Monday, April 30, 2012

Happy Dance of Joy

Happy, happy, happy, joy, joy...

In Calculus I can exempt from the final if I get my test corrections all correct. At first I was literally panicking, as there were two very hard problems I had to correct, in addition to an assorted variety of stupid mistakes. (The type that make you slap your forehead with your head and say, "Stupid, stupid..." to yourself.) One of the two I actually went to Dr. Stovall's office and she gave me some good advice about it. I went home and looked at the book, and it all finally made sense.

Then I started obsessing over the other problems (and discovered that I STILL hadn't simplified on one of them), and saw that on one of them what I had down wasn't going to work. I was trying to take the derivative of the Maclaurin series for cos (x), and I couldn't take the derivative right. My dad told me a few years ago that he couldn't help me anymore with math (which is NOT an encouraging statement, let me tell you, as he is a mechanical engineer), so he took one look at what I was doing, told me basically, "Good luck," and went out to go cut hay. (It is hay-cutting season right now. Have I ever mentioned that I actually like the rhythmic sound the square baler makes as it goes on its little rounds around and around the field? It's very soothing. I haven't actually ridden in the tractor in a long time- lately I've driven the truck with the trailer behind it and the bale loader attached to it so dad can pick up the bales, or run around the field pushing the bales into line for the loader to pick up-, but I still like that sound.)

ANYWAY, back to mathematics... I thought I had taken the derivative of the Maclaurin series of cos (x) right, and kept trying to reindex it accordingly, but it wasn't yielding anything right. (I thought it was yielding 1/3 of the problem right, but as it turns out I was wrong in my thinking there.) Finally, it took me looking at the derivation of the series for y = e^2x to realize, "Hey, use the Chain Rule." Cue banging of head upon the table. Earlier in the test I had forgotten to use the Chain Rule, turned something inadvertently into an alternating series, and meandered off into an alternating proof that just didn't work. At all.

So I worked the problem with the Chain Rule. And it came out with a logical, sensical answer! I was looking for the Maclaurin series for -sin(x). It would make sense that the answer would look just like the series for sin(x), but with a negative sign on the front. And that is what I got. I was almost delirious with joy.

Still, before I got to that point I was very frustrated and a little panicked. One of my uncles had come over to say something about the hay. (Hay is a very serious business, I tell you! Grandpa, my dad, and almost all the uncles get involved, and usually the boys as well. The girls get occasionally drafted to drive trucks. It consumes all afternoons and weekends during the hay season.) My uncle noted that I was doing homework, so I seized the opportunity to ask him if he remembered Taylor series. He said he did, but upon looking at what I was doing acknowledged that he probably couldn't help me there. So I went to go ask my cousin who is in Cal 3 and makes 100's. (I am envious of her greatness.)

This is why I love having a big family. We all pretty much get along and we all help each other out, with hay and suchlike, and it is wonderful.

In a lot of stories and shows they put a lot of emphasis on being loyal to your friends and all that. Now, I'm not downing friendship, but I think something is lacking there. Where's the emphasis upon loyalty to family? The family is the building block of society, after all, and it is under serious attack nowadays. So many people come from fractured families. I feel so sorry for them. I mean, bless their hearts, they have got to have such a skewed view of everything because of that... So, in my stories, family gets a bigger emphasis. A lot of my characters have large, extended families and they run around with their cousins and do stuff and a family not getting along is seen as a tragedy. Because it is.

Earlier today, though, I was seriously PANICKING about the math test corrections. I mean, I was feeling pretty sick to my stomach- the sort of gut-clenching anxiety that's almost as bad as whatever you fear itself. Finally, I decided to go home and obsess over my math problems there. I was driving home, still thinking about my two problem questions, when, almost as if someone invisible- my guardian angel, maybe?- a line popped into my mind, a perfect quotation of one of my characters, "We shall trust in Hiru's continued grace." Hiru is a name in my world for God, and the speaker (Lunadin, incidentally- one of my favorite characters, who might best be described in simple English terms as a magical warrior monk) is pretty much saying, "God has helped us so far, so let's continue to believe that He will keep on helping us."

Somehow, that calmed me down a lot. I really don't think that I thought of that line all by myself, because I was surprised when it popped in my head all of a sudden. And I was surprised that it was a quote from my stories. Furthermore, it was a quote that, though I believed it, I hadn't considered the full power of until then. Then I realized that it was true. God had given me at least the CHANCE of getting an A and exempting from the final. It made sense to continue to trust Him that He would help me get my test corrections right and earn that exemption. So I stopped panicking. That's the first time I've really lived that quote.

Even more strangely, right then and there, still in the car, I was already thanking God for the grace He was going to give me, even though I won't find out about the exemption until tomorrow. It only makes sense from a biblical standpoint. As for right now, I'm going to say like the guys in Facing the Giants, "If we win, we praise Him. If we lose, we praise Him."

Okay, okay, I'm still human. I will be doing a very big happy dance tomorrow if (no, no, I must have faith; I must say when) I get the exemption. And I might just scream, "No, precioooouuuusss!" and collapse into a puddle of tears if I don't. But I'll know my lack of faith and lack of hard work got me there.

You know, though, I still like math. It's weird. I used to hate it, like most people apparently do. I remember lying on the floor whining in 5th grade (mind you, I was being homeschooled by that point), moaning about how I didn't want to do math. In 6th grade, I liked doing it. In 7th grade, I hated it. In 8th grade, I liked it. And I've liked it from then on. Somewhere thereabouts I took to saying my Rosary, or at least a few decades of it, while doing my math problems. I give that habit full credit for my learning to like math and to be good at it. I honestly do. It kept me from stressing out over it, and I really think it led me to learn to like it and do better at it. So, to God be the glory for the fact that I have made it all the way to Calculus 2 and liked it. Gott sei dank. Gratias Deo. Ut in omnibus glorificatur Deus. Ad Majorem Dei Gloriam. Whatever you like, but He's the One Who's brought me here.

Another little habit of mine is saying a prayer for the souls in Purgatory every time I sharpen my pencil. Yeah, I know, how on earth did I get in that habit? Well, you see, I do my math homework sitting at my spot at the kitchen table. To sharpen my pencil, I get up and walk over to the mudroom, where the sharpener is. Right next to it is our freezer, and one of the many things stuck on it (among assorted magnets from law firms that you get in the mail and horrible photos from preschool in hideous frames we made at said preschool) is the prayer of St. Gertrude the Great that is supposed to release 1,000 souls from Purgatory every time you say it. So I just got in the habit of looking up at it and saying the prayer every time I went to sharpen my pencil. It's not a bad habit.

Of course, I now know the prayer by heart, so I don't have to look at it anymore. I'm good at memorizing words. Math formulas... not so much. I should really go study for my chemistry final. I'm not really worried about the German or English final... In English we write an essay. It's kind of hard to study for that. Last semester, I barely studied for the German final- I pretty much glanced at the book that morning during breakfast- and made a 97. I swear, I make a 97 on every German test I take. But, hey, I'll take that, no complaints here.

I really hope I'm not going to be the only person in German 201. I don't think Marcela's going on to 201 because she wants to concentrate on French. I don't know about Roberto. Sorry. Robert Thompson, SGA secretary. Apparently, he goes by Robby, but Dr. Christy has called him Roberto for so long that it's really hard for me to think of him by anything else, bless his heart.

Where does one get copies of the Snore-Ala? (Or is it going by just The Snore now?) I have a feeling I will disagree with some of its humor but still it sounds like something I should take a look at once, just to say I've had that collegiate experience... Does one have to sneak to some clandestine place and exchange a secret handshake and password to get a hold of a copy? Follow some sort of secret map and find the hidden cache of Snore copies under a random statue on campus? LOL, I'm so melodramatic.

THE SERPENT'S SHADOW AND THE INVADERS COME OUT TOMORROW!!!!! At 10:40, so long, Bibb Graves. I'll be running out to catch a shuttle, jump in my car, and race over (ahem... racing at the speed of 45 mph, that is) to Books-a-Million to grab my copies!

So you probably won't hear from me on this blog for a few days. Auf Wiedersehen!

...Wait. Does one say 'Auf Wiedersehen' when blogging? One says 'Auf Wiederhoeren' on the telephone... Okay, does 'Auf Wiederlesen' work???

Now I'm confusing myself. Time to stop.

In Pace Christi,


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