Sunday, April 3

Waste 10 minutes

Watch a wikipedia page evolve. Yet another reason I need to see Spinal Tap.

(Via Collin)

UPDATE: I just noticed that now the above movie is linked to from the actual wikipedia article. I should say something pithy about self-reference here.


Saturday, April 2


I'm working on a few substantive posts about topology. If you're not familar with Asteroids, you should go play some in preparation. Really. Besides, it's part of your cultural heritage.

Also. I've always had a weird affinity for Sestinas - usually they're not particularly great, but the combinatorial aspect of it attracts me, I guess. McSweeney's accepts and publishes some on their website (read an interview with their editor. And incidentally, I've been somewhat obsessed with James Cummin's The Whole Truth, the book of Sestinas about Perry Mason, ever since DFW mentioned it in E Unibus Pluram, but I haven't read it - yet.), as I discovered last year, and the only one that stuck in my mind was this one. This of course brings up another little kernel of corn stuck in the teeth of my memory: John Barth's retelling of Anna Karenina, the one detail I remember from his short story Click (which I suppose I'll have to reread now), from The Atlantic Monthly:
"Anna train squish," is how Val claims Mark would render Leo Tolstoy's Anna Karenina; indeed, given the man's Middle-challengedness, she suspects he might skip the train.

I love the random little details you remember.


Thursday, March 31

... and three more

Because of course there have to be three such posts...

1) About all this short little posts - I want blogging to make me think about things, which these don't do so much. But the 8 hours a day thing - foolhardy and not working, and then I spend time reading things like this, and where's the time to write? Besides, I like the short little comment exchanges as well.

2) While not at all succeding at the 8 hours bit, I am getting more done. I think I need to keep track of how much I do and figure out what is a productive, reasonable amount of time that isn't crazy, and then really focus and put in that time, all the time, and hopefully get excited about stuff again. That could start to happen soon, here - I'm reaching an end of the analysis appendices in the Big White Monster, and while there's still analysis in class, it's minimal surface type analysis and so is more topological and geometric and palatable to me.

3) The duck quacking at the ultimate frisbee players I passed while climbing up the hill just now sounded entirely too much like a car alarm for me to be comfortable with.


Wednesday, March 30

Three Points Revisited

1) I didn't bring my jacket today. It's not cold, but clouds are coming in and there's going to be a thunderstorm this afternoon.

2) Swelling was just delayed (claritin?). I also got a bite on my forearm, apparently. While there's an odd pleasure in squeezing both earlobes and feeling a difference in size or sliding my fingers across my forearm and noticing a sudden raise in temperature over the bite, it really doesn't make up for the annoyance of the itching.

3) Another day stopped around 7 hours. But my advisor's daughter is sick, so no meeting today - hopefully I'll put my time in today and tomorrow and finish Appendix C of Dusa and Dietmar (we're on a first name basis now), and eventually get to do some topology again.


Tuesday, March 29

Three Quick Points

1) It's been warm enough in Madison the last couple of nights that I've been sleeping with my window open, and feeling silly for bringing any kind of coat in to campus. But the minute I stop bringing my coat in, it will get cold again.

2) The downside of sleeping with the window open: being woken up at 5:45 when a wasp stings you on the back of your ear. Luckily it didn't swell up.

3) A reason this post is so short: I'm tired of thinking I don't work hard enough, and so am attempting to do 8 hours of math a day (sitting in classes included). This sounds entirely doable and completely and utterly insane. I got within half an hour or so of my goal yesterday, but still have hours and hours to go before I sleep today, so I'm rushing to get back to that.


Monday, March 28

42, for the 42nd time

I didn't do any serious work or thinking over break, but for some reason I feel compelled to blog one small detail. I got into one of those pseudo-deep meaning (or at least what you want out) of life conversations the last night before I returned to Madison. It was ended rather early in the going, as we had to get up to catch our plane in the morning, but felt oddly compelling at the time.

Now what's that 'oddly' doing there? On the one hand, this conversation should be compelling. But it's kind of cliched, and usually gets mired in some kind of 'enjoy the moment/family/friends' camp squaring off against a 'strive to do something "great", whatever "great" means' faction. Our conversation was no exception (I was on the "great" side of things this go-round, if you must know), and from my vantage point a few days later, it seems like the kind of conversation I'm sure I've rolled my eyes or sighed at in the past. But I was deep into it that night. I don't have any well formed point or conclusion here, I'm just marvelling at how the same, well worn discussion can still seem captivating if you're in the right mood, or something.

Now that I've written this I have the urge to go reread the Tennis article from DFW's A Supposedly Fun Thing I'll Never Do Again (an awesome read, if you haven't), to beef up for the next time I'm in that argument, though now that I've said this I will undoubtedly take the 'moments' side of things the next time.


Friday, March 25

Clinging to the last weekend

I'm back from break - which was much less sit-around-and-read than my breaks normally tend to be, which was fine, but now I feel that break needs to end and I need to get down to real work, as I always feel. But. Brother will be in town in an hour and a half or so. Brother left a comment on the last post - I had mentioned having him as a guest blogger, which would be interesting and in a totally different direction, but he didn't sound serious about it and I didn't have my act together, and it didn't happen. But it sounds like he wants to, so he'll get his chance sometime else. In any case, that means it will still be like I'm on break, but hopefully I'll be able to get some work done while he's sleeping in or wandering around state street.

And for some math: I'm going to have to put something together for Moebius Stripper's contest . I've only TAed various calculus sections so far, but I'm thinking I'll spend part of an afternoon getting officemates to help out. The only hard part will be convincing them that a crocheted hyperbolic plane really is the coolest prize.