Keeping the Bucket Full

Y’know, after an academic year, one feels, well… less than academic.

A housemate of mine in College Park has what might medically be termed ‘leaky bucket syndrome’. After even a full week’s absence from ‘Teh Learnin’, knowing full well that a whole summer’s worth of procrastination awaits him, everything just starts leaking out. He literally does not recognize the content of a topic he studied a mere week or two earlier. And he is, or aspires to be at least, an engineer of some sort (cringe). I’m sure I’m exaggerating a tad here, but still.

Aside from descrying the wellspring of my life’s sustenance (also known widely as a very emo way of describing the process of finding a job. And yes, I realize that emo jokes are no longer in style. And I’m sure you realize that I realize. How meta do you want to go here, huh?), I think that leaky bucket syndrome is my topmost worry.

I know, mid-swing into the semester, especially what might be my last semester of higher education ever, I don’t feel like picking up the dense manual of obscure cuneiform fuck-all that is a mathematics textbook ever again. But right now, at the end of the gauntlet, with no foreseeable intellectual challenges ahead, I can feel ‘teh smart’ draining out of me. I mean, just today it took me a whole fifteen minutes to solve a simple freaking 3 by 3 eigenvalue problem. Worrisome, innit? How the hell was I supposed to remember that symmetric matrices have orthogonal eigenvectors? (All you non-math people are probably saying to yourselves right now: “Yeah.. uh huh.. yeah I always forget that.. Yep.. *cough*”. Well think how I feel, bitches!)

So I have two general strategies going forward. One is to read lots of science and math blogs. But that’s too easy. I already do that. So, checkity-check. My other strategy, then, is to work my way through five or more pages of a math textbook every single day, preferably on a topic I’ve not explicitly encountered before. That oughta show ’em! Or something.

So yeah. Anybody have any other suggestions? How do I keep my math skills fresh? Or am I doomed, unless I teach or work in academia, to mathematical-Alzheimer’s-land?

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