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Posts Tagged ‘maths’

  1. Sitges and Mathsges

    August 17, 2012 by superlative

    We had a very nice trip away to Sitges at the start of the summer holidays. We haven’t had a proper holiday in ages, not since we went to New York in 2010, so it was lovely to go somewhere new and get a bit of sun.

    We haven’t been to Sitges before, but some friends recommended it to us as being ‘like Gran Canaria but much classier’, which is a fairly accurate description of it. It’s very gay, for those of you who don’t know, and has 20 or more gay bars and clubs. But while Gran Canaria is full of broken pavements, restaurants where you sit on patio furniture, and the gay bars are all in a car park-like concrete monstrosity, Sitges is an old Spanish village next to Barcelona with lovely wide promenades, palm trees, and lots of old buildings with little balconies. It’s also only a couple of hours away by plane as opposed to four hours to Gran Canaria; and when you can only fly during the school holidays, halving the time you’re stuck in a metal tube full of ungrateful little brats is a definite bonus.

    We stayed at the Hotel Melia, which was a bit further away from the centre of town than many of the hotels, but it was really nice. We had a beautiful view of a little cove thing from our balcony:

    And the hotel had a nice big pool and lawn area to lounge in during the day time. Sitges has lots of beaches, and that’s where everyone goes if they don’t have a pool at their hotel (most hotels don’t seem to), but I did find them quite crowded and the wind chucked the sand up into your face. So having the pool was great, and then we could just go for walks on the beach when we felt like it. This is me on a walk on the beach, see:

    We were only there for five nights, but that was plenty for me. It was boiling hot (88 degrees in the day, 70 at night), and I always find our holidays exhausting because we’re out drinking every night. After five days my body was in full rebellion and demanding I return to work just so I could have a rest.

    We enjoyed lots of brightly coloured cocktails:

    And I tried out my first foam party. That was another recommendation from our friends, who told us that the gay foam parties are the place to be, as all the guys are hot and people get all sexy in the foam. The parties don’t start until 2am, which meant Chris had to drag me a bit because I’m quite sleepy by that time, and in the end the one we went to wasn’t actually that sexy because there was no one there. We were just unlucky I think because we picked a night when it was quiet. We still had a good time anyway, dancing and messing about in the foam – which came up to my shoulders actually, so considering I’m 6 foot 3 I think it must be terrifying if you’re short. You’d never be able to find your way back out!

    I would definitely go again, and I’d go back to the same hotel I think. It was just nice to treat ourselves too; we never go away anywhere, and other people seem to have holidays all the time.

    My other news so far this summer is that I passed my maths course and I got a distinction! I wasn’t expecting that at all, having bitched on about how the exam wasn’t fair and was practically impossible to finish in the time allowed. I was hoping for a grade 2 pass (the one below a distinction), and in fairness I think I probably got a mark in that bracket, but they must have adjusted the grading curve or something to take account of all the complaints they received. I’m very happy anyway, and because I’ve completed two maths modules now I’ve been awarded an undergraduate certificate in mathematics. That means, if I really want to, I can put Cert Maths (Open) after my name, which is nice.

    Unfortunately I have decided I can’t carry on with my maths next year. The next two courses are both 60 credits per year. The last two were 30 credits, and having checked with a tutor I’ve been told the increased credit value means the courses more than double in workload. I just can’t manage that, not when this was meant to be a hobby that I was doing for fun. I’d have to be doing a couple of hours of maths every night, which would seriously eat into my sitting around and drinking cocktails time. It’s a bit stupid, I think, that they’ve weighted the courses like this, because it has created an impasse for me that means I’ll be abandoning my Open University studies and they won’t get any more money out of me. Silly people. So anyway, I think I’ll try to find something else to study. Either a distance learning course with someone else, or a self-study language course or something. I’m not sure yet.

    So that’s my summer so far. Plus the Olympics of course, which were AMAZING and which I enjoyed far, far more than I ever thought I would. I’m really proud of how well it all went, and how brilliantly our competitors did. It made me want to do some more sporting activities, maybe even something like volleyball, but I expect I’ll fade back into my general level of lazy inactivity after a little while and I’ll forget to pursue it. The Paralympics start soon, and I’ll try to watch a bit of that, but I don’t think I’ll be as absorbed by it as I was the main Olympics – I’ve got sport fatigue already from watching nothing else for two weeks.

    Anyway, it’s sunny out, so I’m off to tan/burn/look at hot boys. Happy Friday all.

  2. In response to repeated complaints

    July 11, 2012 by superlative

    I have received multiple complaints over the last few weeks that I haven’t written anything on my blog for ages. Well it’s true, I haven’t, and the people who have complained are very sweet to notice. I mean seriously, reading my blog really shouldn’t be high your priority list, it doesn’t contain anything remotely interesting. But thank you for caring, and apologies for my laxity.

    The problem with blogging is that if you stop posting for a while, it becomes increasingly difficult to start again. So much time has passed that you can’t cover everything you have done since the last post. Equally, you don’t want just to pick a recent occurrence and blog about that and overlook the large gap as though nothing were amiss. So you leave it for another day, and another, and suddenly you’re no longer a blogger, you’re one of the many people who ‘had a blog once’.

    I also find it much harder because of Twitter. I write so many short snippets about what I’m doing and what I think about things, that I feel I’ve already said them and don’t want to repeat them again in a blog post.

    And the final nail in the coffin of my blog is that I have been much, much busier at work since the start of February when I started working two days a week in a different office. My weeks now consist of working on projecty-type things in our main Marketing office, where slacking off is much more difficult as there are constantly people around you, and then madly trying to catch up with my normal job on the other three days of the week before the whole cycle begins again. I’m certainly not as bored as I used to be, but some of the things I used to fill my empty days with have been unfortunately kicked to the wayside.

    If you’ve read this far and still care what I’ve been up to (even I’m losing interest), key items have been:

    • I went to see my new nephew Oliver a few weeks after he was born. He was terribly sweet for a baby, and stayed asleep for practically the whole time, earning him double points for Not Being Annoying. I held him for about an hour while he slept, which was lovely, and then gave him to Chris and he cried, ha. The baby, not Chris. This is me holding him.


    • I have finished my maths course. The exam was in the middle of June, and it went OK, but it was much, much harder than I was expecting. The actual maths wasn’t too bad, but the amount of time you were given for the number of questions was ridiculous, and I didn’t finish the paper which really annoyed me. It seemed fairly incongruous with the past papers all the students had been practising on, where time was tight but it was do-able, and lots of us have been complaining loudly on the module’s website that it wasn’t a fair paper. One of the tutors in the exam preparation information casually said “The exam tests your ability to solve mathematical problems quickly”, and many of us have taken issue with that as a part of the assessment. The learning outcomes of the course did not include being able to do maths at speed, just that we should be able to do the actual maths, and we mostly all could. So it seems unfair that we could have done the questions if we’d had half an hour more time and we didn’t get to demonstrate our ability due to the time limit. I’ll have to wait until August for my result, and although I know I must have passed, I’m now hoping just for an OK grade rather than a good one. Bit annoying.On the subject of maths, I am currently doubtful that I’ll be carrying on with the course next year. The next module entails double the workload of this year’s module, and I really can’t see how I’d find time for that, especially now I’m busier in the day and more tired at night.  It also costs twice as much, at a hefty £800 for some self-study materials they have reprinted a hundred times, so it doesn’t feel like very good value. I haven’t decided yet. Either way, I should get an Undergraduate Certificate in Mathematics for the modules I’ve completed so far, as I’ve got enough credits now, so at least that’s something.
    • I’ve been baking a bit and have made a lovely carrot cake a couple of times. They were massive and delicious, behold.


    Um… I think that’s it.

    We’ve booked to go to Sitges in a couple of weeks, and I’m hoping the weather stays as nice there as it is at the moment.

    And my Mum is coming to stay in the flat above us again in September, blargh. It’ll be OK, but it was quite stressy last time.

    I’ll blog again at some point…

  3. Courses, cats and catering

    August 18, 2010 by superlative

    My first box of stuff from the Open University arrived a week ago, filled with lots of revision work for me to look at before the course proper starts in October. It’s quite a good idea really, as lots of people like me would take the maths module I’m doing as their first ever OU module, and it makes sure you’re all up to the same sort of level before it starts.

    I spent several days doing the Diagnostic Quiz, which showed me that I remember some things really quite well from my A Level in maths, but also that I had completely forgotten some other things and am generally quite rusty. That’s the point though, and when you mark the quiz the answers are all linked to a chapter in the revision book so you know what sections to study.

    So far I have re-learnt prime factors and logarithms (easy stuff really), and I’ve got a whole list of other things to look at over the next couple of weeks, including circle geometry and functions and whatnot. It has been quite nice to have something to do in the evening, and nice because it’s fairly challenging for me mentally. It’s a bit tiring trying to study in the evening, and I still have no idea how much of my time the course is going to take up, but I won’t know that until it starts properly I think.

    Generally I’m quite impressed so far though, as the materials all seem quite good, and they have a very good student website with a discussion forum for each module where you can talk to fellow students and get support and things. I hope I enjoy it and don’t resent having to work in my free time. I think I will enjoy it though. And Chris has signed up to do the next bit of his MA, so he’ll be busy doing his own study anyway, so it’s just as well I’ve got stuff to do.

    Aside from the course stuff, the last week has been a bit horrible because Mum had to have her cat Cleo put to sleep last Wednesday. She’d been generally winding down for the last couple of weeks, not eating any more and sleeping all the time, and Mum had been stressing about what to do with her. But then she took a turn for the worse and was starting to be properly suffering, so Mum decided she had to do something about it.

    Oddly and rather surprisingly, she took the decision to take Cleo to the vet last Wednesday morning, called a cab and went there on her own (didn’t want to wait for Dad to get home), dealt with the whole horrible thing of saying goodbye to her, and then WALKED back from the vets to our house. Now, it’s only about half a mile, but honestly that’s about three times further than she’s walked in years and years. I can understand why, because she’s been so upset by it all, and immediately afterwards she didn’t want to be near anyone else so she just walked it. But unfortunately that’s hit her with a full whammy of uber-exhaustion as well as her grief over the cat.

    And grief it has been. She cried for about two days straight, and a week later she’s still all over the place. As is always the case with Mum, everything is a catastrophe (no pun intended), everything affects her in the most severe way possible, and she just doesn’t deal well with anything any more. Any pet owner I’m sure can sympathise with what it must feel like to lose a cat, but Mum’s gone completely off the rails with it. I feel very sorry for her, because now she is completely on her own all day while Dad’s out, but I’m also powerless to do much for her apart from listen. Lots of people have waded in with helpful suggestions of getting a kitten, which has NOT gone down well with Mum who now says she never wants another cat ever again and has made my Dad cover the catflap up with plastic so she doesn’t see it. I’m fairly sure that at some point she should get another cat, because she needs the company and she loves cats, but it’s not going to be for a good while yet.

    So yeah, that’s been horrible. I don’t like it when she cries, it makes me cry, and although I’m sad to have lost our cat (we’d had her since I was 13), I could do without crying while I’m on the phone at work. She wants to move out of the whole house now, she says, because she can’t bear to be there without Cleo, but she knows that’s not realistic because she’s not well enough to move. So I don’t know, there’s nothing I can say to her really.

    On a lighter note, we had another gorrrrgeous dinner at Blanch House at the weekend. Sort of on a whim, because it wasn’t a special occasion or anything, and sort of as a late second anniversary dinner. I had seared king scallops with garden pea velouté and grilled pancetta for my starter (very Masterchef), and then pan-fried fillets of sea bream with buttered samphire, tomato confit, brown shrimps and lemon buerre blanc for my main. It was SO nice, and easily one of the best meals I’ve ever had. It’s just so lovely there, and although it’s posh it’s really friendly and the staff are lovely too. I want to eat there every day, but then I’d be a massive Billy Bunter with butter running down my chin and I think I would regret it.

    It was nice to do something normal and pleasant though, and be out of the house for a bit where Mum can’t ring me for support. I love her, but you can only lean on a crutch so much before you break it and I’m really flagging at the moment.