Michi’s blog » AMS-MAA JMM 2008 Liveblogging, day 2

AMS-MAA JMM 2008 Liveblogging, day 2

• January 8th, 2008
• 8:42 am

This was a packed day.

And yet, I had trouble finding anything in the talks I wanted to hear.

i woke up, went down to the employment schedule, and fetched my interview schedule. Then I went to Frank’s pancake house and ate their World Famous Apple Pancake. The thing was 20cm high, covered a full plate and incredibly delicious. It also cost more than I expected to spend on breakfasts, but splurging once is alright.

Then I walked around, doing nothing much, and checked out the universities I was assigned to interview with on the web. Small. Teaching oriented. And in small towns. Both of them.

First interview went well enough, though I doubt I’ll want to go there and I doubt they’ll want me either. I’m not convinced that a university whose main claim to desirability is their pre-veterinary and equestrian programs will agree with my severe horse allergy.

The second went even better. They were seriously enthusiastic about me, insisted I send in a real application (they don’t accept email – they require paper applications), and were hinting about wanting me to settle down with a tenure track position. They also made a big deal about handling mathematics-linguistics dual career couples well.

These interviews made me realize one thing I’ve done wrong. My cover letters. I sent them out reading basically

Dear $COMMITTEE. I would like to submit my application for$POSITION.

I believe I would be a good fit since my own research is tangential to your departmental research, especially considering the areas @AREA.

I have a 2-body problem, and you would be solving it.

I look forward to teaching.

with variations as appropriate.

What I should have written would be more along the lines of

Dear $COMMITTEE. I would like to submit my application for$POSITION.

I believe I would be a good fit since my own research is tangential to your departmental research, especially considering the areas @AREA.

I have a 2-body problem, and you would be solving it.

I look forward to teaching.

Oh, and also, I have a kick-ass idea I’ve been working with for several years, and that you should copy, with me at the helm. We take a bunch of high schoolers, and we do undergraduate research programs with them. Then, if we get insane amounts of NSF funding, we’ll send them off to the Junior Mathematical Congresses that the Europeans keep on doing, or just organize one of those ourselves.

Furthermore, I believe it to be my sacred duty to spread my passion about mathematics to the next generation.

Lunch was had with Rudbeckia Hirta at a really neat mexican restaurant. Lunch was good. Meeting Becky was kinda like a fanboi interview session – she’d seen me in her comments section, but she doesn’t trawl the blogosphere like some of us do, and hadn’t read anything of mine. So many of my questions had natural answers along the lines of “Well, you blogged this” and there was a clear imbalance in familiarity between us.

My talk went OK. Afterwards, I chatted a bit with a couple of guys loosely associated to the UPenn A-infinity workgroup, who know Ron Umble well. Great fun.

Dinner was had with Mary Williams, a Phoenix based SF-fandom knitter mathematician (why do those seem to reinforce each other?), who convinced me to come along to the knitting circle, and whom I bestowed waaaay to many good design ideas. Putting us together started some sort of catalysis that probably wasn’t healthy.

We watched a talk about using sonofication and music as a teaching tool. And then went to the knitting circle.

I learned to knit again, and started on a small projectlet embedding the Pascal Triangle Sierpinski model in knitting by just flipping the stitches. I didn’t have time to make it appear clearly, but it was fun.

I returned from the knitting circle completely exhausted at just before midnight. Goodnight.