The life and self-reflections of a professional mathematician

Category: black-white photos

Seven Years After

Prof. Dr. Alexey Chernov and I
Raleigh, NC, April 5, 2012

Recommendation Letter

“My letter of recommendation !” cried D’Artagnan,
“my letter of recommendation ! or, by God’s blood,
I will spit you all  like so many ortolans !”

A letter of recommendation is a cornerstone of academic life. It is needed when one applies for a graduate school; it is important when one tries to find a postdoc position; a very strong recommendation letter is a must if one wants to be competitive on a job market and hopes to find a faculty position at a university. People who know say that recommendation letters are even more important than applicant’s publications and CV.

Until recently I always was the one who asks for a letter. Several days ago, one of my former students who attended my Calculus class last fall asked me for a letter of recommendation. She needs it in order to apply for a scholarship. She was not only the strongest students in my section, but also one of the best students among all sections: she scored 195 out of 200 (the highest score!) on the final exam. I will try my best to write a perfect letter for her. To write is much more pleasant than to ask.

Damn Supercuts…



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”.