Wednesday, December 16, 2015

Getting ready for the holidays

So I'm almost done with the paperwork I have to do to complete my admission process.  I'll have to go to the CUCEI campus once again tomorrow and, if all goes well, that will be all and I will be able to focus on more important things over the Christmas break.  What bothers me most about the paperwork isn't so much the amount of stuff that I have to get, but the unnecesaryness of the whole thing to begin with.  It is indeed a Kafkian circumstance that CUCEI requires from me all these documents that basically amount to the same information, makes me pay for some of them, and has me going around in circles from one office to the next.  And, all the while, I'm obtaining the documents from... CUCEI! They're asking me to prove to them that I was a student under them.

And so, in this digital age where all the information they need is already in some database that they own, it would be a matter of the admissions people logging on to some system, searching my name, and verifying that yes, indeed I got a degree in physics and it's certified by the folks three doors to their left.  If they ever wanted the actual physical documents, then they could just ask those fellows for my name, and go over there and get them themselves.  But no, it is I who has to request those documents (and pay for them!) and get them from one bureaucrat to the other one a dozen steps away. Most of Mexico works this way, I'm afraid.

In other matters, I've started a wonderful little book I ordered a long time ago in anticipation of a moment like now: A Student's Guide to Vectors and Tensors, by Dan Fleisch (I also own another great little book by him on Maxwell's equations).  The first three chapters are a review me about vectors, but then things get novel when tensors are introduced.  It's in these later chapters that I'll slow down considerably and do the excercises (he also has a supporting website, with all kinds of cool stuff to complement the text).

All of this is in anticipation of three other books that are more on-topic for my study.  These could roughly be classified as being in a beginner, intermediate, and advanced level.  I ordered them a coulple of weeks ago, and it's possible they'll arrive sometime before New Year's eve.  They are the Relativity textbooks by Schutz, Carroll (whose website is featured in my blogroll), and Wald. There are many others, but I'm on a budget and I went for the most bang for my buck.

The semester formally begins on January 18, and I hope to have made some headway as far as learning some of the contents of the Fleisch text at least.  Then things get interesting as I begin to work with my advisor and finally plunge head-first into the most beautiful theory ever devised that didn't end up in the trash bin immediately.

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