Blocking Social Media

Wow. I had no idea that social media is such a drain on my work. The amount of work I’ve been able to accomplish since blocking a few particular sites has been stunning. Twitter, in particular, has been the big drain, or rather gain in blocking it. I was so used to just opening a browser window and typing “twi [tab][enter]” that I’ve got something like nine hits on my Chrome blocking app for it already.

Speaking of which, I do recommend this app: Block Site. It’s been great. Easy to set up and effective.

The main reason for doing this, I’m sure, is that recently while counseling someone to have more discipline in their life, I became convicted that I lack discipline in my life, too. Changes were needed. So far, this has been one of the most fruitful ones.

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Math has lost some of its luster, lately. I’m still doing it, but at a slower pace. I think that’s fine. The main goal I have is not to stop. I just have other things that are interesting me right now, so it’s back-burnered. I’m midway through lesson 37 (I think).

On our flight back from North Carolina last year I first was exposed to American Ninja Warrior. At first I was only interested in the #FarmerNinja (Caleb Watson). But lately, I’ve gotten more into it as a whole. There are certainly elements I don’t like, and I am rather certain that I’ll never be a contestant, but it’s given me new interest in getting more healthy, which probably means that show is more valuable than pretty much any other show on TV (i.e., it caused some good at least once).

In particular, I have always wanted to be able to do pull ups. I’ve come close at some points, and might have even been able to do them briefly when I was rail-thin after jaw surgery when I was 17, but I certainly haven’t done them anytime recently. So that’s my long-term goal. And I’m pretty sure it’s attainable.

My other goal is to get healthier shoulders. I’ve had issues with my left shoulder in particular for a few years now. Probably due to bad swimming form, I got a pretty bad case of swimmer’s shoulder a few years ago. It’s kind of lingered off and on since then, but has been getting somewhat worse. It’s to the place now where I usually don’t hold my kids with my left arm anymore. Washing dishes causes pain. That’s pretty irritating. I’d really like to get my shoulders healthy so that I can use them normally again. So I’m trying to increase my upper back strength which is supposed to open up the area that is being compressed (I have a bit of an impingement, it appears).

Anyway, that’s what’s up.

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Saxon Algebra 2, 2nd Edition vs Saxon Algebra 2, 3rd Edition

I’m at the point now where I’m comfortable saying, “Don’t use the answer book for the second edition for the third edition.” More than 99 percent of the problems are identical, but since I’ve found at least two that are definitely different, that nagging question is always there, “Did I get it wrong or is the book different?”

I started out under the assumption (because I had read it on the internet) that Saxon Algebra 2, 2nd Edition and Algebra 2, 3rd Edition were identical as far as actual questions asked. I can confidently say now, THEY ARE NOT IDENTICAL.

That said, the differences are fairly minor. Other than “getting the problem wrong” and having to figure out why, it’s not like they’re substantive changes. In Lesson 30, question 14, a 12 was changed to 18. The rest of the problem is identical. Just makes the answer different. The actual math performed is quite similar. But still, the fact that this has happened twice makes me want to buy the correct answer key. It’s just not worth the hassle-factor.

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Losing Steam

No, this is not about losing steam in mathematics. I’m still chugging along. Finished lesson 23 in Algebra 2 today.

But losing steam has been on my mind lately. It seems like guys have a tendency to do this. I think it’s interesting. And I want to know why. Well, at least, I want to speculate about it and hope to avoid it.

I suspect that guys are something like this: it often seems that men have “Productive years” that are kind of extraordinary. Guys like Einstein. But then they taper off. They might keep trying until they die (like Einstein), but never recapture their glory years. Why is this? Is it that God only gives men a set number of discoveries or accomplishments and then turns them off? Or is it more of a sociological consequence of something?

The life of David comes to mind. My pastor has pointed out that David’s life was never the same after his incident with Bathsheba. Is this a unique situation or is that more common?

It’s something I’ve been pondering. Even with “everyday guys,” it seems like there’s often *drive* toward accomplishing something and then it’s gone. Why? Natural course of history or something deeper? I don’t know.

But it’s on my mind.

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Through Algebra 2, Lesson 10

So far, my trek through Algebra 2 has primarily made me laugh, laugh at those who say “You should skip the first 20 lessons of each successive Saxon book because it’s just review.” What utter nonsense. I *just* finished Algebra 1 and yes, it is technically review, but it’s more difficult! The problems are more complicated. There are more “gotcha” problems. You’ve got to pay attention or you’ll end up “bombing” a lesson.

Anyway, for parents out there: Don’t do it. Don’t skip “review” lessons. If they’re actually easy, GREAT! There’s is nothing wrong with an easy lesson. But Saxon wasn’t an idiot. They aren’t just review. They’re gearing up for the trek.

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Saxon Algebra 2, Second vs Third Editions

I already had Algebra 2, second edition, but when I started it I was miffed to find out that the little subscripts that indicate which lesson a problem comes from was missing. Apparently, this was added in the third edition. I didn’t want to buy the entire set from scratch, but that was useful enough to me that I was considering it.

While looking into it, I ran across something that indicated that the third edition is the same as the second edition with that sole difference (the lessons are indicated on each problem in a small font). After finding a good copy on Amazon for $25 shipped, I can confirm that that *is* true for each problem, at least through 5 lessons and a quick perusal through the book. But during the fifth problem set I did notice another small difference: The third edition doesn’t have formulas on the back inside cover of the book! There’s a question in lesson 5 that basically requires the formula for the surface area of a sphere (4(pi)r^2). I flipped to the back and bam, a blank page. Not having it in the back was actually helpful in the instance because I actually paused and recalled how they said to remember that formula in Algebra 1 (a picture of the area of 4 circles). But yeah, it was surprising!

Checking the second edition just now, though, they actually don’t have that particular formula! Ha! But I’m right, there is a selection of geometric formulas there in Algebra 2 second edition and it’s not there in Algebra 2 Third Edition.

Now you know.
Edited to add: I can definitely confirm that they are NOT identical. Problem set 12, question 24 is almost the same except that an ‘a^2’ is replaced with ‘2^2’ in the problem. This makes the answer completely different, so at least for one problem you cannot trust the 2nd edition answer key for the 3rd edition book. Bummer.

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Algebra 1 DONE

I should say “done again.” I did complete this book before. Probably the first math book I *ever* completed, back in 2010 or so. But yeah, it’d been a while.

But it’s done as of 10 minutes ago or so.

On to Algebra 2!

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Home Stretch

Up to lesson 110 in Algebra 1. Ten left. Hoping to finish before May 1.

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Dad as Mom

My wife had been on bed rest for the last three weeks or so of pregnancy. We tried having her be at home alone with the kids, but that really didn’t work out very well. She had to get up too much. So I tried to finish up what I needed to at work and then just took off (with permission). I have a great employer, by the way. Schweitzer Engineering Laboratories is awesome.

Anyway, I’ve tried to keep going with my math review. I had completed lesson 80 of Algebra 1 when I came home. 15 days later (through yesterday) I’ve completed lesson 88. Not quite the rate I was expecting having so much “time off.” It’s OK, though. I was home to help my wife and kids, and I’ve done that. And I thus have a renewed respect for my wife (she works HARD). Doing about a quarter of what I had been doing per week is better than nothing by a long shot. It’ll be much easier to hit it hard again after I get back to normal life since I didn’t take the whole time off.

Also, I now have a new kid! Abigail is awesome. 6 kids. Insane. And again, my wife is amazing.

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Stupid Errors

By far and away the majority of the errors I make at this point are what I’d call “stupid errors.” Things like forgetting to carry a negative sign down when writing the final answer. Or (the one I hate the most, probably) forgetting to write the units. That one really perturbs me because it really matters.

Anyway, currently I’m marking every little error as a straight-up wrong answer. Because it is wrong. If it’s not really an error, such as writing the answer in a different but not incorrect format, I don’t mark it as wrong–heck, Saxon explicitly states that they’ll record the answer in different formats to emphasize that some things are up to the individual. However, if the format for the answer is stated in the problem, such as “Write exponents in the denominator” and some are written in the numerator, I definitely mark the entire problem wrong.

My theory behind doing this is that it hurts. “You get more of what you subsidize and less of what you penalize.” This is a penalty. A self-imposed one, but a one I care about. But the upshot is that when I really get a problem set completely correct (only 3 times, unfortunately), it really feels good. And I can tell it does change things. I used to struggle with that whole units thing; I don’t think I’ve missed that in a while. My current bugaboo is not noticing an answer stipulation, like mentioned above with exponents in the denominator. But I figure if I keep marking it wrong, I’ll pay closer attention and be better off in the long run.

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