Use It

      Use It - The New Pornographers

So, all types of things going on recently. I would make some excuse that I’ve been busy, but it would be a lie. I have about as much free time as ever, I just do not blog too often. As per usual, I am working on fixing this.

Tonight, I chose to work on that at 2 AM.

Our first order of business will be that I have accomplished a lifelong dream.
Please check this One Webcomic I Read to fully understand the gravity of the situation. It’s like that.

If I permitted myself to title my blogs things non-song-titles, today’s would be called “Eigenblog”.
You know not what that means, for I doubt anyone has ever said that word before. It’s OK, becuase I am going to explain: In math there are these fancy things called eigenvectors and eigenvalues. They’re special because:

If you “operate” on an eigenvector, you will always get the eigenvector back, multiplied by some number, called an eigenvalue. It’s still lost on me where this slick math business comes from, but eigenstuff is very useful. *halt: why are we talking about eigenstuff?*

It is a lifelong dream of mine to learn a single thing that will be applicable in every single one of my courses in a given semester. Think of a given semester, and try to imagine what you could POSSIBLY learn that would be the same in all classes. Crazy, huh? Well it’s always been something I wanted to happen.

Last week, it did.

Linear Algebra: We learned the formal approach to eigenvectors/values. Basically, how you make them work with matrices, and expand them into eigenspaces and such. [Refer to Wikipedia’s exhaustive Eigenspace article for more information. Isn’t it odd how irritatingly formal and lengthy their math/science articles are? I feel it is so.]

Modern Physics: Technically, I first learned of eigenthings in this course. They are useful in determining if a given wave function is well-behaved for a given operator. [A poorly behaved wave function is not an eigenvector, and thus gets no eigendinner before it goes to eigenbed.]

Vibrations and Waves: I think this is the first place where maybe I can make you understand about eigenstuff. Say I have three masses, linked together with springs. Say I pull one of them back, and let it go. Eigenstuff tells me how they will all slosh back-and-forth… which is useful is you’re into that kindof thing. [I am not, but that’s cool, becuase the semester is almost over]

German: Eigen is the German word for “correct”, or “true”. Eigentlich is the word for “actually”. This is said frequently in German class.

At this point, you may still be like “whatever.” Some weird German math guy named this thing in German. It’s used in science. That’s gotta happen often enough, right? So why should you be impressed?

Political Science: We are learning to do linear regression analysis, which is essentially creating a line of best fit. If I have all these points in roughly one shape, what is the line that is closest to all of those points at once? A regression line. I asked one day, “What if the pattern isn’t linear. What is the distribution is parabolic, or a cubic function?” Answer? “Well, that requires matrix algebra manipulation using something called an EIGENVECTOR, so we won’t be doing that for this class.”

Flawless victory. The same concept in ALL five of my classes this semester within a week. Like I said, it was something of a dream that is now a reality, and I’m glad I could share it with you.

After that amazing sequence of events, I went home for Thanksgiving. It was good, all-in-all, but kinda weird. I wanna say “Thanks,” to everyone that came over to my house for the Plaza Lights! I like keeping that tradition alive, even if everyone seemed kinda worn-out this year. I’ll make a point to plan activities next year. Also: the mayor’s Christmas tree lighting was neat too. The tree is all wicked-tall and from Oregon… as most wicked-tall things are.

Aside from that… things are all different back home. Not in like a really awful way, but it’s just not the same. I was really trying to cling to the notion that when everyone got back from college, it would like quasi-high-school again. That expectation is now completely lost, and probably for the better.

Things are different now.
Saying more than that would do the situation an injustice, so I’ll leave it at that.

I am right now in the middle of reading a webcomic. This is a pretty bad time for me in truth. Auf Deutsch, this would be called “meine Tage,” which is a German euphanism for a woman’s menstral cycle. I guess I just mean to say that I am not entirely myself during this time.

I read a single strip from a comic, like it, and hit the “return to first” button. Next thing I know, I have 6 years of 3-comics-per-week to make it through before I’m caught up to the regular pace of production. You simply can’t take that all in one sitting. But you certainly can get sucked in for an hour or so, which is dangerous. Especially when by “or so,” I mean “three hours,” which is not something I’m really proud of.

It’s called Achewood. I really, REALLY enjoy it.
Lizz cares for it less, because she dislikes the style.

Thankfully, I am almost caught up. It has caused most of my sleep-lacking evenings.
I must also apologize if my rhetoric, vocabulary, or cadence seems off.
Reading stupid comics for hours on end gets me talking all like the characters and such.
[a personal favorite]


  1. dear god, i’ve almost gone through all the archives over the past couple of days


  2. Oh the Eigenvalues/Eigenvectors! They also seem to appear in Calc 3 and Differential Equations. What joy!
    And I’m glad you got to experience the amazingness of all of your classes talking about something similar. Sadly, I have this happen often. Sometimes it gets confusing when you’re talking about the same thing in Organic Chem as you are in Cell Biology, but in completely different contexts. And then I have to dream about it in order to sort it all out in my mind. I think that’s going a little too far.

    That’s all.

  3. Anonymous:
    Why oh why would you subject yourself to such pain.

    My Calc 3 class didn’t touch on them… odd.
    We mostly did vector calculus there at the end which I basically hate forever.
    I’m taking DiffEQ next semester, so wish me luck.
    Lizz is in Cell Bio. Organic Chem is a deal-breaker, or so I am told.

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