Life update

October 21, 2008 at 8:58 am | Posted in conference, family, holidays, life, math | 1 Comment

Well, the semester is in full swing as you, dear reader, may have guessed by the infrequency of my entries alone.  But life doesn’t stop, that’s for sure.

Last weekend I took 10 students to the Fall 2008 MAA Seaway section meeting, a local math conference. The talks were very cool, and many students told me they had a great time. I was also the chair of the student program committee. Last meeting in the spring, there were only 2 submissions for the student talk session, so this time we decided to supplement student talks with other things, like math jeopardy and an ice cream social. We also had two faculty give an workshop for undergraduates on how to craft a math talk. Lots of good stuff for our students. Then we got 12 submissions for student talks! We had to get help to cover all of the rooms we needed to fit all of these activities! In the end, though, I think it was a success. And we have some ideas to make the arrangement of activities better next time.

Some family have been going through some pretty rough times, and there is nothing I can do about it. That’s weighing on me and making it hard to concentrate on anything. Life sucks sometimes.

This weekend we’re going to do some preparation for winter. We’re going to store the motorcycles, and put the trailer out of the garage and beside it, covered with a tarp. Then we’ll have the motorcycles winterized in one bay, and the car in the other. I should replace that broken window in the garage door, too.

Thanksgiving at our house is on, and we’re going to have folks over again. Hopefully we can avoid the plumbing disaster this time around.

Over Columbus day weekend Jenny and I visited some friends and relatives. The relatives were Martin, Uta, and Tanta Martha who were visiting from Germany. Tanta Martha knew me when I was a nipperkin. She nicknamed me “schlingel,” which loosely translates as “rascal,” a nickname that stuck to me with my Oma (Martha’s sister) all my life. This will probably be her last visit to the states, so I just had to make the trip. I made two different holiday liqueurs, whose recipes I learned from Oma, and brought them to share during this visit; they were a hit. I really improved the coffee liqueur this time. We also had a great visit with our dear friends Edz and Sacha. One of these years we’ll get them up here to chill with us in the north country.

Academic advising has begun. It’s almost hard to believe that it’s time to start thinking about next semester already. On the other hand, I’m already thinking about what I’m going to be teaching in the 2009-2010 academic year, so it shouldn’t be so hard to believe.

Time moves so fast. I should make some time to think long term about life and what I want out of it. I did that over 10 years ago when I was working as a waiter in a restaurant, and I set myself on this course, got back into school, and now I’m a mathematician and professor. But it’s about time for a long term view again. I’m not going to be switching careers or anything, but I need a better balance between work, home, family, etc. Jenny and I talked about that a bit on the car ride back from the visit with the german relatives. Putting it off to the “break” between the semesters doesn’t work. There is no better time than now.


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  1. You are right on the money, as usual Derek.

    I don’t know why more people don’t periodically re-assess their life-goals/plans/desires. Or maybe they do, but they don’t put it in those terms. But you really should put it in those terms. Choose your life. Choose your path.

    Mid-life crisis happen because people wake up and say, “How did I get here? Why am I here? WHere am I going?”

    But if you ask these questions all the way along, then it isn’t a crisis, it is an oportunity. Sometimes life gets off track a bit, but that too can be an oportunity.

    My life is by no means perfect. Lots to work on. Lots of sad events in friends and families lives that can get me down, like Derek mentioned.

    But at least, when it comes to life plan, I’m moving in the directions I have intended.

    Wife, children, family, friends, good relationships with all/most of them. Philosophy/religion, interests, learning about life, house, decent material opportunities, decently interesting career, etc.

    Sorry if that sounds like bragging. It isn’t meant to be. It’s just meant to be an example. These were my priorities, in roughly this order, and I set out to achive them. Not that they all came out exactly as I planned, by any means. But when I had to deviate, I deviated in that order of priority roughly stated above.

    Funny, when I look at it now, if anything I think I underweighted, or at least under-recognized, things that aren’t really life events at all, but life attributes. I’ve always had as a goal to improve my temperment, for instance, but I guess I’ve been giving it a back seat compared to these other priorities. I guess I’d better put it up there on my list.

    It wouldn’t do to achive all my life goals, but remain an awnery SOB. (Like I am now.)

    Thanks Derek! You keep me thinking forward.

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