Saturday, 31 December 2016

Not Teaching: Week 26

Exactly half a year has passed since I was in a classroom. I have caught up with “Time & Tied” edits, written an entire personified math novel, and for the last two months I have been posting 4 blog updates every week (across all three blogs). Yay. I was also sick for a couple of days this past week. Boo.


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The holidays are still keeping me busy though, so all I can think to say is Happy New Year.

Item counts run Sunday (December 25) to Saturday (December 31).

Step Count: About 36,000.
Lots of time spent with family (and ill), not a lot spent moving around. Only one day over 6,000 steps.

School Email Count: 1 New (0 sent)
School’s finally on break.



Writing/Art Related Items (from Sun to Sat):
 -Drew, inked and published a math comic
 -Drew, inked and cued up the next math comic
 -Wrote a TANDQ post on Decision Fatigue
 -Wrote a T&T Commentary post

Non-Writing Items for the past week:
 -Christmas, driving home, more Christmas
 -Dealing with much freezing rain on the driveway
 -Saw the Star Wars “Rogue One” movie
 -Met up with a friend from high school
 -Met up with relatives for New Years Eve

PROBABLE PROJECTS in the coming week:
 -Catch up on last two “Bones” eps
 -Medical appointment somewhere
 -Figure out how to proceed with Recaps and Parodies in 2017

POSSIBLE NEXT items:
 -Split up “Time & Tied” into short parts for RRL
 -Post recap about OAME (from May)
 -Post recap about Math PD (from Feb)
 -Post recap about Anime North (from May)
 -Post recap about CanCon 2016 (from Sept)
 -Post recap about COMA Social (from Sept)
 -Catch up with web serials I’ve enjoyed
 -Write a TANDQ article on Polling and Bias
 -Write a post about types of praise/encouragement
 -Organize all the paper clutter from school
 -Organize all the electronic clutter from school
 -Weed through/organize emails
 -Do another Parody Math Video
 -French Citizenship project
 -Actually market some of my creative stuff
 -Binging Anime (Magical Index)
 -Binging Anime (Steins Gate)
 -Binging Anime (RWBY borrowed from Scott)
 -Get back onto tumblr.
 -Read some of the books sitting at my desk

Like last week, I’ve cued this to automatically post, since this time I’ll be in Toronto.
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Friday, 30 December 2016

TANDQ 16: You Decide

In 2014-2015 I wrote an education column called "There Are No Dumb Questions" for the website "MuseHack". Those 15 columns were republished on this site with this index page. I have had some ideas for further columns since; here's the first (and only) one for 2016.


Why can’t I decide on my dinner?


Making decisions is exhausting, regardless of context. Let’s look here at “Decision Fatigue”, tossing in my own experience within the field of education, plus the idea of ego depletion for good measure. I will begin our tale back in 2004, when psychologist Barry Schwartz published a book, “The Paradox of Choice”. Based in part on “The Jam Study” (by Iyengar and Lepper in 2000, when consumers bought more jam when the display had fewer varieties), Barry’s argument is that more choice leads to paralysis, less satisfaction, and more anxiety. He did a related TED talk in July 2005. Ten years later (Dec 2014) there was a follow-up conversation with him; attempts to duplicate the results of “The Jam Study” have had mixed success. Is the whole idea ridiculous? Or have we merely not pinned down what situations cause such paralysis?

With no clear answer yet, let’s turn to a study published in 2011. Levav and Danzinger analyzed judge decisions over the course of a year in an Israeli court, and found that prisoners who appeared early in the morning received parole 70% of the time, while those who appeared late in the day received parole 10% of the time - even when the infraction was essentially equivalent. A conclusion was that judges were experiencing “decision fatigue”; the more choices one makes throughout the day without breaks, the more mentally fatigued one becomes, and thus the more one will look for shortcuts (such as maintaining the status quo). The term “decision fatigue” was coined by social psychologist Roy Baumeister. The tricky thing about it is that you don’t feel physically tired, so you may be less aware of the problem.

Returning to the original question now, it’s more difficult to decide on dinner because it comes at the end of a day. A day spent making a host of other decisions. Decisions imposed on us by society (such as jams in the supermarket), by ourselves (do I check social media or not), and by our careers (as in the case of the judges). Speaking as an educator, I know grading papers wipes me out, and most teachers would say it’s one of the least pleasant parts of the job. I feel it’s even harder of late, because you cannot simply tally up points - you need to analyze every test holistically, according to the individual student and criteria, before deciding on a single grade. Which could mean that’s 30 other decisions an educator doesn’t feel like dealing with in that day, before we even get into the actual process of teaching itself. I presume there are some similarities to other occupations.

Ego Waffles


Tied up with “decision fatigue” is something called “ego depletion” - the notion that we have a limited supply of willpower. It decreases throughout the day, as we do things like make decisions. Here, studies were done where willpower was first depleted through an event of self-control (for instance, “don’t eat these cookies” or “don’t cry during this emotional scene”) and then the subjects were given something that required mental effort to complete. Those with depleted willpower spent less time on the task than a control group. Baumeister even published a book on Willpower in 2011, looking at how we might prevent the drain, with ties to glucose levels. And now, in 2016... the possibility has been raised that the whole idea is incorrect.

Ah, science, never change. Or rather, often change. The main issue became how the effect might only exist for people who believe in it (similar to the placebo effect). But do the more recent debates and investigations into “ego depletion” necessarily impact “decision fatigue”? Is it equally possible that loss of willpower may happen to some people, under the right conditions, and yet not others? And what about that initial idea of paralysis of choice, how does that figure in? Are you feeling at all overwhelmed by the fact that I’m effectively turning the decision-making back on you?

Well, if we DO assume that there is something to “decision fatigue”, some strategies have been raised that can help. The most obvious one is to reduce some of your 35,000 daily decisions by increasing routine. With one of the biggest elements there being limiting your wardrobe, so that you don’t have to decide what to wear in the morning. A second strategy is to pick your battles; not to constantly worry about getting the best option. Choose something that will suffice, so that you’re less tempted to default to the status quo with more important decisions later on. Finally, ask for help. This last is particularly useful if you know someone else who has more expertise. Granted, all of this may not help you to pick your dinner, or me to grade my papers, but at the least, it can give you the gift of time. Time which might have otherwise been spent overanalyzing. Thank you for deciding to read this column!

For further viewing:

1. Why We Experience Decision Fatigue

2. Deciding for others is more fun than doing it for ourselves 

3. “Fighting Decision Fatigue” (SmithBusinessSchool video)

Got an idea or a question for a future TANDQ column? Let me know!

Saturday, 24 December 2016

Not Teaching: Week 25

I’m still managing to be on target for things with deadlines. Though I cut my thumb while trying to prepare tomatoes. Apparently this time of year is busy whether I’m at work or not. The main problem being everyone ELSE now has the same deadline (Dec 25). Ah well, Merry Christmas everyone.


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Item counts run Sunday (December 18) to Saturday (December 24).

Step Count: About 46,500.
No day was over 9000, some particularly less, as things I had to do didn’t involve much movement.

School Email Count: 54 New (1 sent)
Some of those involved holiday gatherings and a wine raffle.


I'll need to reorganize in 2017...

Writing/Art Related Items (from Sun to Sat):
 -Drew, inked and published a math comic
 -Wrote a song parody for the holidays (sixth annual)
 -Drew for Holiday Math Parody and created video

Non-Writing Items for the past week:
 -Play at NAC on Sunday
 -Medical Appointment Monday
 -Started + Completed work on Image Project
 -Harp Concert on Monday
 -Dept holiday gathering on Wednesday
 -Staff holiday gathering on Thursday
 -Holiday assembly at school on Friday
 -Holiday shopping on Friday

PROBABLE PROJECTS in the coming week:
 -Banking online blog posts
 -Christmas, driving home, more Christmas
 -Write a TANDQ article on Polling and Bias
 -Meet up with a friend from high school

POSSIBLE NEXT items:
 -Catch up on last two “Bones” eps.
 -Split up “Time & Tied” into short parts for RRL
 -Post recap about OAME (from May)
 -Post recap about Math PD (from Feb)
 -Post recap about Anime North (from May)
 -Post recap about CanCon 2016 (from Sept)
 -Post recap about COMA Social (from Sept)
 -Catch up with web serials I’ve enjoyed
 -Write a TANDQ article on Decision Fatigue
 -Write a post about types of praise/encouragement
 -Organize all the paper clutter from school
 -Organize all the electronic clutter from school
 -Weed through/organize emails
 -Do another Parody Math Video
 -French Citizenship project
 -Actually market some of my creative stuff
 -Binging Anime (Magical Index)
 -Binging Anime (Steins Gate)
 -Binging Anime (RWBY borrowed from Scott)
 -Get back onto tumblr.
 -Read some of the books sitting at my desk

Things are still a bit chaotic at the moment. I wonder, when I reach the halfway point at the end of the month, should I switch to counting down the weeks, not up?

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Saturday, 17 December 2016

Not Teaching: Week 24

It’s starting to sink in that the Christmas thing is approaching. Sigh. That’s about on schedule, I don’t think about it much until the last week of school, which is this coming week (to Dec 23 - this may have been a good year to take off). I did put up the Christmas tree lights outside yesterday, and my in-laws are in town.


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Yeah, I’m not much into holidays. They break the routine, and cause work to pile up, as being social leads to exhaustion. Quiet decorating is fun though; I’ll be okay with Christmas music by the 25th.

Item counts run Sunday (December 11) to Saturday (December 17).

Step Count: About 58,600.
I continue to go for walks, either to the store, or around the island in the kitchen while checking social media.

School Email Count: 59 New (0 sent)
There’s holiday gatherings this coming week. I hope to get to one.



Writing/Art Related Items (from Sun to Sat):
 -Wrote, drew, inked and published a math comic
 -Wrote ahead for the math comic, because holidays
 -NaNoWriMo wrapped last Sun with 86,083 words. (89,019 in the uncensored version)
 -Completed Wattpad publishing of “The Girl Who Speaks With Algebra”
 -Wrote a guest post for the Archive of Unusual Events (coming later this month)

Non-Writing Items for the past week:
 -Medical Appointment Monday
 -Dinner with Friends Monday
 -Bank appointment for mortgage
 -Dentist checkup Wednesday
 -Two trips to the airport during rush hours
 -Yoga Thursday
 -Movie with friends Saturday

PROBABLE PROJECTS in the coming week:
 -Play at NAC on Sunday
 -Medical Appointment Monday
 -Start work on Image Project (seriously)
 -Start work on Holiday Math Parody (ditto)
 -Concert on Monday
 -School holiday gatherings
 -Catch up on last two “Bones” eps.
 -Holiday shopping? >.<

POSSIBLE NEXT items (changed!):
 -Split up “Time & Tied” into short parts for RRL (*NEW)
 -Post recap about OAME (from May)
 -Post recap about Math PD (from Feb)
 -Post recap about Anime North (from May)
 -Post recap about CanCon 2016 (from Sept)
 -Post recap about COMA Social (from Sept)
 -Catch up with web serials I’ve enjoyed
 -Write a TANDQ article on Decision Fatigue
 -Write a TANDQ article on Polling and Bias (*NEW)
 -Write a post about types of praise/encouragement
 -Organize all the paper clutter from school
 -Organize all the electronic clutter from school
 -Weed through/organize emails
 -Do another Parody Math Video
 -French Citizenship project
 -Actually market some of my creative stuff
 -Binging Anime (Magical Index)
 -Binging Anime (Steins Gate)
 -Binging Anime (RWBY borrowed from Scott)
 -Get back onto tumblr.
 -Read some of the books sitting at my desk

January might be “recap month” to start clearing some of that out. Because there is still an offline list of other tidbits!
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Saturday, 10 December 2016

Not Teaching: Week 23

Something I’ve never really noticed is how it does get dark sooner in the winter. It would almost always be dark when I left school, be it October or December, but now that I’m home I’m baffled at how it’s dark before 5pm. If I want to go for a walk outside in the light, it needs to be fairly early in the day.


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Arts night was this past week at school. I do miss the staff and the students, but not the workload - there’s still a lot I need to get done, somehow. I compared notes with Bev that night. My feelings might be normal.

Item counts run Sunday (December 4) to Saturday (December 10).

Step Count: About 51,200.
That’s pretty good, since on Wednesday I stayed home and only had 808, a new low. Two days over 10k though.

School Email Count: 63 New (0 sent)
A number about a holiday raffle. Two weeks until the break.


Writing/Art Related Items (from Sun to Sat):
 -NaNoWriMo editing session on Sunday
 -Wrote, drew, inked and published a math comic
 -Kept up with Wattpad publishing of “The Girl Who Speaks With Algebra”
 -Revisions to T&T site format, plus there’s been some comments!
 -NaNoWriMo ended with 67,819. Last Saturday saw 71,739 words. Now at 87,173 and just need a bit of wrap-up plus the epilogue!
 -Responded to Writer Interview Questions

Non-Writing Items for the past week:
 -Medical Appointment Monday
 -Yoga Monday
 -Math Dinner Monday
 -School Arts Night Thursday
 -Choir concert Friday

PROBABLE PROJECTS in the coming week:
 -Medical Appointment Monday
 -Yoga Thursday
 -Want to finish NaNoWriMo effort!
 -Possible serial fill-in for another author
 -Start work on Image Project
 -Start work on Holiday Math Parody

UNCHANGED NEXT items:
 -Post recap about OAME (from May)
 -Post recap about Math PD (from Feb)
 -Post recap about Anime North (from May)
 -Post recap about CanCon 2016 (from Sept)
 -Post recap about COMA Social (from Sept)
 -Actually turn this into more of a newsletter?
 -Catch up with web serials I’ve enjoyed
 -Write a TANDQ article on Decision Fatigue
 -Write a post about types of praise/encouragement
 -Organize all the paper clutter from school
 -Organize all the electronic clutter from school
 -Weed through/organize emails
 -Do another Parody Math Video
 -French Citizenship project
 -Actually market some of my creative stuff
 -Binging Anime (Magical Index)
 -Binging Anime (Steins Gate)
 -Binging Anime (RWBY borrowed from Scott)
 -Catch up more on “Bones” (no spoilers past S11.18!)
 -Get back onto tumblr.
 -Read some of the books sitting at my desk

So hyper focussed on finishing “The Girl Who Speaks With Algebra”, no idea when the unchanged will ever change.
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Saturday, 3 December 2016

Not Teaching: Week 22

So, I made all my deadlines from last week. Monday comic, T&T index with first ep cued up, daily Wattpad of my NaNoWriMo; even managed 5k words on Nov 30th. Because I do deadlines. Then I sort of bemoaned about it on Twitter. Then I got some responses.


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Hadn’t exactly anticipated the response angle. SerFicDigest gave me a lead, TheWeirdTeacher gave me a shoutout (pumping Monday site views to a mind-bending 220+ and J Golden commented) and I chatted with C Burke and Rodriguez. Then at the NaNoWriMo after party I ended up in a discussion about people not hitting stride until after their first couple books (both J.K. Rowling and something to do with vampires) owing to world building or genre finding. (So I feel better about T&T.) I even got a couple comments on my T&T site.

So in theory I’m feeling better about things. In practice - my brain seems to be resisting somewhat. Teacher holdover for this time of year? Maybe still trying to parse what I need to get through this month? That being more writing, and medical things are happening again. On the bright side though, I think I’m free of CIBC. (They took over my MasterCard not long after I closed the account I never used, and recently changed it to a Visa; so I’ve been trying to get rid of it.)

Random factoid: Ottawa WriMos, 32% winners.

Item counts run Sunday (November 27) to Saturday (December 3).

Step Count: About 55,230.
Over 7500 until today. Out of the house twice but not much for steps.

School Email Count: 83 New (2 sent)
Much discussion about possible math conference/forum.


National Novel Writing Month went well...

Writing/Art Related Items (from Sun to Sat):
 -Wrote, drew, inked and published a math comic.
 -Drew and published Book 4 index for T&T
 -Kept up with Wattpad publishing of “The Girl Who Speaks With Algebra”

NaNoWriMo Words Etc:
 -TUE Nov 1: 2375. Nov 2: 890. Nov 3: 1917. Nov 4: 2156. Nov 5: 4442.
 -Nov 6: 2385. Nov 7: 403. TUE Nov 8: 2258. Nov 9: 2158. Nov 10: 1794.
 -Nov 11: 1523. Nov 12: 2840. Nov 13: 1989. Nov 14: 1711. TUE Nov 15: 2609.
 -Nov 16: 1160. Nov 17: 2444. Nov 18: 2298. Nov 19: 1148. Nov 20: 4380.
 -Nov 21: 685. TUE Nov 22: 3342. Nov 23: 1973. Nov 24: 3296. Nov 25: 2979.
 -Nov 26: 2000. Nov 27: 2460. Nov 28: 789. TUE Nov 29: 2386. Nov 30: 5029.
 -Verified Final Total: 67,819. Current Total: 71,739.
 -NaNoWriMo WriteIn on Sunday
 -NaNoWriMo “Thank Goodness It’s Over Party” on Saturday

Non-Writing Items for the past week:
 -Met relatives for brunch Sunday
 -Snow Tires on Car Monday
 -Dinner with Friends Monday
 -Trip out to buy, and then to mail card
 -Yoga Wednesday
 -School Christmas Concert on Thursday
 -Medical Appointment Friday
 -Brunch with Friends Saturday

PROBABLE PROJECTS in the coming week:
 -Medical Appointment Monday
 -Yoga Monday
 -Math Dinner Monday
 -School Arts Night Thursday
 -Want to finish NaNoWriMo effort
 -Respond to Writer Interview Questions
 -Possible serial fill-in for another author
 -Start work on Image Project

UNCHANGED NEXT items:
 -Post recap about OAME (from May)
 -Post recap about Math PD (from Feb)
 -Post recap about Anime North (from May)
 -Post recap about CanCon 2016 (from Sept)
 -Post recap about COMA Social (from Sept)
 -Actually turn this into more of a newsletter?
 -Catch up with web serials I’ve enjoyed
 -Write a TANDQ article on Decision Fatigue
 -Write a post about types of praise/encouragement
 -Organize all the paper clutter from school
 -Organize all the electronic clutter from school
 -Weed through/organize emails
 -Do another Parody Math Video
 -French Citizenship project
 -Actually market some of my creative stuff
 -Binging Anime (Magical Index)
 -Binging Anime (Steins Gate)
 -Binging Anime (RWBY borrowed from Scott)
 -Catch up more on “Bones” (no spoilers past S11.18!)
 -Get back onto tumblr.
 -Read some of the books sitting at my desk

I seem to be entering another busy period. Yes, November was light, what with spending a month writing 67k. I’m not sure how that works.
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Saturday, 26 November 2016

Not Teaching: Week 21

This week, I’m acknowledging something about deadlines. I’m rather good at them. This despite the fact that at least 90% of the time, my unprofessional deadlines are self-imposed. I reached 50,000 words this past week for my NaNoWriMo... I’m still going, 2k per day, because the story isn’t done, and it’s going on Wattpad. Is it getting any views there after 11 daily updates? One.

For the past month, I’ve been coming up with a new personified math comic on Sundays, drawing and publishing it by Monday. Last Monday’s entry had 10 views total, all within the first two days. I ran a twitter poll in parallel; it did have 76 votes. I plan to publish those results on Monday. Will anyone notice or care? Maybe two of the ten, if I’m lucky.

Last Friday marked the completion of Book 3 of “Time & Tied” on my website. I haven’t missed an update there in over two years. Yet one of the posts I published last month has only 4 views. My overall monthly stats there haven’t been this bad since January 2016. I plan to launch Book 4 on Monday. I practically guarantee no one will notice if I miss a week there.

I should just stop. I don’t know why I don’t. I guess it’s because I’m rather good at deadlines.


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In other news this week, sad news from France, I ran into the school’s former head of parent council in the mall, and I stayed caught up on my TV shows. (The Librarians is back!)



Item counts run Sunday (November 20) to Saturday (November 26).

Step Count: About 59,800.
Two days over 10k, two days under 7k. Balances.

School Email Count: 64 New (1 sent)
School concerts are coming up.



Writing/Art Related Items (from Sun to Sat):
 -Wrote, drew, inked and published a math comic.
 -T&T Commentary written.

NaNoWriMo Words Etc:
 -TUE Nov 1: 2375. Nov 2: 890. Nov 3: 1917. Nov 4: 2156. Nov 5: 4442.
 -Nov 6: 2385. Nov 7: 403. TUE Nov 8: 2258. Nov 9: 2158. Nov 10: 1794.
 -Nov 11: 1523. Nov 12: 2840. Nov 13: 1989. Nov 14: 1711. TUE Nov 15: 2609.
 -Nov 16: 1160. Nov 17: 2444. Nov 18: 2298. Nov 19: 1148. Nov 20: 4380.
 -Nov 21: 685. Nov 22: 3342. Nov 23: 1973. Nov 24: 3296. Nov 25: 2979.
 -Nov 26: 2000. 
 -NaNoWriMo WriteIn at Algonquin finished on Sunday
 -NaNoWriMo WriteIn on Tuesday

Non-Writing Items for the past week:
 -Math Meeting Monday
 -Dinner with Friends Monday
 -Yoga Thursday
 -Saw Doctor Strange movie Saturday

PROBABLE PROJECTS in the coming week:
 -Does It Matter?

UNCHANGED NEXT items:
 -Post recap about OAME (from May)
 -Post recap about Math PD (from Feb)
 -Post recap about Anime North (from May)
 -Post recap about CanCon 2016 (from Sept)
 -Post recap about COMA Social (from Sept)
 -Actually turn this into more of a newsletter?
 -Catch up with web serials I’ve enjoyed
 -Write a TANDQ article on Decision Fatigue
 -Write a post about types of praise/encouragement
 -Organize all the paper clutter from school
 -Organize all the electronic clutter from school
 -Weed through/organize emails
 -Do another Parody Math Video
 -French Citizenship project
 -Actually market some of my creative stuff
 -Binging Anime (Magical Index)
 -Binging Anime (Steins Gate)
 -Binging Anime (RWBY borrowed from Scott)
 -Catch up more on “Bones” (no spoilers past S11.18!)
 -Get back onto tumblr.
 -Read some of the books sitting at my desk

Congrats on reading this far down. Anyone else have Blogger randomly update the interface on them?
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Saturday, 19 November 2016

Not Teaching: Week 20

This week I got back to my roots; there was a staff gathering on Thursday (before a peculiarly placed PD day on Friday), so I turned up. In the process getting caught up on a number of items (an upcoming marriage), meeting an LTO who likes Data Management (Alexis), learned how things were after that Trump election (anxiety) - and apparently my desk is still vacant (as is Deb Howitt’s), go figure. I’m hoping to get to holiday concerts and the like next month.


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Regarding NaNoWriMo, I’m on track to get to 50k, but not to finish the story. I also decided to put it on Wattpad, after seeing that some other people were too. Why not?


Item counts run Sunday (November 13) to Saturday (November 19).

Step Count: About 57,300.
Got 7500+ every day except the initial Sunday.

School Email Count: 52 New (1 sent)
Apparently admin can get 60 emails per day. So, glad it's not that.


Writing desk, from last weekend.

Writing/Art Related Items (from Sun to Sat):
 -Wrote, drew, inked and published a math comic.
 -Put out a NaNoWriMo excerpt at the midway point.

NaNoWriMo Words Etc:
 -TUE Nov 1: 2375. Nov 2: 890. Nov 3: 1917. Nov 4: 2156. Nov 5: 4442.
 -Nov 6: 2385. Nov 7: 403. TUE Nov 8: 2258. Nov 9: 2158. Nov 10: 1794.

 -Nov 11: 1523. Nov 12: 2840. Nov 13: 1989. Nov 14: 1711. TUE Nov 15: 2609.
 -Nov 16: 1160. Nov 17: 2444. Nov 18: 2298. Nov 19: 1148. 
 -NaNoWriMo Gathering on Sunday
 -NaNoWriMo WriteIn at Algonquin on Saturday

Non-Writing Items for the past week:
 -Staff gathering on Thursday
 -Yoga Thursday
 -Tidied up yard/BBQ in advance of snow (ugh)

PROBABLE PROJECTS in the coming week:
 -Math Meeting Monday
 -NaNoWriMo Continues (including Wattpad)
 -T&T Commentary to write

UNCHANGED NEXT items:
 -Post recap about OAME (from May)
 -Post recap about Math PD (from Feb)
 -Post recap about Anime North (from May)
 -Post recap about CanCon 2016 (from Sept)
 -Post recap about COMA Social (from Sept)
 -Actually turn this into more of a newsletter?
 -Catch up with web serials I’ve enjoyed
 -Write a TANDQ article on Decision Fatigue
 -Write a post about types of praise/encouragement
 -Organize all the paper clutter from school
 -Organize all the electronic clutter from school
 -Weed through/organize emails
 -Do another Parody Math Video
 -French Citizenship project
 -Actually market some of my creative stuff
 -Binging Anime (Magical Index)
 -Binging Anime (Steins Gate)
 -Binging Anime (RWBY borrowed from Scott)
 -Catch up more on “Bones” (no spoilers past S11.18!)
 -Get back onto tumblr.
 -Read some of the books sitting at my desk

I also want to get to a poll analysis, but that’s also possibly becoming a plot point in my NaNoWriMo.

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Tuesday, 15 November 2016

NaNoWriMo 2016 Halfway

Back at the end of September, I mused about possible NaNoWriMo options. It wasn't until Sunday October 30th, that I basically decided to go with Option 1: Math Novel. I created a few characters with personality points. And Rosemary Thorne? Ohh, she ran with the whole "need a character arc" thing, all the way to the LGBTQ club.


Actually, things with Rose aren't too different from Alex Danvers' current arc in "Supergirl". (Which on the one hand is kind of weird, but on the other hand means I'm dealing with topics that are partially mainstream...) Rose also decided the narrative would go first person; I feel lucky that I was able to insist on a serialized format with math. So here, at the halfway point, I present the main cast, and an excerpt. If you're interested in another excerpt, let me know! I'm not sure when/if I'll actually post the whole 50k thing.


CHARACTERS



  • ROSEMARY "ROSE" THORNE: First year university student, taking music. Is having math dreams, and pretty quickly into the narrative, she realizes she is gay.
  • SINE: Personified mathematical function. Rose's dream confidant with some problems of her own.
  • SEIKO YOSHIDA: First year university student, taking math. Rose's roommate.
  • PAIGE FOURIER: First year university student, taking math but minoring in music. The girl who caused Rose to confront her feelings.
  • MARC BRIDGEWOOD: First year university student, taking music. Someone Rose knew from back in high school.


EXCERPT FROM "THE GIRL WHO SPEAKS WITH ALGEBRA"



(From Page 31)

“So you’re saying math functions can have relationships like we humans do?”

“I suppose. I don’t know how humans do relationships. You’re asking a lot of questions today,” Sine pointed out.

“Yeah.” I frowned. “Sorry?”

“No, growth mindset, I like it. But I feel like maybe I don’t have the proper foundation to understand all your questions, in the same way you don’t have the proper foundation to understand all my answers.”

“I don’t understand being a lesbian either, that hasn’t seemed to stop me.”

“Hm. You seem to be obsessing over that detail today.”

“Kinda sorta.” My hands ran back through my hair, knocking my hat off. I’d forgotten I was even wearing it here. “Okay, here’s something we can talk about. You claim anyone can math, through this growth mindset, right? Just a matter of saying you can’t math YET. But you will. Yes?”

“I think so. It’s likely one of those concepts that bleeds through from the human world, actually.”

“Then does that work with sexuality? Was I once heterosexual, because I couldn’t lesbian YET? Or like Lady Gaga claims, was I born this way, meaning I’m simply obtuse?”

Sine pursed her lips. “I’m assuming obtuse in this context doesn’t mean an angle which is greater than ninety degrees, and yet less than one-hundred-eighty.”

“No, I mean obtuse in the context of I’m dense as a post.”

“Okay. I won’t ask about Lady Gaga.” Sine made a gesture, and two deck chairs appeared. She sat down in one, nodding towards the other. I joined her.

“Here’s how I interpret that,” Sine said. “I was born as trigonometry. I can’t really change that, even assuming I wanted to. But I don’t have to stay in my base form. With practice, I can change my amplitude, my displacement and my period. Heck, if enough of us Sines get together, we can look like something totally different.”

“Huh. Must be great, having control over your period.”

Sine smiled. “Don’t evade my point. It had some dimension to it.”

I stretched out in the deck chair, my hands behind my head. “So what you’re saying is, some stuff like sexuality is baked in, while other stuff like learning is what we can control, given enough effort. I suppose I’ll buy that, but then how does one tell the difference? Like what stuff is inherent at the start, and what isn’t?”

“I have no idea. Barring knowledge of genetics, it seems like each item is something that would need to be addressed on a case-by-case basis, whether we’re talking about mathematics or humans. Identifying being one of those things that nobody has fully figured out – yet.”

“But then how can we sometimes miss obvious baked in stuff?” I pressed. “Like, no one would mistake you for being a... a polynomial, would they?” She’d mentioned those in the context of QT. Were polynomials more inclined to being lesbians, maybe?

“Well, first of all, it’s easier to look at others than at ourselves,” Sine mused. “I have no trouble talking with Cosine for instance, whereas it’s always a bit unsettling, talking to a ‘sin(x)+1’. I sometimes think, wow, is that what I look like? And I wonder, how did I end up being the one in charge of her and everybody else.”

“I’m not a fan of mirrors,” I agreed. “Maybe that’s why I don’t wear much makeup. But then, lesbians aren’t supposed to wear makeup, are they? So maybe I was – no, then again, Paige wears makeup, and she’s a lesbian. I think.” I grimaced. “Maybe I should simply stop stereotyping, huh?”

Sine nodded. “Stereotypes and labels can be a problem,” she agreed. “But to return to your original question, if you zoom far enough in on my curves, and only make a casual observation? You can’t necessarily distinguish my graph from a polynomial parabola. Even though we’re very different.”

“So you’re saying I did miss the obvious stuff about myself,” I concluded. “I didn’t analyze properly, and somehow thought I was trig, when all along I was polynomial.”

“You saw what you expected to see,” Sine said. “Which is probably connected to whatever your human society believes to be typical. After all, if you’re surrounded by periodic functions in the media, it never occurs to you that you might not be a periodic function as well. But don’t misunderstand me, this doesn’t mean that everyone else around you saw the truth either.”

“Oh no,” I protested. “They did. They must have. They’re a lot smarter than I am.”

“Rose, they’re surrounded by the same society that you are.” Sine peered at me. “Also, you’re hardly stupid, as you’ve somehow managed to bridge the gap between humans and mathematical relations. Give yourself more credit.”

“Sine, I don’t know how I’m doing this,” I protested. “And talking to math, it’s hardly a useful skill!”

“Oh. Then you’re saying talking to me isn’t useful?”

DAMN it. I had to stop saying insulting things like that. “No. I’m saying I put my foot in my mouth too much. Other people don’t.”

“I’m sure other people do, but maybe it’s easier to forgive them, or to miss their words entirely.” Sine chewed briefly on her lower lip. “Listen, Rose, when you go back to your human world, can you do me a favour?”

“Heck yeah, you’re being amazing to me. Very useful. Don’t let me tell you otherwise.”

“Can you research Hilbert Curves?”

I nodded. “Sure. Any particular reason?”


She drew in a shaky breath. “That’s what killed me, and brought me here. I was trapped in a Hilbert Curve, somewhere in Fractal City.” Her gaze drifted then, as if she was remembering. I decided to give her a moment of quiet.

*****

Want an excerpt of Rosemary with one of the other main characters? Or have some advice? Or a reaction? Let me know. Thanks for reading.

Saturday, 12 November 2016

Not Teaching: Week 19

I’m writing for NaNoWriMo - and not doing much of anything else. It’s like I’m no longer a teacher, desperately trying to find time for writing, but rather a writer... who’s not entirely sure what to do when not writing.


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Actually, following the whole Trump thing in the US, there’s some TANDQ columns I want to get to. And I should try to make a buffer for my restored math comic. And I should do another holiday song parody that no one’s asking for. Of course, that’s all still writing. What am I, when I don't teach or write?

Item counts run Sunday (November 6) to Saturday (November 12).

Step Count: About 52,000.
Not bad, since Monday was rubbish, under 3k. Lots of edits then though.

School Email Count: 56 New (0 sent)
Again no key emails. Weird.


Nov 11. A teacher from Lisgar had students there.

Writing/Art Related Items (from Sun to Sat):
 -Wrote, drew, inked and published a math comic.
 -Went back and did a complete edit on T&T Book 4. Fixed 92b.

NaNoWriMo Words Etc:
 -TUE Nov 1: 2375. Nov 2: 890. Nov 3: 1917. Nov 4: 2156. Nov 5: 4442.
 -Nov 6: 2385. Nov 7: 403. TUE Nov 8: 2258. Nov 9: 2158. Nov 10: 1794.
 -Nov 11: 1523. Nov 12: 2840.
 -NaNoWriMo WriteIn at main library on Sunday
 -NaNoWriMo WriteIn at Vanier library on Tuesday
 -NaNoWriMo WriteIn at Ikea and Bridgehead on Friday
 -NaNoWriMo WriteIn at uOttawa on Saturday

Non-Writing Items for the past week:
 -Finished reading “The Number Devil”
 -Yoga Thursday
 -Attended downtown Remembrance Day ceremony

PROBABLE PROJECTS in the coming week:
 -NaNoWriMo?

WOULD BE NICE items:
 -Post recap about OAME (from May)
 -Post recap about Math PD (from Feb)
 -Post recap about Anime North (from May)
 -Post recap about CanCon 2016 (from Sept)
 -Post recap about COMA Social (from Sept)
 -Actually turn this into more of a newsletter?
 -Catch up with web serials I’ve enjoyed
 -Write a TANDQ article on Decision Fatigue
 -Write a post about types of praise/encouragement
 -Organize all the paper clutter from school
 -Organize all the electronic clutter from school
 -Weed through/organize emails
 -Do another Parody Math Video
 -French Citizenship project
 -Actually market some of my creative stuff
 -Binging Anime (Magical Index)
 -Binging Anime (Steins Gate)
 -Binging Anime (RWBY borrowed from Scott)
 -Catch up more on “Bones” (no spoilers past S11.18!)
 -Get back onto tumblr.
 -Read some of the books sitting at my desk

This is turning out to be an interesting month.

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Saturday, 5 November 2016

Not Teaching: Week 18

We’re just over a third of the way through 52 weeks now. Which feels a little weird, since the weeks are still in the teens, but that’s math for you. Also weird is being done T&T. It’s like I might be able to relax in January or something. In the meantime, NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month) started, so I created a cover, and have been perusing the forums.


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Highlights of the week include finding a reference to myself (as a teacher) in the serial “Sanctioned” by ChrysKelly, having Sam Shah tell me I should enter my “Cubic Formula” song into a competition, running into a former student at a NaNoWriMo Write-in, and attending a visitation for the passing of a former colleague in the Occasional Teacher Bargaining Unit. Yeah, I didn’t say they were all happy highlights.

Item counts run Sunday (October 30) to Saturday (November 5).

Step Count: About 56,900.
Two days over 10k. One was by accident, they’d closed off a pathway I’d planned to take coming home after a walk.

School Email Count: 57 New (0 sent)
First week I’ve sent zero emails. One of the messages I received involved those funeral arrangements. That's why one keeps checking.


Nov 5 is a day for red hair.
Also, Rose in my NaNoWriMo's a redhead.

Writing/Art Related Items (from Sun to Sat):
 -Finished T&T Part 96b.
 -Sketched an Aion parody for Twittereen.
 -Wrote, drew, inked and published a math comic for first time since August!
 -Wrote a blog post about the time travel series “Timeless”.

NaNoWriMo Words Etc: (**NEW**)
 -Nov 1: 2375. Nov 2: 890. Nov 3: 1917. Nov 4: 2156. Nov 5: 4442.
 -NaNoWriMo social gathering last Sunday
 -NaNoWriMo coffee shop crawl on Saturday afternoon

Non-Writing Items for the past week:
 -Halloween! 29 kids. Four from 5:30-5:45. Three around 6:20. Nine from 7:15-7:30, three from 7:30-7:45, five from 7:45-8:00. Three around 8:15 and two around 8:45.
 -Yoga Tuesday
 -Started reading “The Number Devil”.
 -Meeting with friends Saturday morning

PROBABLE PROJECTS in the coming week:
 -NaNoWriMo.
 -Finish reading “The Number Devil”.
 -Attend Remembrance Day ceremony downtown.

WOULD BE NICE items:
 -Post recap about OAME (from May)
 -Post recap about Math PD (from Feb)
 -Post recap about Anime North (from May)
 -Post recap about CanCon 2016 (from Sept)
 -Post recap about COMA Social (from Sept)
 -Actually turn this into more of a newsletter?
 -Catch up with web serials I’ve enjoyed
 -Write a TANDQ article on Decision Fatigue
 -Write a post about types of praise/encouragement
 -Organize all the paper clutter from school
 -Organize all the electronic clutter from school
 -Weed through/organize emails
 -Do another Parody Math Video
 -French Citizenship project
 -Actually market some of my creative stuff
 -Binging Anime (Magical Index)
 -Binging Anime (Steins Gate)
 -Binging Anime (RWBY borrowed from Scott)
 -Catch up more on “Bones” (no spoilers past S11.16!*)
 -Get back onto tumblr.
 -Read some of the books sitting at my desk

This is shaping up to be my most chill November since I became a full time teacher.
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