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Tue, Sep. 22nd, 2009, 01:09 am
Falling into autumn

Talkin' to you, girl, is like long division. Not that I mean that in the same sense as the Old 97's, though. Earlier today, I was tutoring a student in Ridgewood. Last year, while working at C2, one of my students had her mom contact me about tutoring her younger siblings outside of the friendly confines at a compromise rate. They paid in bulk and had some hours left over, so I resumed tutoring the brother earlier in the summer, teaching him algebra. It's something to do, and I just got paid for the next bunch of hours, which is useful, but apparently hilariously less than I could be getting.

And the day is gonna be today, and the time is gonna be right now. But explaining math is fun in and of itself, which is why right now I'm helping out Jen with some of her number theory. Things are going very well between us. Last weekend, she and her roommates had a party, so I got to meet her friends at Drew. Now I have faces for the names in the stories she tells me, as she does after she got to meet Matt and Chad from 85 just before they left (Matt to go back to jolly old England, Chad back to Pennsylvania). Some of the people I had met briefly back in March when I went to see Judy Shepard speak at Drew, and one of them I had also seen in May at a marriage equality event in Montclair. Of course her name is also Jen because there just aren't enough people named that. I'm pretty sure I called her "JD" through the party. Anyway, JD is helping to organize a nationwide expansion of the "You Are Loved" chalk message project, sharing messages of love, equality, and support for LGBTQ students at high schools and colleges everywhere. Spread the word.

Well I'm sufferin' from a kind of indecision about what I'm gonna watch on television. I won't be able to take an active part in it anywhere as it's looking like I'm not going to have a school-based job for 2009-10. The last few leads haven't gotten back to me. So it's looking like tutoring centers. C2 is a LAST resort. Huntington Learning Center advertised openings in Ridgewood, but never replied to my resume. Right now, it's looking like I might get work from an upstart group called "Beyond a Score", which is mostly in Morris and Essex counties, but is expanding rapidly. Most likely it'll be no more than 10 or so hours a week, because I'd rather keep weekends open for quiz bowl trips (to keep myself visible and active in the circuit for whenever I do get a job and try to start a team) and football. My NFL picks this weekend were awesome, and I won the weekly prize amongst a small pool that I was invited to by people I play poker with.

Is this more than some old summer fling? Oh, this thing we have, will it mean anything when October rolls around? Such are the things I have to look forward to at this point. At least the baseball playoffs are coming soon, and the Red Sox and Cardinals look good. I was talking to Jen about how fall always seemed to bring me down because it's dark and cold and classes are back. I'd always want more summer freedom. Well right now, it's unending summer vacation. Whether or not I get a tutoring job, I'm trying to decide if I should get another job in retail or something else potentially soul-crushing. It just annoys me that the bit about "math teachers are needed everywhere" became "math teachers are needed in very few places, and you don't have experience".

I've been reading books when no one's looking, I've been listening to the sirens in the night. And since I don't have a job, I don't have anything to wake up to in the morning. And because of that, I'm not tired at night. So I can't fall asleep, sometimes until sunrise. Which means I can't get up until after noon. Vicious cycle ensues. The spare time has been part squandered on the internet, part squandered with video games (apparently "regular" mode on Pro Evo Soccer means that all of Norway's players are faster than all of England's), and so on. I have tried to start walking around town in as a counterbalance to all the sitting around on my ass I've been doing the last decade. I've also finally re-picked up The Oxford Murders, the novel Jennifer got me for birthday/Christmas last year. Man, one day after he finds the first body, and he's already sleeping with a suspect?

Last night I had an awful dream. You were layin' in the arms of a man I'd never seen. So now... wow, it's after 4am. And I'm just starting to yawn now. I'm trying to decide whether or not I should try to just blast through and go to bed at a reasonable hour tonight (Tuesday), or if that plan is doomed to failure and I'll wind up napping from noon to 5 and screwing myself up again. I'll try, though, and it'll probably help to wake me up to go walk around in the cool morning air. I'm probably giving Ali, the new roommate, the same impression that I got from Ryan when I moved into 103, a guy with the weirdest hours who never seems to do much. Brian, the last of the people who was here when I moved in, hasn't been around in a few days, and I think he is officially moved out. It's only been about two weeks since he gave Mark his 30 days, but some of his stuff is gone. It was kinda weird the way he had an almost-identical car, the same razor, even the same damn soap.

So anyway. Here I sit, about twelve hours away from the September equinox (this is apparently the PC, non-hemispherist term), and I'm just falling into autumn. I guess I'll Blame it on Gravity.

Each of the song lyrics heading a paragraph is from a different Old 97's album; the only one missing is last year's Blame it on Gravity, which I don't have yet. This absurd planning out of how I'm going to tell you I have nothing to say is part of the reason why it's been 3+ hours since I started this post. If I can't be interesting, I might as well be creative.

Sun, Aug. 23rd, 2009, 01:46 am
"That was, and I'm not being sarcastic, the longest conversation I've had with Brian."

That conversation, held last night, went like this:
[Jon and Jen walk in the door, Brian and a girl are watching TV]
Jon: Hi.
Brian: Hi.
Jon: Jen, this is my roommate Brian. Brian, this is my girlfriend Jen.
Jen: Hi.
Brian: Nice to meet you. This is Jackie.
Jackie: Hi.
Jon: Nice to meet you.
[Jon and Jen walk down the hall to Jon's room]

Apparently he was on vacation for a few weeks, but returned on Monday. On the other hand, last weekend Noah moved out, possibly back to his family's house also in Allendale where a room is being rented by Chad, as in my old roommate Chad. Small world. But let's back it up to the beginning of the month.

After successive weekends with trips to Baltimore, Allentown, College Park, Springfield, and Boston, I decided to spend a weekend at home for once. I set up an automatic thing on NJHire so that with a few clicks I can see any school looking for a math teacher in northeast NJ... which is very few. I also reset my resume to be at the top of the virtual pile.
For the last week of Math Camp, there were only two rooms, so I was working with the two current Academy people who had been next door through the earlier weeks. Monday, I got a call from Dwight Englewood asking me to interview on Tuesday. Tuesday, it was implied that I would be eaten alive at Dwight Englewood. Wednesday, I had to make a non-routine lesson plan up essentially on the spot and did permutations and combinations; I also said there would probably be pizza for the math camp students the next day (as there had been the last day of every previous year). Thursday, I had one non-routine (I always type that word has "non-routing" for some reason) student tell me "I don't like math, but your class was fun." Little victory, I suppose? There also wasn't pizza for math camp, but there were plenty of snacks, so a riot was prevented. Also, some interesting games of Mafia were played, but none that I can remember in enough detail. I did at one point threaten after two straight games of first-night kills, "If you kill me right away, we're going to go back to doing math for the last 15 minutes."

Friday afternoon, I got a call from Kinnelon asking me to interview the following week. That was good news to take with me to the parents. Jen came along to meet them. Jennifer (remember the naming conventions; this is my sister) had asked whether I had a cunning plan to get there first so as to be able to introduce her with no one else around. It was more a cunning plan to not have a job that kept me from getting out to PA before dinner, though Jennifer and Jeff & Kristin both wound up arriving in time for dinner as well.
The weekend was fun. Jen was initiated into the game-playing ways of the family, as we went from card game Scat (known to Academy people as Palace) to Apples to Apples to Jennifer's new roleplaying-based Inn-Fighting to croquet to changing-rules game Fluxx to dice strategy game Six Cubes to social meme creation game Things... to card game Capitalist (known to everyone else as President or Asshole) to Taboo to "oh wait, here's a game Jen will have actually played before!" Uno. Wow. Now that I actually listed all of the games that were played... that's pretty crazy. Jeff and I also played an impromptu game of disc golf, as well as several rounds of ping-pong (it'd been a while, as a hailstorm had broken the storm windows over the table, rendering the room unusable for most of the summer).
Jen was a little scared by some of the games, but was a good sport. Some amusing moments: In Taboo, we played me and Jen vs Mom and Dad. Dad said not to feel bad that we lost, as they had more of a mutual history (just because they had been married for 48 years, and we hadn't yet known each other for 48 weeks). In the dice game, Dad and I were in a tiebreaker. He set a target I would have to beat. I determined that rolling three sixes (out of six dice) would be enough to win, called for three sixes, had Jen blow on the dice for good luck, and promptly rolled three sixes (a 1-in-16 chance). We also watched some movies I'd Netflixed, Better Luck Tomorrow, which it'd been a while since I'd seen; and Burn after Reading, which was a whole lot darker than we'd expected.

The following week (Aug 10-14) was mostly downtime. I played a round of pitch'n'putt golf with mixed results, watched some West Wing, and developed an old roll of film dating back to the early parties at 85WC. My interview at Kinnelon went well, and they said they'd call in the next day or two, but... it didn't happen. That weekend was a cribbage tournament in Somerset, where I played well but not well enough (12-10 for 13th place out of 44, with 11 cashing).

This past week, I went down to Toms River to visit Jen and her mother Tuesday through Wednesday. This consisted of a lot more downtime than the vice versa. The two days also could've been titled "How Many Different Ways Can Jon Hurt His Foot?", with the count at least four, though the result is a hilariously shaped sunburn. We went to Seaside Park on Wednesday to hang out, and as far as I can recall, it was the first time I'd been to any shore since whenever I'd been to Myrtle Beach in high school. We also watched two hours of The O.C.. Oh god, how did I ever become addicted to that show?
I drove back up to Allendale Wednesday night, and in the mail was a letter from Kinnelon saying "You're cool. Someone else was cooler." I spent Thursday recovering from the chlorine headache and finally getting around to putting up some photos and other stuff on the walls of my room. Friday, Jen came up and we went to see Andrea's theatre group put on The Tempest, though the expected concurrent thunderstorm didn't really develop until overnight. I also got an email from Charlie about a math/compsci opening in Ridgewood. If I can gloss over the fact that I don't know computer science, it would be a good fit. [crosses fingers]

So yeah. Keeping busy. Still don't have a job.

Tue, Aug. 11th, 2009, 11:40 am
Return to Boston, part three

Seeing as how I officially have no job right now, I'll probably catch this up the two weeks since the PROMYS reunion in due time. They were (or at least parts of them were) interesting and worth writing about, but that will come in due time. Before we can get there...

Sunday: I succeed in getting in the shower early and we hit the road (or more precisely, the rails) good and early. Liz and I walk from Kenmore to Warren Towers and get there just before 9, the scheduled meeting time. I call Greg to ask where he is, and he's on the Mass Ave bridge on the way there; I call Max and he doesn't answer, so he's probably on the T already. We walk back east to the Starbucks which has replaced the Taco Bell/Pizza Hut (we were a little bit shocked that a Taco Bell/Pizza Hut as well as the Burger King across the street had managed to fail in the middle of a college). After we get something to munch on and talk for a bit, Greg shows up.
Eventually, around 9:30, I get a call from Max, saying that his alarm had failed so he was just getting up now. We adjourn from Starbucks and walk to the lecture hall. Liz sends Max a text message simply saying "You are ugly." with proper capitalization and a period and everything. When he finally gets there, we razz him about his lack of punctuality and then play a game of ratscrew that lasts about half an hour and if i remember correctly includes six different people at various stages (Liz, Max, Greg, Rachel, Eric F [02 03], and I). Greg continues his aggressive tendencies with such gems as "Pinyan, is it hard to be so ugly?" Max and I wind up heads-up, and he notes that he has to leave soon for his train. I take the lead, he takes it back, and finally he loses, with enough time to catch his T to North Station to take the train back to Providence to meet up with his parents. I think. We never heard back from him, but he's online right now, so I assume he got home.
Lecture #7 was Cameroon Free on "Computable Probability Theory". Whoosh. [makes hand over head motion] After that came a talk about the future of PROMYS, which wasn't exclusively about it, but did feature plenty of discussion about how money would be good. Henry Cohn summed up his idea as "So basically... anybody who knows rich people... [should ask them to donate]"
Lunch was had at a highly recommended noodle place on Comm Ave. Evan (a counselor I knew), Burton (a counselor in 06-07 who was also a third-order acquaintance), and ... someone (another counselor from my time I think) joined Greg, Liz, and I. Afterwards I figured out the check but not without Burton casting suspicion (Burton: "I'm light on cash, so everyone pay me and I'll pay by card." / Jon: "I just have twenties. Burton, if you put ten in, I can take change. Then you take all the cash." / Burton: "Could someone make sure this checks out?") Luckily Liz vouched for me.

Then it was time for THE GAME. Last year's PROMYS-RSI frisbee game was apparently a joke of an ass-whupping (us beating them). Some of the better parts are the cheers (some listed below). Some of the worse parts are the tourist groups who want to take a picture of the MIT dome not noticing the people running up and down over the sidewalk they are standing on. While waiting for kickoff (and during the game as well), card games were played including the first bridge I'd played in a month and the last chance for ratscrew.
Despite a scheduled time of 3pm, it was after 3:30 when I took a crappy cell-video of the attempted start: "RSI at the north end of the field, [pan to south] PROMYS at the south end of the field, [pan to middle] some dude in the middle trying to take a picture in the middle of our fucking game." After PROMYS scored and gave our standard chant, RSI retorted (see below). This insolence caused an immediate launch of the "Cockpunch RSI" counter-chant which caused me to spew out Diet Coke through the nose. (It's a shame Shiyang wasn't there).
PROMYS went up 5-0, took a 8-3 lead into halftime and made it 10-3 and later 12-5. Then... shit... happened. The lead vaporized fairly quickly (Bernie: "What is happening? Do we have drugs for the students?") and the game took on multiple controversies (mostly because the RSI players were lying douchebags). The game also featured several minutes-long interludes, including one where RSI players started doing some sort of dance on the sideline.
So it was that, with the players arguing whether the score was 13-13 or 14-13 RSI (it was the former), but the time approaching 6:30, Liz and I took our leave and asked Greg to text the final results. Liz and I walked in the wrong direction to the train stop but eventually wound up on the T. When the Red Line was above ground, I called Greg (on Liz's phone as mine had died) and found out that it was now 15-15. Overtime. Fantastic. After we transferred, when the Green Line got out of the underground, Liz got a call from Greg that was garbled but included 17-16. The phone disconnected, but a moment later we had a text "PROMYS wins 17-16. Sudden death." The total game time was roughly 3 hours 10 minutes. I say "They had better still be storming the field. There should be one hell of a celebration." Liz texts back to Greg "They had better still be storming the field." I thank her for completely stealing my line.
Eventually, we get back to Newton. I pay the parking fee out of the money that I was no longer going to need at Foxwoods, what with it already being after 7 with a multi-hour drive ahead of me and work in the morning. As it is, I got tired enough that I pulled over into a rest stop and took a nap. It's a disconcerting feeling to wake up in the driver's seat of a parked car, as my initial reaction was "Holy shit I just fell asleep and crashed wait no I didn't."


Sunday Quotes
Liz, about a friend of hers: They dated for four months, but then she realized that she doesn't like fun, and he's fun, so she broke up with him."

Liz, filling out the alumni survey: Hmm, what should I put for marital status?
Greg, independently losing at ratscrew: SLUT!

[Evan was slow in eating having just had implanted teeth allowing him to eat with his right-side teeth, and he was the only one to order soup. Greg was slow in eating because he was sloooooow.]
Greg: I'm glad I preserved whatever dignity I have left, by not losing to implants guy.
Evan: Oh, thank you for reminding me to chew with both sides.

Frisbee Game Chants. PROMYS vs RSI
[whenever we scored] 1, 2, 3 / Q-E-D!
[their initial rejoinder] 4, 5, 6 / Suck our dicks! [I quipped "Wow, it took them 8 years to come up with that?"]
[Evan's suggested threejoinder] 7, 8, 9 / At least our cheers rhyme! [Somehow it didn't catch on.]

[whenever they were muttering incoherently] 2, 4, 6, 8 / Will you please enunciate?

[a rare point for the opposition]1, 2, 3 / RSI is free!

[to some morons on the sidewalk]You smell like poop / Fuck you, stupid tour group!

[when they sassed us despite losing 5-0]1, 2, 3, 4 / You can't chant until you score! [I came up with that one; Liz doubted it could be delivered coherently and was proven wrong]

Ila: Gimme a Noetherian ring!
Z!
Ila: Gimme an indeterminate!
x
Ila: What do you get?
Another Noetherian ring!
Greg: I never got why that was funny.

Cameron, brainstorming for the next chant: What rhymes with thousand?
Various people: Nothing? Mouse end?
Cameron: Let's backtrack. What if I wanted the second line to be "... your mom overflow hbox badness 10000"?

Other Quotes
Liz, on the reunion shirt depicting (2009/1989) = 1 where (p/q) denotes the Jacobi symbol: I thought it was just saying an approximation to one decimal place.

I am lying down while playing a ratscrew game.
Liz [watching]: Hey Pinyan, nice underwear.
Jon: Thanks. [pause]
Liz: Most normal people would pull their pants up upon hearing that.
Jon: Well then we've learned something.

Tue, Aug. 4th, 2009, 12:31 am
Return to Boston, part two

There is no goddamn way I should write this right now, but whatever.

Saturday, I again was not quick enough on the draw. We missed Lecture #3 on "The up-side and down-side of 'teaching someone to fish' ". We got there late during that lecture. After people dispersed, I saw someone looking at the 2003 yearbook and picture (those for each year were on a table). After a few seconds, I was going to say "Were you here in '03?" but before I could, she put down the picture and I saw that it was Jackie! We did some initial catching-up, though she was going to be elsewhere for lunch.
Lecture #4 was Blair Sullivan (2001 head counselor) on "connecting the dots", i.e. graph theory. One of the results she talked about was the "Marriage Theorem" (I vaguely remember this being mocked at MOP 2002 on principle... wait, yes, it was part of James's epic unproof in a team contest). Someone made the joke "Is marriage bipartite*?" After an initial response from the crowd "Not in Massachusetts", Blair continued "Not anymore" (though a later comment was made that almost certainly it could still be represented as such but without the two sets being Men and Women).
Lunch was at Qdoba. Greg, who showed up just as Jackie was leaving, was not pleased that (a) he had to cheat on his Mexican food mistress Chipotle, and (b) they charged him extra for guacamole. Noting that I had forgotten my BT Alumni playing cards (or as he referred to them, my "pretentious cards"), Greg suggested we go buy a deck to facilitate later game-playing. We walked past the Towers and the mailbox he doubts Shiyang ever actually dented while he told me that WrongDan was now saying he refused to take any physics class at all because they weren't "mathematically rigorous". "I tend to think refusing all of physics's advances for the last 50 years for that reason makes you kind of a dick."
Another two lectures were after lunch. Lecture #5 was Tom Brennan with a PROMYS like title to his talk: "The Financial System Works: Prove or Disprove and Salvage if Possible".# I don't have long notes on this one but it was a brief look at how everything blew the hell up and why we can't necessarily trust individual people to work together and not screw over society (I think). Between lectures, we perused the printout of the PROMYS photobook. Some people change appearance significantly (Fergie from 2003 to 2008 but really more 2009, which isn't up there). Some not so much (Harry looks nearly the same from 2003 to 2008).
Lecture #6 was David Jao on cryptography. His lecture was important because, as he noted, "Most of you are Americans and you live in a representative democracy. The incompetence of other people affects your life and not in a good way." He traced the history of cyphers and then went over my head and I think I fell asleep.
There was then a gigantic photo of everyone at the reunion. I made a shout that anyone interested in a massive game of Mafia should stick around and was immediately shot down when someone else said a frisbee game would be happening soon. Instead there was various small talk outside the chapel as well as hearts with Jackie, Greg, and Gabby. Then I got a phone call from Max (who had IM'd me Friday night to say there was a tiny chance he'd be able to ditch his parents in Cape Cod and make it here). He'd be there around 10, just in time for "general fuckery" and then again the next morning. I gave Jackie the phone to talk to him, since she'd have to leave before he'd get there.
Jackie had brought her computer which was of great help. We'd been asked by Margy (one of Glenn's lieutenants in the program) to come up with stories for that night's banquet, primarily on the lighter side of PROMYS. We decided we probably wanted to keep them civil, which took out a lot of the really fun ones. Jackie was able to get online and I pointed her to this very site, specifically Day One. We wound up clarifying some memories (as I had been doing at night at Liz's house by re-reading the journal). When we went over to the banquet, during the hors-d'oeuvres portion, Jackie started reading the journal from the top.
We went upstairs for dinner. Glenn told the story of PROMYS's father, the Ross program at Ohio State, and how they came to duplicate it here ("When he figured out HE would have to give US $60,000 on an annual basis, he showed us the door. He was very polite, but there was no more discussion."). Others told stories of how they came to be affiliated, and then (after Jackie left) it was open mic time. There were stories about the origin of "slave time"$, why the BU RA's hate PROMYS counselors, putting Glenn on trial for crimes against counselors, Arthur smuggling his wife into the dorm via tours, and the [message redacted]@.
Bernie told the story of how he became Bernie, referencing that "In 2003, for some reason, there was a lot of gossip being spread, and people writing in weblogs..." Counselors determined to fuck with our minds for reasons unknown to us created some fictional identities, primarily Bernie Riemann, constructed as a first-year living in a room known to be empty. When Aaron Silbermann, a 2002 counselor, was coming up to visit for a week, head counselor Cameron asked a favor: Pose as Bernie. When he returned in 2004 as a counselor, the name had stuck. After "Abandon Dan" (A-Dan for short) told the long and boring story of how he got that nickname (short version: "I don't actually know how they came up with Abandon Dan as my nickname..."), a story only redeemed by making it clear that WrongDan knows he's called WrongDan "because he's wrong", I introduced myself and noted "I'm probably the one person who was the epicenter~ of the 'gossip' in 2003. But that's not what I'm here to talk about." Instead, I told the stories of the Spellbound trip ("There's a member of our community who is a little famous. Is Harry Altman here?" No. "Good, then he won't mind me telling this story."), though if I'd thought of it, I'd have used the "musical robot" line. I also told the Fergie dent story, which happened earlier in camp than I remembered.
Once the dinner ended, I was waiting for Max to call me back. We considered playing cards while we waited but decided against it. Liz determined that at some point, Fergie did a Fergie-type thing to Liz that Liz apparently doesn't want mentioned on here (removed July 2013, seriously) Max finally called and we went outside to meet him once he was off the train (which he insisted on taking too far west, when we'd just be walking back east towards where stuff was happening). He does eventually show up, we walk around, go into one bar (which I whine about because they don't have liquor, just beer), and finally just say "Screw it" and crash on a bench. Story time ensues, including Max's tale of why he's in the Princeton class of 2011. We make plans to meet up again the next morning outside Warren Towers at 9am, knowing full well this will require me to get the early shower. My verdict is that Saturday > Friday on the basis of Max, Jackie, and story time. Liz says Friday > Saturday on the basis of the PROMYS dance and who knows what else.


Saturday quotes:
Liz [at the T stop]: Nobody comes here to mug people. I think it's an untapped resource. I mean look at that lady with her little kid and her little dog. Totally unexpecting.

Greg: So I was reading an article on cricket, and as far as I can tell, they just make up words. "He bowled a wicket"... what the hell is with that? [...] It said "England makes 75-year history by beating Australia."
Liz: Australians are good at anything. They have kangaroos.
Greg: I don't think they can play. But then again, I don't know!

[Question to Brennan] As teachers, [should we tell students to fix the crisis, stay neutral...] or should we discourage this as "rending your soul into n pieces, and n is large"?

David Jao [displays crudely drawn "Alice and Bob" caricatures]: Believe it or not, these are actually supposed to be drawings of -- anyone? -- Britney Spears and Gustav Mahler.

[Greg's magic trick. Liz in italics.]
"Pick a card, any card." [Liz does so] "Is it red?" No. "Is it a club?" Yes. "Is it greater than a 9?" No. "Is it less than a 9?" Yes. "Is it greater than 4?" Yes. "Is it a five?" Yes. "Is it the five of... I forget... clubs?" Yes. "Ah-ha!"

[Fergie sits down in A-Dan's chair]
Liz: you're a bold man.
Greg: That's why we like him.
Liz: Do we like him?

[Liz sits on my lap for a group picture]
Liz (approximate): You must be very excited.
Jon: It's about time, Liz.
Liz [threateningly]: I'm very close to your balls right now.

[Greg makes some joke at someone's expense]
Jon: That was uncalled for.
Greg: Also uncalled for: your face. Consider, discuss, get back to me.

Max: He actually used the word "weblogs"? If this were still 2003... he'd still be out of touch.

Max: Turns out, they grade at college! They said "Go away. Come back when you can do college."

Liz: Bitches get replaced when they're old.
Jon: Or when they get pregnant.
[Greg is about to bash me for this, but Max barrels onward]
Max: That's how they get new bitches.

Liz: It's like my friend Josh. He's like a dildo with legs--
Greg: Point of order. Didn't you say earlier than Pinyan reminded you of Josh.

Max: No one rejects a dildo.
Greg [raises hand]: I DO! ALL THE TIME!
Max: I'm sorry you have so many opportunities.


*-Bipartite in mathematics means you can split a graph into two differently colored dots (say red and blue) such that every edge connects a blue dot and a red dot.
#-PODASIPs, or "Prove or Disprove and Salvage if Possible" problems, are a component of each problem set and consist of statements like "a > b -> ac > bc. True in Z." So you're job is to disprove by noting that a=3, b=2, c=-1 is a counterexample, salvage the statement to "True in N" and then prove the salvage. Good times for all.
$-Each year at the talent show, each counselor offers a prize. The head counselors must offer one hour of "slave time", where you can ask them to do anything (short of "take my final"). The original slave time was to dress up "in Julie's fishnets and Connie's tube top", take the T to Harvard and play guitar. The poor bastard actually collected $7.87, but when he took a girl back there that same night on a previously-scheduled date, someone came up to him and said "Hey you were playing guitar here earlier. Here, I recorded it!"
@-Oh, fine. Someone whose opinion I give a damn about has asked me not to talk about this. Maybe it's because I was never on the inside, but I don't get how this is a big deal. But whatever, taking it down.
~-While waiting on line for the mic, I planned to use "catalyst" but blanked on it. I also almost blanked on the second story until I remembered (incorrectly) they'd both happened the last weekend

Part 3... later.

Fri, Jul. 31st, 2009, 09:48 pm
Return to Boston, part one

One of the more interesting times in my life was PROMYS 2003. And despite the undeniable, solid friendships that were formed over those six weeks... people live in different parts of the country and don't always get to see each other.
Max was living in NJ, but of course I went to college in STL. The last time I had seen him was probably summer of '04 to play some poker.
Shiyang led the Lehigh Valley ARML team to the championship the following year, but I have not seen him since he got off the train in Providence six years ago. He went to Harvard.
Greg (Paco) went to college out at Harvey Mudd which less than impressed him, and which was way too far away to ever catch up with him.
Lisa, Madi, and Yi all went to MIT, so when I visited Boston for spring break in March '06, I had dinner with them.
Diana..., well there was never any good reason for me to talk to Diana again after 2003. So hell if I know what she's up to.
Jackie went to Yale and is now doing research there.
The last member of the inner circle was James. I doubt I ever mentioned it here, but just over two years ago, he fell to his death in New York City. He was still an undergrad at MIT when it happened.

So it had been a solid three years since I had seen any of the crew or been to Boston. That had to change.

Thursday: After getting confirmation from Yi that she wouldn't be available to carpool out, I confirmed with Liz (PROMYS '00 '02 '04; MOP '02) that I'd be driving up that night. I needed to run laundry first, though, so it was late before I left. I exited the highway in western CT to get some dinner but stubbornly refused to go backwards, reasoning that I was moving eastbound and would get back to the highway eventually. It wound up not costing me extra time, but the pouring rain and the non-functioning right headlight on my car made two-lane highway driving so much fun. I get to Newton, where Liz lives, just after 11, and go inside. She went to Cornell and now does environmental consulting work. We spend the next few hours catching up and talking shit about people we knew at PROMYS and MOP.

Thursday night quotes:
Liz: Our favorite thing to do at work is try to write regulations in iambic pentameter, like "Do not release contaminants to air / If you pollute the air, then that is bad".

Liz: I've been judging you all day. I thought to myself, "I hope Jon gets here soon, so I can judge him."

Friday: I sleep too late (and am not quick enough to jump into the shower ahead of the multiple women in the apartment) for us to try to crash number theory lecture, but we take the T in and arrive in Boston with plenty of time for lunch before check-in starts. On our way towards the BU campus, we see Fergie, who somehow PROMYS trusts enough to be a counselor. He's still just as Fergie as he ever was (more on how much Fergie he used to be a bit later). We check-in and get nametags. Paco shows up and we discuss some stories from the past and from our internet research on people we used to know the previous night.
We noted that Glenn Stevens (director of PROMYS) himself was listed as being "unconfirmed" to attend, but he was obviously there and walked into a conversation with good timing. Dan R (03 04) was dubbed "WrongDan" during the 2004 camp where there were about 6 people named Dan, and he was showing me why, by essentially telling me I was a terrible person if I didn't completely overthrow the educational system as a first-year teacher. He was asking me how I would teach exponential functions to algebra 2 students without being ambiguous on the definition of convergence (wording may be a bit off). I asked him to repeat and clarify, but at just that point Glenn walked into the circle of people, pointed at me and said "I remember you." He then turned to Dan, said "It'll take me a bit to remember your name." As Dan held up his nametag, Glenn turned his attention to the several other people in the circle with familiarity.
Lecture #1 was Henry Cohn on sphere-packing in many dimensions. When he lectured at PROMYS 03, he said things like "We can write perfectly good sentences, like 'This sentence refers to itself.' " and we said things like "This guy has taken your crack. And used it all." / "There's none left! That was $200 worth of crack!" This was, however, one of the more accessible talks of the weekend and it clearly showed that what we see happen in 3 dimensions and logically expect to happen in 4 dimensions is entirely wrong in 50 dimensions.
Lecture #2 was Jon Hanke on sums of squares and quadratic forms. This is the kind of higher math, though the end of the lecture did note that the current PROMYS students are close to proving a conjecture which looks pretty cool (but which I couldn't explain if I had it in front of me).
Apart from the weekend schedule was a "lecture" by the counselors in preparation of the annual frisbee game vs RSI. The lecture had three parts: 1) Getting to MIT without getting run over; 2) Playing ultimate; 3) How best to insult RSI and all they hold dear. While this happened, I was playing ratscrew with Greg, Liz, and Gabby E (07 08; sister of Steve E 03). After she lost, Liz got out her camera and took some hilarious "action shots", but she hasn't put them online yet because she's lame.
Once this was over came a picnic. This provided further opportunities for game-playing. I got knocked out early of the ONLY MAFIA GAME I PLAYED all weekend and then played "Powwow", an Indian poker type game, with Harry, Watson, and several other people I vaguely or didn't know, giving Paco my deck of cards so he could finally win a game of ratscrew or something else. When I returned, he was playing Asshole with Billy (famous for being on the receiving end of "BITCH, you know NOTHING" and for responding to "It's funny because it's two guys having sex" with "That's right, that IS funny."), three girls from ~07 and a few other people. I joined in but Paco was on fire and eventually the game broke. Paco, the three girls, and I wound up playing Liars' Poker. Liz came by to tell us we were lame for not going over to the dance (yes, there was a PROMYS Reunion dance) immediately, but the game was fun. One of the girls recognized my name and revealed herself to be yet another BCA person there (class of 08 I think) named Rachel.
Once the game ended we did all go over to the dance and heard some more stories of good times from the past. Fergie had been assigned to a female counselor, Sherry, in 2004, and they got off on the wrong foot. Sherry asked Fergie why the Japanese hadn't apologized to the Chinese for WWII era atrocities. Fergie said that was a stupid discussion for them to be having. Things went back and forth a bit. Fergie said Sherry had Liz as a roommate (counselors generally don't have roommates) because they were lesbian lovers. Liz kicked Fergie in the balls. Fergie, being invincible, laughed it off.
At the dance, Bernie (see part 2, coming later this weekend) was clearly enjoying himself, and Liz noted that he was about as good a pimp as one could expect at PROMYS, offering me the advice of "OK, buy a beret, learn to dance, and you can be a pimp" since I already had the build for it. I responded, "Which is the really nice way of saying I'm a fatass." "Pretty much, yeah." Rachel and her friends left at one point, but then she came back. Once the dance started to die down (but not before the song "White & Nerdy" had been played), we went to the lobby to play cards. Now, a point of importance is that Paco has what we diagnosed by Sunday as "losing-induced Tourette's". If you're playing ratscrew and you beat him to a slap, he WILL call you a whore. That led to the best exchange of the night (see quotes below). All in all, reunion day 1 was considered a resounding success.

Friday quotes:
[discussing the trip to see Spellbound]
Greg: So, I don't quite remember, but I know we got there a few minutes late, and in my mind they started the movie over.
Jon: No. No they didn't.
Greg: In my mind, they did!

Liz: So we found [MOP '02 person]'s MySpace. It turns out he's lost half his body weight.
Greg: He's still got a way to go! Woo, being a bad person is fun and easy!

Henry Cohn: On a scale of one to infinity, 36 is pretty small.

Henry Cohn: I think this [weird behavior in many many dimensions] is the root of most of humanity's problems.
Greg: This should be interesting.
[Greg also responded to Henry's contention that such behavior proved the law of entropy with "No."]

Jon: She's hitting me!
Liz: He's being himself. I'm making him stop.

Ila: We don't want you to use too many curse words, so we'll be using them for you. For instance, I'll say cockpunch, you say RSI.

Liz: What about the ones [at RSI] without dicks?
Ila: You mean all of them?

Jon: Tasteful and not making bitch jokes? That's not how I would describe Greg.

Greg: You said I'm saucy?
Rachel: Yeah.
Greg: So I need to step up my game.

[Greg plays a jack. Rachel plays a queen and then wins the stack.]
Greg: You. Dirty. Whore!
Rachel: You know, I was going to sleep with you for free, but now...
Greg [frazzled]: Hmm, so actually a slut.
Rachel: Well I wasn't going to have sex with you, just sleep with you.
Greg: [speechless]
Rachel: You're cuddly.

Cuddly wound up being the word that would set Greg off for the rest of the weekend. Part 2 (Saturday-Sunday) later this weekend.

Wed, Jul. 29th, 2009, 08:43 pm
June and July

[PROMYS reunion update coming soon] Since last time I posted a full update:
The school year ended. The QB team threw an all-day party in my room (that almost got shut down by Mr. Dr. Crane next door for being too loud).
I went down to Baltimore for a cribbage tournament and a weekend with Jennifer. In every game that I played against her, she defeated me. However, the cribbage went a bit better, as I cashed before getting knocked out in the first round of the playoffs.
The following week, BCAMC/AAH* started up and there was the delightful "consequences" voicemail (as it shall be known henceforth). I recovered my deposit Thursday July 2 and moved from 85 to 103 the next day. Spent the weekend of the 4th in Allentown, and saw some cool fireworks in stereo (multiple displays at the same time, headlined by Dorney Park's).
The first two weeks of the summer (session 1), I had math camp in the morning and AAH: Geometry in the afternoon. The next two weeks (session 2), I had AAH: NRPS in the morning and math camp in the afternoon; I have the same schedule for this week and next week (session 3).
Two weeks ago, Jen picked me up and took me to a fundraiser for a dog seriously injured earlier this year when its house burned down. It served as a chance for me to meet her mother as well as some other family members; she'll be coming with me to Allentown next weekend to meet my parents.
The job search continues [grumble]. Garfield called me on a Thursday morning to ask if I could interview Friday. I did, but they didn't call me back the next week to offer the job. August is going to be a time for applications and interviews apparently.
The new roommates are interesting in a way distinct from those in 85. I helped Ryan get his car back from being impounded for unpaid tickets of some sort on Monday; today two of Noah's friends discussed buying a hooker; I couldn't pick Brian out of a line-up if there were two people in the line-up, though I think he's the one whose car is nearly identical to mine; Yves moved out quickly which meant I got his nice big room.

So then. PROMYS reunion in Boston. First reactions were that the people who were there were by and large awesome (Liz, Paco, Jackie, Max, counselors, new acquaintances). However, there were plenty of people I would've liked to talk to again (several people were as shocked as I that Li-Mei, having attended eight consecutive years, didn't make it nor did Connie; for that matter, 2001 as a whole was poorly represented). Full post with quotes coming in a few days; pictures are already on Facebook.

*-Acronyms: Bergen County Academies Math Camp; Academy After Hours; Non-Routing Problem Solving

Tue, Jun. 30th, 2009, 10:49 pm
Moving day

As of July 1, I will be moving. I've spent the last 15 months at the shared house in Allendale. Earlier this month, Mark (the landlord) emailed us to say he had found a buyer and we all had 30 days to get out. This left us all a little pissed. After some false starts, I settled on a house in Waldwick, within walking distance of where I grew up. Last Friday, I dropped off a deposit, and I'm ready to move over the next two days.
Yesterday, I did get a call from Lori, the owner of that house, and we had a strange conversation. She apparently did not quite grasp that I'm still looking for a job for the fall (all the more reason this was awful timing from Mark), but I assured her that if I needed to I would [gulp] go back to the tutoring job. She didn't like that that meant I would be working evenings and at home during the day, and in retrospect I'm not sure what she expected I'd do on weekends, because she said she was nervous that her son (who hadn't really EVER come up in conversations about renting the room up until then) doesn't have friends come over, and her neighbors all whisper about the strange men who come and go from her house, and something about "if the police find out". I went pretty WTF over that and said I was trusting her that her renting me the room was legal, but after the third time she said "I don't know how I feel about it", I said "OK, but I stopped looking, so---" "Don't worry about that. I wouldn't do that to you three (sic) days beforehand, you'd be living on the street. I won't stop you from moving in." My friend Jen said she was just being weird, and that once I moved in and she realized I wasn't a serial killer, things would be OK. So yeah, tomorrow is when I'm scheduled to move in to the new house.

WE INTERRUPT THIS POST WITH BREAKING NEWS. The following message was left on my phone this morning.
Hello Jon, this is Vinny, Lori's boyfriend. I know she's explained the situation to you. The cops came to her house again. Um, you cannot go to the house tomorrow. You cannot... uh, move in, and I'm very sorry about this inconvenience that we're causing you. But, um, if you want to pick up your, your deposit, you can pick it up at Friday. Other than that, please do not go to the house. I'm sorry, but you cannot go to the house, you cannot move in. If you have, um, any questions, you can give me a call at 914-xxx-xxxx. I look forward to hearing from you and I'm, again, I'm sorry, but do not go to the house. This is very important. My, my girlfriend is very upset about this, and uh, and I don't want her to be upset anymore, so please do not go to the house. If you do, there will be consequences. Um, please call me back so we can discuss this. That's 914-xxx-xxxx. That's Vinny, Lori's boyfriend. Please call me back.

So, umm... YEAH. Among other things, it seemed pretty chicken-shit of her not to make the call herself, unless she had been arrested or something bizarre. When I got home from work, I called the number. "Vinny" had the award-winning lack of awareness to, after I'd introduced myself, start the conversation with "How are ya doing?" I respond with "Well, pretty shitty. I don't have a house." He said that she'd had an anxiety attack about it, and was in the hospital there was nothing they could do, but I couldn't move in. So I will instead be moving two doors down to the OTHER house that Mark rents out. Fun fun fun.

The job search will continue. I started the Math Camp/After Hours double play on Monday, so still getting a feel for how this summer will be in that regard. And things are going well with a girl I've been dating for a bit. So June has been busy, and July will probably shape up to be just as interesting.

Tue, Mar. 3rd, 2009, 11:36 pm
The definition of PWND.

Saturday
D. L. Hughley, talk show host: Like Rush Limbaugh, who is the de facto leader of the Republican Party.
Michael Steele, chairman of the RNC: No, he's not. I'm the de facto leader of the Republican Party. [...] Let's put it into context here. Rush Limbaugh is an entertainer. Rush Limbaugh, his whole thing is entertainment. He has his an incendiary. Yes, it's ugly.

Sunday
Rahm Emanuel, White House chief of staff: And whenever a Republican criticizes him [Rush Limbaugh], they have to run back and apologize to him, and say they were misunderstood. He is the voice and the intellectual force and energy behind the Republican Party.

Monday
Rush Limbaugh, conservative douchebag: Michael Steele, you are head of the RNC. You are not head of the Republican Party. Tens of millions of conservatives and Republicans have nothing to do with the RNC and right now they want nothing to do with it, and when you call them, asking them for money, they hang up on you.

Monday evening
Michael Steele: My intent was not to go after Rush – I have enormous respect for Rush Limbaugh. I was maybe a little bit inarticulate. [...] There was no attempt on my part to diminish his voice or his leadership.

Just as a quick recap... Rahm Emanuel says "whenever a Republican criticizes him, they have to run back and apologize to him, and say they were misunderstood." The chairman of the Republican party criticizes Limbaugh and within 48 hours, he backs off and says he was "inarticulate".
Republicans have been better at the political game for most of the decade. That has changed.

Sat, Feb. 28th, 2009, 09:24 am
Week 4 (and some older funnies)

[I'm walking in the new math wing, approaching Dr. Abramson and Mr. Greene]
Dr. Abramson [to me]: Weren't they really mean when you were here?
Me: Huh?
A: Were they really mean?
Me: I don't know what you-- oh, I thought you said 'What'd they...?'
Mr. Greene: You have to speak more clearly.
A: I said 'Were'!
Me: In any event, the question I have is the same: Who is 'They'?
A: They.
Me: They with a capital 'T'? The powers that be?
A: Yes.
G: Shouldn't it be 'Who are they?'
Me: 'Who is quote They referring to?'
A: Do you two know each other yet?
G: No.
A: This is Jonny*, an alum who is back to student-teach. This is Greg, he's new
G/me: Hello.
A: So you can beat up on him.
Me: Wait, who can beat up on who?
A: Exactly. [walks away]

*-Thus far, I have converted Dr. Abramson and Mr. Walsh from calling me "Jonny", a practice the former was introduced to by Mr. Holbrook and the latter was accustomed to from when he was a student here (and I was a prefrosh).

The conversation I had with Dr. Abramson on the way out of the building yesterday was even more Aaron Sorkin "walk-and-talk"-like: We started at the new math wing, walked through the chemistry hallway where he talked to some seniors and took a piece of chicken from one of them. Down to Mr. Holbrook's hallway where he sees someone he apparently knows and spends the next ten seconds (after walking past him) trying to think of the guy's name. At this point, someone else asks him "Where did you get chicken?" The whole time, we're talking about the possibility of hosting a QB tournament#, my current take on bridge, and whether he was going to see the BCA production of Into the Woods that night.

#-It's probable (though not as definite as I was led to believe) that we'll be holding a quiz bowl tournament April 4. Working for it: We need the money; I've heard we have admin approval. Working against it: We don't have questions yet; BCAQB has cancelled two announced tournaments in the past; One of them because admin approval was withdrawn for no good reason; Mr. Baker can't be there that day. Counterarguments for: I might be able to get WUHSAC questions, failing that we can buy from another group; Dr. Abramson has said he'll be the responsible adult if we have permission from everyone from the teachers whose rooms we'd use to the governor.

Heard in the hallways:
"If anything, I'd switch to Linux before Mac, my god! [pause] I can't believe we're having this conversation! We should videotape this and then videotape three normal teenagers: 'Look at her shoes, they're so ugly.' "
"Guys, how far over the word limit do you think I can go?"
[in Boston Market the first day of Academy Model UN] "I can't believe I'm stuck with North Korea. I'm not gonna have any friends 'cause I'm a jerk."

I visited a session of the Math/Physics project where students were going to verify da Vinci's Vitruvian Man ("from the chin to the top of the forehead and the lowest roots of the hair, is a tenth part of the whole height" and so on and so forth). Most of the measurements worked out pretty well; others differed probably because we may have defined "foot" or "cubit" differently. When Mr. Walsh asked students to call out some of the comparisons being cited, one gave several related to the breast; a classmate responded "You're just looking for an excuse to say 'nipples' in class."

More from that first session with Mr. Russo: "...when you assume this Batman-like role." Also, a comment on students' reactions when you make long-winded comparisons to Real Life: "They're not like 'Wow, I'm leaning so much!' They're like 'Oh, I wanna stab Mr. Russo in the face!' "

Sun, Feb. 22nd, 2009, 10:39 am
Weeks 2-3, sorta

As of Wednesday, Week 2, I officially took over the last class of the day. It's going pretty well and I now have the names down pretty much pat. The only problems are where two students of the same gender are at the same table: I know Victoria and Jackie are sitting at that table, I need to remember which one is which. Tuesday of Week 3 I had my first formal visit from my supervisor. Because of the way the schedule worked out, it was a review day, but the review went off mostly without a hitch. The supervisor did note, however, that in the event that I was teaching anywhere but BCA, classroom management would not be so effortless.
Friday, Week 3 was the Valentine's Day assembly. High marks for the duo who performed "The Most Beautiful Girl in the Room". There were little skits to set up each of the performances, and one of them referenced Twilight, leading one student behind me to grumble, "Is this song from Twilight? If so, I'm not clapping."

This past week was February break. I slept in, graded tests, learned to play bridge (from Dr. Abramson, who remarked "Don't worry, partner, I can only kill you once" after one of my many mistakes), actually used my Netflix membership, and went to see Slumdog Millionaire with a friend (plot hole: when could she possibly have learned how to drive?). Tomorrow, it's back to the grind.

Amusing note: My oldest sister just signed up for Facebook and has friended her oldest daughter. Wall post from daughter to mother, verbatim: "sooooooooooooooooo.... erm............................. yeah. I'm gonna go chat with someone now. It's been great spending time ith you.........."

Mr. Russo, the leader of our biweekly seminars, on his first day as a teacher: "I picked up a piece of chalk, I wrote 'MR. RUSSO' and I think, I think, I heard the bells of angels."

skipped back 10