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(
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    Vampires  echo $newRAM;
    added Thu October 02 2003 at 10:21 AM
    0 comments
    Count Dracula would feel right at home at BYU's student health center.

    I have often heard people joke that the health center's solution for anything is to take a blood sample. Got a cold? Take a blood sample. Allergies acting up? Take a blood sample. Broken arm? By all means, a blood sample is absolutely necessary.

    Somehow, I had made it through two full years without giving them my blood once. I even went in to visit them a couple times, but no blood samples. Then a few weeks ago, the doctor was worried about mono. So, of course, they have to take a blood sample. That's understandable, though, because the only way to test for mono is by using a blood sample.

    Then last month... wait a minute, it was just last week! Anyway, last Monday I went to the hospital. Somewhere in the fog of pain, they took several blood samples. I have no clue how much blood they took, but I do know that they changed the vials several times. I wasn't watching, cause I hate needles.

    Then I went back for a follow-up visit, and the doctor ordered a blood cell count and a blood sugar test. Naturally, both of these tests require blood samples. To make matters worse, I had eaten breakfast that morning, so I could only take the blood cell count at that time and I had to go back for the blood sugar test. I now have a lovely pale green bruise on my arm from where they keep poking me with those stupid needles. The scary thing is that the last time I didn't even care about it... it was rather routine by that time.

    There is good news at the end of it all. Today I went to the doctor for the world's shortest doctor visit. I waited a total of 30 minutes to speak with the doctor, and I talked with her for about a minute and a half. Obviously, the reason why it was so short was that it's all better. All the tests have finally come back normal, and the pain has completely gone away (knock on wood).

    I scare myself with the realization that I'm not so afraid of giving blood anymore. Perhaps I will start selling plasma, or at least donate regularly. The only possible explanation is that the constant vampirical encounters have finally turned me into a vampire.

    Upper Division TA  echo $newRAM;
    added Thu October 02 2003 at 10:45 AM
    0 comments
    When I first got the job as a math lab TA, I was scared of the prospect of being called an "upper division" TA Now that I've put in a few hours, I think I may have come to the conclusion that there are times where it's easier to work with the upper division people than the lower division people.

    The main difference between working with the two groups is the expectations they have of TA's. When you sit down to help somebody with their lower-level calculus (yes, there is such a thing as lower-level calculus, compared to the upper division math), they think that because I'm the TA, I should be able to know everything right at the beginning. What they don't realize is that it's been almost three years since I even had to do epsilon-delta proofs, and I didn't really like them or fully understand them at the time. No, I don't remember the entire process of proving that the limit exists. When you actually start using limits, you never have to *prove* they exist, they just either do or don't.

    On the other hand, the students in upper division math classes are extremely patient. Sometimes, they don't care about somebody giving them the answer as much as just having someone to share the misery with them. They don't mind if you sit down and read the chapter and look through some examples before working with them to figure out a solution.

    Another advantage of the upper division students is that they can think through the problem themselves if they just have somebody to bounce ideas off of. Last night, I sat down with a student in a class I've never taken before and between the two of us we worked through the problem he was having difficulties with. He had to explain to me what it was that he was working on, but then I was able to read through the book and guide him through the part he was having difficulties with.

    Sometimes when students from lower classes are having difficulties, they are struggling with things that I don't even think about. How do you explain to someone what it means to add like terms? It's like teaching someone to walk. Really, the only way to do it is to hold them up and let them go to see if they can take that first step.