August 17th, 2010

krazy koati

Sometimes this old farm feels like a long-lost friend

Since the hotel was so near campus, I figured just to walk there, in my blazer and new shiny shoes and did I mention this has been the hottest summer of anyplace ever? I got there surprisingly sweaty for a mile-long walk at 9 am, and actually went to the bathroom to wash before going upstairs and into the air-conditioned world. I also discovered they've renovated my old floor, turning what had been open space into an enclosed one, and putting some really nice carpeting down.

Anyway, the meeting with the Army Guy went very well, once he started to see how the proposed research actually intersected with anything that his Army Guy of Science division did. (I still don't see it, myself, except in the sense that better understanding stuff is probably useful to pretty much everybody.) Also I got to meet my advisor's new graduate student, who comes originally from China and is possibly the most introverted person I have ever met. It left me looking like the loquacious person among the younger set. I was shocked.

After lunch --- back at the hotel, as my advisor'd never been to the sports bar there --- we went back to the math building and saw the department secretaries, who remembered me with always surprising-to-me accuracy. Yes, I was a grad student slightly more years than the idea, and I have the distinctive beard to serve as marker, but I hadn't set foot on campus in seven years and they see a lot of students. But they were glad to see me, and help me figuring out the reimbursement forms, and to marvel at how much weight I've lost.

But soon --- with barely the time to notice the Penn Station restaurant where I'd gotten a modest but pleasant supper the night before gave its location as ``Pensilvania Station'' (spelling Pennsylvania wrong is an occupational hazard for talking about the state, and maybe they needed to save space on the receipt, but why not just call it Penn Station like all normal people?) --- it was past 3:30 and despite my discovery that two of my favorite used book stores were still open and in the same old places my advisor was offering me a ride back to the Albany-Rensselaer train station. I didn't even have the time to go to the library and see my books on the shelves, a pleasure I've been denied so far. He was right about the timing, too; leaving about 4 pm, I still got home late enough in the evening I wouldn't have wanted to wait for the next train. Maybe next time I see Troy I'll actually see some of it.

Trivia: When it began operations in May 1971 Amtrak kept as daily what had been Penn Central's Broadway Limited run, but dropped three other New York-to-Chicago round trips. Source: The Wreck Of The Penn Central: The Real Story Behind The Largest Bankruptcy In American History, Joseph R Daughen, Peter Binzen.

Currently Reading: Gunpowder: Alchemy, Bombards, and Pyrotechnics: the History of the Explosive that Changed The World, Jack Kelly. Someday I have to do a series review of books whose subtitles include ``... That Changed The World''.