Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Lather, rinse, repeat

We had such a nice time yesterday we did it all over again tonight.  Almost the exact same menu, just a different guest list.  Just as nice a time:-)

Yours, thinking that sanity is doing the same thing over and expecting a similar result.

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

How to spend a lovely day

First, drop the children at school, then start making some sourdough bread.  After the autolyse and the mixing, set it aside and go visit one's favourite bookstore.  Return home, shape the loaves, and set aside.
Later, prepare a delicious, but simple meal (in this case, breaded chicken, stir-fried potatoes, and bread and butter) and share with friends.

Yours, remembering that the most important part of a delightful day is always the last three words above,

Monday, March 29, 2010

Darn. Drat. Double Fnord.

After all these years, finally the ITV Boat Race coverage got onto ESPNU, and I was able to watch the race live.  Two years running.
This year, the BBC has the race back, and so I was anticipating watching the race live on the net.  Oh, no, it seems not.  No, this time, it will be on BBC World News and BBC America.
Except I don't get BBC World News as a channel, as far as I can tell.  And BBC America isn't showing it on their schedule.  So I'm left hoping that perhaps the BBC will stream it live on the net as well.  Except that doesn't seem to be the case.
Perhaps I'll be able to stream the audio.

Or perhaps I can phone England and listen over a bad line.

Bah.  Hum.  Bug.  What a birthday present.

Yours, feeling like "disgusted, Tunbridge Wells",

Sunday, March 28, 2010

Coming down from a high

It's time to come down from the high I've been on for the past few days: the conference was an extraordinary experience, one that perhaps I will have again, or perhaps not: but it's left me flying.  Now it's time to touch down, to ground myself again, and to rejoin the real world.

Yours, in transit,

Saturday, March 27, 2010

A fabulous day

A bunch of fascinating talks this morning, including demonstrations of how easy it is to hack locks, cell phones, cars, credit cards, etc: only one talk which didn't really meet the grade.
Then this afternoon for the social event, where I got a chance to meet and talk to all sorts of absolutely incredible people.....

Yours, completely lost for words,

Friday, March 26, 2010

A most amazing magic show

One of the features of the conference is a magic show (actually two -- I missed last night's show): some extraordinarily good performers, quite unbelievable the things that they did, and in some cases, extremely funny. 
What a fantastic evening.

Yours, glad not to have missed this...

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Magic and mystery and mathematics

A lovely day at the conference, filled with magic, mystery and mathematics, juggling, origami and friends. 
This evening, good food, good conversation, and then....

battling network connections: IPv6 versus IPv4 on linux, and why various programs will work, and others won't.  Aaaaarrrgghhhh....

Yours, much preferring the former to the latter,

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Another day, another trip

And this should be my final trip for a little while --- probably until the month of August.  This is just a couple of hours away, for a rather fun conference.  But if it wasn't going to be as much fun as I anticipate, then I think that I would probably have cancelled this one: I've been away way too much recently, and would rather stay here. 

Yours, already missing home,

Tuesday, March 23, 2010


Every Tuesday, we gather at our friends' house: they make spaghetti and sauce and bread -- other people make cookies or other desserts, I make meatballs: sometimes LOML makes a salad, or whips some cream and slices some strawberries.  Everyone is welcome, everyone is welcome to bring something, but nobody is expected to do so. 
It's a lovely evening, and it's a tradition I hope will build and continue for a long time to come. 

Yours, thanking E&C for starting the tradition,

Monday, March 22, 2010


It seems that there may be a need for me to take on some administrative duties at work: this is not something that comes naturally to me, so it is making me rather nervous.  I've got a long lead time in which to make a decision about whether or not I do it, but I suspect that in the end I'll acquiesce.  

Yours, not exactly relishing the prospect.

Sunday, March 21, 2010

A huge thank you

A thank you to the late Senator Teddy Kennedy, for his tireless work and inspiration, helping people to believe that the US might one day fix health care: today is a huge step, I hope in the right direction.  We need to continue to focus attention on improving things, but this is a good start.

Yours, in gratitude,

The crazies

Listening to republicans describe what is happening as "laying the cornerstone for socialism" leaves me speechless.
What is going on today is a baby step, a teensy weensy baby step towards real health care reform in this country.  There's not even a public option, let alone a single payer system. 
The entire plan is basically the same as proposed by republicans two decades back.  It's a right-wing solution to a problem that needs a real government-based answer.  And yet the republicans are insisting it's socialism?

Yours, wishing for a reality-based opposition,

Saturday, March 20, 2010

Welcome, Spring

Today is, of course, the first day of Spring here in the Northern hemisphere.  A happy change from the bleak of Winter --- not that we've had that much bleak here this year: little snow, and a fair degree of sunshine.
But Spring here is a rather lovely season, and today is living up to its promise: sunny, warm but not hot, a delightful day.

Yours, seasonally adjusted,

I wish that we could find a way

to rid Congressman Idiak of his influence on health policy at the moment.
Oh, sorry, my mistake.  His name is not Idiak.  It's Stupak.

Yours, wondering why it is so hard to bring this country into the developed world....

Friday, March 19, 2010

Stolen sourdough

I was shocked, shocked, this morning to discover that an entire loaf of sourdough was missing.  I've rounded up the usual suspect.  Bad Bella (our golden retriever).  It wasn't a small loaf either: I'm hoping that she at least had the decency to take it outside and gnaw on it over a period of days, rather than gulp it all down at once.

Yours, re-baking as a result,

Thursday, March 18, 2010


I'm thrilled to hear that the Clay Mathematics Institute has finally managed to decide to award the first of the Clay Prizes to Grigoriy Perelman, for his proof of the Poincare Conjecture.  This, you may recall, made a splash a few years ago, including Stephen Colbert smashing a doughnut from a torus into a sphere to make the point that he deserved a Fields medal.
I suspect that Professor Perelman will refuse to accept this award.  But it's wonderful that it has been made.

Yours, thrilled to be able to understand a little of what this is all about,

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Health care to happen???

It is beginning to look possible that health care reform may in fact pass.  And while I don't necessarily like the bill that will pass, it is better than the alternatives: do nothing, or hope that the Republicans might actually try to help do something bipartisan. The former?  A disaster.  The latter?  Charlie Brownian in its stupidity.
I wish that the Democrats had decided to do what was right a year ago rather than aiming to try to get a bipartisan bill.  But they didn't, and so we have to live with what has happened.  If we don't pass it, there'll be another decade or two of massive undercoverage of people in this country.  If we do pass it, then then there's a chance that the Dems can rebound in the election and then pass improvements after the election.

At last, the US may be about to join the rest of the civilized world, and ensure that more than 85% of its population has health insurance.  Crappy?  Yes, Expensive? Sure.  But at least most of the uninsured will get insurance.
Yours, keeping my fingers crossed,

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Tuesdays are for spaghetti and friends

Friends of ours hold a weekly get-together for everyone they know: between fifteen and thirty people come over, we all eat a feast of spaghetti and sauce: I bring meatballs, LOML brought strawberries and cream: others brought cake or cookies today.  It's a lovely tradition, currently a couple of months old, but it has a delightful feel to it.
I hope that the tradition continues: it contributes greatly to our feeling of community, and is a lovely thing.

Yours, part of a family, or a community, or a village,

Monday, March 15, 2010

Origami: back on track soon

I spent the morning with a student putting the finishing touches on our art exhibit.  And now, with origami talks and origami art exhibits out of the way, it is time to focus again on the t-rexes.  Another week-and-a-bit to go, something like thirty more to fold.  Provided I work at it, it's easy.  Plus I need to make sure that all of the earlier folded ones have held up, and either repair them or fold them from scratch.  I've already lost a dozen or so which were unfortunately trapped in a door (what a sad way for a dinosaur to go, trapped in a much larger door!)

Yours, increasingly focused,

Sunday, March 14, 2010

Goodbye to an old shirt

I was struck this evening by how hard it can be to say goodbye to the old, the familiar: I caught my shoulder on a hook, and tore my shirt, a shirt I'd had for a third of my life: not an important or big part of my life, but it had a small amount of meaning: and now, caught on a hook, it's gone.  Just a little bit saddening.

Yours, just a little bit saddened,

Happy Pi Day

When you count dates the wrong way, as it is done here in the US, March 14 becomes 3/14, or more suggestively, 3.14 --- which has led to its designation as "pi day".  Of course, it really should just be "pi moment", a moment which can only ever be approximated.

Nonetheless, I always like bringing a little more mathematics to the rest of the world, even if it is for silly numerology reasons like the fact that Einstein was born on pi day. 

And so, I'll sign off,
Yours, wishing you a happy pi day,

Saturday, March 13, 2010

A gentle day

A gentle day today --- to the bakery/cafe for breakfast, to the park and the playground, then the bookstore.  A lazy afternoon, followed by dinner.  Tomorrow, to celebrate St Patrick's day (three days early, it is true) and also pi day  (the way the US marks the calendar, it is 3/14, a reasonable approximation to pi.
So, we're having a beef and guinness stew, followed by dessert pizza again.

Yours, looking forward to two holidays combined into one,

Friday, March 12, 2010

Zoe Lewis' playlist

As I promised a few days ago, here is the playlist from Zoe Lewis' concert the Box Social in Sarasota.

First Set
Breakfast in Bangkok (from the album Small is Tremendous)
Small is Tremendous (Small is Tremendous)
Prince of Love (A Cure for the Hiccups)
Geraldine (A Cure for the Hiccups)
Hell But Swell (A Cure for the Hiccups)
Never Too Old (A Cure for the Hiccups)
Snow White (Small is Tremendous)
Eyelashes (Small is Tremendous)

Second Set
The Breakfast Blues (didn't know it, but it's lovely in a sort of  Bessie Smith "Kitchen Man Blues" way -- even though it bears no resemblance to it)
Summer's Near (Small is Tremendous)
Auntie Gladys (Sheep)
Little Bit of Lovin' (another one that I didn't know)
When the Developers Came to Tea (Fishbone, Wishbone, Funnybone)
Tulips, Carnations and Crysanthemums (Full of Faraway)
Gringo! (Small Is Tremendous)

As an encore, by special request (yes, by me:-) she played 
Squidding (Fishbone, Wishbone, Funnybone)

One of the loveliest things about hearing her live (other than getting to meet her, of course!) is hearing the stories she tells before each song: she leads in with a gentle tale: about a leaf walking away on a tree -- a stick insect -- or how she came to write the song "Geraldine", a lovely little surprise.  I'd write them all down here, but that would be like stealing her stories, and also it would deprive anyone who does get the chance to see her of the surprise that the stories hold.  There's a rumour that she's planning a live album, so here's hoping she includes the stories as well as the songs!

Yours, listening now,

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Back to baking

I'm home, and that means that it is time to get into the kitchen.  This afternoon I put together a dough for pizza tomorrow evening (new friends coming over, and a longer-term friend coming back from afar for a visit): then I threw together breaded chicken for dinner (plus veggies and potatoes) and finally made a brioche dough for a dessert pizza.
I'm still experimenting with the new Viking mixer: I liked the action of the KA better, I think: it seemed to mix the dough slightly better --- but the V seems to be a lot quieter, and perhaps a bit more powerful.  We'll see how the final results of the dough turn out tomorrow.

Yours, back to work in the morning,

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

And I'm home again

No more trips for at least thirteen days.
Twelve hours on the road, not quite non-stop, but close, and I'm back in my chair, decompressing from the road, and soon I'll emulate Johnson's "and so to bed".
A good trip: good to reconnect with friends from long ago, and some more recent: to talk mathematics with a bunch of people (and even with some who don't even like mathematics!)
But I'm very glad to be home now.

Yours, off to bed,

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Conference, day two

Day two halfway done: I spent lunch going souvenir shopping for Boo and Skibo: I recall the souvenir shop as being rather better last time; still, I found a few nice little things.

And now, more talks.

Yours, listening carefully,

Monday, March 8, 2010

Conference, day one

The first day of the conference went well: I think I've found a speaker for our summer program: my students from last year did a fantastic job, and now I've got lots of other talks to go to...

Yours, getting too old to go to conferences...

Sunday, March 7, 2010

The motel from hell

On Friday evening we found a motel before we went to see Zoe Lewis play: this seemed like a good idea, to get accomodations sorted out early.  Unfortunately we had no good map, and the place that we were planning to stay was not to be found.

At least partly as a result, we ended up staying at the worst motel or hotel I've ever stayed in.  No phone, a non-functional sink, a smell I'm not willing to share....

The good side of staying at a place like this is that now I know that I can stay at really unpleasant places.... after all, they're better than this:-)

Yours, thinking that "Sunshine motel" might be a rather more positive name than the motel deserved,

Saturday, March 6, 2010

Small is tremendous!

What a lovely, tremendous show!  Zoe Lewis performed two sets to a small, but enthusiastic audience: I got to go up and introduce myself, tell her how much LOML and I love her music, and -- I hope -- persuade her to come visit somewhere near to where we live.

I kept notes of the playlist, and will post it soon --- I've already programmed the songs I have into my music player, so I can recreate at least the order of the songs.

The most amazing thing about the show, though, was the stories she told introducing her songs: suddenly all the songs come even more to life than they were before: they -- or I -- gain a new perspective and meaning.

She's a lovely singer, and delightful in person: if you get a chance to see her play, jump at it -- or drive a thousand miles!  If you don't, then buy her albums!

Yours, in praise of a wonderful artist,

Friday, March 5, 2010

Two talks went well

Both talks went well: not quite as large a turnout as we had hoped for (it's right before their spring break, which may have had a little impact!) but not too bad: and a lot of enthusiasm from the audiences who were there. 

Tonight I think that I might get to go to see Zoe Lewis play in Sarasota -- a fairly long drive, but it is the closest I have been to one of her concerts, and I would really love to hear her!

Yours, humming "Small Is Tremendous",

Thursday, March 4, 2010

Two talks today

This morning I give a talk, this afternoon I give another: the first is aimed more at hands-on things for student; the afternoon lecture is a more general talk, though still focused on education.  As always I'm a little nervous: I have no real idea how big or enthusiastic the audience will be, which means I need to not over-prepare: I need to be able to reconfigure to be more or less hands on on the fly.

Yours, nervous, but excited to speak,

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

In Florida

I'm in Florida, to discuss mathematics with lots of people, but first, to talk to some people about origami and mathematics.  I'm looking forward to lots of great discussions --- which have already started this evening.

I'm already missing LOML, Boo and Skibo --- but I'm relieved to hear that Bella's great escape was followed by her great return (way too many hours later, but at least she returned!)

Yours, thinking about folding for the next couple of days,

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Bella's back

After a long drive, I'm happy to know that Bella's back.

Monday, March 1, 2010

And for my next trick

Or rather, for my next trip, down south, I'm having to contemplate taking
off much earlier in the day than I had originally intended.  The forecast for tomorrow is for snow starting in the morning, and sticking around for the day.  This is not conducive to getting in a car and driving: so I've got to be up and about before it arrives.

Yours, grateful that the weather has remembered to snow when I go away,