Thursday, June 26, 2003

Written 6:30 PM, June 25

I apologize in advance:
Given a positive integer n, take the set of all the integers from 1 to 2n. Then pick any n+1 elements out of that set. One of them will be a multiple of another. Can you prove why? Can you see why it doesn’t hold if you take just n elements?

Okay, okay, no more math problems in my weblog. It’s been a tiring week, but a good one. I’m finally getting to know my housemates, a little at a time. “T” is a funny guy who nicknames everyone and everything in sight (since I plan to be a professor, I was dubbed ‘Teach’), and who keeps a baseball bat in his room in case of burglars. “R” is a sort of wild girl who also has a sewing-her-own-clothes side, but I still don’t know which of her stories to believe. “L”, the guy who set this whole thing up, has been trying to charge the rest of us $50 to use the DVD player and $25 to have the remote explained to us. I’m pretty sure he’s joking. “A” hasn’t been around much yet, because her boyfriend “P” spent the last few days here on his way from New York to a Montana ranch. And the last house member, “E”, has still yet to make an appearance.

So today, I was faced with my total ineptitude with respect to computers. We were supposed to type up questions for the 9th and 10th grade placement test, using this programming text editor to include diagrams. Not gonna happen, I’m afraid. The computer tried to crash on me three times in the first minute, but because it’s Linux it was smarter than I am and didn’t let my screwing around destroy it.

The good part about having to adjust oneself again to waking up at a reasonable hour is that when the alarm hits you in mid-sleep cycle, you remember your dreams. I’ve run from the Mafia, played some weird version of Capture the Flag where glowing sticks guide the teams along, and sat in a math class. Yes, that’s how pathetic I am. I had a dream where I was in math class. I’m going to go and cry now.

Tuesday, June 24, 2003

Moment of Truth...

I'm adding a comments service. This may be a tad slow; I apologize. It was free. Now tap in and see if this does anything!

(written on 6/23/03, 7 PM)
You’re probably wondering (a) “Why hasn’t Pat updated his blog lately?” and (b) “Why does this entry say it was written at the wrong time?” All the answers in good time, my friend.

Anyhow, I drove up here to Chicago on Saturday, making it in only 5 hours of driving. Cruise control was very necessary, as I was listening to my music to keep alert. There are some songs (primarily anything with a guitar solo) that push you up to about 90 MPH if you’re not careful. If you’re ever in Montana, where they have no speed limit, may I recommend Crossroads by Cream.

So I arrived here at the house of dreams, where Professor B. lives during the year. He takes a vacation every summer with his wife; he’s in England at the moment, lucky duck. Of course, since he’s never here in the summer, he never bothered to get air conditioning on this turn-of-the-century (that’s the 20th century, folks) mansion. I’m starting to feel that lack about now. It’s a beautiful house, though: 7 bedrooms, 3 floors and an extra staircase for the Irish family of servants the original owners kept here.

I started my “job” today and found it a real job. Drat. I spent the morning working on a placement exam to give the 9th and 10th graders. Then I went to class. I had a two hour class on probability theory (i.e. why not to play the lottery) which was fine. Then I had a two-and-a-half hour class on discrete math, which was not quite so fun. The professor was fine for the first hour. Then he wrote a homework problem up. Then another. Then another. The entire remainder of the lecture was devoted to giving us a pile of proofs for tomorrow.

“Okay, so this is true for any epsilon. But wait, that’s not homework. That’s a Fields medal. This one is a homework problem, though...” It would probably be less disconcerting if the two problems didn’t look exactly alike to me. Guess I have some work to do.

On the odd side of things, I was sitting next to a stranger in math class. The guy turned to me and asked, “Hey, did you fly back to St. Louis last week?”
“Uh, yeah.”
“On Southwest?”
“Yeah! You were on that flight?”
“Yeah, I was!”
Weird coincidences like that keep happening to me... That, and some people apparently have memory for faces, unlike yours truly. I’ve introduced myself three times to the same person before, much to their chagrin...

Oh, and I’m webless for the first time in memory. My classes finish at 6, which is when the libraries happen to close. So I’m typing this up on my computer back at the house. Hopefully I’ll find time to upload it tomorrow. Of course, I’d like to pretend that all my friends are checking this with baited breath. Humility never came that easily to me.

On a closing note, I’m assigning everyone to find T.S. Eliot’s poem “The Hollow Men” and read it aloud. I just read that last night and sat in stunned silence for a good ten minutes after the finale:

This is the way the world ends
This is the way the world ends
This is the way the world ends
Not with a bang but a whimper

And this is the way this post ends.

Wednesday, June 18, 2003


Since so many websites post their privacy policy, I figured I might as well put up my version immediately, before anyone starts to wonder about copious omissions.

I do not plan to have absolute candor on every subject, in particular my personal life. Any time I mention a living human being whom I know personally, in a setting where they would not demand to be identified, I shall use initials, codes and the like. I am not one to kiss and tell; almost anything relating to my dating life is exempt from this weblog. Also exempt: tirades about people I know. My unexcerpted thoughts are hardly as mellow as the excerpts I select. That's why I keep another journal, offline. And no, you can't read it.

So there. And if I violate any of these rules, I do so at my own peril.
Benefits to Being Home for 1 Week

(1) Food. Home for a month, I get spinach quiche and salmon loaf. Home for a week, food = love. My mother cooks steaks for dinner, peach cobbler for dessert. How much better can you get?

(2) Social life. Home for a month, your friends say, "Hey, let's do something one of these days." Home for a week, your friends go with you to Denny's at midnight, invite you to their parties.

(3) Relaxation. Home for a month, you clean the bathrooms and vacuum a few times. Home for a week, you do laundry or dishes if you feel like it [which, granted, I do; I'm a good son.] [And oh, so humble, too.]

Drawbacks: I miss panicking over 7-page papers and marathon problem sets. I miss long discussions of religion, politics and sex that break down into laughter. I miss dining hall food sitting on my plate while I argue theology with my RH. I miss being forced to read the authors I really want to read. I miss not having the time to watch TV, thereby not getting sucked into another VH1 Countdown.

Tuesday, June 17, 2003

Oops. Disregard the "links" reference in the second paragraph. I thought there'd be a place for my school webpage:

Or, for that matter, some other links. I haven't decided yet.
If you know me, welcome. This is my replacement of sorts for the e-mail updates I used to send. I think it's more convenient for everyone to check it out at their leisure than to keep figuring out who does or doesn't want to receive my clever little missives.

If you don't know me, welcome. You can get a pretty good idea of who I am from my blog, or, failing that, the links on the side. If you find this interesting, I'm glad. If not, au revoir.

So, at the moment I'm at home, nestled along the Missouri river in glorious St. Louis suburbia. Believe it or not, I've just returned from the University of Chicago; the quarter system pushed finals all the way to last week. But no matter; I've survived my second year [not "sophomore year"; the U of C takes pride in its own peculiar terminology] with an intact concentration [not "major", of course] in mathematics.

I'll be back at the U of C in a week, working at what's called a "Research Experience for Undergraduates". What that's supposed to mean is that the government gives students a grant to work with professors and each other, doing some minor research project for the summer and presenting the results. If that's so, then I believe I'm defrauding the government this summer. The math department's philosophy of teaching includes the point that any original undergraduate work in math won't be worth the ink it's printed in. Therefore, I'll be paid to take math classes [which only sounds like fun to me] and to help tutor 9th and 10th graders at a summer math camp [which more people can agree will be exciting].

I'll be house-sitting for a professor who takes a long vacation each summer [partially because his house has no AC] and leaves its upkeep to students. I have five other housemates, making it some nerd-infested version of "The Real World" [which, come to think of it, I've never bothered to watch]. Anyhow, it appears to be a setup for an enjoyable eight weeks.

I'll post more as my schedule allows. Aw, who am I kidding? I have nothing to do here for most of the time. So I'll just post again when I'm feeling less lazy.