Flight to Korea

LA to Japan was one long afternoon, so instead of sleeping I stayed awake and worked, first on Jason’s publisher’s criteria, then on my talk for Korea. The Narita Admiral’s club had these wonderful woodcuts by Hiroshige, the 53 stations of the Tokaida. Wonderful compositions where space where scales merged, simultaneously showing dramatic distances, mid-range action, and vivid close portraits; merging also humanity, place, always with a sense of the winding road, the journey going on. I got pleasantly sozzled on gin and tonics, remembering at some point to check my hotel reservation and discovering that I was not due to arrive until the day after. So I spent my first night in a luxury suite at the Intercontinental Grand rather than the Intercontinental Coex at the other end of the convention complex. Nice way to recover form a first night’s jet lag.

Park City

Park City for a few days with Amy and Tweety. It was great fun shuffling cards with the teachers, getting into the problem and trying not to give to much away. One teacher, Kayty from New Yoark, had
figured out that if the card was in the n-th position, then it moved 2n -1 if it was in the top half, and 2n – 52 if it was in the bottom half. I couldn’t resist saying “so it’s almost as if we want to see 52 as 1”. c-TaP meetings less interesting but necessary. Tuesday afternoon is was raining ashes from a nearby wildfire, then real rain on Thursday leaving the sky crystal clear for the drive down to the airport Friday morning. I spent Wednesday July 4 catching up on METII, tasks for PARCC, Fractions video, while Amy and Tweety went to Three Divide Lakes. It felt good to catch up a little.  Had a lovely dinner at Talisker on Main with Amy, Tweety, and Ashli. We started outside, driven inside by the rain. Venison, morelle’s, a nice Rioja on sale because of a flaw on the label (George W Bush Presidential Library fund raiser).

Drive from Tucson to Park City

We left yesterday, stopped for lunch in Phoenix with Abby and Brendan, making it to Kanab, Utah last night. I had forgotten what a nice drive it is, rising through the rocky country on Route 17 north of Phoenix until Flagstaff, then through the reservation on Route 89. There is some landscape at the beginning of that portion that looks like the blasted pits before the gates of Morder, but soon the red mesa rises up, and you follow along west of that, wondering what is at the top of those high cliffs, with bolders the size of houses strewn down from them.  On previous trips we had stopped in Page, Arizona, but that’s a bit of a dump. Kanab was much nicer, set among glowing red cliffs, with a decent restaurant, the Rocking V. The hotel we stayed in was the Victorian House, a rather ghastly renovation but perfectly comfortable and with very nice people. There we discovered the Mormon corkscrew, courtesy of the hotel clerk (see my Facebook page). It consists of a screw, a screwdriver, and a hammer. You screw the screw into the cork and pull it out with the hammer. (He didn’t like it at all when I called it the Mormon corkscrew.) The next day we continued on 89 through a countryside of sculpted colored rock formations, green cottonwood valleys, and meandering streams. Crossing over to I-15 we saw the billowing clouds of a wildfire on a ridge west of the freeway. When we arrived, we had the pleasant surprise of being moved from the Carriage House to a 2-bedroom apartment in Park Station, at the bottom of Main Street and very nice.

Niagara Falls

Within a few days of returning to Tucson, I was on the road again, first to the Summer School on Iwasawa Theory at McMaster University in Hamilton, organized by Romyar Sharifi, me, and Manfred Kolster, and then on to the group working on high school Curriculum Focal Points for NCTM in Washington. This photo was taken on the free afternoon field trip to Niagara Falls. The Canadian side of Niagara Falls, where we were, was irredeemably commercialized and packed with tourists, but the falls were mesmerizing nonetheless. I stood for a long time watching the flow just behind me in this picture, trying to estimate the rate (about a few thousand cubic meters per second according to my rough calculation).

The Summer School was pleasantly grueling. I wish I had more opportunities to think about mathematics research. Robert Pollack’s talks on the Iwasawa theory of elliptic curves were great, and I felt I began to become familiar with the nonabelian theory from Coates’ talks.

The NCTM meeting was interesting, perhaps too long winded for my taste and temperament these days. Roger Howe was there as well, and we both had to push occasionally to keep mathematics content at the forefront of the document (surprisingly, since it was the push for content that stimulated all this). I am trying to get algebra described as a subject with meaning, and to put in some of the examples we have been thinking about in the consortium. Roger is concerned about estimation and place value. Eric Robinson, a mathematician from Ithaca College in New York state, was also there. He is a calculus reformer from way back. He has just taken part in an effort of Sol Garfunkel called Math is More.

Visit to Sera Plana, Switzerland

After Italy we drove across the Alps to visit Karen Galindo in Sera Plana, at the holiday house of her parents-in-law, Laurie and Rueddy. Here is Amy walking with Karen’s daughter Lily; Rueddy and Karen (carrying the new-born Violet) are visible in the background. Karen had warned us that Lily can be an awful walking companion once she has decided she doesn’t want to be there anymore, so Amy and I jollied her along for the entire walk, singing songs, playing games with the “ant highways” (gutters across the path). It brought back such memories of doing the same for our own kids.

Laurie and Rueddy were wonderful. Laurie has all sorts of food allergies which mean she can barely eat anything, and is very small and thin, but has a lovely smile in an apple-cheeked face. Rueddy was a traffic engineer and invented traffic light systems used in Portland, Oregon, among other places. He rode the boom in cars in the late 20th century to a healthy retirement, including the lovely holiday house we were staying in, which was modern but blended well with the old houses there. Every window has a view of spectacular alps. He helps the locals with their haymaking (which we watched on the walk, small trucks on alarmingly steep slopes).

I worked on my talk for the AMS-PMS meeting in Poland, and left the next day, on a spectacular train ride down to Zurich. Amy stayed on to enjoy Swiss national day on August 1, when they lit bonfires on the surrounding trees, like the scene in Return of the King.

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Engadine orchid

Orchis Mascula.We saw it on a hike up to the village above Sera Plana. Although it was late summer, there were still beautiful meadows of wildflowers, wild strawberries, butterflies, and a curious large fly with dark blue wings with bright red spots on them.