Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Sophomore Journal 2.3.11

Sjöankans Vals in concert

Inorganic Chemistry
A/P Huynh has taken to frequently showing us videos in order to take a break from talking and go and cough a bit, he says. He also joked once that he was chronically depressed, which wasn't very funny and slightly worrying. The class has developed an addiction to (fake) alkaline metal explosions:

Mid-terms featured a quiz on scientists' names, rather unsurprisingly on retrospect.

Organic Chemistry
I have given up printing notes, because I have the textbook, which has almost everything the notes have and much more, and increases my tolerance towards heavy textbooks.

Labwork featured each of us being given a mixture of two unknown substances for to separate, purify and crystallise. The luckier ones among us got yellow crystals, or crystals with some kind of form. For me, fortunately, I got the long needly crystals (salicylic acid) and the big flaky ones (acetanilide).

The professor in charge of our lab sessions was Dr. Ship, who had the naggy, secondary-school teacher vibes.

Yesterday I was finally convinced that numbers (as numerical answers) in Thermodynamics are the last things one should worry about, far behind understanding the ideas behind what has been taught.
Admittedly, understanding the workings of thermodynamics has also been challenging. To illustrate, the school printer at S10 has helpfully screwed up all the notes printing at the maths.

In other news, we have finished the most awesome lab of the semester, the Tin-Zinc phase diagram. Be it due to oxidation or impurities, melting the mixtures of the two metals produced an amazing and unpredictable array of colours:

Structure of Materials
It was too easy to get a full mark this mid-terms, so the marker had the pleasure of penalising us on the most unimportant slights.

Picked up a textbook in Science Library the other day about the Structure of Materials. None of the content was at all familiar. For example, the first topic to be featured was the rotational symmetry of crystals. When I did crystal structures in the software CrystalKitX, it just so happened that one has to know them in order to make even a SC or FCC, etc.


In Other News
I've signed up for a UROP project. The title is
Modelling and Simulation of structures and TEM images of crystals
which is why I'm doing stuff on CrystalKitX all these days.

SEP application closes today. My 5 choices:
1. École Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne (EPFL)
2. Eidgenössische Technische Hochschule Zürich (ETH Zürich)
3. Uppsala Universitet
4. Institut Polytechnique de Grenoble
5. University of British Columbia

Fingers are crossed for Francoprovençal small-talk and cross-border grocery shopping

Karantez Vro

Karantez Vro
Anjela Duval (lyr.) / Nolwenn Leroy

E korn va c’halon zo ur gleizenn
’Baoe va yaouankiz he dougan
Rak siwazh, an hini a garen
Na gare ket ’r pezh a garan
Eñ na gare nemet ar c’hêrioù
Ar morioù bras, ar Broioù pell
Ha me ne garan ’met ar maezioù
Maezioù ken kaer va Breizh-Izel !

Ret ’voe dibab ’tre div garantez
Karantez-vro, karantez den
D’am bro am eus gouestlet va buhez
Ha lez’t da vont ’n hini ’garen
Biskoazh abaoe n’am eus en gwelet
Biskoazh klevet keloù outañ
Ur gleizhenn em c’halon zo chomet
Pa ’gare ket ’r pezh a garan.

Pep den a dle heuilh e Donkadur
Honnezh eo lezenn ar Bed-mañ
Gwasket ’voe va c’halon a-dra-sur
Pa ’gare ket ’r pezh a garan
Dezhañ pinvidigezh, enorioù
Din-me paourentez ha dispriz
Met ’drokfen ket evit teñzorioù
Va Bro, va Yezh ha va Frankiz !

En mon coeur est ma blessure,
Depuis ma jeunesse y reste gravée
Car, hélas, celui que j'aimais
Ce que j'aime n'aimait pas.
Lui n'aimait que la ville,
La grande mer et les lointains ;
Je n'aimais que la campagne,
Beauté des campagnes de Bretagne.

Entre deux amours il me fallut choisir
Amour-patrie, amour de l'homme ;
A mon pays j'ai offert ma vie,
Et s'en est allé celui que j'aimais.
Depuis, jamais je ne l'ai revu,
Jamais connu de ses nouvelles.
En mon coeur saigne la blessure
Car ce que j'aime, il n'aimait pas.

Chacun sa Destinée doit vivre,
Ainsi en ce monde en est-il.
Meurtri, certes, fut mon coeur,
Mais ce que j'aime, il n'aimait pas.
A lui, honneurs et richesse
A moi, mépris et humble vie.
Mais je n'échangerais contre nul trésor
Mon pays, ma langue et ma liberté.

Monday, October 17, 2011

Le Cher Dirigeant

Nous sommes enseignés souvent sur un personnage très mystérieux. C'est celui que nous appelons le Cher Dirigeant. On ne le voit que sur la télé ou sur des affiches. Il paraît assez laid et ne sourit jamais, bien qu’on le loue par tas des chansons et danses.

Sa vie, je la trouve mystérieuse. Quelques disent qu'il demeure dans les cieux, et ne descend que pour rejoindre les gens de la Corée pendant la Fête d'Arirang. Les autres ne sont pas d'accord. Ils croient qu’il est un amiral valeureux, toujours en patrouillant autour la Mer de l'Est, qui empêche que les capitalistes ne nous envahissent. Chacun a une histoire incroyable à raconter, malgré qu'aucun ne connaisse le Cher Dirigeant.

Mon professeur me disait souvent : le Cher Dirigeant est né au sommet du Mont Paektu, sept mois après un colibri magique est arrivé dans notre pays à prédire sa naissance. Quand il est né, toute la nature l’a célèbré. « C’est une naissance merveilleuse, plein de promesses ! » crié mon professeur un jour « Et pourquoi nous sommes encore tant pauvres ? Il semble qu’il ne soit qu’un mensonge ! » Bientôt après, mon professeur a disparu mystérieusement.

(198 mots)

Monday, October 03, 2011

This Week Is E-Learning Week in Faculty of Science

I'm going to be sitting in front of this soul-sucking machine for hours listening to disembodied voices. I'm going to write here more than is necessary. I'm going to be alone in this room, with no friends to talk to, and no practice problems to hurl at each other with. I'm going to miss A/P Huynh and his vaguely German accent and his laid-back attitude and his dubious logic. I'm going to miss Mdm Saradha's patient and crystal-clear presentations. I'm going to pine for Mr Ong's condescending drill-sergeant air. I'll be missing sitting in the classrooms with the tutors within arm's reach. And I'm beginning to feel that all this e-Learning week may just serve to remind us how beautiful real human contact is.

Thursday, September 08, 2011

Exercise au conditionnel

Si j'étais riche, je serais très heureux. Je rirais beaucoup. Et puis je donnerais tout mon argent à une autre personne afin qu'il rie beaucoup aussi.

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Sophomore Journal 2.3.2

Taking 5 modules and a respite from a half-year of fun and murderous excitement. Holidays were good; In fact, it is Mighty Fine. Will not deign to elaborate more here *smirk.

With any luck, these modules here listed below will develop themselves out of control and make the school life as hard as it was before. But first,

CM1111 Inorganic Chemistry 1 - DR HUYNH Van Vinh
CM1501 Organic Chemistry for Engineers - DR ZENG Huaqiang

Dr Vinh is the lecturer for this ere 4 hour per week module. He has a weakness for Youtube and pronounces all the French and German words properly, much to my delight and to the surprise of those around me.

Chemistry lectures at this point are quite similar in content, although Inorganic seems to be progressing more slowly, with more gossiping about dead people in wigs.

MLE2101 Structure of Materials - DR CHIU Cheng-Hsin
MLE2102 Thermodynamics and Phase Diagrams - DR WANG Qing

As anticipated, Thermodynamics would be the most challenging and the most somber module which the Materials Science students will take this side of Christmas. The lecturer, who people say look like me, opened the lecture with the question of why everything in this world must eventually die. It seems that one is unable to think about Thermodynamics on any other level of emotion.

Structure of Materials starts out rather dodderingly with lecture notes which look almost the same at every page. However, its lab activities for this week prominently features this:

The experiment is entitled "Preparation, Structure and Properties of a High-Temperature Superconductor", although it would be preferable to refer to it as the Flying Bits of Metal Experiment.

LAF3201 French 3 - MRS Francesca MANGANELLI-LENG
The first lesson was on Monday, carried out to the setting sun. And it would gradually come to light that French would be used in class almost all of the time, but what else can one expect after scraping into this class through the placement test?

On the other hand, the penciled notes on Tina's textbook have been great help!

Tuesday, August 02, 2011

Valedictorian Speech

It just so happens that recently, in a university near you, a speech by a valedictorian filled the air with outrage and disapproval from those who fancied themselves respectable.

I feel that I must join them, but only because I have watched her speech and found the exit to be poorly executed. Sneaking in the f-word timidly like she did does no justice to the feelings of joy and accomplishment which typifies the occasion. It is more befitting for her either to stick to a no-swearing regime or to vault to mid-stage after the speech and do a lewd dance until her friends, posing as security officers, rush onstage to subdue her with tasers (or anything else to that effect). Future valedictorians, I leave you to consider your choices.

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Grand Bal de Kermanria-an-Isquit

Une chanson jolie et macabre, d'une église qui se trouve en Bretagne.

Titre: Grand Bal de Kermanria-an-Isquit
Comme chantée par: Tri Yann (France) 1981

Nobles rois, venez couronnés
De forces et prouesses renommées
Ne pensez plus en dignité
Pauvres à la danse viendrez
Pauvres en cendres serez

Connétables, d'honneurs parés
Ni vert, ni gris plus n'avez tirés
Rendez compte pour être acquittés
Tant riches en vie vous étiez
Pauvres en cendres serez

Gens d'église par Dieu nantis
En grant détresse laissez ici
Chapeaux rouges, chapes de gris
En tristesse tout finit

Nobles dames d'or empesées
De grâce et jeunesse délaissées
Fûtes jadis environnées
De grands lignages et comblées
Pauvres en cendres serez

Gens de peuple et roturiers
À cette danse vous mènerez
Riches qui vous ont méprisé
Tant pauvres en vie vous étiez
Riches en cendres serez

Tuesday, July 12, 2011


A rambling dance number for the härjedalspipa, accompanied by a jew's harp and a plucked string in low E.

Title: Fulinghalling
As performed by: Hedningarna (Sweden) 1989

Sunday, July 10, 2011

Tutskov's Polska

A childlike song for guitar ensemble (APBCGr + Soprano + Prime Cembalo).

Title: Tutskovin Polska / Tutskov's Polska
As performed by: Värttinä (Finland) 1987

Friday, July 08, 2011

Juho's Contradance

A hyperactive song for guitar ensemble.

Title: Juhon Kontra / Juho's Contradance
As performed by: Värttinä (Finland) 1987

The Sea Duck's Waltz

A very cute song for 3 guitars (Soprano, Prime and Bass).

Title: Sjöankans Vals / The Sea Duck's Waltz
Composer: Olov JOHANSSON
As performed by: Olov Johansson (Sweden) 1998

Wednesday, July 06, 2011


A very sad song for Viola, Violoncello, and 2 Guitars

Title: Björnlaten / The Bear Tune
Comp: Traditional Swedish
As performed by: Hedningarna (Sweden) 1989

Friday, June 24, 2011

La première nouvelle en Anglais

An evening at the airport.

Yesterday afternoon, I am arrived at th'airport at Changi. Then I had very hunger, because that I had taken an airline too cheap. I have therefore decided to-dine at somewhere nice and not too expensive in the terminal. When I was-being in the-process of eating, I have seen my big-friend Benjamin. When he me has seen, he him is seated next to me, and he to-me has said:
- I am passing-by. I go to-meet my girlfriends later ! One will-go to the discothèque this night.

He there has towards 2 hours for doing of-the trash-talking. And sudden, we have heard a noise loud. The girlfriends of Benjamin are arrivedes to the café ! Them-girls have said:
- We are really sorries ! We come of to-have a jam of traffic. Let'sgo-there Benjamin; We go to-be lates !
- One must meet well-soon, you can me to-call if you want ! Said Benjamin.

And next, them-guys have left, and I have been alone again.
Now I am in the-process of to-read a newspaper. I see a-lot of those tenses literaries... This'is such pity to see that this or that thing happened, rather than that they have happened, in writing only. I think that to-read des stuffs seriuses in French is always more easy than to-do of-the trash-talking. And so I take a sip of my coffee and read eagerly as regimes fell, people died, wars broke-out and great discoveries scientifiques them appeared.

Thursday, June 09, 2011

Une petit histoire sur l'armée de Napoléon en Russie

Again, in-class scribblings with Benjamin, edited to include the pluperfect and imperfect tenses.

Napoléon et son armée sont allés à la Russie. Il y avait beaucoup de la neige. Dans les temps froid, ils n'avaient pas de mangers et pas d'eau. Deux semaines après, les français ont vu leurs ennemis les russes. Les généraux de Napoléon se sont écriés :
- Nous allons tout mourir ! Les maudits russes vont couper nos gorges !

Les russes étaient des bons gens pourtant ; ils étaient assez ivres aussi. Ils avaient apporté des aliments et des vodkas. Sur le champ de bataille, ils ont pendu la crémaillère avec les soldats français. Tout l'hiver, ils ont mangé bien et ils ont bu le vodka jusqu'au petit matin chaque nuit. Tout le monde était heureux. Elle était la meilleur guerre jamais !

Also to revise my German a little, realising with horror how comparatively little I have learnt with this language:

Napoleon und seine Armee gingen nach Russland. Da gab es viel Schnee. Im kältes Wetter hatten sie kein Lebensmittel und kein Wasser. Zwei Wochen hinterher sahen die Franzosen ihre Feinde, die Russen. Die Generäle von Napoleon riefen aus: „Wir werden alle sterben! Die Russen werden schneiden unsere Kehlen!"

Die Russen waren doch nette Leute. Sie waren auch ziemlich besoffen. Sie brachten viel Essen und viele Wodka. Dann fingen die Russe ein Fest mit die Franzosen über dem Schlachtfeld an. Da waren sie immer satt, und sie tranken den Wodka bis Morgens den ganzen Winter. Alle waren sehr glücklich. Das war der besten des Krieges!

Wednesday, June 08, 2011

Une petit histoire sur l'homme dans la peinture «L'Art de Vivre»

Classroom scribblings based on a found picture, with edits.

C'est une peinture de René Magritte, un artiste belge. Il y a un homme très bizare. Cet homme a la plus ronde et grande tête du monde, mais son visage est un peu petit et il n'a pas des oreilles et des cheveux. Il vient d'arriver au balcon. Maintenant il est en train de rester sur le balcon et devant des montagnes. Il fait très beau aujourd'hui, mais l'homme s'ennuie. Ensuite, il va aller au restaurant pour prendre le déjeuner avec ses amis. Cependant, sa tête se bloquera à la porte quand il essaye de entrer. Alors, il s'écriera :

- A Monsieur Magritte ! Pourquoi vous m'avez donné cette trop grande tête ?! Je ne marche plus bien parce que je suis toujours maladroit, et maintenant j'ai cette maudite porte - Donnez-moi ma normale tête bientôt, s'il vous plaît !

Monday, May 30, 2011

I Ha'e Discovered Malinky

Steve Byrne, Fiona Hunter, David Wood, Daniel Thorpe

Monday, May 16, 2011

This is a question that should never be asked

This is a question that should never be asked
If asked, then it should never be answered
Since no answer that is worth hearing about
can be expressed in our terms.

If you affirm it, you are wrong
If you deny it, you are also wrong
A blank stare may not make you right,
but it is the best reply.

Saturday, May 07, 2011

Tale of the Fishwife and its Sad Fate

Note: [See original post] noun genders are indicated by colour

It is a bleak Day. Hear the Rain, how he pours, and the Hail, how he rattles; and see the Snow, how he drifts along, and of the Mud, how deep he is! Ah the poor Fishwife, it is stuck fast in the Mire; it has dropped its Basket of Fishes; and its Hands have been cut by the Scales as it seized some of the falling Creatures; and one Scale has even got into its Eye, and it cannot get her out. It opens its Mouth to cry for Help; but if any Sound comes out of him, alas he is drowned by the raging of the Storm.

And now a Tomcat has got one of the Fishes and she will surely escape with him. No, she bites off a Fin, she holds her in her Mouth -- will she swallow her? No, the Fishwife's brave Mother-dog deserts his Puppies and rescues the Fin -- which he eats, himself, as his Reward. O, horror, the Lightning has struck the Fish-basket; he sets him on Fire; see the Flame, how she licks the doomed Utensil with her red and angry Tongue; now she attacks the helpless Fishwife's Foot -- she burns him up, all but the big Toe, and even she is partly consumed; and still she spreads, still she waves her fiery Tongues; she attacks the Fishwife's Leg and destroys it; she attacks its Hand and destroys her also; she attacks the Fishwife's Leg(?) and destroys her also; she attacks its Body and consumes him; she wreathes herself about its Heart and it is consumed; next about its Breast, and in a Moment she is a Cinder; now she reaches its Neck -- he goes; now its Chin -- it goes; now its Nose -- she goes. In another Moment, except Help come, the Fishwife will be no more. Time presses -- is there none to succor and save?

Yes! Joy, joy, with flying Feet the she-Englishwoman comes! But alas, the generous she-Female is too late: where now is the fated Fishwife? It has ceased from its Sufferings, it has gone to a better Land; all that is left of it for its loved Ones to lament over, is this poor smoldering Ash-heap. Ah, woeful, woeful Ash-heap! Let us take him up tenderly, reverently, upon the lowly Shovel, and bear him to his long Rest, with the Prayer that when he rises again it will be a Realm where he will have one good square responsible Sex, and have it all to himself, instead of having a mangy lot of assorted Sexes scattered all over him in Spots.

-- Mark Twain, in The Awful German Tongue (1880)

Thursday, April 28, 2011

Abstract and Postmodern Art

This came up on the front page of ST a while back:

This is bad. It seems that the word "abstract" has been stripped of its original meaning and used as an sweeping term for modern art. Maybe I haven't been to any art conventions lately, but I have hardly seen any piece in the Singapore Biennales which I can call "abstract" with a clear conscience and a straight face.

Most of the works, however, can be labeled as "postmodern". Now this is a word which can be abused much any way you like, because not even artists can agree on what it is really about. Allow me to make clear this distinction between "abstract" and "postmodern":

Abstract Art
1. MONDRIAN Piet: Still Life with Gingerpot I - Cubist

2. Ibid.: Still Life with Gingerpot II - Simplified (both 1912)

These pieces are very easy to understand. Basically, they are still-life drawings of kitchenware drawn in a very interestingly sloppy manner. This shift of styles towards ingenious sloppiness or simpler form is what we call Abstraction.

Postmodern Art
3. ČERNÝ David: Mimi Kampa (2000)

Postmodern art happens when the artist hates you.

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Real Analysis

So the exam was over on Monday. I am still not sure if I will need to do an S/U on the module, but if I ever get so much as a B+ I would be content and hell I'll drag Surya out to one of those green spaces left around school and dance around with him in joy. (FYI: Surya is the other guy from Engineering who took this module for fun.)

Artist's Impression

Bidding for this module was foolhardiness from the start. Learning the methods of Real Analysis has been an uphill task, but explaining its contents to interested passers-by was also difficult, so I'll do just that.

The Meaning of Real Analysis

Calculus, the crown jewels of MA1505, was invented independently by different folks in the 14th to 17th centuries. Apparently where caluclus started, it was mathematically sloppy, but got away with it for being so useful. Nonetheless it was met with attacks from other scholars, among them my old friend Bishop Berkeley. In time, the properties of the calculus-universe would be gradually built up and moulded by those willing to clean up Newton's and Leibniz's mess, and the cleaning process became the field we call Real Analysis.

Formalities: Definition, Theorems and Proofs

Because it looks base-wards from calculus, rather than to the frontiers of math, most of the concepts we tackle are simple and intuitive. This sadly does not make them any easier. It does, however, mean that we have to scrutinise our every preconception to all that we think we know to be true. This is achieved by definitions made precise with numerical gauges and basic rules of algebra. A case in point:

Continuity of a function is
MA1505: "that you can draw its graph in one go without having to lift your pencil from the paper."
MA2108: "if ∀ε>0 ∃δ>0 such that ∣x-a∣<δ ⇒ ∣f(x)-f(a)∣<ε, then f is continuous on a."

So instead of drawing a continuous line without lifting the pencil from the paper to prove a point, you broke everything up into numbers and shifted them around and prayed hard that they agreed with you.

This may seem frivolous at first, but as the lectures go on we saw the definition spew out quite some interesting conclusions. For example, a function can be continuous at only one point. Trying to show it with pencil and paper is quite pointless, but you will be able to show, with definition, that something like

f(x) = {x2 if x is rational, 0 if x is irrational}

does just that at x=0.
Also I mentioned Thomae's Popcorn function some entries back. You guys totally should look at it again. The idiot is continuous on all irrational x and discontinuous on all rational x. It is so crazy I still find it hard to swallow, even if I am able to prove it back to front.

The start of the module was the hardest because we were having our hands tied up behind out backs and mulling over things like a+b = b+a like we were newborns. Things got better later on when we found out certain theorems have been proven so that we can use them with impunity. But then there were other things to worry about.

Aesthetics: Niceness

This is to recall the things I picked up last semester about mathematicians being artists inside. William Byers wrote about mathematical beauty. David Hilbert complained about finding not enough imagination in his students. Leung Man Chun played the Concierto de Aranjuez before every lecture.

Artists would be familiar to the fact that mathematics can be, and are often used to make art. In particular, I have come across a section of the shelf on Medical/Science library (5th floor) with material on Splines, NURBs and other cool inscrutable stuff we find mentioned and used all the time in 3D modeling software. Apparently meshSmooth, spline curves, and modeling by contour uses Real Analysis. This is so interesting

I would like to take this opportunity to show off my "modeling by contour"

In Real Analysis, niceness is a real thing, and is mathematically defined. A continuous function is a nice mapping of ℝ on ℝ, and a uniformly continuous function is a nice continuous function. And a properly divergent sequence diverges quite neatly also. And together they bask your notes in a warm glow.

How to prepare for this module

Being a Math student helps. Having taken MA1100 Fundamentals of Mathematics also helps, because your teachers will assume you picked up from there. If you're one of my ilk, it helps to understand that this is no maths that you have seen before. It is useless to think of anything as "plug in formulas to get a number" (even though I have guiltily indulged in "plug in theorems to get a proof" from time to time). It is helpful to remind yourself that nothing is static, everything is uncertain, and that skepticism is the rule before where the fatal QED lies. Having a lively mind helps, so taking up some sport would be a good idea.

Exam Qn 3 b) iii)
Ohmigod, look at this guy, just look at him.

Sunday, April 17, 2011

Freshman Journal 1.2.13

A: Real Analysis
Cue from Bartle and Sherbert (2000) Chapters 2, 3, 4 and 5 (corresponding to school notes 1, 2, 4, 5). Chapter 3 (Infinite Series) is sadly not represented in textbook.
Chapter 1:
Chapter 2: Sequences
Chapter 3: Series
Chapter 4: Limits of functions
Chapter 5: Continuous functions
Modus Operandi: Mop up unanswered questions in tutorials (without reference to answers), finish textbook exercises.

B: Engineering Maths II
Cue from Farlow et al. (2007) Chapters 1-6 and 8.
The textbook syllabus is matched to the school notes as follows:
(School notes : Textbook sections)
Part 1. ODE and applications
Chapter 1 ODEs: 1.3, 2.2, 4.2-5
Chapter 2 Oscillations: 4.1, 4.6, 4.7
Chapter 3 Modelling: 1.1, 2.3-5
Chapter 4 Laplace Transform: 8.1-3
Part 2. Linear Algebra and applications
Chapter 5 Matrices: 3.1, 3.3
Chapter 6 Linear Transformations: 5.1-4
Chapter 7 ODE Systems: 6.2, 6.4
Part 3. PDE
Chapter 8 PDEs: refer to Advanced Engineering Math textbook by Kreyzig
Modus Operandi: Finish remaining textbook exercises, start past-year papers, create help-sheet based on compiled summary.

C: Engineering Physics II
Broad subtopics covered in First-year Engineering Physics, NUS:
1) Classical Mechanics (PC1431)
2) Thermodynamics (PC1431)
3) Electromagnetism
4) Optics
5) Quantum Mechanics
6) Atomic Physics
Modus Operandi: One-page summary per field + detailed overview of derivations (although to derive all that stuff in 4) or 5) is a bit trying)

D: Electrical Engineering
It turns out the content is really quite sparse and can be taken down to one page per chapter. Modus Operandi: copy everything down to a pocket-size (A6) notebook, then read on the bus.

E: German Language
A scheme of organising new vocabulary in the process of being perfected:
1. Nouns (organise into feminine / masculine / neuter)
1.i. by categories: ideas / things/ quantities and events / people / places
1.ii. by verb endings -ung / -eit / -ion / -ie / -ik (all with plural -en; female only)
1.iii. By gender-specific subcategory: e.g. [quantities], [days], [languages]
1.iv. By etymology: I use only [International] for nouns
1.v. By plural forms: e.g. ["-e], [e], [n] By composite roots: e.g. [-tasche(n)], [-pl(ä)tz(e)]

2. Verbs
2.i. Category 1: Modal (e.g. wollen, können, müssen)
2.ii. Category 2: Simple native (e.g. essen, schlafen)
2.iii. Category 3: Compound native (e.g. be.zahlen,
2.iv. Category 4: Cognate - native with English correspondent (e.g. trinken)
2.v. Category 5: International - Romance etymologies (e.g. notieren) Category 6: Separable (e.g. vorbei/gehen, wieder/sehen)
"." and "/" are used for clarity.

3. Prepositions
3.i. Accusative prepositions (e.g. bis, durch, entlang)
3.ii. Dative prepositions (e.g. aus, bei, mit)
3.iii. Variable-case prepositions (e.g. an, in, auf)
* note some prepositions can/must come after instead of before its subject

4. Others (these are not subdivided further)
4.i. Conjunctions
4.ii. Adjectives
4.iii. Adverbs

A person to look up to

He may not be a genius, or know everything
He does not need to be great, to be a model of success
He does not need you to feel small around him.

The person you look up to, he lights a fire in you.
He is a person who wakes the sleeping giants
He exists not to be adulated, but to be surpassed.

Thursday, April 07, 2011

Für der dritten Vokabeltest

On nouns eg. Leute, Ferien for which only a plural form exists:

If a noun exists only in the plural form, does it have a gender?
If a tree falls in the forest and no one is around to hear it, does it still make a sound?

On nouns for which the plural form does not conform to any of the 8 regular forms

This ist ziemlich interessant. Notieren Sie that such words tend to be of foreign origin, in particular from Greek or Lateinisch. Let's have a look.

die Praxis - Praxen: Ancient Greek πρᾶξις
das Stadion - Stadien: Ancient Greek στάδιον
das Zentrum - Zentren: Latin centrum - Ancient Greek κέντρον
die Basis - Basen: Ancient Greek βάσις auch via Latin
das Taxi - Taxen: borrowed word short for taxicab, portmanteau of taximeter and cabriolet - taximeter is from French taximètre, which is from German (!) Taxameter - Taxameter is coined from medieval Latin taxa, meaning tax - taxa comes from proto-Indo-European, let's not go there.
die Cafeteria - Cafeterien or Cafeterias: borrowing from the American Spanish, which in turn is a borrowing from French, which borrowed from Turkish, and then Arabic etc.

Let's just forget the last two

Some more things that need clarifying

Concerning (apparently) obscure fields of study

1. Astronomy

Clarification: If you ask an astronomer to read your star signs, you are asking for a beating with a blunt instrument which you may not even know the name to.

2. Linguistics

Clarification: Linguistics is not equal to foreign languages.
To add: My Arts GEM shall be a linguistics module, and so will my SS if there ever is one

3. Mathematics

"Why would anyone want to take a minor in Mathematics?"
Clarification: Mathematics is actually awesome

Monday, April 04, 2011

Songs from 3 April 2011

El Silencio
Federico García Lorca
As heard in El Jardin de la Vida y la Muerte

Oye, hijo mío, el silencio.
Es un silencio ondulado,
un silencio,
donde resbalan valles y ecos
y que inclina las frentes
hacia el suelo.

Listen, my son: the silence / It is a rolling silence, / a silence / where valleys and echoes slip / and it bends foreheads / down to the ground. // Life and death? / La Vida y la Muerte? / Eros and Thanatos

Raghupati Raghava Raja Ram
Vishnu Digambar Paluskar
As heard in Satyagraha

रघुपति राघव राजाराम, पतित पावन सीताराम
सीताराम सीताराम, भज प्यारे तू सीताराम
ईश्वर अल्लाह तेरो नाम, सब को सन्मति दे भगवान

Raghupati raaghav raajaaraam, patit paavan sitaram
Siitaaraam, sitaram, bhaj pyaare tu sitaram
Iishvar Allah tero naam, sab ko sanmati de bhagavaan

Chief of the house of Raghu, Lord Rama, uplifters of those who have fallen, Sita and Rama,
Sita and Rama, Sita and Rama, O beloved, praise Sita and Rama,
God and Allah are your names, Bless everyone with this wisdom, Lord.

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Freshman Journal 1.2.11

Strings of Time Concert is this Sunday, 7:30pm.

Things have stopped being what they seem to be when it came to continuity of functions: After a very convincing proof that Thomae's popcorn function is indeed continuous on all irrational points and discontinuous on all rational points, I am still not convinced to the guts that it is really so. Seriously, look at this guy

Differential Equations and Linear Algebra
Was the first in my 6 courses to wrap up. I'd be glad to pick up MA3220 as a more rigorous continuation of this theme in the indefinite future when I would feel like a risky challenge again.

Engineering Physics II
We're at quantum physics. Not too tough a nut to crack. Weird as it is, the subject is after all something we grew up with.

Sunday, March 06, 2011

Tipps für Sprachtraining

A couple of coursemates asked me this earlier, and so I compile a list of all the desperate measures I have taken in learning German. No, I have never learned German before, and I have never even touched the language save one or two swearwords. So maybe this list would help aspiring upstarts in this new language to find a foothold. Also,

1. Label everything about the house with colour-coded cards (I use blue for Maskulinum, pink for Femininum and purple for Neutrum). Walk around when slacking and note each label passively every time you pass by them. It is best if they are put in as conspicuous a place as possible. This makes your life easier and gives you something to show off to guests.

2. Because not everything can be labeled, rewrite new vocabulary into a notebook and classify by nouns / verbs / adverbs / prepositions. Take special care to divide nouns by the three genders, and better still to subdivide them again: for this task, I use this scheme of classification:
i. Abstract concepts
ii. Mensural quantities
iii. Places and collectives
iv. Objects

3. Speak in a bastard pidgin of German and whatever languages you know already. This is arguably easier for Singaporeans who have been doing language syncretism all their lives. The idea is to feel a sense of ownership towards German.

4. Do your tutorials in German for subjects other than German. The ideal subjects to do this in would be Mathematics and Physics (more logic than number of scientific terms) so you can learn a minimum of German specialist terms and proceed confidently from there. Again, this is more for growing into the language than anything else.

5. Specialist terms: You might have come across a few German words as you read through class notes, novels, textbooks, etc. In that case, remember them and do not let them go! Many such terms have since been borrowed into English. Some examples:
Gedankenexperiment - thought experiment (usually used in Physics)
Schadenfreude - happiness derived from someone else's misfortune
Gestalt - The "thingness" of a group of things (usually used to sound smart)
Gesamtkunstwerk - total work of art (Art)
Sprachbund - group of superficially similar languages (Linguistics)
Urheimat - original homeland of speakers of a particular language family (Linguistics)
Weltschmerz - a feeling of despair about the world (Literary Criticism)
Urtext - musical scores as written by the composer (Music)

6. Learn from cognates: Using a little bit of imagination, link German words to their English correspondent. e.g.
die Rechnung - the "reckoning" (= calculation) - the (restaurant) bill
jetzt - "yet" - now

If you are feeling adventurous, rope more languages into the game:
das Fenster - fenestra (Latin) - window
warum - värfor (Swedish) - wherefore (early modern English) - why
kennen - ken (Scots) - to know

These may or may not be true cognates, but anything goes if it works as a memory aid!


Additional possible tip for verb conjugation: You might have noticed a pattern in the verb conjugation tables: some irregular verbs may not be so irregular after all! As it seems, some verbs actually fall into another category i.e. those with a change of pronunciation when applied to (du) and (er/sie/es). This pronunciation shift is called an ablaut (German linguistics term again!) and so we term these verbs "ablaut-regular"

eg 1: (wir/sie) nehmen - (du) nimmst - (er/sie/es) nimmt - (ihr) nehmt
ablaut: e to i
eg 2: (wir/sie) schlafen - (du) schläfst - (er/sie/es) schläft - (ihr) schlaft
ablaut: a to ä

note that the ablaut tends to be from a "broader" vowel to a "narrower" one
note also that there is no ablaut when (ihr) is concerned.

Saturday, March 05, 2011

Freshman Journal 1.2.7

I. Recess Week
Wonderful seven days of mug marathon with Zhang Hao, Lin Xi, Bartle & Sherbet, Young & Freedman, and Farlow et al. all around school. Also featured were good food from Blooie's at Science Park and spectacular artistry from Dance Synergy (Tuesday) and Bubble Tea (Friday).

The NUS Science/Medical Library is a truly underrated destination in the school. Serious muggers should study there. In fact all engineers should shun Central Library and just come to study there instead, although on second thoughts that might not work out so well.

Another underrated place is the Music Library, for its cleanliness, quietness, and shelves after shelves of bundled-up Awesome.

II. Test Summary
Time spent on Analysis in Recess Week: ~2 out of 7 days
Test was on Monday. Proceedings were beautiful and clean-cut; you know how well you've done as soon as you hand the paper in, although I'm not sure if 70% is a good grade in this module.

Differential Equations
Time spent on DEs in Recess Week: ~5 out of 7 days
Returned score: 6/10
Outcome: Anguish, heartbreak, wailing and gnashing of teeth.

Electrical Engineering
Time spent on EE in Recess Week: ~0 out of 7 days
No problem on this one... Again, I see the disconcerting inverse relationship between effort and results.

Time spent on E&M in Recess Week: ~1 out of 7 days, but progress is largely made on panicking last-minute revisions during term time.
Outcome: probably better than maths.

Programming Don't even mention this psychopathic mid-term.

Think about what C can be like!

Sunday, February 27, 2011


Kamil Peteraj (lyr.) / Martin Kavulič (comp.) / Kristína Peláková

Keď sa slnko skloní na Horehroní chce sa mi spievať, zomrieť aj žiť
Keď sa slnko skloní na Horehroní túžim sa k nebu priblížiť
Na tráve ležím a snívam o čom sama neviem
V tom vánku, čo ma kolíše keď je slnko najnižšie

Najkrajšie stromy sú na Horehroní to tiché bratstvo vraví mi poď
Sem sa vždy vrátim keď ma niečo zroní, vravia to stromy: z pliec to zhoď
Na tráve ležím a snívam o čom sama neviem
V tom vánku, čo ma kolíše keď je slnko najnižšie

Keď sa slnko skloní na Horehroní tam niekde v ďiaľke náš zvon zvoní
Keď má ma to bolieť tak nech ma bolí raz sa to stratí do čiernej hory
Na tráve ležím a snívam oči tíško plačú
V tom vánku, čo ma kolíše keď je slnko najnižšie

Na tráve ležím a snívam oči tíško plačú
V tom vánku, čo ma kolíše keď je slnko najnižšie

Najkrajšie stromy sú na Horehroní

When the sun goes down in Horehronie, I want to sing, die and live
When the sun goes down in Horehronie, I wish I could get closer to the sky
I’m lying on the grass and dreaming, of what, I don’t even know myself
In the breeze that gently sways me, when the sun is at its lowest point

The most beautiful trees are in Horehronie, a silent brotherhood is telling me: come
I come back here when I feel sad, the trees are saying: shake it off
I’m lying on the grass and dreaming, of what, I don’t even know myself
In the breeze that gently sways me, when the sun is at its lowest point

When the sun goes down in Horehronie, out there somewhere far away our bell is ringing
When it hurts, let it hurt, one day it will vanish in the black mountain
I’m lying on the grass and dreaming, my eyes are crying softly
In the breeze that gently sways me, when the sun is at its lowest point

I’m lying on the grass and dreaming, my eyes are crying softly
In the breeze that gently sways me, when the sun is at its lowest point

The most beautiful trees are in Horehronie

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Street Brawl Mathematics

A summary of MA1506 class notes, Chapter 1
Imagine that you are taking a stroll home after a long day spent doing Real Analysis and pitting proving skills against tea buddies. It is very late into the night and your wife is getting impatient, so you decide to take a shortcut home through the deep, meandering alleyways through the city's underbelly.

It is your first time here; you do not know yet that by entering the slums, you have thrown Real Analysis to the four winds and yourself into that desperate quagmire which is Differential Equations.

Before you know it, you have angered the denizens of the alley. You meet your first adversary.

This is a passing drunkard who just needed someone to blab at. Fortunately, you know that these drunkards can easily be subdued using Leibniz's notation of the derivative, dy/dx.

The poor fellow has scarcely put up a fight. He does not even try to get up again, so you roll him to his side, lest he choke on his own vomit.

As you advance, several more drunkards appear (have you been walking close to a club?). They do not look as soft as the first one, but you pwn them anyway by using simple substitutions and then invoking the power of Leibniz.

Photo by John Hutchinson

As you retreat further away from the hypothetical nightclub, your assailants become less and less benign. News seems to have leaked that a novice mathematics student has wandered into D.E. territory, and the first bandits move in to the plunder: the First Order Linear gang with the Bernoulli and Ricatti clans.

However, they have sorely underestimated your prowess; obsessed as you are with logical clarity and intuition, you are not above borrowing the ideas of the masters without questioning. The raiding party learns this the hard way.

The defeat of the Linear First Order sends shock-waves through the bandit community. Clearly, this guy knows a thing or two, even if all he knows is engineering math! Not admitting defeat, the bandits send out a second detachment.

Unfazed, you tackle the leader of the pack first: the homogeneous equation. You subdue him with a risky but deadly substitution

and reduced the pack leader to a shapeless heap of general solutions.

The rest of the pack are scared shiteless, because by the Superposition principle, they are already halfway into utter defeat. Working down the hierarchy with the Method of Undetermined Coefficients, you make sure that the gangsters with the polynomial, exponential and trigonometric forcing functions wish they had never been born. In that very order.

Source: Farlow et al. (2007)

This is an ancient and arcane martial art, the underlying wisdom to which you have very little idea of. But never mind, right now it is enough to know all the moves. Besides, you have to confront your next opponent, the real boss of this line-up, the all-encompassing Nonhomogeneous Second Order Monstrosity with Nonconstant Coefficients.

You are forced now to use a tactic which is so tedious, your trainers expect you to refer to the manual every time the need arises.

Source: Mid-Terms field manual.

Heaving a sigh of regret, you recall that you have accidentally left your prize weapon at home, or was it at the tea party? Where is your Laplace Transform when you most needed it?

In any case, you eventually bring down the boss with the Variation of Parameters, a method even more inscrutable than the last. In fact, it is so arcane that it is not even clear why it is called "Variation of Parameters".

The coast is clear, at least for now. You look wistfully at the Farlow et al. (2007) 2nd ed. which has guided you through this tough journey. Unfortunately, you are still very far away from home. Feeling absolutely worn out after many fights, you drift to sleep to wake up in the real world that you call your own.

Monday, February 21, 2011

Strings of Time

Before everything else,

This concert is going to be so awesome. To understand why, please refer to the concert repertoire.

1. CASTEELS Robert: El Jardín de la Vida y la Muerte
_______ with the flamenco dancers from Los Tarantos
2. CASTEELS Robert after RAVEL Maurice:
Bô Vélo
Huanyin Vanakam
5. GOPAL Balraj:
Satyagraha (To the Great Soul)
6. Gabrielee and Alvin:
The Phunk Experiment
_______ with NUS Electronic Music Lab

Date: 3 April 2011, Sunday
Venue: Yong Siew Toh Conservatory Concert Hall (close by UCC)
Tickets are priced sixteen and nineteen dollars.
The calluses on my left hand! May you never fail me

Saturday, February 12, 2011

Absent Parade

Stuff from my 2008 diaries, a short dialog involving two soldiers on midnight prowling duty and the existence of ghosts.

a. It's cold tonight; let's get back.
b. Aren't we going through the parade square this time?
a. This time? No. We'll just fill the checkpoints in and be off.
b. Why?
a. Look across the parade square.
b. I see.
a. A little dark?
b. Ah, well?
a. Do you see people?
b. Yes... vaguely. They're not supposed to be there, are they?
a. They don't belong there at all. Maybe not some point in the past, but not now. They would be marching in formation near the guard house every twentieth night of the month, and have been doing so for as long as I am here, at least.
b. Do you mean they're ghosts? Now that is hard to grasp, because you aren't really spooked and I don't believe they exist.
a. You're right there, they don't. You just have to shine a light at them to know that they... aren't really there. They never do us real harm and we get used to them.
b. What would you see with the lights on?
a. You'd see an empty parade square.
b. Why don't we try it now, then?
a. I wouldn't do it so much; wouldn't want to annoy their CO.
b. Their CO?
a. Wouldn't like to get into trouble with an officer, even one who isn't really there. Ah well... I don't believe in ghosts either.
b. But you talk about them all the time!
a. Do you believe in women, since you talk about them all the time also?
b. But they exist, don't they? Hey, that's a different matter!
a. Still, it doesn't matter if it is there or not; I've gotten used to it.
b. So you have. Let's get back, we've been staring at nothing for ages.

Sunday, January 30, 2011

Let him boast

Take yourselves for instance, brothers, at the time when you were called:
how many of you were wise in the ordinary sense of the word,
----- how many were influential people, or came from noble families?

No, it was to shame the wise that God chose what is foolish by human reckoning,
and to shame what is strong that he chose what is weak by human reckoning;

Those whom the world thinks common and contemptible
-----are the ones that God has chosen
----- -- those who are nothing at all to show up those who are everything.
The human race has nothing to boast about to God,
but you, God has made members of Christ Jesus
and by God's doing he has become our wisdom,
----- and our virtue, and our holiness, and our freedom.
As scripture says:
----- if anyone wants to boast, let him boast about the Lord.

1 Corinthians 1:26-31

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Freshman Journal 1.2.3

I've started to refer to this subject colloquially as "Gay Maths" for obvious enough reasons.
Some things (other than class topics) they taught this week:
1. Good mathematicians always cover their tracks. This is why proofs are so inscrutable.
2. Direct proofs are preferred over contradiction proofs.

Started on practices in the textbook because I've been lagging behind. It turns out that I had been too complacent for the first two weeks. Never mind, I will catch up. Watch out, PRCs!

Yesterday, I proudly produced my first contrapositive proof. My first! And to think that now we are at limits!

Differential Equations
Zhuo Min said: Your lecturer probably taught differential equations as little more than a bag of tricks to solve specific equations (variable separable, those amenable to funny substitutions, etc.), many of which do not arise in practice. Such pedagogy will never convey the beauty of the subject.

although later on, we would be entertained to death with cute Java applets.

Physics / Electrical Engineering
These subjects are still the least of my worries, but please, don't go the way of MA2108 such that I have to panic later!

O Mastering Physics, Wherefore Art Thou Always Lagging?

Lab assignment was conducted through Vim, a compiler interface developed in 1990, which contrasted strongly with the futuristic setting where tutors can open windows on your desktop and mess with your screens remotely and with capricious glee.

I am in need of a German sänger to accompany me through this ongoing Deutschkurs.
The German folk music scene seems sadly stunted... Apparently, it has never been through a revival stage, like what they had in Ireland or Sweden.
Also, the only German classical composer I really listen to is Hildergard of Bingen, the 12th century polymath genius who wrote her songs in freakin' Latin.

It should be time to warm up to my old flames, 1. Philosophy and 2. the avant-garde Art world (with a capital A)
How are you, documenta!

Saturday, January 22, 2011

Freshman Journal 1.2.2

Real Numbers was rounded up pretty peacefully this week. Analysis is straightforward FOR NOW.

Differential Equations
"On the other hand, if y0 is a solution of (2) and y1 is a solution of (1), then clearly y1 + y0 is again a solution of (1)."

I have no better way to express my feelings than

Physics / Electrical Engineering / German / Programming
How can these subjects turn out to be so simple!

Guitar Ensemble
2 new songs have been added to the concert repertoire since the last entry. They are:
CASTEELS Robert: The Garden of Life and Death
Gabrielee and Alvin: The Phunk Experiment

You might have seen it coming, but the original composition by our musical director also prominently features this:

I always love it when La Niña comes to Singapore and wishes it would stay a bit longer, but not absolutely.

Friday, January 14, 2011

Freshman Journal 1.2.1

Elsewhere:My 2006 painting has found its third resting place, this time in one of the new principal's offices. For some strange reason, Temple Hill has had much better publicity than my more recent and better delivered works. Now I have to wait for him to get tired of the painting before I can take it back, fix it and put my signature on it.

This is how it looks like at the moment:

MA2108 Mathematical Analysis I
The semester was kick-started by this introduction on how to make Calculus rigorous mathematics i.e. more kickass.
Only 3 topics are covered in the module: real numbers, sequences and series, and limits and continuity of functions.
The plan for my math minor modules are dominated by Analysis rather than maths of any other sort. I'm not too sure if it is a good plan to do this in terms of variety and wtfness of subject matter.

MA1506 Mathematics II
The semester's second lecture was on Differential Equations, something rather more inscrutable, technical, and reliant on rote learning than Calculus. I shall see what I can do about it!
In summary,
MA1505: Calculus
MA1506: Differential Equations and Linear Algebra (Also prerequisite to MA2101)

EG1108 Electrical Engineering
A brief foray into the subject my dad teaches.

PC1432 Physics IIE (Engineering Physics part II)
The first lecture is basically the same thing as that of EG1108

CS1010E Programming Methodology
Sitting in the first rows didn't prevent me from falling asleep. Sorry Lecturer

LAG1201 German I
First serious attempt to learn a foreign language after halfhearted attempts at Hungarian, Russian and French.
Herr Döpel took over from our lecturer, who was absent that morning, and there we recited the German alphabet to the rising sun.

Sunday, January 02, 2011

Barroca and Waltz

Title: Barroca - Mil e uma Noites (Arabian Nights)Music: (composer unknown)
As performed by: Uakti (Brazil) / 1982

Title: La Valse des Belugas (Waltz of the Belugas)Music: André Marchand
As performed by: La Bottine Souriante (Canada) / 1988