Category Archives: Personal

January 1, 2010, 6:00 am

Ten rules for financing a transition to academia (Rerun/bumped)

This post is a rerun from December 2008, which was itself a re-posting from an article I wrote for the Young Mathematicians’ Network. If you’re headed to the Joint Mathematics Meetings this month to interview for academic positions, or if you’re one of the lucky ones who have already lined up a job for next year, or if you just want some ideas for New Year’s resolutions about money management, maybe this will fit the bill. Enjoy, and Happy New Year.

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Right now, if you are on the job market, you are thinking of two, maybe three things. The top attention-getter, if you’re in graduate school, is getting your thesis done. Next down the list, you’re probably wondering what all those search committees are thinking, particularly what they are thinking of you and where they put you in the pack of applicants for their positions. And third, you might be thinking about the

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August 11, 2009, 8:27 am

Thoughts on the first day of kindergarten

2030_02_2---Yellow-School-Bus_webI’ve been lax in posting lately because I’ve been enjoying an all-too-brief interim period between the end of my summer Calculus class and the beginning of Fall semester at the end of this month. I’ve been splitting time this summer between being a stay-at-home dad to my three kids during the day and then teaching Calculus at night. Since the end of the Calculus class in July, I’ve had two weeks where pretty much my only “task” is to hang out with the kids — playing games, doing puzzles, going to the Childrens Museum, etc. It’s been a blessed time, the kind of quality time with one’s kids that a lot of dads only dream about having. But today that period has come to an end with the crossing of a major milestone: The 5-year old, my oldest, just got on the bus for her first day of kindergarten.

Lucy has been intellectually ready for kindergarten for a while now (she went to an excellent…

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July 13, 2009, 11:52 am

On not paying for your kids' college

Meagan Francis has this “bad parent” column today in which she confesses that she has no plans whatsoever to pay her five kids’ ways through college. Snippet:

Our plan is to assist each of our children with lots of support (including living at home if necessary), encouragement, and information; and as much financial support as we are able to — and that it makes sense to — give. [...] Paying our kids’ ways through school has become such an integral part of “good” parenting that we feel pressured to do it even if footing the bill means mortgaging our own futures. Yet even Suze Orman warns that it doesn’t make sense to tap into our retirement funds or put our own finances at risk in order to subsidize the education of young, able-bodied people with lots of time ahead of them. By doing so, couldn’t we in effect punish those adult children when they have to, one day, support our broke an…

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February 27, 2009, 11:32 am

Friday Random 10 for 2/27/09

Haven’t done one of these in a while, so…

  1. Simplify (Wes King, A Room Full of Stories)
  2. Let’s Groove (Earth Wind & Fire, Best of EWF Volume 2)
  3. When I Look at the World (U2, All That You Can’t Leave Behind)
  4. Stepping Stone (Clannad, Past Present)
  5. Toot Toot Chugga Chugga Big Red Car (The Wiggles, Toot Toot) [stop laughing!]
  6. Oh, Atlanta (Alison Krauss & Union Station, Now That I’ve Found You)
  7. Hidden Charms (Howlin’ Wolf, His Best: Chess 50th Anniversary)
  8. Getting Better (Beatles, Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band)
  9. Celebration Day (Led Zeppelin, Led Zeppelin III)
  10. Amelia’s Missing (John McLaughlin, Indiana)

Jon McLaughlin is perhaps the least-well known of the musicians in this list. He’s an outstanding local musician — straight out of Anderson! — whose piano-based pop is exceptionally well-crafted and who’s been blessed with national exposure lately. Here’s a…

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January 25, 2009, 3:19 pm

The iPod touch: Keeping new parents sane since 2009

With Harrison’s arrival on the 15th, I have had neither the time nor the raw material for blogging about math, education, or technology. Instead I’ve been mostly figuring out how to decrypt my new son’s little coded messages and trying to sleep when I can. But there is one tech item from my experience of the last week that I would like especially to highlight: the ongoing awesomeness of the iPod touch.

Originally I wanted an iPod touch to replace my aging third-generation Photo iPod. I figured the main purpose of an iPod is music playback, and having internet and video capability would be sort of nice too. But now I see that the iPod touch is a lot more than a music player: It’s a passport to new-parent sanity. Consider the following ways the iPod touch has been of use lately:

- I used the iPod touch to provide real-time updates of my wife’s delivery — well, at least right up to the …

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January 14, 2009, 7:48 am

Update

Apologies for the light blogging for the last couple of weeks. As longtime readers know, I’m on our Promotion and Tenure Committee here at my college — this year I’m the chair of this committee — and we do all of our work reviewing portfolios during the month of January while the rest of the college is doing Winter Term. It’s always a challenge to manage our work so that we get all of our recommendation letters written in a reasonable amount of time, but this year there are some personal reasons that have added an extra sense of urgency.

So ever since the first of this year I’ve been spending all my time either doing these P&T reviews or trying to cram in course preps for the spring (two sections of Calculus and a section of Linear Algebra), in an attempt to get as much done as possible before the baby arrives (click on the link above for the backstory). I don’t think anybody wants me…

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December 24, 2008, 1:28 pm

Merry Christmas

German painting, 1457
Image via Wikipedia

I’ll be taking a break from posting and commenting here at CO9′s until the beginning of next week. Tonight we have Christmas services at my church, and in-laws visiting all day tomorrow, and I’ll probably just want to rest for the remainder of the week!

Until then, have an enjoyable and blessed Christmas, even to those patient readers of this blog out there who don’t share my religious point of view. For those who have the late morning free tomorrow (or after 10 PM this evening), I would second the advice given by Dr. Gene Veith: go to church. Catholic and (many) Lutheran churches still hold Christmas morning masses, and if you’ve never experienced one, then you should try it and see what the “Christ Mass” was really intended to be.

I’ll leave you with this short poem by G. K. Chesterton, also via Gene Veith’s blog, called “A Christmas Carol”:

The Christ-child…

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December 10, 2008, 7:38 am

Leibniz on 1+1=2

From Kuo & Joe, here’s an interesting article on different philosophers’ views on what it means for 1+1 to equal 2 and how their concept of divinity plays into their ideas. Leibniz’ view seems the most compelling:

When Gottfried Wilhelm Leibniz, an inventor of the calculus, was asked by one of his students, “Why is one and one always two, and how do we know this?” Leibnitz replied, “One and one equals two is an eternal, immutable truth that would be so whether or not there were things to count or people to count them.” Numbers, numerical relationships, and mathematical laws (such as the law of addition) exist in this abstract realm and are independent of any physical existence. In Leibnitz’s view, numbers are real things that exist in a dimension outside of the physical realm and would exist even if no human existed to recognize them.

I don’t know if the exchange between Leibniz and…

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November 25, 2008, 8:38 am

Thanksgiving break and thoughts

thanksgivingI’ll be taking a hiatus from blogging from today through Sunday as the Casting Out Nines crew travels to Tennessee to visit the grandparents for Thanksgiving. We normally make our long road trip  to the Volunteer State at Christmas, but this year that’s way too close to Harrison’s arrival to be traveling.

I love Thanksgiving because it’s the holiday that Christmas really should be — a time to relax, enjoy family and food and down time, and be thankful for all the ways you have been blessed in your life. I am pleased to say that I have much to think about in that respect: my wife, my two girls, my son on the way in a few weeks, steady employment in these tough economic times, and simply the ability to think and reflect and write like this. I think our culture would be a lot better off if we could discipline ourselves to be thankful. And our haste to skip right over Thanksgiving and go …

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November 4, 2008, 7:21 pm

Two small votes

In case you need a smile in the midst of Election Night seriousness, my two daughters have an Election Day Special for you.