Friday, May 25, 2007


My man Michael Cuddyer was named the 10th most underrated fantasty baseball player.

The Good State of Jefferson

Skye and I are leaving tomorrow for a trip to northern California. We will see my friend Jocko and Yeti for two days each, and then Skye heads back for home and I go to Berkeley for a conference on teaching teachers.

Here are my big plans for the summer:

  1. Write one or two chapters of a textbook.
  2. Re-write an entire textbook.
  3. Learn enough about symmetries of the icosahedron to teach a course on it in the fall.
  4. Do enough work for a math paper.
  5. Write up the results from another math paper.
  6. Write one or two "fun" math papers.
  7. Update my teaching and research statements.

This is daunting. I am hoping to do the first and last items first, since they are probably the easiest to complete. Then, I might dovetail several of the others in my schedule. We'll see.

People are stupid about gasoline. This is a part of a larger problem with "entitlement." This sounds like something my dad would say, but I am opposed to entitlement, too. Consider the following quote from the article:

"Schwartz called that 'outrageous' and said even he can't fill up his SUV at that price.

'If it keeps going like this, my kids will never be able to afford to drive,' said Schwartz, who has an 18-year-old son and 15-year-old daughter."

Maybe they could afford to drive if you got a car that doesn't get 12 miles to the gallon? Switch to a Corolla or Prius and the kids would have a much better chance of driving.

I'm going to not rant about entitlement, although I think that you can draw your own conclusions.

I also saw This Film Is Not Yet Been Rated. I agree with Tsjaz's thoughts. He definitely, DEFINITELY should have kept the part in the movie where he finds out that the MPAA (illegally) copied his movie, though. I hope that he took them to court over this.

Wednesday, May 23, 2007

The NBA Sucks

Okay, I don't mean that. I am just disappointed with how the lottery turned out. My three favorite teams are the Celtics (my first love, and I now live in Boston), the Timberwolves (since I am from Minnesota), and the Suns (since they play fun basketball). All three teams got screwed yesterday.

Okay, that's not actually true. They just all had bad luck.

Okay, that's not actually true. The Timberwolves got the pick that they should have, but the Celtics and the Suns had bad luck. The Celtics had about an 88% chance of getting one of the first four picks (including roughly a 39% chance of getting a top two pick), but ended up with the fifth pick. The Suns had roughly a 62% chance of getting a pick between four through seven, but ended up with nothing (this is because Atlanta ended up getting a top three pick; this caused the Suns to lose the draft pick they received from Atlanta through a trade).

I've also wanted to mentioned that, a couple of years ago, I predicted that Bassy Telfair and Al Jefferson would be draft busts. Both ended up on the Celtics. I was right about Telfair, but not so much about Big Al.

At least the Twins won today.

Tuesday, May 22, 2007

Summer Vacation

It was, in some sense, my first day of summer vacation. It was productive in that I revised a paper, submitted it, built a website, and got materials that will allow me to work on other, larger things soon.

So I didn't write anything for my textbook, which is what I was originally planning on working on. I'm okay with this, though.

Monday, May 21, 2007

School's Out

I'm on summer break. I handed on most of my grades today, and the remainder were handed in on Friday. I am hard at work working on next school year, and I just got done mapping out my day-by-day plan for the entire year for the course I am course heading (meaning that I will be supervising others). I should do the same for my summer course and my non-course head course in the fall later this week, and then I will be in pretty good shape. If I am really on top of things, I might even get all of my worksheets in order for the rest of the year.

Tomorrow, I will work more on my textbook. This is something that should have been done a while ago, but this is fine. I'd prefer to work on my courses or math research...and maybe I will. I guess I haven't decided yet. We'll see.


Skye and I finished Six Feet Under on Saturday. It got really good toward the end of season three, was okay for season four, dragged for the first half of season five, but got really good at the end again.

In other news, I solved my Homer Simpson 2 by 2 by 2 Rubik's Cube today for the first time. This was easy, since it is only a subset of the actual Rubik's Cube, so I had all of the algorithms that I needed.

I think that I might have decided to stop watching the NBA playoffs. The Suns got hosed, and now I hate the Spurs. Duncan left the bench earlier, but he didn't get suspended. Bowen, too. Steve Kerr says so. Granted, the first incident was less of a fight than the latter, but neither were actually fights.

This sucks. Since Utah looked horrible in game one, I have no reason to watch. So my attention is focused on baseball (until the Jazz threaten the Spurs); even though the Twins are bad right now, they are still likable.

Finally, Bill Simmons's podcast is now available on iTunes (free, of course). Guess what I'll be listening to on the walk home...

Wednesday, May 09, 2007

How are things on the West Coast?

Hi. I am currently in "reading period," which means that I am not teaching classes as normal, but rather helping students get ready for the final exam. As a part of their final grade, the students are going to give presentations on topics that will be covered in the next course of the sequence. I like this idea a lot - I think that we need to get students to learn on their own more. I am going to incorporate this idea into both semesters for next year.

My latest obsession has been the Rubik's Cube. It has been a slight embarrassment to me that I have been a group theorist who cannot solve the Rubik's Cube. This is the most widely known tool to describe the sort of math I do, and I couldn't do it. So I sat down this weekend and figured it out. This involved one late night to figure out how to solve it, although it took me about 40-60 minutes to solve it at the end because I didn't know exactly what I was doing. After another long night last night, I am down to 7-10 minutes. This is still 40-50 times slower than the world record, but I am closing fast.

I looked on the web, and the way I figured out how to do it is non-standard; I am a little proud of this. Most people solve it by doing it in layers. I do it by getting the corner pieces first, and then getting the "edge" pieces.

Music: Interpol has a new single that I have been enjoying: "The Heinrich Maneuver." A usual good-song-with-a-bad-name from Interpol. I have also been really enjoying "Kundalini Slide" by Tanya Donelly - particularly the end. I think that Skye might actually like that one, too.

Skye and I had our first class in bicycle repair last night. I learned how to change a flat tire. Then my tire exploded. The said it wasn't my fault, and repaired it free of charge.

Good news from sports: the Suns won. I was more excited about this before I realized that the game was played in Phoenix, not San Antonio.

More good news from sports: Morneau hit a walk-off home run in the 10th to beat the White Sox

Finally, we saw Spiderman 3 this weekend. It was a good superhero movie.

I couldn't find a way to fit any politics in this posting. Sorry, Skye.

Friday, May 04, 2007

Sports and Skeptics

OM@G! Golden State beat Dallas! For those of you who do not know about these things, this is impressive because Dallas had the best record in the league, and Golden State barely made the playoffs (meaning they didn't win a lot of games in the regular season). This would be like Hurley stealing Kate away from Sawyer.

I have been watching season 3 of Penn and Teller's Bulls Hit recently. Bad Z is right - the show has gone way downhill. It seems to me that the show used to do pseudoscientific experiments to disprove wacky ideas. For instance, they had multiple Feng Shui experts critique a room, and the experts all gave contradictory information. This is useful! Their method in season three is to find a crazy person who holds a view point, let them rant, and then have Penn make snide comments as the narrator. This is not what I signed up for, and I doubt that I will watch the rest of the season.

Isn't it nice that we have people who are making semi-serious bids for the presidency who do not believe in science?

Lies my government told me: the surge is working, because violence is decreasing. Well, yes, violence will decrease if you don't include car bombs. Sheesh! That is their main weapon, and we don't include it?!? Oh yeah, only 537 people died in the Revolutionary War (Note: I am not counting deaths do to musket-fire).

Wednesday, May 02, 2007


I got my first compliment on my new hat on Saturday. I was walking down Mass Avenue, and a guy went out of his way to compliment me on it. He was wearing a Twins shirt.

I didn't run today. I was in a foul mood last night, and I decided that I needed sleep more than exercise. I stand by my decision. I was in a foul mood for a variety of reasons. First, there were just a bunch of minor problems that popped up: a hotel was booked and my website no longer worked. Second, I ended up planning (to some extent) three different trips. I find planning trips to be frustrating because they always take up more time than I think they should. The trip that I planned entirely was especially frustrating because it required me to coordinate among four other parties. It wasn't all that bad, but it took a good chunk of yeseterday afternoon. Finally, I got home later than I expected, and then the phone rang THREE times. This really annoys me. I wish people would space out their phone calls to me.

Also annoying me is the fact that I have to grade 10 (possibly 20, depending on how you count) projects. I am not looking forward to this. Moreover, this has made me realize that I am being spoiled in my current position because I don't have many grading responsibilities (of course, my other responsibilities that are unique to this job far outweigh the amount of work that grading requires).

Congratulations to Sidney Ponson.