The Way to the Center of the Earth

Lava lake, via The Big Picture

José Urquiza and Finishing Early

Dr. José Urquiza is my numerical analysis teacher. I really love him. He’s such a contrast to Dr. André Fortin. He’s André’s polar opposite. Fortin was always rushing through class, rushing to give us all ofthe matter he could. José takes his time and is relaxed. He explains clearly and well.

Today, he took about 25 minutes to explain what we did wrong in a lab we completed last week. André had never done this. I really appreciated that.

We always have a break at 20 minutes past the hour. Ten minutes later, we start up again.

Oh, I’ve gone over a bit. Do you mind if we continue? No one has any appointments, I’ll finish class early today, he said with a smile.

For some reason, everyone in class was tired. It was Friday. There were 5 people missing out of a total of 17 students in the class. So José just continued. We all thougt that he would finish at noon or 12:10, instead of 12:20. Boy were we surprised.

Well, I’ll stop here for this week.

I was shocked. I didn’t know what to do. It was 11:30, we had finished a full 50 minutes before the end of the class. I started putting my pencils away. Geneviève had been rumaging through my pencil case and it was a mess. Thankfully, I got some grapes in exchange. No one really said a word. Everyone was quietly happy and we left.

Depanning and Charging Math

Two of my classes this semester include specific periods where graduate students come to answer questions about the exercises we have to complete. We call these classes a charge or a dépannage. This semester, both of these guys aren’t very good. The department decided to give these teaching hours to new graduate students, who don’t really have any idea on how to teach. Last year, I had two really great students who were great in class. This semester, it’s pretty paltry. The reason is that the department wanted to give these new students a chance, even though the professors had requested specific students, which would have been really good.

Thankfully, the student for Analysis III (metric spaces, compact spaces, topology, etc) is still decent. We shall call him S. Even though S is hard to understand, he does explain the problems and is willing to help us out. Since my linguistic ability is quite adaptable, I have no problems understanding him. He seems to have a good grasp of the subject matter and I actually enjoy going to those classes. By far, Analysis III is my favorite math class. It’s probably the class that I like the most out of all of the classes I’ve ever taken. I dream of Analysis, of open boules and series that converge towards their limits and are excluded from these boules.

Our other graduate student is a bit of a joke. Nope, that’s probably saying too much. We shall refer to him as Y. Y isn’t that bad, but out of 17 students, 3 elected to stay for this period. Then again, the same number stayed for the other period with the other student, but the quality definitely went down.

Still, it’s possible to learn. The one thing is that he makes a lot of mistakes on the black board on stuff that he’s supposed to get right, which is kind of annoying. Strangely enough, I did manage to learn something. Elo learned something as well, even though the graduate student frustrated her.


I’ve got two final exams tomorrow, plus two assignments that are due in the next two days. The assignments are completed and I’ve almost finished studying. It’s been a hard semester. I can’t wait till Friday.

On top of that, I have the same professor in those two classes. He’s allright, but I’m hoping that the finals will be easy, since he wanted to have an 80% average in his class. He models his exams on the HW he gives, so I should be good.

A Night Out

I left school on Thursday pretty happy. We were talking about a strange math student and having a chuckle when I learned that it was possible that he had Asperger’s syndrome. I felt a little bit bad, but then again coupled with our professor Bob, he is just hilarious. Gabrielle and I find him really funny.

I came home and worked on my last article for Unplggd. I just had a few minutes before I had to head out again. It was my job’s Christmas dinner at the Momento on Cartier street. It’s a well-known non-cheap restaurant and work was paying for the bill. I checked the bus schedule and ran up to the bus stop to make the 5:56PM bus to Cartier street. I could have walked, but it was getting pretty cold and I didn’t feel like it.

It was the first time I was wearing my new ’09 Arc’Teryx Alpha SV and I really like it. It’s a lot different that the Alpha LT, but still the same type of coat. It’s a lot more rugged and SV means Severe Weather. It’s got two more pockets, comes down the back slightly more and the material is a lot more sturdy. I really like the Arc’Teryx hood concept. It really works well and I got the Miro Blue color, which is my favorite.

I digress.

I arrived at Momento on time and started dinner. It was funny because I was one of the youngest teachers there. Most of the other teachers were a lot older. Michelle arrived as well. She’s the only other teacher from my company that I had met before and talked. She usually teaches at the same places I do, that’s why. Michelle is a Brit from Bristol.

Dinner was great and my boss lent/gave me five books to read, which I found really nice. My steak came out well done after I had asked for a rare one, and the top boss Benoit told me to return it to the kitchen. It came back about 10 minutes later a lot better. A lot of teachers and even my boss prompted me to tell the Schtroumpf Grognon Versus La Schtroumpfette story that happened the day before. It was the talk of our company and I told the story as well as I could. The thing is that it’s a pretty long story and it’s easy to get distracted by other comments from other people.

After dinner, Michelle was heading out to meet a friend in Old Québec and I decided to tag along. This is one of the easiest ways of getting me to go out, to just tag along. Mike, another teacher, decided to come as well. We dropped by her place (to change shoes) and my place (drop off books) and went to…

The Bistro.

The Bistro?

Yep, the Bistro!

The Bistro is a really shitty and sketchy bar in Old Québec. It’s known for having a lot of fights, letting in minors easily and just basically bad behaviour. Thankfully, I learned that we were joining Natalie, president of a university student association. They had done a deal with the Bistro and were having a party there. It turned out pretty well.

It was somewhat surreal since I left a place where everyone was speaking English to another place where everyone was speaking English. This is really strange in Québec, where everyone speaks French usually. Apparently, there were only three other Canadians in that bar that night, which was even stranger.

The reason why everyone was speaking English is because it was the French as a Second Language students that where there from Laval. That explained a lot. Surprisingly, I had fun. I met Natalie, Heather and Zoe. Heather was particularly funny. I played some pool and got roped into dancing and playing dart. I shared some jokes with Mike about our eerie situation.

I left at about half past midnight.

Running Home

Today, campus security decided that everyone needed to know where to go in case of an evacuation. Hundreds of students congregated to the science faculty building.

I got some new direction from my editor and my mind is already ruminating on what he told me. Things are going well on that front.

I went to a show yesterday night. I saw We Are Wolves (wiki). It was pretty sweet. I didn’t stay for Digitalism, they started at around 00:30. Too late for me. I went home. I did take some great pics, which I’ll upload later.

Today, I had to run home during lunch hour to get a form that I had forgotten this morning. I didn’t have any milk at home, so I didn’t get my morning tea fix. By then, I was feeling the withdrawal symptoms. I stopped for a few minutes to gulp down a scalding cup and went back to school.

Afternoon classes start at 1:30. I arrived at the central bus stop at 1:27. I started sprinting to my faculty building. I managed to get into my seat in class at around 1:33. I hadn’t missed anything. It didn’t help that the guy sitting behind me has a mild case of Tourette’s syndrome.

This morning, it was 4C. This afternoon it was 19C. You can imagine how that went. I was overdressed in the morning. I had on way too many layers. When I arrived home, I dumped off a few of them. In the bus back to school, I took of the rest. I had a t-shirt on while I sprinted.

I’ll have a scheduling conflict this whole semester. It’s between a Number Theory class and a Complex Analysis class. I’ve decided to attend the Number Theory class. I love analysis and the prof has scheduled only two exams, no homework or tests in that class. My Number Theory professor has got her usual slew of tests, homework and exams. After my Number Theory class, I found Nancy to photocopy her notes from the Complex Analysis class. She confided that today’s class wasn’t very clear.

I wasn’t surprised. I had my Complex Analysis professor earlier that same day in Algebraic Structures. He did what I’d describe in French as Du coq à l’âne. That idiomatic expression means that he went from one subject to another. My classmate Caro was doing a Sudoku puzzle during class.

The whole department had a meeting for the first year students today, at 3:30PM. I got roped into it because I needed Nancy’s notes. I stayed for the meeting. I got to chat with Emmanuelle, a girl I knew back in 2001, who was hired by the math department to run the CDA, a place where first year students can get help with solving math problems.

Afterward, I dropped off my form at work and went home. I walked a lot. Students walk a lot. I don’t mind it. It’s very healthy.

After classes, a 2nd year student was talking about soulmates. He said that he’s been with his girlfriend for three years, but she’s not his soulmate.

I’ve finished my classes for the week. I’ve got a lot of work ahead of me. Most of my weekend will be spent doing math work and prepping next week’s classes. I’m working four hours tomorrow.


Number of posts waiting for me in my Google Reader today.

Hmm. I’ve got a lot of catching up to do in my classes. Things are starting quickly, and I’m already in my books, reading Complex Analysis books, reviewing notes and starting exercises.

I’ve got Number Theory, Algebraic Structures, Complex Analysis and Optimization. I only took the Optimization class because my favorite professor is giving it. It kind of follows what we studied in Numerical Linear Algebra. Thankfully, I’ve seen most of the concepts in these classes. There was one advanced Analysis class that I wanted to take, but it’s not necessary to graduate. I’ll take it as a graduate class in Taiwan. It’s called Measure and Integration, reputedly one of the most difficult undergraduate classes in mathematics. Only 8 people are taking it this year, and it’s given every second year.

I came up and worked on my Unplggd posts for tomorrow. Tomorrow, I don’t have any classes, but I’m giving an English class. Other than that, I’ll hit the books and work on some blog posts and maybe go for a run. It’s getting cold here. It was 12C this morning.

A friend named JP noticed that I had an ecoeurite aigue. In Québecois, this means that I just had enough about how things were going. He’s about to graduate and I hadn’t seen him since my return last week. It’s funny to see how easy it is to read me. I was surprised and flattered that he took the time to enquire. I admitted that I had things on my mind, from my new place, to stuff that I forgot to bring, like some of my pens, and other stuff like catching up on the classes that I missed last week. I felt better after talking with him, because most of the time, I just keep things inside.

End Of Semester Nerves

It’s gettting towards the end of the semester here in Quebec, and I’m getting antsy.

I’ve got an oral presentation tomorrow in one of my classes, but I’m getting nervous. I’m not that nervous, since I have taught groups of 30 4th graders, but still… I’m a bit nervous. This morning, I woke up at around 6AM, unable to sleep anymore. I think that I was tossing and turning since 5AM.

Part of the day was taken up by coding our last homework in Numerical Analysis. My partner was absent, so I coded for a few hours by myself. I’ve been told that he’s completed his part and I’m anxious to combine them. The assignment is due on Friday.

I’ve got a small test on Thursday in Analysis I. I want to take most of the evening to study. Since I only start classes at 10:30AM, I’ll have part of the morning as well. The test is on mathematical series. It’s perfect practice for the exam next

I’m still amazed at the whole CamelBak and Crystal Castles incidents on my blog. I’d like to say that the Crystal Castles isn’t really my business, though I commented on it and based my opinions from other sources. I’d just like to mention that I’ve been listening to Crystal Castles non-stop since I posted my blog, so maybe that means there is no bad promotion, right? (I really like their music too!)

A Dean’s List On The Storytree

I talked with a Dean’s list student yesterday. He told me that he planned on doing his master’s at University Laval. I asked him why he didn’t want to consider studying abroad. With his grades, it would be easy to get accepted to a prestigious US university. He told me that his English wasn’t good enough for him to study abroad. He didn’t plan on doing a doctorate. He wanted to pursue research in the private or professional field. I found this surprising, yet strangely familiar. Two of my old classmates did their doctorates in Quebec as well and didn’t plan on leaving the province. Familiarity and language have isolated them.

La Fabrique

La Fabrique is the building of the visual arts school of University Laval.

It was built in 1886 and was home to Dominion Corset, a company manufacturing women’s underwear. It was bought by the university in 1993.

It was renovated and the visual arts school moved into it in 1994.

The building was deathly silent as I went around and snapped a few pictures. I saw my friend Sagana working there.

Continue reading “La Fabrique”