Friday, January 07, 2005

From JMM (Yet Another List)

I picked up my badge from the advance registration booth -- which seems to be staffed by women hoping to voice the role of Lois Griffin from The Family Guy.

Who I Saw:
The professor of the group theory course I took my last term at Dartmouth. Someone I knew from Dartmouth (a year behind me but in most of my classes). One of my classmates from grad school. A former colleague from two jobs ago. Someone I met at a conference in 2003. And someone who I had never actually met before. And that was just in the first 45 minutes.

Who I Saw But Who (Probably) Didn't See Me:
My department chair (unfortunately). The department chair from my previous job (on purpose -- I hid). A reader (I was looking/waiting for the people I was going to have dinner with; you were talking to someone; I didn't know what to say.).

Things That Attracted Unexpected Attention
The borrowed laptop. (Yes, I use a Macintosh. Yes, I use TeXShop. Yes, I'm saving my files on a flash drive BECAUSE IT'S NOT MY COMPUTER. No, I don't want to talk to you -- a complete stranger -- about it.) The fact that I hold the yarn with my left hand when I knit.

Things That Attracted Expected Attention
I have a list of two questions; every conference I go to, at least one person who has never met me looks at my badge and will ask one of them. The answer to the first is "no," and the answer to the second is, "nie." I was asked the first: "Are you related to [person with same last name] in [middle Atlantic state]?"

Two Conversations About Research
  1. During the chicken-and-egg discussion of too much teaching vs. not enough research, a guy whose name I forget and who was trying to be helpful and whose comment I shall now grossly misrepresent in my self-centered narrative said something along the lines of, "You could research something lame. There are plenty of lame things to research that are written about in Math Magazine and CMJ." I said something bland like "hmm" or "uh huh." What I was thinking was "Right, that's why I went to UCSD and have spent some of my precious free time reading about projective schemes -- so I can research something lame."

  2. A friend of mine whose research area is mildly related to mine introduced me to a friend of hers whose research area is much more closely related to mine -- I've been sorta-kinda trying to read one of his papers (and I had mentioned that). At first the conversation was strained and awkward: I was flustered and fuzzy on hypotheses and unclear on definitions. Finally I referred to [three-author-paper]. I figured he must know [three-author-paper], as he's colleagues with [first author] and the paper of his I'm reading is co-authored with [third author]. He knows the paper, but not the specific result: I use the result on filtered-noetherian rings; he uses the result about strongly noetherian rings. I flounder some more; he probably thinks I'm crazy and wonders why his friend told me about him. He asks who my advisor is. I tell him: [second author]. Everything clears. All is good. I regain the benefit of the doubt.

Atlanta Traffic
Everyone warned me about Atlanta traffic. I left Atlanta during a trafficy time of day, and the traffic was no worse than Southern California traffic. I was reminded of the time I drove up to see the Museum of Jurassic Technology with a post-doc from UCLA. There was a display on the Theory of Forgetting that was based on the conic sections.