Wednesday, August 11, 2010

School Has Started

Enough of this denial. As I did not join Orientation last week, this week is quite dreary. I know the people and I do run into them, but they are few and far between.

GEK1517 Mathematical Thinking
Lectures this semester are twice weekly, 1800 to 2000 hours. The lecturer and tutor is the idealistically-inclined Assoc. Prof. Leung. The beautiful poetry he weaves into Mathematics is only offset by his epic accent. The simple childlikeness of his lectures is only offset by the tutorial and past-year questions. I know now why they said this was a tough one, but it is so far very enjoyable.

Prof. Leung also conjectured that, in the film Inception, Dom Cobb fell from limbo into the next level, which is actually the real world itself. Dream layers and reality thus form a closed loop. A loopy proposition!

MA1505 Mathematics I
PC1431 Physics IE
Pre-allocated modules.
Maths I started very quickly, and covered functions as soon as briefing and the IVLE stuff are done with. Lecturer: Prof. Tan Ban Pin.

Physics IE had a bad start. Lecturer went on and on teaching what Physics is and why Physics is so important. Stuff like test timings, teaching cirriculum were pushed to the last few seconds. Lecturer: he didn't introduce himself.

CM1417 Fundamentals of Chemistry
I am taking this module as a punishment for being so stupid in J1 that I decided not to take H2 Chemistry.
I now have a different PC1431 lecture timing than the rest of my course, and also a different MA1505 tutorial slot because of this module. (Though how different it will turn out, I have yet to see.)

WP2201I Messing with Nature: Unintended Consequences
I am taking this module in lieu of EG1413 Critical Thinking and Writing, because it seems more interesting.

Actually I wanted WP2201G very much more. WP2201G concerns Language and Migration. Issues of language use and migration are to me what SNSD group member names are to many guys. So if I take it, life would be a breeze. Too bad it clashes with Maths, Physics and Chemistry all at once.

Lessons start tomorrow.

Wednesday, August 04, 2010

Close Shaves

Three unreasonably truncated travelogues in one entry, with a running theme.

December 2009: New Zealand - Fox Glacier

A path leads up to the glacier, ending in an observation post, a chain across our access and a sign saying No Tourists Without A Guide Beyond This Point. Half of my group, including Dad and Jamie, crossed this point without a guide in order to reach the glacier's head, which cannot be seen from the post. They disappeared behind the edge of a rock.

A few minutes later we heard a deep groan and crash as a piece of ice broke off from the glacier's head and crashed to the ground. I freaked out and ran towards the rock where they were last seen, expecting the worst, but found them all slightly surprised but unharmed.

If the stream flowing out from the glacier's head was any weaker, or more conveniently positioned, nothing would have stopped them from actually walking over and touching the ice, which would have put them in the way of the falling block. For an unappetising instant, I contemplated going home without two of the people in the family.

June 2010: China - Fuzhou
In the morning, we found my sisters' room in the hotel deserted... Their belongings were intact, but the door was wide open. I was especially paranoid about my sisters' safety for this trip; I took it to myself never to let them stray from my watch, all through the waking hours, but now I had to lose track of them at daybreak. For an unappetising instant, I contemplated going home without two of the people in the family.

We found them in the restaurant, having breakfast. It turned out to be a simple misunderstanding. Nevertheless I made sure they were sorry for what they had done. And what kind of bonehead leaves their bag in the room and the door open? Sheesh.

July 2010: Russia - Listvyanka
The day we landed in Irkutsk, Dad and I came to our hotel in Listvyanka on the shore, and had dinner in the cafe. There were boisterous Russians at the next table: a doctor and his wife from Irkutsk, and a lady from Angarsk (or was the lady from Irkutsk, and the couple from Angarsk?) who struck up a rapport with us. Soon a family from Moscow (a government worker, his wife, and their toddler daughter) came to join us and together they hauled us both onto the boat for a free one-hour cruise to nowhere, on fabled Lake Baikal.

We had never warmed up to strangers this quickly before. Less than thirty minutes into all the socialising (which featured a significant language barrier) we were rounded up and now we were partying together, far away from shore on that immense lake. Not having snapped out of China Mode entirely, I was shiteless inside. For an unappetising instant, I pictured Dad and myself, both knocked-out drunk, being thrown overboard into the freezing waters; Yea, the Doctor was very insistent in his spamming of tequila.

My fears were unfounded, evidently. My misty eyes drifted from one smiling face to the other. Not a chance would we splosh into the Baikal under their watch. They had families and came as families (except for the lady from Angarsk, who was alone then, but also had a family somewhere). And they were very nice. And we took a few more swigs of the drink, licks of salt, slices of lemon, and pledges of eternal friendship, and so on.

An hour later (or was it two?) we were ashore, many thanks be to God. There at the wharf we kissed the Russians goodbye. When we stumbled back to our room, we stumbled into the correct one, which proves that we were not too drunk, but we also fell asleep very quickly.

Tuesday, August 03, 2010

A Baudolino Spoof

A sad-looking man came looking for Baudolino.
"I don't know what my sickness is."
"I know," Baudolino said. "You are slothful."
"How can I be cured?"
"Sloth appears the first time when you notice how slowly notifications appear to you on Facebook"
"And then --?"
"Never log on to Facebook."
"Nothing can be hidden from him," the people of Selymbria were saying.