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You get good at anything by practicing it a lot, and that includes mathematics. I wanted to bring my foundational math skills up to a good strong level, and I didn't want to schlep around a lot of textbooks. So after a little poking around I discovered Kuta Software (based in Istanbul), which markets a line of "Infinite" math worksheet programs aimed at the grade school to college levels.

I started using the software last night and I'm very happy with the product. Right now I'm working on solving polynomials by completing the square; this is one of those operations that you can learn step-by-step in a few minutes, but it's only by working many practice problems that it becomes natural.

The topics covered range from arithmetic to calculus. You set the parameters for your worksheet (topic, number of problems, easy/hard, involves fractions or doesn't, etc.) and the program spits out as many worksheets as you want, with fresh problems each time. You can refresh the random values each time so you never run out of problems - hence, "Infinite".

Now that I'm officially working in the IT field, I'm going to want to make sure my technical skills are strong, and notwithstanding my age I'm still hoping to get around to finishing that BS degree in Physics or Engineering. An endless supply of practice math problems will help me stay in the game.
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I'd thought I would be taking the computer course in the comfort of my own home; as things turned out, I was at home but not very comfortable. I broke my arm on September 9, the second day of the course. But I still managed to finish the program (sitting in front of my laptop, clutching my shoulder, mousing with my left hand, and trying not to moan to loudly during the lectures) and ended up passing the exam. I was awarded my CompTIA A+ certificate on September 23. The last week of September - twelve weeks ago now - was my first week of classes at Portland State. I'd signed up for Linear Algebra, US History, Modern Physics, and Intro to Acting. This was my first time taking full-time classes in a number of years, and I still hadn't picked a major, but it was fun going back to school.

Five weeks later, PSU's ten-week term was half over and I was taking mid-terms. I generally perform better, grade-wise, in the humanities than in the computational sciences, and that held true this semester: I did well in acting and history, less so in math and physics. PSU is not too far from where I live, about a 45-minute walk, and I usually prefer to walk it when the weather is pleasant. So, distracted by the pressure of mid-term week, I was blissfully unaware that my car had been towed until I looked for it that weekend.

Four weeks ago, Dr. J was still in the shop; she'd been towed and had a window broken, and it turned out she needed a lot of engine work, including a new head gasket. My acting prof had assigned a "comedic monologue" to be read in class, and I wrote what I hoped would be an entertaining account of the towing incident, but the prof got side-tracked and several of us never got to give our presentations. This was where I finally started becoming really disenchanted with the acting prof - he's very likeable, but he is extremely erratic. But it was a short week, and it was nice having the Thanksgiving weekend off.

After getting Dr. J back from the shop, I promised myself I'd start driving regularly - so that I'd keep track of the car, and also because I'd decided it was high time to get over my longstanding mild phobia of driving. So I started driving on a daily basis; last week I drove to Hood River twice. And I made concrete plans with the adviser at PSU: I'm now officially down for a BA in Liberal Studies, which basically allows me to take anything I want. And my dating life took a big step forward.

So that brings us up to date. Last Tuesday night was the first night of Hanukkah, and tonight is the last. Sometimes I like to take a look back and see where I've been, because it helps me move forward.
asher553: (Default)
At the end of last May, I was working at an underpaid and overstressful position at a local utility company. My boss, "Darla", was impossible to please and I was looking forward to the end of the assignment. In my off-time I was finishing up an online course in digital cryptography from Stanford, offered for free through Coursera. On May 27, I took the final and aced it. (This was the second of two goals I'd set for myself - earlier in the month, on May 4, I took the test for my ham radio Technician license - and got 100% on that one, too.)

By the end of August, I'd mostly gotten the old junk cleared out of my new place - it would've been a lot cheaper to do it before I moved, obviously, but there wasn't time. There wasn't much in the way of excitement, except that on the 22nd some goofball came up to me on the street and snapped a picture of me. With the radio license and cryptography course under my belt, I got busy signing up for an online CompTIA computer certification course and classes at Portland State. It would be a crunch, because the PSU term started almost immediately after the computer class ended, but I figured I could do the computer classes at home - with no distractions, and in comfort. Or so I thought.
asher553: (Default)
Question for US readers: Has anybody had any first-hand experience with Head Start - either your own kids, or someone else's? (Or yourself?)

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