Library Prison Blues

It was early May, and a student found himself in the library. He wasn’t alone, for this was the worst of all times for students: confining themselves to study to pass their exams. It was like the whole world and his dog was there. You have to arrive at stupid o’clock to get a seat, even stupider o’clock to get a computer, and somewhere in between if you bring your own laptop and want a plug. The student once saw a girl go away from her desk for half an hour and returned only to be given a (whispered) rollicking by some bearded dude with a Che Guevara T-Shirt.

It was early afternoon, and the student had been staring at his Stochastic Modelling notes all morning with no headway. He looked out at the blistering heat outside and wondered if it would still be there in 8 days.

Actually, 7 days, 21 hours, 30 minutes and 15, no 14… no, no, no concentrate, the transition matrix is… aaah! Who needs this anyway? What about Linear Algebra? Why don’t I try Linear Algebra? No, gotta do this! What if Stephen wants a coffee? Let’s see if Stephen wants a coffee.

He scowled at the lack of credit on his Nokia.

Ok, I can’t text Stephen. Why don’t I go find him? No. This has to be done. Markov Chains. Doesn’t matter how you got there, it’s all about where you go after that. Yes. I could write a philosophy book about that. What about Heisenberg? I know where I am, but I don’t know where I’m going. Too far, I’m not doing Physics. Steady states.  Invariant Distributions. Let p=0.5…

His attention was caught by the guy in the red t-shirt obviously asking out a girl who was sitting at one the computers, and who was clearly not reciprocating the interest.

“I wondered if I could borrow your Baudelaire book. I..i..if I give you my number you can give me a call… ” She cut him off.

This is so bad, but I can’t look away. You’re done for, mate.

“I will meet you outside at 3.” There was to be no argument. The guy skulked away like he knew the game was up.

If I go down at 3, I can see the end of that car crash. No. Concentrate, the time is now. Can’t someone do these exams for me? Someone to mediate with the examiners and tell them exams are an unreasonable method of assessment? If you judge a fish by its ability to climb, it will spend the whole of its life thinking it’s stupid. Einstein, wasn’t it? Isn’t life more than exams, grades, assessment, what others think of you?

A girl at one of the computers left and a scrum followed, but not before the winner, a guy in a polo shirt with the collar up, checked she hadn’t left her belongings behind to mark her territory.

He noticed the girl who always sat a few desks away from him.

Wish I could go talk to her. I see she’s got her hair up today. She studies Medicine. Maybe if I fake a seizure or something she’ll come save me. Why don’t I just go talk to her? I wonder who she’s texting. Yeah, why don’t I go talk to her?

He got up and walked towards her, not seeing that her left hand was across the table holding her boyfriend’s right while they both wrote with their free hands. He made a swift about turn, pulling his phone out of his pocket like it he’d got some kind of urgent message, and sat back down.

Oh come on! I never even noticed that guy! But he’s left handed and she’s right handed. That’s never going to work out.  And who revises with their boyfriend anyway? Sheesh.

The student smiled an ironic smile and resigned himself to a few more hours revision. He became determined not to let the outside heat, the human heat, and the stress get to him.

Work hard. Enjoy it. Achieve something. 7 days, 21 hours, 10 minutes…NO. An irreducible chain has a stationary distribution Pi iff all the states are positive recurrent. Further, Pi is unique and the mean recurrence times are given by mu_i = mu_ii =1/pi_i…

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