Thursday, September 10, 2009


The meteorologists tell us when the seasons begin and end. Winter is the shortest day, Summer the longest. Spring begins when days become longer than nights, and Fall the opposite. They can tell us this all they want, but we all have our own definitions. Winter begins at the first snowfall and summer when the shorts come out of storage. Spring begins when the maple trees start showing signs of life and fall began yesterday.

Monday, September 07, 2009

Friday, September 04, 2009

Off to a good start

Mathematics is an easy subject to study anywhere. My brain, somewhere to write my thoughts, something to write them with, and maybe a math text or two are pretty much all I need (well, those and coffee). This and a shortage of keys to my office [1] for the first half of the summer meant that I got into a routine of working either at home or at a nearby coffee shop. By the time I finally did get my key, the routine was set. Even though I had the key, I continued to work in the same old pre-key locations.

Mathematics is not an easy subject to teach anywhere, however. You need to be in a classroom, and in multi-section courses, you need to coordinate with other profs. Today, I had a meeting with the two professors who will be teaching the other sections of one of my courses. It was the first time I had been back in almost two weeks, and the first time I actually needed the office key. After the meeting, I walked toward my office, along with one of the other professors from the meeting. I reached into my pocket for my keys, then turned to the prof beside me, and said, "It wouldn't be a start of a new school year if I didn't lock myself out of my office on my first day back." Fortunately for me, the head of the department has a master key.

Sometimes the fact that I have a PhD still seems unbelievable to me. My teachers always saw the potential in me, if their report card comments can be believed, even though my grades didn't usually reflect it. I'm now finally beginning to see what they saw. Already in grade school, I was misplacing keys at the PhD level.

[1] For security reasons (which no longer seem all that relevant), RMC recently upgraded its locks to a more secure type of lock. Among its features is the difficulty of making copies. Unless you "know a guy", it can only be done by the company who installed the locks in the first place, not at the local key shop and not at any on-site facilities, and apparently it can only be done at a snails pace.