Last Saturday (i.e. two mornings ago) I took the Office Support exam proctored by the State of Wisconsin. As it might be 2-3 weeks before I find out my score on that exam, and I’m still waiting for the Registrar to post my final grades for the spring semester, I’m in an intellectual and career-path limbo for a while.
Thank goodness I have devised some geeky ways to fill my copious spare time.
First of all, I’m going to campus every day to start studying for the calculus class I plan/hope to be taking this fall. Whether or not I have a brand new job, I will be working quite a lot of hours in order to continue as a student, so any means of softening the target is a Good Thing. Tilting at this windmill daily instead of whenever I happen to feel like it might actually make some progress. (I can’t evaluate this properly today. My advocate/cheerleader/former math professor is nudging me to jump ahead in the calculus book, even while I’m scratching my head over the review problems that I know are supposed to be fat, easy pitches I ought to be able to smack out of the park. Unfortunately I left the bat at home and have only the Math Hammer with which I can reduce each problem to unsolvable fragments. I shall persist.)
Being on campus every day also makes for a Regular Schedule. Call it OCD, call it a drop of Asperger’s, whatever you like, but I function best in a regular environment. It calms me like a security blanket and reduces my blood pressure. If the “outside” is plain and dependable, I am somehow freed to develop wildly creative ideas on the inside. They may not always be right, but they are wildly creative.
Being on campus every day also allows for the possibility of getting in some extra hours at the student job. I dropped the ball on claiming work-days, partly because I didn’t understand how the scheduling would work and partly because I didn’t want to take hours away from anyone who really needed them, but I can now be an on-call substitute. Which is happening tomorrow, as a matter of fact, so Plan C (am I on Plan C?) is already working.
And being on campus every day is being on campus every day. I’m comfortable here and feel that I belong here. I can wander about from happy place to happy place when I’m in between sessions of beating my head against the Algebra Wall. I look like a grownup and I function as a student and it’s all good. There are computers free for the using, couches to sit and knit on, and all kinds of neat places to explore while the campus is nearly deserted.
Another way I’m hoping to fill my spare time is by reading some books I picked up after taking the Office Support exam. I got done so quickly that I had time to swing by Half Price Books and raid the math and physics section. I snagged four little gems for myself:
1. The Bones: A Handy, Where-to-find-it Pocket Reference Companion to Euclid’s Elements (Green Lion Press, 2002). It’s kind of like an index-with-illustration to the main text (which I just ordered from Amazon.com). For studying whenever I feel like doing some geometry.
2. Learn From the Masters (Mathematical Association of America, 1995). This book is a series of more scholarly papers arguing that the history of mathematics should play more of a role in the teaching of mathematics, a proposition with which I agree. I’ll probably expound more upon this book later.
3. No Ordinary Genius: The Illustrated Richard Feynman by Christopher Sykes (Norton, 1994). This was the real gem here…. it’s like a PBS Special companion volume, distilling interviews with Feynman, his colleagues, and his family members, and combining scrapbook type elements of photographs, notebook pages, and what-have-you. Every time I read anything about or by his sister Joan, I like her even more. It’s just lovely.
4. Doctor Who and the Abominable Snowmen. In a startling development, there were actually Doctor Who series paperbacks for sale! At most Half Price locations there are one or two employees who snap these up as soon as they come in, but there were about a dozen of these for actual sale to mere mortals at the
undisclosed location. (The cashier confirmed that this circumstance was odd beyond belief.) Because I recognized so many titles, I couldn’t remember which ones I already had. So I purchased only #1.
[link error…. I guess I’ll have to scan the cover image in myself. Sorry.]
That’s most of my leisure reading; who knows what else I might pass before my eyes this summer. I did start to put together a spreadsheet for my various books related to time travel, and might solicit additional titles and authors to add to it. I don’t want to ask for donations because I really don’t have a place to put the books, but maybe someday I will.