wiggle room for comparisons when you all take the same test and get a score at the end.

I'm... not sure how I'm going to work through this.  I don't want to become the guy I was in high school.  Luckily I do have some absolutely brilliant friends, so maybe I just need to hang out with them more to keep me in my mental place.

Anyway, beyond that little complication, homework is going to be something of an issue.  The average assignments are about 3.5-4h a section, and most Tuesdays we'll be covering two sections.  Which means having 7-8 hours of homework that has to get done between 9:30 pm Tuesday and 7 pm Thursday, in addition to 16 hours of work and 16-20 hours of sleep.  Essentially, if anything else is going on for Wednesday, I'm SOL.

So, I'm taking this weekend to try and get ahead a bit on the homework.  I've already finished what is due Tuesday, and I'm working on what will be due Thursday (about half-way done).  Tomorrow, I'll try to do what will be due *next* Tuesday, and then hopefully be able to keep ahead of the assignments so I don't run into problems.  That means doing probably double the work per section for the moment, since I don't have the list of problems to do and thus am doing all of them, but it should keep a margin for me.

Besides, other than the callouses from holding a pencil so long (we have to do the homework in pencil and paper), I'm actually enjoying the work.  And we're not even at the fun stuff yet (integration and derivatives).

It does mean I may have to reconsider how many classes I want to take next semester.  Three may be pushing it.