Attitudes: mathematics and walking

Mathematics Last week, a friend of mine e-mailed me a paper. A problem that I tried to solve back in 1989 has finally been solved; it was the result of a lot of work by lots of smart people, and someone that I know (and like) finally solved the problem.

So the good: a nice person got it.
The bad: well, the effort it took to solve the problem was, well, out of reach for someone who makes a living teaching 12 hours of undergraduate, mostly lower division mathematics; much of it remedial. The people who made significant progress on the problem work in research positions.

Sure, they are smarter than I and their course loads often include a graduate class.

Yes, I have a job and many others don’t. But there is, well, a deep seated “sigh” and a bit of remorse that I didn’t do better (and land at least a research post-doctoral position).

I can’t do anything about that now, but I can quit blogging for today and get to work on a paper that I should send out in the next couple of weeks! πŸ™‚

From time to time, people comment on runners (or walkers) who either greet or don’t greet others. So yesterday, I made it a point to see what I do. So here is the full truth:

In all cases I move well to the opposite side of the path/road and

1. If the person coming the other way is walking for exercise or running, I usually smile and nod…well maybe grimace if I am toward the end of a long workout.

2. If the person has a dog, I don’t even make eye contact; I really hug “my” side of the path/road.

3. Same if the person is pushing a stroller or if it is someone just strolling or, say, a couple holding hands. I look away and down and don’t make eye contact.

I am not seeking approval of how I react; I am merely making a report. I don’t know if this is a “big city” habit (“mind your own frigging business!”) or it is because I am an introvert who doesn’t like people (except for those that I meet and get to know).

But there it is.

May 17, 2010 Posted by | mathematics, Mid Life Crisis, Personal Issues, running, training, walking | Leave a comment

Thoughts while running around Town Lake (Austin, TX)

Back in 1980-1983, I’d come home on leave from the Navy. The “short loop” (about 4.1 miles) took just about 30 minutes to run; hardly anyone passed me.

In 1998-1999, the same loop took 33-34 minutes. A few people passed me.

Today: it takes about 37-38 minutes; EVERYONE passes me. 😦

Ok, I wasn’t used to the heat (it is suffocating) and I did walk a mile to cool down (and did an easy set of 5 pull ups).

June 14, 2009 Posted by | Mid Life Crisis, running, travel, whining | Leave a comment

28 April 2009 early AM

Workout notes Not sure; a yoga class then about 5-7 miles total of running and walking.

Society Atheists are not keeping as quiet as we used to. To be honest, I have no interest in converting (deconverting?) anyone unless they are unhappy where they are. All that I ask is that we make decisions based on the premise that things happen for naturalistic reasons; that is, don’t count on some fairy, pixie, deity or magic spell to alter chemistry, biology or physics on your behalf.

Politics The Hill surveyed the United States Senators to see who is best at working across party lines. The answers may surprise you; one can be very liberal or conservative and still get along with the other Senators and work on stuff together.

What I sometimes forget is that the speeches are meant to fire people like myself up; the real working together often goes on behind closed doors. I was aware that Orin Hatch and Ted Kennedy are friends.


1. Edward Kennedy (Mass.)
2. Tom Carper (Del.)
3. Chris Dodd (Conn.)
4. (tied) Evan Bayh (Ind.)
4. (tied) Tom Harkin (Iowa)

1. Susan Collins (Maine)
2. Olympia Snowe (Maine)
3. Orrin Hatch (Utah)
4. (tied) Richard Lugar (Ind.)
4. (tied) John McCain (Ariz.)

Robert Reich: gives President Obama a grade on his economic policies. It is a C-plus; read about why (President Obama was torched on the TARP stuff, but remember that started as a Bush program and, while Obama voted for it, he wasn’t in charge as to how it was implemented).

Note also that many liberal economists fault President Obama’s stimulus bill for being too small.

Science: President Obama talked to the National Academy of Science. I liked his speech. Here is a very relevant part (the role of government investing in basic research):

This is important right now, as public and private colleges and universities across the country reckon with shrinking endowments and tightening budgets. But this is also incredibly important for our future. As Vannevar Bush, who served as scientific advisor to President Franklin Roosevelt, famously said: β€œBasic scientific research is scientific capital.”

The fact is, an investigation into a particular physical, chemical, or biological process might not pay off for a year, or a decade, or at all. And when it does, the rewards are often broadly shared, enjoyed by those who bore its costs but also by those who did not.

That’s why the private sector under-invests in basic science – and why the public sector must invest in this kind of research. Because while the risks may be large, so are the rewards for our economy and our society.

No one can predict what new applications will be born of basic research: new treatments in our hospitals; new sources of efficient energy; new building materials; new kinds of crops more resistant to heat and drought.

It was basic research in the photoelectric effect that would one day lead to solar panels. It was basic research in physics that would eventually produce the CAT scan. The calculations of today’s GPS satellites are based on the equations that Einstein put to paper more than a century ago.

In addition to the investments in the Recovery Act, the budget I’ve proposed – and versions have now passed both the House and Senate – builds on the historic investments in research contained in the recovery plan.

We double the budget of key agencies, including the National Science Foundation, a primary source of funding for academic research, and the National Institute of Standards and Technology, which supports a wide range of pursuits – from improving health information technology to measuring carbon pollution, from testing β€œsmart grid” designs to developing advanced manufacturing processes. And my budget doubles funding for the Department of Energy’s Office of Science which builds and operates accelerators, colliders, supercomputers, high-energy light sources, and facilities for making nano-materials. Because we know that a nation’s potential for scientific discovery is defined by the tools it makes available to its researchers.

But the renewed commitment of our nation will not be driven by government investment alone. It is a commitment that extends from the laboratory to the marketplace.

That is why my budget makes the research and experimentation tax credit permanent. This is a tax credit that returns two dollars to the economy for every dollar we spend, by helping companies afford the often high costs of developing new ideas, new technologies, and new products. Yet at times we’ve allowed it to lapse or only renewed it year to year. I’ve heard this time and again from entrepreneurs across this country: by making this credit permanent, we make it possible for businesses to plan the kinds of projects that create jobs and economic growth.

Not everything should be market driven!!!!!!!

Fun: Sometimes I am reminded that I have, in all likelihood, lived more than half of my life.


But hey, young guys, YOU haven’t as yet! She is whip smart, loves science and hates nonsense. What are YOU waiting for? πŸ˜‰

Note: my wife is reasonably sharp and has a great sense of humor about life and everything in general. I suppose that she needs a good sense of humor to remain married to me. πŸ˜‰

April 28, 2009 Posted by | 2008 Election, atheism, Barack Obama, Democrats, economy, Mid Life Crisis, Personal Issues, politics, politics/social, religion, republicans, science | Leave a comment

On Feeling Inadequate

Some time ago (on my bold blog; July 2005) I posted something about my own feelings of inadequacy.

Evidently, a friend of mine recently made a post (somewhat tongue and cheek) about his.

If you read his post, he talked a great deal about material things.

Frankly, such things have never mattered all that much to me.

If you want to know what makes me feel inadequate; well here are some folks who do:

Terence Tao (Fields Medalist)

Edward Witten (Fields Medalist)

Myron Rolle, all star football player and Rhodes Scholar

Oh yes, this fellow too:


He is the first President Elect that is younger than I (by about 1 year): he came from nowhere to become President whereas I haven’t done a single thing of distinction in my life. πŸ™‚

January 15, 2009 Posted by | Mid Life Crisis, Personal Issues, whining | Leave a comment