Tuesday, June 24, 2003

(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.

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