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Well, the maths I did do today was a bit desultory, but rather… - Sally's Journal
March 28th, 2004
11:35 pm

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Well, the maths I did do today was a bit desultory, but rather interesting. I'm trying very hard to look on the bright side (ie, after a week of rest and rehabilitation from this cold, I'm now doing some maths rather than no maths at all, which has to be an infinite improvement) However, it's kind of hard not to hate myself for not working harder, it's less than two months before "the most important exams of my life"* and I still don't have the kind of brain that can settle to more than 30 minutes of reading maths before it decides that playing freecell, re-reading livejournal, wandering round the house, having a cup of tea or reading Harry Potter is more interesting. It makes me wonder why I'm not trying to make a career out of those instead...

Went to watch the boat race this afternoon. Kind of disappointing, and left a bit of a bad taste in my mouth (ok, nothing could ever live up to last years epic race, which could have been a film script with its racing brothers, broken arms and final minute come back to be followed by bitter defeat) Both teams could row really well, and there were some gorgious pieces from both of them, with some really crisp clean rowing. But the whole thing was spoilt by the blades clashing fiasco, and all the protests it raised afterwards. Yes, I know both coxes are under an awful lot of pressure, and I know good coxing can make or break a race, and I know they have to be agressive and go for the racing line, but there should be a limit. I don't think Oxfords foul should have been upheld, as they were being just as bad as us, and the second clash that did them the most damage seemed mainly their fault. But I'm sure it's possible for the two crews to follow routes of equal lenght side by side down the thames with it still being an exciting race (rather than a solitary time trial). I want to see good coxing, and I want to see good racing lines... but I don't want to see what I saw in the boat race today. I think we would probably have won anyway, we were on great form, but the real clincher in todays race was the Oxford bow loosing those ten or so strokes because of the blades clashing. There shouldn't be any need for it, and if there really is, then they should *gasp* change the format of the race** so we can watch two great crews racing against each other and actually compair their rowing and the skill of their cox in stearing and motivating them down the entire course, so we can have a clean victory.

After the boat race was pizza, and bagpuss, and Muppets Treasure Island. And it was good, and nice :-) Although I found myself being very shocked that the cartoon pictures of mermaids in the first bagpuss were topless. And then finding myself shocked that I was shocked. I don't think it's that I think kids shouldn't see nipples, it's just that I think I live in a world where kids TV can't show nipples, and it shocks me that a world when it could wasn't as long ago as I thought. Then again, when I was young it was still OK to take pictures of your own children naked.

*again. So far these have been GCSEs, A level modules, STEP, Part 2b maths, and now Part III maths. I'm getting really sick of always being just before the most important exams of my life. Especially having finals the year after my finals. It's too much for my tuits to cope with.

**I can see that the bendyness of the river might just mean that for an equal lenght race the crew on one side would have to start several lenghts ahead of the crew on the other side, which might make it just as demoralising and hard from the beginning as it was for Oxford when they were behind today. And also make the start much less interesting. But if it lead to cleaner racing I think I'm still for it.

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From:ilanin
Date:March 28th, 2004 04:42 pm (UTC)
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This post contains rather too many replies. I will leave it to you to sort them out....

No, I can't maintain more than half an hour of concentration either; and as things to worry about go, I don't think that particular one is a problem. Provided you actually do enough work (yes, I know....), it isn't all that much of a problem in what size chunks you do it.

Professional sportsmen, and probably professionals of many other breeds, often say that the most important event is the one today. There's a Stirling Moss comment that gets it perfectly:
"Today I can get killed or I can win or I can lose. Last week's race has gone and next week's may never arrive." So it isn't entirely surpising that the most important exams of your life are always the next ones. Certainly I would always regard them as such.

If I had been the boat race umpire I would have stopped the race at the second clash of oars and restarted with the boats level. To claim we would have won anyway is silly - we have no way of knowing, but Oxford rowed horribly most of the course, they were rowing far too short (they were rowing 5 strokes a minute faster and going slower....), and snatching strokes (watching on television, which is *still* the best way to watch rowing events, you could often hear the Oxford cox trying to calm his eight down) - because they were under too much pressure due to having conceded a length and a half as a result of an accident. Yet they almost blew us away at the start - I don't think you can say who the better eight was today. A very hollow victory.

I sincerely doubt that the crews following two routes of equal length is either possible or exciting. The course is of roughly equal length from Middlesex and Surrey stations at the moment, but the most crucial factor is the current. You'd have to change the route of the race each year; and at very short notice, in order to accomodate the shifting currents of the Thames, and it would make coxing it very hard indeed. If you don't account for the current then each year's winner is decided by it. In addition to that, changing the format as a result of a bad year is, perhaps, overreaction.

Oh, and yay! and *hugs* on the PhD offers. Since you know what I would say about the decision without me having to tell you, I will save giving advice until/unless I can do it in a format where the telepathy works better.
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From:ewx
Date:March 29th, 2004 03:49 am (UTC)

concentration

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Can you deliberately take small breaks (say a minute or two) at (slightly) smaller intervals than your normal concentration span, and if so does this help? I have mechanically enforced 5m breaks every 45m of keyboard time for reasons that are not really anything to do with concentration span, and this does seem to help maintain attention as a side-effect.
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From:edith_the_hutt
Date:March 29th, 2004 05:32 am (UTC)
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Given that much of children's television these days is basically a glorified advertisement for some form of merchandise I can only say that I am both intrigued and disturbed by the appearance of nipples in kids TV....
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From:benparker
Date:March 31st, 2004 01:36 am (UTC)

I say deregulate the boat race

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Let them clash oars, bang boats together, bring water-pistols. It would make the whole thing much more interesting.
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