Things have been a little slow here on the blog lately, with fewer and shorter posts than usual — the reason, I’m happy to announce, is that I’m finishing up my time as a visitor here in Minnesota and this summer we’re moving to Connecticut! I’m starting a tenure-track position at Southern Connecticut State University. I’m thrilled … More Moving to Connecticut!
One of the weirder tech issues I’ve had is that my laptop refuses to connect to wifi while its backup hard-drive is plugged in — it took me a while to figure out that’s what was even going on! I want my things to “just work,” and it’s so frustrating when they don’t. But it got me … More Brokenness is inaccurate emergence
To memorize a collection of words or concepts, it can help to form a familiar word out of the first letters, making an acronym like HOMES for the five Great Lakes of North America: Huron Ontario Michigan Erie Superior For another example, I still remember the order of the four stages of mitosis from high … More Memorize with Acronyms, not Alliteration
What I have to share today is a simple idea that I’ve found really motivating. When I feel like I’m stuck in a loop of choices I regret, each leading to the next in a vicious cycle, I remind myself that every vicious cycle can also be a virtuous cycle. For example, if I don’t … More Every vicious cycle is also a virtuous cycle
I’m ending this year with another roundup of some books I read this year. I like to give out awards to my favorites, sometimes in made-up categories (see my distinction between “hard” and “tender” sci fi below). So without further ado:
I have a hard time remembering things that went well. It’s much easier for me to call to mind mistakes I’ve made: times I dropped the ball, or tried and failed to do something that matters to me. This is definitely a phenomenon many people experience (negativity bias), but at least in my case there’s … More Three Good Decisions
In math, I’m used to making no distinction between saying “A and B” and saying “B and A” — they each assert that both of the component statements are true. In fancy terms, we say that the conjunction “and” is commutative, like addition (a+b=b+a) and multiplication (ab = ba). Many mathematical operations are not commutative in general, … More “A and B” is equivalent to “B and A”, and the order matters
“Which am I supposed to use: mean or median?” Early on in my stats classes, we talk about how to describe the distribution of a piece of numerical information — things like height, weight, age, income, and so on that can vary continuously. A good description should cover three aspects of the distribution: A measure … More Binary compression of continuous data
My wife and I enjoy playing Wingspan, a beautiful strategy game about choosing birds to live in your bird sanctuary. This past week we played a few games together against the computer — she’s much better than I am, so I hoped to pick up some strategy tips from her for the next time we play against … More Maximal matching: What to do when?
One of my earliest posts here was about different meanings of “habit”: there are … … intentional habits, things you regularly choose to do, … automatic habits, things you do on autopilot, and … mindset habits, your default ways of thinking. Intentional and automatic habits look very similar — the difference is how much mental effort you … More Three tools for changing your mindset