Monday, June 20, 2011

tonight: speaking to a small, yet (very) general audience.

this week i'm visiting my parents, which essentially means seven days' worth of diplomacy and subterfuge ..
  • getting up in the mornings earlier than everyone else, in order to get a few maths errands done [1]
  • conveniently forgetting to announce my arrival to friends from high school, if only to cut down the number of obligatory dinners and meet-ups;

    if they really wanted to see me that badly,
    they'd have hunted me down by now;
    it's not like i'm that hard to find.
  • dodging the sorts of questions about the future, that academics find hard to answer.

    "yes, mom: i did try to look for jobs near home;
    no, mom: i don't think that particular ivy league school will hire me and give me tenure ..
    " \-:
at some point i should just stop treating these weeks away like any other work-week and just treat it like a holiday.

on the other hand, this year the timing's off. next week i'm supposed to head to a 2-week workshop on all sorts of cool topics, like ..

.. optimal transport,
analysis on fractals,
analysis on metric spaces, etc.

so it seems strange to suddenly slack off .. more so than usual, i mean. (-;

besides, some of my co-authors will be attending as well, which means i really should send them a complete draft soon ..

as for immediate concerns:

tonight i'm meeting my best friends from high school, for dinner. one's bringing his wife. as for the other, we're meeting his girlfriend for the first time ..

.. which means, among other things, that i should expect variants of the following two questions:

1. what do you do?
2. oh .. so what does a mathematician actually do, other than teach?

these being my best friends, i can't be glib ..
"well, i usually stare at a piece of paper for hours, maybe write something down. occasionally i stare at a wall instead, or if there's more to write, a computer screen."
.. or highly technical, either:
i don't think they know any trigonometry or basic mechanics [2] or the basics of computer programming .. so i'll even have to be careful with analogies.

you'd think --- after 4 years of undergard, 5 years of grad school, 3 years at a postdoc --- that i'd have become good at this, by now .. \-:

[1] at one point in my last relationship, my (ex-)girlfriend and i were living together for about a month. the fact that she couldn't wake up before 10am (some hours after i would) probably kept the peace for a while: by that time in the morning, i was ready to set aside the frustrations of work and we'd have breakfast together.

[2] the newtonian kind, not the automotive kind. q-:

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

"yes, mom: i did try to look for jobs near home;
no, mom: i don't think that particular ivy league school will hire me and give me tenure .."

you too, huh?