Friday, February 29, 2008

Friday Miscellany

I'm not sufficiently motivated to write actual paragraphs, so instead, some random comments:
  1. It is now the end of the 8th week of winter term. Just two more weeks to go. And the end is now is sight. There's a ton of stuff that I need to do in the next two weeks, but I'm starting to believe that maybe there's at least a chance that I can get it done.
  2. Winter term may be drawing to a close, but winter definitely isn't. The low was zero degrees last night. And we're supposed to get 5 to 11 inches of snow tomorrow, mixed in with a little rain just to keep things interesting.
  3. I seem to have spent more time than usual this week explaining to colleagues relatively simple mathematical things concerning student/faculty ratios and percents.
  4. Meetings on Wednesday were more silly than usual. But it's probably prudent to not blog about this. But it would be very funny...
  5. I made some simple yet satisfying pasta with beans and tomatoes and chard for dinner tonight. I also made a simple yet satifsying salad.
  6. Soon I will shut down my laptop, watch a few X-files episodes with Doreen, and then go to sleep. Another exciting night in Bar Harbor.

Friday, February 22, 2008


Friday. Tired. Jetlagged. Weekend begins. Snowing outside. Dinner at Town Hill Bistro. Tired. Warm fire in fireplace. Busy weekend ahead. Snow. Cold. Grading. Reading. Tired. Vodka. Red Bull. Watch X-files. Bedtime. Tired.

Wednesday, February 20, 2008


Back from giving two talks at the University of Warwick. It was a great trip and I wish I could have stayed longer. Nevertheless, it's good to be home. I'm super tired, though. Had a bad cold most of the time I was there, which didn't help with jet lag. I'm mostly over the cold now. Still have some preparation to do for my classes tomorrow. But I'm way too tired right now, as it's 4:30am UK time. Will go to sleep now and try and get up early. Having missed a few days at COA there's much I need to catch up on.

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Tuesday Observations

Well, I'm back in Maine. My return flights were uneventful. The drive home from the Bangor airport, however, was a bit of an adventure. It was snowy and very windy and the roads were very bad. The drive took around two and a quarter hours; usually it is around an hour. It's great to be back home. I have another trip planned next weekend and early next week. Then I'm around until the end of the term.

In any event, some miscellaneous observations and thoughts:
  1. Sunday morning I got a cup of iced coffee at the Albuquerque airport. The person working at the coffee place put an insulating sleeve on it before handing it to me. I was too groggy to protest.

  2. At a Sbarro's in the Atlanta airport the person in front of me ordered spaghetti. The Sbarro's person then put his breadstick on top of the pasta. The guy was rather upset about this. But rather than just express his displeasure and ask for an untainted breadstick, he muttered loudly but unitelligably. The Sbarro's person tried to understand, but this just led to more muttering.

  3. The weather forecast for tomorrow is classic Maine: in the next 24 hours every possible variety of precipitation is predicted to fall in large quantities, driven by considerable wind. Fantastic. There could be seven inches of snow followed by three inches of rain. I think I will re-waterproof my boots tonight if I can find the energy.

  4. The Morning Glory Bakery is now open seven days a week until seven in the evening. This is an unspeakably wonderful development.

  5. Bob Dylan is playing on the radio. I'm not a huge Dylan fan. But somehow the song fits my mood perfectly right now.

Saturday, February 09, 2008

Santa Fe Update

I'm currently at the Santa Fe Institute, reviewing files and selecting students for the Complex Systems Summer Schools. The work is going slowly, but I think we'll be able to get it mostly done by tomorrow. My trip out was uneventful. On both of my flights I sat next to someone who was rather large, so it wasn't the most comfortable of journeys. But I survived.

There was an amazing sunset tonight: blues and purples and pinks and orange with an impossibly thin sliver of a moon. The day was sunny and in the mid 30's, which was a nice change from the grey and snowy weather in Maine. As usual, it's good to be in Santa Fe. In many ways it feels like a home away from home.

Tuesday, February 05, 2008

Applications Dos and Don'ts

It's the time of year when I'm reading many applications: for the CSSS, for COA undergrad admissions, and also for a faculty search committee. Here are some assorted observations:
  • Last night I read a letter of reference addressed to "Dear Person." I suppose this does include me, as even on my bad days I'm still a person. But it's perhaps too inclusive. The somewhat sterile phrase "To whom it may concern" would be better.
  • Never begin your answer to a question on an application by referencing in a disapproving way how long it is taking you to complete the application.
  • Never, ever, submit a six page reference letter for someone. Especially not for a one-month summer school.
  • I was intrigued to see a section heading on a CV that read "postgraduate curses." While this would be interesting information, postgrad courses is probably what the writer intended.

Friday, February 01, 2008


I tried to go home around an hour ago, but the roads were terribly icy. Eagle lake road, the most direct way to my house, was completely closed. The police officer said that the road is a solid sheet of ice, and the sand and salt trucks can't even get on it. So I went back to campus. The roads were bad enough that rather than take an alternate route I thought it would be better to wait a bit.

So I returned to my office and thought I would try to do a few tasks. I started filling out a recommendation form for a student who is applying to a graduate school in Europe. I filled out the form, signed it, and then noticed that I was instructed to "authenticate the completed form with an Institution stamp." Arg. Is this really necessary? Does COA even have an official institution stamp? If there is such a stamp, it's in the registrar's office and not in my office. I hope I don't need to seal the envelope with wax or write with a quill pen.

Soon I will attempt again to go home. I hope I get farther this time.

Update: The roads were bad, but nowhere near as icy as before. I made it home and am safe and warm next to the woodstove. I am very glad it's the weekend.