### Various statuses

Apr. 29th, 2011 10:42 amI'm at six weeks without biting my nails but I had to trim them a bit last week to prevent cracking so I feel like I've made negative progress, though trimming is definitely positive progress really and at least one of them now looks 'normal', bringing me to 6 normal-looking nails, 2 that are slightly damaged, and 2 that are still pretty grim but at least have nails on them instead of raw exposed beds. So... Definitely progress.

Piracetam... I _think_ it is having an effect but it's so close to placebo that it's really hard to tell. It seems as if my reading comprehension is a little bit better and my analytical abilities might also be slightly higher, but it's so close to no change that it's impossible to say. Could be entirely psychosomatic.

However, one useful bit of information that's fallen out of recent study. Yesterday I was refreshing on using Gauss-Jordan elimination of reciprocal matrices and when I checked my answers, I kept finding failures, not in the method but in the basic arithmetic. Funny thing is... I'm great at basic arithmetic. Give me straight addition, multiplication, finding perfect squares, factoring or whatever, and I'm really excellent at doing it in my head.

The failure state, it turns out is when I combine more than one type of basic arithmetic when dealing with signed operators. Ask me a question where -10000 < x*y < 10000 and I'll do it in my head and get it right every single time. But ask me a question where -100 < x*y + z < 100 and I'll blow it about half the time if I try to do it in my head. Looks like what happens is that my brain fixes the sign-handling rules for the first chunk it handles and asserts them to the later part when I'm doing them in my head. So if it's something like 3 * (-4) - 1, I'll frequently end up with 11 instead of -13.

It's kind of fascinating. I've always had this fail case. I've run into it time and again when I checked my work and always have been irritated with myself over failure in such basic operations but until yesterday, I never saw the pattern that lead to the fail case. Of course now I have to figure out how to correct it. If possible I'd like to avoid just isolating the steps and writing them out longhand since that's a lot of extra writing. Still. Really cool to figure out how I fail and my suspicion is that this behavior set is broader than math. I bet if I watch closely a lot of my fail states result from trying to make shortcuts when I combine SimpleThing1 and SimpleThing2. It would be cool if I could debug the behavior and get cleaner shortcutting behavior. I suspect this is mostly just a mental exercise and probably matrix inversions are a great way to work on it.

So. That's my exciting life. How's yours? ^_^