RFS exam & kayaking

So last Tuesday I had my first exam, RFS. In theory I should love RFS, because it’s on a topic that I consider very important and have a long term interest in. Unfortunately, the exact material covered was pretty boring, and the lecturer – while nice enough and probably quite knowledgeable on the subject – just wasn’t real great at lecturing.

Anyway, the exam was reasonably difficult. Nothing fiendish, but enough to make me glad I studied a fair bit for it. There was one question on Markov models (worth 20% of the exam from memory) which was a bit difficult to judge… the actual question was very vague, and since we never properly covered Markov models – just a bad overview of diagrams of them, not the maths behind them – I was making things up a bit as I went. I started deriving the simultaneous equations, but couldn’t remember with certainty how to integrate some of them properly, so I left that. Hopefully he wasn’t expecting all the maths to it; I doubt many people knew it.

I was a little bit cranky after the exam, given it didn’t magically go swimmingly. I was exhausted, as well, from studying and from being kept up late the night before by Travis & Aidan (whom were watching Doctor Who or somesuch). I was looking forward to kayaking, and started off quite well in it. I practised some paddle rolls, and was doing pretty well. At one point David & I tried a bit of a tractor pull. The first time I won, although apparently I had a head start, so we went back to try it again. The second time I lost my balance through only my own fault and went over. I tried to get back up but failed. I think I went over on my weak side, which I have a lot of trouble rolling from. Realising I wasn’t going to be able to do it from that side, I swapped over to the other. It felt like I almost made it, but I think someone had their kayak next to mine expecting a buddy roll, or at least it felt like something was in the way. Anyway, that didn’t work. So I gave up.

My rolling technique in general needs a lot of work, I know. The trick is to get your hips upright first, then worry about the rest of your body. But of course, you need to catch the momentum; if you leave your head on the water, you’ll just roll back over again. In any case, my natural tendency is to get my head upright first, which is exactly backwards. I can do it under controlled conditions, but not when stressed, apparently. I practised a few rolls on the edge of the pool to try and encourage myself into the right motions, and then went on with things.

We ended up playing a game of kayak polo, as we do. I was on a team of three versus four of the others, which was tiring but kind of good – I did score a goal or two, although the others swam circles around us in defense (literally). Still, having fewer players is a large disadvantage it seems, and it was fun.

Although, at one point I rolled over again, and couldn’t get back up. This was very frustrating. I sat out the remaining ten minutes or so, watching the game. I ended up coming home feeling more stressed than when I left. :( I’m getting very frustrated with my lack of progress in paddle rolling. Some of the others, particularly the girls, are already becoming very good at hand rolls, which just seem so far beyond me it’s not even comparable. They have the rather large advantage of being half my size, of course, but still… they’re just better at it, ultimately.

I find I’m usually pretty good at most things straight off, yet oddly I don’t master things as easily as many people. I guess that’s how kayaking’s going. I’m going to stick with it all the way, though… I’m determined to master it. Or at least be able to roll comfortably. I won’t feel comfortable when it comes time to actually go out on rivers until I’ve mastered paddle rolling.

Anyway, it was a good night, nonetheless. And I was happy at least that RFS was over. No more, ever! :D

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