#580 – In Which Our Hero Goofs Off

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Well, not completely.

This morning was dedicated to getting tomorrow night’s biology homework done, and then the early afternoon was spent in the dentist’s office, waiting to drive my wife home after a procedure (and a Valium). THEN I goofed off. But I’ve been doing some hardcore goofing off, let me tell you. Computer games. Naps. Snacks. The only thing that was missing was a pillow fort.

Right now, though, it’s all I can do to keep my eyes open, so I’m going to wrap up here. More tomorrow, I hope.

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Crash

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Short post tonight, due to a blood sugar crash a few minutes ago. I’ve stabilized, but I’m still feeling the echo of the crash and I want to go lie down and sleep it off. (If you’ve never felt your blood sugar crash before, it is a very odd sensation, and not at all pleasant to go through.)

Today was a good day. Finished my second algebra homework assignment, took my second algebra test, shipped my mom her new phone … it was a good day. More on all that tomorrow, and possible the results of the test as well!

Right now, though … bedtime.

Don’t Worry, Little Brother, There’s More

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I’m so tired right now I’ve tried three times now to write this blog post so it makes sense, so at this point I think I’m going to do something quick and dirty.

Today was another algebra day. That’s what I get for putting off a month-long homework assignment until the last week. Next assignment I won’t be doing that. I’ve learned my lesson. I’ve got a half-day’s worth of work to do tomorrow in between my algebra class in the morning and my biology class in the evening, plus I also need to be studying for a biology quiz tomorrow night. Then on Tuesday, I have a full day’s worth of homework to do to wrap up the assignment, as well as an algebra test on all this material at the Testing Center sometime before it closes Tuesday evening. Then Wednesday morning I turn in the homework. Going to be another busy week for me.

It makes me wonder if I can handle a full class load. Handling these two have been challenging enough, although I am doing quite well in both classes, so there’s that. I just hope that when I move from two classes this semester to four next semester I won’t get overly stressed about it. That’s one of the things my therapist and I have been working on together, preparing me for this level of stress and human interaction.

It still seems strange to me that at the beginning of 2017 I would barely leave the house for anything other than a mandatory trip to a doctor’s appointment. I would sometimes go out to eat on a slow night at a slow restaurant, or go see a movie I really, really wanted to see, but those occasions were uncommon. I never drove unless I had to, I usually had to be coaxed out of the apartment when I left it, and I was going out of my mind with boredom. But this year has been transformative. I can’t believe how far I’ve come in a relatively short period of time, and I have my excellent, excellent therapist and equally wonderful psychiatrist to thank for this. The therapy that I’ve been receiving for years worked up to a certain point, but things really started to click when I got on a more effective medication regimen earlier this year. The meds helped the therapy stick, and it’s been that way every since.

Whatever happens next semester, I’m sure I can handle it. Might be tough going, but I got this.

(Okay, that wasn’t so quick and dirty. Sorry for rambling, y’all.)

Doesn’t This Thing Ever Leave?

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Remember that cold that I was dealing with a week ago? It got better. For about three days. And today, I am dying. I’m coughing my brains out, my nose is alternately congested and runny, my throat is sore, I’m utterly exhausted, and I can barely keep my eyes open. I think I was ready for bed at around 6:00 tonight.

Today’s been another productive day at the algebra mines. Had some troubles but at the end of the day I’d gotten answers to all my questions, at least all the ones that I can do over the computer. (I still have three graph-related questions, two with drawing the graph and one with reading it – I could try scanning that page in and sending it out but the scans aren’t the best quality and the detail necessary to accurately read this graph gets lost in the process.) This time management system seems to be working rather well for me. It’s only day two, though, so we’ll see how things continue to unfold.

Right now I just want to go crawl into bed and sleep this cold away. Wish it worked that way.

That Went Well

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Yesterday I mentioned that I needed some time management skills with our radio station’s manager, and she gave me some advice that I took to heart.

Her recommendation was to use an Android app that has, among other features, a 20/10 timer. When that’s activated, it will count down 20 minutes for you to do whatever it is you’re trying to accomplish, and then it gives you a 10 minute time by which you take a break. You don’t finish what you’re doing, you stop right then and there and do something else for ten minutes. When the timer goes off at the end of those ten minutes, you’re back to work on whatever your project is. And the cycle repeats.

She also suggested I set aside blocks of my day dedicated to various tasks – part of the day for homework, in my case, part of the day for leisure (it’s important that you not neglect your own self-care), part of the day for doing chores, etc. On the days I’m in class, I set aside those days for going to class and learning, and leave the homework to the days I don’t have class. In my case, since I have two classes on Mondays and Wednesdays, I would reserve a block of my day for homework on Tuesdays and Thursdays, for instance.

In the end, I decided against the timer, partially because I was planning to modify the 20/10 principle and partially because I didn’t want to pay for an app that I was only going to use a small portion of its features. I simply set alarms on my phone to tell me when to work and when to stop.

The modification that I was planning was to do a 40/20 hourly cycle rather than two 20/10 cycles an hour. I felt like taking a 10 minute break twice an hour didn’t really allow me to do much of anything during that time, but 20 minutes was more workable, and besides, 40 minutes isn’t that long to sit for a session of schoolwork.

I set my alarms for Tuesday, Thursday, Friday, and Sunday, reserving Saturday as a day completely off from school, something that I feel is very important to help me maintain my sanity. The alarms start in the 9:00 am hour, take a break during the noontime hour, and finally end for the day at 3:00 pm. Each hour, the alarm to tell me to work goes off at the ten minute mark of the hour, and the alarm to tell me to take a break sounds at the fifty minute mark of every hour. That gives me a break during the last ten minutes of the hour and the first ten minutes of the following hour. I chose this time for a specific reason. Right now Secret World Legends is holding its Halloween event, which includes a repeatable raid that starts at two minutes past every hour. That gives me twelve minutes to stop schoolwork, go to the restroom, refill my drinks and grab a snack, and log into the game, and eight minutes to complete the raid. That’s plenty time time for this mission, as the fight is tough but fast. At the end of each run-through, I check my loot, park my character by the entrance to the raid, and log out to the character select screen. (In SWL the character select screen will remain active indefinitely, but at the end of a 15 minute timer in game your character is automatically logged out and your game client is shut down. It’s infinitely faster to stay on the character select screen than to start up the game client each hour.)

I recognize that right now my workload is very heavy and time-sensitive, since I have a major homework assignment due on Wednesday, and I’d barely gotten started on it, so I added alarms for the 4:00 pm and 5:00 pm hours, and added Saturday to the list of days they sound. And then I waited until today to try out the system and see how it works.

This morning when the first alarm went off at 9:10 am I spent a few minutes setting up the apartment for study time – brought up a Pandora station of quiet instrumental music, refilled my coffee and water, went to the restroom -before starting to study around 9:20. I kept my head down and didn’t check the time at all during that first session, and the alarm to take a break went off before I knew it.

During my break, I left the office we have set up in the second bedroom and came out to my main laptop set up in the kitchen and caught up on conversations that were transpiring while I was studying before logging in to do the hourly raid mission. Before I knew it, the raid was over, and the alarm to get back to work sounded. I dropped everything at that point and went back into the office for another session of homework.

The process continued through the 10:00 and 11:00 am hours. When the alarm for break time went off at 11:50 am, that was my cue to take the next hour off for lunch. This was designed to coincide with my wife’s lunch hours, so I can spend time with her either face to face if she comes home for lunch, or on the phone if she stays at the office. Today she came home and we had a nice, somewhat leisurely lunch together. It wasn’t long before she headed back to the office for the afternoon, and I busied myself with leisure activities from that point until the alarm to send me back into the office sounded.

The afternoon went much as the morning did. Some hours I got a lot done, some not so much at all. But I was making steady forward progress on the daily goal I’d set for myself when I laid out what had to be done and by when. It turned out that I needed both hours I added, plus a few minutes more, to be able to make my goal, but I did it. I’ve spent the rest of the evening spending time with my wife.

This system seems to be working very well. It’s only one day so far, but I felt very productive while following my alarms through the day and I hope that will be the case tomorrow as well.

Before I set this system up, I was starting to panic over all I had left to do. Now that it’s broken up into manageable 40 minute long chunks, it doesn’t seem so hard after all.

Should I have learned this years ago and implemented it much, much sooner? Most likely. There are a lot of areas in my life where something like this could have come in handy. I’m a little put out knowing that it took me to this point in life to learn this pretty basic life skill, but my life has hardly ever worked on the schedule that I expect it to. I’m just glad that I’m learning it this early in my educational career.

Back to School

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After taking off the weekend to recover from my cold, I dove back into schoolwork with both feet today. Algebra class went well, and even let out a little early, but for the first time I could not understand what was being covered in class. I’m chalking that up to the fast pace of the class and the copious notes that I take there. I was falling a little behind and it just so happened that my instructor was covering this one concept while I was trying to catch up, and I couldn’t make sense of the process once I’d gotten to that point in the notes. So I stayed after and got him to explain it again, and this time it clicked. It’s a fairly simple process once I understood what’s happening, but since I didn’t know what I was doing, I couldn’t figure it out by just looking at the executed process for a change. (First time that’s happened in class, too.) I came home and with today’s lecture fresh in my mind did the take-home quiz that’s due on Wednesday.

Once I’d finished with the quiz, I took a fairly long break to prep dinner and clean up afterwards. Since Monday and Wednesday nights we only have a window of maybe 45 minutes between the time we get home from picking my wife up at work to the time I need to leave for class, we’re starting to pre-cook dinners for those nights, so the only thing we need to do is heat and go. After that, I started in on my biology homework that’s also due Wednesday. I didn’t get very far, but I got the process started, and now there’s a lot of cleaning up and formatting that has to happen, something I’ll get to tomorrow morning.

Biology tonight was an interesting affair. We started with receiving our most recent quiz. I scored a 9.5/10 on it, which took my overall score in the class to 60/60. (I’m a little proud of that.) I took rather thorough notes tonight, partially because I could make heads or tails out of what my instructor was lecturing about and partially because my study partner was having trouble seeing the board this evening to take notes in our shared document. I told her to take it easy and do what she could, and I’d fill in the blanks when I got home after class. The lecture took a turn for the personal for her. She has a rare disease that’s taken quite a toll on her over the past few years, and one of the examples that our instructor was using seemed to be describing her illness to a T. In the document chat, we got off on a tangent about the progress of research for a treatment/cure, and we postulated what advances might be in the works right now.

I asked my study partner if she wanted me to follow her home after class because of her vision problems, but she assured me that she’d be fine, and that she’d text me when she got home. I came home after that and updated the notes in our shared document as promised, and sent her a text asking her to let me know if she needed anything explained.

The rest of the evening has been goofing off at the computer, and wrapping things up before what I hope will be an early night. I have a lot of schoolwork to do tomorrow. I have the biology homework that’s due on Wednesday to knock out, and then I have to start in on the rest of my algebra homework that I’m terribly behind on and that is doe on the 25th. I’m hoping that I can get most of it done before the weekend, since I have weekend plans all day Saturday and part of the day Sunday, and that’s going to significantly eat into any potential study time that I’d have over those two days. I don’t want to stay home this weekend because of schoolwork.

Skankin’ Pickle Day

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Skankin’ Pickle was a California ska band that performed some rather … interesting songs. One of them is called “You Shouldn’t Judge A Man By The Hair On His Butt!!(Yes, really. Clink the link.) In it, the lead singer proffers that despite outward appearances, well, you shouldn’t judge a man by the hair on his butt. The lyrics are surprisingly sophisticated in places, like “Don’t be fooled, always be fair, this man just might know that E equals m c squared.” But the lyric that always struck me was “Don’t be fooled and change the station, this man just might know that negative b plus or minus square root b squared minus four a c all over 2 a is the quadratic equation.”

I was reminded of this song today in algebra class as today’s topic was quadratic equations and the quadratic formula. I learned a lot today, but I was also writing almost nonstop throughout class, to the point that the quart of water I usually finish by the end of class wasn’t even half gone when I packed up. But because of algebra class, I’ve had this song stuck in my head all day.

Schoolwork is finally starting to quiet down to a dull roar after the screwiness that surrounded my trip to California last month. This week I have another take-home algebra quiz due and a twice-postponed biology quiz scheduled for Wednesday. Around that, I would like to get a head start on the new homework assignment for algebra instead of falling behind like I did with the one I turned in this morning. It’s due on the 25th, so I have some time, but I’d prefer to do the homework as we cover the material in class.