My year away, 2015-16
Here are some terms that appear in the unexpurgated version of my report on my sabbatical leave:
- allegation of fraud;
- Ohio Department of Commerce;
- “Defund Mizzou”;
- suspending him by his feet from a hotel balcony;
- blown off by a passing helicopter;
- who are you going to believe, a man on a mountain, or some doctor?;
- loud enough to shatter glass;
- cause a wheelchair to flip backwards;
- world’s longest airport slide;
- ceramic technicians;
- the vampire who is stalking them all.
Unlike during my previous sabbatical, I didn’t keep any sort of online diary, since Facebook now exists. But apart from the fact that I was fortunate to meet with several alumni, many professional and non-professional friends, and some family, here are some other highlights.
During the fall semester, I was the inaugural Paul Halmos Visiting Professor at the University of Michigan. While there, I studied their teaching methods, and did some math.
- The teaching led to side-trips to the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, Cal Poly San Luis Obispo, the University of Toronto (I was there on Canada’s Election Day), the University of Akron, and the University of Chicago (for a TPSE Math meeting).
- The math led to a side-trip to the University of Missouri-Columbia for the Paul J. Sally, Jr. Midwest Representation Theory Conference.
- Non-professional reasons took me to San Franciso, Florida, Wisconsin, and Boston, where I took the opportunity to meet with a few recent alumni. And I sat in with the Stow Symphony Orchestra during a rehearsal.
- While in Michigan, I helped out at the Michigan Math Circle and the Wayne County Math Teacher Circle, and I visited a notorious site that was currently in the news, and drank some Kool-Aid that had expired in 1995.
During the spring semester, I went overseas.
- My first stop was the Indian Institute for Science Education and Research in Pune. While there, I gave a talk to the maths club, and delivered a 9-hour graduate course. I was able to capture some nice views until I went for a pleasant hike that turned less pleasant. I didn’t get medical attention for two days, and in the mean time I taught a class. In fact, I never missed one. Limited mobility didn’t stop the mathematical work. It’s difficult to travel with luggage while on crutches (note the brand name), so how would I get from the airport curb to the check-in counter? I figured that things would work out somehow, and I’d make it to my next stop…
- The Institute for Mathematical Sciences at the National University of Singapore for a month-long program. Despite being on crutches for the first part of the program, I joined the group on a hike. After my cast came off, I still needed crutches for a while. Look at some interesting housing and whimsical views.
- Serendipity allowed me to take an unplanned side trip to visit a colleague at the Chinese University of Hong Kong. I stopped in Ngong Ping on the way back to Singapore in order to catch my onward flight…
- … to a place where I had no business. But since I was due to change planes there anyway, why not spend a few days? I hobbled around and looked at some churches and experienced museums and public transportation, etc.
- A visit to the Technion gave me a chance to see a bit of Haifa.
- From Ben-Gurion University, I took side trips to the desert to see the ruins of a stop on the Incense Road, and to talk about number theory. By now I was walking reasonably well.
- Some more math and a bit of tourism finished out this part of the trip.
- I visited London during their election, and also Birmingham, on my way to the University of East Anglia.
- A trip through the Chunnel took me to the Centre International de Rencontres Mathematiques outside Marseille. They have their own wine. I did some unwise hiking, but also got to walk around Marseille and Cassis with friends from home and from earlier stops on my trip.
- Once the CIRM program had concluded, I used Paris as an office for a few days, and then flew back to the U.S.
- After a brief stop at home, I made a final trip to the University of Virginia to participate in a workshop to make improvements to the WeBWorK Open Problem Library. About this time, I started wearing shoes again.