Sunday, August 27, 2006

Mandatory Fun

Yesterday I went to the Math Department picnic with the topologist. I asked him, "Are you up for some mandatory fun?" He asked, "What do you mean?" The department head sent out two emails about the picnic. The first one went to everyone, announcing the picnic; the second was sent to the faculty distribution list and strongly urged us to come. I thought that this sounded like mandatory fun; the topolgist thought that this was just a polite suggestion and that if he really wanted us all to be there, he would have said it directly.

The topologist packed up his travel chess set so that he'd have something to do. When I asked him why not bring a math book, he said that it's too hard to concentrate at this sort of thing. We stopped at Kroger to pick up some veggie burgers (he's a vegetarian), and we were off.

He played chess with assorted people in the department (and their children). I made conversation with faculty wives. When I first meet a faculty wife, it takes her a while to decide which I am: Faculty? or Faculty Wife?

I also talked to some of the staff. At one point the staff member in charge of organizing the picnic asked the associate head if he had a sheet of paper and a pen so that she could write down the names of the people who showed up.