Saturday, February 10, 2001

Computations on Catalan's Conjecture

I'm giving a talk next month at the AMS 2001 Spring Southeastern Section Meeting. It's now posted on the schedule. If you click through and can read PDF files, you can see the abstract. Note that the bound should be 3x108.

Friday, February 09, 2001

San Diego

Hi. I'm just back from San Diego, where Blogger didn't work, so I'm bringing this to you all at once.

When I got into my hotel room (after hitting Rubio's at the airport to supplement the barely digestible airplane food), the thermostat was set at 50o. You might think they were trying to conserve energy by having the heat set that low when nobody was in the room. But, no...the air conditioning was set that low. It was freezing! (Though try as it might, the air conditioner only managed to get things down to around 55o.) No wonder they're having power problems.

On Monday night, we went to a Moroccan restaurant. I've been to restaurants corresponding to many countries, but never Morocco. We sat in low chairs along a low table. Before the first course, they brought out a cistern and poured water over our hands to clean them. This was necessary since the first few courses involved neither utensils nor individual portions (OK, they served the soup in individual bowls.) The "salad" consisted of baba ganoush and other such things that we scooped up between bread and thumb. Then we had the appetizer, which was a chicken-filled pastry (sprinkled with powdered sugar!), a main course of lamb and chicken, followed by a dessert of baklava and some mint tea. As a colleague remarked, it was more interesting as theater than food.

Tuesday night, we went out for Japanese food. I had the mixed sushi. The wasabe helped clear my sinuses, and I somehow accidentally ordered sake. I don't think I've had sake before; it wasn't bad. And though I'm no sushi expert, I enjoyed it.

Wednesday morning, I agreed to meet someone to go inline skating. We selected a must-skate location and followed the directions to Mission Bay. When we got there, the wind was blowing the sand across the parking lot, and it was tempting to turn back. We decided to press on, but my skating partner had forgotten the key to his skate bag. Well, I had the good feeling of wanting to skate without the exertion of having done so. The next morning when we met to skate, there was ice on the car, and that was enough to make me throw in the towel. What happened to sunny Southern California?

The flight back was fairly annoying. It was delayed out of San Diego because of "weather" in Chicago. Apparently, rain is quite a problem for them. Sigh. They couldn't tell me exactly when we would leave, and they couldn't tell me whether I'd be able to make my connection in Chicago. When I got to Chicago, it was half-an-hour after my connection was supposed to leave. "Fortunately" my second flight was delayed by two hours, which stretched to 3 hours, and I finally got to BWI at 3 in the morning. Sigh. Hopefully Sunday's flight to Korea will go better...

Sunday, February 04, 2001

Ski x3

OK, I've really caught the skiing bug now. With two weeks of travels coming up, I wasn't going to be able to hit the slopes again any time soon. So I took Friday off work and headed to Ski Roundtop. There were a number of good things about this trip -- we almost had the slopes to ourselves, there was a variety of beginner slopes and...well, those were the two main things. On the down side, the reason that we had the slopes to ourselves was because the conditions were so bad...

Yes, I've advanced as a skiier to the point where I get to start complaining about the conditions. Slush during the day, which turned to ice after the sun went down. I felt like I wasn't getting any better as a skiier, but if I looked at it, my technique was getting better -- I just wasn't able to control myself as well on the ice.

One of the more amusing moments during the day was when my skiing companion and I got to the bottom of the lift and started talking. She completely forgot where we were and was quite startled when the chair came along a few seconds later! As someone who is easily distracted myself, I can't poke too much fun. But a little.

I also wasn't too thrilled with the layout of Roundtop. We had to do a lot of trudging around at the bottom of the slopes to get to where we needed to be. There was no ski check (that I saw). And the instruction was OK, but not so hot. I think I'd rate the 3 locations I've been to as Liberty, then Whitetail, then Roundtop. Don't get me wrong -- I'd go back to any of them again. But I don't think I'd take vacation time to do so again unless the conditions were better. And now I can cope with not skiing for the next couple of weeks. Back to San Diego!