This evening, Alice threw me (and ten other lucky nerds) a Saint Patrick's Feast, replete with corned beef (cooked till it was tender, flaky, and perfect, with boiled cabbage, carrots, potatoes and onions), colcannon (look it up if you've never tried it) and Irish soda bread with raisins (fantastic). We washed down this sumptuous feast with the proper room-temperature Guinness, or a chilled root beer for the under-21 crowd. Alice couldn't find any Irish desserts (after all, who in the Old Country could afford dessert?), so we did an English cookie platter instead. Quite a dinner-party success, if you ask me. We even worked our way through Evening Prayer (including the various Protestant Nerds) before eating!
II. My Finals Week
I've been done all week, since Monday afternoon. It helped that I had a take-home final in Constantin's ODEs (painful), and that Sidney Webster decided it was easier for him to just base my grade on coursework than to let me reschedule my final (this was a good deal for me). So I've taken care of Alice in her 32 to 38-page Finals Week deluge of work (ending at 4:30 Thursday morning). I've also been trying to organize my spring break and my grad school decision. Oh yeah:
I've tactfully declined the offers from UW-Madison and UT-Austin. It's going to be Berkeley, UCLA or Minnesota. I've already visited UCLA last summer, and liked the department. I'm planning to visit Minnesota-Minneapolis on the weekend of April 2. And Berkeley?
IV. My Spring Break
Going to San Francisco! If Alice's visit to Saint Louis last summer was "Alice in Boringland", this has to be "When Patrick Met Culture": Alice has put on our itinerary a contemporary classical music performance (yea!), a modern art museum (hrm...), and a ballet troupe (ulp!); we'll be seeing Father Keyes as well and visiting his new parish at Saint Edwards. As I've indicated before, Alice is a brilliant guide to a pretty city (or a pretty guide to a brilliant city) and it will be very nice to share Holy Week with her and without any academic stress. Oh, wait, except for that Berkeley thing. I'll be staying after Easter to visit UC-Berkeley on the 28th and 29th. I've heard such good and such scary things about the department and the environs, I just have to witness it all with my own two eyes.
V. My Classes In Review
I think that my studies went very well for a Winter Quarter (usually the rough part of the year for me). In order:
Graduate Analysis, Quarter 2: Webster was nice to us indeed (see the above). But still, I learned a lot; he covered material just as much as did Ryzhik, but assigned problems at a less ridiculous level. I didn't have to spend hours begging the actual grad students for help! And I finally memorized the definitions of Banach and Hilbert spaces, to boot...
Ordinary Differential Equations: Okay, you want to talk about ridiculous? I just felt so sorry for the non-math majors in this class, who had no idea what was about to hit them: Peter Constantin taught as if it were the fourth quarter of Honors Analysis. I learned a lot (though we didn't really do much in techniques; it's all theory), but some of the physics majors have lamented that they now understand less than they did coming in.
Introduction to Latin, Quarter 2: I stuck it out for two reasons: Latin seriously rocks, and Ms. Lee Behnke is just so hard to let down. Seriously! I was this close to turning in assignments when I felt like them and sleeping in more mornings, but I went to office hours and she said she was surprised I'm a fourth-year math major instead of a young Classics major taking the class for real. And I ended up memorizing Catullus in Latin for extra credit in a class I'm taking for fun, when the grade will never affect the rest of my life! Those devious sweet old professors, they know what they're doing.
Introduction to Western Music: I got a lot more out of this class than I ever expected. The techniques of listening intelligently to Classical music, picking out the themes and recognizing certain structures, appreciating tone color and rhythmic variation– the class transformed Beethoven's Sixth from "background music for writing papers" to "Great Googly Moogly, this ROCKS!" It's opened up a whole new world to me: next birthday I'm asking for Wagner, Mozart, Stravinsky, Beethoven, Mahler and Bach (oh, you better believe I'm asking for Bach). I feel so awful for the people I hear complaining of the deadening Core classes in Art and Drama!
VI. The Poem I Memorized, And My Translation
Vivamus, mea Lesbia, atque amemus,
rumoresque senum severiorum
omnes unius aestimemus assis!
Soles occidere et redire possunt;
nobis cum semel occidit brevis lux,
nox est perpetua una dormienda.
Da mi basia mille, deinde centum;
dein mille altera, dein secunda centum;
deinde usque altera mille, deinde centum.
Dein, cum milia multa fecerimus,
conturbabimus illa, ne sciamus,
aut ne quis malus invidere possit,
cum tantum sciat esse basiorum.
Let us live, my Lesbia, and let us love,
and let us count all the rumors of old men
at the worth of a single penny!
The sun is able to fall and rise again;
but once our brief light of life has fallen,
we must sleep in perpetual night.
Kiss me a thousand kisses, then add a hundred,
then another thousand, then a hundred kisses more,
yet another thousand kisses, and a hundred after.
Finally, after so many thousands of kisses,
let us lose count, lest even we know,
or lest anyone else wickedly envy us,
for such a great number of kisses.
VII. What I'm Going To Do Now