Sunday, March 26, 2006

Back to My Roots

I have successfully returned from Schenectady and from the conference.

My family has their own special way of optimizing airport pick-ups. First, they need your flight number to track your plane with FlightAware. This information is double-checked by listening to the air traffic control channel on the scanner radio. My parents arrive in range of the airport just as your flight lands. Then, the instant that you are allowed to use your cell phone, you call them in their car, and they start to circle the airport, arriving to pick you up at baggage claim just as you pick up your bag. Costs them nothing in parking.

While there I also saw my grandfather (90.75 years old) and my aunt.

I think my talk went OK. My timing was a bit off at the beginning, so I finished too early. I'm pretty good at timing when it comes to teaching a class or doing a chalk-talk (real math), but I'm still not very good at timing slide talks. I still haven't figured out the balance between reading the slides and talking about the content.

The weirdest part is that many of the people in my audience were there because they know (or know of) my dad. One of his former students and several of his former colleagues came up to talk to me after my talk. People who know him spoke to me in the hallway. Much more pressure to do a good job when it also reflects on him.

I thought that it was going to be odder being back in Niskayuna High School. No. The building had hardly changed, but I felt no nostalgia. Yes, now there is that new pool wing, and I think that the Rap Room (the old student smoking room) is gone. And the door with the crash bar on the wrong side (you could get locked in the courtyard) has been replaced with something up to code. No need for me to go and check out the Warrior Room (F202) where I wasted way too much time while I was supposed to be doing layout for the school newspaper. (The Niskayuna Warrior was the first high school newspaper with an all-electronic layout process -- even scanning the photographs -- in 1989.) Didn't head down to check out the Nisk-Art Gallery. Didn't go look at the new "front" in the back of the school.

If I was searching for history, I had to look no further than my parents' basement.


Do you see the Mac SE/30?

Probably you can't pick out the other Macs. I found a PowerMac, something that looks like a MacLC, and a PostScript printer. Don't know what happened to my old IIsi. Can you hook an AppleTalk printer up to a USB port? Do they still make toner for that printer?

Current plan is to free these Macs so that they may clutter the basement of Dr. Dave (if he wants them). Dad is thinking of getting one of the new Intel-chip iMacs, so a relatively modern computer (3 year old iMac) might join the collection of retired Macintoshes. Dad assures me that all of these computers work. (Maybe that's why my IIsi is missing? Its power supply died.)

Do you have a dial phone?

But do you have two?

Maybe you needed math books?
Also in the collection: the 1969 edition of Birkhoff and MacLane.

The modern gadgets live upstairs:
OK, so maybe the QuickTake isn't that modern.