austin_dern (austin_dern) wrote,

They're gonna knock me off my feet

Triumph! Not in any important things, you understand, but in getting my e-mail cleaned out and answered. There've been various little nagging chores digging at me for ages and at some point it's easier to just pull the covers over my head and pretend they'll go away, which they don't do, which is why I can have 20 letters sitting in the mailbox, sometimes for a month or more. But with a bit of a tailwind and the clever process of crafting dull responses I've managed to empty out essentially all of them. All right, it's a petty accomplishment. I'll take what I can get, though. This was managed in my common fashion: some of the mails I was getting around to had been waiting long enough that the part I needed to address cleared itself up and my input was no longer needed. Another part amounted to where I just had to write a polite letter giving permission for something, although other parties who had to be involved were worried that I hadn't written the day before. People who answer their e-mails the hour they're received are a trial for us.

In other silly mail-based moments, when I got in yesterday my father waited until I was ensconced in my room with the door closed so that I wouldn't hear too much of Hollering Idiots News, and then called to announce that I had mail. ``Not e-mail,'' he explained, ``but a letter. Of mail.'' He wanted also to know if I had seen it. well, no, since he'd brought in the mail and was the only one in the house other than the cats who knew its distribution. So I finished up what I was fiddling with and came out to find that the letter was not obviously placed anywhere.

``Is the letter anywhere particular?'' Why, yes: he'd put it in the designated pile for the mail, along with all the things which my mother would sort through -- a couple magazines, various papers that amount to the administrative detail of life, her daily box from, and so on. He asked if I saw it: well, not yet, since I just got to the mail pile. Eventually I did find it; it was, naturally, on the bottom of the pile. It turns out the letter was just from one of the colleges to which I've put in applications recently: they were informing me that sometime after the 8th of March they would make a decision about who to interview, so if I hear something from them after that date then it'll be because they want to talk to me. It's nice to get a letter that isn't a prompt rejection, but I'm kind of surprised they bothered to send such a blankness.

Trivia: From 1786 Levi Pease's stagecoach would deliver mail from Boston to New York City in four days during summer, and five and a half days during winter. Source: The Old Post Road: The Story of the Boston Post Road, Stuart H Holbrook.

Currently Reading: A History of Pi, Petr Beckmann. Among many other things, he's upset that schools no longer routinely teach the method of regula falsi, of continued fractions, or Diophantine equations. I would note that regula falsi is rarely needed these days now that we've pretty much mastered the concept of algebra (though it has its place), that continued fractions are an amusing trick but are useful mostly for solving Diophantine equations, and that Diophantine equations (polynomial equations where all the variables have to be integers) are kind of neat, but are mostly a real pain to solve and aren't all that interesting. But Dr Beckmann was upset that they're now ignored fields.


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