Wednesday, August 29, 2007

It's not an end, but a beginning

Here the world as we know it has come to an end. If I were writing german I would say that we have a Super-GAU (it roughly means the worst possible disaster, one which is out of control): the nanny took an extra, unauthorized-but-paid week of vacation, and the summer camp canceled the current week. So we (or, in this case, I) have the kids with me the whole day. Of course the weather, hitherto perfectly sunny, has decided to turn bad precisely this week.
I spend part of my time doing children shopping for the winter, like school stuff, shoes, and clothes, and some in my office, trying to get something done while the kids sink in an orgy of DVD's. All this interspersed with playground hours and organizational meetings with other parents for childcare and birthday parties.
A very beautiful essay I read long ago (I can't even remember what language it was in, much less the author), suggested that "It's not an end, it's a beginning" is a good guideline for any official speech: at a graduation ceremony, at a wedding, a retirement party, and even at a funeral. It applies well now, as the academic new year's eve approaches fast.
In particular, I used the occasion of being stuck in my office with a blaring cartoon movie to tidy it up and make order. I produced four large boxes of waste paper and three bags of junk, and my office looks much much better now.
I asked WS to throw away it all for me while I staid in the office with the children. He did it after receiving the following instructions: the boxes of waste paper go in the paper recycling bin; the bags of junk go in the general junk bin; you have to go there with the car since it is too far away to walk; the car is in the parking lot. Sometimes my spousal interations vaguely remind me of computer programming.
As I type, the children are colouring cartoon pictures on my desk, and I am trying to concentrate on doing some marginally useful work. I find it very hard to concentrate with all kids in the same room: legend has it that Euler could do research while kids played on his lap, so in principle it's not impossible (maybe that's how he got to publish as much as he did).
This year is really supposed to be a new beginning for me. I am reducing the number of students to a level compatible with my advising ability, I am going to spend some research time abroad with the whole family for the first time since the twins were born, and I am hopefully going to do some serious writing, both in research and on expository matter. I am cautiously optimistic. Happy New Year to everyone!

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