August 26, 2006
So my plan for at least half a week at my family's place in Ocean Grove, New Jersey with Ksenia was cut off at the knees by my company's need to have someone tear through this quick project for an important customer, a project that will send me to Denver for a week, the final week of Ksenia's school break. GoshDAMN but I am terrible at taking vacations. Note to self: schedule stuff for early in the season, so this crap matters less. To make it worse, it's a customer we're very anxious to please, we haven't the exact same setup that the customer has to run the application I made this week, and also the dresscode there is one notch higher than my previous gigs on client sites (which is then 2 or 3 notches than my usual engineer-ware)... not quite suite and ties, but one level down from that.
To make it worse, yesterday there was a fair number of hours when it looked like there would be a switch in the project and I wouldn't have to go next week, or maybe even at all (if there was a technology change) but no, it was just a cruel tease.
I actually feel this weird mix of resentment and sympathy for my boss. Resentment because he was slow to square with me when giving me a tentative ok for my plans, but then this kind of roundabout sympathy for him as he tries to suggest alternate plans, like seeing what Ksenia has free around Columbus Day. I just had to say, No, Sorry, this really does break my vacation, it was already going to be on the chilly side for the beach, and there isn't going to be any similar batch of days when she and I are both free anytime soon. I actually have deep-seated discomfort watching someone feeling guilty or sympathetic and try to help a situation that's essentially "unhelpable". (And I hate being on the other side of the situation as well.)
Math of the Moment
"Hamilton contributed over fifty per cent; the Russian, Perelman, about twenty-five per cent; and the Chinese, Yau, Zhu, and Cao et al., about thirty per cent."
--The Mathemetician Shing-Tung Yau from this terrific New Yorker piece on some of the current drama among mathemeticians. (I know it's kind of dumb to giggle at such fudged guesstimate arithmetic, but still.)
I'm actually happy to see the Poincaré and the situation with Perelman getting as much play as it is; it gives me hope how the culture pays at least lip service to a respect for science and math.