Expect me to be incommunicando for the weekend; the association of/for exchange students at the science faculty has arranged a retreat to a research cottage in the middle of Danish agricultural nowhere. It promises to be at the least an educational look at native fungi, and probably a good time as well.

Meanwhile, to celebrate, here’s Salvaged Item #3, which is what we wrote during my very first ever calculus study group back in high school.

The 10 Stages of Calculus Problem-Solving

1. Denial – “I don’t really have to do this problem”
2. Bargaining – “if I do the rest of the problems, then maybe I won’t have to do this one”
3. Anger – “goddammit, who the hell wrote this fucking problem, and why the fuck do I have to do it anyway?!”
3b. Incoherent Hostile Muttering
4. Despair – “I’ll never be able to solve this problem!”
5. Acceptance – “oh, I suppose I should start the problem now”
6. Confusion – “what? huh? three?”
6b. Pathetic Whimpering
7. Determination – “I am Thrag, the barbarian mathematician. I will use my club made from the femur of Blaise Pascal and beat this problem to a bloody integrable pulp!”
8. Ingenuity – “maybe if I take the derivative of f(g(x)), and then have a look in the back of the book…”
9. Procrastination – “I’ll understand it better in the morning anyway”
10. Apathy – “ah, whatever, fuck it”

I had this taped onto my book cover for the rest of the year, along with a list of reasons why calculus is like sex (you know, curves and the area under them, that sort of thing). It made the teacher laugh… my high school calculus teacher was one of the rare gems who seemed to genuinely appreciate the antics of the bored smart kids in the back of the room, as long as we kept things reasonably quiet. In a way, I kind of miss high school, since I was bored and trapped enough most of the time to come up with some great creative outlets. The witty banter was doomed from the beginning, of course, and all the TI-basic programs were lost when I spilled hydrochloric acid on my calculator in chem lab, but I’ve still got a couple sketchbooks full of abortive comic strips and one-panel sarcastic nematodes.

Of course, yesterday I filled two pages of my Danish workbook with Sven the Danish Gangsta Sheep and variations on the phrase “København er ind huset, baaa!!!” – maybe there’s hope for the future. Or at least some Ritalin or something.

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