This category contains 25 posts

Flight to Korea

LA to Japan was one long afternoon, so instead of sleeping I stayed awake and worked, first on Jason’s publisher’s criteria, then on my talk for Korea. The Narita Admiral’s club had these wonderful woodcuts by Hiroshige, the 53 stations of the Tokaida. Wonderful compositions where space where scales merged, simultaneously showing dramatic distances, mid-range action, and vivid close portraits; merging also humanity, place, always with a sense of the winding road, the journey going on. I got pleasantly sozzled on gin and tonics, remembering at some point to check my hotel reservation and discovering that I was not due to arrive until the day after. So I spent my first night in a luxury suite at the Intercontinental Grand rather than the Intercontinental Coex at the other end of the convention complex. Nice way to recover form a first night’s jet lag.

You have no mail

I spent the week between Christmas and New Year’s catching up with some really old email, and for a few hours on New Year’s Eve had an empty inbox.


Amy gave Abby a jar of rocks, one of which was a gift rock to summit hut, but the best trick was the pair of mom jeans she gave Nell, which had her in state of horrified disbelief for a few seconds. The Indiks came for lunch as usual.

Nell’s half marathon

Nell has been making up for a year in France by running, playing Ultimate Frisbee, and, in this photo, running a half marathon. We were almost bad parents, and almost turned back because of strange car behavior, but just managed to arrive in time on a Sunday morning to see Nell turn the corner for a long loop around to the finish line at the school in Marana. We took a short cut and saw her cross the finish line. She had started out by Biosphere 2. Claire Fisher, with whom Nell had been training, also finished.

Sally’s band concert

We are not very good band parents, but we did go to this concert to see Sally’s band’s new routine, with the color guard twirling billowing yellow, orange, and crimson. Jessica’s mother Jane was there as well.

Liberating the landscaping

Well, I did spend most of the wedding weekend, last weekend, in the hotel room, but I got the book in on time, thanks to some very late nights and lots of help from Eric and Elliot. The wedding was very well done, in a beautiful second floor room at the Brooklyn Academy of Music, large space with revealed steel structure and a grand window onto Brooklyn evening. The ceremony was conducted by a Humanist … minister? No, that can’t be right. Anyway, she was from the Humanist Society, which has an official ceremony, useful for people who want the sacred but not the divine. She had a nice deep voice. Even the Khalil Ghibran reading, which I was dreading, was surprisingly beautiful and appropriate. Maybe I should take a look at him again. The band was excellent, really knew how to get the crowd on their feet and keep them there.

This weekend was deliciously cool and Amy and I leapt out into the garden to pull the cages off the landscaping, rake the leaves, and generally do some long overdue cleanup.

Sally in the treehouse

Sally, sometimes accompanied by Emily or Sage, has been working at painting the tree house over the last  year. Here she is on a beautiful Sunday evening, one of the first to get a bit cool, proudly atop her handiwork.

We just had the advisory board meeting for our Math Science Partnership. Jim Lewis, Glenda Lappan, and Glenn Stevens spent a day with us, and, needless to say had lots of advice, which is, after all, what an advisory board is for.

I feel that I’ve got a better grip on my class for prospective high school teachers this year. I’m pushing harder on the mathematics content, and trying to give them extended projects that will really dig into what’s behind the high school mathematics that they teach.

The week after next I am gone on a multi-city trip, from Belhingham Washington to Kansas City to Philadelphia, culminating with Andrew’s wedding in New York. The algebra book is due October 1, and I am trying hard to make the deadline, so may end up spending the entire weekend in New York in a hotel room (apart from the wedding events).

Niagara Falls

Within a few days of returning to Tucson, I was on the road again, first to the Summer School on Iwasawa Theory at McMaster University in Hamilton, organized by Romyar Sharifi, me, and Manfred Kolster, and then on to the group working on high school Curriculum Focal Points for NCTM in Washington. This photo was taken on the free afternoon field trip to Niagara Falls. The Canadian side of Niagara Falls, where we were, was irredeemably commercialized and packed with tourists, but the falls were mesmerizing nonetheless. I stood for a long time watching the flow just behind me in this picture, trying to estimate the rate (about a few thousand cubic meters per second according to my rough calculation).

The Summer School was pleasantly grueling. I wish I had more opportunities to think about mathematics research. Robert Pollack’s talks on the Iwasawa theory of elliptic curves were great, and I felt I began to become familiar with the nonabelian theory from Coates’ talks.

The NCTM meeting was interesting, perhaps too long winded for my taste and temperament these days. Roger Howe was there as well, and we both had to push occasionally to keep mathematics content at the forefront of the document (surprisingly, since it was the push for content that stimulated all this). I am trying to get algebra described as a subject with meaning, and to put in some of the examples we have been thinking about in the consortium. Roger is concerned about estimation and place value. Eric Robinson, a mathematician from Ithaca College in New York state, was also there. He is a calculus reformer from way back. He has just taken part in an effort of Sol Garfunkel called Math is More.


Amy and I had sworn we would not be going into Venice because of the crowds, but Maurizio prevailed. It was another lovely day. We had lunch at Ostaria Ai 4 Ferri, a small seafood restaurant. Delicious salty vinegary sardine like fish, pasta with squid ink. Maurizio had a digestif so we did too, which turned out to be Unicum of John and Marianna fame, that we sat around John’s kitchen making jokes about all those years ago. After lunch we saw the beautiful church of San Sebastiani where Veronese hid out from church authorities, that he filled with paintings. A lovely roof of the sacristy, with Matthew Mark Luke and John, fat rosy cheeked and rosy bummed cherubs, lots of small stories from the bible, Amy had fun reading the sign and pointing them out to us. Altogether a magical day, and no crowds because we stayed away from them.

Giorgione in Castelfranco

Amy and I arrived at Kate and Maurizio’s house on Monday. They were delayed returning from Spain so we had the house to ourselves. The trees have grown a lot since we last visited in 2001. We at blackberries from the vegetable garden and delicious cherry tomatoes, ate a ratatouille tahat Cecilia had prepared for the Nazaris, and took a swim in their pool. Cecilia and Stefano (Abby’s host parents when she was here) showed up to see how we were doing, but I had to disappear for a remote thesis defense.

The next day we lazed around reading books and catching up on email. Some cooling rain squalls came through. Kate and Maurizio and Nicci and Duccio arrived that evening and cooked pasta with hot peppers, delicious. On Wednesday Amy and I went for a drive, visiting Cittadella, the city where Abby went to school, Bassano, with a collection of Jacopo di Bassano in the Museo Civico, and Castelfranco, where we saw this wonderful Giorgone in the duomo. There is a wonderful hint of reserve in Mary’s face, a sense of maintaining an inner private life against the public one thrust upon her. The air was clear and the sky was blue and the mountains to the north of Bassano were lovely.

That evening we had a dinner for Cecilia, Stefano, Marta, and Chiara and thank them and toasted them and gave them the pewter bowl we had brought over. Kate recited The Man from Ironbark.