Tuesday, November 30, 2010

99 letters of reference to write

99 letters to go,
Write one, send it, cross that name out,
only 99 letters of reference to write.

At least that is how it feels today.  Every time I get another two letters done, two more people ask me to write on their behalf.

Yours, wishing I thought less of more people, sometimes,

Monday, November 29, 2010

And we're booked

to travel again. 

Now I just need to get the rest of my duties done over the next little while.
Focus, Breadbox, focus!

Yours, needing the focus,

Sunday, November 28, 2010

There's no place like home

(for the holidays).
Thanksgiving is over, and that, of course, means that the Christmas season has begun.  I've probably heard "There's No Place Like Home For The Holidays" a dozen times already, and it has been running through my head this evening.
Another post-Thanksgiving tradition here is the regular playing of The Wizard of Oz: this year the children have really taken to the movie, and have watched it twice already.  And of course, the final message of the movie is "There's No Place Like Home".
Fittingly, we are trying to figure out our plans for visiting home soon, so that Boo and Skibo can spend time with grandparents, uncles, aunt and cousins.

Yours, with the song stuck in my head,

Saturday, November 27, 2010

Stomach flu

I'm assuming, based on the fact that thanksgiving dinner tasted really good, and none of our guests appear to have suffered similarly, that I have come down with a virus.   Be it as it may, though, I've spent the past day or so suffering from a nasty stomach bug.

Yours, hoping that what seems like a slight respite is actually more permanent,

Friday, November 26, 2010

It's beginning to look a little like Christmas

Today was the annual Christmas tree lighting on the square: a good turn out: hundreds of people; lots of folks from town singing, playing instruments; a visit from Santa.
The organizer this year did a great job of persuading local people to bake and donate cookies: several hundred cookies, it seemed: and the local insurance agent provided hot cider for all.

Yours, playing traditional carols,

Thursday, November 25, 2010

So much to be grateful for...

In particular, LOML, Boo and Skibo!  And all the rest of our family, extended family and friends!
And the town we live in!
Happy Thanksgiving (US) to everyone!

Yours, wanting to say that if you are reading this, consider yourself thanked!

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

I shouldn't have gloated

Sure enough, no sooner was I gloating about how I'd fixed computers than the cordless telephone decided it was time to die.  Of course, it's not that much of a computer system, but....

Yours, jinxing myself,

Old hard drive, new hard drive, waiting on a hard drive

Monday I transplanted an old hard drive (from the laptop whose graphics card died a month ago) into my new laptop.  It will work until I get the replacement hard drive delivered.  Yesterday I went to best buy and purchased a new hard drive for my desktop machine at home, and this morning I installed fedora on it.  Several hours, much of which was spent trying to set gcompris up so that both children log in on the same database, as different users (not as intuitive a setup process as I had hoped, but it seems to work now).
So, I'm not saying my computer problems are over, but at least the current ones seem to be solved.

Yours, whistling a happy Wednesday tune,

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Career Day

The children had career day at school today, and since I don't teach on Tuesdays, I decided that I would go in: I had a marvelous time, telling nine different classes about what I do.
Of course, I didn't spend so much time on what I do as a mathematician: rather I focused on what I do as an origamist!  Lots of very attentive children, including one who proclaimed me a magician because of how I could transform the paper.

Yours, careering

Monday, November 22, 2010

Rainy days and Mondays always get me down

Except that today is not raining, and I'm not particularly unfond of Mondays.  Sometimes they can be detestable, but not as a general rule.
No, it's definitely computers getting me down right now.  Trying to figure out how to fix at least two computers so that I can get my work life back in gear.  Grrrr.

Yours, frustrated.

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Back home for a while now

Absolutely exhausted, but home for a little while now.  I had the energy left to make bread and hummus when I got in this afternoon, then we took the children to a birthday party --- lots of fun (and Happy Birthday, Miss M!).
On returning home, however, I suddenly feel the need to collapse.  And so, on the way to bed, I'm writing this.

Yours, collapsing,

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Mathematics and some poetry

An interesting day of talks, in an interesting city.

Yours, listening, and participating,

Friday, November 19, 2010

And another one bites the dust

And another one's gone.  My desktop machine at home had a catastrophic hard drive failure while I was gone.
Computers and me?  Grrrr.

Yours, not on speaking terms with computers right now,

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Nice to be home...

It's very nice to be home, for a whole day.  And after I get back on the weekend, there's no more work travel until January, I believe.

Yours, ready to settle my feet again.

Back, safe and sound

Back home, safe and sound, after a long drive today.  Now I just need to get some things sorted out, and teach a couple of classes, and then it's off to the next conference.  And that's just for a couple of days.  Then I'm good until January.

Yours, looking forward to not traveling again for a few weeks,

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Oh no. Not another hard drive failure!

It appears that my hard drive is going again.  86 bad sectors.  Not a good advertisement for seagate drives, it appears.

Yours, getting ever more frustrated with the new machine that never meets its specs.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010


Me, that is.  And also others.
Idiocy on my part?  Forgetting my power brick at the conference.  A forgiveable (and as it turns out, fixable, by running for a bus, sprinting up the stairs, and finding the power brick ten minutes before the room was deconstructed by tech guys) mistake.  The bigger mistake?  The organizers of the conference decided in their infinite wisdom that the laptops they were letting people use should be collected prior to the open session where we were going to get people playing around with software.
Oh well. Tant pis.  We'll submit a suggestion to next year's conference to do things in a more ---- organized ---- fashion.

Yours, glad to have got my power brick back,

Monday, November 15, 2010

Swagless year

One of the nice things about attending a computer conference is the "swag" -- the little giveaways that are going to be good to bring home for the children, or for LOML, or for me.  But this year, in an indication that the recession, while over, perhaps, is still leaving an influence, the swag was sparse.  I guess I'd better get out and jump start the economy by buying some gifts to take home for the children.

Yours, disappointed,

Off to lunch between sessions

Things have been going well: lots of interested and engaged folks at this morning's session, and they seem to be planning to come back for the evening.

Yours, focused on the sessions,

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Cafe society

One of my favourite places here is Cafe du Monde: it's a huge, almost cavernous space, semi-outside, and almost always packed.  They have a menu which has very few options: essentially, just cafe au lait and beignets: as a consequence, although they are packed, the turnover is so fast that you don't have to wait long for a table, at least at this time of year.
This morning our first session wasn't until 10:30, so we went there for breakfast, had a lovely morning, discussed and planned the session.

Yours, preferring to be caffeinated before talking,

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Talks and social events

The conference I'm attending has an education section, in which we are giving six separate 90 minute talks over the next few days: the first one, today, went very well: well over twenty participants (about what we wanted) forming and engaged, interested and enthusiastic audience.

And later, we went to the local aquarium for a social gathering, good food, and too-expensive wine. Lots of very interesting people to talk to, new connections to make.

Yours, having enjoyed, all in all, a very productive-feeling day,

Friday, November 12, 2010

NOLA, here I am!

Arrived in NOLA safe and sound, and got checked into the hotel.  Now to bed, to be prepared for our first talk tomorrow.

Yours, tired after a long drive,

NOLA, here I come

Off on a trip!

Yours, about to drive 9+ hours,

Thursday, November 11, 2010

A well-run meeting

At 3:30 this afternoon I went to a committee meeting.  I was not looking forward to this meeting; the reminder from the secretary of the committee had attached two files: one an agenda, the other 200 pages of supporting materials.  And it exhorted us to "come prepared to stay a while".
I fully expected to be there until 6pm or later, but thanks to a committee chair who knows how to run a meeting, I was out, across campus, and home by 5:30!

Yours, in praise of this skill, and wishing more people possessed it!

In remembrance

A moment of silence.


Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Anticipation of the trip

I haven't been back to New Orleans since early 2005 --- before Katrina hit.  It will be interesting to see how  it has changed since then: although I probably won't get a chance (or make a chance) to get out of downtown, I imagine there will still be scars.
I'm looking forward to the trip, and also to another trip there in January.

Yours,  in anticipation,

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Happy Birthday, Boo!

Have a lovely 8th birthday, Boo!

Yours, with love,

Monday, November 8, 2010

Frantically trying to get everything done

I leave on Friday for a conference, and so I am frantically trying to get everything in place before I leave.  Thanks to one of our graduate students, my undergraduate course is covered.  I've yet to prepare the exam she'll give them one of the two days I'll miss.  I've got to rent a car, work on my presentation, and get lots of other administrative stuff out of the way.

Yours, hating this aspect of leaving for conferences.

Sunday, November 7, 2010

A lovely party

Boo recovered overnight, and so we went ahead with our plans for the party.
We baked cakes galore, and sausage rolls, and pizzas, and served up vegetables and chips and dip.
And by the time the party was over, first, and most importantly, Boo had had a good time.
Secondly, LOML and I both decided that this was one of the most fun parties we'd ever thrown.

Yours, already planning the next party... let's see...

Saturday, November 6, 2010

Poor Boo

One day before her birthday party, and two more before her actual birthday, Boo has come down with a fever.  Not bad enough to cancel her party yet, but if she's any worse in the morning, we'll probably have to make that decision.  Hopefully she'll be feeling much better by then, and it won't be an issue.

Yours, already feeling sorry for her,

Friday, November 5, 2010

Another mathematical death

It's almost legend in mathematical circles.  A movie which spends a significant amount of time in the opening scenes showing a mathematical proof, crystal clear to those who understand it, opaque to some mathematicians,  less transparent to the rest of the world, of the "snake lemma".  Presenting an essentially complete, correct, proof.  All to set up the fact that the lead character is a brilliant, if abrasive mathematician.  And she's a she --- rare in mathematics when the movie was made.
The movie was "It's My Turn", an otherwise forgettable comedy, starring Jill Clayburgh, Michael Douglas and Charles Grodin, amongst others.  Jill Clayburgh has apparently died, and although she wasn't a mathematician in reality, she did a good job of portraying one on the screen.

Yours, in celebration of a role, and a actress who played it,

Happy Anniversary, LOML1

Six years and counting!

Yours, just wanting to say I love you,

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Another hectic day

We hosted the weekly potluck this evening --- unfortunately we realised rather late that this was also the evening for 'parent power' at the children's school, meaning mainly that we parents had to show up.  Fortunately one of our friends was able to come over a few minutes early and welcome everyone, offer wine or beer or lighter drinks, and generally act as host.
And of course, the evening was lovely.

Yours, enjoying the community spirit,

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Sad news about a friend

My old friend John Selfridge has apparently passed on.  I hadn't seen him in several years, and for most of the past decade he'd been suffering badly from various mental deteriorations, but it is still very sad news.

Yours, saddened again,

New machine is running again

All day effort, but finally I am back on the new machine.  Hope that it lasts longer between crashes this time....
Yours, feeling at home again,

Tuesday, November 2, 2010


Not a good day.  Even if we did take the children to participate in the civic process of voting.
Unfortunately, a lot of very good candidates lost today, state-wide and nation-wide, to a bunch of people who seem incapable of taking serious ideas seriously.

Yours, wondering how much of the rubbish some of these people spout they actually believe,

Monday, November 1, 2010

A day off

A rather lovely day off today, with activities including a bicycle ride with the children, a trip to the bookstore, and a lovely dinner with friends.  Sometimes, a day off can be just what a body needs to recuperate.

Yours, relaxed,