The life and self-reflections of a professional mathematician

Month: September, 2011

Southern Californians

Apart from being very nice people, Southern Californians have one slightly annoying feature: most of the time they are painfully relaxed. I am proud of this concise formulation which, according to my friends from the east coast, seems to be quite precise.


The Evening Blues


Spinning Wheels

Illustrations are stolen from the Internet by K.Z.; the beautiful poem is written in 1895

By Dr. H. A. Reid

Our grandmas had their spinning wheels
And made them spin like fun,
With treadle going up and down
To make the spindle run

But this was in “ye olden time,”
Before the factories came
With patent spinning-jacks to beat
The women’s fast-work fame.

Each spin-wheel then was stored away
In dingy garret room,
To wait some new fad of the world
Which might unseal its doom.

And it has come; for now our girls
Go spinning through the street
With wheels that run as Grandma’s did,
By treadles for the feet.

On two wheels now instead of one
The spinning whirl is done;
Their grandmas did it for day’s work;
They do it just for fun.

And likewise, even gray old men
Have caught up this new prank;
From grandma’s spin-wheel made a “bike,”
And learned to pump the crank.

Our grandma’s spinned at home, the yarn
From their deft fingers twirled:
But now the biker boys and girls
Go spinning round the world.

The problem next is, how to save
The waste force thus evolved?-
Put wind-up springs upon the wheels,
And lo, the problem’s solved.

For when you’ve springs enough wound up,
Gear them in gangs, and run
A motor street car at less cost
Than ever yet t’was done.

Or start a plant to generate
Electric light and heat
To serve for evening lamps at home,
And cook your bread and meat.

This scheme will prove our spinning wheels
In true worth not unlike
The wheels our grandmas used to tread,
And so commend the “bike”.

Next Life

In the next life, if I fail to become a chess player, I will be a librarian: books, silence, and large empty wooden tables.

2011 Southern California Probability Symposium

I was invited to give a talk at the Southern California Probability Symposium. This is an annual one-day event, attended by probabilists from UC San Diego, UC Irvine, UCLA, USC, Caltech, UC Santa Barbara and elsewhere. There will be five talks of 40-50 minutes duration. Mine would be one of them.

I have just proudly accepted this invitation.
The next step is to come up with a topic for my talk :)

Hello word!

Swimming pool: 10 laps.
Breakfast: 3 eggs, bread with raisins, blue cheese, and Russian style eggplant spread.
Lecture 13: relative extrema, critical points, etc.
Lunch: chicken burrito.
Afternoon: answering tons of emails and setting up my wordpress account.
What should I do in the evening: play chess at USC or floorball at Caltech?
That is the question…