austin_dern (austin_dern) wrote,
austin_dern
austin_dern

She heard about a place people were smiling

I'm taking a vacation. From what, you might ask, and sting me pretty well at that. Objectively speaking you're right: I haven't done anything like work in two months unless you count a bit over a week spent helping Dad paint and wallpaper and hang lights and such, and that wasn't so much work as it was making snippy sarcastic remarks in a tone of voice too soft for Dad to hear clearly. That would be a normal tone of voice since Dad has been ``getting his hearing aid fixed'' since about the Ford administration.

But I am clearly doing something that's leaving me exhausted, and I don't think it's just avoiding parents looking over my shoulder. So with some trepidation, and a suitcase I never fully unpacked from returning from Singapore (I know I've said I was a sentimental old guy, but consider this for proof: I felt sad about some individual shorts which I haven't worn in three months because, you know, they still have the awkward patches of stiffness that come from being line-dryed since I haven't worn them and so haven't washed them in the real dryer), and my Dad's car with the recently done brake job, set out to visit relatives in New England. They're not actually relatives in the sense of having a genetic-based relationship, but they are relatives in that my Aunt was one of my mother's rowdy college friends and sometimes-roommate. (Mom has a group of four friends, and I've never gotten clear who was a roommate with who else when, and it seems to change every time I hear it. I joke about them being rowdy by definition, when people from that group have been in nations during the outbreak of civil wars less than half a dozen times in total so far.)

As you might imagine, then, this has me off my schedule, which has its good features. For one, I tend to sleep better when I'm out of my normal habits. And since this is a roughly new geographic area with a higher concentration of universities I can take my chances at a denser set of places to try cold-calling mathematics departments. I just have to decide whether to include my old American Mathematical Society coversheet, or to use one that's updated to not still list my Singapore addresses (with the note that that address stopped being valid at the end of December 2006). I'm not above using chintzy tricks to draw attention to myself.

Trivia: In 1834 there were 19 five-story cotton mills with 84,000 spindles and 3,000 looms in Lowell, Massachusetts. Source: Big Cotton Stephen Yafa.

Currently Reading: Roman Britain and Early England, 55 BC - AD 871, Peter Hunter Blair.

Nagging personal note (an addendum): the campus newspaper I worked at as an undergraduate celebrates today the 25th anniversary of its first issue's appearance, if anyone is keeping up traditions still. We were a touch obsessive about it under my reign (along with some like-minded editors before and after me); I don't know what it's like today. But I spent the most fun part of my undergraduate days working on the paper, editing, managing, and writing everything but record reviews because I can't tell one bit of music apart from the other. As I was a fast typist and had no shame about plunging in regardless of my actual skill I racked up -- I estimated once, probably not too accurately -- around a quarter-million published words in four years, and had at least once ten articles in a single issue (we averaged twelve pages a week). It was bad enough I had to resort to a stable of pseudonyms, which grew broad enough that at least one actual new reporter was assumed to be a pseudonym of mine by the other editors until I produced him in person at a staff meeting. If I had any sense I'd have tried slipping in ``Henry Kuttner'' as my next pseudonym, but at that point I had enough ``personalities'' and could actually start cutting down the roster. One of the pseudonyms even got ``his'' own farewell column.

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